Tag Archives: Japan

Supplier Report: 2/9/2018

Companies love to say AI is the future, but some are spending more money on that future than others.

Amazon is going deep on AI within various aspects of their business.  A recent Wired article highlights the projects Amazon is building automation and robotics strategies (managing internal process, mining customer data, and selling automated services in the cloud and via smart speakers). These practices are paying off as Amazon reported their largest profit ever.

Amazon isn’t alone, Foxconn is allocating $340M in automation R&D and IBM keeps advancing Watson’s medical abilities recently developing a method to diagnose certain types of mental illness.

Acquisitions

  • LogMeIn is buying Jive Communications for up to $357M to step up in enterprise unified comms

    Yet more consolidation in the enterprise collaboration software market. Today LogMeIn, the company that offers conferencing services like GoToMeeting and join.me as well as authentication and other online services to businesses and others, announced that it would acquire Jive Communications for $342 million in cash plus up to $15 million based on reaching specific milestones in the next two years.

    Jive Communications is not to be confused with Jive Software, the Slack competitor in enterprise collaboration that itself was acquired last year for $462 million by Aurea. However, it is also in a bigger area of enterprise communications, and underscores how we are continuing to see a lot of M&A and general growth in that market. This is a strong exit for Jive Communications, a Utah-based startup that had raised only around $31 million since it was founded in 2006.

    https://techcrunch.com/2018/02/08/logmein-is-buying-jive-communications-for-up-to-357m-to-step-up-in-enterprise-unified-comms/?ncid=rss

  • Qualcomm rejects Broadcom’s $121 billion bid

    Qualcomm’s board of directors issued a statement on Thursday saying that they are turning down Broadcom’s $121 billion bid to buy the competing chipmaker.

    According to the release, Qualcomm “unanimously rejected” an “unsolicited proposal” to buy all of its shares at $82 each, of which $60 would be cash and $22 stock. Broadcom made the revised offer on Monday, up from the previously proposed deal price of $70 per share.

    https://techcrunch.com/2018/02/08/qualcomm-rejects-broadcoms-121-billion-bid/?ncid=rss

Artificial Intelligence

  • IBM’s New AI Can Predict Psychosis in Your Speech

    The group built on the findings of a 2015 IBM study demonstrating the possibility of using AI to model the differences in speech patterns of high-risk patients who later developed psychosis and those who did not. Specifically, they quantified the concepts of “poverty of speech” and “flight of ideas” as syntactic complexity and semantic coherence, respectively, using an AI method called Natural Language Processing (NLP).

    Their AI then evaluated the speech patterns of patients that researchers instructed to talk about themselves for an hour.

    https://futurism.com/ibm-psychosis-predicting-ai-speech/

  • Foxconn to plug at least $340M into AI R&D over five years

    According to Nikkei, Foxconn intends to recruit up to 100 top AI experts globally. It also said it will recruit thousands of less experienced developers to work on building applications that use machine learning and deep learning technologies.

    Embedding sensors into production line equipment to capture data to feed AI-fueled automation development is a key part of the AI R&D plan, with Foxconn saying earlier that it wants to offer advanced manufacturing experiences and services — eyeing competing with the likes of General Electric and Cisco.

    The company has also been working with Andrew Ng’s new AI startup Landing.ai — which is itself focused on plugging AI into industries that haven’t yet tapping into the tech’s transformative benefits, with a first focus on manufacturing — since July.

    https://techcrunch.com/2018/02/03/foxconn-to-plug-at-least-340m-into-ai-rd-over-five-years/?ncid=rss
    Mentioned this last week, here are some more details.

  • Inside Amazon’s Artificial Intelligence Flywheel

    Amazon loves to use the word flywheel to describe how various parts of its massive business work as a single perpetual motion machine. It now has a powerful AI flywheel, where machine-learning innovations in one part of the company fuel the efforts of other teams, who in turn can build products or offer services to affect other groups, or even the company at large. Offering its machine-learning platforms to outsiders as a paid service makes the effort itself profitable—and in certain cases scoops up yet more data to level up the technology even more.

