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CreativeWorks 50Q3T5T1AM 1,097 Views
Just under a decade ago, Google’s concept of a self-driving car seemed outlandish. That’s not the case today. Now, brands like Tesla, Lyft, and Uber are actively pursuing the idea. Even mainstream car manufacturers are conducting research into the concept of self-driving cars in an attempt to gain their own foothold in this space.
But here’s what is certain. In the future, we will be driving autonomous vehicles. Yes, there are still things to work out in terms of the technology, but the truth is we are coming closer and closer to this being the reality.
Then again, technology isn’t the true roadblock. Nor is safety. When 93% of all accidents are caused by human error or intentional action, it’s clear that the safest thing to do is take the human element out of the picture for the most part. Instead, it will be legal and regulatory issues, and resistance among drivers themselves that slow down this progress. There will also be pushback from those who benefit from maintaining the status quo. Then there are the logistics of it all.
Job Loss is a Real And Perceived Concern
When self driving cars become mainstream, there are potentially millions of people who could lose their jobs. This includes delivery drivers, taxi drivers, truck drivers, and bus drivers. This will likely impact those working in complementary fields. Imagine the impact of this change on a motel chain or truck stop that relies on vehicle traffic for its main source of income.
This, of course, puts politicians in a quandary. Do they vote in favor of policies that support autonomous vehicles? This gives their challengers ammunition to refer to them as job killing and out of touch with the needs of their constituents. The current political climate doesn’t exactly seem to be leaning towards progression at the cost of populism.
Drivers Will Need to Rethink Personal Safety And Liability
It turned out that the fatal car accident involving a self-driving vehicle from Tesla was the result of the driver’s failure to download a vital software update. In the future, if autonomous vehicles are going to become a reality, one of the challenges will be getting drivers to buy into new concepts regarding vehicle maintenance. Replacing worn brake pads, keeping tires inflated, and having cars checked out a few times a year are all commonly accepted ways to keep cars safe and operational. In the future, keeping up with software upgrades, even installing vehicular anti virus and security software will be considered the vehicle owner’s responsibility in terms of keeping cars safe for themselves and others.
There are definitely unanswered questions. For example, who is liable if a driverless vehicle causes an accident? We know that if a driver loses control of their car because they did not properly maintain it, they are responsible. If a driver is in an accident as a result of their negligence relating to their AV, are they equally liable? What about the manufacturer. There will very likely be new laws that will need to be written. Attorneys will have new challenges to face as they seek to protect and help those who have been injured in car accidents caused by self-driving vehicles.
Tough Decisions And Higher Expectations
Every driver makes mistakes or chooses to drive recklessly. Sometimes those mistakes and choices end in near misses. Other times, fender benders are the result. Then there are times when injury even death are the consequences. We accept that risk.
In spite of the fact that AVs reduce risk, they cannot eliminate it altogether. Although it was later proved to be human error, Tesla was initially blamed for a fatal car accident. Self-driving cars from Uber have been tagged running red lights on multiple occasions.
So, what happens when a self-driving vehicle is involved in an accident? In addition to accepted risk when humans are in control, there is often some level of sympathy and understanding towards those whose mistake cause an accident. Reckless, illegal, or intentional behavior being obvious exceptions to this. There’s no way you could have stopped in time. It could have happened to anyone. Don’t blame yourself.
Reactions to accidents caused by machines are starkly different. There is an expectation that these machines will execute perfectly, and make the best decisions possible. When the inevitable happens, it will and has become fodder to justify preventing this technology from becoming mainstream or rolling back progress.
Security is a Serious Concern
Hackers have already taken over vehicles that have some self driving features. However, in cases where there is a driver present, there is less risk. An alert driver can see that something is amiss, and override the driverless features. When a car is truly driverless, that’s not an option. When all aspects of the vehicle’s operation are software driven, how will the car know when things aren’t right. Auto manufacturers will have to work hard to ensure that the security measures they implement stay far ahead of the malicious individuals or groups who could literally turn a self driving vehicle into a weapon.
Self driving cars will eventually become the norm. It’s inevitable considering that all major players in the automotive industry are slowly adopting the technologies that will take us from fully manual vehicles to partially autonomous, to fully autonomous. However, it is clear that the transition will not be without challenges. Politics, human nature, legalities, and logistics will need to be dealt with before progress is made.
Disruption. That’s the new term for big change that comes to industries as a result of technology. Consider just the changes in communication and services as a result of technology. The internet, smartphones, social media, education, entertainment and beyond, have all changed dramatically in the last decade, showing how technology marches on at an incredible pace.
Disruption in the financial services industry was inevitable. And it is upon us in major ways. What we witnessed in 1998, with the founding of PayPal, we are now seeing on a huge scale, with banking, investments, lending and insurance affected by huge disruptions that are being embraced as quickly as they come. As both financial service providers and consumers look to the near future, here is what to expect.
