Category Archives: Industry News

News You Can Use: 1/17/2018

  • Accenture calls for action on the digital procurement revolution

    In a recent report, the global management consultancy made no bones about the disappointment it feels at what it perceives as an almost industry-wide failure to embrace the technologies available for digitising procurement. It states that “procurement organisation has been largely left behind in the digital revolution. That needs to change.”

    The report looks at how bots can be used to automate and streamline manual or routine procurement tasks, how making use of available expertise such as speaking to buying agents and advisors will help people make the best purchasing decisions and deliver optimal value to the business.

    Accenture specializes in helping procurement companies to digitize their business operations, and the report shows confidence that the familiar frustrations surrounding procurement today will give way to a simple and intuitive buying experience for users to enthusiastically embrace.

    http://www.supplychaindigital.com/procurement/accenture-calls-action-digital-procurement-revolution

  • iPhones and Children Are a Toxic Pair, Say Two Big Apple Investors

    “Apple can play a defining role in signaling to the industry that paying special attention to the health and development of the next generation is both good business and the right thing to do,” the shareholders wrote in the letter, a copy of which was reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. “There is a developing consensus around the world including Silicon Valley that the potential long-term consequences of new technologies need to be factored in at the outset, and no company can outsource that responsibility.”

    Obsessive teenage phone usage has sparked a debate among academics, parents and even the people who helped create the iPhone. Some have raised concerns about increased rates in teen depression and suicide and worry that phones are replacing old-fashioned human interaction. It is part of a broader re-evaluation of the effects on society of technology and social media.

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/iphones-and-children-are-a-toxic-pair-say-two-big-apple-investors-1515358834

  • Can We Digitize the Voting System? Blockchain, Corruption, and Hacking
  • How Actual Smart People Talk About Themselves

    They all know it. A lifetime of quietly comparing their ease in handling intellectual challenges—at the chess board, in the classroom, in the debating or writing arena—with the efforts of other people gave them the message.

    Virtually none of them (need to) say it. There are a few prominent exceptions, of talented people who annoyingly go out of their way to announce that fact. Muhammed Ali is the charming extreme exception illustrating the rule: he said he was The Greatest, and was. Most greats don’t need to say so. It would be like Roger Federer introducing himself with, “You know, I’m quite graceful and gifted.” Or Meryl Streep asking, “Have you seen my awards?”

    https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2018/01/how-actual-smart-people-talk-about-themselves/549878/?utm_source=feed

  • H-1B visa extensions for workers waiting on green cards are safe for now

    The Trump administration appears to be creating distance between itself and rumors that it might end the practice of extending H-1B visas during the green card application process. The rumored change would have a large impact on foreign tech workers in the U.S., but the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is offering assurances that no such policy change is underway.

    https://techcrunch.com/2018/01/09/h-1b-visa-extension-green-card-policy-change-uscis/?ncid=rss

Photo: Tim Gouw

Tagged , , , ,

News You Can Use: 1/10/2018

  • The Worst Job in Technology: Staring at Human Depravity to Keep It Off Facebook

    The well-being of content moderators “is something we talk about with our team members and with our outsourcing vendors to make clear it’s not just contractual. It’s really important to us,” says Mark Handel, a user research manager at Facebook who helps oversee content moderation. “Is it enough? I don’t know. But it’s only getting more important and more critical.”

    Former content moderators recall having to view images of war victims who had been gutted or drowned and child soldiers engaged in killings. One former Facebook moderator reviewed a video of a cat being thrown into a microwave.

    Workers sometimes quit on their first or second day. Some leave for lunch and never come back. Others remain unsettled by the work—and what they saw as a lack of emotional support or appreciation—long after they quit.

    Shaka Tafari worked as a contractor at messaging app Whisper in 2016 soon after it began testing a messaging feature designed for high-school students. Mr. Tafari, 30, was alarmed by the number of rape references in text messages he reviewed, he says, and sometimes saw graphic photos of bestiality or people killing dogs.

