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Category Archives: Singularity

Making It Work: Marketing consultancy crowdfunds to target overseas markets – Business Post

Posted: May 24, 2020 at 3:03 pm

Donegal company Motarme has turned to crowdfunding to invest in new technology and finance plans to ramp up sales in overseas markets.

Headquartered in Letterkenny, the firm has developed an online platform to help business-to-business companies with sales prospecting and lead generation.

The company is raising 150,000 on Spark Crowdfunding, which will be match-funded by Enterprise Ireland. Motarme is a high-potential start-up client of the state agency.

Michael White, Motarmes founder and managing director, said the funding would be used to boost sales activity in Britain and the US and to invest in new machine learning technology.

We want to hire three sales and marketing people initially to focus on Britain and the US, and we also want to add a new machine learning component to our platform, White said.

That will mean we can analyse the campaigns we have already done so we can optimise campaigns for new customers. We have hundreds of thousands of communication points going back over the last few years. The machine learning system will be able to identify the patterns that produce the most successful results.

White described Motarme as an account-based sales system that helps businesses to identify and connect with potential customers.

Businesses need a steady flow of new sales, but a lot of companies have challenges in systematically finding target customers and then connecting with them, he said.

Motarme can find target companies that match a specific profile and engage with those targets to start a sales conversation.

White said Motarmes primary focus was on large enterprise contracts. The company has 15 customers in the software and manufacturing sectors. Clients include P-Mac, Principal Logistics Technologies and Woodco.

You often find B2B companies having to deal with a lot of sales activity, messaging and inbound marketing. They can find it hard to cut through the noise, he said.

Most of the tools available to them focus on contacting individuals and on transactional deals. With account-based sales, were targeting a much bigger group of companies that weve done some background investigation on. We use very tailored messages that go out across a number of channels at once, so they get emails, direct mail, social media and online communication, all coordinated with the same message.

White established Motarme in 2015, having worked as head of marketing at Singularity in Derry and as a senior product manager at Siemens in Dublin and Munich.

He said the company had opted to raise money on the Spark Crowdfunding platform primarily due to its location.

The vast majority of VC funding still goes into companies based in Dublin or Galway. Were in Letterkenny, right on the border, he said.

Its harder for companies like us to access investment, because we dont have easy access to a network.

With Spark Crowdfunding, youre appealing to a larger number of smaller investors and your location isnt such an issue.

Motarmes crowdfunding campaign will run on the Spark platform until May 29.

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Rebellion, New OrderStyle: What Happened to It? – National Review

Posted: April 23, 2020 at 2:45 am

A scene from the music video for New Orders Singularity(via YouTube)For the quarantined sheeple, its as if rock n roll, punk, and hip-hop never happened.

History comes back to provoke us in New Orders Singularity music video, which debuted in 2016 but has found fresh popularity. Its new viral status owes to deep quarantine viewing. Confined spectators respond to the videos depiction of isolation, seclusion, and, finally, rebellion as captured in footage from West Berlin prior to the fall of the Iron Curtain.

The actions shown in Singularity provide a strong contrast to the daily 7 p.m.ritual by self-imprisoned New Yorkers who crack open their apartment windows to clap, bang pots and pans, and cheer. The ceremony, supposedly intended to encourage the citys first responders, lasts only twice as long as a New York minute shorter than Singularity itself (4:13). This timid, self-conscious group activity has inspired appreciation of Singularitys nostalgia for genuine rebellion.

The Twitterverse is aroused by envy. New Order, the distinguished British dance-pop-synth band, had commissioned the Singularity video from designer Damian Hale, an expert in live-concert visuals, who compiled clips from B-Movie: Lust & Sound in West Berlin 19791989. That film was a fact-based chronicle of British music producer Mark Reeders experiences in Europes post-punk scene; its records frenzy, tumult, and chaos. More than a celebration of youthful uprising, it specifically exhibits live-wire reaction to silence and social obedience a marked contrast to Americas orderly sequestration during the COVID-19 quarantine.

Singularitys appeal raises questions about Millennial compliance so different from punk-era rebellion during this emergency. Does it set the stage for socialist dictatorship as newly ambitious mayors and governors, along with the hotly emboldened news media, control citizens behavior through fear? Singularitys images of dissent and unrest, edited to New Orders elegant dance beats, salute fearlessness and abandon by a generation that distrusted politicians and establishment media. Mark Reeder and his punk-culture cohorts sought to express their own sense of liberty. Scenes of close-quarters dancing and sex flout the seriousness of social-distancing. Repeated shots of various, vintage, flipped fingers seem aimed at 21st-century acquiescence itself.

