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Data architecture in a digital world; empowering the data driven enterprise

Data architecture in a digital world; empowering the data driven enterprise

Several months ago, Daan Rijsenbrij approached me (Ronald Damhof) and Martijn Evers to assist him in researching data architecture as it manifests itself in organisations. 

Daan: "In the Netherlands an international research is performed about data architecture. The purpose of this research is to investigate the maturity in the thinking about & working with data in modern enterprises. You can download a survey from drop box: https://lnkd.in/ghVCqSx The survey consists of a short intro, a scoring list and a list with 12 open questions. Answer only those items that are relevant according to you in your situation. Please return the filled in survey to Daan as an attachment to an email: daan@rijsenbrij.eu." 

The survey is written by me and Martijn and reviewed by a dozen or so fellow data architects. The intro of the survey is copied 1:1 in the next section. We would like to urge architects - affiliated with data architecture - to do the survey, return it to Daan and help us in advancing data architecture.

Architecture

Nowadays, one frequently hears senior executives, management consultants or strategists proclaim the phrase: “Data is an asset.� While not necessarily incorrect, it is usually a hollow phrase because it is often misunderstood and seldom operationalized. With data comes the need and responsibility to manage it in a dedicated and professional manner, both from a liability point-of-view as well as to create the necessary conditions to truly leverage its potential to add value.

Data is not an asset like financial capital, which can be spent. Nor is it like human capital, which walks out of the door when it sees a better opportunity. Data asset are different: they are uniquely yours, closely tied to your business language and processes, full of nuance, always defined in a specific context and it provides the ability to generate new data (assets).

Data is also unique in that it depreciates in a nonphysical and often undetectable way, losing its meaning, accuracy and/or relevance as time goes by. Every organization can use its data in its own way to differentiate itself. When data is consumed in your organization, it will not be depleted nor will it expire (like a patent). No other type of asset has these particular characteristics.

Data defines other assets. For example, it reveals your financial state, it holds a reliable record of your employees or customer behavior. Arguably, data is the ultimate proprietary asset. And unlike technology, it cannot be commoditized. Data uniquely defines the state and meaning of an organization and its intrinsic value, which cannot be transferred to another organisation.

While all other assets are managed consciously by entire departments with ample resources to do so, data is often considered a by-product of information systems, something often perceived as technological. Or as Frank Buytendijk of Gartner put it: “Most companies manage their parking-lot better than their data.�

In all the hype and buzz surrounding #BigData #InternetOfThings #Datascience #MachineLearning #Digitization and the like, technology is perceived as a primary differentiator. Well, it's not.

While technology is essential for any business, it is usually of lesser importance in terms of competitive advantage. Technological innovations may give a company a competitive advantage, but the effect is only temporary. Sooner or later, innovations will be copied by competitors. Technology tends to become commoditized over time.

Ignoring the hype that surrounds new data-related technology, the common (success) factor is always data that is relevant, reliable, consistent and timely. Investments that neglect data quality requirements are doomed to fail.

The technological evolution continues to accelerate, yet ultimately it’s not about the technology. “IT does not matter�. What does matter is architecture. We need to understand the data, how it’s used, and to build a supporting data infrastructure. This requires fundamental thinking, not buying. It requires a holistic approach, not a siloed approach. You cannot buy your way out of the data misery you are in - it takes blood, sweat and tears. Or in other words: stamina, discipline, trust and courage, especially by senior management.

How well an organization is able and willing to incorporate this approach ultimately determines how well it can leverage its data assets for the benefit of its customers and operational excellence. It is this approach that we need to focus our energy on, instead of indiscriminately following the latest fad, promise or glossy brochure, with an unfounded belief that this new technology will solve our data issues.

There is no quick fix!

It is imperative to realize that data is a foundational element that drives and leverages innovation, business transformations, acquisitions and other organizational-critical events; data architecture is the guardian of this foundation.

How Wearables Could Revolutionize Healthcare Through Big Data

How Wearables Could Revolutionize Healthcare Through Big Data

In my last article on healthcare, I talked about the potential for blockchain and big data to save lives. Wearables are another part of the growing relationship between big data and healthcare.  

Not long ago, my attitude was who gives a f#@% about the Fitbit? Consider that attitude changed. The Fitbit and other health-conscious wearables present the chance for the medical community to make a real difference through big data.

First, the data on wearables:


86 percent of health and wellness providers believe wearables and mobile apps “will increase their knowledge of patient conditions�
76 percent feel wearables will “help patients with chronic diseases�
In the first quarter of 2017, the wearables market grew by 18 percent, an increase of 24.7 million devices; International Data Corp. (IDC) believes this is “just a fraction� of what’s to come   


T-Mobile bills this as a wearable tech revolution, one in which you can “stay connected and track your life every step of the way.� Along with Fitbit, the biggest names in tech are vying for a piece of the wearables market, including Apple, Samsung, and Google. That’s because IDC’s prediction on the tech’s pending popularity are a good bet. One reason why it’s a good bet is that ...


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How Trading Companies are Leveraging Behavioral Analytics to Win Conversions and Retention

How Trading Companies are Leveraging Behavioral Analytics to Win Conversions and Retention

In the dynamic trading industry that relies so heavily on trader conversions and retention, traders need to understand what drives customers toward achieving their goals. In order to understand this, traders need to be able to analyze not just digital analytics, but digital behavior over time.

When thinking of analytics, it’s not simply Google Analytics. Google analytics is great for a basic understanding of visitors and customers. How many visitors are on the site now at which pages? What geographic region are they in? What advertisement prompted them to click? But these surface insights do not shed light on behavior. This is what I call static data, a one-dimensional snapshot of one single touch point on the website.

That’s where behavioral analytics shapes a whole new future for trading companies. By leveraging this approach, traders are able to go beyond traditional analytics to understand behavior over time.

Behavioral Analytics in Trading Companies

What started out as a business intelligence tool for eCommerce companies has now expanded to dozens of industries - from online games, to web and mobile applications to IoT and now FinTech. For trading companies specifically, behavioral analytics present a timeline of user actions.

This isn’t just about a single trading action, ...


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Advanced IoT systems provide analysis catalyst for the petrochemical refinery of the future

Advanced IoT systems provide analysis catalyst for the petrochemical refinery of the future

The next BriefingsDirect Voice of the Customer Internet-of-Things (IoT) technology trends interview explores how IT combines with IoT to help create the refinery of the future

We’ll now learn how a leading-edge petrochemical company in Texas is rethinking data gathering and analysis to foster safer environments and greater overall efficiency.

Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes. Get the mobile app. Read a full transcript or download a copy. 

To help us define the best of the refinery of the future vision is Doug Smith, CEO of Texmark Chemicals in Galena Park, Texas, and JR Fuller, Worldwide Business Development Manager for Edgeline IoT at Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE). The discussion is moderated by Dana Gardner, principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions.

Here are some excerpts:

Gardner: What are the top trends driving this need for a new refinery of the future? Doug, why aren’t the refinery practices of the past good enough?

Smith: First of all, I want to talk about people. People are the catalysts who make this refinery of the future possible. At Texmark Chemicals, we spent the last 20 years making capital investments in our infrastructure, in our physical plant, and in the last four years we have put together a roadmap for our IT needs.

Through our introduction to HPE, we have entered into a partnership that is not just a client-customer relationship. It’s more than that, and it allows us to work together to discover IoT solutions that we can bring to bear on our IT challenges at Texmark. So, we are on the voyage of discovery together -- and we are sailing out to sea. It’s going great.

Gardner: JR, it’s always impressive when a new technology trend aids and abets a traditional business, and then that business can show through innovation what should then come next in the technology. How is that back and forth working? Where should we expect IoT to go in terms of business benefits in the not-to-distant future?

Fuller
Fuller: One of powerful things about the partnership and relationship we have is that we each respect and understand each other's “swim lanes.� I’m not trying to be a chemical company. I’m trying to understand what they do and how I can help them.

And they’re not trying to become an IT or IoT company. Their job is to make chemicals; our job is to figure out the IT. We’re seeing in Texmark the transformation from an Old World economy-type business to a New World economy-type business.

This is huge, this is transformational. As Doug said, they’ve made huge investments in their physical assets and what we call Operational Technology (OT). They have done that for the past 20 years. The people they have at Texmark who are using these assets are phenomenal. They possess decades of experience.
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Yet IoT is really new for them. How to leverage that? They have said, “You know what? We squeezed as much as we can out of OT technology, out of our people, and our processes. Now, let’s see what else is out there.�

And through introductions to us and our ecosystem partners, we’ve been able to show them how we can help squeeze even more out of those OT assets using this new technology. So, it’s really exciting.

Gardner: Doug, let’s level-set this a little bit for our audience. They might not all be familiar with the refinery business, or even the petrochemical industry. You’re in the process of processing. You’re making one material into another and you’re doing that in bulk, and you need to do it on a just-in-time basis, given the demands of supply chains these days.

You need to make your business processes and your IT network mesh, to reach every corner. How does a wireless network become an enabler for your requirements?

The heart of IT 

Smith: In a large plant facility, we have different pieces of equipment. One piece of equipment is a pump -- the analogy would be the heart of the process facility of the plant.

Smith
So your question regarding the wireless network, if we can sensor a pump and tie it into a mesh network, there are incredible cost savings for us. The physical wiring of a pump runs anywhere from $3,000 to $5,000 per pump. So, we see a savings in that.

Being able to have the information wirelessly right away -- that gives us knowledge immediately that we wouldn’t have otherwise. We have workers and millwrights at the plant that physically go out and inspect every single pump in our plant, and we have 133 pumps. If we can utilize our sensors through the wireless network, our millwrights can concentrate on the pumps that they know are having problems.
To have the information wirelessly right away -- that gives us knowledge immediately that we wouldn’t have otherwise.

Gardner: You’re also able to track those individuals, those workers, so if there’s a need to communicate, to locate, to make sure that they hearing the policy, that’s another big part of IoT and people coming together.

Safety is good business

Smith: The tracking of workers is more of a safety issue -- and safety is critical, absolutely critical in a petrochemical facility. We must account for all our people and know where they are in the event of any type of emergency situation.

Gardner: We have the sensors, we can link things up, we can begin to analyze devices and bring that data analytics to the edge, perhaps within a mini data center facility, something that’s ruggedized and tough and able to handle a plant environment.

Given this scenario, JR, what sorts of efficiencies are organizations like Texmark seeing? I know in some businesses, they talk about double digit increases, but in a mature industry, how does this all translate into dollars?

Fuller: We talk about the power of one percent. A one percent improvement in one of the major companies is multi-billions of dollars saved. A one percent change is huge, and, yes, at Texmark we’re able to see some larger percentage-wise efficiency, because they’re actually very nimble.

It’s hard to turn a big titanic ship, but the smaller boat is actually much better at it. We’re able to do things at Texmark that we are not able to do at other places, but we’re then able to create that blueprint of how they do it. 

You’re absolutely right, doing edge computing, with our HPE Edgeline products, and gathering the micro-data from the extra compute power we have installed, provides a lot of opportunities for us to go into the predictive part of this. It’s really where you see the new efficiencies.

Recently I was with the engineers out there, and we’re walking through the facility, and they’re showing us all the equipment that we’re looking at sensoring up, and adding all these analytics. I noticed something on one of the pumps. I’ve been around pumps, I know pumps very well.

I saw this thing, and I said, “What is that?�

“So that’s a filter,� they said.

I said, “What happens if the filter gets clogged?�

“It shuts down the whole pump,� they said.

“What happens if you lose this pump?� I asked.

“We lose the whole chemical process,� they explained.

“Okay, are there sensors on this filter?�

“No, there are only sensors on the pump,� they said.

There weren’t any sensors on the filter. Now, that’s just something that we haven’t thought of, right? But again, I’m not a chemical guy. So I can ask questions that maybe they didn’t ask before.

So I said, “How do you solve this problem today?�

“Well, we have a scheduled maintenance plan,� they said.

They don’t have a problem, but based on the scheduled maintenance plan that filter gets changed whether it needs to or not. It just gets changed on a regular basis. Using IoT technology, we can tell them exactly when to change that filter. Therefore IoT saves on the cost of the filter and the cost of the manpower -- and those types of potential efficiencies and savings are just one small example of the things that we’re trying to accomplish.

Continuous functionality

Smith: It points to the uniqueness of the people-level relationship between the HPE team, our partners, and the Texmark team. We are able to have these conversations to identify things that we haven’t even thought of before. I could give you 25 examples of things just like this, where we say, “Oh, wow, I hadn’t thought about that.� And yet it makes people safer and it all becomes more efficient.
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Gardner: You don’t know until you have that network in place and the data analytics to utilize what the potential use-cases can be. The name of the game is utilization efficiency, but also continuous operations.

How do you increase your likelihood or reduce the risk of disruption and enhance your continuous operations using these analytics?

Smith: To answer, I’m going to use the example of toll processing. Toll processing is when we would have a customer come to us and ask us to run a process on the equipment that we have at Texmark.

Normally, they would give us a recipe, and we would process a material. We take samples throughout the process, the production, and deliver a finished product to them. With this new level of analytics, with the sensoring of all these components in the refinery of the future vision, we can provide a value-add to the customers by giving them more data than they could ever want. We can document and verify the manufacture and production of the particular chemical that we’re toll processing for them.

Fuller: To add to that, as part of the process, sometimes you may have to do multiple runs when you're tolling, because of your feed stock and the way it works.
By using advanced analytics and the predictive benefits of having all that data, we're looking to gain efficiencies.
By usingadvanced analytics, and some of the predictive benefits of having all of that data available, we're looking to gain efficiencies to cut down the number of additional runs needed. If you take a process that would have taken three runs and we can knock that down to two runs -- that's a 30 percent decrease in total cost and expense. It also allows them produce more products, and to get it out to people a lot faster

Smith: Exactly. Exactly!

Gardner: Of course, the more insight that you can obtain from a pump, and the more resulting data analysis, that gives you insight into the larger processes. You can extend that data and information back into your supply chain. So there's no guesswork. There's no gap. You have complete visibility -- and that's a big plus when it comes to reducing risk in any large, complex, multi-supplier undertaking.

Beyond data gathering, data sharing

Smith: It goes back to relationships at Texmark. We have relationships with our neighbors that are unique in the industry, and so we would be able to share the data that we have.

Fuller: With suppliers.

Smith: Exactly, with suppliers and vendors. It's transformational.

Gardner: So you're extending a common standard industry-accepted platform approach locally into an extended process benefit. And you can share that because you are using common, IT-industry-wide infrastructurefrom HPE.

Fuller: And that's very important. We have a three-phase project, and we've just finished the first two phases. Phase 1 was to put ubiquitous WiFi infrastructure in there, with the location-based services, and all of the things to enable that. The second phase was to upgrade the compute infrastructure with our Edgeline compute and put in our HPE Micro Datacenter in there. So now they have some very robust compute.
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With that infrastructure in place, it now allows us to do that third phase, where we're bringing in additional IoT projects. We will create a data infrastructure with data storage, and application programming interfaces (APIs), and things like that. That will allow us to bring in a specialty video analytic capability that will overlay on top of the physical and logical infrastructure. And it makes it so much easier to integrate all that.

Gardner: You get a chance to customize the apps much better when you have a standard IT architecture underneath that, right?

Trailblazing standards for a new workforce

Smith: Well, exactly. What are you saying, Dana is – and it gives me chills when I start thinking about what we're doing at Texmark within our industry – is the setting of standards, blazing a new trail. When we talk to our customers and our suppliers and we tell them about this refinery of the future project that we're initiating, all other business goes out the window. They want to know more about what we're doing with the IoT -- and that's incredibly encouraging.

Gardner: I imagine that there are competitive advantages when you can get out in front and you're blazing that trail. If you have the experience, the skills of understanding how to leverage an IoT environment, and an edge computing capability, then you're going to continue to be a step ahead of the competition on many levels: efficiency, safety, ability to customize, and supply chain visibility.

Smith: It surely allows our Texmark team to do their jobs better. I use the example of the millwrights going out and inspecting pumps, and they do that everyday. They do it very well. If we can give them the tools, where they can focus on what they do best over a lifetime of working with pumps, and only work on the pumps that they need to, that's a great example.

I am extremely excited about the opportunities at the refinery of the future to bring new workers into the petrochemical industry. We have a large number of people within our industry who are retiring; they’re taking intellectual capital with them. So to be able to show young people that we are using advanced technology in new and exciting ways is a real draw and it would bring more young people into our industry.

Gardner: By empowering that facilities edge and standardizing IT around it, that also gives us an opportunity to think about the other part of this spectrum -- and that's the cloud. There are cloud services and larger data sets that could be brought to bear.

How does the linking of the edge to the cloud have a benefit?

Cloud watching

Fuller: Texmark Chemicals has one location, and they service the world from that location as a global leader in dicyclopentadiene (DCPD) production. So the cloud doesn't have the same impact as it would for maybe one of the other big oil or big petrochemical companies. But there are ways that we're going to use the cloud at Texmark and rally around it for safety and security.

Utilizing our location-based services, and our compute, if there is an emergency -- whether it's at Texmark or a neighbor -- using cloud-based information like weather, humidity, and wind direction -- and all of these other things that are constantly changing -- we can provide better directed responses. That's one way we would be using cloud at Texmark.

When we start talking about the larger industry -- and connecting multiple refineries together or upstream, downstream and midstream kinds of assets together with a petrochemical company -- cloud becomes critical. And you have to have hybrid infrastructure support.

You don't want to send all your video to the cloud to get analyzed. You want to do that at the edge. You don't want to send all of your vibration data to the cloud, you want to do that at the edge. But, yes, you do want to know when a pump fails, or when something happens so you can educate and train and learn and share that information and institutional knowledge throughout the rest of the organization.

Gardner: Before we sign off, let’s take a quick look into the crystal ball. Refinery of the future, five years from now, Doug, where do you see this going?
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Smith: The crystal ball is often kind of foggy, but it’s fun to look into it. I had mentioned earlier opportunities for education of a new workforce. Certainly, I am focused on the solutions that IoT brings to efficiencies, safety, and profitability of Texmark as a company. But I am definitely interested in giving people opportunities to find a job to work in a good industry that can be a career.

Gardner: JR, I know HPE has a lot going on with edge computing, making these data centers more efficient, more capable, and more rugged. Where do you see the potential here for IoT capability in refineries of the future?

Future forecast: safe, efficient edge

Fuller: You're going to see the pace pick up. I have to give kudos to Doug. He is a visionary. Whether he admits that or not, he is actually showing an industry that has been around for many years how to do this and be successful at it. So that's incredible. In that crystal ball look, that five-year look, he's going to be recognized as someone who helped really transform this industry from old to new economy.

As far as edge-computing goes, what we're seeing with our converged Edgeline systems, which are our first generation, and we've created this market space for converged edge systems with the hardening of it. Now, we’re working on generation 2. We're going to get faster, smaller, cheaper, and become more ubiquitous. I see our IoT infrastructure as having a dramatic impact on what we can actually accomplish and the workforce in five years. It will be more virtual and augmented and have all of these capabilities. It’s going to be a lot safer for people, and it’s going to be a lot more efficient.

Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes. Get the mobile app. Read a full transcript or download a copy. Sponsor: Hewlett Packard Enterprise.

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The Cloud Software

Driving to work is going to be less of a headache, and at the same time, thousands of road deaths will be avoided thank to the new cloud software Connected Traffic Cloud. The software connects authorities and road users by creating a platform for sharing any valuable information regarding what is happening on our roads.

The authorities have access to all the information they require and are in a position to pass life-saving traffic advisories to drivers. Essentially, the cloud software is an effective communication ...


Read More on Datafloq
Mobile technology as the future of sustainable society

Mobile technology as the future of sustainable society

For the last decade, we have been observing the largest rate of increase in mobile technology deployment, services and subscriber base. As mobile devices become cheaper and network coverage becomes more and more powerful, the use of mobile technologies is still on the rise.

Mobile technology has the ability to bridge gaps (connectivity gaps, distance, gaps, class gaps) by connecting people in an integrated manner and providing a range of services to people who were previously unable to access them whether due to financial or location reasons.

Mobile Technology and coding for young generations

We all now that our innovative and technological future is in the hands of our next generations; it was so and will be always like that. Doing a research, I found some interesting facts related to the topic. For example, according to the survey, in 2015 there were already 15 EU countries that have integrated coding in the school program (Estonia, France, Spain, Slovakia, UK). Soon 9 EU countries plan to ingrate coding at primary school level (Belgium, Finland, Poland, Portugal). Coding at upper secondary school level in general education: 12 EU countries: Austria, Bulgaria, Denmark, Estonia, France, Hungary, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, Spain and the UK. The primary aim why so many countries make ...


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Virtual Reality Technology: Main Trends, Statistics & Startups to Follow in 2017

Virtual Reality Technology: Main Trends, Statistics & Startups to Follow in 2017

It's been a year since Virtual Reality technology market has been officially launched and now after 12 months of the real performance of the major tech players, we can finally see the real trends, statistics and the future of VR market. In this article, I would like to dive into Virtual Reality technology as tech trend and show you what we know about VR market for today, market predictions and of course, take a look at great startups actively using virtual reality technology. Let's begin our VR journey.

What is Virtual Reality technology?

VR is an artificial, computer-generated simulation or recreation of a real life environment or situation. It immerses the user by making them feel like they are experiencing the simulated reality firsthand, primarily by stimulating their vision and hearing.


To create and enhance an imaginary reality for gaming, entertainment, and play (Such as video and computer games, or 3D movies, head-mounted display).
To enhance training for real life environments by creating a simulation of reality where people can practice beforehand (Such as flight simulators for pilots).
Virtual reality is possible through a coding language known as VRML (Virtual Reality Modeling Language) which can be used to create a series of images, and specify what types of ...


