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supply chain

Managing the global and local supply chain

The term glocal, used to describe global and local actions together, is used in several ways by business today. Many people supporting the local movement, such as local food advocates and those proposing ways to use local business for community building, suggest that some business activities should always consider transportation to the end market, including supplies in the supply chain. In an effort to reduce carbon footprint associated with shipping costs, the closer to home a built, manufactured, or grown product can be sold and used, the better. Global communication allows language, culture, news, and other exchanges of human knowledge and expression to be freely shared across cultures.

Maintaining a local business across the supply chain is quite difficult to do, even for artisans and those in the cottage industries, but for many the needed changes that will come with the local movement are worth the extra effort and expense to source goods locally. But for business, the use of glocal also suggests the cultural influences in attempting a new product launch into a global market.

A new startup develops a prototype and finds manufacturing partners that meet needs for productivity, supply, cost, and collaboration. When the product is ready for launch into other markets, local cultures will dictate how a product should be advertised, marketed, presented, and sold, as well as legal and regulatory issues. A piece of wearable tech designed to help women get pregnant by using biomarkers will be marketed differently in Kenya, Japan, and Iceland, for example.

Having specialists on board who are attending to anticipated glocal needs for a product launch early in the planning stages is important, but at the time of product launch, local partners will probably need to become involved. Continue reading

stratecta

Virtual Retail intensifies customer experience

As with most other industries, the ever-moving evolution of technology has had a direct, and impressive impact on retail. The way that consumers shop, purchase, and receive the product points to the fact that it is a radically different world today than it was a short generation ago.

Virtual Shopping. According to Business Insider, “eBay launched what it has dubbed the first-ever virtual reality department store in partnership with Australian department store Myer.” eBay Australia is utilizing “shopticals” that allow customers to navigate the store, and to purchase items using just their line-of-sight. It’s the first of its kind, but definitely not the last.

Virtual Try-Ons. Retail companies have implemented tech services that allow consumers to see themselves in apparel, without even trying it on. One simple photo upload, and instead of visiting a store or even ordering samples, the customer can see themselves in as many different glasses oroutfits as they wish, all from the comfort of their couch. This extends far beyond just apparel though. For example, today’s consumer need not fret over the wrong color choice for their home when they can see it first.

Virtual Experience. Now, in 37 states AT&T customers can benefit from AT&T’s partnership with Samsung Electronics. At 133 stores, “Samsung Gear VR by Oculus lets users virtually experience a Carnival Cruise.” That’s right, you can go shopping for new headphones, and experience a cruise while you’re at it.

The aforementioned are only a few examples that point to the wide-ranging implications of a retail industry that is being drastically altered by both the technology that is the child of modern science, as well as the expectations of the tech-savvy consumer.

However companies have to invest in Cybersecurity Tools in order to improve security and privacy for customers. For instance, the scope of corporate data is widening, and cyber criminals are finding more reasons and ways to undermine that data for profit. Cybercrime is a quickly-growing area of crime due to the anonymity and convenience it provides. So it’s understandable to find the Internet unpredictable and rife with risk.

A case study from the Internet Society offers us acumen in this regard. In 2016, they interviewed over 3000 technology partners from both the public and private sectors on the current drivers of change in their sectors. Their goal is generate recommendations on increasing trust in the Internet, despite news of data breaches and surveillance. Clearly one of the sectors they focus most closely on is cybersecurity.

One outlook is that companies are increasingly depending on multiple companies to handle their security services. Any divide in security is a potential backdoor for cybercrime. That only leaves openings for unexpected costs and lost customers. You want them to trust that you have protected them from data breaches by first protecting yourself.

