Tag Archives: Automation

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: 11/30/2016

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  • President Trump: Procurement, Supply Chain and Policy Perspectives

    Yet the pragmatist in me — and Trump is a pragmatist at heart — says we won’t rock the trade boat as much as some of the rhetoric in the campaign, and as much as DiMicco is likely to use his potential voice in a Trump administration to advocate for the laborer on the shop floor and domestic manufacturers alike, there are limits to how far Trump will go. Moreover, if China crashes, so too will commodity prices, which is not good for domestic producers.

    https://www.enterpriseirregulars.com/111316/president-trump-procurement-supply-chain-policy-perspectives/

  • Reconsidering Work-Life Balance in an Ever-Changing Workplace

    Increasing social interaction within the workplace is something else that can dramatically increase social well-being. For your company, this is best accomplished by creating social settings where employees get to know one other, independent of achieving a business objective. In fact, creating modern versions of coffee stations and watercooler-like opportunities and encouraging coworkers to eat lunch together can improve workplace morale and productivity by 25 percent, according to Ben Waber, CEO of management consulting firm Sociometric Solutions.

    https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/284140
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  • Bot-Proof Your Career

    To set ourselves apart in the Bot Era, we will need to be creative. Creativity enables us to harness the power of a tool to help do our jobs better and more efficiently. Bots can’t work without human creativity leading the way. I recommend starting with reading everything you can about AI and look to other industries for inspiration – the most creative ideas will not be born in the HR space. Some of the best recruiters and sourcers I know are what I call “tinkerers;” they don’t wait for executives to roll out the next big technology. Instead, they regularly find small, inexpensive (or even free) ways to innovate. I would start with asking yourself, “How can I leverage bots to do the things that are bogging me down?”

    https://www.eremedia.com/sourcecon/bot-proof-your-career-part-1/

  • Blockchain has the potential to revolutionize the supply chain

    The public availability of the ledger would make it possible to trace back every product to the very origin of the raw material used. The decentralized structure of the ledger would make it impossible for any one party to hold ownership of the ledger and manipulate the data to their own advantage. And the cryptography-based and immutable nature of the transactions would make it nearly impossible to compromise the ledger. Some experts already believe that the blockchain is unhackable.

    https://techcrunch.com/2016/11/24/blockchain-has-the-potential-to-revolutionize-the-supply-chain/

  • Mentorship and the art of the cold email

    Minshew echoes Wessel’s advice, but says she doesn’t just seek out multiple mentors for specific issues, she specifically looks for people who were recently wrangling with her particular dilemma. “When I look back to the people that were most helpful to me in the early days of The Muse, a lot of them were six months to two years ahead.” Her roster of confidantes isn’t filled with big-name executives, she says, but entrepreneurs who have just hired their first CMO, or recently scaled from 30 to 100 employees.

    https://www.fastcompany.com/3065355/the-fast-company-innovation-festival/mentorship-and-the-art-of-the-cold-email

  • Zuckerberg says fake news on Facebook didn’t tilt the elections

    “Personally I think the idea that fake news on Facebook, which is a very small amount of the content, influenced the election in any way — I think is a pretty crazy idea. Voters make decisions based on their lived experience,” Zuckerberg said in an interview at the Techonomy 2016 conference in Half Moon Bay, California.

    http://www.cio.com/article/3139342/internet/zuckerberg-says-fake-news-on-facebook-didn-t-tilt-the-elections.html
    Facebook provided a safe place for the disinformation that fueled Trumps Rise

    While genuine political arguments do happen among friends on Facebook, the company’s “personalized news front page” is not designed to foster meaningful discussions. On the contrary: The stories surfaced there are based on the interests of like-minded friends. Facebook believes, and has from the start, that agreement and harmony make for better engagement than argument and disharmony. That’s why there’s never been a “thumbs down” button on Facebook, and the reason that adding the “angry face” emoji was such a tough internal decision for the company.

    https://www.fastcompany.com/3065521/election-2016/yes-facebook-provided-a-safe-place-for-the-disinformation-that-fueled-trumps-r
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Photo: POOYAN ESHTIAGHI

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News You Can Use: 6/29/2016

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  • Automation, not cheap labor, is reshaping outsourcing

    One process that has taken off is called “Robotic Process Automation (RPA),” a term given to a virtual machine that takes over some of the applications and workflows managed by workers. These systems don’t directly replace humans, but take structured tasks and automate them, with users saving as much as much as 15%, said Karamouzis.

    http://www.computerworld.com/article/3083264/it-careers/automation-not-cheap-labor-is-reshaping-outsourcing.html
    What’s Next for Artificial Intelligence

