Workflow automation: How printers are solving the paper problem

Better productivity is a goal of most IT projects, typically through automating manual processes. Productivity gains often stop when a paper document is introduced into the process. At that point, someone has to manually enter relevant data into a system of record and then store or destroy the document. In some cases, the document needs to be routed to someone else for more information or approvals.

Solutions to scan and analyze paper documents have been available for years, but they still required some manual intervention, weren’t easy to use, and integration with workflow software has been limited. Now, more fully automated, user friendly options are coming on the market from an unexpected source: printer and copier vendors, or as they now prefer to be called, document imaging companies.

The idea of Xerox, Canon, Konica Minolta and other well-known brands owning that “first mile” of digitizing documents and automating workflow makes sense. They and their channel partners have decades of experience helping customers manage their paper documents. They have deep knowledge of how those documents fit into workflows and how they are generated, processed and archived.

So why are companies that were built on hardcopy volume suddenly helping their customers move to digital documents? Hardcopy output is dropping and document imaging brands have simply accepted that they need to look elsewhere for growth. “Customers became aware during the recession [of 2008] just how expensive printing can be,” says Charles Brewer, president of Actionable Intelligence, a market research firm that follows the document imaging industry. Page counts have consistently fallen each year since.

That led to a focus on services such as managed print services (MPS), which helped companies manage their output devices and associated costs. “What you are seeing now is MPS 2.0, where you can further build out workflow and business processes that you can do with your capture device,” says Brewer. “The printer/copier guys have the hardware in place. They have the relationships with the IT teams. Because of the way they sell MPS, they have relationships with CFOs. They are at the C level, and the corporate officers realize that you can use your copier for a lot more than copying.”

“The traditional office device—the multifunction printer (MFP) in particular—has become a much more centralized component in different types of application workflows that you find inside the general office,” says Dennis Amorosano, vice president and general manager, Canon Business Imaging Systems Group (BISG) and Canon Information and Imaging Solutions (CIIS) Professional Services. “We’re at a point now where customers are much more educated in terms of the office technology that’s available and are using that technology more frequently than ever in key workflow processes.”

Fitting into the enterprise IT ecosystem

The document imaging vendors see their products as complementary to enterprise systems. Canon, for example, sells its Therefore information management and workflow solution, which takes what Amorosano calls a “bottoms up” approach. “Without an ERP system, a business can’t run. The types of workflow systems we’re putting in place have a dramatic impact on productivity in particular business processes, but the business can still operate without the discrete application workflows we’re involved with—with the exception of the accounts-payable workflows,” he says.

One area where Canon is complementing ERP is with its AP workflow solution. “The ERP vendors and systems integrators who implement those systems tend to focus on the core business process. They are driving implementation activity that is capturing maybe 80 percent of the workflow. Oftentimes the paper-based aspects of the processes are not as well automated and integrated,” says Amorosano. “Canon has all this imaging expertise and heritage, and we’ve been able to look at the process that our customers are driving from an end-to-end perspective. We’re automating the ‘first mile’ of the process—the most paper intensive and the most manual.”

“We do not compete with ERP providers,” says Pavan Gourisetty, senior director of product management at Xerox, which sells its DocuShare Flex content management software. “We know that we are not the only enterprise software company in the IT ecosystem. They use applications like SAP, Oracle Financials or Workday. All of those systems are treated as systems of record for batch-specific use cases. We want to be the system of record for content management systems capable of integrating with other line of business applications. We like to be known as an ecosystem platform provider”

Enterprise application software vendor SAP offers its own end-to-end, workflow-enabled content management solution with partner OpenText that work across its entire application suite. “A lot of our customers are running massive operations that have to deal with content in many shapes and forms,” says Harald Nehring, vice president product marketing, middleware, at SAP. That includes paper-based content or content from various business communications. The suite of solutions SAP is building with OpenText “deal with every stage of content management be it paper-based and scanned, which we call digital content processing, or be it archiving and accessing documents at the right part of the business process, or specialized like invoice processing. We’ve been building tightly integrated solutions with OpenText that address a lot of these scenarios.”

SAP also partners with Canon for its Therefore solution. They are certified on interfaces and integrations, mainly with SAP’s core ERP S/4HANA solution. That certification gives them the ability to use facilities within the ERP system to, for example, trigger content for document archiving. “Integration is really important when it comes down to a coherent user experience. If you look at invoicing or purchasing scenarios, it’s important that workflows and screens people are using are integrated,” says Nehring.

Automating the “first mile”

A paper document might require manual intervention for a number of reasons before the information on it can be incorporated into a workflow. Most commonly, data from fields in a form needs to be entered into a database where it’s accessible to systems of record. Less structured documents, such as correspondence or contracts, need to be scanned and digitized so they’re searchable. In some cases, someone may have to read the document to select and enter specific data into a system.

The latest generations of printers and copiers have the embedded processing power and software to automate those tasks, and most of the manufacturers also sell document management applications designed to integrate with enterprise workflow systems and core applications. That includes adherence to popular standards such as AJAX and REST, and strong API support. Document imaging vendors bring a couple of other advantages to the workflow table: ease of use and content analytics.

Copiers and printers have very simple touchscreen user interfaces that even the least technically savvy user can understand with minimal training. Those are the same people responsible for digitizing paper documents for use in workflow. The workflow solutions that the document imaging vendors offer are accessed through that same intuitive UI.

“Having features and capabilities that are part of that user experience that customers really demand now as table stakes — having integrated viewer capabilities, search engines, separate integration with capture tools all that within one user interface — is really important in terms of providing these platform solutions at the document content management layer,” says Wasim Khan, head of global workflow automation at Xerox.

For its AP solution, Canon built its Enterprise Imaging Platform. “This is a server-oriented architecture platform that ties directly into Oracle and leverages Oracle’s Fusion middleware as a way for us to integrate Canon’s imaging capabilities with the Oracle ERP systems,” says Amorosano. He adds that Canon is in the process of scaling the Enterprise Imaging Platform to SAP.

Getting the document into the system is step 1. Step 2 is making sure the information in those documents is stored in the right places. That’s where content analytics come into play. With it, the software analyzes the document looking for word patterns or text placed in specific areas such as a field in a form. It then populates the data in the appropriate places in the system based on preconfigured rules. For example, data from a customer invoice might go into a CRM and accounts receivable systems.

