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iCow, a mobile-phone application that allows herders to register each individual cow, and to receive individualized text messages on their mobile phones, including advice for veterinary care and feeding schedules, a database of experts, and updated market rates on cattle prices. It’s an example of how high technology can help out even in the low-tech business of agriculture, in which 80 percent of Kenyans make a living
iCow: Kenyans now manage their herds via mobile phone - CSMonitor.com (via interestingsnippets)

Why Agencies, Talent Should Seize the Space Between Creativity and Technology

Picture this: You’re in a vibrant conference room in Midtown Manhattan witnessing something seemingly normal: two executive creative directors reviewing campaign work and debating brand attributes, customer aspirations and engagement. What’s extraordinary is the fact that one of the ECDs is a gifted programmer perfectly capable of writing and compiling computer programs at will.

That’s the future of successfully integrating digital capabilities into an agency. Culture and business models, not titles, are what make agencies digital. So while agencies rooted in traditional media eagerly add positions like “creative technologist” to their ranks, digitally confident agencies are doing the exact opposite. What’s ironic is the scramble to add phantom job distinctions is happening at a time when technology and creative should be tied closer than ever.

Cable Giants Seek to Limit Internet Streaming, Slow Netflix

 

But just as more and more American consumers are joining the streaming-video party, and using more bandwidth because of that, their internet service providers – many of which, by no coincidence, also run large cable TV operations — are getting set to cap the fun.

With companies like Netflix and Hulu threatening their subscription-cable business, companies including AT&T, Comcast and Charter no longer want to aid the competition by offering consumers all-you-can-eat broaband.

The message: Think twice before you cut that cord, America.

 

This month, AT&T joined competing ISPs Comcast and Charter in putting a limit on the amount of data its customers can use each month. After its customers pipe 150 gigabytes of data through their modems — 250 gigabytes for subscribers to its UVerse cable service — AT&T will start charging them for each extra byte.

Comcast is a little more harsh. Instead of charging a fee for exceeding limits, the company — which now owns NBC Universal, in addition to its own cable system — kicks off from its network customers who go over the 250 gigabyte limit more than twice in six months.

The real point of the caps, analysts say, is to prevent people from ditching expensive cable service the way many have gotten rid of their wired telephone lines.

"Given the way in which internet service providers across the country have tried to structure their data caps, they’ve done so in a way that threatens not just Netflix, but all types of independent online video distribution," Joel Kelsey, a political adviser to Free Press, a national nonprofit that works exclusively with media and technology policy, told TheWrap.

London’s BERG: Reinventing the Concept of a Product

BERG CEO Webb says the starting place for those stories has changed radically.

“If you look 50 years ago, or 100 years ago, the technology in our homes was the offcuts of the military, or of factories, of industry. Look at computers, which came in equal parts from the need to calculate ballistics in the world wars, and from Silicon Valley, which was at the heart of Cold War investment into space and rocketry. Or mobile phones, which came from battlefield communications. Or even dishwashers and washing machines, which were spin-offs of technology originated in factories.”

“Now you look, [and] the bleeding edge of technology in the home originates from consumer use. The iPhone is better than anything the military ever made. Toys are a great place to look for the latest technology. And even computers, which used to be driven by office use and mainframes, are now led by the nose by technology in personal tablets and laptops, used for games and consuming media. So we’ve flipped from the industrial to the domestic.”

IBM CEO’s leadership agenda - tech must lead the economic recovery

To counter the current doom and gloom, let’s go back a few weeks to Nov 6.

Sam Palmisano, CEO of IBM, delivered an interesting speech in NYC and laid out an agenda for re-starting our economy focused on technology. The NY Times had published a recap.

I’ve been arguing on this blog that the tech sector cannot stand by idly and hoard cash but must act to kickstart the recovery of our economy.

