Microsoft's fascinating GigJam service is open to anyone who wants an invite

| May 16, 2016

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Anyone can get into the private beta of MIcrosoft's new GigJam productivity service, which is aimed at helping teams of people collaborate in real time over the Internet, the company announced Thursday

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Thrive

Thrive is one of the largest leading next generation managed services provider in the Northeast United States. Serving companies in all of New England, New York, New Jersey and Beyond. The Thrive technology solutions suite utilizes Cloud, Cyber Security, Networking, Disaster Recovery and other pioneering managed services to help compliance-driven businesses solve complex IT issues.

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THE FUTURE IS BOTH AUTOMATED AND INTELLIGENT

Article | June 2, 2021

Intelligent Automation (IA) is one of the trending buzzwords of our times. What makes automation smart? Is it new? Why the renewed focus? Bill Gates believed automation to be a double-edged sword when he said: “Automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. … Automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.” IA lies at the intersection of robotics, artificial intelligence (AI) and business process management (BPM). But before you think HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey, J.A.R.V.I.S. from Iron Man or Terminator 2: Judgment Day scenarios, first, a little context. IA is not new; automated manual processes have been in existence since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution. It enabled speeding up go-to-market, reduced errors and improved efficiencies. Over time, automation made its way into software development, quality assurance processes, manufacturing, finance, health care and all aspects of daily life. “Intelligent” automation backed by robotics, AI and BPM creates smarter business processes and workflows that can incrementally think, learn and adapt as they go — for instance, processing millions of documents and applications in a day, finding errors and suggesting fixes or recommendations. What Intelligent Automation Does, Humans Can’t IA enables the automation of knowledge work by mimicking human workers’ capabilities. It includes four main capabilities: vision, execution, language, and thinking and learning. Each of these capabilities combines different technologies that are used as stand-alone or in combination to complement each other. One oft-quoted IA example is fraud detection and prevention in the BFSI sector. Robotic process automation (RPA) optimizes the speed and accuracy of the fraud identification process. Since RPA can go through months’ worth of data in a matter of hours and throws up exceptions, teams cannot keep up with the speed and scale needed to resolve the issues flagged. However, speed and efficiency are of the essence where fraud management is concerned. The answer lies in AI and BPM coupled with RPA. IA can streamline the process end-to-end. Pascal Bornet notes in his book, Intelligent Automation, that IA can help improve the overall automation rate to nearly 80%, and it can help improve the time to solve a fraud incident and obtain clients’ refunds by 50%. While RPA provides excellent benefits and quick solutions, cognitive technologies offer long-term value for businesses, employees and customers. IA And Digital Transformation IA adoption is growing swiftly across the enterprise, being fast adopted by more than 50% of the world’s largest companies. Its benefits are relevant to the majority of business processes. For example: • Industrial systems that sense and adapt based on rules. • Chatbots that learn from customer interactions to improve engagement. • Sales and marketing systems that predict buyer journeys and identify leads The Future Of Work: Bitter Or Better There is much speculation when it comes to IA and the future of work. The main contention is that robots will take away jobs from humans. My argument is that, while it will cause role changes, it doesn’t necessarily mean job losses. The Industrial Revolution helped automate “blue-collar” jobs in manufacturing and agriculture. Similarly, IA will automate many white-collar jobs that are tedious and tiring. A recent IBM report shows that 90% of executives in firms where IA is being used believe it creates higher-value work for employees. So, no, we will not be living in a dystopic world controlled by bots running amok! IA means better roles, the elimination of laborious tasks and improvements in employee well-being. The Promise Of The Better Life In 2018 alone, over $5 trillion (6% of global GDP) was lost due to fraud. Medical errors in the U.S. incur an estimated economic value of almost $1 trillion — and 86% of those mistakes are administrative. A 2017 Medliminal Healthcare Solutions study found that 80% of U.S. medical billings contain at least minor errors — creating unnecessary annual health care spending of $68 billion. The World Economic Forum cited an ILO report that “estimates that the annual cost to the global economy from accidents and work-related diseases alone is a staggering $3 trillion.” Now, let us imagine we can save $5 trillion globally through the deployment of IA. It means: • Global budgets allocated to education could more than double. • Global healthcare budgets could be increased by more than 70%. • Environmental investments could be multiplied almost twentyfold. Transitioning To Intelligent Automation However, adopting IA is not like flipping a switch. There are some key steps an organization must experience in its bid to be automating intelligently. • Planning. For the successful adoption of IA, business leaders must understand the relationship between people and machines. Enterprises must plan so as not to disrupt other parts of the business and integrate IA seamlessly into the existing programs. Instead of adopting IA across the processes, identify where it delivers the most value. Automating broken processes will not fix the problem. IA will only reap rewards on stable and mature processes • Change management. IA is not easy to implement. There will be a great deal of resistance to adopting IA in your organizations. Designing a change management strategy, an execution road map, an enterprise operating model and key metrics for ROI will help your cause. Invite key stakeholders from the outset to ensure buy-in and train your employees to work in collaboration with IA. • Governance framework. Establishing a governance framework helps determine who will watch the watchmen. The bigger the role of IA in your organization, the more critical governance becomes. Designing a framework will help you monitor performance as well as define exceptions and errors. It is a recipe for disaster if you don’t have a command and control center to ensure IA is making the right choices. Even more reason for humans with industry expertise to still “have their jobs” and excel at them. Future Of Intelligent Automation The future of IA will direct businesses to a more adaptive model that is beneficial for business leaders to uncover higher value and employees to do more satisfactory and creative roles. Preparing for an intelligent future means adapting our technology, skills and education to fit the future of the workforce. What are we waiting for? Disclaimer – This article was 1st published on Forbes.comEnable GingerCannot connect to Ginger Check your internet connection or reload the browserDisable in this text fieldRephraseRephrase current sentenceEdit in Ginger

