Google beyond Search, Build Networks, Not Bots, Facebook’s Vision for the Year 2026 + more

To start off, take a look at this article from CNET that hints at the different areas that Google’s parent company, Alphabet, is investing in to find new Blue Ocean for the company.  While search continues to be a cash cow, Alphabet is wary enough to realize that at any time disruption could occur and that diversification is required.  The question is, how much leeway will Alphabet’s investors give the company; profit missed expectations in Q1 and if that trend continues, we may see a shift in the appetite of Alphabet’s shareholders.

Construction may not be the first thing to come to mind when we think of big data and analytics, but this article from Forbes highlights how the industry is being transformed by Hadoop and data lakes.  The constant tension between architects, engineers, and owners may find a happy medium through the use of big data.  When working through the complexity of large construction projects, firms need access to both two and three dimensional models, financial and corporate data, schedules, pipelines, weather, and much more.  The industry is now working directly with tech firms to develop specific tools to enable hoped for efficiencies.

re/code adds its voice to the Bot conversation this week with the position that when focused on who consumes your content or product; one should first focus on building the network of users behind that product before venturing into the arena of bots.  Why?  If we look at the number of apps out there that are downloaded and used once and then never used a second time, it’s staggering – some 75% of all apps suffer from this.  Why?  Because the companies that release them don’t create the ecosystem to hook users into using them by making them feel part of a network.  If companies start building bots for other people’s platforms without learning their lesson from failures in single use apps, they will fail to engage their audience again.  With that, take a moment to look at a dive into what chatbots reveal about our own shortcoming.

Will we see algorithms replace the RFP process familiar to so many of us?   That’s the aim of Agency Geek in the marketing vertical. By having agencies fill out a survey and submit a profile, Agency Geek hopes to leverage its 100-point algorithm to skip a step in the process as a start and identify agencies that fit the customer’s needs before the search process even begins.  While it’ll be interesting to see if the company finds success with this method in the marketing vertical, I think it again points to a great use for big data and analytics in the future.

There’s a great excerpt from Algorithms to Live By: the Computer Science of Human Decisions at Wired this week – how computer science reveals exactly how to organize closets.  It’s not a short read, but it has some of the better analogies when it comes to computer science which is easily accessible for non-technical people out there.  The book itself looks promising and I’ll have to add it to the bottom of my current stack.  The top of that stack right now?  The Power of Thanks, but more on that in another week or three.

If you think that you already share more information than you should with Facebook, check out the vision Zuckerberg laid out at the F8 conference and you’re in for an unpleasant surprise.  That said, with the way we continue to opt in and vary how we connect with others, it will become the norm with relative ease.  As part of that, we can expect a world where everyone has an internet connection, where we will choose who our “personal tribe” is not by proximity but by choice, and Facebook will have an ecosystem where their platform in the backbone of the business to consumer space in our new semi-virtual world.  Speaking of our coming virtual world, Motherboard has a good look at how photogrammetric virtual reality is where it’s at.  Then there’s this article about Magic Leap, the world’s most secretive start up.

That’s enough for this week, although if you’ve got some extra time, there are two good articles from HBR this week on the secret history of agile innovation and why unicorns are struggling, as well as Fortune’s article on why Richard Branson thinks you should hire from within and let employees work from home, and last James Baldwin on the creative process and the artist’s responsibility society.

Since this has been an algorithm heavy week, it seems only fitting to end with an excellent talk from Kevin Slavin on how algorithms shape our world.

Why A Virtual Reality Web May Never Happen, As Hospitals Go Digital Human Stories Get Left Behind, In Praise of the Incomplete Leader, The Panama Papers + more

I wrote a bit last week about Virtual Reality and how it is starting to impact our world.  Fastco Design has a quick read on why we may never see our existing web experience translate to that medium.  While demos exist of “what could be” today, no designers or developers are lining up to actually help create the experience.  The user experience of the web has been defined and solved, and while that UX may evolve over time, it has the same principles at its core.  As it stands today, the VR web is just transferring a very two-dimensional experience to a three-dimensional (even possibly four-dimensional) space.  It’s not immersive; it’s not what we might expect from a world with immersive 2-D experiences like Second Life and The Sims.  It seems like looking at those 2-D immersive experiences is getting in the way of a new UX for virtual reality.  That said, we know that’s what people expect, so let’s give it to them and then direct the crazy ones, the misfits, and the rebels who can re-imagine our world as a four-dimensional virtual one to focus on so they can break us out of the box that is our existing browsing experience.