1. Fintech becomes a solution for the little guy
Traditionally, only investors with deep pockets could enter the banking and financial services industry. This is no longer the case. Lean start-ups, focusing on specific areas of financial services, do not need the kind of money that traditional institutions needed and are eating away at the market share that were traditionally the monopolies of large financial institutions.
Pushing this along, obviously, was the financial crisis of 2008 – people lost their trust in the big banks and welcomed new and innovative services that allowed them to have more personal control and choice.
Everything from transferring money to buying insurance, investing to bank accounts, even getting a mortgage loan can now be accomplished online through companies that do not have the large overheads that traditional institutions do. All they need is talent, and there is plenty of that.
And consumers love this new form of “shopping” for services, especially because they can compare all in one place. In a recent PwC Global study, respondents from traditional financial service institutions stated that by 2020, they expect to lose 25% of their business to FinTech enterprises.
2. Matching investors with those in need of capital
Time was, if an individual needed venture capital, they had two choices – family or traditional banks. The problem with traditional lending institutions was a lack of access unless all “hoops” were jumped through and all conditions met; as an industry, moreover, large institutions enjoyed a concentration of power and, often, a lack of transparency.
To compete with the venture capital industry, savvy disruptors created crowdfunding platforms and what is known as equity crowdfunding. In the former, smaller investors can contribute to a start-up venture with the anticipation of receiving a payback at interest. The latter involves individual investors putting up money for an equity position in the new venture.
Peer-to-peer lending models include such companies as Indiegogo and Kickstarter in the U.S. and Crowdcube and Seedrs in the UK. Additionally, larger companies, like Barclays and Accenture, have been attempting to find new and innovative financial solutions through acquisition, reducing the risk potential or need to conduct the research themselves. Smaller market infrastructure firms such as NEX. NEX have been successful in competing with the larger venture capital institutions and banks by partnering with growing fintech companies.
3. Data science
Data analytics have come a long way. From e-commerce businesses tracking who comes to their websites and what pages they visit and how many move into the buying funnel, technology has moved to the collection of huge amounts of data about consumers and their behaviours. From those aggregate collections, sorting that data into information that large institutions can use to make decisions about what products they offer, to whom they offer those product to, and even when they make such offerings.
This has meant a big paradigm shift from focus on products, to focus on consumers and what they want and value. Financial services institutions that use big data to drive their decisions will win the competitive race in the long run.
4. Investments – more consumer participation
Financial investment services have traditionally lain with brokerage houses and financial advisors who evaluate personal investors’ finances and make recommendations regarding investments. Then along came “day traders” who thought they could compete with the “big boys,” cut out the middleman, and make their own fortunes. In most cases, this was disastrous – they just did not have access to the research and information that the career professionals did. And, again, like banks, these career pros had a monopoly on bringing individual investors into the markets.
The mystique is now gone, and individual consumers are demanding the same information that the investment services industry has and getting it. They are also demanding personal participation in investment decisions and their own asset management. Digital robo-advisors hit the scene, and brokerage houses and investment counselors were caught off guard.
Investment institutions will have to make the change to more user-friendly platforms if they intend to keep a decent market share.
Charles Schwab realized this earlier than others. It began in the 1970’s as a discount brokerage house, offering cheap trading prices to individual investors. But when disruptors like Wealthfront and FutureAdvisor came along, the company had a choice – be beaten or change its business model.
They took some time to analyze this robo-adviser disruption and see if it was viable. It was. And so, the company became a FinTech startup itself by launching Schwab Intelligent Portfolio. It was a huge success and today it outperforms other startups.
5. Insurance and IOT
Insurance companies have also become more consumer-driven, given that customers can shop for their insurance needs online and compare products. This of course has forced insurers to modify products and become more competitive. One of the biggest disruptions in the insurance market is the internet of things (IoT). From home and car security devices to remotely controlled temperature and appliance turn-ons and shut-offs, to devices placed on cars to monitor safe-driving habits, insurance companies can use digital information to set individual rates.
6. Public cloud services will streamline banking operations
The more cloud-based computing becomes mainstream, the more comfort financial services institutions will have using it. And SaaS apps are continually improving. As this happens, core activities of financial services will be taken to the cloud and automated. As this continues to occur, the need for people services within company infrastructures will certainly be reduced. It is predicted that by 2020, core functions, such as payments, statements, billings, and even credit scoring/worthiness will no longer require human/manual work. The implications for underwriters alone, in the mortgage lending business for example, are pretty big.
7. Cyber-Security – A continuing risk of increased technology
Executives in the financial services industry continue to worry about security, especially due to the increase in the use of mobile devices and IoT technologies (particularly older devices that do not have the latest security) on the part of consumers and the potential for cyber criminals to “back door” into their systems. Cloud-based technologies can help some, but are not immune to attacks either.