“With Flex, you’re going to get a more integrated imaging capability in one simple user interface. It’s less cumbersome, less clunky,” says Khan. “When customers are using various Oracle systems or different back-ends, Salesforce or CRM systems, we have all those connections already built.”

Content analytics potentially can do more, especially around the decision making that occurs throughout a workflow. The results of research done at its Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) facility are on Xerox’s product roadmap for its DocuShare Flex software. “We work with a large healthcare provider, and some information is sitting in its databases around certain areas that from a security perspective they need to highlight,” says Khan. “Does it have the right permission levels? Does it have the right security level access? Are the right people viewing it? That’s where we hold that content, but we need tools to understand what’s in that content whether it’s a keyword or an understanding of meaning behind the actual word.”

Canon hopes to apply artificial intelligence and analytics to its solution soon. The company currently partners with email collaboration solution provider MXHero and cloud storage and collaboration provider Box. Amorosano says that Canon is looking at ways to incorporate its imaging technology into those solutions. “When you start to put content into Box, you’ve got to be disciplined about how you tag content and where you put it to be useful with a particular business application or process,” he says. “Data stores can get so big, that if you haven’t architected your systems well you get to a point to where it gets more and more challenging to get the content you need out of the system.”

Using AI, Canon can alleviate that problem with what it calls “context management.” “We have technology that allows us to recognize not only documents, but also the context of the document and the content itself,” says Amorosano. “The system gets smarter over time. The system almost becomes intuitive in terms of knowing what you want to do. We’re looking at how we can apply that AI technology to the way in which customers are placing content in and using content within the Box ecosystem.”

The ability to integrate well with core enterprise systems is key to fully leveraging the value of content analytics. “If all you have is the document processing, you lack a lot of contextual data,” says Nehring. “You might be able to handle an invoice, but you have no idea if it’s been paid if you’re not integrating with the place where the payment actually happens.” SAP recently applied digital invoice management for its own procurement and was able to speed the process for what was already an automated process by another 50 percent, according to Nehring.

Automation sets professional staff free  

Paper documents were becoming a barrier to Family Service Toronto (FST), a government-funded non-profit, being able to provide its services. “We have existed for more than 100 years, so we had a lot of paper,” said Vani Visva, who has led FST’s digital drive as director, finance and business technology. What prompted its decision to digitize that paper and start automating some workflows, however, was moving its offices to a new location. The cost of moving the paper and rent for a space big enough to store it was prohibitive.

“That’s when we decided to purchase a digital document management system,” says Visva. FST went with DocuShare from Xerox, which had been supplying its copiers. The first phase of the project was to digitize all the paper records it needed to keep and integrate DocuShare with its main systems. ”All our multifunction printers are integrated with DocuShare. All our receptionists have scanners, so when clients come in and sign their forms, they go directly into the file system and our home-grown client management system for case management,” she says.

Now, all documents are searchable and accessible directly from the core applications. Lifecycle management allows them to migrate outdated documents off the system.

Phase 1 was simply setting up a basic digital document management system. Phase 2 is where FST is seeing benefits from automating workflow for its developmental services division, which serves about 3,200 individuals or their families. Those clients purchase services to live independently for which they apply for reimbursement through FST. “We get thousands of invoices and receipts every month. They could be paper, electronic, email or fax,” says Visva. Each family is assigned a barcode that contains basic information about their account and is required to use those bar-coded forms when sending invoices.

All those documents are detected automatically through intelligent recognition software and then relevant information is populated into fields in an e-Form. Rules set up within e-Forms may trigger a process—for example, if the request is over a certain amount it goes to a manager for approval. Any questions that the approver has can be routed back to the worker for answers.

All this happens within the applications that workers use throughout the approval and payment process. “This all used to be paper based. Now it is 100-percent paperless,” says Visva. “We now process clients within two to five business days. It used to take seven to 10 days. At the end of the day, we improved our client experience.”

“It serves our clients better, but I wouldn’t say it costs less [to provide services],” says Visva. “It allows us to put more resources direct service with our clients as opposed to back office tasks. We are more accurate, more responsive.”

FST’s cost so far has been about $300K for phase 1 and $250K to $300K for phase 2, not counting time spent by internal staff. That cost includes different software pieces, scanning of 500 bankers’ boxes of paper documents, hosting of the software applications and consulting fees to implement and integrate the system over the last three years.

Productive incremental gains

From a technology and feature perspective, the workflow automation solutions from document imaging vendors might not seem like a big leap over what’s been possible with traditional document management systems coupled with workflow solutions. The value that they offer is in starting the automation at an earlier point in the process where it is the most labor intensive using the familiar copier or MFP as the focal point.

“Digitize as early as possible, and not just having an electronic image, but having an annotated and analyzed document.” says Nehring. “Don’t deal with paper more than you really have to.” That’s easier said than done, especially for smaller organizations like FST where the document imaging vendors are finding the most success with their solutions. Adding functionality through the copiers and MFPs and integrating it with core applications will accelerate adoption by keeping costs down and minimizing training requirements.

 

This article was written by Michael Nadeau from CIO and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

The powerful link between focus and creative output

One of the biggest complaints clients bring to me in coaching sessions is the painful experience of chronic overwhelm. At no time in history have we ever had so much information coming at us. This environment is calling for a new set of skills that separates the mediocre from the impactful.

What I’m going to share with you may be the single most important differentiator between those who thrive in this climate of rocket-speed technological connection and those who will be derailed from burnout or exist in perpetual reaction mode, never accomplishing their aims. Having a plan will ensure you stay balanced and focused on the important contributions you were meant to make. It isn’t a magic bullet, but if you commit to this plan you will feel like magic as you work. And more importantly, your outcomes will be exponentially greater than your peers and competitors.

One of my clients came to her coaching call with me in a state of anxiety that is common these days. When I asked her to describe how it felt, she used a powerful metaphor that said it all. She felt as though she were in a blender, trying to keep her head above water at the top. What was her greatest fear? That in her exhaustion she would let go and be pulled into the vortex of blades lying beneath her. Wow! That is a pretty scary metaphor and her voice told me she felt quite desperate. That was five years ago, and this kind of experience is even more common today. Anxiety is quickly rising to the top of complaints from clients and friends alike.