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India Smart Cities Mission shows IoT potential for improving quality of life at vast scale

India Smart Cities Mission shows IoT potential for improving quality of life at vast scale

The next BriefingsDirect Voice of the Customer Internet-of-Things (IoT) transformation discussion examines the potential impact and improvement of low-power edge computing benefits on rapidly modernizing cities.

These so-called smart city initiatives are exploiting open, wide area networking (WAN) technologies to make urban life richer in services, safer, and far more responsive to residences’ needs. We will now learn how such pervasively connected and data-driven IoT architectures are helping cities in India vastly improve the quality of life there.

Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes. Get the mobile app. Read a full transcript or download a copy.

Here to share how communication service providers have become agents of digital urban transformation are VS Shridhar, Senior Vice President and Head of the Internet-of-Things Business Unit at Tata Communications in Chennai area, India, and Nigel Upton, General Manager of the Universal IoT Platform and Global Connectivity Platform and Communications Solutions Business at Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE). The discussion is moderated by Dana Gardner, principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions.

Here are some excerpts:

Gardner: Tell us about India’s Smart Cities mission. What are you up to and how are these new technologies coming to bear on improving urban quality of life?

Shridhar: The government is clearly focusing on Smart Cities as part of their urbanization plan, as they believe Smart Cities will not only improve the quality of living, but also generate employment, and take the whole country forward in terms of technologically embracing and improving the quality of life.

So with that in mind, the Government of India has launched 100 Smart Cities initiatives. It’s quite interesting because each of the cities that aspire to belong had to make a plan and their own strategy around how they are going to evolve and how they are going to execute it, present it, and get selected. There was a proper selection process.

Many of the cities made it, and of course some of them didn’t make it. Interestingly, some of the cities that didn’t make it are developing their own plans.
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There is lot of excitement and curiosity as well as action in the Smart Cities project. Admittedly, it’s a slow process, it’s not something that you can do at the blink of the eye, and Rome wasn’t built overnight, but I definitely see a lot of progress.

Gardner:Nigel, it seems that the timing for this is auspicious, given that there are some foundational technologies that are now available at very low cost compared to the past, and that have much more of a pervasive opportunity to gather information and make a two-way street, if you will, between the edge and central administration. How is the technology evolution synching up with these Smart Cities initiatives in India?

Upton:I am not sure whether it’s timing or luck, or whatever it happens to be, but adoption of the digitization of city infrastructure and services is to some extent driven by economics. While I like to tease my colleagues in India about their sensitivity to price, the truth of the matter is that the economics of digitization -- and therefore IoT in smart cities -- needs to be at the right price, depending on where it is in the world, and India has some very specific price points to hit. That will drive the rate of adoption.

And so, we're very encouraged that innovation is continuing to drive price points down to the point that mass adoption can then be taken up, and the benefits realized to a much more broad spectrum of the population. Working with Tata Communications has really helped HPE understand this and continue to evolve as technology and be part of the partner ecosystem because it does take a village to raise an IoT smart city. You need a lot of partners to make this happen, and that combination of partnership, willingness to work together and driving the economic price points to the point of adoption has been absolutely critical in getting us to where we are today.

Balanced Bandwidth

Gardner:Shridhar, we have some very important optimization opportunities around things like street lighting, waste removal, public safety, water quality; of course, the pervasive need for traffic and parking, monitoring and improvement.

How do things like a low-power specification Internet and network gateways and low-power WANs (LPWANs) create a new foundation technically to improve these services? How do we connect the services and the technology for an improved outcome?

Shridhar:If you look at human interaction to the Internet, we have a lot of technology coming our way. We used to have 2G, that has moved to 3G and to 4G, and that is a lot of bandwidth coming our way. We would like to have a tremendous amount of access and bandwidth speeds and so on, right?

Shridhar
So the human interaction and experience is improving vastly, given the networks that are growing. On the machine-to-machine (M2M) side, it’s going to be different. They don’t need oodles of bandwidth. About 80 to 90 percent of all machine interactions are going to be very, very low bandwidth – and, of course, low power. I will come to the low power in a moment, but it’s going to be very low bandwidth requirement.

In order to switch off a streetlight, how much bandwidth do you actually require? Or, in order to sense temperature or air quality or water and water quality, how much bandwidth do you actually require?

When you ask these questions, you get an answer that the machines don’t require that much bandwidth. More importantly, when there are millions -- or possibly billions -- of devices to be deployed in the years to come, how are you going to service a piece of equipment that is telling a streetlight to switch on and switch off if the battery runs out?

Machines are different from humans in terms of interactions. When we deploy machines that require low bandwidth and low power consumption, a battery can enable such a machine to communicate for years.

Aside from heavy video streaming applications or constant security monitoring, where low-bandwidth, low-power technology doesn’t work, the majority of the cases are all about low bandwidth and low power. And these machines can communicate with the quality of service that is required.

When it communicates, the network has to be available. You then need to establish a network that is highly available, which consumes very little power and provides the right amount of bandwidth. So studies show that less than 50 kbps connectivity should suffice for the majority of these requirements.

Now the machine interaction also means that you collect all of them into a platform and basically act on them. It's not about just sensing it, it's measuring it, analyzing it, and acting on it.

Low-power to the people

So the whole stack consists not just of connectivity alone. It’s LPWAN technology that is emerging now and is becoming a de facto standard as more-and-more countries start embracing it.

At Tata Communications we have embraced the LPWAN technology from the LoRa Alliance, a consortium of more than 400 partners who have gotten together and are driving standards. We are creating this network over the next 18 to 24 months across India. We have made these networks available right now in four cities. By the end of the year, it will be many more cities -- almost 60 cities across India by March 2018.

Gardner: Nigel, how do you see the opportunity, the market, for a standard architecture around this sort of low-power, low-bandwidth network? This is a proof of concept in India, but what's the potential here for taking this even further? Is this something that has global potential?
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Upton: The global potential is undoubtedly there, and there is an additional element that we didn't talk about which is that not all devices require the same amount of bandwidth. So we have talked about video surveillance requiring higher bandwidth, we have talked about devices that have low-power bandwidth and will essentially be created once and forgotten when expected to last 5 or 10 years.

Upton
We also need to add in the aspect of security, and that really gave HPE and Tata the common ground of understanding that the world is made up of a variety of network requirements, some of which will be met by LPWAN, some of which will require more bandwidth, maybe as high as 5G.

The real advantage of being able to use a common architecture to be able to take the data from these devices is the idea of having things like a common management, common security, and a common data model so that you really have the power of being able to take information, take data from all of these different types of devices and pull it into a common platform that is based on a standard.

In our case, we selected the oneM2M standard, it’s the best standard available to be able to build that common data model and that's the reason why we deployed the oneM2M model within the universal IoT platform to get that consistency no matter what type of device over no matter what type of network.

Gardner: It certainly sounds like this is an unprecedented opportunity to gather insight and analysis into areas that you just really couldn't have measured before. So going back to the economics of this, Shridhar, have you had any opportunity through these pilot projects in such cities as Jamshedpur to demonstrate a return on investment, perhaps on street lighting, perhaps on quality of utilization and efficiency? Is there a strong financial incentive to do this once the initial hurdle of upfront costs is met?

Data-driven cost reduction lights up India

Unless the customer sees that there is a scope for either reducing the cost or increasing the customer experience, they are not going to buy these kinds of solutions.
Shridhar: Unless the customer sees that there is a scope for either reducing the cost or increasing the customer experience, they are not going to buy these kinds of solutions. So if you look at how things have been progressing, I will give you a few examples of how the costs have started constructing and playing out. One of course is to have devices, meeting at certain price point, we talked about how in India -- we talked that Nigel was remarking how constant still this Indian market is, but it’s important, once we delivered to a certain cost, we believe we can now deliver globally to scale. That’s very important, so if we build something in India it would deliver to the global market as well.

The streetlight example, let’s take that specifically and see what kind of benefits it would give. When a streetlight operates for about 12 hours a day, it costs about Rs.12, which is about $0.15, but when you start optimizing it and say, okay, this is a streetlight that is supported currently on halogen and you move it to LED, it brings a little bit of cost saving, in some cases significant as well. India is going through an LED revolution as you may have read in the newspapers, those streetlights are being converted, and that’s one distinct cost advantage.

Now they are looking and driving, let’s say, the usage and the electricity bills even lower by optimizing it. Let’s say you sync it with the astronomical clock, that 6:30 in the evening it comes up and let’s say 6:30 in the morning it shuts down linking to the astronomical clock because now you are connecting this controller to the Internet.

The second thing that you would do is during busy hours keep it at the brightest, let’s say between 7:00 and 10:00, you keep it at the brightest and after that you start minimizing it. You can control it down in 10 percent increments.

The point I am making is, you basically deliver intensity of light to the kind of requirement that you have. If it is busy, or if there is nobody on the street, or if there is a safety requirement -- a sensor will trigger up a series of lights, and so on.

So your ability to play around with just having streetlight being delivered to the requirement is so high that it brings down total cost. While I was telling you about $0.15 that you would spend per streetlight, that could be brought down to $0.05. So that’s the kind of advantage by better controlling the streetlights. The business case builds up, and a customer can save 60 to 70 percent just by doing this. Obviously, then the business case stands out.

The question that you are asking is an interesting one because each of the applications has its own way of returning the investment back, while the optimization of resources is being done. There is also a collateral positive benefit by saving the environment. So not only do I gain a business savings and business optimization, but I also pass on a general, bigger message of a green environment. Environment and safety are the two biggest benefits of implementing this and it would really appeal to our customers.

Gardner:It’s always great to put hard economic metrics on these things, but Shridhar just mentioned safety. Even when you can't measure in direct economics, it's invaluable when you can bring a higher degree of safety to an urban environment.

It opens up for more foot traffic, which can lead to greater economic development, which can then provide more tax revenue. It seems to me that there is a multiplier effect when you have this sort of intelligent urban landscape that creates a cascading set of benefits: the more data, the more efficiency; the more efficiency, the more economic development; the more revenue, the more data and so on. So tell us a little bit about this ongoing multiplier and virtuous adoption benefit when you go to intelligent urban environments?

Quality of life, under control

Upton:Yes, also it’s important to note that it differs almost by country to country and almost within region to region within countries. The interesting challenge with smart cities is that often you're dealing with elected officials rather than hard-nosed businessman who are only interested in the financial return. And it's because you're dealing with politicians and they are therefore representing the citizens in their area, either their city or their town or their region, their priorities are not always the same.

There is quite a variation of one of the particular challenges, particular social challenges as well as the particular quality of life challenges in each of the areas that they work in. So things like personal safety are a very big deal in some regions. I am currently in Tokyo and here there is much more concern around quality of life and mobility with a rapidly aging population and their challenges are somewhat different.
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But in India, the set of opportunities and challenges that are set out, they are in that combination of economic as well as social, and if you solve them and you essentially give citizens more peace of mind, more ability to be able to move freely, to be able to take part in the economic interaction within that area, then undoubtedly that leads to greater growth, but it is worth bearing in mind that it does vary almost city by city and region by region.

Gardner:Shridhar, do you have any other input into a cascading ongoing set of benefits when you get more data, more network opportunity. I guess I am trying to understand for a longer-term objective that being intelligent and data-driven has an ongoing set of benefits, what might those be? How can this be a long-term data and analytics treasure trove when you think about it in terms of how to provide better urban experiences?

Home/work help

Shridhar:From our perspective, when we looked at the customer benefits there is a huge amount of focus around the smart cities and how smart cities are benefiting from a network. If you look at the enterprise customers, they are also looking at safety, which is an overlapping application that a smart city would have.

So the enterprise wants to provide safety to its workers, for example, in mines or in difficult terrains, environments where they are focusing on helping them. Or women’s safety, which is as you know in India is a big thing as well -- how do you provide a device which is not very obvious and it gives the women all the safety that is there.

So all this in some form is providing data. One of the things that comes to my mind when you ask about how data-driven resources can be and what kind of quality it would give is if you action your mind to some of the customer services devices, there could be applications or let’s say a housewife could have a multiple button kind of a device where she can order a service.

Depending on the service she presses and an aggregate of households across India, you would know the trends and direction of a certain service, and mind you, it could be as simple as a three-button device which says Service A, Service B, Service C, and it could be a consumer service that gets extended to a particular household that we sell it as a service.

So you could get lots of trends and patterns that are emerging from that, and we believe that the customer experience is going to change, because no longer is a customer going to retain in his mind what kind of phone numbers or your, let's say, apps and all to order, you give them the convenience of just a button-press service. That immediately comes to my mind.

Feedback fosters change

The second one is in terms of feedback. You use the same three-button service to say, how well have you used utility -- or rather how -- what kind of quality of service that you rate multiple utilities that you are using, and there is toilet revolution in India. For example, you put these buttons out there, they will tell you at any given point of time what’s the user satisfaction and so on.

So these are all data that is getting gathered and I believe that while it is early days for us to go on and put out analytics and give you distinct kind of benefits that are there, but some of the things that customers are already looking at is which geographies, which segment, who are my biggest -- profile of the customers using this and so on. That kind of information is going to come out very, very distinctly.

The Smart Cities is all about experience. The enterprises are now looking at the data that is coming out and seeing how they can use it to better segment, and provide better customer experience which would obviously mean both adding to their top line as well as helping them manage their bottom line. So it's beyond safety, it's getting into the customer experience – the realm of managing customer experience.

Gardner:From a go-to-market perspective, or a go-to-city’s perspective, these are very complex undertakings, lots of moving parts, lots of different technologies and standards. How are Tata and HPE are coming together -- along with other service providers, Pointnextfor example? How do you put this into a package that can then actually be managed and put in place? How do we make this appealing not only in terms of its potential but being actionable as well when it comes to different cities and regions?

Upton:The concept of Smart Cities has been around for a while and various governments around the world have pumped money into their cities over an extended period of time.
We now have the infrastructure in place, we have the price points and we have IoT becoming mainstream.

As usual, these things always take more time than you think, and I do not believe today that we have a technology challenge on our hands. We have much more of a business model challenge. Being able to deploy technology to be able to bring benefits to citizens, I think that is finally getting to the point where it is much better understood where innovation of the device level, whether it's streetlights, whether it's the ability to measure water quality, sound quality, humidity, all of these metrics that we have available to us now. There has been very rapid innovation at that device level and at the economics of how to produce them, at a price that will enable widespread deployment.

All that has been happening rapidly over the last few years getting us to the point where we now have the infrastructure in place, we have the price points in place, and we have IoT becoming mainstream enough that it is entering into the manufacturing process of all sorts of different devices, as I said, ranging from streetlights to personal security devices through to track and trace devices that are built into the manufacturing process of goods.
That is now reaching mainstream and we are now able to take advantage of this massive data that’s now being produced to be able to produce even more efficient and smarter cities, and make them safer places for our citizens.

Gardner:Last word to you, Shridhar. If people wanted to learn more about the pilot proof of concept (PoC) that you are doing there at Jamshedpur and other cities, through the Smart Cities Mission, where might they go, are there any resources, how would you provide more information to those interested in pursuing more of these technologies?

Pilot projects take flight

Shridhar:I would be very happy to help them look at the PoCs that we are doing. I would classify the PoCs that we are doing is as far as safety is concerned, we talked of energy management in one big bucket that is there, then the customer service I spoke about, the fourth one I would say is more on the utility side. Gas and water are two big applications where customers are looking at these PoCs very seriously.

And there is very one interesting application in that one customer wanted for pest control, where he wanted his mouse traps to have sensors so that they will at any point of time know if there is a rat trap at all, which I thought was a very interesting thing.
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There are multiple streams that we have, we have done multiple PoCs, we will be very happy as Tata Communications team [to provide more information], and the HPE folks are in touch with us.

You could write to us, to me in particular for some period of time. We are also putting information on our website. We have marketing collateral, which describes this. We will do some of the joint workshops with HPE as well.

So there are multiple ways to reach us, and one of the best ways obviously is through our website. We are always there to provide more important help, and we believe that we can’t do it all alone; it’s about the ecosystem getting to know and getting to work on it.

While we have partners like HPE on the platform level, we also have partners such as Semtech, who established Center of Excellence in Mumbai along with us. So the access to the ecosystem from HPE side as well as our other partners is available, and we are happy to work and co-create the solutions going forward.

India Smart Cities Mission shows IoT potential for improving quality of life at vast scale

India Smart Cities Mission shows IoT potential for improving quality of life at vast scale

The next BriefingsDirect Voice of the Customer Internet-of-Things (IoT) transformation discussion examines the potential impact and improvement of low-power edge computing benefits on rapidly modernizing cities.

These so-called smart city initiatives are exploiting open, wide area networking (WAN) technologies to make urban life richer in services, safer, and far more responsive to residences’ needs. We will now learn how such pervasively connected and data-driven IoT architectures are helping cities in India vastly improve the quality of life there.

Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes. Get the mobile app. Read a full transcript or download a copy.

Here to share how communication service providers have become agents of digital urban transformation are VS Shridhar, Senior Vice President and Head of the Internet-of-Things Business Unit at Tata Communications in Chennai area, India, and Nigel Upton, General Manager of the Universal IoT Platform and Global Connectivity Platform and Communications Solutions Business at Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE). The discussion is moderated by Dana Gardner, principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions.

Here are some excerpts:

Gardner: Tell us about India’s Smart Cities mission. What are you up to and how are these new technologies coming to bear on improving urban quality of life?

Shridhar: The government is clearly focusing on Smart Cities as part of their urbanization plan, as they believe Smart Cities will not only improve the quality of living, but also generate employment, and take the whole country forward in terms of technologically embracing and improving the quality of life.

So with that in mind, the Government of India has launched 100 Smart Cities initiatives. It’s quite interesting because each of the cities that aspire to belong had to make a plan and their own strategy around how they are going to evolve and how they are going to execute it, present it, and get selected. There was a proper selection process.

Many of the cities made it, and of course some of them didn’t make it. Interestingly, some of the cities that didn’t make it are developing their own plans.
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There is lot of excitement and curiosity as well as action in the Smart Cities project. Admittedly, it’s a slow process, it’s not something that you can do at the blink of the eye, and Rome wasn’t built overnight, but I definitely see a lot of progress.

Gardner:Nigel, it seems that the timing for this is auspicious, given that there are some foundational technologies that are now available at very low cost compared to the past, and that have much more of a pervasive opportunity to gather information and make a two-way street, if you will, between the edge and central administration. How is the technology evolution synching up with these Smart Cities initiatives in India?

Upton:I am not sure whether it’s timing or luck, or whatever it happens to be, but adoption of the digitization of city infrastructure and services is to some extent driven by economics. While I like to tease my colleagues in India about their sensitivity to price, the truth of the matter is that the economics of digitization -- and therefore IoT in smart cities -- needs to be at the right price, depending on where it is in the world, and India has some very specific price points to hit. That will drive the rate of adoption.

And so, we're very encouraged that innovation is continuing to drive price points down to the point that mass adoption can then be taken up, and the benefits realized to a much more broad spectrum of the population. Working with Tata Communications has really helped HPE understand this and continue to evolve as technology and be part of the partner ecosystem because it does take a village to raise an IoT smart city. You need a lot of partners to make this happen, and that combination of partnership, willingness to work together and driving the economic price points to the point of adoption has been absolutely critical in getting us to where we are today.

Balanced Bandwidth

Gardner:Shridhar, we have some very important optimization opportunities around things like street lighting, waste removal, public safety, water quality; of course, the pervasive need for traffic and parking, monitoring and improvement.

How do things like a low-power specification Internet and network gateways and low-power WANs (LPWANs) create a new foundation technically to improve these services? How do we connect the services and the technology for an improved outcome?

Shridhar:If you look at human interaction to the Internet, we have a lot of technology coming our way. We used to have 2G, that has moved to 3G and to 4G, and that is a lot of bandwidth coming our way. We would like to have a tremendous amount of access and bandwidth speeds and so on, right?

Shridhar
So the human interaction and experience is improving vastly, given the networks that are growing. On the machine-to-machine (M2M) side, it’s going to be different. They don’t need oodles of bandwidth. About 80 to 90 percent of all machine interactions are going to be very, very low bandwidth – and, of course, low power. I will come to the low power in a moment, but it’s going to be very low bandwidth requirement.

In order to switch off a streetlight, how much bandwidth do you actually require? Or, in order to sense temperature or air quality or water and water quality, how much bandwidth do you actually require?

When you ask these questions, you get an answer that the machines don’t require that much bandwidth. More importantly, when there are millions -- or possibly billions -- of devices to be deployed in the years to come, how are you going to service a piece of equipment that is telling a streetlight to switch on and switch off if the battery runs out?

Machines are different from humans in terms of interactions. When we deploy machines that require low bandwidth and low power consumption, a battery can enable such a machine to communicate for years.

Aside from heavy video streaming applications or constant security monitoring, where low-bandwidth, low-power technology doesn’t work, the majority of the cases are all about low bandwidth and low power. And these machines can communicate with the quality of service that is required.

When it communicates, the network has to be available. You then need to establish a network that is highly available, which consumes very little power and provides the right amount of bandwidth. So studies show that less than 50 kbps connectivity should suffice for the majority of these requirements.

Now the machine interaction also means that you collect all of them into a platform and basically act on them. It's not about just sensing it, it's measuring it, analyzing it, and acting on it.

Low-power to the people

So the whole stack consists not just of connectivity alone. It’s LPWAN technology that is emerging now and is becoming a de facto standard as more-and-more countries start embracing it.

At Tata Communications we have embraced the LPWAN technology from the LoRa Alliance, a consortium of more than 400 partners who have gotten together and are driving standards. We are creating this network over the next 18 to 24 months across India. We have made these networks available right now in four cities. By the end of the year, it will be many more cities -- almost 60 cities across India by March 2018.

