Tagged: technology

Automate already!

From plate no. 180 of Le diverse et artificiose machine Ramelli has given far more complex mechanisms. This one is of intermediate level.

From plate no. 180 of Le diverse et artificiose machine

Automation or controlling something automatically is the use of systematic control system to operate, produce and deliver an output (product or service) with minimal or reduced human intervention.

The biggest benefit of automation is that it saves labor! However, it is also used to save energy and materials and to improve quality, accuracy and precision. Companies – big and small, are adopting automation at the very fundamental level. It is just not helping them save costs on manpower, but also helping them reduce time and waste.

Advantages of Automation:

Productivity

Although many companies hire labor for a up to three shifts to run the business operations for the maximum number of hours, however business still needs to be closed for maintenance and holidays. Automation fulfills the aim of the company by allowing the company to run a business (operations) for 24 hours in a day 7 days in a week and 365 days a year, therefore high productivity. Online or internet banking systems are a clear example.

Quality

Automation eliminates the error associated with a human being. Further, unlike human beings, automated systems, specifically robots do not involve any fatigue, which results in products with uniform quality manufactured at different times. Car manufacturing units are a fine example.

Flexibility

Adding or deleting a new task in an operations or an assembly line requires training with a human operator, however, with the help of automation and with the right use of robotics, systems can be programmed to do any task. This makes any business process more flexible.

Information Accuracy

Adding automated data collection, can allow you to collect key business, production and operation information, improve data accuracy, and reduce your data collection costs. This provides crucial information with the required facts to make the right decisions when it comes to optimizing a process and reducing waste.

Disadvantages:

One of the biggest disadvantages of automation is its high initial setup cost. The automation of a new production or plant typically requires a very large initial investment in comparison with the unit cost of the production, although the cost of automation may be spread among many products and over time.

There are many automation tools and products out there in the market, but one of the most phenomenal and growing technology is – ROBOTICS. It is a branch of engineering and computer science that deals with design, construction, and as well as computer systems for their control, sensory feedback, and information processing. The fundamental technology deals with automated machines such as robots, this is because it can take the place of humans in dangerous environments or manufacturing processes, or resemble humans in appearance, behavior and also cognition. Automation is becoming one of the most essential aspects of any organization. Leaders and managers are starting to think more “automation” i.e. how to automate tasks, steps, process and functions within projects and operations. This has also given birth to a new profession, widely known as automation professionals.

Automation professionals are responsible for solving complex problems in many vital aspects of industry and its processes. The work of automation professionals is critically important to the conservation of the health, safety, and welfare of the organization and also the public, and to the sustainability and enhancement of business and quality of life.

The New Face Of Africa

AfricaAfrica as a continent has been witnessing a dawn of a technology revolution. The rapid change is soon going to affect the entire region as a whole – lives, jobs, economy, relationships, industries and even politics. According to the world leaders, the continent is seeing “a transformation unlike anything humankind has experienced before”.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution and how it is going to affect Africa, was the hot topic of discussion at the World Economic Forum in Davos. Unlike the Third Industrial revolution, when information technology and electronics transformed lives in Africa, the Fourth Industrial Revolution is said to be something that would be a paradigm shift. People in Africa would see the barriers between man and machine dissolve. Africa has been undergoing a digital revolution for the last 15 years and is gradually achieving the standards of the most advanced nations; the Fourth Revolution would dramatically propel this digital growth in the entire continent.

The big question: What does this technology-driven revolution mean for Africa?

Typical and routine blue and white-collar jobs will start becoming automated, which would mean that creativity, IT, agile management and foundational skills will win over traditional know-how. Employers will rely less on traditional knowledge, prioritizing innovation and adaptability instead. High-skilled jobs in the fields of science, technology, engineering and IT will also increase.

What does the government need to do about it?