What surprises clients is that we know the answer to this dilemma. What’s more, with a simple plan and a strong dose of character development we can not only solve it, but help them rise above everyone else to make impactful contributions in their field. Why? Because so many of their colleagues are stuck in the pattern, making it easier to be the one who stands out in the crowd.

Here’s the deal. Everything in your life, at home and at work, depends on the automatic behaviors you engage in every day without being aware of most of them. The mind likes to fall into routines that produce your outcomes. The only difference between you and someone who becomes powerfully successful in their field is their habits. And those habits create outcomes. But here’s the rub.  If you don’t examine those habits carefully, they get wired into your patterns and produce the same unconscious outcomes over and over. Stasis and stagnation set in, even if it looks like you are working harder than everyone else.

Steps to amp up your creative output: 

Step 1: Assess where you spend your time now. Are you taking calls and meetings not connected to your most important work? Take an inventory of where you spent your time over the last two weeks and put them into three buckets: 

1. What other people wanted from you

2. What you feel like you should do but are half-hearted about

3. What you do best and are deeply interested in working on

Once you know where your daily habits are taking you, choose to prioritize No. 3 and get rid of as many of No. 1 and No. 2 as you can.

Step 2: Mind your own business. Don’t be tempted to waste time on drama. Say no to interruptions that are about ego-driven politics and never participate in conversations about someone who is not present. Instead, if you have a problem with someone, make an appointment and have the conversation face to face, then get back to work. Be an example for others when they want to gossip with you too—suggest they deal directly with the source.

Step 3: Ruthlessly prioritize your top 3 interests and strengths. Block uninterrupted time during the most productive part of your day and hold those boundaries strictly so you can spend your most productive time learning about and doing what interests you most. Treat this time as sacred and invest in your most compelling and challenging work first. This is not selfish because it will be the one thing that helps you make a unique contribution to the enterprise at some point.

Step 4: Carefully evaluate your routine habits. Once a quarter conduct an inventory of your existing daily and weekly habits and see if they take away from or add to your most important work. Learn how to change habits and do it regularly until you have the ideal set of daily, weekly, monthly and yearly routines that produce top notch results. Eventually it will snowball into exponential contributions because you will be 10 times more productive than almost everyone around you.

Step 5: Learn how to focus on “right now.” Learn how to manage the temporal aspects of your thoughts by meditating daily. When the mind wanders to the past or too far into the future it can trigger emotions in the limbic system that will derail your best thinking. The past usually triggers regret, guilt and worry. The future can feel overwhelming, daunting or downright impossible. In this mindset, half of the blood flow will divert to your limbic system and render you less intelligent as you work because the pre-frontal cortex is starved of what powers it: blood flow. Learn self-soothing techniques and command the full power of your creative brain by focusing on NOW.

Step 6: Incubate your ideas by choosing balance that keeps your heart, mind, body and spirit in good shape. Technology is important, even critical to most jobs today. But ensure you don’t spend too much time working on devices that create brain strain and chronic stress. This ensures that you will ignore other important aspects of your life, like important relationships, leisure time, health, play and relaxation. Genius thinking requires that you work smarter, not longer. When you incubate your ideas and let them rest by engaging in activity other than work, what happens when you return to work will surprise you. That nagging problem you couldn’t figure out when you were tired will suddenly be solved with a brilliant insight that came from your unconscious. And you’ll have more energy to tackle it too.

Step 7: Invest in your most important relationships. Once you have completed your commitments to your top interests and priorities, spend the rest of your work day and leisure time to ensure your longevity and well-being long term. This includes nurturing the relationship you have with yourself first. If you ignore either self-care or caring for the most important people in your life due to not establishing good habits and sticking to them, you will end up with some big wake-up calls later. Your health will decline or your relationships will fall apart and put you smack in the middle of a crisis. Those who focus on achievement at the expense of overall fulfillment are the most in danger of this long-term outcome.

Only balance and working brilliantly with solid, contributive habits can ensure we are successful in both work and life in a sustainable way. Examining why you do what you do takes discernment and commitment. It takes a deep and lifelong commitment to character development and character strength building. And it happens today. Then each day after that, one day at a time.

 

This article was written by Pam Boney from CIO and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

How to use trends to launch a business

Social media has created a society largely driven by “meme culture” and trends. The Snapchat hotdog, for instance, has recently been seen all over most social media platforms and has in turn led to large usage statistics for the video overlay.

Viral trends make consumers want to pay and engage with the content. This interest is any entrepreneur’s dream, as trends make it easy for businesses to boost sales as much as possible and get the largest bang for their buck on campaigns.

Yet, leveraging trends is not an easy task, since it requires both standing out from existing content and fitting into the trend itself. As businesspeople continue to analyze social media usage and data on evolving consumer preferences, one of the most important skills to learn is how to identify and leverage trends.

After talking to a number of entrepreneurs, Elie Neufeld, the founder of DHTK, had the most impressive insight on building a business through trends. He owns the trademark for DHTK and related acronyms around the phrase “Don’t Hate the King,” which grew as a viral trend for Lebron James.

His ability to spot trends before they take off has led to meetings with Nike and a deal with Daymond John. Through his experiences, he has learned these crucial components of utilizing trends for business:

Improve on current trends

It is not enough to copy a trend. Thinking back to the consumer “use case” of watching content on social media, brands need to stick out from other content and win the trend, not just be a part of it.  Spotting a trend lets you see an opportunity for growth, but the value is in developing content or a product that is more desirable than any other thing in the trend.

As you brainstorm what will stick out to viewers and consumers, try to figure out why the trend exists.  Supreme reigns as the top streetwear brand, because it first sold the lifestyle of New York skate culture and balanced supply and demand for the products. However, the next great streetwear brand will not be another Supreme, but rather an iteration that appeals to consumers in the same way Supreme does.

Identify unique growth opportunities

Trends can come in a variety of forms, such as short-powerful memes, long-term lifestyles, or even content trends.  Each of these can offer businesses a variety of opportunities and, if executed correctly, can be lucrative.