Some key excerpts:

"Consider:

  • How much energy we waste: According to published reports, the losses of electrical energy because grid systems are not “smart” range as high as 40 to 70 percent around the world.
  • How gridlocked our cities are: Congested roadways in the U.S. cost $78 billion annually, in the form of 4.2 billion lost hours and 2.9 billion gallons of wasted gas—and that’s not even counting the impact on our air quality.
  • How inefficient our supply chains are: Consumer product and retail industries lose about $40 billion annually, or 3.5 percent of their sales, due to supply chain inefficiencies.
  • How antiquated our healthcare system is: In truth, it isn’t a “system” at all. It doesn’t link from diagnosis, to drug discovery, to healthcare deliverers, to insurers, to employers. Meanwhile, personal expenditures on health now push more than 100 million people worldwide below the poverty line each year.
  • How our planet’s water supply is drying up: Global water usage has increased six-fold since the 1900s, twice the rate of human population growth. According to the Asian Development Bank, one in five people living today lacks access to safe drinking water, and half the world’s population does not have adequate sanitation.

It’s obvious, when you consider the trajectories of development driving the planet today, that we’re going to have to run a lot smarter and more efficiently—especially as we seek the next areas of investment to drive economic growth and to move large parts of the global economy out of recession.

Fortunately, we now can. We see this in how companies and institutions are rethinking their systems and applying technology in new ways.

  • Stockholm’s smart traffic system has resulted in 20 percent less traffic, a 12 percent drop in emissions and a reported 40,000 additional daily users of public transport. Smart traffic systems are strengthening the competitive positions of cities from London to Brisbane to Singapore—with many more being planned.
  • Intelligent oil field technologies can increase both pump performance and well productivity—in a business where only 20-30 percent of available reserves are currently extracted.
  • Smart food systems—such as one now running in the Nordics—can use RFID technology to trace meat and poultry from the farm through the supply chain to supermarket shelves.
  • Smart healthcare can lower the cost of therapy by as much as 90 percent—as ActiveCare Network is doing for more than 2 million patients in 38 states, whom it monitors for the proper delivery of their injections and vaccines. “

Back to this blog - will tech spur its growth rebound ?

Twitter, Facebook and Delicious have been my focus of late but I decided it was time to get back to this blog to put down a few thoughts I’ve been sharing for the past weeks.

Post-Sep 15, we’ve all been living in a bizarro world where tomorrow has become so uncertain that talks of Depression (as in ‘29) have become commonplace. For my part, I’ve tried to maintain a historical perspective, cheered on Warren Buffett’s $13billion buying spree ($4.7bi for CEG, $5b on GS, $3b on GE) and have been wondering what part the tech industry will play in spurring its growth.

A few facts: quick tally of cash (“a terrible long term asset,” according to W. Buffett, “one that pays virtually nothing and is certain to depreciate in value.”) held by some of the largest tech firms:

MSFT: $23 billion

INTEL: $11.5 billion

APPL: $25 billion

CSCO: $24.4 billion

GOOG: $14 billion

HPQ: $14 billion

ORCL: $12 billion

NOK: 7.2 billion euro=$9.2 billion

TOTAL : $133.1 billion in CASH !!!!!

MSFT and HP announced stock buy-back program but the silence from self-professed Buffett students GOGG has been quite defeaning. Why is GOOG they not defending their stock and/or acquiring more mid-size companies at fire-sale prices ?

All well-managed companies need cash on hand but this hoarding is getting in the way of growth and innovation.  

Shouldn’t these tech giants spur their rebound via timely acquisitions during this downturn, as well as boost R&D ?  It seems to me that the large tech players need to think through their role in the ecosystem and support their growth by supporting the ecosystem, ie investing in it through acquisitions, new products, etc..

On the active side, Nokia has recently announced some a mid-size acquisition (Oz Communications) as well as interesting investments in China through Nokia Ventures (Madhouse). MSFT is still pondering its move with Yahoo (come on Ballmer, it’s trading at $12 !!) and Intel is committed to keeping R&D stable.  

The question therefore remains, what are Apple, Cisco, HP and Oracle doing with all their cash and more importantly to spur growth ?

Please comment/add and I’ll monitor and update this post.

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