This Bicycle Rack Disappears When No One’s Using It

It doesn’t take much effort to point out a bicycle rack, and crowded cities can only have them take up so much sidewalk space. Milou Bergs, a Design Academy Eindhoven graduate, addressed this object in his design for a bicycle rack that pop ups from the pavement only when someone needs to use it.

Bergs calls the project Align. When a person approaches the outlined bicycle rack they have to line up their two-wheeled vehicle in the center of the dark grey area with the back tire settling between a small yellow bar embedded in the ground. With that in place, the individual places pressure on their front tire to gently drop that tire down and the yellow bar around the back tire leaves the ground to secure the bicycle. When the owner departs with their bicycle the bar drops back down in the ground to hide from the observing world.

Municipalities in the Netherlands have taken an interest in Bergs’s design and have plans to start implementing it in public spaces.

 

 

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

Google’s AI expert believes humans and AI will merge before 2030

Humans and AI could merge by 2029 if Google’s AI and futurism guru Ray Kurzweil is to be believed.

Speaking in a Q&A session at the Council for Foreign Relations Kurzwell painted a picture of the world that seems rather different than what we hear on headlines on the news or from AI naysayers like Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking. Amongst claims that the world is at its most peaceful in the history of civilisation, and that hunger and poverty are at an all-time-low,

He also perceives that AI will become a part of the natural order as humans evolve beyond biology to implementing technology right into our own bodies. Kurzweil believes that “medical robots will go inside our brain and connect our neo-cortex to the smart cloud,” and that’s all slated to happen by 2029.

It may be hard to believe Kurzweil’s words, but he isn’t some schmuck making wild predictions. As Google’s AI guru he’s working with one of the most advanced AI systems in the world on a near-daily basis. He’s also not the first to suggest that a merging of mankind and AI would be a benefit to society.

It’s worth noting that, no matter how crazy Kurzweil’s words may sound, he’s correct about his many predictions – around 80% of the time, in fact. So, even if you don’t think it’s possible to have your brain connected to an AI service so you can just think up a question you want an answer to instead of saying it aloud to your phone, less than five years ago we couldn’t even say it to our phones aloud in the first place.

Some of us may fear the arrival of AI in the mainstream but, the fact of the matter is, most of us won’t even notice it’s creep into our lives in the first place – especially if it provides a useful service. Kurzweil’s words may sound like a scary future, but it’s one many of us will likely embrace. Still, I can’t quite imagine not even being 40 when this all comes to pass.

 

This article was written by Vaughn Highfield from Alphr Mag and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Getting your team on board with cloud native

Of course, you don’t want to alienate or upset your people. They’re here to work and they deserve to enjoy what they do. That’s why it’s important to spotlight the positives. What will your cloud-native strategy do to make IT’s life easier and how will it make them feel more valued and integral to the business?

Cloud-native migration can be a bumpy ride, but as the cloud leaders in our Cloud Native Comes of Age survey report show, there’s always a way to smooth the journey.

Acknowledging resistance

Making the move to cloud-native app development ultimately means a complete shake-up of your existing processes. In the survey, respondents felt that the most significant challenges in their own migration were skills (70%) and culture (65%). This is both due to legacy processes and a heavily ingrained culture in development teams.

Developers traditionally worked in siloes: they did the work, threw it “over the wall” to Operations, and once it was done, it was done. They liked the comfort of controlled releases and managed development. But with cloud native, this becomes a thing of the past and for developers ingrained in these age-old organizational practices that can be very uncomfortable.

The joy of education

As Vikrant discussed in his 3Es blog, education is a critical part of making the move to cloud native successful. Your people are far more likely to get behind a cloud strategy if they know why they need to change and what will happen to the business if they don’t.

For example, you can help your team achieve a small number of quick wins in a low-risk environment by moving non-vital products or services to the cloud first. This eases the team into the cloud environment, allowing them to learn new methodologies, operational practices, and tools without upsetting critical processes.

Getting excited about cloud native

Where applications were once “finished,” in cloud native they now live in a constant state of development, always open for iterative improvement.

Pulling your developers out of their comfort zone is a critical challenge. Enabling agile practices is all well and good, but what encouragement do your developers get out of it on a personal level?