Particularly with content trends, businesses are able to utilize trendy content campaigns they know consumers enjoy.  For example, giveaways have become great opportunities, since consumers are familiar with the process and for a low price can drive large brand awareness.

DHTK partnered with the famous sneaker customizer Daniel Mache to give away a pair of Lebron James sneakers. People submitted their names by following and engaging with their Instagram.

The campaign created huge traction and growth for the brand’s page at a much lower cost than traditional marketing. Furthermore, often times, brands can work with influencers or other brands to encourage each audience to follow both and engage with both in order to receive a product. This allows both channels to grow together and share the cost of the giveaway.

Align with viral influencers

Since consumers enjoy following personalities, influencers have remained one of the biggest trends on social media. Influencers come in and going out of style at slower rates.  If brands align with influencers, they can receive brand benefits, without even necessarily paying the influencer for an endorsement.

DHTK has developed a variety of viral product lines that align with Lebron James, Michael Jordan, and Stephen Curry, as well as the lifestyles each embodies.

However, since the product lines merely align with the influencer and are not explicitly associated with them, DHTK did not have to pay the astronomical fees influencers usually charge.  In this fashion, brands ought to look at how they can tailor their products and campaigns around influencers and reach their specific audiences.

Trends offer unique insight into the common interests and beliefs of specific demographics.  As businesses look to take off, figuring out what trends appeal to their target demographic will help them spot opportunities for product development and brand building.

From there, it is a matter of correctly creating value, leveraging growth opportunities, and aligning with long term audiences in order to correctly utilize trends for successful business practice.

 

This article was written by George Beall from The Next Web and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

The key to successful digital transformation

Nearly 70 percent of midmarket CIOs report their organizations are still in the infancy stages of the digital transformation process. So, how do these less rigid, yet prudent midmarket companies build the business cases and reduce failure rates?

At a high level, digital transformation is the need to connect business functions to streamline operations and drive efficiency. But changing hardware and software without a full understanding of the business process is transforming very little; it’s only serving to perpetuate IT as the scapegoat for project failures.

“The biggest innovation happens when the transformation is user [driven], not IT driven,” said Vicki Harper, NorthAmerica IT Director at Acument Global Technologies, a Michigan-based manufacturer. “In that form, it can spread quickly through the organization.”

The process requires an understanding of cultural and knowledge gaps for business users, a monumental and often politically charged challenge typically far outside IT’s purview.

While CIOs in the midmarket acknowledge that innovation and transformation are necessary, embarking down the path without user buy-in will inevitably yield varying degrees of resistance. 

The right mindset from the onset

Digital transformation is changing the way people interact. Updating a CRM to support a sales team will eventually impact finance, operations and the supply chain.

Currently functioning as the COO at Stealth Mode Startup (yes, that’s its real name), Feroz Merchiya recalled an instance of testing automation of a business process in his previous role as CTO at California Insurance Guarantee Association. 

“There was resistance from an analyst and the QA team who were concerned for their jobs,” he recalled.

The goal was not to eliminate their positions but rather to free their time and resources to do more where they were actually needed.

“You have to ask people who do the work to show you their current processes and break those down to small atomic units,” he continued. “It’s not about changing methodology, but about changing mindset.”

Shifting perspective

Customer expectations have fundamentally changed the way businesses operate. And particularly in the manufacturing sector, the new level of visibility into operations makes some folks uncomfortable.

Damien Brennan, vice president and CIO at Artco Group International, a privately held niche steel manufacturer, asserts that if a consumer can order a $6 pair of socks online and track that package from a shipping warehouse to their doorstep, it’s certainly no longer feasible for a salesperson in the field to place an order and expect that customers will wait patiently to hear from a truck driver on the day products are scheduled for delivery.

“We’ve done a good job on the core plumbing of the company, and we’re sorting out where we need to invest now,” Brennan explained. “Manufacturers don’t always get exposure to buyers, logistics and sales people, but those users have the expectation that all data will be live.”

Where transformation and innovation are used interchangeably, innovators are already functioning across the business, though they may not necessarily be part of the IT team

It’s an antiquated way of thinking, Brennan added, that IT has to own the applications, provide user access and manage the data contained therein. When he came into his current role, some employees were already using Smartsheet and Slack for their workflow collaboration, and the technologies were efficient and affordable.

“You have to involve business units, and ours is a fairly inclusive decision-making process, but greater agreement means faster rollouts,” he said. “Manufacturing margins are not like in banking, so anywhere I can save a few dollars, it’s much easier to get approval.”

Change is hard

At Acument, implementation of the Google Suite was partiallydriven by a need for better collaboration. The user base was highly adept at Microsoft Office, so asking users with 20-plus years of experience in the MS products suite to change the way they work was not without its challenges.

“The Google apps are of a different maturity and construct,” Harper noted. “Managementof the Google Suite is a huge divergence from the historical norm in midmarket.”

She ventured that the sizeable effort to migrate out of traditional applications, unknown security risks and lack of knowledge across internal IT teams regarding cloud technology are among the reasons some midmarket companies may be slower to adopt more innovative solutions. A recent 250-slide presentation required input from more than a dozen staffers, and timely collaboration would have been extremely difficult in the company’s original architecture.

Harper said in her experience, midmarket companies are less rigid in structure. Where top-down change of a sweeping type, such as a new ERP or new desktops, requires strong support from upper management, changes based on operational needs can be adapted more easilyusing grassroots efforts. Once the operations team on the plant floor at Acument understood Google Sheets, they began collecting more organized data with little guidance or push to do so.

For the heads of IT, leading digital innovation is a multi-phase process not always easily measured by traditional ROI calculators. First, CIOs must get management on board, execute by giving teams the tools with proper training and then driving change through a series of efforts to transform processes.

 

This article was written by Blair Shiver from CIO and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Smart Rings Taking a Step Further in Smart Technology

Authors and Contributors: Sankar Krishnan, EVP Capital Markets and Banking, Capgemini & Ramsha Pervez, Software Associate, Capgemini

Integration and automation have become the driving force in technology. The goal is to discover a more accessible portal for everyday activities to connect users together.  For example, Apple launched its Apple Pay system in 2014, where credit cards and other payment methods are all synchronized into an accessible location, such as the iPhone or Apple Watch. However, the company Tokenize has taken a further step and launched the first ever smart ring, coined as the Token Ring.