Also from Fastco Designs is an article about how Kik thinks Chatbots will kill webpages.  Continuing the story of Tay, the “teen” AI/bot that Microsoft unveiled a few weeks ago just to pull down and how bots are seen as critical both in China and by the larger tech companies in the US, Kik, a messaging app, has a new platform which allows anyone to create a chatbot.  In Kik’s paradigm, the bots are “summoned” to provide contextual information and are created by the users themselves (or will people pay $.99 to buy a bot that someone else has created?).  The belief is that bots are going to solve the problems with the App ecosystem, but unfortunately it doesn’t’ look like Kik is set to use bots for what is most beneficial: machine learning.  Chatbots, apparently, are going to be everywhere.

One of the tougher nuts to crack of the past few years has been creating an interface for medical records that keeps up with the changers other industries are seeing, again from a UX standpoint.  I’ve known quite a few entrepreneurs who have tried to crack the “gamification” nut that seems to serve so many other thought-based industries well, however they’ve failed.   I think that is in part due to the high level of government regulations and requirements, but this article from STAT points to another issue: the interface used for tracking patient records gets in the way (in this case EPIC), and in fact reduces the most complex portion of a medical practitioner’s diagnosis, the emotional side, to information that is simply lost in translation.

Business Insider has a great piece this week on how we should forget about unicorns, and that investors are looking for “cockroach” startups now.  The premise is that unicorns are mythical creatures that are appearing to be more over-valued than not and have a huge amount of risk due to market fluctuations.  Cockroaches, on the other hand, are resilient. After all, the legend has it that only the cockroaches would survive a nuclear war.

We all have high expectations of our leaders, and as well others have high expectations of us as leaders.  The belief is that we’re flawless, that we can do no wrong, and that we have it all figured out.   The reality is, no one does, and we’re all pushing ourselves to grow every day.  Being a lifelong learner goes hand in hand with being a good leader, and we have to realize that with a lifetime of learning comes a lifetime of growth.  HBR outlines four components in their framework of distributed leadership: sensemaking, relating, visioning, and inventing.  The article from HBR also provides a framework for evaluating where you are in relation to those skills and can be used to diagnose your team or organization as well.

It’s hard to think of the Harvard Business Review without thinking of Peter Drucker, the management guru of the latter 20th century.  Success had a piece back in 2010 that captured his career and how he created what is modern management theory that is as relevant today.  Looking back for that article was inspired by a brief collection of ten Drucker quotes I stumbled upon from Entrepreneur.   While you’re digesting that, take a moment to read what Forbes thinks are the lessons we can learn from Disney’s staggering CEO succession failure.

Along the lines of privacy, WhatsApp just turned on encryption for a billion people this week without even blinking an eye.  All the news of late has been about the face-off between Apple and the FBI, and while that has been getting a lot of news cycles, other tech firms have been quietly addressing security issues on their platforms, I guess while we’re all distracted.

The Panama Papers.  I’m sure every one of you has heard something in the news the last week about these.  There are numerous articles out there, but what fascinates me is how close to 400 journalists kept quiet about it for a full year before the story broke.  Take your pick on who you want to read: 6 things you need to know about the bombshell Panama Papers leak from Salon, The Panama Papers and SF’s housing crisis from 48hills, McAfee’s opinion that “a time bomb is hidden beneath the Panama Papers” from Business Insider, A Primer on the ‘Panama Papers’ Offshore Revelations from Bloomberg, or What you need to know about the #PanamaPapers investigation from PBS.

Joi Ito, head of the MIT Media Lab, has an excellent TED talk that speaks to how, in order to innovate, we have to be focused on building quickly and improving constantly.  This doesn’t apply just to software, but to hardware, manufacturing, bioengineering, and more.

The Coming $1.5 Trillion Shift in Healthcare, How AI Is Feeding China’s Internet Dragon, Why You Should Try That Crazy Virtual Reality Headset + more

For those of us who spend time in the world of Healthcare, with the consolidation of payers, the promulgation of wearables consumers long to have interface with systems, and ongoing government reforms (with potentially massive ones in the pipes), it is hard for anyone in the vertical to sort out a strategy for the next few months, much less the next few years.  strategy+business digs deep into this arena this week, and their work is definitely worth the read.

Things are looking rocky at at least one of the many companies that roll up under Alphabet (nee Google) as this article details the conflict between Tony Fadell, the executive in charge of (and founder who sold) Nest.  Strife has broken out between Fadell and Dropcam’s Greg Duffy and Fadell might not jus tbe a bad boss – Nest is looking like a one hit wonder with software glitches that are plaguing their hardware.  While Fadell may have designed good products at Apple, he seems to have lost sight of Steve Jobs’ drive beauty not only on the outside of a product, but within and in the software that drives it.