Developers traditionally worked in siloes: they did the work, threw it “over the wall” to Operations, and once it was done, it was done. They liked the comfort of controlled releases and managed development. But with cloud native, this becomes a thing of the past and for developers ingrained in these age-old organizational practices that can be very uncomfortable.

Encouraging change

There’s no definitive way of encouraging a change of this scale, but with CIO-led education, enablement, and enforcement it’s certainly achievable. And once your people see the agility and quality of their work in a cloud-native environment, they’ll probably never look back again.

To see all the survey results, and get expert analysis on the challenges of cloud-native adoption, download the full research report here.

 

This article was written by Amol and Dewhare from CapGemini Blog and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Avitas Systems – A New Model for Digital Transformation?

Every year, GE’s Minds and Machines conference makes a lot waves in the tech industry. Whether it’s new products or features, or whole new approaches to the way people and technology interact, there’s always something worth paying attention to.

This year’s conference focused heavily on digital transformation for the enterprise. For regular readers of my column, it should be no surprise that I have a particular interest in this topic. With the advent of big data, IoT, AI-empowered analytics, and a variety of other technologies, companies must digitally transform in the near term, or else they will simply not be able to stay competitive.

At the conference, there was one example of digital transformation I found particularly interesting. It was announced that GE Venture’s Avitas Systems is partnering with Kraken Robotic Systems. The reason this partnership struck me was that I think it could be a herald of what digital transformation looks like for many industries in the future. Technology is going to automate a lot of operations that businesses conduct manually now, and in the process, those operations will actually become more valuable and reliable to the organization. The partnership is a sign that companies will digitally transform by harnessing all the tools and data at their disposal, and should have a willingness to look at the way they are running things now and ask, “Is there a way to use technology so that we can do this more effectively?”

Why Avitas Systems and Kraken Make Sense for Subsea Inspection

Avitas is a company that is focused on improving efficiency in industrial inspections across almost all industries, including energy, aerial, manufacturing, and maritime. This is a $40 billion market. And it’s maritime where the Kraken partnership comes into play.

The deal is part of Avitas’s strategy to dramatically improve the way underwater inspections are conducted. To do this, Avitas automates the entire inspection process. Currently, the inspection routine for most maritime oil and gas pipelines is for companies to use crews of three and have them inspect the pipes. During these inspections, one person pilots the inspection vehicle, while two others look at videos of the pipe to check for corrosion and other safety issues. These two tag-team watching and narrating the defects they see on the video feed. While this inspection routine has the benefit of incorporating human feedback, it has many more drawbacks, most namely that it’s inefficient, limited about where the inspection vehicles can go, and prone to human error.

Undersea inspection drones gather new data dimensions

By integrating their technology, Kraken and Avitas will build tethered autonomous drones that will take over the inspections. These drones will have video, high-resolution laser-based scanning of the pipes, and automated analytics. Ultimately, the hope is to create drones that are untethered, which would provide even more freedom for the inspections and allow the drone to follow a length of pipe without being attached to anything.

For now, though, the tethered drones will be able to greatly reduce the number of people involved in the inspection process, while also improving the quality of inspections. The drones will be using proprietary IP that assesses corrosion models on the pipes and that will offer unprecedented insight into their condition. The accuracy of the high-resolution data also provides a new window into the state of each individual section of the pipeline. This hyper-accurate view can be used to understand any other defects and can be used for predictive maintenance about whether the condition of the pipe is trending in the wrong direction.

In announcing the partnership, Karl Kenny, Kraken’s President and CEO explained, “Integrating our technologies with Avitas Systems will significantly enhance subsea asset management and provide improved safety, reduced costs, and actionable intelligence for operators.”

I think Kenny is right, and I also think that the Avitas Systems model is having this impact in other realms.

“Avitas Systems is digitally transforming inspections across industries using a system of systems approach,” says Brad Tomer, Vice President of Operations at Avitas Systems. “The system includes robotic data collection, deep learning-based data analytics to automatically recognize and report defects, and a user-based dashboard and reporting system to display results and manage outcomes. Robotic data collection takes workers out of dull, dangerous and repetitive working conditions, improves efficiency and saves money. For example, a typical refinery flare stack requires a week for workers on ropes to inspect, and the flare stack must be taken out of service during inspection. The Avitas Systems robotic inspection of the same flare stack requires four hours or less, and the flare stack can remain in service, which improves safety while reducing costs.”