Token Ring boasts access to card payment systems, home and computer security, car ignition, and transit cards. With a scan of the ring, homes can be unlocked and goods can be purchased. This wearable lock is revolutionizing everyday items and activities.

The company itself prioritizes security with all its executive officers supporting a diverse background in advanced cryptography. The design follows a tap system similar to chips used by MasterCard and Visa. To ensure correct identification, users are to scan their fingerprints for initial access.  The ring then needs to be unlocked by a series of gestures. The ring comes complete with its relative smartphone app and charging unit. Updates will be handled by the mobile app. Also with the mobile app, multiple credit cards can be shuffled for use. The ring is waterproof up to 50 meters, and has a battery-life of 2 weeks. 

Questions have to be addressed with respect to memory and its Bluetooth capability. For such a new technology, security is of significant concern and can be a big hurdle especially with the Token ring being a pioneer in the field.

Tokenize’s engineering team has reported to work with iCLASS SE and multiCLASS SE readers for company security implantation. Though Token Lock is the only compatible system, the company is working on supporting other smart locks. [1]

Tokenize is not the first company to implement smart rings for consumer use. The Helios Smart Ring is currently in development to track Vitamin D and other health benefits for users. [2] The Motiv smart ring is a fitness ring that is compatible with the iPhone. [3] Other rings exist to monitor location and other user activity tracking. The smart rings are an easier way to access information especially by skipping the step of inputting a password. This new technology will likely appear more often in the market as smart products will extend to different types of industries. Financial Services, Retail, Health and Wellness are logical industry verticals for Token to make an immediate impact.

[1] “About Token.” Token. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 July 2017.

[2] “About Us – E-senses.” Home – E-senses. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 July 2017.

[3] “Pre-Order Motiv Ring.” The Best Activity, Fitness and Step Tracker with Heart Rate Monitor | Motiv Ring. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 July 2017.

This article was written by Sankar Krishnan from Capgemini: Capping IT Off and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

How Machine-Learning AI Is Going To Make Your Phone Even Smarter

We all know that our smartphones are as powerful as desktop computers from a few years ago, and even supercomputers from a few decades ago—and now they’re on the verge of teaching themselves to become even smarter and more competent. Today, image-recognition AI company Clarifai debuted new software that allows mobile apps to do machine learning—the actual training of models—right on smartphones, going back to at least the iPhone 5, with no cloud server farm required.

Understanding the significance of this development requires us to unpack some jargon. Tech companies frequently talk about apps that use machine learning—showing enough images or other data to an artificial intelligence program until it starts to discern important patterns, such as what a hamburger patty and bun look like. That’s how apps like Dog Breed Identifier or Food Calorie Counter, for instance, can identify what you point the phone’s camera at.

Clarifai’s Forevery app can be trained to recognize people and things. Its new software allows other apps to take advantage of machine-learning training. [Image: courtesy Clarifai]But these apps aren’t learning on the phone what, say, a Yorkie looks like. That process usually happens at a powerful server farm, often running on racks of graphics processing units (GPUs) such as NVidia’s Tesla P100 to develop a model of things like the identifying characteristics of a Yorkie. The apps on the phone apply that model to the particular dog in front of the camera, a process called inferring. It’s a processor-intensive operation, but not nearly as intensive as training a model.

Very few apps do the actual training on phones: Apple’s Photos app being a prime example for its limited ability to learn that, for instance, a particular face is yours or your friend’s. Clarifai introduced an app called Forevery in 2015 with similar capabilities. Apple’s upcoming iOS 11 has a component called Core ML that allows developers to add inference capability, but not training, to their apps. Google has taken a similar step with Android, announcing software called TensorFlow Lite for Android developers.

But with today’s release of software called Mobile SDK (software developer kit), Clarifai is letting developers build training for aspects of images and videos into any app. Clarifai’s CEO Matthew Zeiler explained the difference to me in an email: “You can train faces in . . . Apple Photos, but that’s it. With Clarifai’s Mobile SDK, we allow developers to train models on any set of concepts in their own apps (for example, a Lamborghini from a Ferrari, or a frappuccino from a latte, etc.) completely on device.”

Clarifai did a pilot test of the technology with i-Nside, which makes smartphone-attached medical devices. Along with its endoscopic attachment for examining a patients’ ears, i-Nside created an app that uses Clarifai’s machine learning to train a model of ear diseases found in patients. (The finished model will then be used for diagnosis.) Doctors can use the app to train models in remote parts of places like Africa, South America, and South Asia that don’t have good internet access. So training has to happen on the phone.

Clarifai is releasing a preview version of its software for iOS today, with an Android version to come soon. Zeiler says he’s gotten the Mobile SDK to work on devices as far back as an iPhone 5. “We hope to test the limits to see if we can support earlier generations,” he tells me.

 

This article was written by Sean Captain from Co. Create and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Instacart AI helps personal shoppers buy groceries faster

In case you have ever wondered how Instacart works, know this: There are thousands of “personal shoppers” who physically go to a store and pick out your groceries.

In some cases, that’s all they do — up to 29 hours per week. They might not actually deliver the groceries (that’s a job for another worker), and the task the shoppers perform is one that can be perfected over time — say, grabbing the veggies first and then the cookies, followed by the coffee because it is closer to the checkout lane at Whole Foods.

Curiously, this entire process is one that can be optimized using AI even though the data is sometimes a little scarce. Instacart doesn’t actually use its own warehouse, doesn’t have access to the store maps, and can’t even connect to a product database, but it can still use reams of data. That’s because the items are always scanned or weighed when shopping. And this data is quite extensive.

Jeremy Stanley, VP of data science at Instacart, who spoke about the company’s process at MB 2017, said the shoppers pick millions of products — and that serves as the foundation for the AI algorithms. The algorithms can track the sequence, then use deep learning to improve it even more. For example, the company can look for trends with the shoppers and note how it might be faster to save coffee until the end of the physical shopping session or do that much earlier in the process. They can also look for issues with availability.

