Why Big Data is a Game Changer for Marketers

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Over the last couple of years Big data has revolutionized businesses in a much bigger way. It has started to make a marked difference in the way marketers think and take decisions. Marketers believe that Big data and analytics are the sure way of surging profits higher and capturing a larger share of the market. With the help of Big data technology they are able to get a 360-degree view of their customers. This is helping the marketers to build robust marketing plans and improve results.

Big data technology is revealing many unknowns to the marketers and hence most of the data friendly companies are seriously planning its implementation. Why not! It has not only enabled to get a full view of the customer insights to make better business strategies but companies can analyze the different set of data and predict results. With such visibility, predictability, and flexibility it is hard to ignore the impact of Big data in business. In fact with it’s implementation, many upheavals have happened and many businesses changed diametrically. There are numerous such examples in diverse industries.
How Big data can make a difference?
A few years back a top marketing executive of a large sized US retailer found the company’s market share being constantly lost to the competitor. One of their major competitors was steadily eating away the market share across a range of lucrative market segments. The company started to combat this with online promotions with improvements in merchandising but even then the competitor went on gaining share of the market. With this incident becoming a threatening issue, the company started delving deeper into it and discovered something far more startling than anything that they could have imagined. Their competitor has made huge investments in their ability to collect, collate, integrate and analyze the data from every sales unit and store. They had been using this data to conduct real world experiments.
Simultaneously, the competitor used the same data to adjust prices in real time. They also started reordering the hot selling items at the right time with the availability of right goods at the right location. What the retailer discovered was a game-changing phenomena that baffled their imagination. They found that their competitor has become a far more nimble organization by constantly analyzing and synthesizing data and circulating it throughout all sections of the organization. This is fairly the reason why the challenge of Big data cannot be ignored and it’s definitely a game changer in the industry.
Big data is not a temporary trend and it is here to stay for quite some time until it changes the way the world thinks, completely. The reason is it has a predictive element in, not only how the customers would behave but in all aspects of business including finance, Human Resources, operations and other realms as well. It is also making a mark in other areas like sports and entertainment to get more engagement.

The key role of data
History says that it’s not only the adoption of technology that made organizations surge their productivity and profitability higher. Rather, their ability to alter the management practices and adopt the change to maximize the potential was more crucial. Research has found out that few industries have an advantage in terms of market incentives to implement Big data and unleash its benefits. It is believed that the era of Big data can create a whole new way of managing things and a renascence of management principles. For organizations, capturing data is important but more important would be to use it diligently and optimize productivity.
Big data is certainly going to be a game changer as it could challenge the companies, using proprietary data, as information is now more readily available. In this aspect few of the industries have an advantage already and few others don’t. For example real estate industry does have information asymmetries like privileged access to buyer’s information and transactional data. It requires significant investment and efforts to get information like ask behavior of buyers and bid information. In recent times the real estate teams are bypassed by permitting the buyers to engage directly with the sellers. Not only real estate but cost and pricing data are now accessible across many industry verticals.
With the advancement of GPS technology, information like clues about competitors’ physical facilities are also available. These satellite details are becoming handy in gleaning insights about business constraints, expansion plans and a plethora of activities. Such loads of information often call for further investment in making them useful and sharing them with the right people at the right time. Thus in many cases these details are getting stuck in the departmental siloes such as engineering, operations or logistics. So the need of the hour is to create an infrastructure not only for data processing and sharing but to gear the whole organization with the speed of the data and the insights shared.

Confronting the challenges
The opportunities are many as Big data is slowly making its way in the business world but there are considerable number of challenges too. Talent acquisition is one of them. A study by Mckinsey estimated that the demand of Big data professionals could outstrip supply by 50% to 60%. It was estimated that by 2018 there would be a need of 140,000 to 190,000 additional Big data specialists. There would be an additional need of 1.5 million managers and analysts with a sharp understanding of the application aspect of Big data.
Along with education and training of the data personnel of companies, there are concerns about data privacy and accessibility at the same time. There would be a surge in the life style of people as prices could become lower with better design of products according to consumers’ needs. This would also call for new open spaces for data storage and emerging security issues as well. There will be a need of new devices to gather data. The IT architectures would be more external environment oriented posing greater risks of intellectual property and security. Talking about the human interface and customer centricity of organizations there would be a sea change in the whole gamut of functioning of organizations. Nevertheless, Big data is a revolutionary technology that has already started impacting and we have to observe the impending changes in business over time.
Courtesy Of Swapnil Bhagwat

WEF The World Human Capital Report 2016 Big Data Visualizations:The Global Economy is Failing 35% of the World’s Talent

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The Global Economy is Failing 35% of the World’s Talent

  • The Human Capital Report 2016 finds that globally only 65% of the world’s talent is being optimized through education, skills development and deployment during people’s lifetimes
  • Finland, Norway and Switzerland hold the top spots, utilizing around 85% of their human capital. Japan leads when it comes to 55 year-olds and over
  • Report aims to assess how public and private sector investments in education and skills can best prepare workforces for the future and how big data and the gig economy might drive greater opportunity for workers