Perhaps even more importantly, the additional data from the laser imaging attached to these drones can be used for improved predictive maintenance. This will make the inspection process as a whole much more proactive, which is a clear sign of digital transformation.

Use more complete sensor data to drive advanced analytics

The Avitas and Kraken partnership thus provides a model for how digital transformation could take place in general: as you improve the completeness,  quality, and dimensions of the sensor input and data collection in any process, you can then, self-evidently, improve the analytics run on that data. And you can expand what is possible; as you’re getting rid of inefficient processes through automated data collection and you can then use those resources for other purposes. (Leveraging and analyzing all possible industrial data to drive transformation is an important point of Ryane Bohm’s new book, Industrial Internet of Things for Developers. This use case is also a great example of variety in edge systems that gather data; in this case undersea drones.)

Transfer learning from corrosion models

The use of advanced analytics also has other advantages. The models used to detect corrosion on pipelines can be used in other realms — such as inspecting electrical towers and other industrial equipment. This is known as a form of transfer learning in the AI community.

A playbook for digital transformation for industry

But at a higher level, the model they are pursuing provides a playbook for digital transformation in a variety of industrial realms.

  • The first step is to invest in increased data acquisition.
  • The second step is to use the higher level of information acquired to increase the use of analytics and automation of the entire process so that the task you are performing is done more effectively and at lower costs.
  • The third step is to use the new layer of information to change the process, reshape it, and to do things that previously weren’t possible.
  • The fourth step is to take what you’ve learned and apply it to other domains.

 

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

Creating, Scaling And Selling Your Start-Up: Six Insights From Top Entrepreneurs

Is it possible to become a unicorn (a start-up worth $1 billion) in 502 days? Or to build the new “Google of images”, design a painting made up of nanotechnology or be the first start-up acquired by the travel search engine Booking.com?

If you are an IESE 40under40, the answer is “yes, it is”. Selected by an international jury in recognition of their highly successful start-up initiatives, together these 40 successful entrepreneurs under 40 years of age have generated 2,197 jobs, raised €544 million in external investment and earned €251 million in annual revenues. But looking at the start-up funnel overall, the chances of success can seem dauntingly slim for budding entrepreneurs. According to several studies, the odds of getting venture capital for a seed stage start-up is about one in 4,000. Afterwards, around three out of four venture-backed firms fail. Given this challenging environment, I asked some of these IESE 40under40 entrepreneurs for their advice on how to succeed in each of the three stages of creating, scaling and selling start-ups.

Creating

Arun Renuka Jayadev is the founder of Airlite, a company which has created a painting made up of nanomaterials with the ability to neutralize pollution by more than 80 percent and reduce bacteria by more than 99 percent. He says that when trying to create disruptive ideas it is important to first, “consider challenges that affect a huge population. In my case, the goal was to examine how to improve the quality of the air, which is polluted in many cities such as Beijing.”

Sira P. de la Coba is the founder of Shazura, which has been dubbed the Google of images due to its ability to process a visual search platform that offers instant image and video recognition, and can scale billions of images in seconds. She adds that having a solid education complemented with hands-on experimentation improves the way you design new concepts. “My IESE education enabled me to combine business insights with my instinct for innovation.” In her case, her light bulb moment came when she realized that “our brain processes visuals 60,000 times faster than words. So why do we lead artificial intelligence based on words?” The company has since patented visual intelligence fingerprints that mirror how the brain works.

Furthermore, ExperCash’s founder André Boeder suggests: “Focus on a market opportunity that has not been covered or find a way to improve how current players are implementing that solution. Then search those possible buyers that are seeking to improve their business models through inorganic growth.” The entrepreneur’s first start-up, bootstrapped with only €500 in cash, was sold to MasterCard. Afterwards, Verifone acquired his second start-up Paymorrow.

Scaling

Secondly, in scaling your start-up, Letgo’s cofounder Enrique Linares says, “expanding a business at high speed is a constant, obstacle-filled adventure for any company.” He should know – Letgo’s valuation has grown to over $1 billion in just two years. Additionally, the mobile app of this secondhand marketplace has been downloaded over 75 million times. He says, “Hurdles are inevitable, so don’t be discouraged or distracted by them. Instead, focus on empowering your team to identify them and find solutions long before they become urgent problems. Study what other companies have done right (and wrong) in comparable situations and integrate these lessons into your strategy.”