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AI, ML explosion will be the game changer

Article | March 3, 2020

Technologies like Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning will enable wider audience to get access to space analytics and insights. Assisted processes through software created by Machine Learning will enable users to run sophisticated models on their data. That is what I see happening in the next few years. It’s not about replacing, it’s about assisting new types of users to get access to the type of analysis that wasn’t accessible before. Automated Machine Learning is what we are going to be seeing in the coming years. It will expand the customer/ user base of spatial analytics by making it more accessible.

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Top 5 Data Visualization JavaScript Libraries in 2021

Article | January 20, 2021

When you work with data, the most prominent challenge is picking the right manner to represent data in a readable format. With proper visualization, it becomes easier to convey the message present in the analyzed data. The best choice, in this case, is to use Data Visualization. By definition, data visualization is the graphical representation of the data and information. Using elements like maps, charts, graphs, etc. gives an easier view to understanding the patterns, trends, outliers, and performance. But, choosing the right tool for visualization can become difficult with the number of choices made available in the market. To save you from the trial and error method for finding the tool that works amazingly, here is the list of the best JavaScript libraries that are about to simplify the way you used to interact with data. Apart from these libraries, there are some tools for javascript which you can learn about and get more advanced with data visualization. Best JavaScript Libraries For Data Visualization For assisting you in getting started with data visualization in any application, here is the list of the top 5 libraries of JavaScript that you can get started with. D3js D3 (Data-Driven Documents) is among the most popular javascript libraries. It is not only limited to the visualization of data but also helps in data analytics, data utilities, animations, and geo. It works regardless of the JavaScript frameworks being used. D3 uses SVG, CSS, and HTML to create visualization as per web standards. Some of the benefits of using D3js include large dataset support, flexibility, and transition functionality. C3js Combination Chart or C3 is based on D3 and provides reusable chart libraries for applications. C3 offers a class to each element to help in defining a custom style that can later extend structure from D3. One of the major benefits of using C3js is that you can even update the rendered chart. ReCharts Similar to C3, ReCharts also uses D3 while expressing declarative components. Being lightweight and rendering on SVG elements, it helps in creating stunning charts. The library consists of some beautiful chart examples. Moreover, the charts here can also be customized according to needs. It is great for static charts but can lag with multiple animations. With an intuitive API, it becomes highly powerful and responsive. CanvasJS Canvas is an HTML5 and JavaScript chart library that’s easy to use. It smoothly runs on different platforms with 100,000+ data points. It comes with four default themes that can be greatly suitable for different conditions. Canvas charts provide high performance, fast developer support, and do not depend on other libraries. Highcharts Based on SVG JS library charts, Highcharts is quite popular among large organizations. Highcharts comes with the entire ecosystem for various project templates. It is even compatible with old browsers. Even the non-developers can use it with ease because of its interactive chart editor. It is being used by popular brands like Microsoft. Conclusion With the help of these javascript libraries, you will find it easy to present a large amount of data visually. What’s more, these will work with any framework. If you are a non-developer and still want data visualization in your application, then you can easily hire developers with relevant experience out there.