These are only seven disruptions that technology has brought to the financial services industry. There are more to come – the shift to Asian technological innovations, blockchain technology which is still a bit of a “mystique” to most financial services executives, and the technological advances in the regulatory sector. And there are more to come, for certain. FinTech startups are trying to out-pace traditional institutions. Traditional institutions will need to make decisions to step up their game or to find ways to collaborate with those startups that prove to be successful. If Charles Schwab can do it, so can others.
The financial industry crash in 2008 severely damaged faith in the traditional banks. But even before then, banking and financial transactions had been moving into new digital realms. PayPal had already been around for 10 years, and other virtual wallet systems had begun to pop up too.
Enter Bitcoin in 2009. Developed by an unknown individual or group using the name Satoshi Nakamoto, it is an asset/payment system that uses no intermediary (i.e., a bank) – a peer-to-peer transaction platform that is be fully secure and almost without fees. The concept is that “value” can be virtually exchanged all over the world in a digital environment that does not transmit any sensitive information (e.g., credit card numbers) that could be subject to cybercrime. That “value” can then be converted into any fiat currency on the receiving end, although the value of a Bitcoin would be subject to market volatility, just as currency exchanges can be.
Slow to Catch On
The disruption of cryptocurrency has not been rapid. It’s tough to get individuals and businesses to make a paradigm shift to virtual currency and to understand such things as blockchain technology. But there are many who predict that Bitcoin, and perhaps some other cryptocurrency platforms, will replace the traditional bank card payment system.
We are not there yet – not by a long shot – and there are many “wrinkles” to iron out if this is to happen. But the question is certainly out there. Can Bitcoin replace traditional payment systems? Some say “yes;” others say “no.”
There are certainly arguments to be made that Bitcoin will ultimately replace the fee-based transactions that consumers and merchants use today. Among those are the following:
In looking at those hurdles, along with some other factors that keep legacy payment processing the preferred transaction methodology, many believe that bitcoin will take its place for certain demographics but will not replace the use of bank cards, money transfers, and letters of credit that still constitute the vast majority of transactions. Here are their arguments.
The average merchant would have to develop a technical savviness that he is probably not prone to want to do. Bitcoin transactions do not have the support structure that bank card processing has, and merchants would have to create and manage their own digital Bitcoin wallets, in order to accept funds and convert them to fiat currencies.
Traditional payment processors are getting much better with what they do, especially considering the competition out there. Most payment gateway services are providing the streamlining, the lowered transaction fees, and the support that merchants want and need. And they are beefing up security measures by leaps and bounds today.
Merchants who use Bitcoin will still need some processing support, from providers such as Stripe, PayPal, or others that are now in the business – processors who are able to lock in exchange rates at the point of transaction. For example, if a merchant were to accept Bitcoin that is currently worth $1500 U.S., but the value had dropped to $1200 by the time he exchanges that Bitcoin for USD, then he is out $300. The lowered transaction fee is worthless at that point. Using a processor to convert the Bitcoin to a fiat currency at the time of payment processing will be essential, and that actually adds another step to the whole process. It’s just not the maximum efficiency that most merchants want.
There are also problems on the consumer side of Bitcoin transactions. Online purchases using credit cards come with certain risks. The merchant could be fraudulent; ordered products may not be received. Exchanges and refund requests are commonplace transactions. These are currently handled pretty well when normal bank cards are used for purchasing. Refunds can be directly credited to a personal credit card account. And, if there is a dispute, the credit card company acts to resolve it.
Bitcoin transactions are irreversible. There is no process for disputing a charge or getting a refund, except directly through the merchant. And these are not always successful, particularly if the merchant is unprincipled or simply disputes the consumer’s claim. Where is the consumer recourse? Currently, it is non-existent. There are no consumer protections in place. Even if they were to be put into place, they would have to be managed by a processor divorced from Bitcoin itself. In this case, that processor is still in business, not replaced.
It’s still out, obviously. Predictions as early as 2014 stated that bitcoin would replace legacy financial transactions, for merchants and even for individual consumers. That has not happened.
For the near term, fiat currency exchanges, traditional bankcard transactions and processing, and consumer purchasing protections are strongly in place with legacy systems. People are comfortable with their systems, and Bitcoin still holds a mystique that is difficult for both merchants and consumers to fully grasp. It still seems a little bit like “fake money” to many. And change comes slowly.
But no one should discount the ability of Bitcoin to evolve and to take its place within the payment processing industry. The security it offers, as well blockchain technology and lower fees, all provide an attractive alternative to traditional processing through banks and legacy payment processors.
On the other hand, in its current environment, Bitcoin will have to rely on traditional processors that have the ability to lock in exchange rates and to ensure that both merchants and consumers are afforded the protections they need. Only time will tell. For the moment, traditional payment processors are still in business.