I’ve been bringing up the effects and change being stoked by Artificial Intelligence of late and with good reason – it’s been heavy in the news cycles and it’s important for us all to be abreast of what’s coming next both for business and as consumers.  To that point, AI is being strongly leveraged in China to drive not only fun app uses but is also making existing products smarter and driving developers in their ideation.  Deep learning is being used in a variety of apps and platforms to identify and give meaning to abstract patterns that exist in the vast quantities of data being inputted.  It’s one of the ways we can expect to see data analytics evolve over the next few years, and a lot of that evolution is being driven in China.

Our friends at Goldman Sachs this week in their “What We’re Thinking” series share a few thoughts on the state of Tech financing and Innovation – check out the video if you have a chance.

Many of us spend a good portion of our time in airports and we can expect our experiences there streamlined through wayfinding and other tools soon.

There is a great article from late February about what’s next in computing by Chris Dixon that I just stumbled upon.  Dixon does a great job of talking about the product cycle of progress in the computing industry, and lays out what’s impacting the future today: small, cheap, and ubiquitous hardware, software and the golden age of AI, and the new generation of computers being created by that combination.

If I’m going to spend this much time on Artificial Intelligence, I guess I should give Virtual Reality its due.  The Wall Street Journal has a nice look at VR and how it can be leveraged in a slew of applications, not just for gaming.  Along with that, The Medium digs into how Oculus Rift cracked the impossible design of VR.  Along with that is the current state of Augmented Reality as seen at Build this week.

As a follow up to last week, I had shared a few articles about Tay, Microsoft’s venture into an AI bot that went a bit … awry.  Business Week has a great article on what drove Microsoft to create Tay, how bots, Satya Nadella’s first unique idea since taking over as CEO, can change how we interact with technology, and what those experiences might look and feel (conversations as a platform), built in deep learning.  Nadella event went on to demo bots at this week’s Build 2016 conference with solid results.

Last is a futuristic vision of the age of holograms brought to us by TED.  It involves holographic teleportation at around the eleven minute mark, which is a practical application of all that VR/AR tech discussed above that is here today.

Microsoft Woes, 24 Lessons on Technology, Innovation, Media and Business from SXSW 2016, Culture Is Not the Culprit + more

If you didn’t see the news, at a launch party last week Microsoft threw a bash in San Francisco at a game developer’s conference.   This is totally incongruous with the firm’s ongoing efforts to encourage women to work in the tech industry.  Being an ex-Softie, I’m not surprised that this happened but absolutely ashamed that it did.  While still “viewed” as a part of the gaming culture (an outdated view given the high number of game players that are women), it’s truly troubling for a company of Microsoft’s size and influence to continue to foster a culture where this is possible.  What made it worse was how the head of Xbox then addressed how this affected the company’s appearance without calling out the underlying issue.   There’s been an understandable outcry as a result.

In addition to that, Microsoft launched and deleted within 24 hours a “teen girl” AI named Tay after the internet made it racist in little time.  Now, arguably, it wasn’t a true AI and it learned from what was tweeted at it.  Cleverbot had a similar issue a few years ago, but not as quickly and with such results as what happened with Tay.  There are quite a few articles on this one, including from MarketWatch, Slate, The Telegraph, and The Guardian to name a few.  I should warn you that the internet took Tay down the path of racism, holocaust denial, and a number of other paths before you read the articles. Along with that, though, is this article from the Wall Street Journal about the infancy of AI.

As the title implies, 24 Lessons is a summary article from The Medium about the key themes from South by Southwest this year – many we’ve already discussed, some that are new, and some that are novel.

There’s an interesting piece this week from HBR on how, while most companies try to fix culture when they get into trouble, in the end the leaders of those organizations realize changes to culture by putting new processes or structures in place to address the tough issues a business is facing.  The authors cite conversations with Doug Baker, Richard Anderson, Alan Mulally, and Dan Vasella to illustrate their points, and time and again it came down to changing the processes at the company that brought about the culture the leaders desired.

One developer.  Eleven lines of Code.  One broken internet.  That almost happened this week.

Goldman Sachs put out a good summary on Blockchain and how it could disrupt everything that is a good follow on for previous articles I’ve shared.  This one is a pdf report and is from their Emerging Theme Radar so it delves into a number of other topics as well, including how the Cloud can help cure cancer, another coming flash crash, and space one again being the new frontier.

