Archive for the ‘In Brief’ Category

Survey Shows Harassment Still a Factor for Women in Tech

Tuesday, August 16th, 2016

The Mad Men are not as far behind us as we thought.

The Elephant In The Valley survey polled over 200 senior women in Silicon Valley, and found that 60 percent of them reported unwanted sexual advances at work.

Of that group, 65 percent said these advances were made by higher-ranking colleagues. Another 60 percent of those who had reported an incident were dissatisfied with the response.

An informal survey we ran on Twitter surfaced the same theme: 63 percent said they have experienced harassment in their workplace, according to combined results from two polls taken in June.

Mistreatment of women in the workplace is an economic as well as social problem because companies with women in the C-suite show better financial performance. When women are treated poorly in technology culture, they leave and don’t return to the industry.

Not that financial performance should be the first consideration in efforts to root out sexual harassment in the workplace.

Still, the situation isn’t completely bleak. Our poll about female founders and role models showed the largest proportion of respondents saying they could name at least two or three in the industry.

The existence of role models can contribute to increasing female participation in the workplace.

VIDEO: Business Design Through an Open Method

Saturday, August 13th, 2016

Taking an idea from concept to reality can be difficult for startups. Entrepreneurs with great ideas often struggle to get the attention of prospective customers, which can make it difficult for them to grow into robust scaleups that have a strong customer base.

In order to facilitate that transition, IBM has published the Bluemix Garage Method, an open design method to help startups take an idea from conception to execution. To support this initiative, IBM has created innovation spaces for startups and enterprise to converge.

One of the most significant contributions that this initiative will make to startups is to help them connect with IBM’s enterprise customers. Startups will be able to leverage IBM’s staying power to move from the startup to scaleup stage by offering their solutions to IBM’s enterprise customer base.

To learn more about this program, watch this short video:

Cultural Fluency in Tech Startups

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2016

Startups need visionary intrapreneurs and entrepreneurs, market analysts with foresight – and, of course, outstanding programmers. The skills that individuals bring to these fishbowls of innovation add up to nothing if the personalities don’t jibe with startup culture.

“You can’t motivate people, you can only create a context in which people are motivated,” Foundry Group Managing Director and TechStars Co-Founder Brad Feld, said in a 2012 blog post.

We are examining tech startup culture from as many perspectives as possible because if you don’t understand it, you can’t successfully launch, fund, or scale startups.

As part of our startup culture coverage, we’re focusing on:

Related Articles:

VIDEO: Fintech Innovation Happens Through Cooperation

Friday, July 29th, 2016

In order to meet the needs and expectations of a newer generation of customers, fintech companies, banks, and regulators have to collaborate closely on developing and revising banking rules.

Adam Nanjee, Head of Financial Technology at MaRS Discovery District, talks in the video below about what consumers are looking for, and how MaRS is taking the lead on connecting entrepreneurs with banks and drive a new ecosystem.

VIDEO: New BMO Fund Tracks Female-Led Companies

Friday, July 22nd, 2016

BMO recently unveiled a Women in Leadership fund, which tracks companies with a female CEO and/or with women making up 25% of board members.

According to Julie Barker-Merz, ‎President and Head of Wealth Direct investing at BMO, the fund is the first of its kind in Canada by a major bank and isn’t a diversity or a “social impact” play. It’s a product designed to fully perform in the marketplace, and outperform the index.

To hear more about the fund and the reasons behind its inception, watch the video below:


VIDEO: No ‘Friend or Foe’ Mentality For Banks Soliciting Fintech Startups

Wednesday, July 20th, 2016

Banks will actively work directly with fintech startups to deliver innovation for their customers, so their legacy systems can converge with new technology, says Adam Nanjee, Head of Financial Technology at MaRS Discovery District in Toronto.

Because of their size, most major banks only see a threat if there is a very large-scale economic impact on them. For startups, this means less competition, and therefore more partnerships are available. By 2019, 25% of retail banks will use startups to replace their legacy systems, says Gartner.

For more on the issues on banks merging brand new systems with their existing processes, watch this interview with Nanjee:


Insights on Demand: Capturing Streaming Data

Friday, July 8th, 2016

Saying your business is driven by data analytics is one thing. Using it to your advantage is quite another.

Brands often expect immediate benefits from data analytics, without using insights to help steer their marketing efforts.

About three quarters (74 per cent) of enterprise architects aspire to be data-driven, yet less than a third (29 per cent) say their companies are using it to generate measurable business outcomes, according to a report from Forrester. The report says data insight will be a “key competitive weapon” for companies this year.

This performance gap is driving an increase in demand for streaming analytics and what Forrester calls “systems of insight.” For most organizations, the best approach is a solution that captures customer insight and engagement in real time.

An example is the integration of IBM Cloud and Bluemix, which can deploy cognitive APIs to analyze a high volume of social media data in seconds using streaming analytics.