Likewise, Cobone’s cofounder Pieter Sleeboom shares his experience after successfully scaling and selling two of his companies and opening a search fund in Italy: “When you are moving from being people to process-dependent, it is important to divide very well the responsibilities of each person and align the whole organization (internally and externally) so that everyone talks with one voice. Furthermore, when expanding to several regions in a short period of time, it is important to not only think global but also to pay attention to adapting your models to the local areas: their culture and their preferences.” He also adds that the networks you create at business school can be a rich source of connections for your business “studying at IESE provided me with many occasions to talk to other entrepreneurs, sharing insights and opportunities.”

Selling

Thirdly, in selling your start-up, Hotel Ninja’s cofounder Christian Eneström reveals: “As an entrepreneur, you do not have to know everything. The key is to develop a passion for learning, while understanding that different contexts require entrepreneurs to adjust (roles and leadership styles) in different ways. In the selling process, it is important to set lofty, ambitious goals, and constantly measure progress with metrics.” In two years after its foundation, the start-up was the first company to be acquired by Booking.com.

By following this advice, you might just beat the odds and be the next successful entrepreneur.

By Josemaria Siota, project leader at IESE Business School´s Entrepreneurship and Innovation Center and organizer of IESE´s 40under40 awards ceremony.

 

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

The Insurer of the Future—Part 11—Risk Placement

As I indicated in Part 10, I’m expecting the future role of the broker or agent to be severely curtailed. But that’s not to say there’s no role for intermediaries of a different type.

In the commercial lines field, I expect to see an expansion of the push that some of the brokers have already made into broader risk management. The Risk Manager of the Future will provide a holistic risk management service to its biggest corporate clients —drawing heavily on IoT and Big Data analytics to predict risks real-time and prevent them from crystallizing.

Only a small part of the risk manager’s service will involve insurance, but the risk placement process will be highly efficient. The risk manager will be seamlessly integrated with a wide network of insurers who, together, can meet all of the insurance needs of its clients.

The risk manager will place business in two ways: standard and bespoke. However, those terms describe their relationship not with their clients, but with their partner insurers.

If a risk is standard, such as marine or aircraft cover, the Risk Manager of the Future will already have made arrangements to place pre-agreed percentages or exposure bands with a range of different insurers. And those business rules will be built into a “risk placement hub” linked directly into those insurers’ core systems. This means that the risk can be underwritten in accordance with those pre-agreed arrangements, and policy documents generated, in a matter of seconds.

If, on the other hand, the risk doesn’t match previously agreed arrangements, the Risk Manager of the Future‘s “cognitive placement engine” will swing into action. This will pull together all the information it can on the risk, trawling multiple internal and external sources. It will then automatically pass that data to the underwriting systems of multiple different insurers, negotiating pricing with the AI engines of those individual Insurers and constructing the optimum cover for their client-making trade-offs between the different insurers as appropriate.

Again, once the cover package has been designed and placed, policy documents will be generated automatically and issued to the client.

Using the power of data analytics and AI, this entire process, end-to-end, will take no more than a couple of minutes.

 

This article was written by Alan Walker from CapGemini Blog and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Tencent increases its stake in Snap as it eyes future news and gaming collaboration

Tencent has been accumulating shares in Snap, building enough to account for almost 12% of its basic shares, according to Snap’s latest filing.

The Chinese internet giant now holds a more than $2bn stake in the app, according to the Financial times, after a recent increase in its share count.

Tencent has long been an investor in Snap, investing in the company before its IPO in March last year. Snap now counts both Tencent and Comcast as two major firms with significant stakes in its business.

According to the FT report, the investment from Tencent comes as it eyes future collaborations around gaming and news.

“It’s an innovative company with a huge user base in western markets and we saw an opportunity between the two [companies] with news feed and mobile game publishing,” said a Tencent spokesman.

Snap gave its latest results this week, posting revenue increases year over year but an overall loss $443m for the period.

It also announced that CPM rates had dropped, which may be a short term dip caused by its recent move to programmatic trading.

 

This article was written by Charlotte McEleny from The Drum and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Healthcare Revolution: Lead With Customer Experience

Listen to Arra Yerganian, Chief Marketing and Brand Officer at Sutter Health On The Modern Customer Podcast here.