Punk culture disregarded the maudlin fear of danger and embraced it an outrageous, unexpected expanse of FDRs idea that theres nothing to fear but fear itself, which COVID-19 politicians dont dare repeat. So Singularity commemorates fearlessness, and in doing so, it shames that 7 p.m.pseudo-civility. Compared with New Orders scenes of disorderly conduct, the polite clapping and cheering come from people in New Yorks most liberal, Hillary-supporting districts (from my neighborhood perspective, the nervously cracked windows are in swanky brownstones) that share a pampered sense of what resistance really means. Unlike those radicals in Berlins anti-Stasi youth subculture, the Manhattan noisemakers seem at a loss about what to do with themselves; they may well be of the ADD generation, former Ritalin kids who are now cautious homeowners and urban stakeholders.

The protests in Singularity havent yet happened in the U.S., tensely considering the reopening of the economy, but the fever of fed-upness (a better term than the now discredited resistance) indicates some underlying exasperation such as is inchoately expressed by the 7 p.m.bourgeois ritual. Singularity throws images of liberation back at a nation of sheeple. Baaing people. Applauding people. They really seem to be congratulating themselves for their own helplessness, for upholding government edicts during the clampdown, keeping quiet, and waiting all day for that brief moment when they can pretend to appreciate other peoples sacrifice. The typical liberal impulse is to mistake self-congratulation for altruism. A populace that disguises its own lack of self-awareness as gratitude demonstrates the essence of conformity and surrender.

This meek, docile applauding at 7 p.m. suggests a dire transformation of the American spirit. Its as if rock n roll, punk, and hip-hop never happened.

Some skeptics have asked: Wheres that rebel spirit? Wheres Antifa now to protest the confining of the indigent and shut-in, in the interest of justice the first steps toward fascism? Where are the Black Lives Matter and the #MeToo movements when the republics freedom and liberty need to be restored, as those Cold War Berliners desired?

The popularity of New Orders Singularity offers a last hope against restrictions that are not entirely based on science but come from the fiat of leaders who claim to know whats best.The song Singularity mourns the loss of camaraderie, while the video supplies virtual, vicarious protest. Its a reminder of the punk ethic buried inside.

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Why Interest in Virtual Worlds for Online Collaboration Is Spiking – Singularity Hub

Posted: at 2:45 am

By now, its well known that usage of video-conferencing software like Zoom has exploded as a result of the Covid-19 shutdown. What is less known is that interest in avatar-based virtual worlds and business-specific adaptations of concepts like Second Life, a well-known virtual world which peaked in mainstream popularity 15 years ago, is spiking as well.

Yes, weve been getting a ton of inquiries, said Philip Rosedale in an email to Singularity Hub. Rosedale is CEO and cofounder of High Fidelity, a software company currently building a new kind of virtual world thats not yet been released. Hes also the creator and founder of Second Life and said it is seeing a surge in use as well.

This is a strange moment for VR, virtualworlds, and the internetmore generally. We may now truly be forced to create an equitable public commons online, where historically weve had the fallback of real life proximity, Rosedale added.

While video-based software like Zoom will likely continue to be the preferred method for most remote business meetings during the shutdown, it is possible to wonder whether virtual worlds may prove uniquely useful now as well.

This point was underscored last week in an opinion article for the Wall Street Journal where Stanford professor Jeremy Bailenson outlined why video conferencing on Zoom can feel so exhausting. In his view, Zoom forces people to display behaviors that are usually reserved for close and intimate relationships; what he refers to as nonverbal overload such as making direct eye contact for long periods of time and focusing on someone elses face. In the real world, Bailenson points out, individuals can control their own personal space, manage their distance from coworkers, and choose their location during a meeting. On Zoom, however, there is no concept of spatial distance since the experience exists in a flat 2D window.

According to Alex Howland, CEO of VirBELA, another virtual world provider, they have also seen a massive uptick in interest these past few weeks from companies, non-profits, and government agencies affected by the shutdown.

In VirBELA, users create an avatar and navigate a video game-like environment to attend meetings, collaborate around boardroom tables, use media surfaces to display documents or websites, and interact in ways that may capture social cues (like personal space) from the real world.

The most important benefit of a virtual world, then, may be that it replicates many of the behaviors you might expect to see in the real world. There is such a thing as getting too close or far away from someone, and this sense of spatial presence can be quite convincing. The Boston Globe even reported an anecdote in which one user in VirBELA felt uncomfortable and complained because their avatar didnt have a chair to sit in during a meeting.

