Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

Mexico Bank Buys Into Singapore Startup in a Big Way

Thursday, January 25th, 2018

For Singapore startup Lucep, their first product hit came from India’s banking industry, with a virtual queue service called VirtuaQ, reports Tech In Asia’s Malavika Velayanikal.

The next generation of VirtuaQ, Lucep OmniPath, is what COO and co-founder Zal Dastur calls “an omnichannel management system” built for banks and medical clinics.

The impact has been international: A leading Mexican bank chain bought into the product in a big way, licensing it for 1,800 branches.

“A lot of banks are looking for ways in which they can reach customers that have never dealt with banks before. These customers expect a bank to behave like any other consumer business,” Dastur said in an interview with Tech In Asia.

Digital, Robotic, and Data-Driven: Insights Into the Rapidly Changing Economy

Thursday, November 2nd, 2017

BDC has released a report with the six trends that small and medium sized business owners need to know about for 2017.

Three of these trends relate to the rapid rise of the digital economy.

It’s clear that digital technologies are changing the economy with automation, online markets, and by leveraging the power of data—but what can small businesses do in the face of these shifts?

The first trend to be aware of is the growth of virtual marketplaces. E-commerce is already growing rapidly in Canada, and it shows no signs of slowing down. BDC recommends that business owners build a cohesive online presence that reacts to and engages with its customers. This means social media, targeted ads that increase traffic, and mobile-friendly websites that appeal to customers who are reading reviews and shopping via their smartphones.

The second trend is the automation of business activities. Automation refers to robots and artificial intelligence, but it also includes other digital technologies that increase productivity like customer relationship management (CRM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems.

Small businesses need to strategize for the future of automation now. This means involving your employees in choosing new technology systems, understanding your own knowledge limitations, and reaching out to third-party consultation if needed.

The third trend that will impact entrepreneurs and small business owners is the rise of the data economy. Vast quantities of data are amassed by companies in their everyday operations. Loyalty cards, for instance, track consumer behavior and preference. However, many businesses still do this data collection by hand, which is not only prone to error, but burdensome.

With a projected estimate of 75 billion devices connected to the Internet by 2025, businesses need to use data wisely to optimize their day-to-day operations. This means gathering data more efficiently, but also analyzing it to generate insights that will drive your business.

For a more in depth look at these trends, read the full report here (registration required).

What the Growth of Virtual Marketplaces Means for Small Business

Thursday, October 26th, 2017

To mark Small Business Week, BDC released a report that explores six trends impacting small and medium sized businesses in 2017.

One of these trends is a direct reflection of a hyper-connected business landscape: the growth of virtual marketplaces.

More and more Canadians are doing their commerce online, using their smartphones for retail transactions, and feeling empowered by the digital technology in their pockets. BDC forecasts that by 2020, over 25 million users in Canada will be using e-commerce (compared to 18 million in 2016), which means e-commerce capability will become even more crucial for small businesses.

With more information, online reviews, and borderless buying available to consumers than ever before, businesses need to adapt to the rise of virtual marketplaces.

One way small businesses can remain competitive is by building a digital ecosystem. This means personalizing your company’s online presence, making your website mobile friendly, and integrating e-commerce capabilities with your social media platforms.

Successful social media engagement is not about aggressive marketing, but about the power of suggestion and the “soft sell.” Become aware of what’s being said about your company in the digital space, and then engage with your customers regularly.

You can also raise awareness of your services or products through Facebook ads or Google AdWords.

Remember that a crucial part of building a virtual marketplace is listening to your customers and responding to their feedback—whether face-to-face or via 140 characters, you need to hear what the consumer is saying.

For more information on what the rapid growth of virtual marketplaces means for your business, read the full report here (registration required).

As Big Data Gets Bigger, Are Canadian Businesses Listening?

Monday, October 23rd, 2017

As part of Small Business Week, the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) has released a comprehensive report outlining the digital landscape’s disruption of Canadian business.

The report, which identifies six major trends facing small businesses in 2017 as they move towards future-proof operations, goes into detail about one particularly cumbersome aspect of the digital world: The rise of big data and the data economy.