A Guide to Writing Advanced Access Profiles for IBM Tivoli Access Manager for Enterprise Single Sign-On
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Your website domain name is one of the most important pieces of your business. This essential component is greater than the different parts that comprise it: Websites, email addresses, etc. The overall domain is the core of your brand’s digital presence. As such, it must be defended and protected throughout its lifetime. Risks such as hijackers, spammers, and domain registrars seizing control are all factors to be wary of as you work to protect the health of your website domain.
One of the biggest contributing factors to good domain health is your email sender reputation. Your domain’s registrar will intervene if it notices emails sent from your domain are not reaching inboxes or being marked as spam. Not only will your email service provider block you from access, but your website domain also becomes at risk. The best way to avoid this is to employ an email checker to verify emails.
The risks of a poor sender reputation are as follows.
The Number of Emails You Can Send Will Be Reduced
When an email service provider (ESP) doesn’t recognize the domain sending emails, it will react in multiple fashions, including throttling your email send. This refers to the slowing down and capping of the number of emails that can be sent each day. When a business varies its email send numbers greatly in a short amount of time (e.g. sending thousands one day, hundreds the next), throttling is a common penalty. Timing is an essential part of any marketing campaign, so the consequences of throttling are severe.
Throttling can stem from a poor sender reputation. Your ESP doesn’t recognize your domain because it has been marked as spam too often. By utilizing an email address checker, you can reduce the number of emails that get marked as spam. As a result, your ESP is less likely to mark you as a spammer and instead recognize that you are a legitimate sender. You’ll never have to worry if your email is reaching everyone on your list on the right day and time, or that you’re being marked as an illicit sender.
Your Emails Won’t Make it to Inboxes
A low sender score means your emails aren’t even reaching inboxes. Instead, they’re being marked as spam immediately upon reaching recipient’s mailboxes. Without users able to open and take action on your emails, the overall efficacy of an email marketing campaign greatly declines. This results in a negative impact in all the ways such a campaign can improve business. It means less company awareness, reduced brand engagement, and lost ROI as the ability to convert greatly declines.
Maintaining your sender reputation begins with an email tester. Using such a tool as a way to check emails and validate them ensures a higher inbox rate and better preservation of your sender score. A sender with a score above 90 has a 92% rate of success in reaching inboxes, versus the 72% success rate of a sender with a score between 71 and 80.
Beyond making it to inboxes, your emails won’t even get delivered if the emails you have are bad or your sender reputation is damaged. With 30% of an email list vulnerable to decay each year, it’s crucial that your business has a system in place to replenish emails and make sure they’re real. The easiest and fastest solution to do so is using an email validator.
Your ESP Will Block You
The most significant consequence of a poor sender reputation is complete inability to send emails from your domain. Every email service provider has different criteria for what defines content as spam, but it is up to you to be aware of what these specifications are and do your best to avoid negative experiences. The last thing you want or need in the midst of a marketing campaign is to be barred from using your email.
Verifying and cleaning your email list is one of the simplest solutions for avoiding a slap on the wrist (or worse) from your ESP. Not only does it ensure that your website domain remains healthy and protected, but also protecting your sender reputation improves the functionality and results of your email marketing strategy. Maintaining email send speed and numbers, increasing inbox rates, and staying on good terms with your ESP are all benefits of a high sender score, and is made easier through the use of an email checker.
Large companies began using this term to refer to those services hosted on the network. In fact that is the first thing most of us come to mind about "Cloud Computing". Therefore, we can say that the word cloud would be equivalent to what we know as the Internet. However, the concept has much more scope and is something that we intend to relate in this article.
Types of cloud
There are currently 3 types of clouds:
Types of services
Once you have covered the types of clouds that exist, what can we do with them?
Depending on the need we need to cover, there are different types of services within cloud computing:
As an advantage of this administration and development model, we can highlight the cost savings as the most important, in addition to the high scalability, reliability, as well as the abstraction of hardware maintenance, something up to now innovative in large companies with its own department ITEM.
One of the concepts that best define the cloud environment is the term "Pay as you go", which means that we only pay for usage and not a monthly fixed fee, such as traditional hosting services.
Lastly, it is worth mentioning the agility with which we have these services, achieving in a matter of minutes a putting into production that could take months, when dealing with the traditional on-premise process.
While it is true that the advantages of cloud computing are worth considering, there are some points that can be crucial when it comes to hitting the cloud:
First, there is the perception of insecurity in moving our information out of our physical reach, which can manifest a sense of vulnerability. To solve this "fear" among potential customers, large cloud companies have efficient, high-security systems to keep data safe from potential attacks.
Another drawback is dependence on an Internet provider. Due to the location of the services, we are tied to this need, so it is advisable to have a second connection in case of failure of the main.
Although less and less, there is still some immaturity in some of the services offered by lack of functionality, in relation to similar products designed to meet these needs in servers within the client.
In this section, we have been able to know the concept of cloud computing as the technological proposal of large companies to refer to the different services hosted on the Internet, as well as the different types of clouds available in the market. In addition we have listed the types of services available to date and how some companies already offer them to the public.