The on-demand app economy we’ve seen thrive with Uber and AirBNB may not be one that translates everywhere after all.  That said, things are starting to heat up between Lyft and Uber.

If you’ve not heard of Domo, take a moment to read this piece on the data analytics startup and why they’ve been running in stealth mode so long.  They’ve just announced a new app called The Business Cloud that takes all of the data that Domo is really good at importing from other apps and puts it all into a slick, useable interface that allows users to see what anyone else in their company is working on.  It’s early days, but we might finally have a dashboard that pulls all the data into one easily digestible place.

Have you wondered what Alphabet is and what the impetus was behind creating it?  Fast Company has outlined that in this recent article as to the why that drove the restructuring and what we might expect to see come from it.

Last, take a few minutes to meet the dazzling flying machines of the future.

Passwords Are Dead, The Amazon Tax/Dropbox’s Exodus from the Amazon Cloud, When Teamwork Works Best + more

It’s an information security heavy week this week and with good reason.  Back in 2014, a Russian crime ring stole more than 1.2 billion passwords, and ever since we are regularly hearing stories of further thefts and breaches.  It’s not surprising, then, that there has been a push for  multifactor authentication.  Re/code digs into that this week, citing a recent op-ed by Barack Obama in the Wall Street Journal.  I think we’re all aware, however, of the need for multifactor authentication these days, and we’re seeing our technology add that ability as it advances.  Along with that, however, are the risks faced by the utility industry, how AI and other technology can advance and change the landscape of information security (we can only hope that AI will be as ethical as the Siemens Systems 4004 that was featured in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory), and other factors we can see the continued growth in information security and why so many white hat hackers are active today.  The top concern of CIOs at public and private institutions alike these days is information security, which is also why we’re seeing so many CISOs being added to the C-suite.

I’ve linked a few other articles in the past about the vulnerability of medical devices as the Internet of Things continues to grow and more devices become connected.  This article in Wired delves into pacemakers in particular, but not only from their vulnerability, but also their lack of transparency when it comes to the code used to operate them.  The author is an atypical user for a pacemaker and the standard code inhibited her ability to resume her normal lifestyle.  As she notes, providing “security through obscurity” isn’t the best way to reassure your users of the safety of your device and offer little opportunity for an easy fix for people who may be outliers in their usage.

This is an interesting glimpse into some of the machine learning work that Facebook is doing.  What is machine learning, you ask?  This is a good basic overview of what it is, here’s how it fits in to search engine result optimization and how you explain it to non-CS minded people.

I mentioned last week how Google’s AI DeepMind had won the first two matches against human competitors and shared some articles on what that meant, and this week The Verge interviewed DeepMind’s founder, Demis Hassabis on how AI will shape the future.  Hassabis believes that AIs best future use is in advancing science faster.  It’ll be interesting to see how AI impacts both labor markets and research in the next decade or two.  Wired may give us a glimpse into what that experience will be like as well.

Safety in the cloud is a concern that often has to be overcome when we talk to our customers about whether to move their infrastructure to a cloud based solution.  What comes along with that push for the more secure infrastructure provided by the cloud is the tax for it – for example, the Amazon tax, or cost of having Amazon (or others) host your data for you.  It makes sense, depending on the size of your enterprise, to leverage Amazon’s economy of scale.  What happens, though, when your demand outpaces the availability and the scalability of Amazon, not to mention when the cost of Amazon’s economy doesn’t scale?  Dropbox’s recent exodus from the Amazon cloud is case in point of a company outgrowing the capacity and cost benefits of using a third party provider.  That said, Apple just shifted to Google for some of their cloud hosting as well.  Amazon has dominated in this arena for the better part of a decade, but competitors large and small are coming out looking for a way to unseat the empire.

We wouldn’t think of it this way, but GE is acting more and more like a startup these days, albeit a 124 year old startup.  Jeff Immelt is and has been driving that culture and is starting to see his bets into the Internet of Things start to pay off.

TechCrunch has an interesting dig into how Sindustry is creating the next big tech companies and how those companies are being valued.  They seem to be the unicorns inside and out of Silicon Valley that are burning out – “PlentyofFish, an online dating site, sold to Match for $575 million. WeedMaps, a cannabis dispensary directory, is valued at $300 million. And Ticketfly, a live-music ticket seller, recently sold for $450 million to Pandora.”  $300 million valuation for a map where marijuana can be bought legally?  In great part this is being driven by the shift of millennials from wanting products to wanting experiences and as well the devaluation of the “nuclear family” within American society.  There’s a whole lot of thought out there about all the various dating apps out there and how they are changing society and culture.  Then there is the excitement that came out of CES in January around the Sindustry applications around Virtual Reality.  It’s an inescapable that we as leaders need to adapt to these new market demands and also decide what business we’re willing to pursue and what business pushes our own ethical boundaries too far.