Big Data is Big Business

In February, Gartner predicted that approximately 8.4 billion devices would be connected to the Internet of Things (IoT) by the end of the year—a 31% increase from 2016. Using data from IHS Markit, the BDC report, on the other hand, makes it clear these numbers are set to explode, reaching 75 billion connected devices by 2025.

Are Canadian businesses leveraging this information to create growth, or are they letting this “oil of the digital era” (as The Economist put it) slip through the cracks?

Learning What Customers Want

With billions of devices generating data, businesses are tasked with the onerous job of sifting through the noise to retrieve valuable insights. Thankfully, data analysis is getting simpler—and the rewards for doing so include making customers happier, businesses more competitive, and operations more efficient.

To unlock the potential of the data economy, businesses need only make a few adjustments to their existing operation:

  • Use data tools
  • Maintain a customer relationship management (CRM) system
  • Offer personalization

By implementing a CRM system, businesses can simplify—and personalize—data analysis, which can then be used to provide a stronger relationship with new and existing customers. Data tools—including email surveys, Google Analytics, and even software that monitors social media channels—can provide an edge for enterprises wanting to do better business, which is quickly becoming a game of personalizing products and offerings for customers.

To learn more about the changing landscape of Canadian business, BDC’s full report is available here (registration required).

Canada Needs More Robots

Tuesday, October 17th, 2017

To recognize Small Business Week, the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) released a comprehensive report examining the shifting demographics and digital disruptions that are impacting today’s labour force.

This report identifies six emerging trends affecting small and medium-sized enterprises in 2017, one of which is the automation of business activities.

From chatbots to drone deliveries, it’s no secret that automation and artificial intelligence are drastically shaping the way business owners realize their potential. But as the demand for everyday robotics increases, are Canadian businesses keeping up with competitors around the world?

Automation in Asia

The BDC report pinpoints a key statistic: According to the International Federation of Robotics, in 2015, South Korea led the global manufacturing industry in deployment of multipurpose robots — which optimized everything from supply chain management to customer service notifications — at approximately 531 per 10000 workers. That number comes ahead of Singapore’s 398, Japan’s 305, and Germany’s 301 (Canada falls somewhere in the middle, with 136 multipurpose robots per 10,000 workers).

Canada Can Catch Up

As the BDC report explains, while nearly every aspect of contemporary Canadian business can be automated, owners need not overhaul their enterprise to achieve optimization goals. In fact, automation only requires three simple ideas to keep in mind, including:

  • Mapping out business processes
  • Involving employees
  • Shopping and asking around

By analyzing how a business runs, Canadian entrepreneurs can determine where automation can best optimize efficiency. And who better to ask how a business runs than its employees, who have invaluable experience at every level of the operation?

To learn more about the changing landscape of Canadian business, BDC’s full report is available here (registration required).

Girls Are The Key to Disruption in the World of Tech

Tuesday, October 3rd, 2017

The coding world is a man’s world: 80 to 90 percent of code out there has been written by men. This means that the world itself is being designed by men, according to Actua CEO Jennifer Flanagan.

“Coding impacts every day of our lives,” Flanagan said at the Expo for Design, Innovation & Technology in Toronto. “We won’t achieve our innovation potential if we don’t ensure diversity around the table.”

Kids—especially girls—could be the key to the next big tech innovation, she said.

Through experiential learning, Canada’s largest STEM-outreach organization, Actua, teaches foundational skills in science, tech, engineering and math to help kids prepare for careers of the future.

We need women’s perspective for “better research and better products,” Flanagan recently wrote in BetaKit.

“We can no longer explain away women’s participation rates in tech careers by saying that ‘they just aren’t interested’ or ‘that these career types don’t meet the lifestyle preferences of women.’ To do this is to do a disservice, not just to women, but to society as a whole.”

Robots Are Coming For (Men’s) Jobs

Friday, September 8th, 2017

Robots are coming for human jobs. It’s no surprise. However, the automation revolution is much more than just an economic problem, argues Laurie Penny in Wired.

“It is a cultural problem, an identity problem, and—critically—a gender problem,” she writes.

The robots are mostly eliminating jobs in farm and factory labor, construction and haulage—in other words, blue-collar jobs typically performed by men.