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Everyone is familiar with the name IBM (International Business Machines Corporation), but most of them are not familiar with Big Blue. Usually, these two are the same. IBM was formed in the name of the Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company (CTR) back in 1911 and later renamed to IBM in 1924. We all know the history of IBM and their inventions. IBM is currently running their operation in over 170 countries. Most of our necessary gadgets are their invention like hard disk drive, automated teller machine, magnetic stripe card, UPC barcode, SQL programming language, dynamic random-access memory (DRAM), etc.
The market of IBM is huge. They manufacture both software and hardware products. Besides, IBM is one of the largest companies in the world having 380K employees. They are the record holder of having the most patents generated by a business company. Their research wing is very active and their latest invention is IBM Watson. According to many sources, IBM has a plan to bring revolutionary changes in paystub generator sector.
First of all, IBM is developing a holographic chatting system (also known as 3D Telepresence). The programmers said that they are very close to make this happen. The improvement of 3D camera makes it easier to reach to the common people. The researchers of the University of Arizona successfully made a system that is capable of sending holographic images to nearby locations in time. Besides, it is said that we will be able to enter into personal computers through 3D visualization. Thus, the pictures we see now in 2D, we will be able to see them in 3D.
Secondly, the next item on the list is lithium/air battery project (battery 500). This project is still under development and the results are quite satisfactory. IBM believes that these batteries will be able to use the same air which we breathe to produce energy. The concept is that these batteries will use oxygen and react with the metals. Besides, these batteries will be lightweight and very small in size. Surprisingly, these batteries will last ten times more than our regular lithium-ion battery.
Now the third item is personal sensor for every scientist. The development of personal sensors is really important for the welfare of the people. It is essential for the scientists to collect data and preserve them in a storage. IBM predicts that it will be possible within the next five years to collect all these data and send it to various devices like cell phones, cars, computers, etc. using personal sensors. Persevering these data in huge amount can be resourceful in the coming days.
A smart computer system for drivers is number fourth in the list. IBM believes that we cannot solve the traffic problem only by creating new traffic rules or constructing new roads. There are other circumstances which control our transportation system. The smart computer system for drivers will not only show the best way to travel but also helps us with necessary objectives. This technology is based on mathematical models which analyzes probable values to help the drivers.
Last but not least, IBM is researching to control the temperature of a computer. According to a calculation, 50% of the energy is consumed in CPU (Central Processing Unit) to make the engine cooler. Now IBM wants to use this warm air in a significant way. IBM considers that this warm air can be used to heat various parts of a building or to heat water or convert it to current.
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The world is becoming an increasingly digital space. Today we manage, share and store our lives online. Data is gathered from our devices, computers and smartphones that collect and transmit information on what we do; but that is just the beginning. This phenomenon is transforming our understanding of the world and our place in it; it’s become known as Big data.
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Your immune system is always at work; protecting you from a constant barrage of threats. And to combat such diverse threats, your immune system must be equally coordinated to prevent and detect attacks in an orchestrated, fast response. But what if your body was also vulnerable to cyber threats? You’d need a different kind of immune system, but one that still works as a unified whole to disrupt threats at any point of the attack, no matter how advanced they may be.
Security operations and response allows you to prevent detect and respond to threats in an orchestrated and automated fashion; powered by cognitive capabilities an IBM x-force threat intelligence. The IBM security immune system senses, identifies and prioritizes known and unknown threats enabling rapid resolution.
Information, risk and protection keeps your data users acts and transactions safe wherever they are. Real-time analytics and alerts helps you pinpoint risks, gain visibility and control over user identities and manage your sensitive data. You can also strengthen compliance initiative, secure applications, improve mobile collaboration and protect your mainframe environment.
It’s intimidating. You are a solopreneur or a hiring manager for a small non-tech related company, and you have to hire a software developer. You know nothing about the profession, nothing about coding, nothing about the “going rates” or salary ranges. Your understanding of software is, “Show me what it can do, how it runs, and then I’ll use it.”
So, where do you begin? With this guide, perhaps. Here are the steps you might consider.
Identify Exactly What You Want the Developer to Do
Either you have an idea for a piece of software you want to take to market, or your company needs specific software developed for in-house purposes. Your initial job is to decide exactly what you want that software to do.
Is this a “one-shot” deal for a single piece of software, or is this a longer-term deal where a developer will be working for you on a regular or contract basis?
Do Some Basic Research
It’s not difficult to find any number of resource articles on software development, even in the niche related to what you want developed. You can get an idea of the programming languages that are most recommended and popular with developers. You don’t have to understand them – you just need to understand the programming languages you want your hire to know.
You research will also give you solid information on price/salary ranges – certainly a good thing to know.
Finding the Candidates
You have lots of options, so pick the ones that will work for you, perhaps those that have worked in the past. Remember, the process of recruitment and hiring is no different for software developer. It is the skills and expertise that will be unique.