The healthcare field is changing, and customer experience is right at the center. Gone are the days of customers feeling inconvenienced and doctors having to spend long hours to catch up on their work—today’s healthcare revolution is all about empowering customers and helping everyone get the care they need. That change means the industry is becoming more competitive, and customer experience in many cases is the deciding factor for where patients go to get care.

In the old way of thinking, doctors were central to everything. They set when appointments were available, who could be seen, and what treatments were available. However, consumers now have myriad choices of ways to get personalized care and attention, from apps to websites and concierge healthcare services, and the industry had to change. People no longer automatically go to a doctor when they are sick or need a checkup, and healthcare companies now have to compete more to bring in patients. The key factor patients are looking for is personalized care—they want someone who treats them like an individual, takes time to answer their questions, and makes it easy to be seen and get the care they need.

At the core of the new healthcare movement is service and a dedication to making a difference. According to Arra Yerganian, Chief Marketing and Brand Officer at Sutter Health, when healthcare employees realize that they all want to serve customers and improve their lives, it is easier to build a culture centered around customers. That culture can shine through in every interaction between the brand and customers. Sutter is known for its great customer service and constantly receives feedback from patients that they feel special when they interact with Sutter doctors and nurses. Arra says that isn’t a coincidence—people are trained to be that way and encouraged to tap into their natural caring abilities to create great experiences for patients.

Part of building a strong customer experience in healthcare is taking advantage of new technology. In many cases, innovative healthcare technology allows providers to see more patients, be more effective with their time, and provide better diagnoses and treatment options. The growth of telehealth has allowed customers to be seen virtually on their own schedules, which has been a boost to customer experience. Sutter recently partnered with Augmedix to allow doctors to wear smart glasses that can pull up a patient’s chart and notes on the screen during the appointment. The device saves doctors time of having to stay late to write notes because it is done in real time and provides a more personalized and interactive experience for patients. The growth of data has also provided more opportunities for healthcare providers to gain insights on their patients and create strategic, personalized experiences.

Arra says the key to standing out and creating a strong customer experience is to find a way to connect with patients. Instead of relying on differences in quality or expertise, the best customer experience providers lean on something that tells a unique story and builds a connection. The best organizations take risks and make unique choices to stand out.

Customer experience makes a huge difference in the healthcare space, and it is a driving factor in the new approach to the industry. By focusing on people and personalization, healthcare providers can go above and beyond to create satisfied patients.

Blake Morgan is a customer experience keynote speaker, author of More Is More and futurist. Sign up for her newsletter here.

 

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

Taking a Minute to Get Serious About Social Media Management

I stop brushing.

“She’s what?” I ask, pulling my toothbrush from my mouth.

“She’s looking for a career change,” Kelly replies. “She’s looking for something in Social Media Management.”

I spit into the sink. “She’s just gonna walk into a Social Media Management role, eh? She colour codes her Instagram and now she’s vying for management?”

Kelly shrugs and runs the tap.

“Lofty expectations!” I laugh. “I like basketball. . . I own a basketball. . . I should be a professional basketball player.”

Kelly shrugs again and leaves the washroom. It’s enough to let me know we’re on different sides, so I follow her to the kitchen. I need to bring her to my side – the right side.

“What does she know about Social Media?” I challenge. “What does she know about engagement? Keywords? Impressions?

It may come as a surprise that Social Media Management isn’t all food porn and t-rex arms. There’s little room for dog-face filters and poop emojis in a brand’s social strategy. Social Media Management requires an understanding of company voice and values. It takes precision wordsmithing, planning, and much, much, more.

You have a limited runway. How do you ensure a successful liftoff?

When to post

I’m willing to bet you’re a different person on Wednesday than you are on Friday. I’ll go a step further and say you change from Monday morning to Monday night. As a Social Media Manager, you need to figure out the best time to catch your audience. When are they at work? Do they have kids? Do you want to target them on their commute or before bed? How might their mood change throughout the day?

There are plenty of helpful studies showing the best times to post, but don’t trust them blindly. You have a unique brand with a unique audience. Use the available tools to dive deep into your own social posts and find trends in aggregate. When are you scoring high engagement? What about impressions? When you find a pattern, go deeper and try to learn more.