You also want to protect your employees. The US Office of Personnel Management had records on 21.5 million past, present, and potential employees, stolen from under them. This could happen to an organization due to an employee giving out the info or a program installed that wasn’t detectable until it was already active. Being backed up by an all-encompassing security company can greatly mitigate this risk.

nanofarm

Small scale farming and Nanofarming improving

How are we going to feed ourselves in 2050, when the population of the world reaches 9.7 billion? How are we going to manage resources, when the majority of fresh water in the world goes to farming, and nearly half of farm produce ends up in landfills? Food waste of various types is the leading cause of methane gas production from landfills, which is contributing to climate change and impacting our access to fresh water. Across the world, being overweight (rich countries) and underweight (poor countries) is causing loss of life and human potential, and an enormous burden on health care systems. Will a kitchen still be used?

These strangely circular global problems can be broken down into these: unequal land and water resources; systems of agriculture that will require infrastructure development for storage and shipping of food in the developing world; systems of food shopping and eating behaviors in the developed world that perpetuates waste and obesity.  It might seem like a simple problem with simple solutions, to have half of the world ill from poor nutrition and vitamin deficiency, and half dying of diseases caused by obesity. Even stranger to have people going hungry while half the food we produce goes to waste. But these are problems of different systems, and changes in one system, while impactful, do not necessarily cause change across the board.

The challenges of agriculture, infrastructure development, storage and shipping of food, and nutrition in the developing world, are related systems that can be affected by resources, research, and hard work. In the developed world, resources, research, and hard work are also needed to affect change. But what is it that we need to change? Patterns of behavior, cultural standards, entitlement, habit? Are we all just spoiled brats who want what we want, and if it isn’t right, we throw it away in a snit? Will we have to face a global Armageddon on fresh strawberries and the decimation of the artisanal cheese industry before we start showing some care about our food?

We can leave the whole charged issue of spoiled brat/snit to the sociologists. The rest of us want to do better. We want to eat healthy food, and we want to eat ugly squash and tomatoes to save them from an afterlife in the landfill, covered with flies and making methane gas. We don’t want to throw away food, but we also don’t want to overeat, and after two weeks in the fridge, the Chinese food take out really needs to go. We would all probably eat less meat and more quinoa if we had a clue how to cook it, or what you were supposed to do with it in reference to a pot of chili. And we all want to support local organic farmers and reduce the carbon footprint of monoculture farms, but some mornings we just need to grab a muffin and go, and we don’t care how far that muffin had to travel to get into our hands.

These are guilt-laden conundrums, in which we take on responsibility for the fate of the planet as a direct consequence of how far our coffee beans were forced to travel. It’s no wonder that eating, tasting, growing, a simple cob of corn comes with a mantle of blame and quiet desperation before we even begin to douse it in butter and salt. It’s ridiculous, but it’s us.

But individual changes in behavior, while helpful, are not going to change a system that is unsuited for the current population growth v. resources issue as we understand it. At this time, most of us have kitchens in our homes or apartments. We shop for groceries in the grocery store, and take food home to cook for meals. We eat out in restaurants or fast food places a couple of times a week. In this system, farmers are going bankrupt, farm workers who pick produce are starving, fast food and restaurant workers are living below the poverty line, and grocery stores are showing huge profits. In addition, much of the food we buy is better travelled than we are. Those crazy jet-setting grapes, that arrive in the store after a long ocean voyage from South America!

Food waste happens in the current system in several places: at the farms, unattractive fresh fruits and veggies are not even picked–too expensive, and no market. At the grocery store, the nice-looking stuff goes fast, while the asymmetrical squash sits until it is past prime.  And when those lovely grapes are on sale, we take home a huge bag, and after several days of gorging on grapes, we let the rest of the bag sit until it starts to form raisins, even in the fridge, and we throw it away. There are several nonprofit groups who are developing systems to deal with food waste, including rescuing ugly produce and delivering it to food banks. While these groups are doing good work, they are not changing the system that is producing the problem. Continue reading

predictive analysis

Predictive Analysis and human behaviour

Predictive Analytics is the branch of machine learning that is putting all the data to work. It takes large data sets and uses mathematical algorithms to form predictive models. Then statistical methods such as regression analysis are used to find the variables that influence the models. Finally, machine learning platforms use those predictive models to find patterns in the past that can allow predictions of patterns in the future.