So, when DOES teamwork work best?  Harvard Business Review thinks that it is when top performers are rewarded, and rewarded well.  Companies have attempted to reward teams based on the performance of the whole and have discovered that that model just doesn’t work … again and again.  By recognizing top performers you will drive the performance of all, and in the end, everyone will benefit.  Along those lines though, we should talk a little about leadership.  Most times when you see Organizational Design practitioners brought in to “fix” ongoing organizational issues, it’s due to not a lack of leadership, but poor leadership all around – and yes, these can be two different things (although one often overlaps the other).  Sometimes organizations can succeed in spite of their leadership, but it will only last so long.  One of the fundamentals, a loyal and intelligent workforce, will eventually lose their loyalty and stop caring without effective leaders.  So great organizations are the result of great leadership.  Why?  Because leaders are the shapers of culture and organizations will die on the vine if change isn’t managed well by its leaders.  Trust is a foundational part of any organization and is instrumental in any change initiative an organization drives. If a  leader doesn’t have a hand on the tiller of the boat, organizations will lose focus and perspective.

Being a manager takes a set of skills that are clearly identifiable and trainable; leadership skills, while straightforward, are not as natural or “simple.”  Leadership is a combination of caring, comfort with ambiguity, persistence, communication, negotiation skills, political astuteness, humor, level-headedness, engagement, challenging, self-awareness, and future focus.  Observation of how a leader acts will tell you as much if not more about that leader than who they say they are – again, coming back to leading by example.  That said, this seems common sense to us – leadership isn’t mystical, it comes down to a few fundamentals: vision, credibility, adaptability, and (most importantly) courage.  I’ve spoken before about the difference between management, leadership, and transformational leadership (management is about the what we’re going to do, leadership about the why, and transformational leadership is about the organization that is going to be and the how to get there).  Along with any form of leadership, aside from the usual suspects like strategy, ROI, our people, et cetera, we have to have our own fundamental definition of what leadership means to us … and that definition is going to be different for every leader.  That definition will then help guide us in defining roles, fundamental direction, and  identify and explore strengths and weaknesses.  So leaders must develop their own leadership philosophy.  If you’ve not defined it for yourself, it’s only a matter of time before it is defined for you and you are removed from leadership.

Rocket Ships, Transforming how retail banking works,How Does In-Flight Wi-Fi Really Work? + more

Many of us have heard much of Elon Musk’s aspirations around commercializing space flight with his company SpaceX, little has been known about Jeff Bezos’ own passion and aspirations around rocket ships.  This week, the New York Times gave us a look into his company,  Blue Origin, and while it is just a start, it seems like exciting things are to come from Bezos and the commercial space race should amp up a few notches in the near term.

Slack has gotten a lot of press of late, with its irreverent CEO and how it is extending its reach and new users at a rapid pace – over 2.3 million daily users at this point.  Arstechnica looks at how Slack got started (modifying IRC so non-technical people wouldn’t find it to be “a pain in the ass”), the desire to change how we work so we can all be virtual, what the transition to Slack was like for the author, the myth of increased productivity, and many other topics.

ZDNet takes a look at the rise of IoT hacking and the implication for security and solutions being pursued.  It’s a good look at how cyberattackers are exploiting any weakness or vulnerability they can find in the enterprise and as we see the growth of BYOD across companies as well as the numerous devices that can and do connect to enterprise networks, those attackers are using anything and everything they can get to to access and exploit networks.  The author suggests asking three key questions when evaluating existing and new assets that have access into your company’s network: what is connected, where is it, and what is it transmitting. That start to fill in the gaps when deciding what the proper protocols are and hopefully uncovering the unknown unknowns that exist in a firm’s network.

Retail banking has gone through a few bumps in the past decade and has struggled to keep up with changes in technology and the market.  TechCrunch puts some thought into what that will take to transform how retail banking works, from going all-in on mobile, the need to cross-sell and up-sell, act as a virtual financial advisor, and focusing on letting the data drive the business.  One thing is true: unless banks start shifting and adapting to accommodate the digitalization of consumer’s lifestyles, they won’t last in the long run.  Along with that, they have another article around the broken world of mobile payments and how to fix it.