Collaborate and Innovate: As the governments in Africa continue to aim for rapid economic growth, create good governance systems, technology and business innovation in local economies and the creation of jobs, most governing bodies will continue to encounter many challenges in the delivery of services to citizens, to business, or in relation to intra-governmental operations. The ability of these governments to adapt and drive digital transformation across all segments of society will determine their competitiveness and credibility.

The key is to democratize information and break tradition.

This would mean changing the mindset of the average African citizen. Making them understand the importance of this change and helping them develop better skills. Moreover, as Africa works to shift from a labour-based economy to a knowledge economy, investments in 21st-century education and skills development is no longer an option but a necessity.

Also, governments across Africa need to replace traditional approaches to delivering citizen-centric services with innovative solutions powered by technologies. Things like cloud computing, big data and analytics need to be readily adapted to make governance more effective and meaningful. As the continent continues to invest in digital transformation, civil servants need to be trained on how to optimize these innovations and technology change.

Last but not the least, Africa is seeing a new generation of leadership, that believe in collaboration, openness, the circulation of knowledge, research and the power of information technology, and these leader are confidently pushing the continent further.

We should never forget: If Africa can embrace a world of disruption and change, it will endure. It will also deliver on its promise to be the next “growth engine” of the world and the optimism has seen them embrace technology, and use it as a force for good.

Try Gamification

Try GamificationWe all love playing games. The activity of playing games has been around for quite some time. From simple board games to the early days of electronic video games, such as MARIO or PONG, the desire to achieve pre-determined goals that comes with playing games is programmed in our genes. The drive is the fact that we would either win or lose. Games also put us in a mode of competition and offer a sort of exhilaration.

This need for exhilaration in our day-to-day working life has made businesses come up with a new phenomenon called “Gamification”. It is as simple as it sounds: incorporating game elements into every-day, non-game activities. This simply encourages people to do certain tasks or achieve certain goals but not like a “to-do” tasks list, but more like a game. The rewards are also simple i.e. players are awarded badges, ribbons and points for completing the required tasks or for achieving specific “check-ins”. So the more you win such credentials, the more the probability for recognition and the movement to the next level. The other side to this is that players can compare their stats with their co-workers and the rest of the online community, thus generating competition.

The whole idea is to have fun and incorporate a healthy environment of challenge and competition. So for instance if a business is incorporating such gamification techniques in simple sales driven teams, as a manager, if you feel your team is not achieving the set targets or is low in motivation, try introducing a badge or point system for your sales team. The more the team members accumulate such points for their targets, the more the distinction and recognition they get. The other element to gamification is to make it public amongst teams, so that it generates the spirit of competition and curiosity, which would encourage people to participate, in-turn benefiting the business to achieve their overall goals.

Gamification is also being used as a great tool for customer engagement. Gone are the days of boring advertisements of “Buy 10, Get 1 Free”. Now-a-days businesses are using the same point system to boost customer engagement and loyalty. Businesses are coming up with innovative ways of tracking customer activities and behavior through the mobile apps technology, thereby offering customized ways to gain more points and perks through Gamification. With the help of this new phenomenon, customers are also becoming brand advocates. They are more engaged, more interested and more involved.

Gamification is becoming a major game-changer in the business and corporate environment. Companies are linking this new phenomenon to the overall business goal. It’s a practice that can certainly deliver impressive returns if done properly. With the advent of new technologies and the internet, businesses now also have the opportunity to run rewards/points programs with their customers on a bigger scale. The key is to design a well thought about gamification plan that helps engage and motivate people, increase brand loyalty and last but not the least, help in overall business growth.

Industrialization as a Business Model

IndustrializationWhen we talk about industrialization, we generally think of an assembly-line setup or a factory production environment where people are working on standard processes and functions. In general perspective, we can look at Industrialization as a part of a wider modernization process, where development is closely related with process, technological and innovation. Looking back at the history of Industrialization, we see it as a phase in social and economic change that transformed human groups from an agrarian society into an industrial one.