    It took a lot of six-pagers to transform Amazon from a deep-learning wannabe into a formidable power. The results of this transformation can be seen throughout the company—including in a recommendations system that now runs on a totally new machine-learning infrastructure. Amazon is smarter in suggesting what you should read next, what items you should add to your shopping list, and what movie you might want to watch tonight. And this year Thirumalai started a new job, heading Amazon search, where he intends to use deep learning in every aspect of the service.

    “If you asked me seven or eight years ago how big a force Amazon was in AI, I would have said, ‘They aren’t,’” says Pedro Domingos, a top computer science professor at the University of Washington. “But they have really come on aggressively. Now they are becoming a force.”

    https://www.wired.com/story/amazon-artificial-intelligence-flywheel/

  • Is artificial intelligence killing Japan’s banks? (Thanks JD!)

    Due to Japan’s zero interest rate policy, domestic banks can’t make money on loans, so they’ve become clearinghouses for other financial companies’ products, be it mutual funds or insurance policies. Banks are basically salesmen who collect handling fees for delivering products and services. Once that task is automated or otherwise rendered obsolete by new technology, what’s the point of a bank?

    https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/01/27/national/media-national/artificial-intelligence-killing-japans-banks/#.Wm6pmHNOm7M

Cloud

  • Is Google Losing to Amazon?

    But profitability isn’t why investors favor the retailer over the search engine. Google’s $26.1 billion of operating income last year is about 40% more than Amazon has earned in its entire existence. Nor is it the propensity to make big gambles. The difference is that Amazon has figured out how to make more of its big gambles, such as Prime and its AWS cloud service, drive its accelerating growth. Since 2010, Amazon’s larger revenue base has averaged 28% growth annually while Alphabet’s has averaged 21%.

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/is-google-losing-to-amazon-1517662800

  • Amazon Reports Largest Profit Ever

    Amazon’s sales rose 38 percent to $60.5 billion in the quarter, also beating estimates. Its North America revenue jumped 42 percent to $37 billion, while international sales grew 29 percent to $18 billion. Revenue from subscription fees grew 49 percent to $3.2 billion. Advertising and other revenue rose 62 percent to $1.74 billion.

    Amazon Web Services (AWS) continued to be the fastest-growing and most profitable business of the company. The unit posted a 45 percent rise in sales, jumping to $5.1 billion, and saw its profit margin expand from the third quarter. AWS sales accounted for a whopping 64 percent share of Amazon’s total operating income.

    http://chronicleofnews.com/amazon-reports-largest-profit-ever/

Security

  • Crucial iPhone source code posted in unprecedented leak

    Critical, top secret Apple code for the iPhone’s operating system was posted on Github, opening a new, dangerous avenue for hackers and jailbreakers to access the device, Motherboard reported. The code, known as “iBoot,” has since been pulled, but Apple may have confirmed it was the real deal when it issued a DMCA takedown to Github, as Twitter user @supersat noted.

    iBoot is the iOS code that ensures a secure boot by loading and checking that kernel is properly signed by Apple before running the OS. The version that was posted to Github, supposedly by a Twitter user named @q3hardcore, was for iOS 9, but much of it likely still exists in the latest version, iOS 11.

    https://www.engadget.com/2018/02/08/crucial-iphone-source-code-posted-in-unprecedented-leak/

Software/SaaS

  • Oracle’s cloud bravado masks its database despair

    No, we’re not going to see Oracle’s database revenue fall off a cliff. But that might not be because its customers remain committed to the database leader. Instead, they may simply continue to pay for stuff they don’t actually use. As a recent Rimini Street survey showed, as much as 74 percent of Oracle customers are running unsupported, with half of Oracle’s customers not sure what they’re paying for. These customers are likely paying full-fat maintenance fees for no-fat support (meaning they get no updates, fixes, or security alerts for that money).