I’ve posted several times about Unicorns and how they are and aren’t flaming out, what may or may not be happening from a bubble standpoint, and Bloomberg this week has some more insight into what’s happening from a mutual fund standpoint and how different mutual funds who have invested in various Unicorns are now viewing those investments.

If you’ve not heard of it, Google’s A.I. program AlphaGo has beaten another ‘Go’ champion, and it looks like it is on the way to claim the overall victory in the humans vs. A.I. tournament.  Rolling Stone has a two-part special report on the artificial intelligence revolution that is long but worth the time to digest – Part One is here, Part Two here.  Then there’s how augmented and virtual reality are being used to change how doctors treat patients and the potential there.

Facebook is eating the world.  Or so the Columbia Journalism Review states.  I’ll just leave that there.

Many startup companies make light of how easy it is to sell to big companies, and many of those start ups are here and gone before the ink is dry on those quotes because what sales they do make don’t necessarily have longevity.  Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce (that little company that no one thought would last in the late 90s) thinks the opposite is true: selling to Enterprise isn’t something that should be taken lightly and is something that takes time and focused effort, not just word-of-mouth.  In this article from strategy+business, Benioff explains why.   The contrast to it is Dropbox, which isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, but it seems like an incongruent comparison, as Salesforce is strictly Enterprise based, whereas Dropbox is heavily focused in the consumer space as well (and finds a lot of its traction resulting from that).

Last, we’ve all suffered the woes of lackluster in-flight Wi-Fi from the likes of GoGo.  I’ve always been a bit curious as to how in-flight Wi-Fi really works, and this week The Points Guy posted an article answering exactly that, making it so I didn’t have to go and do any pesky research myself.

Digital Disruption, Not Quite Ready for the (Fourth) Industrial Revolution, Why Nobody’s Wearing Wearables + more

Where and how the global economy functions now versus ten years ago and certainly versus how it will function ten years from now isn’t anything that anyone did or can necessarily predict with how rapidly technology and disruptors are changing that landscape.  This week Business Week dives into how those disruptors are finding success through access, leveraging excess capacity, and the cloud.  Along with that, strategy+business has a great piece on Raising Your Digital IQ that digs deep into how the smartest companies develop and wield their technology strategy.

I was talking to my chiropractor this week and he asked the question “have you ever watched a TED talk,” which led to a fun conversation around which ones he and I liked best.  Not shockingly, I’ve watched a few, and Business Insider has a good collection they shared recently that one should watch if they want to be an entrepreneur.  Not shockingly, Simon Sinek is at the top of the list, this time discussing what he calls The Golden Circle.

Along with disruptive tech, Business Week takes a look at how snapchat built a business and how Khaled Khaled, the most unlikely of success story using an app that is the No. 1 or No. 2 app amongst 14 to 24 year olds in America and the top ten app downloaded in 100 countries.  It also digs into how Snapchat makes its money.

Business Week published an interview with Jamie Dimon this week where they discuss the future of finance and who will own it in the future.  It’s an interesting read about how the finance sector may be disrupted (Dimon thinks that unlikely) and how the finance sector can (and already is) adapt to those challenges.  There’s an abundance of hubris in the article, but one would expect that given Dimon’s success over his career and his role in shaping financial policy post-Great Recession.

If any of you have used Wolfram Alpha, you may enjoy this conversation with its creator, Stephen Wolfram, on AI and the Future of Civilization.  It’s lengthy, and is accompanied by a video that I didn’t get a chance to watch, and it is a pretty amazing read.  There’s no real way to summarize it,  if this sort of thing is your sort of thing, take the time to read all the way through.  A good sample statement that he backs up?  “I see technology as taking human goals and making them able to be automatically executed by machines.”

Along with that (and a much briefer read) is Not Quite Ready for the (Fourth Industrial) Revolution.  The title is referencing this piece from the World Economic Forum that posits that we’re standing on the brink of a technological revolution and preparing that organizationally and embracing that you don’t know what you don’t know (among other things) and to decisively pursue emerging technology to uncover the high potential technology or processes that could reposition your business to succeed in the “Fourth Industrial Age.”  The author then lays out five practices business leaders should follow: Rethink your approach to experimentation, Engage your emerging tech ecosystem, Build your own learning lab, Develop the mind-set of a maker, and Establish a process to scale emerging tech.  To point four, Time had a great article in 2014 about why the Maker Movement is important to America’s future as a good reference point.

No matter the size of your organization or company, it’s refreshing to take a look at how very small teams function and find success.  This blog posting from Venturebeat delves into that, and talks about the need to focus on culture, capacity, and capabilities (in that order) when considering who you hire.