Tianjin, People’s Republic of China, 28 June 2016 – Rich and poor countries alike are missing huge opportunities when it comes to making the most of their populations’ economic potential, with only 65% on average of the world’s talent being optimized during all stages of the working life time, according to the World Economic Forum’s Human Capital Report 2016, which is published today.
The purpose of the report is to help countries assess the outcomes of past and present policies and investments in education and skills and provide guidance on how to prepare the workforce for the future demands of the global economy. In addition to measuring the 130 countries that comprise the Report’s Human Capital Index, it also analyzes a mix of public and private data from online platforms such as Care.com, LinkedIn, Uber and Upwork to generate insights on skills gaps and the potential of the online gig economy.
“Today’s transition to the Fourth Industrial Revolution, combined with a crisis of governance, creates an urgent need for the world’s educators and employers to fundamentally rethink human capital through dialogue and partnerships. The adaptation of educational institutions, labour market policy and workplaces are crucial to growth, equality and social stability,” said Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum.
Download The full Pdf of the report Here.

The Human Capital Index 2016

Across the Index, a total of 19 nations that have tapped 80% of their human capital potential or more. In addition to these 19 countries, 40 countries score between 70% and 80%. A further 38 countries score between 60% and 70%, while 28 countries score between 50% and 60%. Five countries in the Index remain below 50% in 2016.
At the top, Norway (2) and Switzerland (3) are nearly tied and gaining ground onFinland’s top position. All three are effectively utilizing about 85% of their full human capital potential. Japan (4) rises one rank in this year’s Index, with greater potential to be tapped by closing the gender gap. New Zealand (6), the other country in the top 10 from the East Asia and the Pacific region, rises three ranks since last year. Sweden (5) also rises one rank in this year’s Index, slightly outperforming its neighbour Denmark (7). The Netherlands (8) and Belgium (10) maintain their respective rankings while Canada (9) drops five ranks since last year.
Taking a regional perspective, on average only one region—North America—passes the 80% threshold, even though the United States (24) lags its northern neighbour by a considerable margin. Two regions—Western Europe and Eastern Europe and Central Asia—score in the 70% to 80% range and three others—East Asia and the Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean and the Middle East and North Africa—in the 60% to 70% range. Two regions—South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa—have not yet crossed the 60% average threshold.
Western Europe’s three largest economies all fall in the top twenty of the index, led by Germany (11) followed by France (17) and the UK (19). The lower range in the region comprises Italy (34), Portugal (41), Greece (44) and Spain (45). In total, the 28 current member states of the European Union collectively achieve a group average score of 78.48, with 12 member states passing the 80% threshold. The remaining 16 member states all make use of 70% to 80% of their full human capital potential.
The Index covers 22 countries from Eastern Europe and Central Asia. With an overall average score of 75.02, the region ranks in third place globally, after North America and Western Europe. It includes several remarkable success stories with regard to successful human capital potential maximization, including Estonia (15) and Slovenia (16) which both score above the 80% threshold, and the Czech Republic (25), Ukraine (26), the Russian Federation (28), Kazakhstan (29) andPoland (30) all scoring within the top 30. Ukraine’s performance is particularly remarkable relative to its GDP per capita levels.
East Asia and the Pacific scores towards the middle of the range of Human Capital Index results, with an overall average score of 69.75. The best performing countries; Japan (4), Singapore (13), and the Republic of Korea (32) are global strongholds of human capital success, while countries such as Cambodia (100),Lao PDR (106) and Myanmar (109) trail the region despite a relatively solid performance relative to their income levels. China (71) scores near the regional and overall Index average with regard to its human capital performance.
The 24 countries from the Latin America and the Caribbean region score in the middle range of the Index, just behind the East Asia and the Pacific region, with an overall average score of 66.95. With the exception of Cuba (36) and Haiti (111), the gap between the best and worst performers in the region is much smaller than for any other region. Chile (51) and Argentina (56) share similar strengths and weaknesses, passing the 70% overall human capital maximization threshold. By contrast, Brazil (83) is lagging behind the regional average.
The Middle East and North Africa region comprises 15 countries that had enough data for coverage in the Index. Of these, only one—Israel (23)—makes it into the top 30 of the Index. The Gulf states, Bahrain (46), Qatar (66), and the United Arab Emirates (69), outperform the rest of the region in terms of making the best use of their human capital potential. The North African nations of Morocco (98),Tunisia (101) and Algeria (117) make up the lower end of the region’s rankings, ahead of Yemen (129) and Mauritania (130).
The Index covers six countries from the South Asia region: Sri Lanka (50),Bhutan (91), Bangladesh (104), India (105), Nepal (108) and Pakistan (118). The overall average score for the region is 59.92, behind the Middle East and North Africa and ahead of Sub-Saharan Africa, and all but the top two are yet to reach the 60% threshold with regard to optimizing their human capital potential.
In Sub-Saharan Africa, a cluster of countries, including Mauritius (76), Ghana(84), South Africa (88) and Zambia (90) score in the 60–70% range — placing them ahead of the Middle East and North Africa regional average and on a par with the lower half of the Latin American and East Asia and the Pacific regions. Other economies, however, such as Ethiopia (119) and Nigeria (127) face a range of human capital challenges, including low survival rates for basic education. With an overall average score of 55.44, the Sub-Saharan African region is the lowest-ranked region in the Index. In total, the Index covers 26 countries from the region.
Human capital investment and planning can make a difference to a nation’s human capital endowment regardless of where it falls on the global income scale. Creating a virtuous cycle of this nature should be the aim of all countries. That said, there remains a clear correlation between an economy’s income level and its capacity to develop and deploy human capital