Be your brand

Understanding company values and presentation is critical to developing a written voice reflective of your brand. If your brand was a person, what would they sound like? Are they big and strong? Are they intelligent, yet unassuming? In the same way, images set the tone with colour and symbolism, word choice and phrasing can turn Gatorade into Kool-Aid real quick.

If you’re stuck, look up synonyms on Thesaurus.com. The word “big” can paint several different pictures.

Big can paint several different pictures

Don’t mistake this advice for flexing your vocabulary. “Plethora” has no place in social media. You only have so many characters, this isn’t the time to get frilly with your writing.

Writing your message

Once you nail down the voice of your brand, it’s time to get social. Consider your post the elevator pitch to the article or video you’re pushing. You want to find the sweet spot between direct and elusive – to the point, but open-ended. Check out this list of famous movie taglines, they do a great job establishing the theme and addressing the plot. They pique your interest without revealing too much. But more importantly, they’re smart and stylish.

None of these taglines use the phrase, “you won’t believe…” or “find out what happens…”. In the digital world we call that click-bait. Sure, they’re intriguing, but they’re synonymous with pop-up ads and other low-budget elements that cheapen your brand. Same goes for words like “amazing” and “unreal”. Hacky tactics like this can generate clicks, but they reduce the integrity of your content.

Consider the spectrum below. On the right side we have text-book phrasing, needlessly complex and overly in-depth. On the left side we have toddler-talk, abusing the “Wow!” factor for cheap enthusiasm. Your messaging should live in the sweet spot.

the social media voice spectrum

#Hashtags and #MoreHashtags

The last step in crafting a social post is the hashtag. Just like with scheduling, there are online resources for researching what’s trending and what’s popular. However, before using these tools, check out the well-established brands in your market for some inspiration.

You’ll quickly notice that well-run brands are deliberate with their hashtags. Be #specific, but not so much that #noonewilleversearchyourtagbecauseitsridiculous. One or two hashtags is fine, but any more than three can come off as desperate and actually lower engagement.

Show and tell

Social media is all about scrolling. In fact, sources believe that the average smartphone user scrolls 71.20 feet per day! Eye-catching images are your best bet in waking your audience from their zombie-scroll to get noticed. What sorts of imagery will resonate with your audience? Consider the tone of your content – what colours come to mind?

Stock imagery has gone through its own rebranding over the last few years. We’ve moved past the smiling white people on white backgrounds in white shirts. Stock images have gone hipster, doubling down on warm colours and the live-edge aesthetic. No longer can you (or should you) depend on weird hats to sell the idea of individuality.

If you are looking to impact a general audience defined by a certain age or gender, check out the fashion companies that cater to them. They rely on aesthetic to push product. What can you take from their Instagram and apply to your own?

There it is

The point is, your brand’s social media presence is an extension of your marketing and should be treated as such. Fire up Excel and build some tables. Download Hootsuite and fill out your toolbox. Put pen to paper and develop a plan. There’s no room for gym selfies and sepia tones. Leave your #lovemyjob at the door and roll up your sleeves – this is real work.

This article originally appeared in Stryve Digital Marketing.

 

This article was written by Kyle Weber from Business2Community and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

The Digital Talent Gap: Don’t Take Tiny Steps Forward; Dare to Take a Giant Leap

Does the talent gap really exist or is there a new status quo in the knowledge area? As the world changes ever faster, it seems increasingly likely that the so-called talent gap will never close. But if closing the gap is nothing but an illusion, how do we move forward—do we tread lightly or should we take the leap forward?

If the talent gap is not going to go away, we must adapt to it. The best way to ensure that the right talent is available at the right time is by investing in talent development. Keep your skills up-to-date, ensure that the company’s vision remains sharp and verify that the vision is aligned across departments.

With new technology popping up as fast as pop-up stores close, the talent gap is shifting constantly, rendering any long-term plan redundant. However, establishing agility within the talent group should minimize the gap.

From a macro perspective, we should invest more in Beta studies. Elementary education in many European countries tends to focus on soft skills, such as personal empowerment, and less on the more abstract parts of the development of a kid. Programming, or at least object-oriented thinking, should be taught more to familiarize kids with technology from the start as this is their key to the future.