    https://www.itworld.com/article/3252244/database/oracles-cloud-bravado-masks-its-database-despair.html

  • Where Barry Padgett Plans to Lead Ariba

    The number one lesson by far is that you need to go in with the right drivers. The wrong driver is, “I have a bunch of data. How do I make money on the data?” There are a lot of examples where platforms have come out of the desire to monetize a resource or an asset that you already have, and that is a terrible model — number one, because you end up building the wrong set of services, and, number two, in general, you find over time that people aren’t really willing to pay for it. So you end up doing a bunch of pivots to figure out what your platform story really should be.

    When you go into platform transformation, you really need to do it from the lens of the customer. You have to think about “How does the customer get value out what they’ve already bought from you?” rather than, “How do I charge the customer more, or how do I take what the customer’s generating and create more opportunity for myself financially?” When you really think about it from a customer value perspective, you build out the right set of services in the right way.

    http://spendmatters.com/2018/02/07/creating-legacy-sap-beyond-barry-padgett-plans-lead-ariba/

  • Microsoft is reportedly shifting its Windows strategy as it tries to outmaneuver Apple and Google

    Thurott reports that Microsoft will no longer offer Windows 10 S as a standalone operating system. You could never buy it yourself, but computer manufacturers (OEMs, or “original equipment manufacturers” in industry parlance) could license it from Microsoft to pre-install on the computers they sold to customers.

    Instead, Microsoft will push a so-called S Mode onto all versions of the Windows 10 operating system, reports Thurott. When enabled, S Mode will make any version of Windows 10 act like Windows 10 S, with all of the benefits and tradeoffs therein.

    Microsoft had previously said that S Mode would be coming to Windows 10 for businesses in future updates; this would just bring it to all of the consumer versions, too.

    http://www.businessinsider.com/microsoft-windows-10-s-dead-or-alive-2018-2

Datacenter

  • Why Mainframes Aren’t Going Away Any Time Soon

    The focus on Linux isn’t the only motivator behind the upsurge in mainframe use in data centers. Increasingly, enterprises with heavy IT needs are finding many advantages to incorporating modern mainframes into their plans. For example, mainframes can greatly reduce power, cooling, and floor space costs. In markets like New York City, where real estate is at a premium, electricity rates are high, and electricity use is highly taxed to reduce demand, these are significant advantages.

    “There was one customer where we were able to do a consolidation of 25 x86 cores to one core on a mainframe,” Santalucia said. “They have several thousand machines that are ten and twenty cores each. So, as far as the eye could see in this data center, [x86 server workloads] could be picked up and moved onto this box that is about the size of a sub-zero refrigerator in your kitchen.”

    http://www.datacenterknowledge.com/hardware/why-mainframes-arent-going-away-any-time-soon

Other

  • Akamai has laid off 400 workers or 5 percent of global workforce

    Akamai, the Cambridge Massachusetts content delivery network and network services provider, announced they had laid off 400 people in their earnings call with analysts yesterday.

    On the call, Akamai CEO Tom Leighton indicated that the 400 people represented 5 percent of the company’s 8000 worldwide workforce. “As part of our effort to improve operational efficiency, we reduced headcounts in targeted areas of the business, most notably in areas tied to our Media business. Overall, we have removed about 400 positions or 5% of our global workforce,” Leighton told analysts.

    He went onto to say that the layoffs actually began at the end of last year and have spilled over into this week. The company sees this as part of an effort to get leaner and cut costs, an effort that predates Elliott Management buying a 6.5 percent stake in the company in December.

    https://techcrunch.com/2018/02/07/akamai-has-laid-off-400-workers-or-5-percent-of-global-workforce/?ncid=rss

  • Best Buy will stop selling CDs as digital music revenue continues to grow

    Despite no longer selling CDs, Best Buy will still sell vinyl for the next two years, which Billboard says is part of a commitment it made to vendors. Sources suggested that Best Buy’s music CD arm was only generating $40 million annually.