Results by Age Group 

One further finding of the Index is the unequal development and deployment of human capital across the age group spectrum. Of the estimated 7.4 billion people that comprised the world’s population at the start of 2016, 26% were aged under 15, a further 16% fell within the 15-24 age group, while 41% fell within the prime working age group of 25-54 year-olds. At the upper end of the world population pyramid, 9% of the world’s people fall within the 55-64 age group and 8% are aged 65 and over. Of these, the Index finds that while the world has developed on average 81% of the human capital potential of under-15s, only 66% of the human capital potential of the next age group up, 15-24, has been similarly harnessed. This group is largely being failed when it comes to preparing them with the relevant skills for a successful education-to-employment transition. Those in the 25-54 group are similarly only making use of on average 63% of their human capital potential while the older two age groups are likewise under-utilized, with an average of 67% utilization in the 55-64 age group dropping to 54% for 65 and overs.

Using Big Data to Understand Skills

“The new platforms and technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution present unprecedented amounts of data with which to complement official statistics, although for now these insights represent particular membership bases, composed of digitally-connected subsets of the populations of selected economies. Through a unique partnership, the Report leverages LinkedIn’s Economic Graph to generate further insights – fully recognizing that unlike international data, these insights have limitations. For example, they provide an overview of a relatively high-skilled, digitally connected subset of the populations of selected economies:
  • Employers and employees need to start thinking about skill bundles, not job titles: While employees and employers often rely on academic degrees and previous job titles to determine fitness for a new role, a key finding in the report reveals that job titles can mean different things in different industries and geographies. The higher the skills overlap between two industries, the easier it is to transfer between them. For example, there is little skills overlap between LinkedIn members with the job title “data analyst” in the market research and oil & energy industries. By contrast, data analysts in the financial services and consumer retail industries exhibit very similar skills.
  • Re-skilling may be easier than we thought: Taking a focus on skills rather than jobs may broaden the talent pool for employers – and create new opportunities for workers. For example, only about 84,000 of LinkedIn’s 430 million members have the job titles “Data Scientist” or “Data Analyst”, a highly in-demand profession for which many employers report shortages. However analysis of the skills reveals an additional 9.7 million members that possess one or more of the primary or sub-skills for Data Scientist and Data Analyst, among which 600,000 have at least five of these skills. While this clearly does not make them data scientists, data such as this provides a wider range of options for developing new talent through a relatively modest amount of supplemental training.
  • Countries need to maximize learning at school and at work: Combining the Human Capital Index findings on skills diversity acquired through education with the LinkedIn findings on skills diversity acquired in the workforce highlights major differences across national boundaries. For example, Norway, Belgium, Spain, Switzerland and Portugal perform well on both skills diversity in both education and the workforce, while Australia and Romania perform relatively poorly on both areas. In the United States and Canada, the education system enables people to enter work with a relatively diverse set of skills, but these same people have less of an opportunity to diversify their skills in the workforce. In other countries, including France, Brazil and Colombia, opportunities to diversify skills by ‘learning on the job’ appear to be stronger than during the education system, where learning appears more concentrated around a narrower set of skills.
  • Understanding data can help countries manage brain drain and gain:Whether driven by declining opportunities within a country, or growing demand within others, in-demand workers go where there is opportunity. Mapping the skills flows between economies offers an unprecedented opportunity for governments, businesses and employees alike to understand skills hotspots in near real-time. Economic Graph data analysed by LinkedIn for the Report shows how countries are gaining or losing in-demand skills. For example, Australia, Chile and the United Arab Emirates are all leading their regions in gaining technology-related skills while countries such Greece—but also Canada and Finland—are losing them.
“Creating economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce is a defining issue of our time,” said Jeff Weiner, Chief Executive Officer, LinkedIn. “We’ve charted the supply, demand, and flow of talent as we’ve mapped the Economic Graph, and we’ve uncovered clear opportunities for governments and employers to capitalize on the potential of their workforce at much higher rates. We’re committed to providing educators, employers, policymakers, and workers with insights, products and services that narrow skills gaps and improve economies.”

Mapping the “Gig Economy”