“Millions of men around the world are staring into the lacquered teeth of obsolescence, terrified of losing not only their security but also their source of meaning and dignity in a world that tells them that if they’re not rich, they’d better be doing something quintessentially manly for money. Otherwise they’re about as much use as a wooden coach-and-four on the freeway.”

Men must change their mindset and be willing to take on jobs in the so-called “pink-collar” industry, she says.

The Silicon Valley Engineers Who Get Paid Millions To Do Nothing

Friday, August 11th, 2017

It’s a well-known secret in Silicon Valley: Big tech companies employ “resters and vesters”; employees who collect full pay and stock without having to do much — or any — actual work.

Though it might sound like an administrative error — employees who have, for whatever reason, fallen through the cracks — there are a few very good reasons why companies allow employees to “rest and vest,” according to former “coasters” interviewed by Business Insider.

Keeping Top Talent Away From Competitors

Some tech companies use “rest and vest” jobs as a way to claim top talent and keep it away from the competition, according to Manny Medina, a former Microsoft executive.

At Microsoft, he saw how the tech giant locked up talent in fields like AI, robotics and quantum computing.

“You keep engineering talent but also you prevent a competitor from having it, and that’s very valuable,” he told Business Insider. “It’s a defensive measure.”

Buying Silence

“Rest and vest” can be used as a way to buy an employee’s silence about the problems facing a project before they depart a company.

“Everyone knew I had a big mouth and would speak out,” said a former “rest and vest” Facebook engineer. “He figured, ‘Hey, it costs us next to nothing keep this person happy for six months.'”

Like a paid period of transition, employees can use “rest and vest” time to cool off and start looking for other work.

Hanging Onto The Most Effective Employees

Some employees can simply do more in a shorter period of time. “10x engineers,” for example, are supposedly 10 times more effective than other engineers, or so the legend goes.

“They might know where the bodies are buried on some project, be called in as a last resort to debug a project, or they are known as a great pinch hitter,” said the former Facebook engineer.

Though “resting and vesting” can be beneficial to companies, it can kill the careers of employees, especially those “working” on long-term research projects, according to an engineer at X, run by Google’s parent company Alphabet.

Engineers can spend years “never shipping anything.”

Closing Canada’s Tech Skills Gap: Teach Youth to Code

Monday, May 1st, 2017

220,000 workers needed: That’s how vast Canada’s tech skills gap could be by 2020, according to Canadian government and industry experts.

If that gap isn’t closed, many tech companies will be forced to look for opportunities outside the country, Waveform CEO Kirk Simpson recently told CBC News.

“If we can find the talent somewhere else, we might open a second location in the U.S. market or in a European market,” he said. “And those jobs will not go to Canadians.”

Teaching young people to code and harness the power of cognitive computing could be the solution. Cognitive is, “beyond doubt,” our future, says Tanmay Bakshi, a 13-year-old developer, coding advocate and IBM Cloud champion.

“If we can get the youth involved in this technology, we’ll be creating more job opportunities for them. They’ll have (a better) chance of getting a better job in the AI field.”

Bakshi is certainly doing his part.

He hopes to personally assist 100,000 aspiring coders through keynotes speeches, his YouTube channel and his new book Hello Swift: iOS Programming for Kids and Other Beginners.

B.C. Entrepreneurs Get a Big Boost From Tech Heavyweights

Thursday, April 27th, 2017

Drawn by favorable government policies, a deep talent pool backed by world-class educational institutions and proximity to Silicon Valley, Vancouver has lured some of the world’s largest technology companies.

The arrival of these tech heavyweights has unleashed a ripple effect boosting startups in Vancouver and the rest of B.C. as expertise and capital flow from these newcomers, according to Ernst & Young’s B.C. technology sector leader Richard Mockett.

Successful entrepreneurs are regularly teaming up to provide the next generation of entrepreneurs with guidance and funding.

“What that does is creates a sort of cluster effect,” says Mockett. “There’s a lot of entrepreneurs spending a lot of time, capital, and experience in developing the next generation of entrepreneurs… It’s just phenomenal to see the energy, the passion, the whole community is bringing to B.C.”