Human behavior can be seen as a series of patterns that repeat, both individually and as a group, over time. This statistical fact doesn’t negate the possibility of free will; it allows us the use of our free will to repeat patterns of behavior that are most comfortable to us, considering the social, cultural, and family pressures that also influence us.

The analysis of patterns of behavior in humans as a group has been the work of historians, who can look back at great sweeps of time and see patterns that repeat. With the amount of data being collected now through online interactions and geotracking tools such as GPS, machine learning platforms are engaged in how to mine that huge amount of data for the very specific data needed to answer questions.

Predicting the future has been an art in which intuition based on expert knowledge and experience was used to make a predictive analysis. Those who are considered masters in their work combine experience with knowledge, and can see patterns from the past and predict patterns into the future. But we are constrained by the depth and breadth of experience and knowledge we can acquire; we are further constrained by unconscious bias and other human attributes. Continue reading

stratecta

New technologies for improving healthcare

Various thought leaders have opined that we are in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, as seen by the fact that new technologies are disrupting all industries, disciplines, and economies. By 2020, the digital universe will be 44 trillion gigabytes. This amount is doubling every two years.  Big Data will become so large that artificial intelligence (AI) will make sense of it for us. Already Google has launched the Google Deepmind Health project to scrutinize the data of patients’ medical records and provide better and faster service.

Mitchell Weiss, a robotics safety expert, identified the top three trends impacting occupational health and safety in 2017. They involve complexity of automation, collaborative automation, and complexity of user interface. Along with this there is an increase use of Big Data, artificial intelligence, and IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things) to do medical work.

Internet of Things (IoT) — the ability to connect any device to the Internet through an on and off switch — is a major component of telemedicine, which allows healthcare professionals to communicate with people long distance and provide consultation, diagnosis and treatment of various medical conditions. IOT Telemedicine, which has been gaining in popularity, is now expanding globally.

A Brief Primer on the Internet of Things

Internet of Things is a concept that can apply to things like washing machines, coffee makers, headphones, even parts of machines. The research and advisory firm Gartner estimates  that by 2020, more than 26 billion devices will be connected to IoT. Some analysts say the figure could go as high as 100 billion. In only a short time, our society will be a network of connected “things.” And these “things” include the robots and other devices that are connected to the Internet and can therefore consult with physicians and patients thousands of miles away.

Internet of Things in Healthcare Continue reading

security

Overcoming The False Hope of a Ransomware Attack (Part 2)

Welcome back to the second half of our two-part article on how ransomware is built to deliver false hope in order to scam businesses harder than hackers have ever scammed before. While ransomware was once grudgingly praised for the innovative integration of cryptography into malware, as it turns out, this is mostly just an illusion. Last time we talked about the rising threat of ransomware, how malware has a long tradition of destroying files, and the way ransomware works once it attacks your computer. Join us again today as we pick up right where we left off with encryption, how it works, and why ransomware uses it.

Ransomware Encryption

The big confusion about ransomware is the use of encryption. At first, it was lauded as one of the cleverest upgrades to malware since email attachments but in reality, the only reason encryption is used instead of full-on deletion is to create false hope and the possibility that companies will pay up.

Here’s how it works: Encryption relies on a key, the thing that determines how the files will be encrypted. One of the simplest encryption keys is the backward alphabet where A=Z, B=Y, C=X, and so on. A more complex version might use a specific page of a specific book where A=first letter, etc. The point of the encryption key is that as long as it is sufficiently complicated or impossible to predict, you cannot decrypt anything that has been encrypted without the original key.

When your files are encrypted through ransomware, it’s important to understand that modern encryption software can randomly generate one-time nonsense keys that cannot be decrypted and, if the key is lost, so too is anything that was encrypted with it. This means that unless you get the exact key used to wreck your files, there’s simply no way you’ll be able to get them back. Some hackers will promise to give you the key and a decryption tool but experience has revealed the majority of these promises to be outright lies.

Trusting Hackers

Continue reading