While the potential and promise of new technologies for enhancing education and lifelong learning has already been well documented, there remains ambiguity around the role of platform technologies when it comes to accelerating and enhancing opportunities for the workforce. Using unique data from LinkedIn as well as public and private data from Uber, Care.com and Upwork, the Report sheds light on the so-called “gig economy” by revealing the diversity and range of platform-enabled work.
The Report finds that although digital formats for connecting people to work are new, the act of ad-hoc work or self-employment is not. With a global average of 13% own-account workers, the world working-age population is already deeply engaged in analogue formats of “gig work”. The Report also finds that while own-account work may be growing, particularly own-account work enabled by digital platforms, digital formats remain a very small portion of own-account work in many economies. For example, of all of LinkedIn’s nearly half a billion members, less than 3% are freelancers. In addition, digital platforms are growing in both the developed, emerging and developing world, where the number of own-account and informal workers are traditionally higher. The highest numbers of freelancers are in the Media, Entertainment & Information, Professional Services and Consumer Industries and in economies such as Italy, Argentina and Colombia. While some of these freelancers are using technology, most are still relying on traditional analogue ways of building relationships and accessing markets to generate returns for their services.
Moreover, digital work platforms can span a range of both high-skilled, high-wage work and low-skilled, low-wage work. Less evident but equally illuminating is the range of skills and wages within some of these platforms. For example, Care.com data shows the pay premium placed on what is seen as more skilled work, such as tutoring, as opposed to traditional care roles. In addition, platforms such as Upwork are seeing their fastest growth in highly-developed, high-wage, specialist skills building on an already strong base in high-skilled work. The age and gender profiles of platform economy workers are highly diverse and do not always follow patterns in the traditional economy. Finally, to the extent that digital talent platforms make large segments of the labour market more easily visible and measurable, often for the first time, they also provide an unprecedented opportunity for smart regulation.
The Report concludes that instead of passive “techno-optimism” or “techo-pessimism”, it is important for policymakers and companies to begin dialogue and action to leverage opportunities and mitigate risks. “The new technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution are creating disruptions to work but they are also providing the tools to rapidly enhance human capital. How business and governments react today will determine which future we end up in. The Forum’s analysis seeks to provide the insights and space for leaders to understand the changes underway and adapt quickly,” said Saadia Zahidi, co-author of the Report and Head of Education, Gender and Work Initiatives.
The Human Capital Index ranks 130 countries on how well they are developing and deploying their human capital, focusing on education, skills and employment. The generational lens used in constructing the index sheds light on age-specific patterns of labour market exclusion and untapped human capital potential. In total, the Human Capital Index covers 46 indicators, using both publicly available data and a limited set of qualitative survey data from the World Economic Forum’s Executive Opinion Survey. Details of the methodology can be found on the Report website.
The Human Capital Index is among the set of knowledge tools provided by the World Economic Forum as part of its System Initiative on Education, Gender and Work. The System Initiative produces analysis and insights focused on forecasting the future of work and skills across countries and industry sectors as well as best practices from businesses that are taking the lead in addressing skills gaps and gender gaps. The System Initiative also creates dialogues and public-private collaboration on education, gender and work in several regions of the world and within industry groups.
The World Economic Forum would like to thank Adecco Group, African Rainbow Minerals, Alcoa, Alghanim Industries, AlixPartners, A.T. Kearney, The Bahrain Economic Development Board, Bank of America, Bloomberg, Hubert Burda Media, Centene Corporation, Chobani, The Coca-Cola Company, EY, GEMS Education, Heidrick & Struggles, Infosys, JLL, Johnson Controls, LinkedIn, ManpowerGroup, Mercer (MMC), Microsoft Corporation, NestlĂ©, Omnicom, Ooredoo, Pearson, PwC, Renault-Nissan Alliance, The Rockefeller Foundation, Saudi Aramco, Siemens, Tata Consultancy Services, Tupperware Brands Corporation, Uber, Workday, WPP and Zain for their invaluable support of the System Initiative on Education, Gender and Work and this Report.
Courtesy of World Economic Forum | Wefreports 2016

The Smart person's Guide : 5 Key Things That You Must Know About Blockchain

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This comprehensive guide covers everything you need to know about the blockchain, the innovative technology that powers Bitcoin, Litecoin, and other cryptocurrencies.

The blockchain is powerful technology that enables Bitcoin, Litecoin, Dogecoin, and other virtual currencies to be open, anonymous, and secure.
The code also empowers countless innovations beyond cryptocurrency. The blockchain is a database of details about every Bitcoin transaction. Often referred to as a "public ledger," the log contains metadata about when and how each transaction occurred. 

The ledger is publicly accessible through APIs and torrent sites. To prevent tampering with current and past transactions, the database is cryptographically secured. Encryption allows developers to trust the transaction history and build applications from and around transaction information.

Because the blockchain can be confusing, TechRepublic has compiled this guide to help business technology professionals get up to speed quickly. Blockchain innovation iterates rapidly, so our "living" guide will be continuously updated to help provide the most contemporary information about the technology.

Executive summary

    • What it is: The blockchain is a cryptographically secure index of every Bitcoin transaction. Blockchain technology is also used to enable a number of public and private virtual currencies, such as Litecoin and Ethereum.
    • Why it matters: Over time, cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin may fade in and out of fashion. The blockchain is intended to provide a tamper-proof record of transaction metadata, regardless of transaction type.
    • Who it affects: Everyone who spends money. Bitcoin evangelists argue that because blockchain-based currencies are based on code, not governments, the code is more reliable and fair than traditional monetary systems.
    • When it's happening: The blockchain and Bitcoin were coded and released to the public in a white paper by mysterious developer Satoshi Nakamoto in 2008. The currency hit the mainstream in 2012 and peaked in value in 2013.
    • How to access the blockchain: The blockchain API is available atblockchain.info, and can be downloaded using Bittorrent (a similarly named but unrelated technology) on most major torrent sites.