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The Holy Trinity of Transformation - Culture, Leadership and Sustainability

Article | April 12, 2021

Digital Transformation is not a magic wand; it is a complex yet essential enterprise commitment to change. Companies that have succeeded have reaped significant benefits. The Deloitte Digital Transformation Survey 2020 found that greater digital maturity is associated with better financial performance. The higher-maturity companies in this year’s sample were about 3X more likely than lower-maturity companies to report annual net revenue growth and net profit margins — a pattern that was consistent across industries. Unfortunately, most enterprises do not fully appreciate what it entails. Some see it as a technology or a budget problem; others believe it is an optional strategy — they are both wrong. To truly succeed, transformation needs to be led from the top by setting the strategy and allocating resources. Antonio Neri of HPE hits the spot when he says, “Digital transformation is no longer an option for enterprises, but a strategic imperative.” For me, one of the most significant examples of top-driven organisational change is Jeff Bezos’ call to “Rearchitecting the Firm” in 2002. It is a seminal work. The principles of this mandate went on to form the backbone of Amazon in the modern cloud world. It was clear, direct, and backed up by management action. More than 75% of CEOs agreed that the pandemic sped up their companies’ transformation plans COVID is a catalyst for change The flurry of digital technology solutions spurred by COVID-19 presents a unique opportunity for enterprises to rethink how technology decisions are made and apply them in new and meaningful ways. Covid-19 dramatically accelerated technology adoption across all industries. According to a Fortune-Deloitte CEO survey and the KPMG 2020 CEO Outlook Survey, more than 75% of CEOs agreed that the pandemic sped up their companies’ transformation plans. As Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella noted, “We’ve seen two years’ worth of digital transformation in two months.” 80% of companies plan to accelerate their companies’ digital transformation plans, primarily incentivized by the global pandemic implications. The same study also concludes that only 30% of digital transformations have achieved their objectives which is troubling. 80% of companies plan to accelerate their companies’ digital transformation plans, however only 30% of digital transformations have achieved their objectives - BCG Research Most people forget that digital transformation is less about technology and much more about the organization’s culture and business shift. Key stakeholders need to rethink customer experience, business models, and operations fundamentally. It is all about finding new ways to deliver value, generate revenue, improve efficiency, and, most importantly driving sustainable innovation. Bear in mind, just moving to the cloud is not Digital Transformation. Crises Breed Innovation I am of the firm belief that uncertainty drives creativity. Crises are the breeding ground for innovation. You must make decisions quickly, and you never have enough time or information to weigh difficult choices thoroughly. McKinsey’s analysis shows that bold innovators emerge from crises substantially ahead of peers — and maintain this advantage for years to come. Innovators not only outperformed the market during the financial crisis but continued to widen the gap during and after the recovery. Analysis of the performance of approximately 2,000 companies between 2007 and 2017 against the S&P 500 reinforces those conclusions: staying focused on growth and innovation through a downturn helped the top-performing companies to generate higher returns to shareholders. Staying focused on growth and innovation through a downturn helped the top-performing companies to generate higher returns to shareholders Antonio Neri and other leaders confirm that as the pace of technology disruption continues to accelerate, digital-native and digitally transformed companies are outpacing their competitors. The McKinsey study shows that roughly one in ten companies in their sample achieved higher revenue growth, innovation, digital adoption, and profitability than the others over the entire 2007–17 economic cycle and during the downturn years. The outperformers also delivered excess returns of roughly 8%, while the rest hovered around zero throughout the period. So, what does it take to succeed? Do existing leadership teams have the skills to undertake true digital transformation? I thought it would be a good idea to look at how companies are hiring critical resources. A study by professors from Harvard and Darden and executives from Spencer Stuart published in the Harvard Business Review addressed this specific question. The team looked at more than 100 search criteria for C-suite positions in Fortune 1000 companies across a broad range of