    We need to update the New Deal for the 21st century and establish a trainee program for the new jobs artificial intelligence will create. We need to retrain truck drivers and office assistants to create data analysts, trip optimizers and other professionals we don’t yet know we need. It would have been impossible for an antebellum farmer to imagine his son becoming an electrician, and it’s impossible to say what new jobs AI will create. But it’s clear that drastic measures are necessary if we want to transition from an industrial society to an age of intelligent machines.

    http://www.wsj.com/articles/whats-next-for-artificial-intelligence-1465827619

  • John Oliver on Retirement Plans (warning: bad language):
  • Ignoring People for Phones Is the New Normal

    The most interesting thing this study found was that people who reported phubbing more often were also more likely to be phubbed themselves. The authors, from the University of Kent, suggest several possible reasons for this. One is a simple retaliation—if you’re trying to talk to someone, and they’re on their phone, well, two can play at that game.

    http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2016/06/ignoring-people-for-phones-is-the-new-normal-phubbing-study/486845/
    Note: “phubbing”—a portmanteau of “phone” and “snubbing.”

  • Why Leadership Development Needs to Be Updated

    As it is, 61 percent of North American employees surveyed by Achievers in 2015 said they don’t know their company’s mission. When coaches are in control, leaders receive inconsistent training that doesn’t align with company practices and values, and they can’t reinforce the mission to employees.

    Employers need to take back the control and launch leadership development programs consistent with the company mission, values and goals. This way, development and training aligns with the ROI and metrics companies want — not what the coaches want.

    https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/276229

  • Building A High-Performance Sourcing Department: Hire High-Performance Sourcers

    Before you can hire high-performance sourcers you need to know what the definition of a good sourcer. Great sourcers are individuals who possess two skills sets that might appear to be polar opposites. They possess strong analytical research skills and outstanding verbal and written communication skills. According to sourcing pioneer Harry Ensley, Director of Global Talent Acquisition at Sun Life Financial, a great sourcer is often a strong recruiter, but a good recruiter is not necessarily a good sourcer.

    http://www.eremedia.com/sourcecon/how-to-build-a-high-performance-sourcing-department-part-1-hire-high-performance-sourcers/

Photo: Priscilla Westra

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News You Can Use: 3/16/2016

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  • Two-Thirds Of Americans Think Robots Will Take Our Jobs By 2065
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    http://www.fastcompany.com/3057695/the-future-of-work/two-thirds-of-americans-think-robots-will-take-our-jobs-by-2065
  • Procurement Managers See Pressure to Reduce Costs Ramping Up

    “One clear differentiator we saw in the research this year was the recognition of the value of improved market intelligence,” says Sawchuk. “Procurement leaders are realizing that higher-quality information can help them drive greater business value. Big data has been a game changer when it comes to customer analytics, offering an unprecedented ability to quickly model massive volumes of structured and unstructured data from multiple sources. But procurement’s lack of maturity in market intelligence is a significant obstacle that must be overcome.”

    http://www.scmr.com/article/procurement_managers_see_pressure_to_reduce_costs_ramping_up#When:16:45:59Z

  • Why Do Half of Millennials Still Live With Mommy and Daddy?
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    http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/272152
  • Why Millennial Women Are Burning Out

    A study from the University of Kansas found that women are burning out faster than men after looking at attrition rates of journalists. According to the research, women reported higher levels of overload and intention to leave the field.

    The author of the study “examined the numbers through gender socialization theory, which claims that society puts certain expectations on people based on their gender from a very young age. Where women are more often expected to provide the majority of family care and raise children, men are expected to be the breadwinners and put work obligations before family. That was supported by the findings showing that women experience significantly higher rates of role overload, or feel that they are unable to complete their assigned duties in the work time allowed,” notes the University of Kansas study.

    http://www.fastcompany.com/3057545/the-future-of-work/why-millennial-women-are-burning-out

  • In pursuit of HIPAA, a new compliance gap arises

    The operations team was leaning toward encrypting the hard drives, because options that are fairly easy to deploy are available. I agreed that it would be easy to do, but I objected that the method wouldn’t really be effective from a security perspective (and encryption is one thing that should be all about security). When you encrypt a hard drive, you are ensuring that anyone who comes into possession of that drive can’t access the data. In other words, the only way such encryption would protect the company would be if the hard drive were stolen. Now, the likelihood is infinitesimally small that a bad guy is going to determine where our highly secure data center is located; get past the security guards, man traps and biometrics; and then figure out which of the hundreds of drives to pull out.

    http://www.cio.com/article/3041649/security/in-pursuit-of-hipaa-a-new-compliance-gap-arises.html#tk.rss_all

  • eWorld: technology and talent trends that will shake-up procurement

    Technology and talent are increasingly part of the same sphere and this hit home over the course of the day. Artificial intelligence (AI) may reduce procurement specialists’ need for cognitive capabilities in analysing what the procurement outsourcing & consulting company, Optimum Procurement Group, call ‘hard trends’ – for example demographic data suggest the aging ‘baby boomers’ will increase the public spending in public health facilities. This would modify the capability requirements of procurement professionals.

