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5 ways the cloud is reshaping business in 2015

(Business) Everyone knows about the cloud, but do you know how it is reshaping business right before our eyes?

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Cloud technologies are changing our world

The cloud has become widely adopted by brands of all size as a money saving expense and globe-busting tool. With cloud technologies, staff can be scattered all over the nation, yet effectively working in one spot, and it has changed the way companies operate.

The changes have come quickly and the intensity of these changes is ramping up. So what is on the horizon, and how can you benefit?

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Kira Makagon, RingCentral’s EVP of Innovation points out five ways that cloud technologies are reshaping the future of business, in her own words below:

1. Pay-as-You-Grow

Cloud is enabling businesses to grow faster than traditional on-premise infrastructure could accommodate. From a management perspective, setting up new locations and users on a cloud-based system is as simple as installing software or an app and making a few clicks to configure specific settings. Features and user access privileges can be added or revoked from a single management console in seconds, without having to rely on time-consuming and costly outside technical support.

In addition to offering a flexible and scalable technology, ease of use and minimal management, cloud based business communication solutions are a pay-as-you-grow. Subscription fees are based on the number of users and features, rather than a blanket monthly fee that you must pay regardless of whether you use the full capacity or feature set of your plan. And, an all-inclusive cloud-based system eliminates the need for multiple vendors, which adds even more savings.

2. Eliminating Geographic Costs

Over the last decade, we’ve seen a tremendous shift in how and where employees work. Broadband Internet accessibility, Wi-Fi and cellular technology have ushered in an explosion in mobility. Many employees are no longer confined to an office, or even a specific building, and now enjoy the freedom to work quite literally anywhere at any time – the corner coffee shop at 6 a.m., at home after midnight or on the beach while soaking up the midday sun.

At the same time, companies have leveraged the power of cloud technology to branch out, setting up distributed office locations while still connecting staff with shared resources like cloud-based productivity software, document storage and collaboration suites, not to mention an entire industry of apps that have emerged to fulfill specific niche needs.

3. Reapproaching Integration

Adding new locations or new users can be very costly and time-consuming, and existing technologies often don’t integrate. That leaves companies forced to pay exorbitant fees for disparate systems that don’t scale and require specialized third-party assistance to maintain, all while taxing internal IT resources and the bottom line.

Adding new features is cumbersome and expensive, and complex systems require massive IT involvement and investment to maintain. Conventional landlines simply don’t work at the pace of modern businesses. Cloud solutions are enabling businesses to integrate without the land-locked ties and costly means of integrating at scale.

4. Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) Challenges

Add in the mobility challenge and things really get messy. Companies can either provide devices to employees and assume the responsibility for device management and cost, or allow employees to use their own. But, BYOD environments can pose a major security threat if not handled properly.

Not only does it require employees to give up their personal identity (their cell phone number) to business associates – something they’d never do with a home phone or personal email address – BYOD is also difficult to control from a cost standpoint. For BYOD environments, cloud communication solutions are designed for mobility, with apps that keep business contacts, conversations and data usage separate from users’ personal information for added security.

Now, employees can have one number that works to reach them anywhere – no more dialing three numbers and still not getting through.

5. Changing the Perception of IT

Cloud communication solutions can have a powerful impact on raising the overall perception of IT within the organization. Often IT is viewed as a cost center – a necessity of doing business in the modern age, tasked with keeping the systems up and running to enable the “real” business drivers, like sales, marketing, manufacturing and customer service, to do what they do best.

However, by initiating strategy to evaluate and switch to a cloud-based communications platform that saves time and money, and supports the business growth objectives of the organization, IT can transform from a cost center into a value center. Elevating IT’s position as a strategic business component allows any company to adopt a more integrated growth strategy with all departments and services contributing directly to grow the bottom line.

The American Genius is news, insights, tools, and inspiration for business owners and professionals. AG condenses information on technology, business, social media, startups, economics and more, so you don’t have to.

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AI technology is using facial recognition to hire the “right” people

(TECH NEWS) Artificial intelligence (AI) technology has made its way into the hiring process and while the intentions are good, I vote we proceed with extreme caution.

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Artificial intelligence technology has made its way into the hiring process and while the intentions are good, I vote we proceed with extreme caution.

A UK based consumer goods giant, Unilever, is just one of several UK companies who have begun using AI technology to sort through initial job candidates. The goal of this technology is to increase the number of candidates whom a company can interview at the initial stages of the hiring process and to improve response time for those candidates.

The AI, developed by American company Hirevue, analyzes a candidate’s language, tone, and facial expression during a video interview. Hirevue insists that their product is different from traditional facial recognition technologies because it analyzes far more data points.

Hirevue’s chief technology officer, Loren Larsen, says, “We get about 25,000 data points from 15 minutes of video per candidate. The text, the audio and the video come together to give us a very clear analysis and rich data set of how someone is responding, the emotions and cognitions they go through.”
This data is then used to rank candidates on a scale of 1 to 100 against a database of traits identified in previously successful candidates.

There are two main flaws to this system. First, unless this AI technology is pulling from a huge diverse data pool it could be unintentionally discriminating against people without even being aware of it. Human bias is not as easy to remove from the equation as AI proponents would have you believe.

As an example, how does this AI handle people who are disabled or whose facial expressions that read differently than the general population, such as people with Down Syndrome or those who have survived traumatic facial injuries?