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-worst-job-in-technology-staring-at-human-depravity-to-keep-it-off-facebook-1514398398

  • How To Deliver Your Presentation In Half The Time You’d Allotted

    Layering. This approach simply means designing your presentation from the inside out. The inner “layer” is your key message–the most important takeaway you want your audience to leave with. The next layer consists of your other major points that directly support that key message. Then you have the details that support those key points–which together make up a third layer. Think of it kind of like dressing for cold weather: If you get too warm, you can always take off a layer. Similarly, if you get short on time, you can take off one of the outer layers. What’s really important is that you communicate your inner layers effectively.

    https://www.fastcompany.com/40513468/how-to-deliver-your-presentation-in-half-the-time-youd-allotted

  • Oneplus and Tencent: Exploring China’s technological revolution

    This is a nice follow up to SourceCast Episode 101
  • Four Reasons Resumes No Longer Work

    Technology has changed the marketplace, and HR is the only vertical that hasn’t seen a rapid transition, says Carisa Miklusak, CEO of the algorithmic hiring platform tilr. “Right now tech isn’t giving people a fair opportunity to compete,” she says. “Before you blame the resume, you need to understand that they’re a byproduct of old employer values. Titles and years of experience are no longer a person’s number-one currency.”

    https://www.fastcompany.com/40512551/4-reasons-why-resumes-no-longer-work

  • Mark Zuckerberg Resolves to ‘Fix’ Facebook in 2018

    Last fall, Facebook lurched into crisis mode after disclosing that Russia-backed entities used its platform and advertising tools to spread divisive messages to disrupt the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign. The admission sparked a rare set of congressional hearings where lawmakers grilled officials from Facebook, Twitter Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google.

    More recently, several former Facebook executives and employees have expressed remorse for helping build a platform that they said was designed to foster dependence on Facebook. Those comments eventually prompted Facebook to acknowledge that certain types of social-media use could be harmful to users’ mental health.

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/mark-zuckerberg-resolves-to-fix-facebook-in-2018-1515104645
    This is a nice sentiment, but how? Details would be nice. Zuck should have a plan before he made a comment about it.

Photo: Jeremy Bishop

Tagged , , , , ,

News You Can Use: 1/3/2018

  • The Google-Facebook Duopoly Threatens Diversity of Thought

    When virtually all online advertising goes through two companies, however, they have the power to harm websites arbitrarily. One political blog that posted an article trying to distinguish the “alt-right” from white nationalism received a warning email from Google’s AdSense team. An editor took the article down, explaining to readers that the blog “needs revenue from the Google ad platform in order to survive.” You needn’t agree with the editorial decision to publish the article to be troubled by Google’s vetoing it.

    In his 2014 book “Zero to One,” Peter Thiel notes that because Google “doesn’t have to worry about competing with anyone, it has wider latitude to care about . . . its impact on the wider world.” If executives at a Silicon Valley monopoly believe that censoring certain content will push the world in a positive direction, market pressures cannot sufficiently restrain them.

    Journalists also argue that tech companies are pushing media toward the lowest common denominator. Social media rewards clickbait—sensational headlines that confirm readers’ biases. Google and Facebook’s advertising duopoly bleeds traditional publishers of the revenue needed to produce high-quality news. At the same time, Google’s search engine is biased against subscription content, depleting another source of funding.

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-google-facebook-duopoly-threatens-diversity-of-thought-1513642519

  • China’s New Lenders Collect Invasive Data and Offer Billions. Beijing Is Worried.

    In November, the People’s Bank of China, the country’s central bank, stopped companies and people from starting new online cash lending platforms. In early December, the China Banking Regulatory Commission said it would crack down on unlicensed cash loan companies and put a lid on high-interest loans.

    China’s small loans are piling up. More than 8,600 companies offer some form of small loan, and about $145 billion of those debts remain unpaid, according to the People’s Bank of China. Other estimates run as high as $392 billion, according to the Boston Consulting Group. The government does not track default rates among online lenders, which disclose little on their own.

    “We are worried that in an environment where there is no effective credit system, people tend to overborrow, especially when capital comes in,” said Bai Chengyu, an executive at the China Association of Microfinance, who is no relation to Bai Shichao.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/25/business/china-online-lending-debt.html

  • 2017 in 7 minutes
  • Internet Tightens: Popular Chinese WeChat App to Become Official ID

    “The data these companies collect is richer and thicker than what the government can collect, so the typical case now is the government going to the companies to get information,” said Severine Arsene, managing editor of AsiaGlobal Online at the University of Hong Kong’s Asia Global Institute. “This shows how much power the companies hold.”

    The move from physical ID cards to digital images makes sense in a country where people use their mobile devices for an array of daily functions, from shopping to paying restaurant bills to streaming videos, Ms. Arsene said, but it also carries risks that the companies might be seen to be working too closely with the government.

