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IDG Contributor Network: The 5 key drivers of digital transformation today

May 25, 2017 - 3:51pm

A few times each year, senior digital executives from around the world assemble at Forrester's Digital Transformation Summit to check in with each other and Forrester analysts to discuss the current state of digital evolution.  I was pleased to be invited as a guest to the sold-out event, held in early May in Chicago. For those who couldn't spare the two days, here is a summary of key insights and trends.

While there were updates on familiar themes from prior years, such as Agile practices, the Internet of Things (IoT) and cloud computing, the major shift this year has been a central focus on Artificial Intelligence (AI) across industries and a need for an even more aggressive approach to digital transformation in order to compete. This shift breaks into five inter-related insights.

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IDG Contributor Network: 7 effective strategies executives use to pick a technology partner

May 24, 2017 - 1:24pm

Developing custom software is hard, but it doesn’t need to be.

Gone are the days where your company is forced to settle for high priced consultants who delay your project by months, only to be left with a lackluster final product. We interviewed leading global executives to uncover the methods they are using to find their partners.

You may be thinking: “Executives that found a good partner have probably read 100’s of RFP’s”. While RFP’s still play a critical role, the landscape has evolved to much more. New strategies are changing the game for the way vendors are selected. Companies that adopt these seven tactics are finding that they can now consistently produce world class software, on-time and under budget.

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IDG Contributor Network: Are you participating in the ICO excitement of cryptocurrency funded development?

May 19, 2017 - 1:15pm

The excitement is real, but so is the risk. Decentralized business model discussions are the talk in board rooms and C-suites around the world. A new market to raise development capital is emerging called initial public coin offerings (IPCO or ICO).

Token sales and crowdsales embrace empowering a network of users to participate in a project. Participants are incentivized to get involved—early participation has greater rewards—in anticipation of the project increasing in value.

Access to ICOs has significant potential for up-side benefits with an equally startling downside risk. The main concern of ICO risk is unduly escalated asset values or irrational exuberance. Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan, in The Challenge of Central Banking in a Democratic Society (1996), first introduced the concept of irrational exuberance, defining it as unsustainable investor enthusiasm that drives asset prices to levels of frothiness not supported by fundamentals.

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Why IT service providers are investing in North America

May 19, 2017 - 1:01pm

IT service providers set up more new IT delivery centers in North America than anywhere else in the world last year, according to new research.North American locations accounted for more the one-third of new delivery sites (29 out of a total of 76) established by service providers in 2016, according to a report from IT and business sourcing consultancy and research firm Everest Group.

The need to be close to U.S. customers coupled with the increased use of automation to control costs is making North America a more attractive option for service delivery, says Everest Group.

[ Related: IT service providers increase investment in onshore locations ] The demand for digital transformation related technologies specifically is driving interest in certain metropolitan areas. The share of digital services being delivered in new service provider set-ups has been steadily increasing from approximately 25 percent in 2012 to 63 percent in 2016. “This percentage is expected to continue to remain high as service providers focus on expanding and broadening their digital capabilities,” says Everest Group Vice President Salil Dani.

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WannaCry reminds CIOs to stay on top of patching

May 18, 2017 - 5:01pm

The WannaCry ransomware worming its way through thousands of corporate Windows computers is a sober reminder of the importance of safeguarding software, particularly when patches become available for critical vulnerabilities. And while it's easy to shame affected companies for failing to patch their software, cybersecurity experts say the calculus is much more difficult. Regardless, the experts agree that Wannacry was serious enough that it warranted immediate patching.

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Get 72% off NordVPN Virtual Private Network Service For a Limited Time - Deal Alert

May 18, 2017 - 4:29pm

NordVPN gives you a private and fast path through the public Internet. All of your data is protected every step of the way using revolutionary 2048-bit SSL encryption even a supercomputer can’t crack. Access Hulu, Netflix, BBC, ITV, Sky, RaiTV and much more from anywhere in the world. Unmetered access for 6 simultaneous devices. You're sure to find dozens of good uses for a VPN. Take advantage of the current 72% off deal that makes all of this available to you for just $3.29/month (access deal here). This is a special deal available for a limited time.