            What it is

            The blockchain is a record of every Bitcoin transaction. The name comes from the method by which Bitcoin is unlocked and available to be mined by the public. The code releases nodes in 1 MB chunks, or "blocks," approximately every 10 minutes. Every coin, and every transaction related to each coin, is logged. Because the blockchain is available to anyone and contains metadata similar to a bank statement, the code is often referred to as a "public ledger." 
            The database is cryptographically secure and the chain is reliable and can be used to develop applications and protocols that require transparency and complete security. The primary advantage of money—like dollars, euros, and Bitcoin—is that the currency is understood by everyone, yet can be controlled by individuals or institutions. The blockchain, and Bitcoin, offers the additional benefit of transparency. Code, rather than a government, dictates the supply of Bitcoin. In the summary for his white paper Nakamoto explained:
            [Bitcoin is] an ongoing chain of hash-based proof-of-work, forming a record that cannot be changed without redoing the proof-of-work. The longest chain not only serves as proof of the sequence of events witnessed, but proof that it came from the largest pool of CPU power. As long as a majority of CPU power is controlled by nodes that are not cooperating to attack the network, they'll generate the longest chain and outpace attackers.

            Image: Satoshi Nakamoto

            Why it matters

            Virtual currencies offer an alternative to government-issued money. These currencies are exchanged like cash for goods and services. They can also be converted easily by a number of services for traditional currency like dollars, pounds, and euros. Because transaction information is obfuscated, cryptocurrency enables legal, extralegal, and illegal behavior. Using Bitcoin, it's easy to buy pizza, train tickets, stolen data, drugs, and weapons.
            The blockchain is, in theory, future-proof and can be used by private companies and individuals to build private financial networks. This means that a large enterprise could build a financial system internally for use by employees or external vendors. Though most countries require tax to be collected from income, taxing company-to-company virtual currency transactions is tricky.
            The blockchain can also be used as an identity system. Onename andKeybase use the blockchain to generate verifiable identification, like a national ID or driver's license.
            Additional resources

            Who it affects

            Well-funded startups also use the blockchain. Because the blockchain is data-rich, secure, and offers unprecedented transparency the code can be used as the building block (pun intended) for numerous modern, and future, technologies and startup companies. Etherium, for example, is a blockchain startup that helps enterprise companies develop private chains and private currencies. Mycelium builds physical point-of-sale systems and debit cards for cryptocurrency.
            Corporations, small businesses, and individuals all need to be aware of the blockchain. Because the blockchain allows financial transactions to occur anonymously, the technology has empowered the growth of questionable, sometimes illegal, behavior. In recent years ransomware has become a popular method of extorting consumers. 
            Black markets have exploded in popularity. These markets exist on the Dark Web and allow hackers to buy and sell stolen data, zero-day exploits, drugs, weapons, and humans. The United Nations, the FBI, and other law enforcement agencies attempt to track illicit Dark Web transactions, but Bitcoin-based markets continue to flourish.
            Additional resources

            When it's happening

            The blockchain has been available since 2008 and is employed now by millions of users. The great irony of the blockchain is that while Bitcoin transactions can be anonymous, every transaction is logged and can be viewed in a simple web browser. Blockchain.info streams real-time transaction information and contains copious information about personal coin exchanges, Dark Web uses, real-estate firms, and even music streaming services that rely on the blockchain to verify media ownership rights.
            Additional resources
            How to access the blockchain
            The most common method of accessing the blockchain is by using the API, located at https://blockchain.info/api. The API defines several types of calls, including transaction details, wallet creation, storage methods, and current Bitcoin market and trading data.
            The chain is a multi-gigabyte (and growing) file and can be downloaded locally, using BitTorrent. It's updated daily and can be downloaded as a torrent or magnet file.
            Courtesy of Dan Patterson

            Agriculture 3.0 : How the IoT is creating the Internet of Food 'Precision Farming'

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            Agribusiness is being digitised by IoT sensors and the cloud 

            Moo-ve over, runners and joggers – you're not the only ones who are wearing aFitbitJawbone or the Vivofit. Fujitsu has come up with its 'Akisai' cloud for agribusiness, of which the centrepiece is undoubtedly the connected cow.
            When cows are in heat, they walk more, so by attaching pedometers to them farmers can identify which ones are ready for breeding. This cloud-based Akisai platform – Fujitsu's attempt at Software as a Service (SaaS) to increase efficiency and modernise agriculture – could replace farmers with data scientists.

            Precision farming

            They're calling it 'precision farming'. Just as in industry, business and wider society, the food industry is quickly embracing the very latest Internet of Things devices and big data innovations. By collecting more and more data on their livestock, crops and on growing conditions, yields can not only be controlled, but predicted.
            The seed-bed is becoming a test-bed for some of the latest tech, with autonomous planters, artificial intelligence and cloud computing all helping an increasingly digital agribusiness to plough a new furrow in FarmTech. The end goal? An Internet of Food where everything is produced at the most efficient level possible, tracked, and traced to its destination

            Crop sensors

            As well as cows, Akisai deals in rice production and vegetables. On its Aizu-Wakamatsu Akisai Plant Factory in Fukushima Prefecture, Japan, technicians have created a self-contained, fully controlled greenhouse inside an old semi-conductor plant.
            "Data is collected from sensors that provide information on things like soil temperature, humidity, light levels and rainfall," says Richard Marquardt, spokesperson at Fujitsu Japan in Tokyo. "This data enables farmers to access accurate information on growing conditions so they can implement changes to increase yields." However, it's what happens to that data that's the magic ingredient.