Second, seeking to hire someone who possess the same qualities as the person who was previously successful at a role is shortsighted. There are many ways to accomplish the same task with above average results. Companies who adopt this low-risk mentality could be missing out on great opportunities long-term. You will never know what actually works best if you don’t try.

The big question here is whether or not AI technology is ready to influence the job market on this scale.

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The ‘move fast and break things’ trend is finally over

(TECH NEWS) Time is running out for this decade — and for a popular Big Tech phrase responsible for a lot of collateral damage. What’s next?

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Time is running out for the decade. With less than 20 days left, it’s got us reflecting on the journeys of different economic sectors in the United States. And no industry has had a more tumultuous time of it than Big Tech.

A lot has changed in ten years. For starters, Americans have become increasingly disillusioned with Silicon Valley. The Pew Research Center found that only 50 percent of Americans believe technology firms have a positive effect on the country. That statistic is not too bad on its own, but that’s down 21 percent from only four years ago. Gallup found in 2019 that 48 percent of Americans also want more regulations on Big Tech. And The New York Times called the 2010s as “the decade Big Tech lost its way”.

Maybe that’s why big wigs at these tech firms have been quietly ditching a concept that was their Golden Rule in the early part of the decade: Move Fast and Break Things.

This concept is a modern take on the adage “you can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs.” For most of these firms, any innovation justified some of the collateral damage within its wake. And this scrappy “build it now and worry about it later” philosophy was a favorite of not just Facebook and Twitter, but also of many venture capital firms too.

But not anymore. Outlets from Forbes to HBR are saying this doesn’t work for Big Tech in the 2020s. Here are some reasons why it’s over.

Stability

The Move Fast and Break Things manta encouraged devs to push their coding changes to go live and let the chips fall where they may. But bugs pile up. Enter technical debt.

“Technical debt happens every time you do things that might get you closer to your goal now but create problems that you’ll have to fix later,” said The Quantified VC in an article on Medium. “As you move fast and break things, you will certainly accumulate technical debt.”

If enough technical debt comes into play, any new line of code could be the thing that topples a firm like a house of cards. And now that the consumer is used to tech in their daily routines, interruptions in service are extremely bad news for everyone.

As Mark Zuckerburg himself said it: “When you build something that you don’t have to fix 10 times, you can move forward on top of what you’ve built.”

Trust

To get back some of the trust that has ebbed from Big Tech over the years, firms can’t just keep with the Move Fast and Break Things status quo.

“The public will continue to grow weary of perceived abuses by tech companies, and will favor businesses that address economic, social, and environmental problems,” said Hemant Taneja in his article for Harvard Business Review. “Minimum viable products must be replaced by minimum virtuous products that … build in guards against potential harms.”

It’s not about chasing the bottom dollar at the cost of the consumer. Losing trust will hurt any company if left unchecked for long.

Innovation

There’s a cap on advancement in our current technological state. It’s called Moore’s Law. And we’re rapidly approaching the theoretical limits of it.

“When you understand the fundamental technology that underlies a product or service, you can move quickly, trying out nearly endless permutations until you arrive at an optimized solution. That’s often far more effective than a more planned, deliberate approach,” said Greg Satell in his article for HBR.

Soon enough, Big Tech will be in relatively new waters with quantum computing, biofeedback and AI. There’s no way to move as fast as these technology firms have in the past. And even if they could, should they?

Big Tech has experienced major growing pains since the dawn of our new Millenium. And now that some firms are entering their 20s, there’s a choice to be made. Continue to grow up or keep using an idea that’s worn out it’s welcome with the consumer and that has no guarantee will work with future technologies.

Maybe that’s why Facebook’s motto is now “Move Fast with Stable Infrastructure.”

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Computer vision helps AI create a recipe from just a photo

(TECH NEWS) It’s so hard to find the right recipe for that beautiful meal you saw on tv or online. Well computer vision helps AI recreate it from a picture!

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Ever seen at a photo of a delicious looking meal on Instagram and wondered how the heck to make that? Now there’s an AI for that, kind of.

Facebook’s AI research lab has been developing a system that can analyze a photo of food and then create a recipe. So, is Facebook trying to take on all the food bloggers of the world now too?

Well, not exactly, the AI is part of an ongoing effort to teach AI how to see and then understand the visual world. Food is just a fun and challenging training exercise. They have been referring to it as “inverse cooking.”

According to Facebook, “The “inverse cooking” system uses computer vision, technology that extracts information from digital images and videos to give computers a high level of understanding of the visual world,”

The concept of computer vision isn’t new. Computer vision is the guiding force behind mobile apps that can identify something just by snapping a picture. If you’ve ever taken a photo of your credit card on an app instead of typing out all the numbers, then you’ve seen computer vision in action.

Facebook researchers insist that this is no ordinary computer vision because their system uses two networks to arrive at the solution, therefore increasing accuracy. According to Facebook research scientist Michal Drozdzal, the system works by dividing the problem into two parts. A neutral network works to identify ingredients that are visible in the image, while the second network pulls a recipe from a kind of database.

These two networks have been the key to researcher’s success with more complicated dishes where you can’t necessarily see every ingredient. Of course, the tech team hasn’t stepped foot in the kitchen yet, so the jury is still out.

This sounds neat and all, but why should you care if the computer is learning how to cook?

Research projects like this one carry AI technology a long way. As the AI gets smarter and expands its limits, researchers are able to conceptualize new ways to put the technology to use in our everyday lives. For now, AI like this is saving you the trouble of typing out your entire credit card number, but someday it could analyze images on a much grander scale.

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