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IDG Contributor Network: Are we living in an AI golden age?

May 18, 2017 - 3:00pm

At a recent Internet Association Gala, Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and CEO, intimated that we are currently living the “golden age” of artificial intelligence. With product development and artificial intelligence (AI) applications on a seemingly rapid upward trajectory, Bezos might not be wrong.

Open source software and the emergence of edge computing have allowed widespread AI development. Due to standardized operating frameworks and interconnectivity of technology, it’s never been easier to develop AI products.  

Skeptics, such as Tim Berners-Lee and Stephen Hawking, however, argue that an AI renaissance will likely herald the end of mankind. It will become so efficient, that it will effectively render humans obsolete.

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Why companies struggle to cultivate digital strategies

May 17, 2017 - 4:54pm

Companies cultivating digital strategies are struggling to facilitate transformations because most CIOs are simply not equipped to be digital leaders. While enterprise CIOs can create functional technology systems, many lack the visionary skills required to be a change agent in the digital age, according to Shawn Banerji, managing partner of the technology, digital and data leaders practice at Caldwell Partners.

Caldwell Partners

Shawn Banerji, Caldwell Partners

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IOTA launches $2 million fund for IoT-focused blockchain derivative

May 16, 2017 - 10:02pm

Open source non-profit IOTA this week launched a $2 million fund intended to foster growth of its distributed ledger technology, a derivative of blockchain technology aimed at the internet of things.

Dubbed the IOTA Ecosystem Fund, the idea is to incentivize expanding and shaping the IOTA ecosystem through use cases, libraries, tools and hackathons.

[ Your guide to top tech conferences 2017 ]

"Every great open source project has a great ecosystem surrounding it, in many ways it is the defining characteristic that separates a mediocre project from a great one," David Sonstebo, founder at IOTA, said in a statement Monday. "A thriving ecosystem is a prerequisite for long-term success. The IOTA Ecosystem Fund is backed by over $2 million to open up a world of possibilities for developers and researchers to take the IOTA ecosystem even further."

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IDG Contributor Network: A fundamental flaw in approaching digital transformation

May 16, 2017 - 4:25pm

What makes digital technologies so different and disruptive is their potential to enable very substantial business benefits. “Enable” is the key word. Too often, executives see the power of a technology and reason to themselves, “This technology will create significant benefits, so we need to implement it and learn how to use it to our advantage.” The problem is this is a fundamental flaw in approach that almost always ends up in a digital transformation failure.

Technology does not drive change; creating substantial business value requires changing the business model. And a business model change requires many changes in operations, not just new technology. Yes, those changes are cross-functional, usually end to end, and always disruptive. But without changing other operational aspects than technology, the transformation initiative will fail to deliver the anticipated outcome.

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IDG Contributor Network: Funding your startup with the ICO and token crowdsales explosion

May 16, 2017 - 2:00pm

Investors are allocating substantial sums to cryptocurrencies. Entrepreneurs would be wise to make themselves aware of the billions being raised in the global ICO (initial coin offering) markets.

An ICO is an unregulated means by which a new cryptocurrency venture monetizes its investment. ICOs use dynamic pricing based on real-time supply and demand. The time-based pricing strategy means that no central authority or government sets the price; rather, the price of the token is based on current market demands.

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IDG Contributor Network: How IT leaders can stop the blame game

May 16, 2017 - 11:30am

This article is part of a series highlighting key takeaways from my recently published book, Truth From the Trenches: A Practical Guide to the Art of IT ManagementAs a seven-time CIO I’ve had an opportunity to observe the good, the bad and the ugly aspects of IT management up close and personal. Truth From the Trenches is my attempt to share my experiences with emerging IT leaders to help them avoid the chronic problems that afflict so many IT organizations.

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A smart exoskeleton can keep the elderly safe

May 15, 2017 - 7:07pm

A team of Italian and Swiss researchers has developed a prototype exoskeleton that can prevent elderly people from falling. The device is wearable from the waist down and made of carbon fiber braces. These can be easily adjusted to the wearer by tightening a few nuts and bolts. 