South By Southwest is about to kick off (interactive is slated for March 11 – 15) and while there’s  a whole lot more going on than just tech, it’s venue where many startups that have been finding their way out of the murkiness make their big splash and debut.  It’ll be interesting to keep an eye out for that trend again this year, and you can get a preview of what to expect from this interactive preview.

Last, one of the big questions out there from a tech adoption standpoint lies around wearable.  In 2013, the tech pundits as a whole have been proclaiming that wearables are the next big thing and we hear time and again about how we’re going to be able to cultivate so much data about individuals as wearables become more and more a part of our everyday lives.  I’m a bit of an early adopter myself, going for first gen wearables to help track and hold me accountable to my own goals, but oddly when people ask me about my watch and what I like most about it, the answer never has to do with the data it collects or the insights that I might derive from it.  It usually comes down to base functionality, mostly due to what this article explores while answering why nobody’s wearing wearables: wearables still rely too much on other technology and aren’t really intelligent in and of themselves.

Robots, Robots Everywhere, Global Stockmarket Meltdown, Having your Life Hacked + More

Last weekend I finally got around to seeing the latest installment of the Terminator series and while it was a so-so film for the franchise, it seemed fitting timing given the number articles of late of how robots are taking over our lives of late.  While we’re not approaching the rise of the machines or anything akin to Asimov’s vision from I, Robot, there were two interesting reads this week, one about the robots coming to Wall Street and another about Ryan Calo, one of the minds behind robotics law in the United States.  To follow on to that is another article from the Times about a new breed of Trader out there: Coders with Ph.Ds.

Would you ever consider asking hackers to take apart your life as an experiment?  Kevin Roose did exactly that and it’s a scary but enlightening read.  Most of us don’t really pay attention to how fluid we are with our personal information with location based services and social media.  We need to be, as evidenced by just this bit from the story: they “began by compiling a dossier on me, using publicly available information like my email address, my employer, and my social media accounts. Most of this was information I’d made available on purpose, but some of it wasn’t. (They found my home address, for example, by enlarging and zooming in on a photo I’d posted to Twitter of my dog, which had the address listed in tiny type on the dog’s tag.)”  They pulled Roose’s mailing address from a social media photo of his dog.  Take a moment to think about all the different services out there that simply ask you for your name, date of birth, and address as their identity confirmation.  Then go re-read Roose’s article again.

strategy+business seems to be a weekly collection that I send out, and with good reason.  This week they had articles about Ten Principles of Organizational Culture, Three Secrets of Organizational Effectiveness, and how dysfunctional momentum impacts a company’s values to name a few, all worth a look.

The Next Web published a dive into what they view are the seven pillars of awesome game design. There are seven aspects of game design that need to be considered when you want to design and develop a successful game. They’ve highlighted some great video games that serve as examples of world, systems, content, game writing, level, user interface and audio design (said pillars).  Even if you aren’t into gaming, it’s interesting to look at those components and understand them from a conceptual standpoint and how they are used to pull players in.

Not to be chicken little, but I think it important that we keep abreast of what is happening in the global markets and some of the bear opinions out there.  One from MarketWatch digs into how the global stock market is wildly overvalued.  But it doesn’t stop there – luxury items as investments have had grossly excessive enthusiasm and other stating how they expect gold to rise to $2000 an ounce as we continue to see commodities and markets correct and then decline into recession territory.  Foreign Affairs dived into Eurasia’s coming anarchy and Citi also has some salient points as to why we might be moving into recession territory.  The good news is that this time around we’ve got eyes wide open going into this crunch so perhaps it can be averted.

Some other interesting articles from the week: Why the Future of Work Is at Home, Facebook Internet Drones Find Where the People Are, What’s Next in Computing?, Who’s reading my iMessages?, and Apple vs. FBI: Here’s everything you need to know (FAQ).

Why Doesn’t Silicon Valley Hire Black Coders?, The Hard Data on Being a Nice Boss, Why Big Companies Keep Failing: The Stack Fallacy + more

First up this week is an article from Business Insider on why, even though they are quite vocal in their protestations that they want to, Silicon Valley doesn’t hire black coders.  When it takes more than a decade of invitations from the head of a computer science program at one of the largest African American universities in the United States for there to be any traction, that commitment by Silicon Valley certainly seems hollow.  It’s also representative of one of Silicon Valley’s most persistent problems: it’s too white.  When pressed by the public and press to disclose their workforce demographics, it turns out that while 13% of the US population consists of African Americans, no more than 1% of the technical employees at all the prominent Silicon Valley employers were black.  Having lived in the “Silicon Valley of the Rockies” I can tell you that this isn’t just a problem in Silicon Valley and one that tracks across the United States.  Now, many of those being hired in Silicon Valley have been coding since they were kids, and, as noted in the article, this isn’t the typical profile for students at Howard (and likely other) University.  It will be interesting to see how Silicon Valley and the industry as a whole grapples with this issue in the future.