Gardner: Nigel, how do you see the opportunity, the market, for a standard architecture around this sort of low-power, low-bandwidth network? This is a proof of concept in India, but what's the potential here for taking this even further? Is this something that has global potential?
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Upton: The global potential is undoubtedly there, and there is an additional element that we didn't talk about which is that not all devices require the same amount of bandwidth. So we have talked about video surveillance requiring higher bandwidth, we have talked about devices that have low-power bandwidth and will essentially be created once and forgotten when expected to last 5 or 10 years.

Upton
We also need to add in the aspect of security, and that really gave HPE and Tata the common ground of understanding that the world is made up of a variety of network requirements, some of which will be met by LPWAN, some of which will require more bandwidth, maybe as high as 5G.

The real advantage of being able to use a common architecture to be able to take the data from these devices is the idea of having things like a common management, common security, and a common data model so that you really have the power of being able to take information, take data from all of these different types of devices and pull it into a common platform that is based on a standard.

In our case, we selected the oneM2M standard, it’s the best standard available to be able to build that common data model and that's the reason why we deployed the oneM2M model within the universal IoT platform to get that consistency no matter what type of device over no matter what type of network.

Gardner: It certainly sounds like this is an unprecedented opportunity to gather insight and analysis into areas that you just really couldn't have measured before. So going back to the economics of this, Shridhar, have you had any opportunity through these pilot projects in such cities as Jamshedpur to demonstrate a return on investment, perhaps on street lighting, perhaps on quality of utilization and efficiency? Is there a strong financial incentive to do this once the initial hurdle of upfront costs is met?

Data-driven cost reduction lights up India

Unless the customer sees that there is a scope for either reducing the cost or increasing the customer experience, they are not going to buy these kinds of solutions.
Shridhar: Unless the customer sees that there is a scope for either reducing the cost or increasing the customer experience, they are not going to buy these kinds of solutions. So if you look at how things have been progressing, I will give you a few examples of how the costs have started constructing and playing out. One of course is to have devices, meeting at certain price point, we talked about how in India -- we talked that Nigel was remarking how constant still this Indian market is, but it’s important, once we delivered to a certain cost, we believe we can now deliver globally to scale. That’s very important, so if we build something in India it would deliver to the global market as well.

The streetlight example, let’s take that specifically and see what kind of benefits it would give. When a streetlight operates for about 12 hours a day, it costs about Rs.12, which is about $0.15, but when you start optimizing it and say, okay, this is a streetlight that is supported currently on halogen and you move it to LED, it brings a little bit of cost saving, in some cases significant as well. India is going through an LED revolution as you may have read in the newspapers, those streetlights are being converted, and that’s one distinct cost advantage.

Now they are looking and driving, let’s say, the usage and the electricity bills even lower by optimizing it. Let’s say you sync it with the astronomical clock, that 6:30 in the evening it comes up and let’s say 6:30 in the morning it shuts down linking to the astronomical clock because now you are connecting this controller to the Internet.

The second thing that you would do is during busy hours keep it at the brightest, let’s say between 7:00 and 10:00, you keep it at the brightest and after that you start minimizing it. You can control it down in 10 percent increments.

The point I am making is, you basically deliver intensity of light to the kind of requirement that you have. If it is busy, or if there is nobody on the street, or if there is a safety requirement -- a sensor will trigger up a series of lights, and so on.

So your ability to play around with just having streetlight being delivered to the requirement is so high that it brings down total cost. While I was telling you about $0.15 that you would spend per streetlight, that could be brought down to $0.05. So that’s the kind of advantage by better controlling the streetlights. The business case builds up, and a customer can save 60 to 70 percent just by doing this. Obviously, then the business case stands out.

The question that you are asking is an interesting one because each of the applications has its own way of returning the investment back, while the optimization of resources is being done. There is also a collateral positive benefit by saving the environment. So not only do I gain a business savings and business optimization, but I also pass on a general, bigger message of a green environment. Environment and safety are the two biggest benefits of implementing this and it would really appeal to our customers.

Gardner:It’s always great to put hard economic metrics on these things, but Shridhar just mentioned safety. Even when you can't measure in direct economics, it's invaluable when you can bring a higher degree of safety to an urban environment.

It opens up for more foot traffic, which can lead to greater economic development, which can then provide more tax revenue. It seems to me that there is a multiplier effect when you have this sort of intelligent urban landscape that creates a cascading set of benefits: the more data, the more efficiency; the more efficiency, the more economic development; the more revenue, the more data and so on. So tell us a little bit about this ongoing multiplier and virtuous adoption benefit when you go to intelligent urban environments?

Quality of life, under control

Upton:Yes, also it’s important to note that it differs almost by country to country and almost within region to region within countries. The interesting challenge with smart cities is that often you're dealing with elected officials rather than hard-nosed businessman who are only interested in the financial return. And it's because you're dealing with politicians and they are therefore representing the citizens in their area, either their city or their town or their region, their priorities are not always the same.

There is quite a variation of one of the particular challenges, particular social challenges as well as the particular quality of life challenges in each of the areas that they work in. So things like personal safety are a very big deal in some regions. I am currently in Tokyo and here there is much more concern around quality of life and mobility with a rapidly aging population and their challenges are somewhat different.
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But in India, the set of opportunities and challenges that are set out, they are in that combination of economic as well as social, and if you solve them and you essentially give citizens more peace of mind, more ability to be able to move freely, to be able to take part in the economic interaction within that area, then undoubtedly that leads to greater growth, but it is worth bearing in mind that it does vary almost city by city and region by region.

Gardner:Shridhar, do you have any other input into a cascading ongoing set of benefits when you get more data, more network opportunity. I guess I am trying to understand for a longer-term objective that being intelligent and data-driven has an ongoing set of benefits, what might those be? How can this be a long-term data and analytics treasure trove when you think about it in terms of how to provide better urban experiences?

Home/work help

Shridhar:From our perspective, when we looked at the customer benefits there is a huge amount of focus around the smart cities and how smart cities are benefiting from a network. If you look at the enterprise customers, they are also looking at safety, which is an overlapping application that a smart city would have.

So the enterprise wants to provide safety to its workers, for example, in mines or in difficult terrains, environments where they are focusing on helping them. Or women’s safety, which is as you know in India is a big thing as well -- how do you provide a device which is not very obvious and it gives the women all the safety that is there.

So all this in some form is providing data. One of the things that comes to my mind when you ask about how data-driven resources can be and what kind of quality it would give is if you action your mind to some of the customer services devices, there could be applications or let’s say a housewife could have a multiple button kind of a device where she can order a service.

Depending on the service she presses and an aggregate of households across India, you would know the trends and direction of a certain service, and mind you, it could be as simple as a three-button device which says Service A, Service B, Service C, and it could be a consumer service that gets extended to a particular household that we sell it as a service.

So you could get lots of trends and patterns that are emerging from that, and we believe that the customer experience is going to change, because no longer is a customer going to retain in his mind what kind of phone numbers or your, let's say, apps and all to order, you give them the convenience of just a button-press service. That immediately comes to my mind.

Feedback fosters change

The second one is in terms of feedback. You use the same three-button service to say, how well have you used utility -- or rather how -- what kind of quality of service that you rate multiple utilities that you are using, and there is toilet revolution in India. For example, you put these buttons out there, they will tell you at any given point of time what’s the user satisfaction and so on.

So these are all data that is getting gathered and I believe that while it is early days for us to go on and put out analytics and give you distinct kind of benefits that are there, but some of the things that customers are already looking at is which geographies, which segment, who are my biggest -- profile of the customers using this and so on. That kind of information is going to come out very, very distinctly.

The Smart Cities is all about experience. The enterprises are now looking at the data that is coming out and seeing how they can use it to better segment, and provide better customer experience which would obviously mean both adding to their top line as well as helping them manage their bottom line. So it's beyond safety, it's getting into the customer experience – the realm of managing customer experience.

Gardner:From a go-to-market perspective, or a go-to-city’s perspective, these are very complex undertakings, lots of moving parts, lots of different technologies and standards. How are Tata and HPE are coming together -- along with other service providers, Pointnextfor example? How do you put this into a package that can then actually be managed and put in place? How do we make this appealing not only in terms of its potential but being actionable as well when it comes to different cities and regions?

Upton:The concept of Smart Cities has been around for a while and various governments around the world have pumped money into their cities over an extended period of time.
We now have the infrastructure in place, we have the price points and we have IoT becoming mainstream.

As usual, these things always take more time than you think, and I do not believe today that we have a technology challenge on our hands. We have much more of a business model challenge. Being able to deploy technology to be able to bring benefits to citizens, I think that is finally getting to the point where it is much better understood where innovation of the device level, whether it's streetlights, whether it's the ability to measure water quality, sound quality, humidity, all of these metrics that we have available to us now. There has been very rapid innovation at that device level and at the economics of how to produce them, at a price that will enable widespread deployment.

All that has been happening rapidly over the last few years getting us to the point where we now have the infrastructure in place, we have the price points in place, and we have IoT becoming mainstream enough that it is entering into the manufacturing process of all sorts of different devices, as I said, ranging from streetlights to personal security devices through to track and trace devices that are built into the manufacturing process of goods.
That is now reaching mainstream and we are now able to take advantage of this massive data that’s now being produced to be able to produce even more efficient and smarter cities, and make them safer places for our citizens.

Gardner:Last word to you, Shridhar. If people wanted to learn more about the pilot proof of concept (PoC) that you are doing there at Jamshedpur and other cities, through the Smart Cities Mission, where might they go, are there any resources, how would you provide more information to those interested in pursuing more of these technologies?

Pilot projects take flight

Shridhar:I would be very happy to help them look at the PoCs that we are doing. I would classify the PoCs that we are doing is as far as safety is concerned, we talked of energy management in one big bucket that is there, then the customer service I spoke about, the fourth one I would say is more on the utility side. Gas and water are two big applications where customers are looking at these PoCs very seriously.

And there is very one interesting application in that one customer wanted for pest control, where he wanted his mouse traps to have sensors so that they will at any point of time know if there is a rat trap at all, which I thought was a very interesting thing.
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There are multiple streams that we have, we have done multiple PoCs, we will be very happy as Tata Communications team [to provide more information], and the HPE folks are in touch with us.

You could write to us, to me in particular for some period of time. We are also putting information on our website. We have marketing collateral, which describes this. We will do some of the joint workshops with HPE as well.

So there are multiple ways to reach us, and one of the best ways obviously is through our website. We are always there to provide more important help, and we believe that we can’t do it all alone; it’s about the ecosystem getting to know and getting to work on it.

While we have partners like HPE on the platform level, we also have partners such as Semtech, who established Center of Excellence in Mumbai along with us. So the access to the ecosystem from HPE side as well as our other partners is available, and we are happy to work and co-create the solutions going forward.

The Internet of Things: How Interconnectivity Is Changing Our World

The Internet of Things: How Interconnectivity Is Changing Our World

Since the 1990s when the Internet first became readily available, the interconnectivity of our world has grown. Now, it’s not just people who are connected, but our devices as well. The Internet of Things (often abbreviated IoT) describes an elaborate network of objects and people, all interacting with one another through wireless communication, sensors and embedded circuits. It allows communication to occur from people to objects, or from object to object. Although it may seem like a novel concept, the IoT isn’t new. In fact, the Guardian notes that the first Internet-connected toaster debuted at a conference in 1989.

However, it is only recently that the IoT became a significant presence in daily life. Users can now sync their workouts to their smartphone, change the temperature of their home remotely and interact with a wide variety of wearable devices; these are just a few examples of how the IoT has become embedded in our culture. And this trend is expected to continue. There will be more than 26 billion connected devices by 2020, according to Jason Morgan, author of The Future of Work and contributor to Forbes. Some estimates are even higher — more than 100 billion by some projections.

Understanding the ...


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5 Types of New Media

5 Types of New Media

New media is often characterized as highly interactive digital technology. New media is “very easily processed, stored, transformed, retrieved, hyper-linked, and perhaps most radical of all, easily searched for and accessed,� Robert Logan writes in his book, Understanding New Media. Conceptually, new media can be viewed as a cultural process that reflects societal values and societal transformation. These and other considerations help define new media [BN1] and explain its significance.

New media is changing the way people across the world are entertained and consume information. The following five types of new media illustrate the evolution of new media.

1.    Blogs

Although blogs are an early form of new media, they are still relevant and share several characteristics of the most recent new media types.

Information in blogs is easily accessed and searched for, and everything is typically organized naturally. For instance, blog posts are often nested under categories, and users can navigate posts by a specific category, tag or via search. And like other forms of new media where content is posted — such as online newspapers and some social media platforms — entries often contain mixed media such as photos and video to go along with text.

Blogs can also be interactive, despite some variance. ...


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5 Major Data Mining Techniques Being Used by Big Data

5 Major Data Mining Techniques Being Used by Big Data

Data mining involves “processing data and identifying patterns and trends in that information,� according to IBM. “Data mining principles have been around for many years, but, with the advent of big data, it is even more prevalent.�

Ninety percent of data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone, IBM estimates. Every day, people create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data, enough to fill 10 million Blu-ray Discs.

Data mining techniques help professionals provide insights into available data sets. The techniques can offer descriptive and predictive power for businesses and other organizations.

5 Data Mining Techniques

1.    Association

Association makes a correlation between two or more items to identify a pattern. For instance, a supermarket could determine that customers often purchase whipped cream when they buy strawberries and vice versa. Association is often used at point-of-sale systems to determine common tendencies among products.

“It’s a very simple method, but you’d be surprised how much intelligence and insight it can provide—the kind of information many businesses use on a daily basis to improve efficiency and generate revenue,� according to technology company Galvanize. Application areas include physical organization of items, marketing and the cross-selling and up-selling of products.

2.    Classification

Multiple attributes can be used to ...


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4 Surprising Discoveries From Big Data Insights

4 Surprising Discoveries From Big Data Insights

Big data is becoming increasingly important to business and will impact every business in the near future. At its core, big data collects information relevant to your business, examines trends and correlations, and makes decisions based on them. This analysis can be used to improve products based on customer experience and usage, tailor sales approaches to specific audiences or even predict which employees might soon get a promotion.

Insights From Big Data

Big data insights are all about finding correlations and relationships, but it’s important to note that correlation is not the same as causation. Just because most romantic “missed connections� happen at Wal-Mart doesn’t mean you’ll meet the love of your life at Wal-Mart, for example. Here are five unusual discoveries that have come from big data.

1. Most romantic “missed connections� take place in a Wal-Mart

Craigslist keeps track of quite a bit of data on its users, which allows it to tailor classified lists to the geographic locations where users live. Rather than dividing up a map of the United States by state, Craigslist separates it into numerous tiny regions, each small enough to be served by a single set of classified lists.

One such classified list is the “missed connections� board, ...


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How confluence of cloud, UC and data-driven insights newly empowers contact center agents

How confluence of cloud, UC and data-driven insights newly empowers contact center agents

The next BriefingsDirect customer experience insights discussion explores how Contact center-as-a-service (CCaaS) capabilities are becoming more powerful as a result of leveraging cloud computing, multi-mode communications channels, and the ability to provide optimized and contextual user experiences.

More than ever, businesses have to make difficult and complex decisions about how to best source their customer-facing services. Which apps and services, what data and resources should be in the cloud or on-premises -- or in some combination -- are among the most consequential choices business leaders now face. As the confluence of cloud and unified communications (UC) -- along with data-driven analytics -- gain traction, the contact center function stands out.

Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes. Get the mobile app. Read a full transcript or  download a copy. 

We’ll now hear why traditional contact center technology has become outdated, inflexible and cumbersome, and why CCaaS is becoming more popular in meeting the heightened user experience requirements of today.
Here to share more on the next chapter of contact center and customer service enhancements, is Vasili Triant, CEO of Serenovain Austin, Texas. The discussion is moderated by Dana Gardner, principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions.

Here are some excerpts:

Gardner: What are the new trends reshaping the contact center function?

Triant:What’s changed in the world of contact center and customer service is that we’re seeing a generational spread -- everything from baby boomers all the way now to Gen Z.

With the proliferation of smartphones through the early 2000s, and new technologies and new channels -- things like WeChat and Viber -- all these customers are now potential inbound discussions with brands. And they all have different mediums that they want to communicate on. It’s no longer just phone or e-mail: It’s phone, e-mail, web chat, SMS, WeChat, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and there are other channels coming around the corner that we don't even know about yet.

Triant
When you take all of these folks -- customers or brands -- and you take all of these technologies that consumers want to engage with across all of these different channels – it’s simple, they want to be heard. It's now the responsibility of brands to determine what is the best way to respond and it’s not always one-to-one.

So it’s not a phone call for a phone call, it’s maybe an SMS to a phone call, or a phone call to a web chat -- whatever those [multi-channels] may be. The complexity of how we communicate with customers has increased. The needs have changed dramatically. And the legacy types of technologies out there, they can't keep up -- that's what's really driven the shift, the paradigm shift, within the contact center space.

Gardner:It’s interesting that the new business channels for marketing and capturing business are growing more complex. They still have to then match on the back end how they support those users, interact with them, and carry them through any sort of process -- whether it's on-boarding and engaging, or it’s supporting and servicing them.

What we’re requiring then is a different architecture to support all of that. It seems very auspicious that we have architectural improvements right along with these new requirements.

Triant:We have two things that have collided at the same time – cloud technologies and the growth of truly global companies.  

Most of the new channels that have rolled out are in the cloud. I mean, think about it -- Facebook is a cloud technology, Twitter is a cloud technology. WeChat, Viber, all these things, they are all cloud technologies. It’s becoming a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)-based world. The easiest and best way to integrate with these other cloud technologies is via the cloud -- versus on-premises. So what began as the shift of on-premises technology to cloud contact center -- and that really began in 2011-2012 – has rapidly picked up speed with the adoption of multi-channels as a primary method of communication.

The only way to keep up with the pace of development of all these channels is through cloud technologies because you need to develop an agile world, you need to be able to get the upgrades out to customers in a quick fashion, in an easy fashion, and in an inexpensive fashion. That's the core difference between the on-premises world and the cloud world.

At the same time, we are no longer talking about a United States company, an Australia company, or a UK company -- we are talking about everything as global brands, or global businesses. Customer service is global now, and no one cares about borders or countries when it comes to communication with a brand.
Customer service is global now, and no one cares about borders or countries when it comes to communications with a brand.


Gardner:We have been speaking about this through the context of the end-user, the consumer. But this architecture and its ability to leverage cloud also benefits the agent, the person who is responsible for keeping that end-user happy and providing them with the utmost in intelligent services. So how does the new architecture also aid and abet the agent.

Triant: The agent is frankly one of the most important pieces to this entire puzzle. We talk a lot about channels and how to engage with the customer, but that's really what we call listening. But even in just simple day-to-day human interactions, one of the most important things is how you communicate back. There has been a series of time-and-motion studies done within contact centers, within brands -- and you can even look at your personal experiences. You don’t have to read reports to understand this.
The baseline for how an interaction will begin and end and whether that will be a happy or a poor interaction with the brand, is going to be dependent on the agents’ state of mind. If I call up and I speak to “Joe,� and he starts the conversation, he is in a great mood and he is having a great day, then my conversation will most likely end in a positive interaction because it started that way.

But if someone is frustrated, they had a rough day, they can’t find their information, their computers have been crashing or rebooting, then the interaction is guaranteed to end up poor. You hear this all the time, “Oh, can you wait a moment, my systems are loading. Oh, I can’t get you an answer, that screen is not coming up. I can't see your account information.� The agents are frustrated because they can’t do their job, and that frustration then blends into your conversation.

So using the technology to make it easy for the agent to do their job is essential. If they have to go from one screen to another screen to conduct one interaction with the customer -- they are going to be frustrated, and that will lead to a poor experience with the customer.

The cloud technologies like Serenova, which is web-based, are able to bring all those technologies into one screen. The agent can have all the information brought to them easily, all in one click, and then be able to answer all the customer needs. The agent is happy and that adds to the customer satisfaction. The conclusion of the call is a happy customer, which is what we all want. That’s a great scenario and you need cloud technology to do that because the on-premises world does not deliver a great agent experience.

One-stop service

Gardner:Another thing that the older technologies don't provide is the ability to have a flexible spectrum to move across these channels. Many times when I engage with an organization I might start with an SMS or a text chat, but then if that can’t satisfy my needs, I want to get a deeper level of satisfaction. So it might end up going to a phone call or an interaction on the web, or even a shared desktop, if I’m in IT support, for example.

The newer cloud technology allows you to intercept via different types of channels, but you can also escalate and vary between and among them seamlessly. Why is that flexibility both of benefit to the end-user as well as the agent?

Triant: I always tell companies and customers of ours that you don't have to over-think this; all you have to do is look to your personal life. Most common things that we as users deal with -- such as cell phone companies, cable companies, airlines, -- you can get onto any of these websites and begin chatting, but you can find that your interaction isn’t going well. Before I started at Serenova, I had these experiences where I was dealing with the cable company and -- chat, chat, chat, -- trying to solve my problem. But we couldn't get there, and so then we needed to get on the phone. But they said, “Here is our 800 number, call in.� I’d call in, but I’d have to start a whole new interaction.

Basically, I’d have to re-explain my entire situation. Then, I am talking with one person, and they have to turn around and send me an email, but I am not going to get that email for 30 to 45 minutes because they have to get off the phone, and get into another system and send it off. In the meantime, I am frustrated, I am ticked off -- and guess what I have done now? I have left that brand. This happens across the board. I can even have two totally different types of interactions with the company.

You can use a major airline brand as an example. One of our employees called on the phone trying to resolve an issue that was caused by the airline. They basically said, “No, no, no.� It made her very frustrated. She decided she’s going to fly with a different airline now. She then sent a social post [to that effect], and the airline’s VP of Customer Service answered it, and within minutes they had resolved her issue. But they already spent three hours on the phone trying to push her off through yet another channel because it was a totally different group, a totally different experience.