    Certain roles and skills could be redundant in the future, yet, AI are not sophisticated enough in dealing with soft trends – i.e. something that may happen depending on several interdependencies – which requires more complex and agile analysis. Qualitative and soft skills are increasingly important capabilities in the procurement professionals.

    http://www.procurementleaders.com/blog/my-blog–aaron-mo/eworld-technology-and-talent-trends-that-will-shake-up-procurement-604735

  • HR Analytics: How Should Big Data Be Used in the Workplace?

    When employers use predictive models to decide not to train people who, for instance, are on the verge of being either fired or awarded promotions, they’re basing their decisions on what an algorithm says may or may not happen, rather than what employees are actually doing. People are unpredictable, and unknown factors can influence outcomes. Decisions that affect people should be informed by data, but made by people.

    http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/271753

  • Metrics that count

    In 2015, Gartner conducted a survey in conjunction with Supply Chain Management Review (SCMR) to address that question and to gain a better understanding of how manufacturing metrics are characterized, developed, and used to link manufacturing and supply chain performance.

    http://www.scmr.com/article/metrics_that_count#When:20:26:46Z

Photo: Space X

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The future of sourcing automation

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Strategic sourcing and its cousin procurement have always been welcoming of innovation and automation.

Anybody with a business degree knows the basics about warehouse procurement and the 40-year-old ability to have a computer system automatically purchase more of a “widget” when inventory is too low.

Then the ability for a system to search against multiple suppliers for the best price of said “widget” was introduced.  We are cooking with gas!

Customers seem to think that this level of computer intelligence and automation is limited to commodities.  It is becoming clear that is not the case.

Contracting

The physical act of papering a deal can be tedious and time consuming.  Evolved sourcing departments have developed templates to ease the process.  As the work becomes more repetitive and less strategic, departments look to have that work performed by third parties or entry level positions.

Those jobs will not be transferred or go offshore in the coming years, they will be completely automated via computer systems.

Don’t believe me?

Did you know that several articles being released by the associated press are written by bots?

A company called Automated Insights created a program called WordSmith that generates simple news stories based on things like sporting events and financial news. The stories are published on Yahoo! and via the Associated Press, among other outlets.

It is only a matter of time before this technology is turned to repeatable contracting events eliminating simple transactions.  Solutions from Seal software are already close to making this happen.

Market Intelligence

Senior level sourcing professionals might take comfort in the higher functions they are performing such as category management and supplier performance. In the coming years this job will become easier.  Bad news is there will be less jobs.

Frequent readers of this blog will notice a reporting trend on IBM’s Watson technology:

Right now Watson is focused on mining health information, social media, and big data.  There will inevitably be a focus on supply chain market conditions.  It has the potential to become a living, breathing Gartner report that changes daily focusing on software, services,  labor pricing, and even cloud pricing (and thus a hybrid of commodity and service).  And if Watson doesn’t do it, somebody else will eventually.

Having a system that is monitoring which suppliers are getting into certain service markets and who is doing well and who isn’t (via formal reports and customer feedback via social media) is very powerful.  There may be well-meaning sourcing professionals who are doing this by hand right now (hello), but it takes days or sometimes weeks (trust me) – with AI, it can be done in minutes.

Will your job go away?  No.  But a company will be able to do so much more with less bodies.

Moving Forward

Even with automation reducing certain kinds of jobs, the good news if you are a sourcing professional is that there is a looming talent crisis.  The key is to have the right skill set…

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Be thankful it wasn’t a pie chart

Sourcing departments are essentially responsible for risk avoidance and cost reduction/savings. The better teams also provide strategic focus and trending for their customers.

The days of martini lunches with the big box sellers are over.  They are being replaced by analytic dashboards and reverse auctions (maybe we can make serving mint juleps at the auctions a thing). Take a look at the capabilities companies are focusing on:

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Change is coming (I was going to make a terrible Game of Thrones reference and say “winter is coming” but that sounds so ominous and I am already going with a terminator theme).  Automation, bots, and other AI technology are going to impact the procurement and sourcing industries… for the better.

As platforms become more transferable via Openstack and other open source initiatives (and as software itself becomes a platform),  the view will shift from an intangible/incomparable concept of service into a familiar commodity-like view that can be evaluated and presented like a rising or declining stock asset (with the same dashboards and buying intelligence ).  Sourcing professionals and their customers will finally have the right mix of information to make better decisions and develop true supplier strategies.

 

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