    As we’ve previously reported, during the first half of 2017, streaming services accounted for 62 percent of revenue from the US music market. The decline of CD sales has also sparked Warner Music Group to offer voluntary buyouts to its 130 staff working in physical product, according to Billboard.

    It’s not surprising that we’re no longer buying CDs — at least not for new music. The best-selling CD in 2016 was a Mozart boxset, which contained 200 CDs that were individually counted as a separate sale. Users who don’t buy music prefer to stream it via services like Spotify and Apple Music, and gadget makers aren’t really making CD players anymore.

    https://www.theverge.com/2018/2/6/16973538/bestbuy-target-cd-sales-vinyl-cassette

Photo: Adam Fossier

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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

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News You Can Use: 9/20/2017

  • The Surprising Upsides To Getting Angry At Work

    So it’s no surprise that in measured doses, anger can prove a useful performance catalyst. Of course, this requires self-control and emotional intelligence. If you can tap into the driving and energizing force that anger provides, you may be able to produce better outcomes than you would trying to suppress those feelings. But the key is to feel a moderate amount of anger (or what psychologists call “arousal”–the mental stress or pressure that motivates people to act) that leads to higher performance than just being pumped with adrenaline on the one hand or being too bored, calm, and cool-headed on the other.

    Likewise, anger can help you become more aware of your values and motives, highlighting your inner compass and system of beliefs so you can realize how much you actually want something–and why. Conversely, the Zen-like ability to eliminate both anger and its sources will also extinguish any passion or desire to achieve. No wonder, then, that exceptional achievers–entrepreneurs, athletes, artists, and even scientists–are often motivated by an intense sense of dissatisfaction, frustration at their past performance, and even anger. They’re rebels with a cause, always work hard to create change.

    https://www.fastcompany.com/40464734/the-surprising-upsides-to-getting-angry-at-work

    Yeah… measured doses

  • Blockchain In The Supply Chain: Too Much Hype

    In summary, blockchain is an interesting technology. But it may be the least mature of all the technologies described in this report. On the other hand, because blockchain is a back-end technology, most companies don’t need to proactively invest in exploring its value.  We will know the technology is mature when people don’t even use the term “blockchain,” much as people don’t use the term TCP/IP when talking about their use of the Internet. If the technology does mature, the providers of Public Cloud supply chain solutions will be adversely impacted.

    https://www.forbes.com/sites/stevebanker/2017/09/01/blockchain-in-the-supply-chain-too-much-hype/#53715b4e198c

  • What moral decisions should driverless cars make?
  • Japan Is No Place for Single Mothers

    Women in Japan tend to struggle economically following divorce. That’s because traditionally in Japan, men work, and women stay home to take care of the children. About 62 percent of women drop out of the workforce when they have their first child, according to Kingston. When couples divorce, women have often been out of the workforce for a long time. Many institutions incentivize this arrangement: Japanese corporations often give husbands whose wives stay home a bonus, and the Japanese tax system punishes couples with two incomes. When women do try to return to the workforce, they usually can only find low-paying part-time work, if they find a job at all. And women who do work earn 30 percentless than men who do.  “In both the U.S. and Japan, you have a situation where women are forced to work, but if the economy doesn’t allow women to feed a family with 40 hours a week, you have a very difficult economic situation,” Ezawa said.

    https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2017/09/japan-is-no-place-for-single-mothers/538743/?utm_source=feed

  • Stop Calling It ‘Coaching’ When All You’re Really Doing Is Scolding Your Team

    Unfortunately, when someone is “coached” they are typically being criticized. The overuse of criticism leads to a host of problems from escape and avoidance to the elimination of related, desirable behaviors. But what’s most damaging is get a dressing down for something that bothers someone but really isn’t that big a deal. If I get an earful (does it still count as an earful if the feedback is given via email?) about the content of my emails I am likely to say “okay fine, I won’t send any emails at all.” If I get blasted for using less-than-professional language on an internal message board, I am more likely to stop reading and posting altogether than I am to watch my word choice in the future.

