Category Archives: Industry News

News You Can Use: 4/26/2017

  • Buy American, Hire American – Coming Soon to Impact a Supply Chain Near You

    The Buy American, Hire American order is two-fold. The Buy American agenda will: (1) instruct agencies to conduct comprehensive assessments; (2) target waivers and exceptions allowing foreign goods advantages in U.S. government procurement; (3) require a review of WTO’s Agreement on Government Procurement and other trade deals to ensure compliance with new standards; (4) require Buy American bidding processes to take into account unfair trade practices; and (5) promote American-made steel. The Hire American agenda will: (1) enforce laws governing entry of foreign workers in order to promote rising wages and more employment; and (2) direct agencies to propose reforms to H-1B program.

    Industry trade groups, including the American Petroleum Institute and Interstate Natural Gas Association of America, claim the order will reduce competition leading to higher prices. Ken Simonson of the Association of General Contractors, states he expects prices to go up on key materials for construction projects, such as fuel, lumber, steel, and copper. Simonson warns trade restrictions limit the ability of contractors and manufacturers to control costs leading to projects being deferred or even canceled.

    http://www.natlawreview.com/article/buy-american-hire-american-coming-soon-to-impact-supply-chain-near-you
    Note: I have been trying to keep up with this topic personally and put together this post last week and Episode 58 of SourceCast.

  • FCC Chairman Ajit Pai Faces Balancing Act in Net Neutrality Rollback

    No matter which path he eventually chooses—fast or slow—Mr. Pai might feel he has to start soon. That is because he faces at least some risk that the lone remaining Democrat on the commission, Mignon Clyburn, could leave at some point after her term expires in June. There are already two vacancies on the five-member commission, so her departure could leave the FCC without a quorum, at least until a successor is confirmed. Then it would be far more difficult for the agency to vote on major policy changes—even just initiating them.

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/fcc-chairman-ajit-pai-faces-balancing-act-in-net-neutrality-rollback-1492340400

  • Has supply chain growth outpaced the talent it requires?

    “There have been a lot of changes. There’s more and more automation; transacting purchases with artificial intelligence (AI) is a radical change,” he told Supply Chain Dive. “Will you need people doing these things? [Currently] you find a supplier, put out the RFIs (requests for information) and get sourcing recommendations. I don’t know if that will be there in five or 10 years.”

    http://www.supplychaindive.com/news/talent-crisis-education-tech-supply-chain-nature/440392/
    Flashback to SourceCast Episode 55 – I go deep on this topic:

  • Most employees willing to share sensitive information, survey says

    According to an end user security survey released this morning, 72 percent of employees are willing to share confidential information. In the financial services sector, the percentage was even higher — 81 percent said they should share sensitive, confidential or regulated information.

    This is despite the fact that 65 percent said that it was their responsibility to protect confidential data.

    “There is an acknowledgment by employees that security is important,” said Brett Hansen, vice president for endpoint and data security at Dell, the company that sponsored the survey. “But their actions are not consistent with good data security.”

    http://www.csoonline.com/article/3191286/security/most-employees-willing-to-share-sensitive-information-survey-says.html

  • Why Tesla’s Future Is So Hard to Predict

    Earlier this month, Navigant Research published a report that declared the worldwide leader in self-driving tech is Ford, followed by GM, Renault-Nissan, Daimler, and Volkswagen—all car companies. Tesla finished 12th. One research report isn’t gospel. But it suggests that the “Tesla Is Apple, and Cars Are Smartphones” thesis has some serious limitations. In 2007, Apple’s competitors thought the iPhone was a terrible idea. But in 2017, almost all of Tesla’s competitors are engaged in a global race to build electric and autonomous vehicles, and some of them are arguably ahead of Musk in software and distribution capacity.

    https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2017/04/tesla-future-of-driving/523224/?utm_source=feed

Photo: Sebastian Unrau

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Outsourcing industry facing more immigration complexity

This week, President Trump is revisiting United States immigration policy.

The President signed an executive order on Tuesday to prevent immigration “fraud and abuse”:

“It’s America first—you better believe it,” Mr. Trump said during a speech at Snap-On Inc., a tool manufacturer in Kenosha, Wis., before signing an executive order that calls for a government-wide review aimed at stricter enforcement of immigration and other laws governing the entry of workers into the U.S.