And perhaps the biggest difference from video-conferencing is the ability to randomly stumble into a colleague you might not otherwise interact with.

In virtual worlds, users feel like they are at a place together and that place is persistent. This helps foster a sense of shared culture and brings back water cooler opportunities and unplanned social collisions that just dont happen on a conference call. We are even seeing people from the same global organization, in different geographies, meeting each other in the world for the first time by happenstance, Howland told me.

Several years ago, I profiled the case of a publicly traded business with a billion dollars in revenue per year and over 28,000 employees and contractors around the world which operates entirely inside VirBELA. (That company later acquired the virtual world business outright). It certainly registered as a mainstream turning point for the use of persistent online social environments.

Even before Covid-19 pressed the brakes on our economy, forcing employees around the world to shelter at home, parts of the business world were already moving in the direction of remote collaboration and long-distance communication. And while our current health crisis isnt steering us in a particularly new direction, it may be accelerating us toward the working from home destination many companies had already been aiming for.

While I dont expect virtual worlds to overtake the use of video conferencing for the vast majority of todays business meetings, it is worth noting the key attributes that make these environments unique. And the longer this global pandemic stretches on, the more it will continue to shape the future of what our working lives might look like.

As interest in virtual world platforms grows, its worth keeping an eye on whether they are a mere curiosity or here to stay.

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Contact Tracing Is the Next Step in the Covid-19 BattleBut How Will It Work in Western Countries? – Singularity Hub

Posted: at 2:45 am

One death in Steven Soderberghs terrifyingly prescient masterpiece, Contagion, stayed with me: Kate Winslets Dr. Erin Mears, an Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer who chased down peopled with a terrifying viral infection in an effort to warn those who might be at risk and reconstruct the viruss rampage through an unknowing society.

For most of us, Mears was probably our first introduction to contact tracing, a technique thats crossed centuries as a tour-de-force in battling outbreaks. The core idea is simple, if laborious detective work: manually seek out those infected, interrogate their movements through the world, and follow up with every single person who might have been in contact with the infected individual.

Its tedious. Its dangerous. Yet as a method, contact tracing has been wielded as a powerful weapon from typhoid fever to the 1918 flu pandemic, and more recently, from AIDS to SARS and the first Asian country responders to Covid-19.

Theres a reason contact tracing has survived the test of time: it works. Thanks to epic efforts at hunting down people with Covid-19which, in turn, was in part thanks to widespread testingSouth Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, and Indias Kerala district have emerged as success stories in their battle against a new foe, nipping new infections in the bud and dramatically reducing hospitalizations and deaths. Even Wuhan, under stringent autocratic surveillance from the central Chinese government, was lauded by the WHO as a positive responderthough their method of giving individuals a green, yellow, or red light as they return to society may give democratic countries uncomfortable chills.

But heres the thing: contact tracing has always teetered on the line between individual freedom and the good of the general public; the stigmatization of a viral scarlet letter versus keeping others safe; the price of health data sharing versus societal responsibility.

Today, thanks to the mini tracking devices in our pockets called smartphones, its easier than ever to bring an effective method for controlling outbreaks into the digital realm. Some epidemiologists even argue that due to the highly infectious nature of SARS-Cov-2, traditional analogue methods are both too dangerous and too slow; digital contact tracing is the only way to go. In a technocratic world where we rely on our gadgets every day for news, maps, health tracking, and communication, not using the digital tools we have to update a century-long method almost seems silly.

The good news is that western societies dont have to start from scratch. One reason why Asias democratic countries quickly responded to Covid-19 is because they all suffered through the 2003 SARS epidemic. They learned their lesson and were the first to implement digital contact tracing, with both successes and hiccups along the way.

Its time to learn from them.

There are multiple ways contact tracing helps limit the reach of a virus, but its power is mainly felt at the beginning and tapering ends of a pandemic.

Take South Korea. The countrys enormously effective testing regime in January was an exemplary highlight of how contact tracing can plug the viral gush at the beginning of an outbreak. While they reported the first Covid-19 case in the US, South Korea rapidly ordered medical companies to develop and roll out testing kits aggressively, allowing health workers to track cases and keep infections containeda rollout arguably more effective than in the US, which has since seen its cases explode in numbers. These data resources then powered Corona 100m, an app that alerts users of diagnosed Covid-19 cases within 100 meters of their prior locations. The apps been downloaded over one million times to overwhelming positive reviews.