    https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/299804

Photo: Andre Hunter

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News You Can Use: 7/5/2017

  • Five building blocks of a data-driven culture

    A single source of truth is a central, controlled and “blessed” source of data from which the whole company can draw. It is the master data. When you don’t have such data and staff can pull down seemingly the same metrics from different systems, inevitably those systems will produce different numbers. Then the arguments ensue. You get into a he-said-she-said scenario, each player drawing and defending their position with their version of the “truth.” Or (and more pernicious), some teams may unknowingly use stale, low-quality or otherwise incorrect data or metrics and make bad decisions, when they could have used a better source.

    Also:

    HiPPO, “highest paid person’s opinion,” a term coined by Avinash Kaushik, is the antithesis of data-drivenness. You all know them. They’re the expert with decades of experience. They don’t care what the data says, especially when it disagrees with their preconceived notions, and they are going to stick to their plan because they know best. And, besides, they’re the boss.

    https://techcrunch.com/2017/06/23/five-building-blocks-of-a-data-driven-culture/?ncid=rss

  • A Higher Minimum Wage Is Not Doing The Bad Things Critics Said It Would Do

    Contrary to the simple supply-and-demand theory, higher minimum wages, Allegretto says, may end up saving companies money in the long run. “We know that turnover decreases when you increase minimum wages,” she says. “If companies invest more in their workers, the workers are going to be more satisfied. In industries like the restaurant industry, where the turnover rate is sometimes above 100% in a year, that’s a lot of money to spend on recruiting and training and re-recruiting constantly,” Allegretto says.

    https://www.fastcompany.com/40434565/a-higher-minimum-wage-is-not-doing-the-bad-things-critics-said-it-would-do

  • Goal Setting Is a Hamster Wheel. Learn to Set Systems Instead
  • What Makes a Good UX? Part III “Mission Control Dashboards”

    You see, whereas static first generation dashboards give you useless (and I mean useless) reports (which, at best, show a stoplight indicator with no description or backup data that lulls you in to a false sense of complacency or urgency), a modern mission control dashboard replaces those static widgets with modern fully enabled GUI widgets that allow users to drill down, initiate, and execute relevant actions such as data retrieval, workflow kick-off, or collaborative corrective actions. They can embed “apps” and “portlets” and allow a user to get what they need, and where they need, in 3-clicks, without missing anything important. They are the customizeable interactive views that applications have been missing. But, again, this is only the case for truly modern dashboards. First generation dashboards still belong in the dung-heap. For a truly deep dive into what these are, what they can do, and how they are used, check out the Pro piece [membership required].

    http://sourcinginnovation.com/wordpress/2017/06/21/what-makes-a-good-ux-part-iii-mission-control-dashboards/

  • There’s a war brewing in Japan, and the banks should pay attention

    Now there is a similar war brewing in Japan. This time it is for mobile P2P payments. A few players are vying to become the Japanese equivalent of Venmo, a company founded eight years ago in the United States and now owned by PayPal. The local equivalents are AnypayKyashLINE Pay and, to a certain extent, Yoropay. What makes this war particularly interesting is how similar it is to the news app war. So much so that Anypay was even founded by the former CEO of Gunosy, Shinji Kimura.

    https://techcrunch.com/2017/06/27/theres-a-war-brewing-in-japan-and-the-banks-should-pay-attention/?ncid=rss

Photo: Alain Pham

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SourceCast: Episode 66: Toshiba’s Turmoil

Toshiba is not having a good week.  As the company struggles to survive, political pressures from the Japanese government are complicating an already messy situation.

Photo: Amos Bar-Zeev

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