            Cloud farms

            "We're performing big data analytics on the data gathered from the sensors, and using Microsoft's Azure cloud for the IoT system analytics," says Takao Mizutani, Director of the IoT Business Division, Network Services Business Unit at Fujitsu in Tokyo. Calculations in the cloud precisely control the atmosphere – and, crucially, predict the exact yield of the crop – by regulating temperature, moisture levels, and even the active ingredients included in very specific amounts of liquid fertilisers.
            "Akisai also uses machine learning to get new insights from the past growing data," adds Mizutani, with data on previous yields automatically informing how the next crop is handled. Akisai has also been used to reduce the amount of pesticides used in tomato growing.

            Remote sensing

            As well as reducing pesticide use, new tech is being used to save water. Hahn Wines in California's drought-hit Santa Lucia Highlands has turned to unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) – remote-sensing drones – to monitor air quality and take images of vine density. Combine that with similar sensors found in Akisai – such as temperature, humidity and soil moisture – and the farmer knows exactly how much water the vines need.
            "The drone is a flying computer and has the artificial intelligence to make the best possible decisions in-flight to collect consistent and accurate data every time," says Patrick Lohman, VP of Partnerships at PrecisionHawk, which provides Hahn Wines with its PrecisionHawk Lancaster UAV. In an almost completely automated system, the drone sends images and readings back to a drone data mapping and cloud analytics platform called DataMapper for calculations and data analysis.

            Autonomous planters

            Monitoring how crops are doing, and what they need, is one thing, but what about the actual planting? That's also being streamlined as farms get networked. Using GPS, John Deere already sells automated planters that can run at 10mph and autonomously plant 24 rows of seeds to a depth of exactly 1.5-inches, and plant them 3-inches apart. All the farmer does is use the SeedStar app on aniPad, where real-time readouts of the planters' progress are viewable.

            Productivity priorities

            With planters able to take measurements and transmit data, the key ingredient in smart farming becomes the SaaS platform. Business application software company SAP has developed SAP Vehicle Insights, which collates all the data collected on the farm and introduces unstructured data, such as weather information and imaging from satellites.
            "It makes big data into smart data," says Matthias Aurin, SAP software development architect at SAP SE (smart farms). "It integrates all the data available – from sensors and connected machines, external weather information, satellite images, information from drones, and past growing information – and transforms it into valuable business data to help the farmer prioritise."

            Resource billing

            For instance, the system can identify which fields need irrigation, but if there's rain predicted, it informs the farmer. "Farmers can measure the profitability of fields, and see why some fields are more profitable than others," says Aurin. "You can reduce the amount of fertiliser according to exactly what's needed."
            The SAP system can also show the availability of a farmer's favoured sub-contractors, but the fleet management part of the system helps them, too. Since it collects telematics data from connected vehicles – on speed, fuel consumption, and exactly what they're doing – a contractor can see precisely how much fertiliser and fuel is being used, enabling resource-related billing.

            An Internet of Food?

            Most of this tech is aimed at producing greater amounts of food more cheaply. "Increased yields at the farm level through other Internet of Things applications – such as soil moisture monitoring, weather pattern analytics, and the use of drones – should also increase the supply of food," says Isabel Chapman, Principal Analyst at Machina Research.
            But Internet of Things applications are also being used to streamline the 'cold chain' in an effort to make imported, globally-traded foodstuffs – such as prawns, and vegetables that spoil quickly – more reliable. By fitting a SIM card to a refrigerated container, the owner can view its location and see a digital audit trail of any delays or breakdowns. It's much like a black box recorder on a plane.
            "IoT applications provide real-time audit trails, notifications, and monitoring of shipments from producer to retailer," says Chapman. "Each partner in the chain can have access to all information as the shipment is in transit."
            From networked farms and climate sensors to activity trackers and drones, the IoT, big data and the cloud is quickly finding fertile ground.
            Courtesy of TechRadar
            Image Credits: Fujitsu, PrecisionHawk, Jamie Carter

            Failure Is Our Only option Class of 2013: Why I'm Counting on You to Fail, And Fail Harder - DJ Patil, Chief Data Scientist, The Whitehouse

            Posted On // 1 comment
            I’d like to talk about something we rarely celebrate: failure. And why we are counting on you to fail. Now bear with me, and you’ll see where I’m going.
            Last year I was given the opportunity of a lifetime -- to give the commencement speech at the program where I both trained and was a faculty member.
            Fail Harder Now, Succeed Easier Later
            After the speech a few things happened that I never expected that really impacted me. The first was to being able to watch a close friend for over a decade receive their Ph.D. on the same stage. Second was being able to interact with students and their family afterwards. If there is one thing that will make you hopeful for our future, it's listening to their hopes, dreams, and challenges. 
            The raw enthusiasm for life and hunger for improving the world will turn the biggest doubter into a believer. The biggest thing that I didn't expect has been the notes and stories of people who took the message to heart and changed their career path to focus on what they love. I don't think there are words that can express how that made me feel.
            Unfortunately, no recording of the talk made it unscathed, but here's the transcript of my 2012 commencement speech -- Failure is our only option.