When combined with Watson’s Personality Insights, 40 calculated personality traits can show you if the people viewing your ads match the profiles of your target customers.

Analyzing continuous, incoming data and stitching that data together over time can also create something special: moving pictures of data that tell a powerful story. The bonus: It’s something companies can immediately act on.

For a free trial of IBM Bluemix click here.

Land, Sea and Air: When IBM Bluemix Goes On The Move

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2016

Whether it’s in a tiny Swedish development drone no bigger than a slice of toast, or a lumbering garbage truck in the streets of Nairobi, Bluemix technology can be found on the move across the world. Check out these case studies:

Crazyflie Drones

Malmö, Sweden-based Bitcraze has created a handheld drone called Crazyflie, which weighs 27 grams and is equipped with long-range radio. It’s open sourced and expandable – almost like an airborne Raspberry Pi.

The Bluemix cloud is used as part of the mechanism to pilot the drone, either through an app or a gaming controller, significantly reducing development time. “It really saved us a lot of work when we got started,” says Bitcraze co-founder and developer Marcus Eliasson.

Fixing Nairobi’s Roads

To monitor the Kenyan capital’s traffic and construction needs, city officials fitted their fleet of garbage trucks with specially adapted mobile devices that used acceleration, gyroscopic and location data. As the trucks make their rounds, the devices upload their data to the cloud.

Bluemix is then used to deliver the results of the analysis to officials, accessible on mobile and desktop. “For the first time, city officials have a clear understanding of where potholes and speed bumps are,” says Dr. Aisha Walcott-Bryant of IBM Research Africa.

Speedboat Racing

SilverHook designs high-speed racing watercraft reaching speeds of up to 200 mph. Pilots have access to real-time feedback about the race through IBM Watson Analytics and Bluemix was used to rapidly develop and deploy this infrastructure, cutting development time by 40 per cent.

Ian Taylor, CEO of Animation Research, which works with SilverHook, says that the speed boat’s pilot receives data in real time helping drivers make decisions on the fly.

For a free trial of IBM Bluemix click here.

For a free trial of IBM Watson Analytics click here.

What Does ‘Profit’ Mean? Apparently, Anything You Want

Tuesday, June 21st, 2016

Fear of the ‘unicorpse’ is mounting and, as it does, VCs are demanding better numbers from founders, reports Business Insider. With increased pressure to perform, startups are scrambling to demonstrate financial viability…even if that means redefining the word ‘profit’.

Based on data from the Wall Street Journal, The Verge reports that 15 of 50 IPOs showed sales figures that were far lower after going public, than what was initially reported to the SEC. Furthermore, “a total of $760 million simply vanished once these firms were subjected to more skeptical accounting.”

How is profit being redefined?

According to Bloomberg, using gross versus net margins and revenues, excluding equity grants and taxes, and including figures such as employee stock compensation are tactics being used to paint a rosier picture for investors.  

Sean Behr, founder and CEO of Zirx, told Bloomberg, “No matter how many ways you say you’re kind of profitable, if your bank account ends up lighter than when you started—eventually, that doesn’t work.”

As VC skepticism continues to grow and valuations are tempered, ambiguity surrounding what is and isn’t ‘profitable’ will diminish. Startups will be required to present clear term sheets and profitability statements, and the metrics behind them could become standardized. When that happens, startups that can’t demonstrate profitability will join the unicorpses.   

Tech’s Gender Problem Means Money Lost

Monday, June 13th, 2016

Only 17% of Fortune 500 CIOs are women, according to data released this year by the National Center for Women and Information Technology. The stat is roughly in line with a 2014 study showing that women account for only 11% of executive positions at top Silicon Valley companies.

While Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and HP CEO Meg Whitman are well known, the overall lack of female founders, executives, and venture capitalists limits the value of the tech sector.

Female entrepreneurs generate 20 percent greater revenue than their male counterparts, while receiving 50 percent less VC funding, according to a 2012 report in Harvard Business Review, citing Kauffman Foundation data.

Explanations for the under-representation of women in tech abound. Some cite an over-reliance by VCs on existing networks, who are mostly male. Others bring the problem back to elementary and secondary education, when girls may get less encouragement in STEM courses.

Whatever the case, the under-representation of women is an economic detriment, regardless of the industry.

$28 Trillion

A recent McKinsey report stated: “In a ‘full potential’ scenario in which women play an identical role in labor markets to that of men, as much as $28 trillion, or 26 percent, could be added to global annual GDP by 2025.”

Given the numbers, gender equality should be a funding priority in tech ecosystems across the world. So why isn’t it?

Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist, argues that venture capitalists in tech ecosystems are not putting their money where their mouths are, citing issues such as a lack of female-led startups when the data doesn’t support those claims.

Though acknowledging the true problems is an important first step, systemic, measurable changes are needed: from STEM education, to recruitment processes, to funding. Otherwise, we hinder both social and economic progress.