By leveraging technologies where you can pivot from one channel to another, everyone will get answers quicker. I can be chatting with you, Dana, and realize that we need to escalate to a voice conversation, for example, and I as the agent; I can then turn that conversation into a voice call. You don't have to re-explain yourself and you are like, “Wow, that's cool! Now I’m on the phone with a facility,� and we are able to handle our business.

As agent, I can also pivot simultaneously to an email channel to send you something as simple as a user guide or a series of knowledge-based articles that I may have at my fingertips as an agent. But you and I are still on the phone call. Even better yet, after-the-fact, as a business, I have all the analytics and the business intelligence to say that I had one interaction with Dana that started out as a web chat, pivoted to a phone call, and I simultaneously then sent a knowledge-based article of “X� around this issue and I can report on it all at once. Not three separate interactions, not three separate events -- and I have made you a happy customer.

Gardner:We are clearly talking about enabling the agent to be a super-agent, and they can, of course, be anywhere. I think this is really important now because the function of an agent -- we are already seeing the beginnings of this -- but it's going to certainly include and increase having more artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning and associated data analytics benefits. The agent then might be a combination of human and AI functions and services.

So we need to be able to integrate at a core communications basis. Without going too far down this futuristic route, isn't it important for that agent to be an assimilation of more assets and more services over time?

Artificial Intelligence plus human support

Triant:I‘m glad you brought up AI and these other technologies. The reality is that we've been through a number of cycles around what this technology is going to do and how it is going to interact with an agent. In my view, and I have been in this world for a while, the agent is the most important piece of customer service and brand engagement. But you have to be able to bring information to them, and you have to be able to give information to your customers so that if there is something simple, get it to them as quick as possible -- but also bring all the relevant information to the agent.

AI has had multiple forms; it has existed for a long time. Sometimes people get confused because of marketing schemes and sales tactics [and view AI] as a way for cost avoidance, to reduce agents and eliminate staff by implementing these technologies. Really the focus is how to create a better customer experience, how to create a better agent experience.

We have had AI in our product for last three years, and we are re-releasing some components that will bring business intelligence to the forefront around the end of the year. What it essentially does is alIow you to see what you're doing as a user out on the Internet and within these technologies. I can see that you have been looking for knowledge-based articles around, for example, “why my refrigerator keeps freezing up and how can I defrost it.� You can see such things on Twitter and you can see these things on Facebook. The amount of information that exists out there is phenomenal and in real-time. I can now gather that information … and I can proactively, as a business, make decisions about what I want to do with you as a potential consumer.

I can even identify you as a consumer within my business, know how many products you have acquired from me, and whether you're a “platinum� customer or even a basic customer, and then make a decision.

For example, I have TVs, refrigerators, washer-dryers and other appliances all from the same manufacturer. So I am a large consumer to that one manufacturer because all of my components are there. But I may be searching a knowledge-based article on why the refrigerator continues to freeze up.

Now I may call in about just the refrigerator, but wouldn't it be great for that agent to know that I own 22 other products from that same company? I'm not just calling about the refrigerator; I am technically calling about the entire brand. My experience around the refrigerator freaking out may change my entire brand decision going forward. That information may prompt me to decide that I want to route that customer to a different pool of agents, based on what their total lifetime value is as a brand-level consumer.

Through AI, by leveraging all this information, I can be a better steward to my customer and to the agent, because I will tell you, an agent will act differently if they understand the importance of that customer or to know that I, Vasili, have spent the last two hours searching online for information, which I posted on Facebook and I posted on Twitter.
Through AI, by leveraging all this information, I can be a better steward to the customer and to the agent.

At that point, the level of my frustration already has reached a certain height on a scale. As an agent, if you knew that, you might treat me differently because you already know that I am frustrated. The agent may be able to realize that you have been looking for some information on this, realize you have been on Facebook and Twitter. They can then say: “I am really sorry, I'm not able to get you answers. Let me see how I can help you, it seems that you are looking online about how to keep the refrigerator from freezing up.�

If I start the conversation that way, I've now diffused a lot of the frustration of the customer. The agent has already started that interaction better. Bringing that information to that person, that’s powerful, that’s business intelligence -- and that’s creating action from all that information.

Keep your cool

Gardner:It’s fascinating that that level of sentiment analysis brings together the best of what AI and machine learning can do, which is to analyze all of these threads of data and information and determine a temperature, if you will, of a person's mood and pass that on to a human agent who can then have the emotional capacity to be ready to help that person get to a lower temperature, be more able to help them overall.

It’s becoming clear to me, Vasili, that this contact center function and CCaaS architectural benefits are far more strategic to an organization than we may have thought, that it is about more than just customer service. This really is the best interface between a company -- and all the resources and assets it has across customer service, marketing, and sales interactions. Do you agree that this has become far more strategic because of these new capabilities?

Triant:Absolutely, and as brands begin to realize the power of what the technology can do for their overall business, it will continue to evolve, and gain pace around global adoption.
As brands begin to realize the power of what the technology can do for their overall businesses, it will continue to evolve and gain global adoption.

We have only scratched the surface on adoption of these cloud technologies within organizations. A majority of brands out there look at these interactions as a cost of doing business. They still seek to reduce that cost versus the lifetime value of both the consumer, as well as the agent experience. This will shift, it is shifting, and there are companies that are thriving by recognizing that entire equation and how to leverage the technologies.

Technology is nothing without action and result. There have been some really cool things that have existed for a while, but they don’t ever produce any result that’s meaningful to the customer so they never get adopted and deployed and ultimately reach some type of a mass proliferation of results.

Gardner:You mentioned cost. Let’s dig into that. For organizations that are attracted to the capabilities and the strategic implications of CCaaS, how do we evaluate it in terms of cost? The old CapEx approach often had a high upfront cost, and then high operating costs, if you have an inefficient call center. Other costs involve losing your customers, losing brand affinity, losing your perception in the market. So when you talk to a prospect or customer, how do you help them tease out the understanding of a pay-as-you-go service as highly efficient? Does the highly empowered agent approach save money, or even make money, and CCaaS becomes not a cost center but a revenue generator?

Cost consciousness

Triant:Interesting point, Dana. When I started at Serenova about five years ago, customers all the time would say, “What’s the cost of owning the technology?� And, “Oh, my, on-premises stuff has already depreciated and I already own it, so it’s cheaper for me to keep it.� That was the conversation pretty much every day. Beginning in 2013, it rapidly started shifting. This shift was mainly driven by the fact that organizations started realizing that consumers want to engage on different channels, and the on-premises guys couldn’t keep up with this demand.

The cost of ownership no longer matters. What matters is that the on-premises guys just literally could not deliver the functionality. And so, whether that's Cisco, Avaya, or Shoretel, they quickly started falling away in consideration for technology companies that were looking to deploy applications for their business to meet these needs.

The cost of ownership quickly disappeared as the main discussion point. Instead it came around to, “What is the solution that you're going to deliver?� Customers that are looking for contact center technologies are beginning to take a cloud-first approach. And once they see the power of CCaaS through demonstration and through some trials of what an agent can do – and it’s all browser-based, there is no client install, there is no equipment on-premises - then it takes on a life of its own. It’s about, “What is the experience going to be? Are these channels all integrated? Can I get it all from one manufacturer?�

Following that, organizations focus on other intricacies around - Can it scale? Can it be redundant? Is it global? But those become architectural concerns for the brands themselves. There is a chunk of the industry that is not looking at these technologies, and they are stuck in brand euphoria or have to stay with on-premises infrastructure, or with a certain vendor because of their name or that they are going to get there someday.

As we have seen, Avaya has declared bankruptcy. Avaya does not have cloud technologies despite their marketing message. So the customers that are in those technologies now realize they have to find a path to keep up with the basic customer service at a global scale. Unfortunately, those customers have to find a path forward and they don’t have one right now.
It's less about cost of ownership and it’s more about the high cost of not doing anything. If I don't do anything, what’s going to be the cost? That cost ultimately becomes - I’m not going to be able to have engagement with my customers because the consumers are changing.
It's less about cost of ownership and it's more about the high cost of not doing anything.

Gardner:What about this idea of considering your contact center function not just as a cost center, but also as a business development function? Am I being too optimistic.

It seems to me that as AI and the best of what human interactions can do combine across multichannels, that this becomes no longer just a cost center for support, a check-off box, but a strategic must-do for any business.

Multi-channel customer interaction

Triant:When an organization reaches the pinnacle of happiness within what these technologies can do, they will realize that no longer do you need to have delineation between a marketing department that answers social media posts, an inside sales department that is only taking calls for upgrades and renewals, and a customer service department that’s dealing with complaints or inbound questions. They will see that you can leverage all the applications across a pool of agents with different skills.

I may have a higher skill around social media than over voice, or I may have a higher skill level around a sales activity, or renewal activity, over customer service problems. I should be able to do any interaction. And potentially one day it'll just be customer interaction department and the channels are just a medium of inbound and outbound choice for a brand.

But you can now take information from whatever you see the customer doing. Each of their actions have a leading indicator, everything has a predictive action prior to the inbound touch, everything does. Now that a brand can see that, it will be able to have “consumer interaction departments,� and it will be properly routed to the right person based on that information. You’ll be able to bring information to that agent that will allow them to answer the customer’s questions.

Gardner:I can see how that agent’s job would be very satisfying and fulfilling when you are that important, when you have that sort of a key role in your organization that empowers people. That’s good news for people that are trying to find those skills and fill those positions.

Vasili, we only have a few minutes left, but I’d love to hear about a couple of examples. It’s one thing to tell, it’s another thing to show. Do we have some examples of organizations that have embraced this concept of a strategic contact center, taken advantage of those multi-channels, added perhaps some intelligence and improved the status and capability of the agents -- all to some business benefit? Walk us through a couple of actual use cases where this has all come together.

Cloud communication culture shift

Triant:No one has reached that level of euphoria per se, but there are definitely companies that are moving in that direction.

It is a culture change, so it takes time. I know as well as anybody what it takes to shift a culture, and it doesn't happen overnight. As an example, there is a ride-hailing company that engages in a different way with their consumer, and their consumer might be different than what you think from the way I am describing it. They use voice systems and SMS and often want to pivot between the two. Our technology actually allows the agent to make that decision even if they aren’t even physically in the same country. They are dynamically spread across multiple countries to answer any question they may need to answer based on time and day.

But they can pivot from what’s predominantly an SMS inbound and outbound communication into a voice interaction, and then they can also follow up with an e-mail, and that’s already happened. Now, it initially started with some SMS inbound and outbound, then they added voice – an interesting move as most people think adding voice is what people are getting away from. What everyone has begun to realize is that live communication ultimately is what everybody looks for in the end to solve the more complex problems.
What everyone has begun to realize is that live communication ultimately is what everybody looks for in the end to solve the more complex problems.

That's one example. Another company that provides the latest technology in food order and delivery initially started with voice-only to order and deliver food. Now they've added SMS confirmations automatically, and e-mail as well for confirmation or for more information from the inbound voice call. And now, once they are an existing customer, they can even start an order from an SMS, and pivot back to a voice call for confirmation -- all within one interaction. They are literally one of the fastest growing alternative food delivery companies, growing at a global scale.

They are deploying agents globally across one technology. They would not be able to do this with legacy technologies because of the expense. When you get into these kinds of high-volume, low-margin businesses, cost matters. When you can have an OpEx model that will scale, you are adding better customer service to the applications, and you are able to allow them to build a profitable model because you are not burning them with high CapEx processes.

Gardner:Before we sign off, you had mentioned your pipeline about your products and services, such as engaging more with AI capabilities toward the end of the year. Could give us a level-set on your roadmap? Where are your products and services now? Where do you go next?

A customer journey begins with insight

Triant:We have been building cloud technologies for 16 years in the contact center space. We released our latest CCaaS platform in March 2016 called CxEngage. We then had a major upgrade to the platform in March of this year, where we take that agent experience to the next level. It’s really our leapfrog in the agent interface and making it easier, bringing in more information to them.

Where we are going next is around the customer journey -- predictive interactions. Some people call it AI, but I will call it “customer journey mapping with predictive action insights.� That’s going to be a big cornerstone in our product, including business analytics. It’s focused around looking at a combination of speech, data and text -- all simultaneously creating predictive actions. This is another core area we are going in an and continue to expand the reach of our platform from a global scale.

At this point, we are a global company. We have the only global cloud platform built on a single software stack with one data pipeline. We now have more users on a pure cloud platform than any of our competitors globally. I know that’s a big statement, but when you look at a pure cloud infrastructure, you're talking in a whole different realm of what services you are able to offer to customers. Our ability to provide a broad reach including to Europe, South Africa, Australia, India, and Singapore -- and still deliver good cloud quality at a reasonable cost and redundant fashion –  we are second to none in that space.

Gardner:I’m afraid we will have to leave it there. We have been listening to a sponsored BriefingsDirect discussion on how CCaaS capabilities are becoming more powerful as a result of cloud computing, multimode communications channels, and the ability to provide optimized and contextual user experiences.

And we’ve learned how new levels of insight and intelligence are now making CCaaS approaches able to meet the highest user experience requirements of today and tomorrow. So please join me now in thanking our guest, Vasili Triant, CEO of Serenova in Austin, Texas.

Triant:Thank you very much, Dana. I appreciate you having me today.

Gardner:This is Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions, your host and moderator for this ongoing series of BriefingsDirect discussions. A big thank you to our sponsor, Serenova, as well as to you, our audience. Do come back next time and thanks for listening.

Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes. Get the mobile app. Read a full transcript or  download a copy. Sponsor: Serenova.

Transcript of a discussion on how contact center-as-a-service capabilities are becoming more powerful to provide optimized and contextual user experiences for agents and customers. Copyright Interarbor Solutions, LLC, 2005-2017. All rights reserved.

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How confluence of cloud, UC and data-driven insights newly empowers contact center agents

How confluence of cloud, UC and data-driven insights newly empowers contact center agents

The next BriefingsDirect customer experience insights discussion explores how Contact center-as-a-service (CCaaS) capabilities are becoming more powerful as a result of leveraging cloud computing, multi-mode communications channels, and the ability to provide optimized and contextual user experiences.

More than ever, businesses have to make difficult and complex decisions about how to best source their customer-facing services. Which apps and services, what data and resources should be in the cloud or on-premises -- or in some combination -- are among the most consequential choices business leaders now face. As the confluence of cloud and unified communications (UC) -- along with data-driven analytics -- gain traction, the contact center function stands out.

Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes. Get the mobile app. Read a full transcript or  download a copy. 

We’ll now hear why traditional contact center technology has become outdated, inflexible and cumbersome, and why CCaaS is becoming more popular in meeting the heightened user experience requirements of today.
Here to share more on the next chapter of contact center and customer service enhancements, is Vasili Triant, CEO of Serenovain Austin, Texas. The discussion is moderated by Dana Gardner, principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions.

Here are some excerpts:

Gardner: What are the new trends reshaping the contact center function?

Triant:What’s changed in the world of contact center and customer service is that we’re seeing a generational spread -- everything from baby boomers all the way now to Gen Z.

With the proliferation of smartphones through the early 2000s, and new technologies and new channels -- things like WeChat and Viber -- all these customers are now potential inbound discussions with brands. And they all have different mediums that they want to communicate on. It’s no longer just phone or e-mail: It’s phone, e-mail, web chat, SMS, WeChat, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and there are other channels coming around the corner that we don't even know about yet.

Triant
When you take all of these folks -- customers or brands -- and you take all of these technologies that consumers want to engage with across all of these different channels – it’s simple, they want to be heard. It's now the responsibility of brands to determine what is the best way to respond and it’s not always one-to-one.

So it’s not a phone call for a phone call, it’s maybe an SMS to a phone call, or a phone call to a web chat -- whatever those [multi-channels] may be. The complexity of how we communicate with customers has increased. The needs have changed dramatically. And the legacy types of technologies out there, they can't keep up -- that's what's really driven the shift, the paradigm shift, within the contact center space.

Gardner:It’s interesting that the new business channels for marketing and capturing business are growing more complex. They still have to then match on the back end how they support those users, interact with them, and carry them through any sort of process -- whether it's on-boarding and engaging, or it’s supporting and servicing them.

What we’re requiring then is a different architecture to support all of that. It seems very auspicious that we have architectural improvements right along with these new requirements.

Triant:We have two things that have collided at the same time – cloud technologies and the growth of truly global companies.  

Most of the new channels that have rolled out are in the cloud. I mean, think about it -- Facebook is a cloud technology, Twitter is a cloud technology. WeChat, Viber, all these things, they are all cloud technologies. It’s becoming a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)-based world. The easiest and best way to integrate with these other cloud technologies is via the cloud -- versus on-premises. So what began as the shift of on-premises technology to cloud contact center -- and that really began in 2011-2012 – has rapidly picked up speed with the adoption of multi-channels as a primary method of communication.

The only way to keep up with the pace of development of all these channels is through cloud technologies because you need to develop an agile world, you need to be able to get the upgrades out to customers in a quick fashion, in an easy fashion, and in an inexpensive fashion. That's the core difference between the on-premises world and the cloud world.

At the same time, we are no longer talking about a United States company, an Australia company, or a UK company -- we are talking about everything as global brands, or global businesses. Customer service is global now, and no one cares about borders or countries when it comes to communication with a brand.
Customer service is global now, and no one cares about borders or countries when it comes to communications with a brand.


Gardner:We have been speaking about this through the context of the end-user, the consumer. But this architecture and its ability to leverage cloud also benefits the agent, the person who is responsible for keeping that end-user happy and providing them with the utmost in intelligent services. So how does the new architecture also aid and abet the agent.

Triant: The agent is frankly one of the most important pieces to this entire puzzle. We talk a lot about channels and how to engage with the customer, but that's really what we call listening. But even in just simple day-to-day human interactions, one of the most important things is how you communicate back. There has been a series of time-and-motion studies done within contact centers, within brands -- and you can even look at your personal experiences. You don’t have to read reports to understand this.
The baseline for how an interaction will begin and end and whether that will be a happy or a poor interaction with the brand, is going to be dependent on the agents’ state of mind. If I call up and I speak to “Joe,� and he starts the conversation, he is in a great mood and he is having a great day, then my conversation will most likely end in a positive interaction because it started that way.

But if someone is frustrated, they had a rough day, they can’t find their information, their computers have been crashing or rebooting, then the interaction is guaranteed to end up poor. You hear this all the time, “Oh, can you wait a moment, my systems are loading. Oh, I can’t get you an answer, that screen is not coming up. I can't see your account information.� The agents are frustrated because they can’t do their job, and that frustration then blends into your conversation.

So using the technology to make it easy for the agent to do their job is essential. If they have to go from one screen to another screen to conduct one interaction with the customer -- they are going to be frustrated, and that will lead to a poor experience with the customer.

The cloud technologies like Serenova, which is web-based, are able to bring all those technologies into one screen. The agent can have all the information brought to them easily, all in one click, and then be able to answer all the customer needs. The agent is happy and that adds to the customer satisfaction. The conclusion of the call is a happy customer, which is what we all want. That’s a great scenario and you need cloud technology to do that because the on-premises world does not deliver a great agent experience.

One-stop service

Gardner:Another thing that the older technologies don't provide is the ability to have a flexible spectrum to move across these channels. Many times when I engage with an organization I might start with an SMS or a text chat, but then if that can’t satisfy my needs, I want to get a deeper level of satisfaction. So it might end up going to a phone call or an interaction on the web, or even a shared desktop, if I’m in IT support, for example.

The newer cloud technology allows you to intercept via different types of channels, but you can also escalate and vary between and among them seamlessly. Why is that flexibility both of benefit to the end-user as well as the agent?

Triant: I always tell companies and customers of ours that you don't have to over-think this; all you have to do is look to your personal life. Most common things that we as users deal with -- such as cell phone companies, cable companies, airlines, -- you can get onto any of these websites and begin chatting, but you can find that your interaction isn’t going well. Before I started at Serenova, I had these experiences where I was dealing with the cable company and -- chat, chat, chat, -- trying to solve my problem. But we couldn't get there, and so then we needed to get on the phone. But they said, “Here is our 800 number, call in.� I’d call in, but I’d have to start a whole new interaction.

Basically, I’d have to re-explain my entire situation. Then, I am talking with one person, and they have to turn around and send me an email, but I am not going to get that email for 30 to 45 minutes because they have to get off the phone, and get into another system and send it off. In the meantime, I am frustrated, I am ticked off -- and guess what I have done now? I have left that brand. This happens across the board. I can even have two totally different types of interactions with the company.

You can use a major airline brand as an example. One of our employees called on the phone trying to resolve an issue that was caused by the airline. They basically said, “No, no, no.� It made her very frustrated. She decided she’s going to fly with a different airline now. She then sent a social post [to that effect], and the airline’s VP of Customer Service answered it, and within minutes they had resolved her issue. But they already spent three hours on the phone trying to push her off through yet another channel because it was a totally different group, a totally different experience.

By leveraging technologies where you can pivot from one channel to another, everyone will get answers quicker. I can be chatting with you, Dana, and realize that we need to escalate to a voice conversation, for example, and I as the agent; I can then turn that conversation into a voice call. You don't have to re-explain yourself and you are like, “Wow, that's cool! Now I’m on the phone with a facility,� and we are able to handle our business.

As agent, I can also pivot simultaneously to an email channel to send you something as simple as a user guide or a series of knowledge-based articles that I may have at my fingertips as an agent. But you and I are still on the phone call. Even better yet, after-the-fact, as a business, I have all the analytics and the business intelligence to say that I had one interaction with Dana that started out as a web chat, pivoted to a phone call, and I simultaneously then sent a knowledge-based article of “X� around this issue and I can report on it all at once. Not three separate interactions, not three separate events -- and I have made you a happy customer.