In a modern day society the definition of Industrialization has gone through a transformation. Businesses are adapting the theory of industrialization and are combining it with strategic management initiatives. The service sector in particular is now being closely linked to the process of Industrialization. The key factor in industrialization is to plan and provision services as an industry process that is subject to industrial optimization procedures, such as standardization, bench marking and quality control.

The reason why the concept of Industrialization came into picture as a business model is because in the year 1972 the service sector suffered from high degree of inefficiency and variation in quality. The reason was that each service offering was treated as an isolated entity or event. There was an anxious need for a system or process that could amalgamate all different elements of service events and standardize the offering. So more like defining and executing repeatable function with predictable result, that is accelerated by technology to achieve far higher levels of productivity. The influence came from the manufacturing sector; where with the help of automation and statistical quality control, better products could be manufactured with consistency and quality. The same theory was applied to the service industry and the results were remarkable. Two apt examples are the case of McDonalds and WalMart.

WalMart in specific has been very instrumental in adopting the Industrialization process, specifically in their supply chain management system, ex. products are always moving and the supply-demand cycles flow almost instantaneously to market demand, with inventories kept at a bare minimum always.

However, after almost a decade of business Industrialization influence, many companies and industries are now facing varied consequences. Things like low employee morale, attrition and a gradual dip in service quality are the outcomes of and industrialized working environment. Customers feel that they are missing that “personal touch” or “human factor” while doing business. Many employees of such industrialized companies feel like working in a very robotic environment where there is great dependability on processes and technology.

Latest developments in Industrialization environment show that companies are now gradually becoming more cautious about personalizing their service offerings. Employees are now been trained and empowered to customize the service encounter to the individual characteristics of customers. So we see a trend where industrialization is now been followed more as a backbone to perform a function, but the emphasis is still on giving that personal or human touch to business and customers.

Technology trends of 2014

Top technology trends of 2014We have entered into an era were technology is taken over our day-to-day lives! Gone are the days when we wished that things were more automated, technology and knowledge was more readily available and people were more internet savvy. As consumers and human beings we are now in a stage where technology has become an integral part of our LIFE. The year 2014 brings with it new trends and new ideas that will pave the path of a future where technology and the internet would be the two most important elements for survival.

Here are the top 5 technology trends of 2014:

Internet for all things: There was a time when we saw our computers, tabs and mobiles seamlessly connected through the internet, but now the future holds greater possibilities – Tvs, cars, glasses, fridges, our keys, the electric meter etc., gradually everything is now been connected through the internet. With the coming of the wi-fi technology, internet is now become more of a necessity, rather than a luxury. All and everything is going to be connect by the internet! These devices will not only be connected, but will also offer high-end contextual relevance and a user-friendly experience, thereby offering more adoption rate.

Augmented reality: Or to put it more simply, connecting the physical world with the virtual world. This is not a futuristic phenomena, but something that is currently taking shape in our day-to-day lives. With the advent of Augmented Reality, we will basically be able to turn the whole world into a digital space where we can use the power of technologies to discover new digital horizons. According to a recent research done by Juniper Research, the market for augmented reality mobile apps is predicted to grow rapidly this year and revenues will reach $5.2 billion by 2017.

3D printing: There was a time when 3D printing was considered an expensive proposition, but with the decline of the cost of 3D printing in the last couple of years, is has now become easy not only for companies but also for private users to take advantage of this new technology. The creative possibilities of this technology has huge potential and possibilities, ranging from architecture to interior design to education and art. 3D printing also holds a great future in industries such as healthcare and manufacturing. Any product that can be seen in the form of a 3D simulation, even before its been designed will help in saving huge costs or research and development.

Wearable devices: The year 2014 would see the coming of wearable technology driven devices. Things like activity bands, smart helmets and the famous Google glass will become a part of our daily lives. There will be a time when our complete body will be interconnected with devices powered by the internet. We have already seen smart wearable watches launched by some of the big mobile giants such as Sumsung. We will also be seeing the Google glasses become more affordable and adaptable by average day-to-day consumer. Technology will also merge with clothing, such as the smart shoes from Adidas – it will have an integrated accelerometer, a gyroscope and Bluetooth, with the aim of motivating the user to exercise.