A by-product of the Trump administration’s attempts at modifying immigrant labor regulation is a drop in H-1B applications for the first time in years:

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services said Monday it had received 199,000 H-1B applications for the next fiscal year, according to the federal immigration agency. This is a steep decline from the 236,000 received last year and the 233,000 it received in 2015.

SFGate.com spoke with Martin Lawler, a Bay Area immigration attorney that suggests H-1B applications declined due to frustration. Applicants are selected at random and have to wait months to learn the final decision on their status.

Companies operating in US technology hubs like San Francisco have been complaining that these modifications will result in access to less qualified resources with math-based skills.

The biggest companies using H-1B visas are large Indian outsourcing firms like Tata, Cognizant, Infosys, Wipro, and Accenture. The Trump administration specifically called out Tata and Infosys as abusers of the existing program by supplying low-paid, low-skilled workers instead of the high-skill labor the program was designed to support.

The Trump administration is looking to raise the minimum salary requirements to issue a visa and would also like to place a limit on the number of employees with H-1B visas a company can hire. With these rules in place, Trump is expecting American companies will have no choice but to hire from the domestic labor pool.

Interestingly, even with all of the labor turmoil, Tata Consulting is reporting an actual rise in profits:

Mumbai-based TCS said profit in the fiscal fourth quarter ended March 31 stood at 66.08 billion rupees ($1.02 billion), up 4.2% from 63.41 billion rupees a year ago. That was just below the 66.23 billion rupees consensus estimate of analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters. Revenue grew 4.2% to 296.42 billion rupees.

As the President refines his immigration policy, will Tata and its competitors be able to maintain growth? More importantly, is President Trump taking actions that will help the US economy in the long run by giving US workers (potentially) more opportunities, or will these decisions ultimately inhibit economic growth?

Update: Epilogue 

The Atlantic published an article detailing how a “buy American” strategy could backfire economically:

Laura Tyson, a professor at Berkeley’s Haas School of Business who chaired President Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisors, described much the same fundamental problem with the policy. “For every dollar spent, the amount you get for that dollar is going to depend on the price you have to pay,” she explained. “This kind of policy will reduce competition and raise the price of the product. So, instead of a global set of suppliers competing for U.S. government contracts, only U.S. suppliers will compete. And in some product areas, there won’t be a large number of U.S. suppliers, and [they] may not have the superior products or the superior technology. So, in those cases, both the quality and the price of the product that the government faces with a limited budget to spend on procurement will actually deteriorate.”

The critiques seem to focus on government procurement and explains that by closing bids to foreign companies, products and services will cost more and potentially provide inferior solutions.

Here is a podcast I did a few months ago on the H-1B topic:


Photo: himanshu-singh-gurjar

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News You Can Use: 4/19/2017

  • Want to be Successful? Learn to Like Other People

    One of the biggest opportunities for growth at work comes from the way you solicit feedback and what you do with it afterward. Research demonstrates that while employees who speak up tend to improve how well teams function, many tend to be afraid to do so, worrying that their input won’t be well-received. Simply assuming the best in others can lay the foundation for managers and their team members alike to learn and improve without wounding egos.

    https://www.fastcompany.com/40401630/want-to-be-happier-and-more-successful-learn-to-like-other-people

  • Why So Many Americans Are Saying Goodbye to Cities

    America’s largest cities have so much going for them. They are rich, productive, and pulsating with culture and life. So what happened to the great urban revival? “America’s cities have domestic net out-migration because they’re not affordable,” said E. J. McMahon, the founder of the Empire Center for Public Policy. “For many, New York City is a temporary portal. The Baby Boomers retire to Florida. The middle-class Millennials move to Long Island for a house. The woman from Slovakia comes to Queens, lives in her second-cousin’s basement, gets her feet on the ground, and gets a better apartment in West Orange, New Jersey.”

    https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2017/04/why-is-everyone-leaving-the-city/521844/?utm_source=feed

  • With robots on the job, it won’t be IT as usual

    “It’s very much a different mindset than traditional IT,” said Mike Gennert, a professor and director of the Robotics Engineering Program at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, in Worcester, Mass. “IT managers worry about how they manage information, how it’s used, how it’s stored and secured. But none of that has the ability to directly affect the physical world. Robots affect the real world. That brings issues IT managers have not had to confront.”