industries, and the results were very suggestive. There has been a rise in tech and digital expertise search even before the pandemic: 59% of executive searches included technological or digital knowledge. Company boards were asking for these skills across a wide variety of roles. This fact also suggests that people with the right skill sets are already in leadership positions. Not surprisingly, 100% of the specs for CIOs, CMOs, and CTOs sought technical or digital skills. However, the functions that got neglected in the search for technological and digital expertise were more revealing. Less than a third of the job specs for CHROs and chief accounting officers mentioned these required skills. Even more worrying — only 40–60% of searches for roles such as CEO, board director, and CFOs required digital know-how. At the very minimum, we need all leaders to understand how to build digital businesses. This shift alone could be the difference between success and failure. But is that enough for now? Almost every organization has stepped up its digital transformation efforts in 2020–21. Success is as much about the right technology platform choice as it is about leadership, agility, talent, and a clear vision. A new and emerging factor is consumers wanting the brands they use to focus on sustainability issues. So do employees and prospective employees. The driver for this shift largely springs from realizing that human activities’ ecological footprint is a probable cause for the crisis we face today. While we keep talking about the usual polluters like utilities, transportation, agriculture, and climate change causes, some lesser-discussed and more exciting facts would make the issue more relatable. Did you know that in processing 3.5 billion searches a day, Google accounts for about 40% of the internet’s carbon footprint? They have been carbon neutral since 2007, but their infrastructure still emits a considerable volume of CO2. Did you know that Bitcoin currently uses enough power (121 terawatt-hours) to run Cambridge University for almost 700 years? To address sustainability in a meaningful manner, we need to take a holistic view of the players, their impact and then push for a mutually beneficial solution . Else, it is bound to fail. As a first step, 26 CEOs of Europe-based companies have signed a Declaration to support Green and Digital Transformation of the EU. They formed a European Green Digital Coalition, committing on behalf of their companies to not only make the tech sector to become more sustainable, circular, and a zero polluter but also to support sustainability goals of other priority sectors such as energy, transport, agriculture, and construction while contributing to an innovative, inclusive and resilient society. Like these CEOs, Accenture also believes that there is great value at the intersection of digital technologies and sustainability — they call it Twin Transformers. Companies leveraging both are 2.5X more likely to be among tomorrow’s strongest-performing businesses than others. BigTech is conscious of its responsibilities to the climate. Almost all majors players have made pledges to reverse CO2 emission. Since they are all profit-driven, I am sure they have also figured out this also means good business by the numbers too (a counter-intuitive rationalisation but better than getting caught in the justification game) In the future, a company’s commitment to ESG-related programs will drive the ability to attract investors and retain talent. Companies also realize that ESG factors, when integrated into strategic digital transformation decisions, may offer potential long-term performance advantages. One of the critical levers for moving to sustainable systems will be technology, a lot of technology, and a lot of investment. But how do we make it accessible to all and profitable to the providers at the same time? HPE is one company that has made significant strides in this regard by embracing the twin doctrine of digital transformation and sustainability. Their customers can reduce their energy costs by more than 30% by eliminating overprovisioning through HPE GreenLake. In fact, their consumption-based offerings have reduced customer carbon footprint by 50% in one case. Minimizing e-waste is another area of focus for them too. So what have we learned from all this? As an ancient Chinese proverb states, “When the winds of change blow, some people build walls, others build windmills.” What will you build?

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Spotlight

Thrive

Thrive is one of the largest leading next generation managed services provider in the Northeast United States. Serving companies in all of New England, New York, New Jersey and Beyond. The Thrive technology solutions suite utilizes Cloud, Cyber Security, Networking, Disaster Recovery and other pioneering managed services to help compliance-driven businesses solve complex IT issues.

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