    Hosting a huge repository of government data also increases the threat it could be compromised, said Paul McKenzie, a managing partner of law firm Morrison Foerster.

    “In the course of deploying this technology, WeChat may end up with huge volumes of data associated with people’s ID cards and other personal information,” Mr. McKenzie said. “If that’s the case, the security of WeChat ’s network from hacks will be critical.”

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/internet-tightens-popular-chinese-wechat-app-to-become-official-id-1514541980

  • Use This Five-Point Guide to Find Patience When You’re Annoyed

    Over at Quick and Dirty Tips, Psychologist Ellen Hendriksen, PhD, writes that patience is a kind of self-control, which, she says, is “the ability to regulate your emotions and behavior, even when your impulses are screaming otherwise.” Thus, patience is a state of mind that can be trained and strengthened—it’s not a rarefied state for saints and superheroes. And annoyance, as anyone who’s stewed in it will recognize, is a subset of anger.

    Hendriksen draws on research about self-control and anger to draw up this five-point guide to letting go of annoyance and find patience:

    1. Know that your goal will still be achieved.
    2. Give yourself what you need in your imagination.
    3. Change your conclusion.
    4. Pretend you’re being watched.
    5. Save the story for later.

    https://lifehacker.com/use-this-five-point-guide-to-find-patience-when-youre-a-1821563720

Photo: Geran de Klerk

Tagged , , ,

News You Can Use: 12/27/2017

  • Former Facebook exec says social media is ripping apart society

    Palihapitiya’s criticisms were aimed not only at Facebook, but the wider online ecosystem. “The short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops we’ve created are destroying how society works,” he said, referring to online interactions driven by “hearts, likes, thumbs-up.” “No civil discourse, no cooperation; misinformation, mistruth. And it’s not an American problem — this is not about Russians ads. This is a global problem.”

    He went on to describe an incident in India where hoax messages about kidnappings shared on WhatsApp led to the lynching of seven innocent people. “That’s what we’re dealing with,” said Palihapitiya. “And imagine taking that to the extreme, where bad actors can now manipulate large swathes of people to do anything you want. It’s just a really, really bad state of affairs.” He says he tries to use Facebook as little as possible, and that his children “aren’t allowed to use that shit.” He later adds, though, that he believes the company “overwhelmingly does good in the world.”

    https://www.theverge.com/2017/12/11/16761016/former-facebook-exec-ripping-apart-society

  • The Services Procurement Machine is Broken — Here’s Why You Should Trade it in for a New Approach

    Engagements measured on cost and milestones alone fail to secure the best value for the business, as quality and innovation are often the first casualties to such an approach. What’s more, the structure of the machine has forced procurement to accept increased supplier rationalization and a narrow preference for larger services providers. Stuck working with big, “safe” firms, businesses have lost access to the high-performing talent and innovative solutions smaller firms can offer.

    But let’s not get all touchy-feely here: no gently swung process automation hammer is going to shatter an old system. What’s needed to creating lasting improvement is a root cause analysis of why the machine broke in the first place.

    Also:

    Second, the machine’s focus on cost and risk avoidance has led to increased supplier rationalization. This can be great for MRO, but the same strategy for safety supplies or lightbulbs is not necessarily the right one to tap specialized creative or strategic talent. The result is small and medium-sized suppliers that have the expertise and connections to drive greater success on a localized basis in a global world end up getting locked out of the process.

    http://spendmatters.com/2017/12/04/services-procurement-machine-broken-heres-trade-new-approach/

  • How Will the Web Look Without Net Neutrality? We Travel Into the Future to Find Out

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/how-will-the-web-look-like-without-net-neutrality-we-travel-into-the-future-to-find-out-1513369387
  • How A Flexible Work Culture Works For Everyone

    Reduce the barriers to attracting top talent: Work-life balance ranks as the number one career goal for all three major generations — baby boomers, Generation X and millennials — according to our research with Intel. Offering flexible work arrangements can help remove geographical barriers, ensuring that you can hire and retain the best candidates, regardless of location or other barriers. (I recently wrote more on generational workplace values.)