Gardner:We are clearly talking about enabling the agent to be a super-agent, and they can, of course, be anywhere. I think this is really important now because the function of an agent -- we are already seeing the beginnings of this -- but it's going to certainly include and increase having more artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning and associated data analytics benefits. The agent then might be a combination of human and AI functions and services.

So we need to be able to integrate at a core communications basis. Without going too far down this futuristic route, isn't it important for that agent to be an assimilation of more assets and more services over time?

Artificial Intelligence plus human support

Triant:I‘m glad you brought up AI and these other technologies. The reality is that we've been through a number of cycles around what this technology is going to do and how it is going to interact with an agent. In my view, and I have been in this world for a while, the agent is the most important piece of customer service and brand engagement. But you have to be able to bring information to them, and you have to be able to give information to your customers so that if there is something simple, get it to them as quick as possible -- but also bring all the relevant information to the agent.

AI has had multiple forms; it has existed for a long time. Sometimes people get confused because of marketing schemes and sales tactics [and view AI] as a way for cost avoidance, to reduce agents and eliminate staff by implementing these technologies. Really the focus is how to create a better customer experience, how to create a better agent experience.

We have had AI in our product for last three years, and we are re-releasing some components that will bring business intelligence to the forefront around the end of the year. What it essentially does is alIow you to see what you're doing as a user out on the Internet and within these technologies. I can see that you have been looking for knowledge-based articles around, for example, “why my refrigerator keeps freezing up and how can I defrost it.� You can see such things on Twitter and you can see these things on Facebook. The amount of information that exists out there is phenomenal and in real-time. I can now gather that information … and I can proactively, as a business, make decisions about what I want to do with you as a potential consumer.

I can even identify you as a consumer within my business, know how many products you have acquired from me, and whether you're a “platinum� customer or even a basic customer, and then make a decision.

For example, I have TVs, refrigerators, washer-dryers and other appliances all from the same manufacturer. So I am a large consumer to that one manufacturer because all of my components are there. But I may be searching a knowledge-based article on why the refrigerator continues to freeze up.

Now I may call in about just the refrigerator, but wouldn't it be great for that agent to know that I own 22 other products from that same company? I'm not just calling about the refrigerator; I am technically calling about the entire brand. My experience around the refrigerator freaking out may change my entire brand decision going forward. That information may prompt me to decide that I want to route that customer to a different pool of agents, based on what their total lifetime value is as a brand-level consumer.

Through AI, by leveraging all this information, I can be a better steward to my customer and to the agent, because I will tell you, an agent will act differently if they understand the importance of that customer or to know that I, Vasili, have spent the last two hours searching online for information, which I posted on Facebook and I posted on Twitter.
Through AI, by leveraging all this information, I can be a better steward to the customer and to the agent.

At that point, the level of my frustration already has reached a certain height on a scale. As an agent, if you knew that, you might treat me differently because you already know that I am frustrated. The agent may be able to realize that you have been looking for some information on this, realize you have been on Facebook and Twitter. They can then say: “I am really sorry, I'm not able to get you answers. Let me see how I can help you, it seems that you are looking online about how to keep the refrigerator from freezing up.�

If I start the conversation that way, I've now diffused a lot of the frustration of the customer. The agent has already started that interaction better. Bringing that information to that person, that’s powerful, that’s business intelligence -- and that’s creating action from all that information.

Keep your cool

Gardner:It’s fascinating that that level of sentiment analysis brings together the best of what AI and machine learning can do, which is to analyze all of these threads of data and information and determine a temperature, if you will, of a person's mood and pass that on to a human agent who can then have the emotional capacity to be ready to help that person get to a lower temperature, be more able to help them overall.

It’s becoming clear to me, Vasili, that this contact center function and CCaaS architectural benefits are far more strategic to an organization than we may have thought, that it is about more than just customer service. This really is the best interface between a company -- and all the resources and assets it has across customer service, marketing, and sales interactions. Do you agree that this has become far more strategic because of these new capabilities?

Triant:Absolutely, and as brands begin to realize the power of what the technology can do for their overall business, it will continue to evolve, and gain pace around global adoption.
As brands begin to realize the power of what the technology can do for their overall businesses, it will continue to evolve and gain global adoption.

We have only scratched the surface on adoption of these cloud technologies within organizations. A majority of brands out there look at these interactions as a cost of doing business. They still seek to reduce that cost versus the lifetime value of both the consumer, as well as the agent experience. This will shift, it is shifting, and there are companies that are thriving by recognizing that entire equation and how to leverage the technologies.

Technology is nothing without action and result. There have been some really cool things that have existed for a while, but they don’t ever produce any result that’s meaningful to the customer so they never get adopted and deployed and ultimately reach some type of a mass proliferation of results.

Gardner:You mentioned cost. Let’s dig into that. For organizations that are attracted to the capabilities and the strategic implications of CCaaS, how do we evaluate it in terms of cost? The old CapEx approach often had a high upfront cost, and then high operating costs, if you have an inefficient call center. Other costs involve losing your customers, losing brand affinity, losing your perception in the market. So when you talk to a prospect or customer, how do you help them tease out the understanding of a pay-as-you-go service as highly efficient? Does the highly empowered agent approach save money, or even make money, and CCaaS becomes not a cost center but a revenue generator?

Cost consciousness

Triant:Interesting point, Dana. When I started at Serenova about five years ago, customers all the time would say, “What’s the cost of owning the technology?� And, “Oh, my, on-premises stuff has already depreciated and I already own it, so it’s cheaper for me to keep it.� That was the conversation pretty much every day. Beginning in 2013, it rapidly started shifting. This shift was mainly driven by the fact that organizations started realizing that consumers want to engage on different channels, and the on-premises guys couldn’t keep up with this demand.

The cost of ownership no longer matters. What matters is that the on-premises guys just literally could not deliver the functionality. And so, whether that's Cisco, Avaya, or Shoretel, they quickly started falling away in consideration for technology companies that were looking to deploy applications for their business to meet these needs.

The cost of ownership quickly disappeared as the main discussion point. Instead it came around to, “What is the solution that you're going to deliver?� Customers that are looking for contact center technologies are beginning to take a cloud-first approach. And once they see the power of CCaaS through demonstration and through some trials of what an agent can do – and it’s all browser-based, there is no client install, there is no equipment on-premises - then it takes on a life of its own. It’s about, “What is the experience going to be? Are these channels all integrated? Can I get it all from one manufacturer?�

Following that, organizations focus on other intricacies around - Can it scale? Can it be redundant? Is it global? But those become architectural concerns for the brands themselves. There is a chunk of the industry that is not looking at these technologies, and they are stuck in brand euphoria or have to stay with on-premises infrastructure, or with a certain vendor because of their name or that they are going to get there someday.

As we have seen, Avaya has declared bankruptcy. Avaya does not have cloud technologies despite their marketing message. So the customers that are in those technologies now realize they have to find a path to keep up with the basic customer service at a global scale. Unfortunately, those customers have to find a path forward and they don’t have one right now.
It's less about cost of ownership and it’s more about the high cost of not doing anything. If I don't do anything, what’s going to be the cost? That cost ultimately becomes - I’m not going to be able to have engagement with my customers because the consumers are changing.
It's less about cost of ownership and it's more about the high cost of not doing anything.

Gardner:What about this idea of considering your contact center function not just as a cost center, but also as a business development function? Am I being too optimistic.

It seems to me that as AI and the best of what human interactions can do combine across multichannels, that this becomes no longer just a cost center for support, a check-off box, but a strategic must-do for any business.

Multi-channel customer interaction

Triant:When an organization reaches the pinnacle of happiness within what these technologies can do, they will realize that no longer do you need to have delineation between a marketing department that answers social media posts, an inside sales department that is only taking calls for upgrades and renewals, and a customer service department that’s dealing with complaints or inbound questions. They will see that you can leverage all the applications across a pool of agents with different skills.

I may have a higher skill around social media than over voice, or I may have a higher skill level around a sales activity, or renewal activity, over customer service problems. I should be able to do any interaction. And potentially one day it'll just be customer interaction department and the channels are just a medium of inbound and outbound choice for a brand.

But you can now take information from whatever you see the customer doing. Each of their actions have a leading indicator, everything has a predictive action prior to the inbound touch, everything does. Now that a brand can see that, it will be able to have “consumer interaction departments,� and it will be properly routed to the right person based on that information. You’ll be able to bring information to that agent that will allow them to answer the customer’s questions.

Gardner:I can see how that agent’s job would be very satisfying and fulfilling when you are that important, when you have that sort of a key role in your organization that empowers people. That’s good news for people that are trying to find those skills and fill those positions.

Vasili, we only have a few minutes left, but I’d love to hear about a couple of examples. It’s one thing to tell, it’s another thing to show. Do we have some examples of organizations that have embraced this concept of a strategic contact center, taken advantage of those multi-channels, added perhaps some intelligence and improved the status and capability of the agents -- all to some business benefit? Walk us through a couple of actual use cases where this has all come together.

Cloud communication culture shift

Triant:No one has reached that level of euphoria per se, but there are definitely companies that are moving in that direction.

It is a culture change, so it takes time. I know as well as anybody what it takes to shift a culture, and it doesn't happen overnight. As an example, there is a ride-hailing company that engages in a different way with their consumer, and their consumer might be different than what you think from the way I am describing it. They use voice systems and SMS and often want to pivot between the two. Our technology actually allows the agent to make that decision even if they aren’t even physically in the same country. They are dynamically spread across multiple countries to answer any question they may need to answer based on time and day.

But they can pivot from what’s predominantly an SMS inbound and outbound communication into a voice interaction, and then they can also follow up with an e-mail, and that’s already happened. Now, it initially started with some SMS inbound and outbound, then they added voice – an interesting move as most people think adding voice is what people are getting away from. What everyone has begun to realize is that live communication ultimately is what everybody looks for in the end to solve the more complex problems.
What everyone has begun to realize is that live communication ultimately is what everybody looks for in the end to solve the more complex problems.

That's one example. Another company that provides the latest technology in food order and delivery initially started with voice-only to order and deliver food. Now they've added SMS confirmations automatically, and e-mail as well for confirmation or for more information from the inbound voice call. And now, once they are an existing customer, they can even start an order from an SMS, and pivot back to a voice call for confirmation -- all within one interaction. They are literally one of the fastest growing alternative food delivery companies, growing at a global scale.

They are deploying agents globally across one technology. They would not be able to do this with legacy technologies because of the expense. When you get into these kinds of high-volume, low-margin businesses, cost matters. When you can have an OpEx model that will scale, you are adding better customer service to the applications, and you are able to allow them to build a profitable model because you are not burning them with high CapEx processes.

Gardner:Before we sign off, you had mentioned your pipeline about your products and services, such as engaging more with AI capabilities toward the end of the year. Could give us a level-set on your roadmap? Where are your products and services now? Where do you go next?

A customer journey begins with insight

Triant:We have been building cloud technologies for 16 years in the contact center space. We released our latest CCaaS platform in March 2016 called CxEngage. We then had a major upgrade to the platform in March of this year, where we take that agent experience to the next level. It’s really our leapfrog in the agent interface and making it easier, bringing in more information to them.

Where we are going next is around the customer journey -- predictive interactions. Some people call it AI, but I will call it “customer journey mapping with predictive action insights.� That’s going to be a big cornerstone in our product, including business analytics. It’s focused around looking at a combination of speech, data and text -- all simultaneously creating predictive actions. This is another core area we are going in an and continue to expand the reach of our platform from a global scale.

At this point, we are a global company. We have the only global cloud platform built on a single software stack with one data pipeline. We now have more users on a pure cloud platform than any of our competitors globally. I know that’s a big statement, but when you look at a pure cloud infrastructure, you're talking in a whole different realm of what services you are able to offer to customers. Our ability to provide a broad reach including to Europe, South Africa, Australia, India, and Singapore -- and still deliver good cloud quality at a reasonable cost and redundant fashion –  we are second to none in that space.

Gardner:I’m afraid we will have to leave it there. We have been listening to a sponsored BriefingsDirect discussion on how CCaaS capabilities are becoming more powerful as a result of cloud computing, multimode communications channels, and the ability to provide optimized and contextual user experiences.

And we’ve learned how new levels of insight and intelligence are now making CCaaS approaches able to meet the highest user experience requirements of today and tomorrow. So please join me now in thanking our guest, Vasili Triant, CEO of Serenova in Austin, Texas.

Triant:Thank you very much, Dana. I appreciate you having me today.

Gardner:This is Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions, your host and moderator for this ongoing series of BriefingsDirect discussions. A big thank you to our sponsor, Serenova, as well as to you, our audience. Do come back next time and thanks for listening.

Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes. Get the mobile app. Read a full transcript or  download a copy. Sponsor: Serenova.

Transcript of a discussion on how contact center-as-a-service capabilities are becoming more powerful to provide optimized and contextual user experiences for agents and customers. Copyright Interarbor Solutions, LLC, 2005-2017. All rights reserved.

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usiness sides and a confirmation that the IT and software industry have radically changed in the last couple of years.

Since last year’s partners Conference and influencer events, Teradata keeps moving forward with its evolutive process to adapt to the new business and technical dynamics of the market. These year’s event allowed analysts, pundits and influencers alike to have a glimpse of what Teradata is doing to deliver value to customers and new customers.

More Analytics, More Integration, More Scale...

In its continuous effort Teradata is making sure its offerings are available in all shapes and forms, more precisely, in all major Cloud and on-premises flavors as part of Teradata’s everywhere strategy. This includes launching Teradata in the Azure marketplace, and increasing geographic coverage for its own Manage Cloud. In the same pace, the company is also working to rapidly adjust to business and industry changes to continuously improve solution delivery and services.

Right from the get-go John Dining, Teradata’s Executive Vice President & Chief Business Officer, gave us a clear overview the enterprise analytics and data management software provider is working on different strategic paths to ensure the company remains a top of its industry market segment.

John Dining presenting at Teradat's 2017 Influencer Summit Event

One key and noteworthy aspect of this overall strategy is Teradata’s bold approach and continuing effort to match its product development with the creation of a business coherent proposal via three areas:


  • Reinforcing its multi-genre analytics strategy, which means widening the offering of analytics capabilities to strengthen user’s capabilities in areas such as text, path and graph analysis, among others.
  • Boldening Teradata’s power to perform more versatile and flexible data movement and integration operations to support an increasing number of sources and complex operations with data. This includes increasing Teradata’s ability to incorporate intelligence and automation for data management operations as well as developing vertical solutions for specific areas such as communications, finance or lines of business like marketing and devops.
  • Increasing Teradata’s ability to scale according with customer's’ needs, especially for those with big data management demands.

One important takeaway here in my view is Teradata’s clear path from a technical perspective, focusing on real technical challenges to be addressed by a majority of organizations and yet, at the same time, changing its message to be less technical and more business oriented to provide clarity especially to the enterprise market, a market they know perfectly well.

Blended Architectures are in the Future Oh! and Yes, they Need Service

In a time where organizations seem to be increasingly reluctant to invest in consulting services and keen to look for vanilla deployment solutions, Teradata seems to be taking a more realistic approach.

On one hand, by putting specific measures to reinforce its services business, and on the other, by clearly acknowledging that blended architectures and hybrid deployments will be the norm in the following years or at least for the time being, which means having high quality consulting and services can be key to ensure success, especially in complex analytics deployment scenarios.

Aside from their incumbent software solutions, by taking aim to restructure its service and consulting areas, Teradata aims to have a better position to act upon these complex deployments that require specialized services.

According to Teradata, the company has been working to consolidate its services areas, via important acquisitions in the likes of ThinkBig, Claraview and BigData Partnership, as well as working to integrate them into a coherent service model, its Teradata Global Services Initiative.

The initiative is prepared on three main areas through:


  • Think Big Analytics, the global analytics consultancy group group leading with expertise in areas such as data science, solution development and data visualization for different industries and functions.
  • Enterprise Data Consulting, the technology-enabled group with strong expertise on analytical ecosystems, providing services ranging from architecture, data management & governance, managed services, as well as security 
  • Customer Services, the group responsible for providing value and availability of analytic platforms via change management services, and with expertise in systems and software management 

The strategy seems to be well complemented with the inclusion of a complete business value framework that, asides from a comprehensive analytics strategy for customers, education and the inclusion of Teradata’s Rapid Consulting Engagement (RACE) strategy, is aimed to help customers leverage comprehensive solution in a matter of weeks and providing “agile� development models for is customers.



Teradata’s approach seem to make perfect sense, enabling the company to grow efficiently on the technology side, especially towards a hybrid cloud approach while ensuring the offering of high quality consulting services.

Now, can this approach carry challenges for the company?

It is possible, perhaps one challenge for Teradata will be to ensure successful delivery, especially in areas where being “agile� is a must, especially talking about big data and data science projects which more often than not tend to require fast times to deployment so, Teradata will need to make sure consulting, educational and all service offerings are fine tuned, and in tune with its software and hardware offerings own evolution.

For this then, the company is working to consolidate its technical and business messaging to the company’s strategy towards: the offering of hybrid cloud Solutions, business analytics solutions and full fledged ecosystem architecture consulting.

So, part of his strategy includes, aside from reinforcing its go to cloud strategy, accelerating its existing release calendar to offer three major release a year for its flagship product Teradata Database, reinforcing its Intelliflex data warehouse appliance with new functionality and the launch of Teradata Intellibase, Teradata’s compact environment for data warehousing and continued evolution of Intellicloud, the company’s secure managed cloud offering.

So, on the Big Picture...

Many more things happened and were revealed by Teradata, both publicly and under disclosure, but from a personal view, what still sticks with me as the relevant story is how Teradata is managing to keep its transformation at a pace and form that continuous to have a fine balance between its more “traditional� data management customers and its new customers to ensure both offerings ranging in the “typical� data warehousing and analytics space and those that require innovation via new advanced analytics and big data ecosystems.

Challenges may still wait ahead for Teradata due to an increased and more fierce competition but the data warehousing company seems to be adapting well to the new data management era.



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Through Storytelling

Consider this:

Data through the use of statistics: Employment in Company A has been substantial, and it has shown a 20% increase over the last year.

It does convey a message. However, it misses out in giving a clear picture on the “Why�, “Over how long� and other questions that might pop-up in the reader’s head.

Hence, If you want the same to be represented in a compelling way that keeps the reader wanting to know more, try this:

Data through Storytelling: The overwhelming response by prospective employees to get on board company A that thrives on employees development, fair practice and gender equality has seen an enthusiastic employee increase with an encouraging 20% increase in the last 12 months.

3 Reasons why this storytelling works:


It is easy to process for the human mind
It is easy to relate and recall even after a certain period
It breaks ...


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How Big Data Helps Us Design Better Vehicles

How Big Data Helps Us Design Better Vehicles

Manufacturers are relying on data more than ever, and drawing inspiration from physics, driver behavior, and statistics to design better vehicles. The more data we’re able to collect, analyze, and turn into actionable insights, the more advanced our consumer and commercial vehicles will become.

But how are data analysts and engineers working together to bring us better-designed road vehicles?

Types of Data to Collect

Let’s start by exploring some of the most important kinds of data that engineers use when they set out to design a new vehicle (or improve a current model):


Traffic and accident data. First, data collectors look to historical collision data, such as this map of motorcycle accidents in Texas. By studying when, where, and how collisions occur, vehicle designers can track down fault points in their own machines, learn the root causes for accidents in a live environment, and thereby design vehicles that have a higher likelihood of avoiding or mitigating damage from collisions.
Consumer-submitted data. Engineers try not to underestimate the power of consumer feedback. Vehicle designers take customer opinions very seriously, and collect as much data as they can from surveys and reviews to learn how to make their cars and trucks more appealing in the future. On ...


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Has Big Data Driven Down Airline Prices?

Has Big Data Driven Down Airline Prices?

Comparison shopping has never been easier than it is in the age of big data. In addition to all the different websites consumers can cross-check for the best deal, marketplace platforms have emerged as a big player in many industries, including air travel. With the number of apps and websites on the market designed to get passengers the cheapest airfare possible, you might assume that big data has had a major impact on the drop in airfares in the last few years. Last summer, an average round trip domestic ticket was coming in at $240—20% less than the average two years before. However, this drop isn’t necessarily all due to the impact of big data on the travel market—there are other factors involved as well. Here are some of the top influences on airline ticket prices. 

The Impact of Big Data

There are a number of apps and websites up and running to get travelers the best deals on the web. From Skyscanner, which allows users to find the cheapest month to their destination or lets them sort by month to ALL destinations, to Hopper, which allows travelers to track flight prices, there are more ways than ever to leverage data ...


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New Snowflake features released in Q1’17

New Snowflake features released in Q1’17

This post provides an overview of the major new Snowflake features we released during Q1 of this year, and highlights the main value they provide.
How to Start Incorporating Machine Learning in Enterprises

How to Start Incorporating Machine Learning in Enterprises

The world is long past the Industrial Revolution, and now we are experiencing an era of Digital Revolution. Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, and Big Data Analysis are the reality of today’s world.

I recently had a chance to talk to Ciaran Dynes, Senior Vice President of Products at Talend and Justin Mullen, Managing Director at Datalytyx. Talend is a software integration vendor that provides Big Data solutions to enterprises, and Datalytyx is a leading provider of big data engineering, data analytics, and cloud solutions, enabling faster, more effective, and more profitable decision-making throughout an enterprise.

The Evolution of Big Data Operations

To understand more about the evolution of big data operations, I asked Justin Mullen about the challenges his company faced five years ago and why they were looking for modern integration platforms. He responded with, “We faced similar challenges to what our customers were facing. Before Big Data analytics, it was what I call ‘Difficult Data analytics.’ There was a lot of manual aggregation and crunching of data from largely on premise systems. And then the biggest challenge that we probably faced was centralizing and trusting the data before applying the different analytical algorithms available to analyze the raw data and visualize the results in ...