I keep coming back to crypto currency and in particular Bitcoin, but this week Coindesk has an article that digs into this history of Bitcoin, how it works,  how it makes itself “hack-proof,” and how to use it.  It also digs more into some of the alternate uses for which Bitcoin and blockchain can be used.  It’s worth a read simply because it was written by a Wall Street Veteran and is in mostly non-technical terms.

There’s a great article from Techcrunch this week on why big companies keep failing and how the stack fallacy relates.  It’s brief, has enough depth, and it brings to mind that question many of us fall for when we examine the competitive landscape: not realizing who your competitors might be because you are so focused on who your competitors are and how that can get in the way of deciding what you build.

HRB has a number of good articles this week.  First is one about motivating Millennials – I know I keep coming back to this topic, but it is one of the bigger challenges facing us today.  This article taps into the need to go beyond flexible work hours and locations, and digs into how we need to create a deeply compelling vision of what our companies do to contribute to society, train our leaders to communicate openly, effectively, and frequently, embrace tech and make collaboration the way we do business, build an entrepreneurial environment, and loosen up on the notion of a career ladder.

Next is aligning your organization for an agile workforce.  There are several issues leaders are facing in trying to access a more agile workforce, including relationship management, internal-external competition, a clash of expectations, and a failure to deliver results.  The authors discuss each of these and note that the organizations that get the most from agile talent use the most effective managerial techniques in engaging, motivating, and building teams with internal staff.  How?  They ask questions around strategic alignment, performance alignment, relationship alignment, and administrative alignment.

There is a collection of articles in HBR’s Insight Center that focus on corporate culture for a digital world.   One of those is about how just using big data isn’t enough anymore.  You have to develop the right metrics based on that data and then use it to identify opportunities for innovation while preparing for cultural and business change.  None of these concepts are new to us, but Randy Bean does a good job of capturing the “why” behind them.  The scariest thing to me, perhaps, is the sheer volume of data companies are capturing today and their absolute inability to make head or tails of that data … and it keeps stacking up every day.

Last is an article my brother shared with me this week on the hard data of being a nice boss.  The long and the short is that being a jerk to your employees is bad for you and for them, and that we need to start valuing kindness at work.  It kind of makes me want to go back and read one of my favorites from when I worked back at Microsoft – The No Asshole Rule.

Gravity Payments and a $70,000 minumum wage and more

A bit of a grab bag this week for you; this article goes pretty deep into why Gravity Payments decided to give all of its employees a minimum salary of $70,000, how that has changed the culture of that company, and the positive and negative effects of that decision (note that revenue and profits have increased at pace with the additional costs).

Next is a collection of TED Talks that really is one of the better sets I’ve come across in a long time.   Right off the bat, the way the statistical data is graphically represented in the first talk just really floored me … and I was a bit shocked by how the data was so clearer to see due to how it was presented, much less what the content was.  I’ve seen many of these before and have to say that it truly is a great collection.  Many of these are in the twenty minute range and I found the easiest way to approach them was to just pick one to watch each morning as I got started with my day.

What about the arrogance of tech? In this opinion article, Bob O’Donnell scratches the surface of the “we’re a tech company, we know better and can do it better than anyone else” attitude that we often run into.  While there is a competitive, first mover advantage mindset that dominates the tech industry, the question to be asked is how can the new players venturing into things like auto manufacturing (Apple, Google) learn from or partner with the stalwarts f that industry.  Yes, usually you don’t chart a course to blue ocean doing the same thing you’ve always done, but there’s a lot of ingenuity coming out of traditional industry giants as well – just look at this Day Made of Glass video from Corning as an example of what the future may bring.

Last is an article from Bloomberg Business Week about the trend among companies to hire women to fill top Cybersecurity posts.  It touches briefly on how in the 80s women were filling coding and pre-cursor big data roles and how that has evolved to position some of them into a role as cyber security experts and leaders in their companies.  It’ll be interesting to see how this continues to evolve as we see some course correction from the trend in the 90s and 00s to drive women (and girls) away from programming how these high profile women may bring even more women into technology careers.