“Through a sophisticated mobile application dedicated to our shoppers, Instacart uses machine learning to balance supply and demand and optimize delivery routes,” says Stanley. “Recently, Instacart used deep learning to route shoppers in stores while picking grocery orders, saving hundreds of years of shopping time at scale. And this is only the beginning. From intelligent replacement suggestions to highly personalized search and discovery, Instacart plans to use deep learning to further optimize and enhance how Americans shop for groceries.”

One interesting test involved using Jupyter (a web app for developers that tracks code, equations, and other data within a digital notebook) on a laptop and visiting Whole Foods in the Bay Area. (In a blog post, Stanley said no one ever queried why they were doing the testing.) He said the company wanted to test the quality of the shopping sequences. The algorithms are designed to make the personal shopping process faster and more efficient overall.

It’s a good example of how AI can become useful for any company, not just those who make a speaker that talks to you about the weather or a chatbot that looks for travel deals. It benefits the workers in the stores and, in the end, the people who are buying the groceries. And, it’s a creative approach to generating data for AI without having direct access — say, from the POS system at Whole Foods.

“By the end of next year, Instacart will offer the delivery of fresh groceries in as little as an hour to 80 percent of American households,” says Stanley.

This article was written by John Brandon from VentureBeat and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

‘Scaling up’ Fintech Innovation

  • A perspective by Sudhir Pai CTO Financial Services Strategic Business Unit, Capgemini

Digitalisation is disrupting industry sectors globally, and fundamentally changing how we do business, work, connect and communicate. Innovation is now typically associated with digital innovation based on an ecosystem and platform approach that integrates all the key elements of the system within a coherent whole. It this approach that is enabling cyber-physical integration across the system using IoT platforms for example, mass customisation, personalised solutions, rapid response, instant evaluation of feedback and adjustment of service in real-time, etc. With the advancement of Industry 4.0 platforms, manufacturing is already experiencing this change globally.

The digital technologies that underpin Fintech are only now beginning to mature. It is difficult to gauge at present the degree and extent of impact Fintech will ultimately have on the Financial Services landscape. With innovation accelerating the pace of change in the sector more than ever, Fintech will doubtless remain central in the industry’s aim to gain market share by catering to customer’s financial and particular personal needs. Incumbent banks are expected to remain as the cornerstone of the FS sector, however disruptive value will truly be felt by end customers once Fintechs’ find a way past the next hurdle to innovation – scale up. Like most other sectors, FIntechs’ have also realised that starting-up is relatively easy compared to scaling-up. Scaling-up requires particular strategies, approaches and capabilities from the outset.

Experience suggests that over 95% of Fintech companies fail when they reach the scale-up phase. The ability to grow and retain an active customer base with the available funding runway often dictates success and failure for Fintechs. This is where incumbents can make a difference in Fintechs’ fight for survival. For banks, the challenge is to not let traditional risk management methods hinder the development of innovation. They need to be able to harness the full value of innovation, by establishing supportive governance structures to embed and scale Fintech offerings into the core business.

Challenge

Example

Harness value

Longevity of partnership

What if the Fintech founders decide to cash out?

Risk exposure

How do incumbents make sure the security, data privacy and compliance of their core business are fully protected?

Dependency on niche skillsets

How to minimise reliance on niche assets and skillsets such as proprietary machine learning algorithms?

Leverage front-end capabilities

Should branch staff offer Fintech products to customers?

Scope of applicability

Is there a use case in other geographical locations with different regulatory conditions?

Governing for impact

Speed to test and iterate

Traditional methods of procurement, commercial and legal constructs can slow down the pace of innovation.

Metrics to define success

The way ROI’s are measured by business units may not align with the innovation agenda.

Time to monetisation

Business Unit’s priorities may not align to innovative ideas i.e. in terms of time to market, costs, infrastructures, etc..

The table above should also include reference to challenges regarding capability required for scaling-up that would be addressed for example through business model development that is focused on scale and global reach from the outset (rather than an afterthought), including also training, and establishing the right technology platforms for sale-up. This would be relevant to the comments below as well.

Incumbents that embrace Fintech often set up separate business, or adopt a multi-speed approach. In these cases, governance and decision-making are often based in different sets of criteria to the normal ways of working, in order to accelerate the delivery of innovation outcomes. This approach helps to validate the technological concept and marketability with end customers, however to achieve sustained ROI banks need a response on how to scale and embed Fintech solutions across the enterprise both locally and internationally. How can the Fintech become an integral part of the core business value proposition within an ecosystem? A good place to start is from the enterprise business model and associated operating model. Adaptive organisational changes need to be made that address the cultural evolution of people and processes within the enterprise ecosystem, rather than just technology.

 

This article was written by Sudhir Pai from Capgemini: CTO Blog and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Unlocking the power of VR storytelling — whatever business you’re in

“SeaWorld is different from other theme parks,” says Crystal O’Hea, senior director of the SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment innovation group. “My team’s mission is to really think about new, compelling ways for our guests to connect with our animal stories and ‘wild wonders of the west.’”

Her team, called Expedition X, looks for new technology, trends, creative partnerships for future development, and their eye has been on virtual reality for a couple of years now, exploring not just what’s possible, but what’s effective.

“We went into three of our parks and filmed about 36 different animals to really start to understand what would be most interesting if we brought live-action VR to our guests?” O’Hae explains. “What animals are compelling, what types of experiences are exciting? I don’t know that anyone is mastering it because it’s just evolving so rapidly. Consumers are catching up with it just as fast as content producers are.”

When SeaWorld develops attractions and experiences for their guests, they’re thinking about three things, she says: They want to encourage guests to explore the natural world around them, inspire them to care about the world, and leave feeling compelled to take action to protect the world around them.

“How can technology complement those experiences to deepen a guest’s understanding of what’s at stake, or an understanding of the magnificence of the animal that they’re looking at?” she says. “Whatever the mechanism, we’re really trying to think about the meaningful story for our guests. And then we’re looking at what type of technology can deliver that experience.”

Their first live action VR, called Orca 360, just opened at SeaWorld San Diego about two weeks ago. It’s a seven-and-a-half minute 3D stereoscopic live action film which takes guests under the water and eye to eye with real killer whales.

“In this scenario, we’re really looking at VR to help tell a story,” says O’Hae. “We’re taking guests behind the scenes to see what happens when there aren’t guests in the stadium, and showing them how these animals are cared for 24/7.”

