Converge Tech and Business: The Week in Review January 28,2017

In Digital Transformation by Shelly KramerLeave a Comment

The tech and business space fascinates us because of the ever-increasing number of innovations, acquisitions, lawsuits, and product launches that happen every day. That’s why we bring you these weekly reviews—to help you to stay up-to-date with the constant change in the technology space and how it affects your business.

Here are the stories that picqued our attention this week.

Cisco’s Spark Board Launched. Are you a fan of meetings? How about conference calls? Our team is working with Cisco as it launches its Cisco Spark collaboration platform working to transform what it calls “the meeting experience.” We are about four weeks in to our work with Cisco on this launch, and I’ll admit that the platform is making meetings more interesting and productive—beyond my expectations. We’ve had more video meetings than ever before and are continually finding more ways to use this platform that allows us to keep all information relating to projects, conversations, resources, to-do lists, etc., in one place.

In many instances, meetings also involve virtual presentations, which can be a source of frustration because of incompatible operating systems, legacy hardware, and set up issues.

Last Tuesday during its Collaboration Launch event in San Francisco, Cisco introduced the Spark Board , a touch-based 3-in-1 collaboration device. If you weren’t able to attend the event in SFO and want to check it out, you can view the recorded event in its entirety here.

This funny shared by my good friend Laura Giles sums up one of the best aspects of the Spark collaboration platform. No more casting about for which phone number to use!

Five industries ripe for human-machine learning.  Machine learning is a type of Artificial Intelligence (AI) that gives computers the ability to learn without having to be programmed. This technology focuses on the development of computer programs that can change depending on the data it is exposed to.  In this article shared by Evan Sinar Phd, the primary emphasis is on humans gaining knowledge from machine learning. Rebecca Blum, writer of the piece, posed a very good question: what happens when we approach machine learning as a partner and not a replacement for human expertise? The writer also specifies the five industries that can be affected by development in this field. It’s a terrific read if you’re as interested in AI and machine learning as we are.

How this chatbot-powered by machine learning can help you with your taxes. Tax season is here. Preparing and filing income tax returns, especially for business owners, can be complicated. For many, the biggest hurdle is understanding and complying with the increasingly complex tax code. Many taxpayers turn to tax preparers or software to help file their returns and ensure compliance. Most Americans are unaware of how to make the tax code work for them, including what deductions they can take, where to file, or dependents to claim. A new company is now addressing these concerns. The company, AskMyUncleSam is a chatbot that uses AI to provide consumers with answers to tax-related questions and financial inquiries. When you open the bot, it will chat with you about all your tax-related questions and even gets smarter as you use it more. Read more about this innovative app by checking out the original article on VentureBeat.

One of China’s largest online retailers is adding dozens of drone delivery routes to rural villages in 2017. Drones are not just for filming cool videos. I believe that drones will no doubt have a big impact on the business sector and will change the way we do business.

In the U.S., it’s expected we won’t see drone delivery to start gaining ground until 2o20, as the Federal Aviation Administration continues to develop rules and looks to create a national low-altitude air traffic control system solution. It’s currently illegal to fly a drone out of your line of sight in the U.S. without special permission from the FAA.  It is a different story in China, with delivering parcels via drones starting last year. The company is one of the largest online retailers in China, second only to Alibaba. Currently, it is delivering parcels to four provinces—Jiangsu, rural Beijing, Sichuan, and Guangxi. This is exciting news, especially for those in rural areas, and it will be fascinating to see how this develops. Read more about in this article by John Koetsier in Recode.

Assessing the Massive Security Vulnerability of the Internet Of Things.  Businesses love data. With IoT devices connecting consumers in all types of new ways, companies have greater access to that data than ever before. Connected devices are now not only able to track patterns of consumer behavior, but learn from the data as well. Companies can also start using these data-based insights to improve ways to communicate product offerings in a much more targeted way.

While the smart home, or the connected home, may be the way many consumers expericne the IoT, it encompasses exponentially more than that. The IoT is revolutionizing manufacturing, as well as logistics and transportation, and is making inroads into cities and being applied to infrastructure and utility management. With all this advancement, however, comes the risk of security vulnerability. A recently released Deloitte report found that Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks will grow in size and scale in 2017, thanks in part to the growing multiverse of connected things.  Understanding these vulnerabilities is key and this article shared by Tamara McCleary is a must-read.

Photo Credit: Maitri Flickr via Compfight cc

Shelly Kramer is a Principal Analyst and Founding Partner at Futurum Research. A serial entrepreneur with a technology centric focus, she has worked alongside some of the world’s largest brands to embrace disruption and spur innovation, understand and address the realities of the connected customer, and help navigate the process of digital transformation. She brings 20 years' experience as a brand strategist to her work at Futurum, and has deep experience helping global companies with marketing challenges, GTM strategies, messaging development, and driving strategy and digital transformation for B2B brands across multiple verticals. Shelly's coverage areas include Collaboration/CX/SaaS, platforms, ESG, and Cybersecurity, as well as topics and trends related to the Future of Work, the transformation of the workplace and how people and technology are driving that transformation. A transplanted New Yorker, she has learned to love life in the Midwest, and has firsthand experience that some of the most innovative minds and most successful companies in the world also happen to live in “flyover country.”

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