    Benefit the planet: Flexible work practices also help businesses to conserve natural resources and energy. With fewer people in the office and on the road, you’re helping reduce transportation-related pollution and can maximize office space usage. An internal Dell study in 2015 revealed that its Connected Workplace program in the United States alone helped reduce an estimate 25 million kWh of energy. Gallup data suggests that the U.S. workforce avoids 2.7 billion round-trips per year by telecommuting — a reduction of 30 million metric tons CO2e per year.

    https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbeshumanresourcescouncil/2017/12/08/how-a-flexible-work-culture-works-for-everyone/#201ae4373b7f

  • Estonia, the Digital Republic

    Today, citizens can vote from their laptops and challenge parking tickets from home. They do so through the “once only” policy, which dictates that no single piece of information should be entered twice. Instead of having to “prepare” a loan application, applicants have their data—income, debt, savings—pulled from elsewhere in the system. There’s nothing to fill out in doctors’ waiting rooms, because physicians can access their patients’ medical histories. Estonia’s system is keyed to a chip-I.D. card that reduces typically onerous, integrative processes—such as doing taxes—to quick work. “If a couple in love would like to marry, they still have to visit the government location and express their will,” Andrus Kaarelson, a director at the Estonian Information Systems Authority, says. But, apart from transfers of physical property, such as buying a house, all bureaucratic processes can be done online.

    https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/12/18/estonia-the-digital-republic

Photo: Jaanus Jagomägi

Tagged , , , ,

News You Can Use: 12/20/2017

  • Jailed for a Text: China’s Censors Are Spying on Mobile Chat Groups

    In China’s swiftly evolving new world of state surveillance, there are fewer and fewer private spaces. Authorities who once had to use informants to find out what people said in private now rely on a vast web of new technology. They can identify citizens as they walk down the street, monitor their online behavior and snoop on cellphone messaging apps to identify suspected malcontents.

    Years ago, in the Mao Zedong era, people were sent to prison, labor camps and death for opinions expressed in private. In the decades since China launched economic reforms after Mao’s death, prosperity and social mobility created room for more personal freedom and expression. Now China appears to be reverting to old form, empowered by new digital surveillance tools.

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/jailed-for-a-text-chinas-censors-are-spying-on-mobile-chat-groups-1512665007

  • Billionaire CEO Michael Dell tells employees, forget hierarchy: ‘Be willing to break things, make stuff happen’

    “At our company, if we want to get something done, we tell them: ‘Just get it done. If anybody gets in your way, just shoot them.’ Not actually shoot them, but like, we’re all from Texas, so we use colorful analogies like that,” says Dell. “Make sure everybody knows we’re not actually shooting” people, Dell says. (Dell is headquartered in Round Rock, Texas.)

    “Don’t let anything stand in your way. Look, if you’re gonna do something new, you have to be willing to break things, and sort of make stuff happen,” says Dell. “If you have a big company, there are a lot of people running around that tell you you can’t do stuff.”

    https://www.cnbc.com/2017/12/07/billionaire-michael-dell-on-success-take-risks-make-stuff-happen.html

  • How to Rebuild a Relationship After a Difference of Opinion
  • Too Many Meetings Suffocate Productivity and Morale

    So, my appeal to all you entrepreneurs, don’t suffocate the life out of your companies with too many meetings. Hire smart people, trust them to do their jobs, and get the heck out of their way, so they can do the jobs they were hired to do. You don’t have to micro manage every single decision. Empower your team to make their own decisions in a flat organizational structure. Even if they make mistakes, that is fine, they will learn from them. But, the team will be moving twice as fast at getting things done, than if they were burdened with a bunch of meetings. Speed matters with startups.

    Challenge yourself and every employee in your company to cap their recurring weekly meetings at 20 percent of their time. That is one day a week, or eight hours in a normal working day. That is up to 16 thirty-minute meetings they can schedule, plenty of slots to working with.

    https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/304610

  • Drone curbs overtime in Japan by blasting workers with music

    Japan has a culture that encourages overtime out of a sense of loyalty, and that’s a serious problem. It not only cuts into family and social life, it leads to entirely avoidable deaths. Taisei (the company behind the main Tokyo 2020 Olympic stadium) aims to fix that in an unusual way: having a drone nag you into going home. Its newly unveiled T-Frend is ostensibly a security drone that surveils the office with its camera, but its specialty is blasting workers with “Auld Lang Syne” (commonly used in Japan to indicate closing time) to force them out of the office. In theory, the music and the drone’s own buzzing make it impossible to concentrate.

    https://www.engadget.com/2017/12/07/drone-curbs-overtime-in-japan-by-blasting-workers-with-music/

Photo: Samuel Zeller

Tagged , , , ,