Perhaps the gold medal in digital contact tracing goes to Singapore. Backed by widespread testing, citizens were encouraged to download a Bluetooth-based app called TraceTogether, which anonymizes a users phone ID but stores similarly encrypted IDs from people he or she has been in contact with. If a person gets sick, those stored ID will be used to alert previous contacts. According to TraceTogethers official website, part of the Singapore Government Agency, roughly one million citizens have voluntarily signed up for the service.

The US has missed the boat on stemming Covid-19 from entering the country. However, digital contact tracing also comes in handy as were considering reopening our languishing economy. Serology tests, which look for antibodies that (in theory) render people immune will help assess when its mostly safe to return to work.

But before herd immunity becomes widespread or a working vaccine is easily accessible to most, contact tracing will become a key component of squashing new infection sparks before they flare up. California and Massachusetts are just two states looking to hire an army of contact tracers as part of their bid to reopen the economy.

Its perhaps not surprising that two giant tech companies, Apple and Google, announced last week a team-up to explore digital contact tracing in the land of the free.

An immediate response Ive heard is that it wont work here. After all, the narrative goes, even democratic Asian countries have a different social contract with their governments. Theyre focused more on society than on the independent selfa Confucius-esque philosophy thats slapped onto most East Asian citizens. Western countries such as the UK have tried similar approaches before: in 2011, Cambridge Universitys FluPhone app was supposed to track the spread of flu on a population level, yet fewer than one percent of people in Cambridge adopted it.

Bollocks. Dont sell yourself short. FluPhone wasnt released during a pandemic. If Covid-19 has one silver lining, its how on average people in the West are just as willing to sacrifice personal freedoms and adopt strange new customs (face masks everywhere!) to keep themselves and others safe. (Outliers exist, but they exist in every country.)

However, societal norms aside, early lessons from digital contact tracing efforts show that there are serious problems that need ironing out, and for now, our phones wont completely replace human workers in tracing the pandemic.

The basic idea behind Google-Apples app is similar to TraceTogether: its Bluetooth-based, meaning that itll only work locally without logging your location data. For now its opt-in, in that you have to download the app on either iOS or Android. The companies stress that they wont collect personal or location data (though Google Maps certainly does unless youve opted out), and all phone ID codes will be encrypted, making it difficult to link to a particular person. The app will periodically check to see if its been recently in contact with someone diagnosed with Covid-19.

Theres obviously the problem of data privacy. According to Covid Watch, a similar community-based, open-sourced app that uses Bluetooth for tracking, at least 50 percent of a population will need to use it to make tracking effective, and if people are hesitant, itll fail.

Another pre-requisite is that we need massively wider testing, which is currently still mostly reserved for people with clear symptoms. The Covid Tracking Project reports that less than one percent of Americans have received the test, which means a tracing app based on Covid-19 positive data would be of little to no value. Others worry about the opposite, which is that a Bluetooth-based app could over-alert users. For example, the most common Bluetooth signals have a reach roughly five times more than the six feet apart social distancing guideline.

All of the above concerns are valid. Yet without implementing the app, theyre also theoretical. Whats clear from Singapores success story is that digital contact tracing by itself isnt yet enough to curb Covid-19. Health workers, for example, may need anonymized ID data to help track down potentially exposed individuals to encourage self-isolation or provide care. Without sufficient testing and social distancing, asymptomatic carriers will still unknowingly spread the disease.

Digital contact tracing may ignite every freedom, privacy, and independence fiber in your body in protest. Tech giants and government alike havent helped build a foundation of trust or respect for our private data. But without doubt, digitization is the way of the future: its a replacement for fallible human memory, which cant recall what you had for lunch two weeks ago, let alone everyone youve been in contact with. Its a safety guard for real-world equivalents of Dr. Mears, who risk their health and lives to warn you of health risks to yourself and others.

Since its invention, contact tracing has always towed the line between privacy and social service. With our actions and voices, were now helping lay the foundation of its digital future, not just for this pandemic but for all the ones to come.

Image Credit: StockSnap from Pixabay

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College of the Siskiyous play about end of the world canceled by end of the world – Siskiyou Daily News

Posted: at 2:45 am

The Singularity Machine, explained Carpentier-Alting, is a play about a family trying to escape a world in crisis through the use of a device that will transport them into the future.

Friday, April 3, would have been the premier performance of The Singularity Machine at the College of the Siskiyous Kenneth Ford Theater in Weed. The play, told in two acts, is the creation of COS director Neil Carpentier-Alting and deals with humanitys quest to survive climate catastrophe.