Narrowing the List
This will be tough, but you can look for some very specific things in resumes or perhaps in initial phone or video interviews. Here’s a short checklist of sorts for that initial contact:
So, now you are ready to interview the few candidates that have made your short list. What do you ask? Based upon surveys of both programmers and even Google hiring managers, here are questions you should and should not ask. You will find that many of them are questions you would ask any candidate.
This you will ask any candidate. Put a specific spin on this. Ask the candidate about his biggest disaster and how he worked through it. If the candidate is honest, she will be able to identify one and then describe how it was “fixed.” Any good programmer will have had disasters. You are looking for honesty and the work ethic to do what it takes to resolve issues.
Ask the candidate to describe his/her favorite project. As a prelude to this question, you want to inform him/her that you are not a techie. The goal here is to see if the candidate can explain the project so that you have a good understanding of what s/he did – in non-techie terms, that is.
Part of a developer’s skill must be in communication and must be the ability to communicate to those outside of the niche what a project is all about and how s/he will go about approaching a project. Even if you are hiring someone remotely, you will want to be a part of the development, and you will want continual conversation with the developer. Being able to communicate that progress to you in terms you can understand is vital.
Solo or Team Player
Depending on your needs, you need to know your candidates’ experience and their comfort level with how they will function for you. Hiring a freelance means that the developer is comfortable working alone but also communicating with members of your organization who will be impacted by that work. Hiring a employee means comfort with collaboration.
Is There Passion?
One of the ways to gauge this is to ask what development communities the candidate is active in. GitHub, for example. Developers who are really passionate spend non-work time communicating and collaborating with other developers.
When the candidate talks about his/her projects, do you sense excitement? You should.
This is where you may need to have someone with expertise take a look at the projects in a developer’s portfolio. As well, just as you do when you hire anyone, you will want to check references, whether from clients or former employers.
It is not a negative for a developer to have had a lot of past employers. This is a career that is in high demand, and they like to go where the challenges (and the money) are more attractive.
Things to Avoid
A lot of recruiters and hiring managers give developer candidates “puzzles” to solve. And non-techie interviewers often pull these from the web or are given them by other developers. Chances are the candidate has already seen them or something similar. They really are not a gauge of talent.
It’s also not a good idea to ask a developer where he sees himself in five years. If they are honest, they won’t actually know, so it is not a fruitful question. Good developers will go where the challenges fit their needs, so that is really the only answer that will make sense.
You really can make a good hire even if you don’t have expertise in technology. Follow this guide, get help when you know you need it, and make a good hire.
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Great customer experiences lead to conversions. You create great UX by ensuring that the customer journey is as frictionless and intuitive as possible. You can’t accomplish that unless you are able to predict customer behavior from the first point of contact to the point of conversion. Brands who are successful at this often rely on insights they gain from big data.
Mined Data Can be Combined With Direct Customer Feedback For Great Insights
Big data doesn’t need to stand alone, nor should it. These large repositories of information can be combined with more intimate and real time information to gain insights on customers’ thoughts, opinions, and motivations.
Here’s an example. Your analytical data may tell you that a particular product is simply not selling. If that is all you go by, it might be easy to dismiss the product itself as a loser.
The problem is that if you make that decision without communicating with your customers or customer facing staff, your assumptions could be wrong, and your predictions about customer behavior could be off base. In this case, the issue may be with pricing, the performance of a landing page, or some other factor not the product itself.
When you listen to your customers and your staff, you can combine the insights they offer you with data to learn about customer preferences, weak spots, and trends.
Big Data Can Provide Information That Can be Used to Personalize Experiences
Data that tracks customer preferences and behavior can be used to create personalized website experiences, and to curate personalized content. This can be done on both a micro and macro level.
On a micro level you can collect specific data about customers. Then, you can predict their behavior based on their specific purchasing habits, social media behaviors, and the data you are able to collect from them through their interactions via social media.
On a macro level, you can collect and store information from general data sets. This can give insights into overall customer behavior, website analytics, and other more general data. All of this information can then be used to create personalized website experiences, to recommend products, and find other ways to predict the customer’s wants and needs throughout the purchasing journey. Salespeople in particular can use this information to identify data driven sales opportunities.
Shopping Cart Analytics Can Predict Future Needs
What customers add to their carts is meaningful. Whether or not they complete purchases, adding an item to a shopping cart is an indication of interest in that item. It can also show need for an item at a given point in time or under specific circumstances. That’s important as well.
Of course, whether or not the customer continues on and makes a purchase is also meaningful. Data can tell you if your pricing, level of earned trust, website performance, or other factors are successfully pushing customers through the funnel. Data can also tell you not only when you are losing them and why.
Combine these metrics, and you can curate special offers, customize your ads, and address roadblocks to conversions. This includes, but is not limited to improving the checkout process so that it is more efficient and is perceived to be safer.