Make sure our kids learn things at Micro:bit, IFTTT-protocols and low-coding tools so they get familiar with technology and can adapt to their rapidly changing future. This will, in the long term, make sure the talent gap will be decreased; although it will never disappear fully

Read Capgemini’s and LinkedIn’s joint research report on the Digital Talent Gap:


Digital Talent Gap

The Digital Talent Gap—Are Companies Doing Enough?

 

This article was written by Vincent Fokke from CapGemini Blog and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

The Four Roles of HR and Digital Transformation

The world of HR is changing rapidly with the advent of Digital. For an HR professional, the question “Where do I start?” can be confusing when it comes to transforming HR towards digital HR. One can’t eat an elephant in one bite. In his book “Human Resource Champions—The Next Agenda for Adding Value and Delivering,” Dave Ulrich defines four key roles played by HR in any organization. These four roles can provide us with a starting point for a strategy of digital transformation for HR.

(Dave Ulrich. Human Resource Champions: The Next Agenda for Adding Value and Delivering.)

Strategic Partner: Develops and aligns strategies with business.  The strategic partner fosters systems thinking and customer focus.

Change Agent: The change agent understands the organization’s culture and institutionalizes change capability within the organization assisting line managers to lead and facilitate change.

Administrative expert: The administrative expert creates and delivers effective and efficient HR processes tailored to unique business needs, manages costs, and delivers HR products and services.

Employee champion: The employee champion helps implement actions that enhance human capital contribution, help build workforce commitment and equitable people processes and practices.

We can say that digital HR is imperative in today’s age. Workplaces are becoming virtual, employees are demanding more control of their development, and real-time employee analytics is becoming critical for organizations. It is a new paradigm for HR that embraces digital technology, brings key processes straight to the employee hand held phones, tablets, or laptops.

Digital HR is enabling the creation of easy-to-access online applications for many processes like recruiting, compensation management, learning and development, and talent management. Furthermore, digital HR today is potentially a tool for cultural transformation.

Given the above, we may envisage digital HR transformation using the four roles described above in the Dave Ulrich model.

Strategic partner: The strategic partner has a key role to play in this shift towards Digital by aligning the organization’s business strategies with the upcoming digital environment. Along with the business focus, internal customers, i.e. the employees can benefit from easy-to-navigate platforms that make various processes such as new employee onboarding friendly and seamless. These could take the form of mobile apps that help roll out and access quick pulse surveys or of an e-communicator that helps employees connect with their HR partners anytime, anywhere.

Change agent: Research states that the digital way of delivering learning, such as e-based training sessions and video-based learning, is more effective not only in terms of reach but also in terms of ease of delivering content. For example: organizations are putting into place community based e-learning platforms through which employees can reach each other across geographical regions, anytime, anywhere and collaborate and learn based on common learning goals or interests.  This is one example of how the digital way of working is critical for any HR change agent if they want to truly connect with today’s work force and engage them in new ways of working, development, and growth.

Administrative expert: Whether it is analyzing multiple sources of data within seconds, providing feasible solutions, or calculating the ROI on various employee initiatives, digital HR is the key to quick and informed strategy and decision-making. Artificial intelligence and machine learning are tools that are being used by businesses such as Amazon to predict customer behavior, the same model can be increasingly used to also predict employee potential or to design effective retention strategies.

Employee champion: Research has shown that employee engagement is one of the top priorities of most leaders. Employees nowadays prefer jobs that give them the flexibility to work anytime anywhere. Research has also shown that organizations with strong online networks, digital networking tools and enhanced digital platforms have experienced an enhancement in employee engagement. In today’s digital era with the millennial generation forming the major part of an organization’s workforce, one cannot overlook the power of digital design to enhance employee engagement and improve ties between an organization and its employees. It may be noted that planning the digital transformation of HR using the above paradigm is not the only way. There are probably many ways in which organizations may plan their digital transformation journey. What this paradigm certainly does is help breakdown the effort, and helps HR professionals plan where to invest effort and money depending on the needs of the organization.

The future of the human resource function and each of these four HR roles lies in digital transformation. Whether it is about e-learning programs, employee analytics, employee platforms for various processes, embarking on this transformation journey is truly the next stage in transforming HR into digital HR.

Author: TP Deo

Co-authored by: Ritu Singh

 

This article was written by Tp Deo from CapGemini Blog and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Is Blockchain a Reality or an Innovation Wish List in Utilities?

The blockchain is poised to radically change the business model of transaction-based industries globally through its multifaceted value propositions that are aligned with the business requirements of today’s environment.