Who wouldve thought a play about the end of the world would get canceled by the end of the world? said Carpentier-Alting.

The Singularity Machine, explained Carpentier-Alting, is a play about a family trying to escape a world in crisis through the use of a device that will transport them into the future. The primary question that the play attempts to address is how humanity will survive the effects of the impending climate catastrophe and overcome societal divisions in time to pull together. Oh, and there are lots of killer robots too.

On the stage for their first and final technical rehearsal on Monday, March 16, COS students and actors were able to at least film some scenes with lights and technical props in action before the early shelter-in-place order went into effect on March 19. The students will most likely not be able to stage a live performance this year.

The play was a completely in-house creation. Carpentier-Alting provided the main inspiration with an eight-page narrative, and local musicians Dave Theno and Tristan Behm composed the score. COS dance instructor Wendy James provided choreography oversight, Nic Fabrio was in charge of costume design and Amy LaMachia oversaw makeup.

We were just able to get each scene on film, said Carpentier-Alting. We have had to move classes to an online format with the thought that we may have to do this again in the fall. For now, we are getting together with the cast to record our experiences with the pandemic with the hopes of making something out of it.

Stage Makeup instructor Amy LaMachia will continue teaching the students online. She prepared makeup kits for each student and says they will be able to finish the semester but there are challenges.

These students are so resilient and creative, I honestly cannot wait to see what they come up with for these remaining modules, LaMachia said. So much of what makes our department as amazing as it is, is the personal connection we have with our students. We hope to foster that even if it is through an internet connection.

The Singularity Machine was created as a piece of devised theater in which all the cast, crew and technicians collectively create a piece of visual art. The collaborative process uses dance, gesture, music and sound to tell the story. The play follows the quest of a father, mother, and their daughter as they travel through time to escape calamity. The father looks to technology to save humanity, while the mother looks to rouse others to their cause. It is their child who ultimately leads them to a new and better world. The dynamic piece of theater follows the three travelers as they battle sentient robots, meet strange alien civilizations, and travel through time through an on-stage portal. For Carpentier-Alting and his fellow instructors the focus now is on preserving the play digitally and thinking about a remount in the fall.

How do we plan for this level of uncertainty in this new world? Carpentier-Alting said. How do we plan for anything now?

Answering his own question, Carpentier-Alting offers the play as a possible starting point.

The play assumes adopting and cultivating humane practices in all aspects of life will help to create a broader safety net and increase the rate of survival, he said. Change is necessary for survival and growth.


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How to Navigate the Coronavirus Crisis With Innovation at Warp Speed – Singularity Hub

Posted: at 2:45 am

It is possible to commit no errors and still lose. That is not a weakness. That is life. Captain Jean-Luc Picard, Star Trek

Many of you likely recognize the truth in this quote from legendary Star Trek Captain Jean-Luc Picard. Many are dubbing the Covid-19 pandemic the biggest global crisis since World War II. Theres no way you could have had a foolproof plan to deal with it. Yes, scientists have long warned of a pandemic like this. And unfortunately, many countries have not been as well prepared as they should have been. But few businesses would have had incentive to plan for a potential pandemic where whole markets disappeared almost overnight.

Now its here, however, and the implications are massive. There is not one industry, not one organization, big or small, that has or will not be impacted.

So, what to do? Do we need to look at our organizations and see where we can cut costs and strengthen our core businesses? Yes. But protecting the core isnt going to be enough. Contrary to common practice and what may seem practical, businesses also need to double down on innovation.

Statistics show that in times of crisis innovation suffers. Organizations become more introverted and risk averse. But they need to do the opposite, not only to survive in the short term, but to also keep pace with a rapidly changing world.

Companies need to be constantly looking beyond their core businesses to stay relevant. And whatever the speed of innovation needed to be up until the point when Covid-19 hit our countriesit just became too slow. We now need innovation at warp speed.

The good news is that while there is a tendency to argue people dont like change and resist it, given the right context, people are actually remarkably adaptable. And the context has just changed dramatically. For the vast majority of people this is abundantly clear. All things being equal, with the right tools, this makes them much more open to innovation.

With that in mind, here are some crucial ways organizations can speed up innovation.

In Star Trek, the prime directivewhich dealt with ethical first contactwas essentially the most important rule or law to be obeyed above all others. For organizations, it should be to answer the question, How can we remain relevant in this radically different environment?