Engagement Metrics Can Be Used to Determine Which Content Will Hit With Customers
If you know what to look for, engagement metrics can help you predict which content is going to earn comments, likes, and shares. By digging into this information, you can determine which content is likely to be a hit, when you should publish the content, and how you should promote it.
The key is to think beyond the obvious. For example, ‘my customers like videos most’ isn’t an insight. Everybody likes video content best. Now, ‘my customers like how to videos when they are viewing my product pages’ is helpful.
It’s also important to use data to understand how customers are engaging. Liking, sharing, and commenting are three different behaviors. The motives behind those behaviors can be very different as well. For example, people tend to like posts without doing much investigation.
Merge Customer Data With Performance and Logistical Insights to Predict Trouble
Your data shows you that bounce rates on two of your landing pages go through the roof near the end of the month. You also notice more shopping carts are left abandoned. Other analytics show you that orders to be shipped out of one of your facilities are frequently cancelled.
What’s going on? You have part of the picture. You know what customers are doing. They are abandoning shopping carts, cancelling orders, and backing out of your landing pages. The question is, what else is going on. Big data can tell you that there are logistical issues impacting your warehouse. It can also indicate that performance issues due to end of month demands are making your pages load slowly. Once you know these things, you can predict when logistical and performance issues may result in problematic customer behavior.
The better you can predict your customers’ wants and needs during any part of the customer journey, the more you will be able to predict what their behavior is going to be. This means you will be better prepared to give them what they need at any point in time. This will help you to design the overall customer experience, curate content, and recommend products among other things. You’ll also be able to predict trends. All of this will allow you to create the kinds of customer experiences that will drive more conversions.
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In 2007, some computer engineers at IBM began to build Watson. The goal was a machine that could be programmed to locate information in order to answer questions asked of it. They decided that the big “test” would be for Watson to go on the TV show Jeopardy, and win it. That happened in 2011.
Since that time, IBM has made a conscious decision to use Watson in medicine – to have it master a huge body of knowledge related to medical research, diagnosis, and treatment. To that end, Watson is able to read medical journals from all over the world in minutes; it can review patient histories, track drug trials, and present new therapies to medical professionals. And nothing is ever forgotten – in fact, Watson just keeps on learning.
Now, Watson is dabbling in psychology and overall wellness on a very human level. Alex Sass, CEO of PostMood, has developed an app that combines the social media behavior of individuals (specifically, what they post on Facebook), their sleep patterns, daily diaries, and their Fitbit data, feeds all of that into Watson, and comes up with a “mood” indicator on a daily basis, among other things.
Over time, PostMood provides information on volunteers’ basic personality traits and even makes suggestions for improving their general well-being. Such suggestions may be to post more positive messages, to increase exercise, or to get more sleep. More general analyses are also made – is an individual primarily an introvert or an extrovert, for example.
The goal of this app for the individual is to gain insights into their moods and personality, what causes moods to shift from positive to negative, and to “correct” behaviors in order to increase positivity.
The Larger Goal
According to Sass, the app analyzes each individual participant, provides their reports, and hopefully improves their well-being with recommendations.
Such recommendations usually include a thorough analysis of the Facebook content they post and, as well, what they are reading from others. Facebook is also analyzing what they post and view and gives them more of the same. Negativity thus begets negativity, and the mood becomes rather permanent. PostMood takes all of this in and provides a “score” of sorts, allowing the individual to make conscious choices to change Facebook behavior.
The same goes for other the other aspects of analyses conducted by the app – physical exercise, sleep, personality inventories, and more. Participants thus gain valuable insights into how the choices they make impact their moods.
But Sass has bigger goals. He uses Watson to aggregate all of the data that is collected to generate more “global” patterns of behaviors that promote happiness. From all of PostMood’s analyses, he hopes to be able to come up with daily activities that will promote happiness worldwide
How To Participate
Anyone can sign up for free, as long as they are on Facebook and/or Twitter. Bonus point if you have a physical fitness tracking device.
Participants log in daily and their changing moods are recorded for them based upon their own comments, their posts, their fitness data and the amount of sleep they have had. Daily challenges are set for individuals, based on Watson’s analyses.
This project is the first of its kind to record and analyze the mind/body connection, and Watson has been an instrumental piece in all of this. It allows the aggregation of not just individual data but allows scores to be compiled globally. This allows more generalized daily challenges to be set as well.
According to Sass, Watson has analyzed in excess of 10 million social media posts. And because Watson never forgets anything, he can analyze trends in posting on an individual and aggregated basis.
All of this analysis allows Watson and Sass to generate “mindfulness” exercises that will benefit everyone, using the data that Watson aggregates and mood-tracking software developed by Sass.
According to Sass, 45,000+ from all over the world joined last year and almost half of them are now experiencing a rise in their “happiness scores.” And this improvement is not merely subjective. Watson is analyzing their social media posts, their fitness data, and their sleep amounts to get those scores.