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Learning about Blockchain and relevance to Analytics leaders (part 1)

Learning about Blockchain and relevance to Analytics leaders (part 1)

This week, I had the pleasure of attending #CityChain17 (blockchain conference) at IBM’s SouthBank offices.

Chaired by Paul Forrest (chairman of MBN Solutions), this was an opportunity to learn about Blockchain and how it is being applied.

In the past, I viewed the hype about Blockchain (following excitement about Bitcoin its most famous user) as just another fad that might pass.

However, as more businesses have got involved in piloting potential applications, it’s become obvious that there really is something in this – even if its’ manifestations are now much more commercial than the hacking by Bitcoin fans.

CityChain17 brought together a number of suppliers & those helping shape the industry. It was a great opportunity to hear, at times contradictory, voices and see what progress has been made toward ‘mainstream adoption’. There was so much useful content that I made copious notes & will share a series of two blog posts on this topic.

So, without further ado, as a new topic for our blog, here is part 1 of my recollections from this blockchain conference.

Introducing Blockchain & why it matters

The first speaker was John McLean from IBM. He reviewed the need businesses have for a solution to the problem of increasingly complex business & market networks, with the need to securely exchange assets, ...


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Will We Soon See Augmented Reality Boom?

Will We Soon See Augmented Reality Boom?

Technological innovations never cease to amaze people and it seems that technology will never run out of ways to surprise the world. Technologies such as augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) have been around for some time now. However, it was never a question about "if" but "when" will this technology create the next boom.

Well, that time is certainly upon us now, as the Apple kicks things off with their AR platform called ARKit, which they announced at their Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC 2017). We have seen the AR's attempt at a "grand entrance" with the release of Pokémon Go app, but the hype died down after less than a year. Still, the idea remained and it seems that this year, AR technology will make its way into our lives.

Apple's AR frontier

ARKit is the newest tool from Apple, that will help developers build AR into their apps. The technology revolves around motion sensors and already built-in graphics and processing modules inside the existing iPhones and iPads. This new AR platform will revolutionize the way digital content is brought into the real world and it will give people a whole new experience when using AR technology.

On one of the demos, ...


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FastChangeCo – A Fictitious Company

FastChangeCo – A Fictitious Company

The company FastChangeCo is a fictitious company I developed in 2015 to illustrate problems, challenges and opportunities our customer had in their projects. I used FastChangeCo successfully during my talks, workshops, trainings, coaching and projects.

FastChangeCo is a company founded in the early 20th century. Today, we would say it was a Start Up. The founder, Mr. Fast, had great ideas for building assembly lines which came up in the early 20th century used by Ford and others. During the following decades his company grew to become a big player in the nineties of the last century.
Nowadays, FastChangeCo has thousands of employees and thousands of products in different industries and billions of revenue.

How Is Cloud Data Influencing The Transportation Industry

How Is Cloud Data Influencing The Transportation Industry

Cloud computing is the use of a large network of remote servers that are hosted on the internet to manage, store, and process data as opposed to using a local server or a personal computer. It is also referred to as the on-demand delivery of database storage, computer power, and application, among other IT resources through a cloud platform. In cloud computing, no major investment is needed for hardware and time to manage data. It makes it possible to access unlimited resources instantly and only pay for what is needed.

How Cloud Data Works

Cloud computing has assured the availability of data to everyone through the on-demand model. Cloud computing technology involves storing and accessing programs and data over the internet as opposed to the traditional computer hard drive. This model of computing has transformed individual and business access to data around the world. It provides a simpler way of access to storage, database, servers, and other services through the internet.

Types of Cloud Data

There are three main types of cloud computing that include infrastructure as a service (IaaS), Software as a service (SaaS), and Platform as a service (PaaS). Each of these types has a unique application and purpose, which should be ...


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Understanding the Shortcomings of the Internet of Things

Understanding the Shortcomings of the Internet of Things

The Internet of Things (IoT) is expected to be a $267 billion market by 2020. A lot of this investment should happen in industries like manufacturing, transport, logistics, healthcare, and utilities while the consumer market alone is estimated to be worth around $25 billion over the next few years.

An internet connected manufacturing or transportation device is expected to be more dynamic and efficient. One might remember Tesla first tweaking the suspension system of their Model S cars by simply pushing in a wireless update in late 2013. At the other end of the spectrum, a farmer could deploy devices that monitor ambient humidity and temperature that can dynamically control the flow of water over irrigation channels. While technology as this can bring about tremendous improvements in productivity and efficiency, it is also important to look into the hazards and shortcomings that such deployments may bring.

Hacking

Disabling thousands of computers with a ransomware or halting online commerce through DDoS-type attacks are commonplace today. Although such cyber-attacks are known to cause losses worth millions of dollars, they are still benign in the sense that no lives are lost. That might not be the case when IoT becomes mainstream. Could a car be hacked to run ...


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4 Guidelines for Building a Successful Data Catalog

4 Guidelines for Building a Successful Data Catalog

Building a successful and functional data catalog is a time-consuming and tedious task to the uninitiated. While it seems tiresome, you need to understand the benefits of having a centralized data catalog that all of your staff members can access and utilize. It doesn’t only lower or eliminate downtime, but keeps everyone up-to-date and informed of any changes and additions in your work status. Here are some of the guidelines you can follow in order to build a data catalog that gives you a business advantage.

Create a timeline

While gathering data and organizing it into a sensible catalog will be difficult in itself, creating a plan on how to do it is just as important. The data catalog you will create is meant for everyone and it’s important that the catalog is easy to manage, update and search. Don’t give the entire task to one person. Not only will they get lost in all the data, but the responsibility is simply too big for one person to manage.

Create a task force of a few trusted employers that will answer directly to management. Gather everyone you appointed and create a general timeline with milestones and work division. You will be handling huge ...


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Python or R: Which One Should You Learn First?

Python or R: Which One Should You Learn First?

Python or R? Which is easier to learn? Which one should I learn first? These are some of the enquiries that often come from aspirants looking to start a career in the data industry. This article will answer all those questions and help you to have a good understanding of both the languages.

Data Science is a flourishing industry, with a lot of organisations using data analysis to find ways to improve their business. The data industry will continue to be an attractive one for years to come and will create a lot of job opportunities for data professionals. According to a report by the American management consulting firm, McKinsey, there will be an “acute shortage of 190,000 professionals with deep analytical skills and 1.5 million managers with expertise in the industry� by 2018. This might not be a positive news for the industry but it is certainly a great news for data science professionals.

The demand will increase and the demand for experts in the field will shoot through the roof. If you’re interested in a data career, it is high time to get a certification to prove your skills. Enrol in a Hadoop course or become proficient in a programming ...


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Could Cyber Attacks Destroy the Digital World?

Could Cyber Attacks Destroy the Digital World?

Nowadays, there are very few things left that we cannot do online. The vast majority of operations and services have been directed to the World Wide Web, all in the aim of optimizing the offline world. Connecting the entire world to a vast web of databases has made the twenty-first century society thrive at a blinding speed. But this cyber-progress has also rendered modern society vulnerable to an entirely new type of attacks.

Data hacking has evolved alongside data development, up to the point where it has reached cyber terrorism. These attacks can have significant political consequences, but the main targets remain businesses, which can be greatly affected by data breaches. This makes cyber security of paramount importance because a solid defense program is the only measure that can keep a business safe.

Critical Cyber Attacks of the Past Years

These last few years have seen some of the most brutal cyber attacks in digital history. The most important aspect relayed by these attacks was the vulnerability of the online society, as the consequences of these data breaches proved to have a great impact on global politics. Here are a few noteworthy examples:

01. The Ransomware Attack

In May 2017, the ransomware attack has severely ...


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Deep Learning: Einstein Or Savant?

Deep Learning: Einstein Or Savant?

Artificial intelligence is one of the hottest topics in analytics today. Currently, the most popular member of the AI family, deep learning is solving some very difficult problems very well. Best known for image recognition, it is now being applied to a wide range of other problems.

Given the success of the approach, it is easy to forgive people for thinking that deep learning is incredibly intelligent. However, once you dig into deep learning, you’ll find that as opposed to being a generally brilliant algorithm akin to Albert Einstein, it is much more akin to a savant like the famous movie character from Rain Man. In other words, a deep learning process is really smart at a specific task or two, but not smart at all for anything else.

General Versus Specific Intelligence

First, let me define what I mean by general intelligence (i.e. Einstein) and specific intelligence (i.e Rain Man). Einstein was a brilliant man who was able to solve a wide range of problems. More importantly, he was also able to identify entirely new problems to solve and entirely new ways to solve those new problems. That’s really smart! His gift was the ability to guide himself through problem formulation and ...


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Securing Competitive Advantage with Machine Learning

Securing Competitive Advantage with Machine Learning

Business dynamics are evolving with every passing second. There is no doubt that the competition in today's business world is much more intense than it was a decade ago. Companies are fighting to hold on to any advantages.

Digitalization and the introduction of machine learning into day-to-day business processes have created a prominent structural shift in the last decade. The algorithms have continuously improved and developed.

Every idea that has completely transformed our lives was initially met with criticism. Acceptance is always followed by scepticism, and only when the idea becomes a reality does the mainstream truly accept it. At first, data integration, data visualisation and data analytics were no different.

Incorporating data structures into business processes to reach a valuable conclusion is not a new practice. The methods, however, have continuously improved. Initially, such data was only available to the government, where they used it to make defence strategies. Ever heard of Enigma?

In the modern day, continuous development and improvement in data structures, along with the introduction of open source cloud-based platforms, has made it possible for everyone to access data. The commercialization of data has minimised public criticism and scepticism. 

Companies now realise that data is knowledge and knowledge are power. Data ...


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Why Big Data and Analytics are the Most on-demand Skills Today?

Why Big Data and Analytics are the Most on-demand Skills Today?

By 2024, the world's enterprise servers are set to annually process the digital equivalent of a pile of books that extends to more than 4.37 light-years to Alpha Centauri, our closest neighbouring star system in the Milky Way Galaxy. And according to the authors of this report published by the UC San Diego, some of the information is quickly discarded, and is transient. But the bulk of the data (literally the iceberg below the water) needs to be sorted, interpreted, and analysed.

Big Data and Analytics are THE hot skills in demand today. And it is easy to see why.

What’s the buzz around Big Data?

According to the International Data Corporation (IDC), the big data market is poised to grow from $130.1 billion in 2016 to more than $203 billion in 2020, at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11.7%. 84 percent of mid-market businesses in Australia has taken the Big Data route by deploying appropriate solutions. To be able to be sustainable and efficient, businesses are looking at leveraging the power of Big Data as an important item on their corporate agenda.

According to several industry experts, the Big Data sector has recorded six times faster growth than the average growth ...


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How to Navigate the Ethics of Data Gathering

How to Navigate the Ethics of Data Gathering

Big data has changed how companies do business. With the collection of massive amounts of data, that data can later be analyzed to find actionable intelligence a company can use to sell more products and increase profits. It’s a very powerful tool to have that can help you transform something that was previously going unused into a source of competitive advantage. This is why two-thirds of all companies have chosen to invest in big data analytics.

While collecting and analyzing this data does have strong advantages, you also have to take some care while doing so. As with anything that could conceivably involve the personal data of customers and other private individuals, you have to be aware that there could be ethical concerns relating to how that data is utilized.

Personalized Advertising

One of the most common applications for big data is as a means to personalize advertising. In the past, advertisements were only deployed through mediums like print, radio, TV, billboards and direct mail. With most of these platforms, personalized advertising was impossible. Instead, ads had to target large swaths of consumers with the hope at least some people would be reached that would be interested in purchasing a product.

However, today, with ...


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How is the Internet of things reshaping the banking industry?

How is the Internet of things reshaping the banking industry?

The Internet of Things (IoT) is evolving at a rate of knots. Bricks and mortar banks need to respond to the dynamism in the payments arena by providing online and mobile services that meet exigencies of the market. FinTech innovation has created an entirely new paradigm that can render old-school methodology defunct. 

If banks don’t keep up with the current changes with the Internet of Things, they could find themselves at the back of the line. Digital devices, novel technologies and widespread innovation are driving the banking industry in ways never seen. In the days of old, checkbooks, credit cards, and bank visits were necessary. Today, none of that is.

How is the Internet of things reshaping the banking industry?

For one thing, cloud computing technology is here. Throw in AI (artificial intelligence), big data and machine learning, and it’s a whole new ballgame. The interrelatedness of these types of technology ensures that constant upgrades, analysis, and technical expertise is needed in the banking industry. Banks have the wherewithal to meet these challenges head on. They are operating at the forefront, with vast resources at their disposal. Ironically, it’s the smaller FinTech companies that can navigate these volatile waters more easily than the ...


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What does new GDPR European Union law mean for your business?

What does new GDPR European Union law mean for your business?

Today’s consumers are more powerful than ever before, and get every bit of information that they can before they make a purchase. The Internet is helping them greatly, and most of the buying is done online. The pace is so rapid that it won’t be long before online purchases are more common than offline ones.


What does this mean for businesses?

You have to unify your marketing and sales channels so that you can understand your consumers better, and can offer them a personalized cross-channel experience. Customer experience is the trick to mastering this. And so, you must come up with ways that allow you to improve and offer a seamless customer experience across all channels, so much so that you outdo your competitors if you want most of the market share.

Consider the examples of Apple, Amazon, and other giant retailers out there. What are the common elements in their marketing and sales campaign? Following potential leads and consumers over multiple channels and sending them personalized messages. They have advanced analytics systems in place that give them insight, which are then used for delivering a better customer experience than before.

As of now, current technologies allow businesses to control their clients’ data. But all ...


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How Big Data is Changing the Music Industry

How Big Data is Changing the Music Industry

The music industry has needed a face-lift for a long time. Luckily, the advent of big data might provide musicians with a more successful revenue model. This represents one of the biggest industry shifts that music has seen in decades. Let's explore the possibilities big data currently offers the long-suffering music industry.

A New Revenue Model

The entire revenue model of the music industry has changed in the last decade. Although streaming sites like Spotify helped curb online piracy, the music industry hasn't yet clearly defined the royalty rates for streaming music.

Big data might change that, because it helps bring artists and corporations together more effectively via high speed data analysis such as a Hadoop cluster. Data from streaming sites provide companies fantastic insights into the genres and styles their target demographic currently likes.

Although there's a long-raging debate about "selling out", it's starting to look like a big data-backed strategy might be the last refuge to get musicians paid.

The Failure of Subscription Services

YouTube recently unveiled their long-awaited subscription music service. It's a move designed to improve what some describe as their "absolute advertising overkill". Analysts are critical of this move--it certainly didn't work for Pandora or Spotify (not to name dozens of ...


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Biometric Passwords and What It Means For You

Biometric Passwords and What It Means For You

The world of passwords and security is always growing, as criminals are constantly finding new ways to circumvent or crack what protects things of true value. It’s why passwords now require numbers, symbols, capital letters, and more.

It’s also why many companies and individuals worried about security are turning to biometric passwords. It’s possible to steal or break a password, but it is much harder to fake a password that is made up of a fingerprint or a picture of a person’s face.

As the technology improves, biometric passwords are likely to become a new norm, with every piece of sensitive information protected by something tied to a person’s unique body. Here are just some of the ways biometric passwords are being created and what it can mean for your security.

Fingerprints: Their Benefits and Flaws

Fingerprints are the most commonly used form of identifican and biometric security measure. For identifying people, fingerprints have been utilized since the 1890s. But back then, it required ink, paper, and a magnifying glass to compare them. Now, a fingerprint can be scanned with a simple sensor the size of button.

Fingerprints are easy to use and a great first step into biometric security. One of the major benefits ...


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Virtual Reality – Shaping the Future of Retail Industry

Virtual Reality – Shaping the Future of Retail Industry

Right from artificial intelligence (AI) to augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), the latest, emerging technologies are shaping the retail industry at an expeditious pace. Albeit, not yet in the hands of every customer, virtual reality (VR) is gaining a lot traction in the e-commerce industry, lately, and is finding its place in the technology market.

Virtual reality is changing the retail industry not just because of the reasons that customers are covering their eyes with VR glasses. But, the concept of an entirely personalized customer experience, showcasing products you wish, in a place you can relate to, without having to leave your home is sufficient to hone the appetite of a consumer.

On the other side, retailers are also desirous in leveraging the advantages of the virtual reality (VR) solutions, with the virtual reality industry expected to reach nearly $150 billion by the year 2020.

Vcommerce (Virtual reality commerce) is not going to replace e-commerce, not in the near future, at least -- But rather become a supportive technology, defining a true omnichannel experience to shoppers. The real ability of vcommerce is bridging the “trust gap� online shoppers and their online shopping experiences. There are still brick and mortar retailers who ...


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Women in business leadership — networking their way to success

Women in business leadership — networking their way to success

The next BriefingsDirect digital business insights panel discussion focuses on the evolving role of women in business leadership. We’ll explore how pervasive business networks are impacting relationships and changes in business leadership requirements and opportunities for women.

Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes. Get the mobile app. Read a full transcript or download a copy. Sponsor: SAP Ariba.

To learn more about the transformation of talent management strategies as a result of digital business and innovation, please join me in welcoming our guests, Alicia Tillman, Chief Marketing Officer at SAP Ariba, and Lisa Skeete Tatum, Co-founder and CEO of Landit in New York. The panel was recorded in association with the recent 2017 SAP Ariba LIVE conference in Las Vegas, and is moderated by Dana Gardner, principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions.

Here are some excerpts:

Gardner: Alicia, looking at a confluence of trends, we have the rise of business networks and we have an advancing number of women in business leadership roles. Do they have anything to do with one another? What's the relationship?

Tillman
Tillman: It is certainly safe to say that there is a relationship between the two. Networks historically connected businesses mostly from a transactional standpoint. But networks today are so much more about connecting people. And not only connecting them in a business context, but also from a relationship-standpoint as well.

There is as much networking and influence that happens in a digital network as  does from meeting somebody at an event, conference or forum. It has really taken off in the recent years as being a way to connect quickly and broadly -- across geographies and industries. There is nothing that brings you speed like a network, and that’s why I think there is such a strong correlation to how digital networking has taken off -- and what a true technical network platform can allow.

Gardner: When people first hear “business networks,� they might think about transactions and applications talking to applications. But, as you say, this has become much broader in the last few years; business networks are really about social interactions, collaboration, and even joining companies culturally.

How has that been going? Has this been something that’s been powerful and beneficial to companies?

Tillman: It’s incredibly powerful and beneficial. If you think about how buying habits are these days, buyers are very particular about the goods that they are interested in, and, frankly, the people that they source from.

Skeete Tatum
If I look at my buying population in particular at SAP Ariba, there is a tremendous movement toward sustainable goal or fair-trade types of responsibilities, of wanting to source goods from minority-owned businesses, wanting to source only organic or fair-trade products, wanting to only partner with organizations where they know within their supply chain the distribution of their product is coming from locations in the world where the working conditions are safe and their employees are being paid fairly.

A network allows for that; the SAP Ariba Network certainly allows for that, as we can match suppliers directly with what those incredibly diverse buyer needs are in today’s environment.

Gardner: Lisa, we just heard from Alicia about how it's more important that companies have a relationship with one another and that they actually look for culture and character in new ways. Tell us about Landit, and how you're viewing this idea of business networks changing the way people relate to their companies and even each other?

Skeete Tatum: Our goal at Landit is to democratize career success for women around the globe. We have created a technology platform that not only increases the success and engagement of women in the workplace, but it also enables companies in this new environment to attract, develop, and retain high-potential diverse talent.
Our goal at Landit is to democratize career success for women around the globe.

We do that by providing each woman with the personalized playbook in the spirit of one-size-fits-one. That empowers them with the access to the tools, the resources, the know-how, and, yes, the human connections that they need to more successfully navigate their paths.

It’s really in response to the millions of women who will find themselves at an inflection point; whether they are in a company that they love but are just trying to figure out how to more successfully navigate there, or they may be feeling a little stuck and are not sure how to get out. The challenge is: “I am motivated, I have the skills, I just don’t know where to start.�

We have really focused on knitting what we believe are those key elements together -- leveraged by technology that actually guides them. But we find that companies in this new environment are often overwhelmed and trying to figure out a way to manage this new diverse workforce in this era of connectedness. So we give them a turnkey, one-size-fits-one solution, too.

As Alicia mentioned, in this next stage of collaborative businesses, there are really two things. One, we are more networked and more visible than ever before, which is great, because it’s created more opportunities and flexibility than we have seen -- not to mention more access. However, those opportunities are highly dependent on how someone showcases their value, their contribution, and their credibility, which makes it even more important to cultivate not only your brand and your network. It goes beyond just individual capabilities of getting at what is the sponsorship in the support of a strong network.

The second thing I would say, that Alicia also mentioned, is that today’s business environment -- which is more global, more diverse in its tapestry -- requires businesses to create an environment where everyone feels valued. People need to feel like they can bring the full measure of their talent and passion to the workplace. Companies want amazing talent to find a place at their company.

Gardner: If I’m at a company looking to be more diverse, how would I use Landit to accomplish that? Also, if I were an individual looking to get into the type of company that I want to be involved with, how would I use Landit?

Connecting supply and demand for talent

Skeete Tatum: As an individual, when you come on to Landit, we actually give you one of the key ingredients for success. Because we often don’t know what we don’t know, we knit together the first step, of “Where do I fit?� If you are not in a place that fits with your values, it’s not sustainable.

So we help you figure out what is it that fits with “all of me,� and we then connect you to those opportunities. Many times with diversity programs, they are focused just on the intake, which is just one component. But you want people to thrive when they get there.
Many times with diversity programs, they are focused just on the intake, which is just one component. But you want people to thrive when they get there.