This means looking at core offerings and identifying how to adapt them to the new reality. For some industries where demand has disappeared almost entirely, at least for now, it means daring to pivot. Fast.

I would even argue we need to see something akin to pivot-mania. That doesnt mean acting in desperation, but acting with an acute sense of urgency.

I recently interviewed Brendan Ives, head of Division X at the telecommunications company Telia, for my podcast. One of Division Xs core focuses before the crisis was AI-enabled data products for retail. Then the entire industry just shut down before their eyes and demand all but died.

So, they huddled and discussed what other problems their work might solve.

Those conversations led them to pivot away from retail and channel their entire focus into digital health. Their new focus had the added benefit of increasing their potential positive impact in the world as it enabled them to directly work towards mitigating the Covid-19 threat.

Pivoting also applies to the individual roles people play in the organization. In Division X, employees had to change their perspectives on how they fit in the organization given the new reality. In many organizations, there may now be fewer people to get the job done and skills may need to be tailored to a different market. Every role needs to be revisited to ensure maximum impact.

Pivoting and identifying new strategic objectives is no small feat. To ensure you move in the right direction and get all important players on board, purpose, communication, and motivation have never been more important.

Having the right narratives and ensuring motivation are clearly related to having the right purpose. At Growth, logistics giant Maersks venture arm, CEO Sune Stilling initially set up the entity to build billion-dollar businesses. But they quickly learned that employees didnt find building billion-dollar businesses to be a particularly meaningful goal.

This led them to reflect more deeply on what should be driving their work and pivot their purpose to transforming trade and working to solve food waste.

Can we afford to only go after these kinds of meaningful ambitions right now? Perhaps not. But there are many opportunities currently to double down and ensure that, in addition to keeping your business afloat, you play an active part in addressing the crisis. This can be incredibly motivating for all parties.

Lowes Innovation Labs spearheaded many surprising initiatives for a retail chain over the yearsholo-rooms and robot assistants inside stores years back, exoskeletons for warehouse workers, 3D printers for outer space.

How did they get the company to try so many new things? The team developed a creative new approach to compellingly envision the future.

They gave inhouse market research to science fiction writers and developed future scenarios. Then they reverse engineered these futures step by step back to the present. Finally, they workshopped potential future-proof solutions and presented those solutions to top management in the form of comic books.

By shifting from boring PowerPoint bullets and graphs to visual storytelling, they were able to inspire seasoned, seen-it-all executives to say yes and grow the companys innovation capabilities.

While that may sound like a lengthy process, you can actually get it done in just a few days. If you dont have the resources to hire science fiction writers, then dont. Have your team make mood boards instead to visualize opportunities, and you have a low-cost version that will do.

Alex Goryachev, managing director of Ciscos Co-Innovation Centers, realized they were really good at partnering externally to accelerate innovation, but that they didnt apply that same principle internally.

Thus, there was no model for harnessing the tens of thousands of Cisco employees innovation powers. This led to the establishment of a hugely successful internal startup program with clear metrics that focused not only on actions but also outcomes. While that may sound obvious and bland, many, many innovation projects fail because they dont measure whats important.

To optimize for the quick wins you need in times of crisis, be sure to spend the time to set the right metrics. It will increase the likelihood of success and increase motivation because people know what theyre running after.

You also need to partner outside your company. You dont have time to develop all capabilities or technologies yourself. That was true before the crisis. It is more true now.

The good news is that openness to collaboration has never been greater. Startups, suppliers, and even competitors have never needed it more.

This provides the perfect platform for establishing win-win collaborations to accelerate each others businesses. Customers are also much more open to beta. They understand organizations have to work hard and fast to adapt to the new reality which may mean they dont always ship perfect.

Innovation is inherently risky. Innovation in times of crisis is even riskier. The stakes are higher. There is no way around that truth.

This means you need to create psychological safety at work.

Google conducted a two year study, built on top of research done by Harvard professor, Amy Edmondson, to identify what made consistently successful teams tick. Psychological safety was number one, by a mile. Even more important than team capabilities, rank, and prior successes.

Here are a few ways to create psychological safety.

Empower people to makes decisions. You dont have time not to do this because hierarchy slows execution. And lets face it, the people most able to make good decisions are likely the people in the trenches making stuff happen.

Create guiding principles instead of rules. Turn off the lights is a rule. Be environmentally conscious is a guiding principle. It allows people to make their own decisions and opens up opportunities for action.