Hillary Sanctuary / EPFL

A prototype of the exoskeleton at a rehabilitation center in Florence, Italy. 

Once the exoskeleton is fitted, it must first learn the specific walking patterns of the user, known as gait. The exoskeleton then uses an algorithm to detect deviations from the user's regular movement and recognize the onset of a fall.

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This smart exoskeleton will keep you on your feet

May 15, 2017 - 6:58pm
The exoskeleton can detect when the wearer's gait changes, and, using a set of motors, can help the person regain their footing.

IDG Contributor Network: Picking at the word salad of Dell EMC World

May 15, 2017 - 6:00pm

The word salad at Dell EMC World in Las Vegas last week included many of the likely suspects: hyperconvergence, infrastructure, Internet of Things (IoT), digital transformation (with variants like IT and business transformation), cloud and its variants (public, private, hybrid, native), security and its variants (data, network, at rest, in flight), appliance, and, of course, the all-weather “solutions,” good for any season.

Ready to repair for the evening, perhaps to try to digest the first day’s lectures, we were all about to get up to leave. The mistress of ceremonies had just half-excused the room, and many people jumped at the chance. I was rather slow getting about it and so happened to be there still when, tacked on at the end, was the best act of the day: OTTO Motors. OTTO was featured as a Customer Spotlight with a sorry slot right at cocktail hour. Their head of IT, Greg Jacobs, battled on nobly. And we lingerers got to hear.

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MP3 audio quietly fades into history

May 15, 2017 - 4:27pm

Neil Young and opinionated sound engineers everywhere have a reason to smile: The organization responsible for the MP3 audio format is closing the doors on its licensing program.

The Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits recently announced that it and Technicolor would no longer license “patents and software” for the MP3 format. The licensing program officially ended on April 23.

“We thank all of our licensees for their great support in making mp3 the defacto audio codec in the world, during the past two decades,” the Fraunhofer Institute said. “Most state-of-the-art media services such as streaming or TV and radio broadcasting use modern ISO-MPEG codecs such as AAC and MPEG-H...those can deliver more features and a higher audio quality at much lower bitrates compared to mp3.”

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How QVC uses streaming analytics to drive revenue

May 15, 2017 - 3:59pm

The idea of selling goods directly to consumers on television may seem quaint in the age of ecommerce, but not to QVC, which today provides televised home shopping to more than 350 million households in seven different countries. It may seem quaint, but it is in fact a sophisticated data-driven operation that leverages real-time streaming analytics to help it make decisions that it can act upon within moments.

Since 1986, QVC has been a fixture on American cable, broadcast TV and satellite TV networks, competing with rival Home Shopping Network to sell goods via television. It found its home on the internet with in 1996, just two years after the launch of The company has always been driven by real-time data.

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IDG Contributor Network: 5 machine learning trends that will define 2017

May 15, 2017 - 12:29pm

Machine learning has been quietly working in the background for years, powering mobile applications and search engines. But recently it has become a more widely circulated buzzword, with virtually all recent technological advancements involving some aspect of machine learning. An impressive rise in data and computing capabilities has made this exponential progress possible. 

The remarkable growth in sophistication and applications of machine learning will define the technological trends of 2017. Their effects will depend on whether the application adds value and benefits to society as a whole and whether it has the potential to solve real world problems. Here are the five major trends that will define machine learning in 2017.

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U.S. law allows low H-1B wages; just look at Apple

May 15, 2017 - 11:00am

If you work at Apple's One Infinite Loop headquarters in Cupertino as a computer programmer on an H-1B visa, you can can be paid as little as $52,229. That's peanuts in Silicon Valley. Average wages for a programmer in Santa Clara County are more than $93,000 a year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

However, the U.S. government will approve visa applications for Silicon Valley programmers at $52,229 -- and, in fact, did so for hundreds of potential visa holders at Apple alone.

To be clear, this doesn't mean there are hundreds of programmers at Apple working for that paltry sum. Apple submitted a form to the U.S. saying it was planning on hiring 150 computer programmers beginning June 14 at this wage. But it's not doing that.

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