And so, whether it is building your personal brand or building your board of advisors or continuing with your skill development in a personalized, relevant way -- or access to coaching because often many of us don’t have that unless we are in the C-suite on the way -- we are able to knit that together in a way that is relevant, that’s right-sized for the individual.

For the company, we give them a turnkey solution to invest in a scalable way, to touch more lives across their company, particularly in a more global environment. Rather than having to place multiple bets, they place one bet with Landit. We leverage that one-size-fits-one capability with things that we all know are keys to success. We are then able to have them deliver that again, whether it is to the newly minted managers or people they have just acquired or maybe they are leaders that they want to continue to invest in. We enable them to do that in a measurable way, so that they can see the engagement and the success and the productivity.

Gardner: Alicia, I know that SAP Ariba is already working to provide services to those organizations that are trying to create diversity and inclusion within their supply chains. How do you see Landit fitting into the business network that SAP Ariba is building around diversity?

Tillman: First, the SAP Ariba Network is the largest business to business (B2B) network on the planet. We connect more than 2.5 million companies that transact over $1 trillion in commerce annually. As you can imagine, there is incredible diversity in the buying requirements that exist amongst those companies that are located in all parts of the world and work in virtually every industry.

One of things that we offer as an organization is a Discoverytool. When you have a network that is so large, it can be difficult and a bit daunting for a buyer to find the supplier that meets their business requirements, and for a supplier to find their ideal buyer. So our SAP Ariba Discovery application is a matching service, if you will, that enables a buyer to list their requirements. You then let the tool work for you to allow matching you to suppliers that most meet your requirements, whatever they may be.

I’m very proud to have Lisa present at our Women in Leadership Forum at SAP AribaLIVE 2017. I am showcasing Lisa not only because of her entrepreneurial spirit and the success that she’s had in her career -- that I think will be very inspirational and motivational to women who are looking to continue to develop their careers -- but she has also created a powerful platform with Landit. For women, it helps provide a digital environment that allows them to harness precisely what it is that’s important to them when it comes to career development, and then offers the coaching in the Landit environment to enable that.
For women, it helps provide a digital environment that allows them to harness precisely what it is that’s important to them when it comes to career development.

Landit also offers companies an ability to support their goals around gender diversity. They can look at the Landit platform and source talent that is not only very focused on careers -- but also supports a company in their diversity goals. It’s a tremendous capability that’s necessary and needed in today’s environment.

Gardner: Lisa, what has changed in the past several years that has prompted this changed workforce? We have talked about the business network as an enabler, and we have talked about social networks connecting people. But what's going to be different about the workforce going forward?

Collaborative visibility via networking

Skeete Tatum: There are three main things. First, there is a recognition that diversity is not a “nice to have,� it’s a “must-have� from a competitive standpoint; to acquire the best ideas and gain a better return on capital. So it’s a business imperative to invest in and value diversity within one's workforce. Second, businesses are continuing to shift toward matching opportunities with the people who are best able to do that job, but in a less-biased way. Thirdly, business-as-usual isn’t going to work in this new reality of career management.
Business-as-usual isn’t going to work in this new reality of career management.

It’s no longer one- or bi-directional, where it’s just the manager or the employee. It’s much more collaborative and driven by the individual. And so all of these things … where there is much more opportunity, much more freedom. But how do you anchor that with a problem and a framework and a connectivity that enables someone to more successfully navigate the new environment and new opportunities? How do you leverage and build your network?  Everyone knows they need to do it, but many people don’t know how to do it. Or when your brand is even more important, visibility is more important, how do you develop and communicate your accomplishments and your value? It is the confluence of those things coming together that creates this new world order.

Gardner: Alicia, one of the biggest challenges for most businesses is getting the skills that they need in a timely fashion. How do we get past the difficulty of best matching hiring?  How do we use business networks to help solve that?

Tillman: This is the beauty of technology. Technology is an enabler in business to form relationships more quickly, and to transact more quickly. Similarly, technology also provides a network to help you grow from a development standpoint. Lisa’s organization, Landit, is one example of that.

Within SAP Ariba we are very focused on closing the gap in gaining the skills that are necessary to be successful in today’s business environment. I look at the offering of SAP SuccessFactors- which is  focused on empowering the humancapital management (HCM) organization to lead performance management and career development. And SAP Fieldglass helps companies find and source the right temporary labor that they need to service their most pressing projects. Combine all that with a business network, and there is no better place in today’s environment to find something you need -- and find it quickly.

But it all comes down to the individual’s desire to want to grow their skills, or find new skills, to get out of their comfort zone and try something new. I don’t believe there is a shortage of tools or applications to help enable that growth and talent. It comes down to the individual’s desire to want to grab it and go after it.

Maximize your potential with technology

Skeete Tatum: I couldn’t agree more. The technology and the network are what create the opportunity. In the past, there may have been a skills gap, but you have to be able to label it, you have to be able to identify it in a way that is relevant to the individual. As Alicia said, there are many opportunities out there for development, but how do you parse that down and deliver it to the individual in a way that is relevant -- and that’s actionable? That’s where a network comes in and where the power of one can be leveraged in a scalable way.

Now is probably one of the best times to invest in and have an individual grow to reach their full potential. The desire to meet their goals can be leveraged by technology in a very personal way.

Gardner: As we have been hearing here at SAP Ariba LIVE 2017, more-and-more technologies along the lines of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) – are taking advantage of all the data and analyzing it and making it actionable -- can now be brought to bear on this set of issues of matching workforce requirements with skill sets.

Where should we expect to see these technologies reduce the complexity and help companies identify the right workforce, and the workforce identify the right companies?

Having the data and being able to quantify and qualify it gives you the power to set a path forward.
Skeete Tatum: Having the data and being able to quantify and qualify it gives you the power to set a path forward. The beauty is that it actually enables everyone to have the opportunity to contribute, the opportunity to grow, and to create a path and a sense of belonging by having a way to get there. From our perspective, it is that empowerment and that ownership -- but with the support of the network from the overall organization -- that enables someone to move forward. And it enables the organization to be more successful and more embracing of this new workforce, this diverse talent.

Tillman: Individuals should feel more empowered today than ever before to really take their career development to unprecedented levels. There are so many technologies, so many applications out there to help coach you on every level. It’s up to the individual to truly harness what is standing in front of them and to really grab hold of it -- and use it to their advantage to reach their career goal.

Gardner: Lisa, what should you be thinking about from a personal branding perspective when it comes to making the best use of tools like Landit and business networks?

Skeete Tatum: The first thing is that people actually have to think of themselves as a brand, as opposed to thinking that they are bragging or being boastful. The most important brand you have is the brand of you.
The most important brand you have is the brand of you.

Second, people have to realize that this notion of building your brand is something that you nurture and it develops over time. What we believe is important is that we have to make it tangible, we have to make it actionable, and we have to make it bite-size, otherwise it seems overwhelming.

So we have defined what we believe are the 12 key elements for anyone to have a successful brand, such as have you been visible, do you have a strategic plan of you, are you seeking feedback, do you have a regular cadence of interaction with your network, et cetera. Knowing what to do and how to do it and at what cadence and at what level is what enables someone to move forward. And in today’s environment, again, it’s even more important.

Pique their curiosity by promoting your own

Tillman: Employers want to be sure that they are attracting candidates and employing candidates that are really invested in their own development. An employer operates in the best interest of the employee in terms of helping to enable tools and allow for that development to occur. At the same time, where candidates can really differentiate themselves in today’s work environment is when they are sitting across the table and they are in that interview. It's really important for a candidate to talk about his or her own development and what are they doing to constantly learn and support their curiosity.

Employers want curious people. They want those that are taking advantage of development and tools and learning, and these are the things that I think set people apart from one another when they know that individually they are going to go after learning opportunities and push themselves out of their comfort zone to take themselves – and ultimately the companies that employ them - to the next level.

Gardner: Before we close out, let’s take a peek into the crystal ball. What, Alicia, would be your top two predictions given that we are just on sort of an inflection point with this new network, with this new workforce and the networking effect for it?

Tillman: First, technology is only going to continue to improve. Networks have historically enabled buyers and sellers to come together and transact to build their organizations and support growth, but networks are taking on a different form.

Technology is going to continue to enable priorities professionally and priorities personally. Technology is going to become a leading enabler of a person’s professional development.

Second, individuals are going to set themselves apart from others by their desire and their hunger to really grab hold of that technology. When you think about decision-making among companies in terms of candidates they hire and candidates they don’t, employers are going to report back and say, “One of the leading reasons why I selected one candidate over another is because of their desire to learn and their desire to grab hold of technologies and networks that were standing in front of them to bring their careers to an unprecedented level.�

Gardner: Lisa, what are your top two predictions for the new workforce and particularly for diversity playing a bigger role?
Technology ... enables people to bring their full selves, the full measure of their talent, to the workplace.

Skeete Tatum: Technology is the ultimate leveler of the playing field. It enables companies as well as the individual to make decisions based on things that matter. That is what enables people to bring their full selves, the full measure of their talent, to the workplace.

In terms of networks in particular, they have always been a key element to success but now they are even more important. It actually poses a special challenge for diverse talent. They are often not part of the network, and they may have competing personal responsibilities that make the investment of the time and the frequency in those relationships a challenge.

Sometimes there is a discomfort with how to do it. We believe that through technology people will have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. They need to learn not only how to codify their network, but also have the right access to the right person with the right cadence, and access to that know how, that guidance, can be delivered through technology.

Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes. Get the mobile app. Read a full transcript or download a copy. Sponsor: SAP Ariba.
Women in business leadership — networking their way to success

Women in business leadership — networking their way to success

The next BriefingsDirect digital business insights panel discussion focuses on the evolving role of women in business leadership. We’ll explore how pervasive business networks are impacting relationships and changes in business leadership requirements and opportunities for women.

Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes. Get the mobile app. Read a full transcript or download a copy. Sponsor: SAP Ariba.

To learn more about the transformation of talent management strategies as a result of digital business and innovation, please join me in welcoming our guests, Alicia Tillman, Chief Marketing Officer at SAP Ariba, and Lisa Skeete Tatum, Co-founder and CEO of Landit in New York. The panel was recorded in association with the recent 2017 SAP Ariba LIVE conference in Las Vegas, and is moderated by Dana Gardner, principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions.

Here are some excerpts:

Gardner: Alicia, looking at a confluence of trends, we have the rise of business networks and we have an advancing number of women in business leadership roles. Do they have anything to do with one another? What's the relationship?

Tillman
Tillman: It is certainly safe to say that there is a relationship between the two. Networks historically connected businesses mostly from a transactional standpoint. But networks today are so much more about connecting people. And not only connecting them in a business context, but also from a relationship-standpoint as well.

There is as much networking and influence that happens in a digital network as  does from meeting somebody at an event, conference or forum. It has really taken off in the recent years as being a way to connect quickly and broadly -- across geographies and industries. There is nothing that brings you speed like a network, and that’s why I think there is such a strong correlation to how digital networking has taken off -- and what a true technical network platform can allow.

Gardner: When people first hear “business networks,� they might think about transactions and applications talking to applications. But, as you say, this has become much broader in the last few years; business networks are really about social interactions, collaboration, and even joining companies culturally.

How has that been going? Has this been something that’s been powerful and beneficial to companies?

Tillman: It’s incredibly powerful and beneficial. If you think about how buying habits are these days, buyers are very particular about the goods that they are interested in, and, frankly, the people that they source from.

Skeete Tatum
If I look at my buying population in particular at SAP Ariba, there is a tremendous movement toward sustainable goal or fair-trade types of responsibilities, of wanting to source goods from minority-owned businesses, wanting to source only organic or fair-trade products, wanting to only partner with organizations where they know within their supply chain the distribution of their product is coming from locations in the world where the working conditions are safe and their employees are being paid fairly.

A network allows for that; the SAP Ariba Network certainly allows for that, as we can match suppliers directly with what those incredibly diverse buyer needs are in today’s environment.

Gardner: Lisa, we just heard from Alicia about how it's more important that companies have a relationship with one another and that they actually look for culture and character in new ways. Tell us about Landit, and how you're viewing this idea of business networks changing the way people relate to their companies and even each other?

Skeete Tatum: Our goal at Landit is to democratize career success for women around the globe. We have created a technology platform that not only increases the success and engagement of women in the workplace, but it also enables companies in this new environment to attract, develop, and retain high-potential diverse talent.
Our goal at Landit is to democratize career success for women around the globe.

We do that by providing each woman with the personalized playbook in the spirit of one-size-fits-one. That empowers them with the access to the tools, the resources, the know-how, and, yes, the human connections that they need to more successfully navigate their paths.

It’s really in response to the millions of women who will find themselves at an inflection point; whether they are in a company that they love but are just trying to figure out how to more successfully navigate there, or they may be feeling a little stuck and are not sure how to get out. The challenge is: “I am motivated, I have the skills, I just don’t know where to start.�

We have really focused on knitting what we believe are those key elements together -- leveraged by technology that actually guides them. But we find that companies in this new environment are often overwhelmed and trying to figure out a way to manage this new diverse workforce in this era of connectedness. So we give them a turnkey, one-size-fits-one solution, too.

As Alicia mentioned, in this next stage of collaborative businesses, there are really two things. One, we are more networked and more visible than ever before, which is great, because it’s created more opportunities and flexibility than we have seen -- not to mention more access. However, those opportunities are highly dependent on how someone showcases their value, their contribution, and their credibility, which makes it even more important to cultivate not only your brand and your network. It goes beyond just individual capabilities of getting at what is the sponsorship in the support of a strong network.

The second thing I would say, that Alicia also mentioned, is that today’s business environment -- which is more global, more diverse in its tapestry -- requires businesses to create an environment where everyone feels valued. People need to feel like they can bring the full measure of their talent and passion to the workplace. Companies want amazing talent to find a place at their company.

Gardner: If I’m at a company looking to be more diverse, how would I use Landit to accomplish that? Also, if I were an individual looking to get into the type of company that I want to be involved with, how would I use Landit?

Connecting supply and demand for talent

Skeete Tatum: As an individual, when you come on to Landit, we actually give you one of the key ingredients for success. Because we often don’t know what we don’t know, we knit together the first step, of “Where do I fit?� If you are not in a place that fits with your values, it’s not sustainable.

So we help you figure out what is it that fits with “all of me,� and we then connect you to those opportunities. Many times with diversity programs, they are focused just on the intake, which is just one component. But you want people to thrive when they get there.
Many times with diversity programs, they are focused just on the intake, which is just one component. But you want people to thrive when they get there.

And so, whether it is building your personal brand or building your board of advisors or continuing with your skill development in a personalized, relevant way -- or access to coaching because often many of us don’t have that unless we are in the C-suite on the way -- we are able to knit that together in a way that is relevant, that’s right-sized for the individual.

For the company, we give them a turnkey solution to invest in a scalable way, to touch more lives across their company, particularly in a more global environment. Rather than having to place multiple bets, they place one bet with Landit. We leverage that one-size-fits-one capability with things that we all know are keys to success. We are then able to have them deliver that again, whether it is to the newly minted managers or people they have just acquired or maybe they are leaders that they want to continue to invest in. We enable them to do that in a measurable way, so that they can see the engagement and the success and the productivity.

Gardner: Alicia, I know that SAP Ariba is already working to provide services to those organizations that are trying to create diversity and inclusion within their supply chains. How do you see Landit fitting into the business network that SAP Ariba is building around diversity?

Tillman: First, the SAP Ariba Network is the largest business to business (B2B) network on the planet. We connect more than 2.5 million companies that transact over $1 trillion in commerce annually. As you can imagine, there is incredible diversity in the buying requirements that exist amongst those companies that are located in all parts of the world and work in virtually every industry.

One of things that we offer as an organization is a Discoverytool. When you have a network that is so large, it can be difficult and a bit daunting for a buyer to find the supplier that meets their business requirements, and for a supplier to find their ideal buyer. So our SAP Ariba Discovery application is a matching service, if you will, that enables a buyer to list their requirements. You then let the tool work for you to allow matching you to suppliers that most meet your requirements, whatever they may be.

I’m very proud to have Lisa present at our Women in Leadership Forum at SAP AribaLIVE 2017. I am showcasing Lisa not only because of her entrepreneurial spirit and the success that she’s had in her career -- that I think will be very inspirational and motivational to women who are looking to continue to develop their careers -- but she has also created a powerful platform with Landit. For women, it helps provide a digital environment that allows them to harness precisely what it is that’s important to them when it comes to career development, and then offers the coaching in the Landit environment to enable that.
For women, it helps provide a digital environment that allows them to harness precisely what it is that’s important to them when it comes to career development.

Landit also offers companies an ability to support their goals around gender diversity. They can look at the Landit platform and source talent that is not only very focused on careers -- but also supports a company in their diversity goals. It’s a tremendous capability that’s necessary and needed in today’s environment.

Gardner: Lisa, what has changed in the past several years that has prompted this changed workforce? We have talked about the business network as an enabler, and we have talked about social networks connecting people. But what's going to be different about the workforce going forward?

Collaborative visibility via networking

Skeete Tatum: There are three main things. First, there is a recognition that diversity is not a “nice to have,� it’s a “must-have� from a competitive standpoint; to acquire the best ideas and gain a better return on capital. So it’s a business imperative to invest in and value diversity within one's workforce. Second, businesses are continuing to shift toward matching opportunities with the people who are best able to do that job, but in a less-biased way. Thirdly, business-as-usual isn’t going to work in this new reality of career management.
Business-as-usual isn’t going to work in this new reality of career management.

It’s no longer one- or bi-directional, where it’s just the manager or the employee. It’s much more collaborative and driven by the individual. And so all of these things … where there is much more opportunity, much more freedom. But how do you anchor that with a problem and a framework and a connectivity that enables someone to more successfully navigate the new environment and new opportunities? How do you leverage and build your network?  Everyone knows they need to do it, but many people don’t know how to do it. Or when your brand is even more important, visibility is more important, how do you develop and communicate your accomplishments and your value? It is the confluence of those things coming together that creates this new world order.

Gardner: Alicia, one of the biggest challenges for most businesses is getting the skills that they need in a timely fashion. How do we get past the difficulty of best matching hiring?  How do we use business networks to help solve that?

Tillman: This is the beauty of technology. Technology is an enabler in business to form relationships more quickly, and to transact more quickly. Similarly, technology also provides a network to help you grow from a development standpoint. Lisa’s organization, Landit, is one example of that.

Within SAP Ariba we are very focused on closing the gap in gaining the skills that are necessary to be successful in today’s business environment. I look at the offering of SAP SuccessFactors- which is  focused on empowering the humancapital management (HCM) organization to lead performance management and career development. And SAP Fieldglass helps companies find and source the right temporary labor that they need to service their most pressing projects. Combine all that with a business network, and there is no better place in today’s environment to find something you need -- and find it quickly.

But it all comes down to the individual’s desire to want to grow their skills, or find new skills, to get out of their comfort zone and try something new. I don’t believe there is a shortage of tools or applications to help enable that growth and talent. It comes down to the individual’s desire to want to grab it and go after it.

Maximize your potential with technology

Skeete Tatum: I couldn’t agree more. The technology and the network are what create the opportunity. In the past, there may have been a skills gap, but you have to be able to label it, you have to be able to identify it in a way that is relevant to the individual. As Alicia said, there are many opportunities out there for development, but how do you parse that down and deliver it to the individual in a way that is relevant -- and that’s actionable? That’s where a network comes in and where the power of one can be leveraged in a scalable way.

Now is probably one of the best times to invest in and have an individual grow to reach their full potential. The desire to meet their goals can be leveraged by technology in a very personal way.

Gardner: As we have been hearing here at SAP Ariba LIVE 2017, more-and-more technologies along the lines of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) – are taking advantage of all the data and analyzing it and making it actionable -- can now be brought to bear on this set of issues of matching workforce requirements with skill sets.

Where should we expect to see these technologies reduce the complexity and help companies identify the right workforce, and the workforce identify the right companies?

Having the data and being able to quantify and qualify it gives you the power to set a path forward.
Skeete Tatum: Having the data and being able to quantify and qualify it gives you the power to set a path forward. The beauty is that it actually enables everyone to have the opportunity to contribute, the opportunity to grow, and to create a path and a sense of belonging by having a way to get there. From our perspective, it is that empowerment and that ownership -- but with the support of the network from the overall organization -- that enables someone to move forward. And it enables the organization to be more successful and more embracing of this new workforce, this diverse talent.

Tillman: Individuals should feel more empowered today than ever before to really take their career development to unprecedented levels. There are so many technologies, so many applications out there to help coach you on every level. It’s up to the individual to truly harness what is standing in front of them and to really grab hold of it -- and use it to their advantage to reach their career goal.

Gardner: Lisa, what should you be thinking about from a personal branding perspective when it comes to making the best use of tools like Landit and business networks?

Skeete Tatum: The first thing is that people actually have to think of themselves as a brand, as opposed to thinking that they are bragging or being boastful. The most important brand you have is the brand of you.
The most important brand you have is the brand of you.

Second, people have to realize that this notion of building your brand is something that you nurture and it develops over time. What we believe is important is that we have to make it tangible, we have to make it actionable, and we have to make it bite-size, otherwise it seems overwhelming.

So we have defined what we believe are the 12 key elements for anyone to have a successful brand, such as have you been visible, do you have a strategic plan of you, are you seeking feedback, do you have a regular cadence of interaction with your network, et cetera. Knowing what to do and how to do it and at what cadence and at what level is what enables someone to move forward. And in today’s environment, again, it’s even more important.

Pique their curiosity by promoting your own

Tillman: Employers want to be sure that they are attracting candidates and employing candidates that are really invested in their own development. An employer operates in the best interest of the employee in terms of helping to enable tools and allow for that development to occur. At the same time, where candidates can really differentiate themselves in today’s work environment is when they are sitting across the table and they are in that interview. It's really important for a candidate to talk about his or her own development and what are they doing to constantly learn and support their curiosity.