            Failure is our only option

            Have you ever been in one of those moments where you realized that gee, what’s the harm if I take the quick shortcut, who’s going to notice? (of course none of you did anything like that while here at Maryland) Well, I decided to take the opportunity to give myself an edge. As a Silicon Valley tech guy, I decided to use technology and the world to help me prepare for this commencement address. So, I asked people on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Quora to figure out what wise words you should be imparted with and also what they remember from their graduation speakers. You know what most people remember? Nothing! Zilch! Nada!
            So knowing this, I realized, I can say anything I want! Although, I’m sure someone will post this on YouTube. But seriously, as I got feedback from around the world and wracked my brain about what to say, one theme began to emerge.

            On your day of such great accomplishment, I’d like to talk about something we rarely celebrate: failure. And why we are counting on you to fail. Now bear with me, and you’ll see where I’m going.
            We’re all products of failure. You don’t remember it, but your parents definitely do. From the first time you rolled over, to your first steps. These successes were a culmination of failures. Need further proof? Make sure to ask them over dinner to recount your potty training.
            The funny thing is you can read all about me in the bio or my LinkedIn profile and you’ll see that I received my Ph.D in Applied Math from here 11 years ago. I’ve worked for the Department of Defense and been to Kazakhstan. But you won’t see all the failures that made up the journey. What you can’t see from my Facebook or LinkedIn page are what’s behind the most important moments of success all the failures.
            While growing up in California, to simply say I was bad at Math would have been an understatement. My freshman year of high school, I was kicked out of my algebra class and had to spend the summer retaking it. This (unfortunately) would become my regular paradigm for the next few years. By the time high school graduation came around, two things happened to me.

            First, I almost didn’t graduate. For the record, I did actually graduate, but it was only because a very kind administrator took pity on me and changed my failing grade in chemistry to a passing one.
            Second, I got a girlfriend. Since I didn’t get into any of the colleges I liked, I opted to go to the local Junior College with her. Do you remember that moment when you first got here and tried to figure out what classes you’re supposed to take? Well, I had a winning strategy. I enrolled in all the same classes my she was taking.
            One problem, the first class was Calculus. Wow, did I get my ass kicked that first day. It was then I realized that I wasn’t just stupid; I was really stupid.
            As I looked around at everyone else nodding along with the instructor (including my girlfriend), it dawned on me, I hadn’t failed because of the teachers or the material. No, I failed because I didn’t try. I didn’t even put my self in a position to fail.
            I was fundamentally afraid of being uncomfortable and having to address the failure that comes with it.

            To me it was like when you get to the top of the high dive, walk out the edge, looking down that the clear blue water (you can even see the dark lines at the bottom of the pool) everyone telling you to jump, and then running back down the steps. I couldn’t commit.
            So what did I do about my Calculus class? I committed. Instead of dropping out (my usual method), I went straight to the local library and checked out all the high school math books I could find. I then spent the next week going through them. And it was awesome. Suddenly I was failing at a problem, figuring out what I did wrong, and then course correcting. This feeling of being able to iterate was very new to me.
            Now, five weeks later that same girlfriend asked me one afternoon why I was spending so much time on my math homework. It was then that I uttered the fateful words that I will never forget:
            “I don’t know – It’s not like I’m going to become a math major or something”
            Much to my great surprise, I ended up becoming a Math major. (Actually, I think my parents are still surprised). Then the same thing happened when I got here to the University of Maryland for my graduate work. I got my ass kicked by everyone, again. I failed my first graduate class and even got the 2 lowest score on my first Ph.D. qualifying exam. (The lowest score was actually by a guy who didn’t even show up.) I really, really wanted to quit, but that wouldn’t be the uncomfortable path.

            So I stayed in the game by failing, getting back up, and continuing to push forward. It was probably one of the toughest and loneliest years of my life. The next time the qualifiers came around, however, I had the highest scores.
            The big take away I have from this is that tenacity and failure go hand in hand. Without both, you can’t move forward.
            Now it’s easy to say go forth and fail! But that’s not really that useful. What’s most important is how you fail. The best method is to fail fast. To help explain it, I want to tell you about one of my most recent experiences at a company called LinkedIn. Some of you may have gotten a few emails from us…
            LinkedIn wasn’t the first social network in a very competitive space nor did we know exactly where we were going. It was an extremely tough fight. What allowed us to succeed was our mantra of failing fast in order to survive. We would build products quickly, test them out, many of them failing, then learning about went wrong, and then trying again. In fact, if you looked at all the projects, code, design, and people’s time that was invested into building the company most people would be shocked by how much didn’t work.