Key Value Propositions of Blockchain:

Powered by the key attributes of agility, security, and cost-effectiveness, blockchain has been welcomed for experimentation and piloting by a large number of different industrial sectors, including utilities, in day-to-day business operations.

In today’s world, utilities face the key challenges of fluctuating demand for energy, demand for improved and personalized customer service, increasing operating costs, cybersecurity issues, and meeting regulatory compliance requirements. Utilities across the globe, therefore, seek to change and leave behind their traditional way of running the business and operations. To do so, they are empowering themselves with digital tools and leveraging innovative solutions and enablers. Blockchain can be the key enabler that will address many of these challenges and become the technology of choice of utilities’ CIO/CEO/CDOs.

Blockchain can be a direct (without intermediary), trusted, peer-to-peer transaction channel between prosumers and consumers (for micro-energy exchanges), prosumers and utilities (helping them meet demand during peak hours), buyers and sellers during energy trading, intercompany data exchanges, etc. It can thereby potentially disrupt and radically transform utilities that have traditionally relied on a centrally controlled and trusted partnership model.

Other areas of the utilities business where blockchain can be a potential enabler include:

Automated meter reading and SMART metering: Feeding energy consumption data digitally into a blockchain, to verify a customer’s usage with 100% certainty, generate accurate bills, and collect payments on the blockchain without incurring fees associated with bank transfers. South African Bitcoin startup Bankymoon built the world’s first blockchain smart metering solution for modern power and utility grids.

Energy delivery: Car charging with the charging station acting as a point for both customer authentication and payment processing, leveraging blockchain-based smart contracts to authenticate users and manage the billing process to cut costs and improve customer experience.

Smart energy use and lower power bills: Enabling household customers to constantly search for cheaper energy prices and instantly change providers for a better deal, all of which is automatically handled by the blockchain-based application.

Green energy and energy credit: Blockchain can be leveraged as a public ledger with recording of solar energy production and feeding production data directly into a blockchain and owners automatically being rewarded for the energy produced in SolarCoin.

SMART grid: Consumers can use blockchain-based applications to join a smart grid in which participants can track their energy use and production (such as via solar panels) and sell excess energy to others on the smart grid, leading to more competitive energy pricing for consumers.

Blockchain in the Internet of Things: Blockchain combined with IoT can be leveraged to create mesh networks (a flexible and secure network that connects computers and other devices directly to one another) to solve complex utilities infrastructure problems. Filament, an American company, is experimenting with “taps” on power poles, with motion detectors on each pole that can detect any trouble on another pole up to a distance of 10 miles and communicate to the company through the closest internet backhaul location within 120 miles.

In a nutshell, applications based on blockchain are being explored globally and a new ecosystem of blockchain community comprising energy startups such as LO3 Energy, Grid Singularity, Slock.it, Power Ledger, Wattcoin Labs BlockCypher, Ripple, etc.), utilities (Vattenfall, RWE, Fortum, etc.), technology providers (Ethereum, Tendermint, Tierion, Monax, MaidSafe, Ascribe, Digital Asset, and Blockstream, etc.) and consulting companies is emerging. Many pilot partnerships are being established by major utility players (such as RWE and Vattenfall) and investing in utility startups.

The blockchain is a fast-moving disruptive innovation technology across industries, including utilities. While it is difficult to predict how quickly this technology will be adopted in the sector on a large scale, current areas of interest unveil a clear picture of innovation initiatives around blockchain in the near future. Venture capital investments are already in place, with recent patterns in the blockchain ecosystem focusing on moving from financial systems (e.g., payment processing) in 2014 to non-financials (e.g., grid, cybersecurity, power distributing, energy transactions, energy trading, etc.) in the future.

Innovation programs that address the technical challenges that blockchain faces today, such as common network protocol, scalability, transaction processing speed, etc., are essential, in addition to regulatory imperatives and compliance.

Utilities focusing on digital technologies as enablers of competitive advantage and disruptive innovation, such as social, mobile, analytics, cloud, and cognitive technologies, cannot ignore blockchain. It may be sooner or later that we begin to see significant commercial applications of the blockchain technology in use, with many utilities joining the blockchain ecosystem.

 

This article was written by Biplab and Biswas from CapGemini Blog and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.