Employers want curious people. They want those that are taking advantage of development and tools and learning, and these are the things that I think set people apart from one another when they know that individually they are going to go after learning opportunities and push themselves out of their comfort zone to take themselves – and ultimately the companies that employ them - to the next level.

Gardner: Before we close out, let’s take a peek into the crystal ball. What, Alicia, would be your top two predictions given that we are just on sort of an inflection point with this new network, with this new workforce and the networking effect for it?

Tillman: First, technology is only going to continue to improve. Networks have historically enabled buyers and sellers to come together and transact to build their organizations and support growth, but networks are taking on a different form.

Technology is going to continue to enable priorities professionally and priorities personally. Technology is going to become a leading enabler of a person’s professional development.

Second, individuals are going to set themselves apart from others by their desire and their hunger to really grab hold of that technology. When you think about decision-making among companies in terms of candidates they hire and candidates they don’t, employers are going to report back and say, “One of the leading reasons why I selected one candidate over another is because of their desire to learn and their desire to grab hold of technologies and networks that were standing in front of them to bring their careers to an unprecedented level.�

Gardner: Lisa, what are your top two predictions for the new workforce and particularly for diversity playing a bigger role?
Technology ... enables people to bring their full selves, the full measure of their talent, to the workplace.

Skeete Tatum: Technology is the ultimate leveler of the playing field. It enables companies as well as the individual to make decisions based on things that matter. That is what enables people to bring their full selves, the full measure of their talent, to the workplace.

In terms of networks in particular, they have always been a key element to success but now they are even more important. It actually poses a special challenge for diverse talent. They are often not part of the network, and they may have competing personal responsibilities that make the investment of the time and the frequency in those relationships a challenge.

Sometimes there is a discomfort with how to do it. We believe that through technology people will have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. They need to learn not only how to codify their network, but also have the right access to the right person with the right cadence, and access to that know how, that guidance, can be delivered through technology.

Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes. Get the mobile app. Read a full transcript or download a copy. Sponsor: SAP Ariba.
How Can You Tackle the Dirty Data Problem

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However, the reality is more complicated than that. Often information is incomplete, therefore misleading. Moreover, data has a bad habit to change constantly. People move homes and change their jobs and phone numbers, start families, gain or lose weight, dye hair, start or quit shaving, develop new medical conditions and eating habits. Your data is decaying by the hour. It is important that you do regular revision and updates of your databases. Cleaning up the “dirty� data is an important and often overlooked task, necessary to prevent costly mistakes.

What do you mean “dirty�?

Let’s make it clear: there are no “clean� data sets. The life is complicated, messy and full of “white noise� and irrelevant facts. Even the most “tidy� and ...


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Today’s organizations and businesses are being driven by customer experience, and those who make it their number one priority are the ones who will really stand out from the competition. Businesses can give more personalized offerings to their customers and ultimately drive higher conversions by building ideal customer profiles. These profiles can answer questions such as “which customers will buy next month?�, “what marketing content is the best for a particular client?�, and “what customers will be our largest spenders?� Answering these kinds of questions will lead businesses to target the right individuals and ideal customers all through the use of big data mining and predictive analytics through machine learning. And ...


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The pressure on organizations to make accurate and timely business decisions has turned data into an important strategic asset for businesses.

In today’s dynamic marketplace, a business’s ability to use data to identify challenges, spot opportunities, and adapt to change with agility is critical to its survival and long-term success. Therefore, it has become an absolute necessity for businesses to establish an objective, data-driven culture that empowers employees with the capabilities and skills they need to analyse data and use the insights extracted from it to facilitate a faster, more accurate decision-making process.

Contrary to what many people think, cultivating a data-driven culture is not just a one-time transformation. Instead, it’s more like a journey that requires efforts from employees and direction from both managers and executives. In this article, I am sharing five different ways businesses can accelerate their transformation into a data-driven enterprise.

1. Establish a Clear Vision

Establishing a clear vision is essential for putting data into the DNA of an organization. An executive, preferably the CIO or CDO, should present the vision to the workforce and provide the rationale for this shift in culture and in benefits. This, in turn, will set stage for the work ahead and provide an ...


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How To Measure The Effectiveness Of Corporate Training | Simplilearn

How To Measure The Effectiveness Of Corporate Training | Simplilearn

How To Measure The Effectiveness Of Corporate Training | Simplilearn When you plan training and development for your organization, you expect to gain improved skills and productivity, greater retention rates, and an improved brand. After you deliver any type of corporate training, you must ask yourself these questions: How effective was the training in helping learners gain relevant knowledge and skills? Could t...Read More.
What makes a Digital Marketer Successful? | Simplilearn

What makes a Digital Marketer Successful? | Simplilearn

What makes a Digital Marketer Successful? | Simplilearn Today’s digital marketing landscape develops and changes at the speed of light. Consequently, fast-paced digital companies need flexible digital marketers who are not only willing to keep up with cutting-edge trends, but able to master them before the competition does.  In a world where nearly all activities for work or play are connecte...Read More.
Trends Shaping Machine Learning in 2017 | Simplilearn

Trends Shaping Machine Learning in 2017 | Simplilearn

Trends Shaping Machine Learning in 2017 | Simplilearn Technologies in the field of data science are progressing at an exponential rate. The introduction of Machine Learning has revolutionized the world of data science by enabling computers to classify and comprehend large data sets. Another important innovation which has changed the paradigm of the world of the technology is Artificial Intelligence (A...Read More.
3 Things IT Companies Can Learn from AAG Cloud Revenue Numbers | Simplilearn

3 Things IT Companies Can Learn from AAG Cloud Revenue Numbers | Simplilearn

3 Things IT Companies Can Learn from AAG Cloud Revenue Numbers | Simplilearn In a kind of cloud revenue ‘alignment of the stars,’ the big three cloud providers—Amazon Web Services (AWS), Azure, and Google, known collectively as AAG—announced their financial data on April 28. I always pay attention to the financial announcements because they offer real insight to the state of enterprise IT cloud adop...Read More.
Five Reasons the Cloud is Your Future | Simplilearn

Five Reasons the Cloud is Your Future | Simplilearn

Five Reasons the Cloud is Your Future | Simplilearn Cloud computing isn’t just a smart choice for innovative businesses—it’s necessary. Nearly everyone recognizes that cloud computing is an unstoppable trend in the IT industry. However, that general agreement obscures an important truth: IT organizations differ in where they are in their journey to cloud computing. While some are...Read More.
How the Internet of Things Influences the Financial Services Sector

How the Internet of Things Influences the Financial Services Sector

The advent of Internet of Things (IoT) is long gone, as now the boom is on the horizon. The statistics of the network calls for a staggering 25 billion gadgets and a worth of $2 trillion global economic benefits by 2020. This seemingly “third industrial revolution� automatically directs us to think about its effects on retail, manufacturing, energy, and transportation industries, while the financial services does not come to mind that easily.

Since the basic concept of IoT technology relates to the transfer of data, and the workability of financial sector relies greatly on the data gathering and analyzing, it’s not hard to imagine the impact of IoT-based solutions and devices on the financial services industry. Several global financial institutions like retail banks have invested significantly in creating their own internal infrastructure and consumer-oriented technologies. IDC Financial Insights has foretold that retail banks will invest about $16 billion and more on digital information technology workarounds, while the spending is not going to decrease any time soon. Further as per PWC’s 6<sup>th</sup> annual digital IQ survey, financial services is among the leading top 10 industries that are focused on spending in sensors for powerful IoT solutions.

The point of IoT is to make ...


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Five Ways To Cultivate a Data-driven Culture for Your Business | Simplilearn

Five Ways To Cultivate a Data-driven Culture for Your Business | Simplilearn

Five Ways To Cultivate a Data-driven Culture for Your Business | Simplilearn The pressure on organizations to make accurate and timely business decisions has turned data into an important strategic asset for businesses. In today’s dynamic marketplace, the ability for businesses to use data to identify challenges, spot opportunities, and adapt to change with agility is critical to its survival and long-term success. T...Read More.
The Merger of Technology and Nutrition

The Merger of Technology and Nutrition

The influx of technology in healthcare has revolutionized the domain. It has opened doors for new opportunities in the field of scientific research in anatomy, morphology, and physiology of human body by providing relevant and accurate data insights. Not only that, it has made individuals more empowered than ever to be in control of their health, stay informed on their health status and take efficient measures to improve their quality of health.

Here is an insight into some ways in which the integration of technology with health and nutrition has brought significant benefits for people.

Improving the Quality of Diagnostics for Malnutrition

Malnutrition is the prime cause of a majority health disorders. It weakens the immune system, causes a deficiency of essential nutrients and makes the human body prone to a number of pathogenic diseases. Malnutrition stays undiagnosed until you consult a physician and undergo some medical tests.

Since most people do not go for a regular medical checkup, they stay unaware of the nutrient deficiencies prevailing within their body. However, mobile-based apps and healthcare technology have made it convenient for people to stay aware of their health status and watch out for the symptoms of any nutrient deficiency. Such apps and technology is ...


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Star Data Science Candidates Don’t Just Shine for You

Star Data Science Candidates Don’t Just Shine for You

The data science market is strongly driven by its candidates.

The availability of people within this field is not keeping up with the demand for their services, and the better candidates in the market are in huge demand when they come to look for a new role. Counter offers are standard practice and it's unusual if a good candidate doesn’t have multiple offers. Even signed employment contracts are not always respected.

The candidates are most definitely king, and their ability shines to all corners of the market. To attract their attention, employers and us recruiters have to shine right back at them. We have to make ourselves attractive to them.

IT recruiters are starting to jump on the big data bandwagon

Running a data science recruitment firm, the key from my point of view is maintaining an unprecedented level of (industry expert) service. Large IT recruiters are starting to jump on the big data bandwagon, but their knowledge is not deep enough to talk at the required level. We do our best to join the debate on social media and “play� in the same conference and event sandpits where our candidates congregate. We want to be advisors rather than market traders. When you have ...


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Home Smart Home: Domesticating the Internet of Things

Home Smart Home: Domesticating the Internet of Things

The smart home technology boom is upon us. Despite lucrative projections for the market, and ever increasing numbers of connected devices, we have yet to witness much social impact from consumer adoption into the home. As a potential tipping point looms, there are several debates surrounding privacy, integration and other technical issues. Yet, there seems to be less speculation regarding why consumers still haven’t bought into the hype, nor how domestic life has improved. Considering how personal the home is, should it be concerning that those advertising these products discuss quality of life less than data, energy and ‘security’? Is the adoption of the Internet of Things into our homes inevitable, or is it already here?

Somewhere in the Near Future

The smart person returns to their certified ‘Internet - of -Things‘ smart home after a long day at work. The smart security system senses that the smart person is alone and initiates the ‘Friday Night In’ sequence. Inside, an intercom with a standardized motherly voice suggests that the smart person might want to order in tonight. The smart person unloads their things in the kitchen where the smart stove displays a selection of take out, rather than it’s default recipe guide. Following the arrival of the food, the smart ...


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3 Processes the Cloud Lets Ecommerce Businesses Automate

3 Processes the Cloud Lets Ecommerce Businesses Automate

One of the biggest advantages to being an ecommerce company is that you can focus on the core essentials without worrying about all of the superfluous details that other businesses often get caught up in. But unless you learn how to automate these processes, you don’t stand a chance of being successful.

The 3 Processes You Should be Automating

As marketer Neil Miller explains, “Automation is moving the needle of business efficiency and simplifying human lives in general.� He goes on to point out that, “Organizations that embrace business process automation have cut costs, saved time, and asked their manual workforce to solve more intelligent problems. They let machines do the rote tasks, while eliminating the chances of human errors.�

If you’re still trying to tackle everything on your own, you’re missing out. Not only are you being inefficient, but you’re ultimately going to wear yourself down to a point where you aren’t able to operate at your maximum capacity.

You need to leverage the power of automation and, as Miller says, move the needle of business efficiency. Thanks to advanced cloud-based software, this is more possible than ever before. Here are a few specific processes to consider automating.

1. Digital Marketing

You may think you’re ...


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How IoT Smart Home Automation Can Transform Our Lives

How IoT Smart Home Automation Can Transform Our Lives

Lately, the term IoT (Internet of Things) and smart home automation have been creating a buzz in the IT industry. Smart homes occupied with connected products have made our daily lives better, simpler, and comfortable. Now imagine that you are heading home on a super hot sunny day.

You usually after going home, you have to turn your conditioner and wait until the room or house to get cool. But what if you can turn your air conditioner on on your way home by simply using your smartphone. How nice would it be. Right?

Or imagine that you are making dinner and you ask Alexa to read the news so that you can concentrate on your cooking. There are obviously no limitations for smart home systems and of course, the home automation seems to be in the limelight now and in the future.

Smart Home Devices- The New Wave of the Future

The global smart home market is expected to reach an estimate of nearly 40 billion dollars by the year 2020. This includes all smart home appliances from dryers and refrigerators to air conditioners, smart home security and safety devices like close circuit cameras and alarm systems, and smart home energy appliances such ...


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Predict & Win! The ICC Champions Trophy 2017 Contest | Simplilearn

Predict & Win! The ICC Champions Trophy 2017 Contest | Simplilearn

<p>Here&rsquo;s an <a href="https://www.simplilearn.com/engagographic-article" target="_blank">Engagographic</a> to help predict the winners of every ICC Champions Trophy 2017 game. Send us your predictions for the winning team and stand a chance to win Amazon shopping vouchers <b style="font-weight:bol...Read More.
What Does it Take to be Data Scientist at Uber

What Does it Take to be Data Scientist at Uber

Among the marquee brands that a data science professional would like to join, Uber is likely to be top of many lists. But do you really have what it takes to become a Uberite?

BigInsights Principal Raj Dalal met up with Uber’s Chief Data Architect M C Srivas on a recent visit to San Francisco, where, in the course of the hour-long conversation, Srivas spoke of what data analytics meant for Uber, and how data innovation was being used to further, what is now popularly known around the world as “the Uber model.�

In the first part of this three-part series, we tried to understand how data analytics was the key to Uber’s success, while in the second part, we looked at Uber’s future plans based on data analytics.

In this third and last part of the interview, we look at what Uber looks for in a potential data scientist.

What Uber looks for in a potential data scientist?

Raj: As Fortune 500 companies focus on corporate innovation and hire chief data officers and chief innovation officers. What advice would you give to them in the role of data as an enabler to   drive innovation.

Srivas: It depend on the products of the company, and the analytics that ...


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Tired of boring Infographics? Introducing Engagographics | Simplilearn

Tired of boring Infographics? Introducing Engagographics | Simplilearn

Tired of boring Infographics? Introducing Engagographics | Simplilearn We all know the importance of engaging content in SEO. In last few years, Infographics have emerged as one of the most popular ways to enhance the content and get backlinks. There are various tools available such as Piktochart which helps generate Infographics with minimal effort. Yet, Infographics are a static piece of content, having no user int...Read More.
The Advent of a New Synergy: the Blockchain & Cloud

The Advent of a New Synergy: the Blockchain & Cloud

The increasing demand for processing power from various industries has seen the growth and evolution of computing technologies to meet this demand. Over the past few years, the tech industry has seen a number of buzzwords that have tremendously impacted the industry such as the Internet of Things, Cloud computing, big data technologies among others.

Cloud infrastructures are mainly used to run these Big Data applications. Blockchain has not yet become a buzzword, but given that it provides a solution to a question that has not been solved since the dawn of the internet (How can users get to trust various online transactions?); it will definitely become a household name. Blockchain further promises to improve cloud technology in a multiplicity of ways.

Improves the Cloud’s Quality-of-Service

Cloud resources are availed under Service Level Agreement (SLA) that provides the conditions that determines whether a computer resource is being utilized appropriately. Blockchain can effectively track resource usage allowing both the provider and the client to verify that the Service Level Agreement has been fulfilled accordingly and establish who is responsible for paying compensation fees or reporting faults.

Facilitate a move to Distributed Cloud

A Blockchain that runs in the cloud will transform it into a distributed Cloud, ...


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What Types of Tools are IoT Developers Actually Using?

What Types of Tools are IoT Developers Actually Using?

IoT platforms were on the cusp of reaching the peak of inflated expectations in Gartner’s Hype Cycle from August 2016. Not surprisingly – there are literally hundreds of them, and counting. Also, the word ‘platform’ is used for anything, from network infrastructure to hardware components to cloud services. In the end, IoT owes its boom in popularity to more and better tools becoming available for developers. In this article, we shed some light on the types of tools that IoT developers are actually using.

The IoT tool market is still underdeveloped and heavily fragmented

Despite the proliferation of IoT platforms and other tools, the IoT tool market is still underdeveloped and heavily fragmented. We asked IoT developers to select technologies they use out of a list of 15 categories. On average, IoT developers use 2.9 types of tools in that list, or one in five out of the list; professionals slightly more at 3.5 tool types. That’s comparatively fewer than developers in other sectors like cloud, mobile, or web, where developers use a quarter to a third of the tools listed. Part of the reason is fragmentation: not every tool is comprehensive enough to be relevant to a large number of developers. ...


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Data Model Scorecard

Data Model Scorecard

Objective review and data quality goals of data models

Did you ever ask yourself which score your data model would achieve? Could you imagine  90%, 95% or even 100% across 10 categories of objective criteria?

No?
Yes?

Either way, if you answered with “no” or “yes”, recommend using something to test the quality of your data model(s). For years there have been methods to test and ensure quality in software development, like ISTQB, IEEE, RUP, ITIL, COBIT and many more. In data warehouse projects I observed test methods testing everything: loading processes (ETL), data quality, organizational processes, security, …
But data models? Never! But why?

Big Data in Banking Services: Advantages and Challenges

Big Data in Banking Services: Advantages and Challenges

Because of the confidential nature of data in banking services, most of the financial institutions have been slow in adapting to big data even though they do realize that there are huge benefits in terms of customer centricity.

As of today, 12% of banks are in the process of deploying big data through a big data consulting company, 25% of banks are expanding their big data implementations, while 38% are exploring their options and 25% are experimenting by implementing big data in limited environments.

There are various factors that influence the decision of banking services of whether or not to integrate big data. The following are the considerations that go into the decision-making:

Advantages

1. Efficient risk management that helps detect errors and frauds in real-time

Business Intelligence (BI) tools that function on top of big data to provide analytics can identify the risks in sanctioning loans to potential customers. Banks can analyze the market trends according to regional data available and decide on lowering or increasing interest rates in that segment.

Errors while copying data from forms manually are reduced to minimum. Other data entry errors are also rectified before they can affect the working of the bank, as big data analytics can point out ...


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The Many Applications of Virtual Reality Technology

The Many Applications of Virtual Reality Technology

Many people are familiar with the term "virtual reality", but are not sure about uses of this technology. Gaming is an obvious application of virtual reality, as virtual worlds, but there are a number of applications for virtual reality - some of which are more complex or unusual than others.

Many industries have already adopted virtual reality

Healthcare

Virtual reality has several applications for healthcare. One use which is not really new is the use of VR therapy. For example, psychiatrists use VR in cognitive-behavioral therapy to treat patients with social anxiety or phobia things like flying, public speaking, or height. A controlled environment allows physicians to subject their patient to modeling and guide them about how to deal with how they feel.

Frontiers Medical Journal in Neurology published a study on using virtual reality to treat the phantom pain of people who have lost a limb. The therapy uses sensors that collect the brain nerve inputs, and patients must complete the game using a virtual tip. So if the amputee feels like they are clenching their fists, see a virtual element that helps control them to learn to relax their fist.

Real Estate

Developers entered into cooperation with Virtual Arch for VR tours in 3D, ...


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4 Young Industries That Already Understand the Value of Big Data

4 Young Industries That Already Understand the Value of Big Data

Many of the industries that have tapped into big data’s potential have been around for hundreds of years, and it often took the people within those sectors quite a while to realize that big data offered valuable capabilities.

However, there are other, much-newer industries — including those spotlighted below — that didn’t take long to figure out how to use big data in worthwhile ways.

1. Online Dating

Not too long ago, people had to rely on face-to-face interactions to find Mr. or Mrs. Right, but now an increasing number of individuals are turning to the online realm for matchmaking purposes.

It’s often hard to look for the gems of humanity among the thousands of profiles, but many leading online dating sites use big data to help users have more successful results.

The online dating industry generates more than $2 billion per year. Some of the companies within it, ones using big data, know the technology could solidify reputations of certain sites over others and lead to higher customer satisfaction rates.

The most popular sites for online dating boast millions of members, so big data applications have plenty of information to sort. The ways these sites use big data varies. Some capture statistics about how people ...


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Internet of Things: The Bedrock for Building the Connected

Internet of Things: The Bedrock for Building the Connected

After the Industrial Revolution of the 1920s, the ground is now set for the next revolution. This timeit is not heavy-machinery that is spearheading the revolution, instead tiny sensor fixated devices are the main characters here. We are in the verge of a revolution led by Internet-connected things.  

What is the Internet of Things? Why is it so Hyped?

The Internet of Things (popularly referred to as IoT) is a concept that has been in the works since 1990s. In fact, the ATM machines that we use frequently are all early stage prototypes of IoT use cases.

IoT enables users to connect, communicate and control their devices from remote locations. Tiny sensors work behind the screens of IoT devices to turn them into gateways for Internet connectivity.  

Cisco estimates that by 2020 at least 4.9 Billion devices will become connected.

Apart from the sheer number of devices that will become connected, it is the digital transformation in the way we live that makes IoT so hyped.

With time, like the growth of smartphones, IoT devices will become a constant presence in our lives. From connected homes to smart cities and automated city traffic controls, the possibilities are literally infinite.

Internet of Things Use Cases Across ...


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