            As my good friend Reid Hoffman, one of the founders of LinkedIn, says: Entrepreneurship is jumping off a cliff and assembling a plane on the way down.
            I think that’s a great analogy. First because it’s a statement that you have to fully commit by throwing yourself at the problem. Second, to build that plane in time, you have to be comfortable failing, learning and repeating the cycle until you accomplish your goal.
            If there is one thing that you take away today, remember this – fail quickly, don’t fail slow. I know it can sound a bit contrarian or even conflicting, but your goal is to move from a path of eventual failure to a path of success through iteration.
            For the clichĂ©, but very necessary sports analogy – you are aiming for a home-run by taking as many chances at bat as you can.

            It’s essential you take risks, just make sure you have put yourself in a position to fail quickly. Failing slow is painful for you and painful for your loved ones to watch. It’s like watching your best friend being in a relationship that is clearly doomed, but they just won’t listen.
            So what’s the world’s advice (remember I cheated) on how to achieve success though failure?
            First and foremost, find your passion and work on what you love. There is a good chance many of you don’t know what your passion is yet. (That’s okay, after all, it too me over a decade to find out math is my passion). In fact, if you analyze LinkedIn’s data, the trends show that your generation will change jobs more times than any previous generation. That’s great in my opinion! You should try lots of things out. Why? Once you find your passion, you’ll never give up, take no for an answer, or have the patience for those that stand in your way. You’ll become an entrepreneur in your own right, by making your passion a reality.
            Now before we go on, we need to clear up something on entrepreneurship. Some people think entrepreneurship means going off and doing a startup. I think those are people who have either watched The Social Network one too many times or are following Facebook’s stock price a little too closely.
            My definition of entrepreneurship is “finding what you believe in, and creating something meaningful by failing at it over and over again until you eventually figure out how to make it a reality.”
            When a few of us had the idea to build the first digital library in Iraq, it wasn’t because we wanted to profit at it or to have an IPO, it was because there was a need. People were 30 years out of date (to put that in context, 30 years is just when the computer mouse was becoming a reality). And to figure out how to make it work, we had to try a massive number of things (most that didn’t work). But it became our passion and we refused to accept defeat. Today that digital library is one of the cornerstones of the Iraqi education system.
            Secondly, surround yourself with people you value and those who value you. Just like your body responds poorly to junk food (ok maybe in 10 years when it responds poorly to junk food), your mind and energy levels also respond to the company you keep. Keep the company of those that inspire you to do better, the people that aren’t afraid to tell you the unvarnished truth. It will hurt to hear, but it will allow you to iterate faster. Embrace those that will pick you up when you are down, because they will become your greatest allies in life.

            Thirdly, experience other people’s lives and continue to share your own. You’ve already done this. I remember many late nights cutting across the Chapel on the way to Wawa being in deep conversations with people who would become my closest friends and trusted advisors. You all know what I’m talking about. As you went through this journey, you opened up to each other. You shared your dreams, passions, heartaches and failures with those around you. Don’t let that go away. That’s where you learned about the human condition and what it means to have true relationships. The virtual ones will keep you in contact, but they don’t mean anything unless you have a common foundation of shared experiences.
            Lastly, strive to regularly put yourself in uncomfortable situations.
            The world is changing as we speak. Right now there are two people in a garage with a dog (don’t ask me why there is a dog, but there always seems to be one) creating the next iPhone, Facebook, Google. Those of you that are graduating today with your undergraduate degrees, you are the first generation to go through your entire social years (puberty onwards) with Facebook. During your entire educational experience you’ve had access to Google, mobile phones, and the Internet. And yet already during your time in college you have seen the introduction of the tablet. The notion of using a desktop or a laptop is already outdated to any preschooler. Given this rapid pace of change, the only advice that I can give you to stay on top of the curve is to keeplearning. This means putting yourself in uncomfortable situations where you fail and subsequently teaching yourself new skills as a result.
            Why is this so important?
            Class of 2012, you are all about to embark on your next great journey. While many of you will travel far and wide, we are all counting on you to fail fast. While our society is moving forward faster than ever before, we are also facing a world with massive challenges.
            - Our health care system is going through a great debate.
            - Clean water is rapidly becoming a luxury.
            - We know the importance of education, but the majority of the world is restricted from it.
            - The capital and human costs associated with keeping our nation safe continues to rise
            - And, we have a disparity in the rights, both moral and physical, for all humans both here and abroad.
            The solutions to these problems won’t come from just having debates, relying on technology, or even worse, pushing the inevitable on to the next generation. The resolutions to our challenges will come through the process of trying, failing quickly, and then trying again with increased resolve.
            Finally, a graduation speech wouldn’t be complete without this most critical advice. Wear sunscreen. Yes, it’s the advice that is given over and over, but there is truth in it. If you’re stuck in bed with a cold, or a bad back, the world won’t stop and wait for you. In fact, many of the best leaders I know, take religious care of their bodies. The race is long and your body has to last for it.
            There you have it – my advice to you. We love to say things like “Failure is not an option”. But believe me, the most important thing the University of Maryland taught me is, “Failure, is our only option.”
            So if you can only remember one thing from this speech; remember: Every failure is an opportunity to succeed. Fail fast, don’t fail slow.
            Class of 2012 – this shared experience at college will always bind you together, and on this fantastic day remember that your success will be determined by how rapidly you learn from you failures.
            Congratulations class of 2012, I wish you a future of fast failures! May you go forth and fail so that we can all succeed!