Having been analyzing the data for a while now, Sass says that his top tip for happiness is to get more sleep. “We included sleep tracking in our system this year, and those who manage to get a decent level of shuteye seem to have the edge when it comes to also expressing joy, both internally and through their social timelines.
Biggest Project in Human Predictive Analytics
Sass believes that his Human Happiness Project is the largest of its kind outside of the predictive analytics used by businesses to predict consumer behaviors and trends. AI is used to collect data on such things as purchasing preferences and credit worthiness; it is used to present doctors with data than can drive diagnoses and treatments. But this project can provide predictive analysis of what people themselves can do to make themselves happier and more positive.
If you’d like to let PostMood give you a happiness score and get some solid, actionable suggestions for improving your overall well-being, you might want to join this project. Sass has plenty of funding, and it will be long-term and global.
Go to the PostMood site, read a little bit more about the project, and sign yourself up. You really have nothing to lose, and you may gain some valuable insights into both your personality and behaviors that may be keeping you “down.”
Gaming. It begins at a very early age these days. How many early elementary kids are playing “Minecraft?” By the end of 2013, 33 million kids were playing.
Many of those kids are at least 4 years older now, are graduating high school or may be entering college. But their passions for gaming have not decreased. In fact, they are participating in lots of online competition and dream of either professional gaming or, even more ambitious, getting into game development.
Given the popularity of gaming, there will always be work in the gaming industry. For those who specifically want to move into development, there will be some skill training and some work ahead. Here are 8 tips for these passionate gaming development hopefuls.
Choose Your Focus
You have two choices (and a third, actually – more on that later) – the science of gaming (programming) or the art (design).
Identify Your Limitations and Account for Them
If design is your focus, and you are great at creating scenes and music, you may not be so good at character development. If you are working for a company, the expertise will be there, and you will work as a team. If you are a freelancer, however, you will need to partner up with someone else.
If you are in the programming side, and you are struggling with some of the coding, you need to know where to get that help. Understanding your limitations and getting that help will demonstrate to an employer that you want to get things right the first time out, rather than having to debug after testers have pointed out the “fails.”
And if you have identified some design or programming skill gaps, get thyself into some gaming design coursework from a reputable institution – either off- or online.
Check Your Passion
Good game development requires passionate people who do not see what they do as real work. For them, it is fun. There are crazy long hours, lots of collaboration with others, disagreements, long discussions over Chinese takeout, creative problem-solving, and flexibility/compromises. Make certain that these are all things you will love, or you will develop resentment – never a good thing.
Check Out Options Other Than Development or Design
You may love gaming, and you may want to be a part of the industry. But you are not really into the art or science of it all. There are other opportunities within the industry. These include such positions as testing, marketing, or even doing voice-overs for characters or contributing the music.
Look for Internships
If you want to work for a company/studio, pursue internships. These are amazing learning experiences, even if you do not end up working for that specific company. Other gaming firms or groups will be far more interested in talking to you if you have an internship under your belt. Some internships are even remote, should you not live in close proximity, and many are actually paid.
If you are on the independent side, you may not like the idea of joining a studio as a regular employee. Studios need lots of expertise and, especially if they are small or in the startup phase, they cannot afford full-time employees. Once you have your skill set, check out job boards and niche publications – there will be many opportunities within your skill area.
If and when you take a gig, be certain that you craft a contract, if the firm/studio does not provide one. Any contract should sell out exactly what you are expected to do, how much you will be paid, and a guarantee that your contribution(s) may be used in your professional portfolio.
Be Careful About Pay Offers
There are lots of “poor” studios out there – people who are passionate about gaming and who have big dreams but no money. They are looking for “desperate” people who have their same passion who they can pay almost nothing. Sometimes they will offer you a small equity position or stock in the company or claim that your work will be a great portfolio addition. These things can be tempting, especially if you are hungry for work, but don’t sell yourself short and don’t work for nothing.
Getting Discouraged – It Comes with the Territory
Expect long dry spells. Of course, if they don’t come, great. But when they do, it is probably not because you lack skills. Competition can be tough, and there just may not be a “fit” between a studio’s need and your skillset.
When you hit dry spells or no nibbles from your job applications, take that time to design or develop on your own, to build up your portfolio, or take additional coursework to add to your skillset.
Find ways to network – attend workshops, conferences, and other meetings. Keep your LinkedIn profile up to date, and join groups on that platform. Participate in online forums and discussions; start a blog; develop some podcasts. There are just many things you can do to keep your name out there and to keep your passion intact.
And, if you have to eat, take an unrelated job. Eventually, you will find a position or “gig,” and you will “get your groove” back.
The gaming industry is exciting and fun. It is also evolving rapidly, as technology continues to improve gaming experiences for players. Keep abreast of these advances – you don’t want to become irrelevant.