Actively and visibly reward the right behavior. For example, some teams at Google hand out the Courageous Penguin award. You know when penguins assemble at the edge of an iceberg and look down? Theyre waiting for the first penguin to jump. That penguin doesnt know whats lurking under the water; it takes courage to jump first. Reward people who take on big challenges with uncertain outcomes, even if they fail. Celebrate your courageous penguins. It is contagious. It accelerates the desired behavior.

The world has changed for good. Hopefully, the crisis will soon be behind us. But its implications will follow us for years. Adapting to the crisis now by innovating at warp speed is essential for short-term survival. Even more, it sets you up in the best possible position to bounce back post-crisis.

Todays accelerated adoption of a more digital economy wont go away after the crisis. Yes, well start traveling again, visit our doctors in person, and take face-to-face courses. But we will have learned we dont have to do it the same way anymore, and we will have developed better solutions. New habits and business models developed to face the crisis will also prevail afterwards.

Im convinced there is a bright future out there. To navigate to it you must innovate fast.

To borrow another quote from Star Trek: One cannot summon the future, but one can change the present! Lets change the present and set sails for a brighter future. But most importantly, stay safe and take care of your loved ones. In the end, thats what really matters.

Image Credit: JR Korpa /Unsplash

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Reducing Global Supply Chain Reliance on China Won’t Be Easy – BRINK

Posted: at 2:45 am

Economy April 22, 2020 Manisha Mirchandani Director of Strategy at Atlantic 57

A man walking around in a factory. The outbreak of the coronavirus in Wuhan in January highlighted the pitfalls of China as the dominant global manufacturer of record.

Photo: Loic Venance / AFP via Getty Images

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The global spread of COVID-19 has sparked a clarion call to diversify supply chains away from China. But its singularity as a manufacturing location will make it hard to find alternatives.

The outbreak of the coronavirus in Wuhan in January highlighted the pitfalls of China as the dominant global manufacturer of record. A delay in orders from Chinese factories was inevitable, given the scale of dependency on Wuhan alone. According to Dun & Bradstreet, a business intelligence company, 51,000 companies have one or more direct suppliers in Wuhan, while 5 million companies have one or more tier-two suppliers in the region. The data suggests that its not just Southeast Asia that is dependent on Chinese suppliers the problem appears to be much more widespread.

Another survey by the Institute for Supply Management captures the magnitude of the outbreak for global manufacturers: More than half (57%) of companies are experiencing longer lead times for tier-1 China-sourced components, while 44% are simply unprepared to address continued supply disruptions from China. A case in point the technology giant Apple was one of the first major global companies to inform investors that it would miss Q1 revenue projections, in part due to delays in production by its China-based assembly plants. Of late, Apple had begun to move some production activities to Vietnam and India, but the company remains reliant on Chinese assembly plants to power its inventory.

The spread of the coronavirus has made one thing clear across the technology, automotive, electronics, pharmaceutical, medical equipment and consumer goods sectors, nearly all supply chains lead back to China as the preeminent global provider of intermediate materials and components. Recognizing the risk that a dependency on China poses to national industries, some governments are offering manufacturers incentives to exit China and ease the pain of diversification. Japan is putting $2.2 billion of its COVID-19 economic stimulus package into supporting its manufacturers shift production outside of China. Theres also mounting public pressure in some countries, such as the United States, to move essential production of pharmaceuticals and medical equipment out of China and closer to home.

Indeed, the pandemic might accelerate pre-existing plans to reduce supply chain dependency on China. Alongside rising labor costs, the ratcheting of trade tensions between China and the U.S. had already pushed brands to re-evaluate their single-source strategies. More than 80% of fashion brands said they already planned to reduce sourcing from China, according to a July 2019 U.S. Fashion Industry Association report. Ensuring more resilience in supply chains is also likely to be a future expectation of investors, who will now be looking at the ability of companies to hedge risk in the event of continued outbreaks or other Black Swan events. The chairman of Wistron Corp, an iPhone assembler, told analysts that the company would locate 50% of its capacity outside of China by 2021. Simply put, the coronavirus has accelerated trends that have been evident for some time pertaining to Chinas manufacturing stature.

But the reality is that a major manufacturing shift away from China is easier said than done. Even those companies that have diversified production are finding it hard to break free of Chinas pervasive influence. Anticipating a rise in tariffs from the U.S.-China trade war, video game producer Nintendo had shifted the manufacturing of its blockbuster gaming console to Vietnam in 2019. Still, there is a shortage of Switch consoles in stores today due to a lack of essential components flowing to the companys Vietnamese factories, as COVID-19 paused production by Chinese suppliers of component parts.