    For instance, It’s bad enough if a company computer is hacked and it becomes part of a zombie botnet. But what if someone hijacks a company robot and makes it do things, harmful things, in the real world?

    http://www.computerworld.com/article/3188889/robotics/with-robots-on-the-job-its-not-going-to-be-it-as-usual.html

  • Does Silicon Valley Have a Contract-Worker Problem?

    But increasingly, critics argue that the freelance model is being abused, with workers being treated as if they were on payroll without getting any of the benefits afforded to payrolled employees. Some Silicon Valley insiders are beginning to worry that start-ups’ overreliance on contract workers could come back to haunt them if they run afoul of longstanding labor rules. If that happens, these high-flying disruptors could be facing serious disruption themselves.

    http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2014/09/silicon-valleys-contract-worker-problem.html
    Also:

    Then, there is the problem of massive labor oversupply. Unlike for Uber or TaskRabbit, which operate in a given city with a constrained supply of workers, the pool of labor for such digital work is for all intents and purposes infinite. One contingent-work platform reported having nine times as many workers as necessary. A Filipino virtual assistant described the inevitable result: “I first set [my hourly rate] at $8, because that’s what my previous client was paying me,” the assistant told the researchers. “But I found it quite difficult to find jobs. So I set it at $4. And I think I even set it at $3.50 currently. So, I mean, if you don’t get a lot of invitations, you don’t have any other choice but to lower down your expectations, I guess.”

    https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2017/04/gig-economy-global/522954/?utm_source=feed

  • What “Personal Space” Means to the Rest of World

    Countries that greatly value their personal space include Romania, Hungary, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Uganda. Participants from all five of those places would prefer it if you stood more than 120 cm away, or roughly four feet. But participants from Argentina, Peru, Bulgaria, Ukraine, and Austria don’t mind if you chill about 90 cm away, or less than three feet. The U.S. isn’t too far off from that, expecting strangers to keep a cool 95 cm distance between them.

    That said, nobody likes any stranger standing two and half feet or less away. So stop it. Unless you’re on a cramped metro train or something and can’t help it. It’s also important to note that women and elderly participants of all cultures required more space.

    http://lifehacker.com/what-personal-space-means-to-the-rest-of-world-1794130182
    Certainly not the first time a reporter has addressed this topic, but always good to have a refresher.

Photo: Nina Strehl

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News You Can Use: 4/12/2017

  • How Many Robots Does It Take to Replace a Human Job?

    The study’s authors find that the addition of one robot per 1,000 workers reduces the employment-to-population ratio (the number of people actually employed in an area divided by the number of people of working age) by 0.18 to 0.34 percentage points, and reduces wages by between 0.25 and 0.5 percent. On the low end, this amounts to one new robot replacing around three workers. The impact is unsurprisingly most pronounced in manufacturing (particularly in the production side of the auto industry), electronics, chemicals, and pharmaceuticals, among others. Perhaps most importantly, there were negative effects for virtually all workers except managers.

    https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2017/03/work-automation/521364/?utm_source=feed

  • This Neighborhood is Transforming by Letting Artists Buy Its Vacant Homes for Cheap

    In Indianapolis, one block in the Garfield Park neighborhood south of the city’s downtown is experimenting with a different model. An arts nonprofit worked with other partners to buy and renovate vacant houses and is now offering to co-own them with artists. Artists will pay half the cost–one $80,000 home, for example, will sell for around $40,000. If they later move out, they’ll get their equity back, but no more; the house will be sold at the same cost to someone else, keeping the neighborhood accessible as the artists help make it more desirable.

    https://www.fastcompany.com/3069252/this-neighborhood-is-transforming-by-letting-artists-buy-its-vacant-homes-for-cheap

  • Labeling Workers As Contractors To Avoid Taxes
  • Shattering remote worker stereotypes