Kraken Unleashed, which opened in SeaWorld Orlando this summer, was the company’s first experience with a VR roller coaster. It took the opportunity to overlay an existing coaster with a new storytelling VR experience. But it was also an opportunity to refresh guests’ interest in an existing attraction in a brand new way.

“If we were to go build another roller coaster, the cost and the infrastructure and the time it would take to do that would be very costly. VR provides a nontraditional way for us to deliver a whole new experience for our guests faster and at less expense,” she says. “It really gives us a new way to get guests to come back over and over and over again.”

One of the most-often talked about challenges in the VR world is that there are 35 million machines in field, in various formats — from mobile devices like Samsung Gear VR and Google Daydream, to the higher-end devices like the Playstation VR and HTC Oculus — and that’s not actually a very large number.

However, for companies interested in creating content for controlled experiences, where the consumer is handed the gear on your turf rather than having to invest in it at home, greater household adoption becomes the real challenge.

“From a content creator standpoint, as more people are introduced to VR at home, the demand for quality content and unique use of VR content is going to grow,” she says. “If I can have a regular cheeseburger in my living room, then the cheeseburger that I buy at a theme park better be the most magnificent cheeseburger I’ve ever had.”

The other challenge is that families pay to come to theme parks to spend time together — and that clearly can be tricky if everyone’s got gear strapped on their heads. They also want to continue to complement live animal encounters, rather than replace them — and capture the interest and attention of this new generation of tech-saturated kids, from whom digital interaction is second nature.

“We think about how the next generation is consuming knowledge and information and the on-demand nature of it that is essential,” she says. “If a child or one of our guests wants to learn more right now, we need to be able to give them new, entertaining ways and tools to do that quickly.”

For instance, if you see a fascinating penguin, rather than having to walk over to read a sign about penguins, an augmented reality experience is able to capture that moment immediately and transform it into an amaze-and-delight experience.

“When we think about tech and VR and AR, we want to do it in a way that provides joy,” O’Hae says. And that’s one of the best and brightest promises of virtual reality technology.

 

This article was written by Vb Staff from VentureBeat and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

5 Things I Would Do Differently if I Could Start My Career Again

My career over the past seven years hasn’t been perfect—in fact, we could all agree that if we had the chance, we’d probably turn back time and do certain things a little bit differently.

Alas, this isn’t possible (otherwise someone please tell me where can I get one of those time machines). However, I have learned several valuable lessons throughout my experience that might help you as you navigate your own career.

Pst—you’re not too late to do any of these things!

1. Invest Less in Materials, More in Your Mind

The trajectory of your career will be largely based on how you decide to spend your initial paychecks. You’ll be tempted to spend it on getting a nicer apartment, upgrading your clothes, and going out to fancier restaurants.

While these aren’t necessarily bad things—you deserve to treat yourself every once in a while—you might want to think about spending your money on knowledge instead. It’ll not only give you the greatest return on investment, but also be the one thing that lasts over time.

There are certain skills that are applicable to any job, such as communication, knowing how to effectively read and write, building strong relationships, networking, and time management, while there are obviously others that are more specific to your industry.

To expand on any of these, you have several options for investing your money (instead of having a luxurious weekend away)—you can take an online class, or buy a career-boosting book, or even hire a career coach.

2. Make Health a Number One Priority

Health is the foundation that accelerates everything in your life, including your career. It elevates your creativity, energy, and grit to get through the inevitable ups and downs you’ll experience.

For far too long, I struggled to find breakthroughs in my career because I was neglecting my health, both mental and physical. This led to having less willpower and discipline during my day, and thus being less productive over time.

Prioritizing your health isn’t just a one-time task. It actually has to take priority over everything you do. That means scheduling it into your calendar, making investments to buy the right food and exercise regularly, and even giving up other bad habits.

It’s true: Once you have your health together, everything else comes easier.

3. Learn How to Best Manage Your Time (Whatever That Means for You)

How we spend our time ultimately determines how much we accomplish in our lifetime. While 30 minutes here or there getting sucked into Facebook or taking one too many coffee breaks doesn’t feel like much, it can start to add up in a bad way.

The thing is, how you manage your time is something only you can figure out—everyone works through their to-dos in different ways.

The best time management tactics I’ve learned over time—that might help you get started—are usually the simplest. For example, you can try scheduling everything into your calendar so each task has a specific time frame for completion.

Or, you can try the “One Thing” strategy of asking yourself, “What’s the one task I can complete that will make everything else easier or unnecessary?”

Or, you can try one of these six better productivity hacks for people who don’t love the “famous” ones.

We can’t control how time passes, but we can maximize it to be, do, and achieve more.

4. Treat Every Relationship as Life-Long

The person you meet today may be someone you work with two, five, or 10 years from now. He or she could be an employee you want to hire, a potential business partner, or even your future boss.

When you treat every relationship as a lifelong relationship, you’ll be more giving, more patient, and more pleasant to be around.

To practice this daily, you need to focus on giving first without expecting anything in return. This might mean checking in with someone you met at a networking event via social media or over email every few months to see what’s new with them. Or, setting aside time in your calendar to regularly have lunch with team members.

And, you never know how even the most insignificant relationships will help you down the road. For example, because she stayed in contact with a networking connection, Ann Shoket, author and former Editor-in-Chief at Seventeen Magazine, turned a one-time meetup into the job that launched her career.

5. Think Bigger

One of the most common regrets I hear from successful people I interview is that they “didn’t think big enough.”

Many of the things we want in our lives will come to us as long as we give ourselves the permission to receive them. I’m sure there are things you have in your life today that five years ago you only dreamed about.

Whether you’re looking for a promotion, a new career opportunity, or a better life overall, it starts by thinking 10X bigger and raising your standards.

For example, billionaire and co-founder of Paypal Peter Thiel came up with a great question you can ask yourself to do just this:

What would you have to do if you want to achieve your 10-year goal in six months?

As unrealistic as it may sound, this level of thinking forces you to break past your current limitations and fears and ultimately approach your career with confidence, ambition, and a clear head.

How about you: What’s one thing that you would do differently if you started your career over? Let me know on Twitter!