Electric Cars: This year we will see many national and international car manufacturers, launching full electric car models. Unlike older vehicles, the electric cars of the future will be fully equipped with computers, sensors and wireless connections, allowing cars to know more about the driver – information that could be very useful for car manufacturers. Something that would look similar to the high-tech cars from the Hollywood movie – Total Recall.

Trying to do it the “American way”, in India!

Trying to do it the American way, in India!Though India has been emerging as a hotspot for new ventures and start-ups, but it holds the symbol of being notoriously bureaucratic and a red-taped structure in the global market.

India may be home to many of the largest global outsourcing and IT consulting firms, but attracting American-style entrepreneurism here has been slow or rather sporadic.

The frustrations of setting up or doing business in India include numerous hurdles in licensing and making other filings, and pressure for bribes, which Americans cannot legally give and are not used to.

Due to this reason, many start-ups try to avoid the red tapism by only catering to private clients and by making products that do not need governmental approval. There have also been incidents where business owners have had to adjust business plans quickly to get around such complications.

The other obstacle that American entrepreneurs face in India is to find and retain good employees. The Indian job market is so turbulent that it’s not uncommon for a young person to quit jobs just to get a pay raise somewhere else.

In the case of Rahoul Mehra and Glennis Matthews Mehra, both founders of Saf Labs, a biotechnology trading company in Mumbai: After setting up a business in New York and then moving their base to Mumbai, India, they both soon realized that due to the Indian government delayed biotech funding for its new five-year plan, Saf Labs’ business was eventually going to dry up in India. The Mehras realized they had to move away from the Indian market and focus more on international opportunities.

Well the flip side is that despite such challenges, many American technology entrepreneurs are seeking to pursue the country’s untapped opportunities, even without the influence of a multinational corporation backing them.

With only one motivation: the sheer potential of tapping a population of 1.2 billion people with a stable middle class. They say that if you could do business in India, you could do it anywhere!

Complete article available on NDTV Profit.

How important is “age” in Entrepreneurship?

The younger the betterOften the image of a modern day entrepreneur is someone who is a college dropout with a high inclination towards technology, social media and smartphones – typically a male in his 20s! However, recent study shows that over half of the upcoming entrepreneurs from last year were all 40 and older.

According to the study conducted by Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a nonprofit, entrepreneurs who were over 40, faced “age bias” on the part of investors and clients.

The reason: older entrepreneurs have a tough time getting the attention of investors, especially in the Internet and mobile industry. Many believe that older entrepreneurs—folks who really didn’t grow up with smartphones and social media—don’t have the zeal or intuition that is necessary to make the brilliant viral consumer-tech companies and apps of tomorrow.

The flip side: Younger entrepreneurs, who have never even had a job, find themselves sought after by investors, venture capitalists and all sorts of other sources of capital, apparently because in this new internet savvy economy, young founders make up for their lack of corporate and management experience with a mastery of the new world of technology, therefore attracting interest from investors.

How important is experience and reputation?

If experience and reputation are the foundation of an entrepreneur’s skill set, then age will eventually become a true advantage. One crucial advantage of age is the experience gained from years within one or more industries. Not to mention, building a solid reputation takes years, and older entrepreneurs are at an advantage as they have established reputations within their space.

Innovation has no age requirements!

As we all know that the key element of innovation is to challenge authority and break rules, so today’s youth doesn’t hesitate to question the norms, think outside the box and come up with unthinkable ideas, but such ideas are not the only foundation of a successful enterprise. Its more about translating these innovative ideas into successful ventures, for which you would need to manage teams, understand markets, collaborate and obtain financing, all of which can only be achieved with experience and time.

So the point is that young ideas go hand-in-hand with appropriate industry experience and market knowledge. In the coming years, we will see a shift in the age group of entrepreneurs. Early 30s seems to be the ideal age as it comes with experience, adequate industry knowledge and young mindset.