    “There is still a stigma that remote workers are disconnected from the rest of the team, yet this study proves that they are more sociable and proactively reach out to develop strong relationships. The new technology tools that enable communication and collaboration are motivating workers to pick up the phone, seek face time and create lasting bonds. This is the upside of remote work we rarely talk about,” says Jeanne Meister, partner, Future Workplace.

    http://www.cio.com/article/3185430/hiring/shattering-remote-worker-stereotypes.html

  • Why So Many Workers Prefer Their Remote Colleagues To The Ones In Their Office

    Herrmann might be onto something. In a recent study by the communications company Polycom, which covered over 25,000 workers across 12 countries, 66% said their favorite colleague isn’t located in their own office but in another one far away.

    Also:

    There is a fear of remote-work tools and policies, though. Many companies don’t implement them well, and wind up building virtual fences that hurt their projects’ success and limit accountability. When that happens, many employers think twice about going remote. Yahoo, in perhaps the best-known example, scrapped its remote-working policy in 2013 and maintained years afterward that that was the right move.

    https://www.fastcompany.com/40401697/why-so-many-workers-prefer-their-remote-colleagues-to-the-ones-in-their-office

Photo: Miki Czetti

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News You Can Use: 4/5/2017

  • Why Office Perks Aren’t Enough to Attract and Retain Millennials

    Take GE as an example. The erstwhile General Electric was founded before some millennials’ great-grandparents were born, but it’s doing a true job of remaining relevant for a new generation. In 2015 the company rolled out its “What’s the Matter With Owen” ad campaign aimed at potential millennial candidates. After its release, GE saw an 800 percent increase in applications and a 66 percent increase in traffic to the career site. GE surprised more than a few people by showing a sense of humor about its somewhat old-fashioned reputation. More importantly, the company highlighted some of the innovative work that goes on behind the scenes there, showing that it recognized the importance millennials place on being part of an organization with a well-defined mission. GE’s new look is more than skin deep: Moving its headquarters from suburban Connecticut to downtown Boston is a sign that the company is willing to adapt to how (and where) young employees want to work.

    https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/290980

  • Senate votes to allow ISPs to collect personal data without permission

    The Senate voted 50-48 in favor of S.J. 34, which would remove the rules and, under the authority of the Congressional Review Act, prevent similar rules from being enacted. It now heads to the House for approval.

    “If signed by the President, this law would repeal the FCC’s widely-supported broadband privacy framework, and eliminate the requirement that cable and broadband providers offer customers a choice before selling their sensitive, personal information,” said FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn and FTC Commissioner Terrell McSweeny in a joint statement.

    https://techcrunch.com/2017/03/23/senate-votes-to-allow-isps-to-collect-personal-data-without-permission/?ncid=rss

  • America’s Next Moonshot: Cut Poverty 50% by 2030
  • How to stop taking useless notes at work

    Students who wrote longhand notes outperformed laptop note takers in recalling information to pass the quiz. And when the researchers examined the students’ notes, they found a clue as to why: The laptop notes tended to include a lot of verbatim transcription of the video, whereas handwritten notes couldn’t be written fast enough to do the same. If we can type fast enough to transcribe information verbatim, we can get away with writing notes without engaging our minds too much—we don’t have to think critically or even pay too much attention to simply write down exactly what someone’s saying.

    https://www.fastcompany.com/3069147/how-to-finally-stop-taking-useless-notes-at-work

  • Avoid the Telecommuting Reboot

    When you get to the size of a remote workforce that IBM and Yahoo were faced with, the ability to recycle and refresh the tools supporting remote workers almost certainly becomes a management nightmare for IT staff. What likely happened was that rollouts of new tools took place, but the remote workers clung to the legacy tools they knew best.

    As IT decision makers, it’s important to look at all aspects of telecommuting policy reversals. Yes, there likely were political and philosophical reasons behind IBM and Yahoo’s reversal on remote work policy. But technology may have also played a role. From an IT perspective, you should perhaps reevaluate your own telecommute processes and tools to make sure they are where they need to be.

    http://www.informationweek.com/strategic-cio/avoid-the-telecommuting-reboot/d/d-id/1328514?_mc=RSS_IWK_EDT

Photo: Ciprian Boiciuc

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