 

 

This article was written by Sean Kim from The Daily Muse and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

IOT to enable smart and vigilant monitoring Moving towards a safer, healthier world

Advances in Artificial Intelligence technology have opened up new markets and new opportunities for progress in critical areas such as healthcare, education, energy and the environment.

Proactive Monitoring – Vigilant anomaly, threat and fraud detection

Within Capgemini, we view AI as having five senses: Watch, Act, Remember, Think and Listen/Talk. The Watch (or Monitor) sense is a vital component of every business, which we also refer to as proactive monitoring. In banking, monitoring refers to the monitoring of the market data, customer profile, security of systems, ATM transactions, branch office activities, online banking, and huge transfers, etc. The goal of proactive monitoring is to vigilantly watch for any anomalies and potential threat or fraud to act quickly and save your organization.

In the healthcare industry, monitoring refers to the tracking and analysis of an individual’s medical records, physical activities, food habits, quality and quantity of water intake, and many more variables. IOT has come out with innovative wearable devices that can capture signals and data from the activities of individuals, load this data into the cloud, and process it to support proactive healthcare monitoring.

Food for thought – AI for a better diet

For example, when you sit at the dinner table and start eating, wouldn’t it be great to have a system that can automatically sense the content of food on your plate, recognize elements such as vitamins, fats, fibers, potassium, calcium, iron etc., and then compare these with your intake over the past 30, 60 or 90 days? What if this system could integrate this data with your medical record and prescriptions, and provide you a summary chart together with warnings and comments in an easy-to-read dashboard? Also, what if the system could measure and analyze your speed of eating and advise you on the benefits of eating at a slower pace?

From smartphone to “smartplate”

At a recent industry event in Las Vegas, I saw this exact system right before my eyes during a demonstration of a “smartplate” by Indiegogo. It’s a plate made up of three compartments with a sensor at the bottom that’s connected to the cloud. After downloading Indiegogo’s mobile application on your smartphone and placing your food onto the plate, a sensor analyzes your meal and its weight, and relays this to the cloud.

Don’t just Instagram your next meal – Show them exactly how healthy you’re eating

Using the mobile app, a photo of the food is taken and sent to the cloud as well. Backend intelligence in the cloud is capable of recognizing more than 1,000 international food items, along with calculating quality and calories. As per your pre-defined profile, health record and physical activity history, you get real-time information and advice on your dietary habits.

They also demonstrated an intelligent water bottle that can sense critical content in the water and assess its quality. This is also connected to the cloud and your mobile app, so it’s simultaneously tracking your water intake.

So it’s clear that IoT supports Artificial Intelligence in making human life increasingly safer and healthier. We have started leveraging Artificial Intelligence to improve the quality of human life and make us safer, healthier and happier.

 

This article was written by Xavier Chelladurai from Capgemini: Capping IT Off and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

5 Ways To Turn Your Mistake Into A Valuable Life Lesson

Have you ever found yourself saying, “I’ll never do that again,” only to find yourself doing the exact same thing just a short time later? If so, you’re not alone. It’s likely all of us have repeated some of our mistakes at one time or another.

But making the same mistakes over and over can be costly in more ways than one. Perhaps your team has lost faith in you because your behavior doesn’t match your words. Or maybe your errors have cost you or someone else a lot of money.

The good news is, you can take steps to learn from your mistakes. Then, instead of repeating them again, you’ll gain valuable wisdom that will help you in the future.

Here are five ways to learn from your mistakes:

1. Acknowledge Your Errors

So often, leaders say things like, “I’m sorry you felt that way,” or “It’s unfortunate it didn’t work out.” But blaming other people or minimizing your responsibility isn’t helpful to anyone.

Before you can learn from your mistakes, you have to accept full responsibility for your role in the outcome. That can be uncomfortable sometimes, but until you can say, “I messed up,” you aren’t ready to change.

2. Ask Yourself Tough Questions

While you don’t want to dwell on your mistakes, reflecting on them can be productive. Ask yourself a few tough questions:

• What went wrong?

• What could I do better next time?

• What did I learn from this?

Write down your responses and you’ll see the situation a little more clearly. Seeing your answers on paper can help you think more logically about an irrational or emotional experience.

3. Make A Plan

Beating yourself up for your mistakes won’t help you down the road. It’s important to spend the bulk of your time thinking about how to do better in the future.

Make a plan that will help you avoid making a similar mistake. Be as detailed as possible but remain flexible since your plan may need to change.

Whether you find an accountability partner or you track your progress on a calendar, find a way to hold yourself accountable. Keep in mind that what works for one person might not work with someone else.

4. Make It Harder To Mess Up

Don’t depend on willpower alone to prevent you from taking an unhealthy shortcut or from giving into immediate gratification. Increase your chances of success by making it harder to mess up again.

As a psychotherapist, I’ve worked with people who have found some creative ways to become more disciplined. I once worked with a woman who blew her budget every month because she shopped online late whenever she was bored.

To prevent herself from having instant access to her cards, she froze her credit cards in a big block of ice. She’d have to wait for the ice to melt to get the number. Whenever she found herself trying to thaw the block of ice, she would pause and realize how ridiculous the situation was and she’d stop short of spending money she didn’t have.

5. Create A List Of Reasons Why You Don’t Want To Make The Mistake Again

Sometimes, it only takes one weak moment to indulge in something you shouldn’t. Creating a list of all the reasons why you should stay on track could help you stay self-disciplined, even during the toughest times.

I once worked with a woman who wanted to stop talking to her ex-boyfriend. She knew he wasn’t good for her but she couldn’t’ resist answering the phone whenever he called.

She created a list of all the reasons why she shouldn’t talk to him—it was bad for her mental health, they were toxic together, etc. She laminated the list and taped it to the back cover of her phone. Whenever he called, she’d turn her phone over and begin to read over the list. It helped her resist the temptation to answer the phone.

Self-discipline is like a muscle. Each time you delay gratification and make a healthy choice, you grow mentally stronger.

Move Forward With Your New-Found Wisdom

Sometimes, mistakes aren’t just one big blunder. Instead, they’re a series of little choices that lead to failure.  So pay attention to your errors, no matter how big or how small they might seem. And recognize that each mistake can be an opportunity to build mental muscle and become better.

 

This article was written by Amy Morin from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.