The global technology and consumer electronics sectors are especially reliant on Chinas infrastructure and specialized labor pool, neither of which will be easy to replicate. The Chinese government is already mobilizing resources to convince producers of Chinas unique merits as a manufacturing location. Zhengzhou, within Henan Province, has appointed officials to support Apples partner Foxconn in mitigating the disruptions caused by the coronavirus, while the Ministry of Finance is increasing credit support to the manufacturing sector. Further, the Chinese government is likely to channel stimulus efforts to develop the countrys high-tech manufacturing infrastructure, moving away from its low-value manufacturing base and accelerating its vision for a technology-driven services economy.

To this end, manufacturers are cognizant of the potential of China as a major consumer market for iPhones today and for advanced technologies such as robotics, autonomous vehicles and smart devices tomorrow. A flash poll by the Beijing-based U.S. Chamber of Commerce conducted in March shows that U.S. businesses are still bullish on Chinese consumers, despite the impact of the virus. The consumer sector had the most businesses reporting that they intend to maintain planned investments (46%), followed by the technology industry (43%).

As manufacturers examine their supply chains for a post-COVID 19 world, the imperative for greater supply chain resilience versus the attractiveness of China as a manufacturing location and tech-forward consumer market is the defining tension that they will need to navigate. The outcome is unlikely to be a clean break from China for most. Lower-value sectors, such as apparel, are most likely to expedite diversification. Indeed, many garment manufacturers have already diversified from China to the likes of Vietnam, Cambodia and Ethiopia on the basis of rising labor costs. It will be the higher-value technology and consumer electronics sectors where the countrys manufacturing prowess and consumer potential is the most pronounced that will find it hardest to turn away from Chinas distinctive allure.


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‘Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045’ Preview: Will the new series step up to franchise standards or crash and burn – MEAWW

Posted: at 2:45 am

Netflix is all set to release a brand new addition to the iconic 'Ghost in the Shell' franchise. 'Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045' is a new 3D CGI animated series that continues the story of the franchise with new technologies and world-ending threats.Directed by Shinji Aramaki and franchise veteran Kenji Kamiyama, 'SAC_2045' looks like it might just be a worthy addition to the franchise. It features the return of beloved franchise characters Major Motoko Kusanagi (Atsuko Tanaka), Akio Ohtsuka as Batou, Kichi Yamadera as Togusa, Yutaka Nakano as Ishikawa, Toru Ohkawa as Saito and more.

It is set in 2045 and draws inspiration from Ray Kurzweil's 'The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology', which predicts that human and machine intelligence would merge into a Singularity by that year. It looks like the show will present an interesting perspective on the future of the human race, a theme that's been predominant in the franchise as a whole. The series will also be introducing some interesting new villains, the so-called "post-humans" who threaten the delicate global balance.

In terms of story and philosophical themes, 'SAC_2045' does sound like it might be exactly what fans of the franchise want. However, there's also the artwork to be taken into account.

This isn't the first time 'Ghost in the Shell' has played around with 3D animation but Netflix does have a pretty shaky track record with CG-animated shows (we're looking at you 'Saint Seiya'). That said, we've seen the art for the show in trailers and it looks like it does work pretty well for the series.There's a lot of expectations riding on 'SAC_2045'. Whether it can live up to them or not is something we'll have to wait and see.

Here's the official synopsis for the new ONA series: "In 2045, the world has been thrown into a state of systematic 'sustainable war', but the threat of human extinction at the hands of AI hasn't yet pervaded the public consciousness. Former members of Public Security Section 9, including full-body cyborg Major Motoko Kusanagi, are working as hired mercenaries when mysterious beings known as 'post-humans' begin to emerge. The worlds superpowers are trying to come to grips with the threat, and so Section 9 is reorganized."

'Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045' will drop on Netflix on April 23.

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EU Masters Spring 2020: The Top 5 Teams in the Main Event – Blog of Legends

Posted: at 2:44 am

League of Legends. Photo Courtesy of Riot Games.

The Main Event of the Spring 2020 edition of the European Masters (EU Masters) begins on the 22nd of April and will run until the 10th of May. Several teams have already fought their way through the play-in stage for an opportunity to represent their regional league against Europes best and brightest. This is how the groups have been drawn ahead of the Main Event:

BT ExcelGamers OriginTeam GamerLegionYDN Gamers

AGO RogueDefusekidsLDLC OLVodafone Giants

FC Schalke 04 EvolutionK1CK NeosurfMovistar RidersTeam Singularity

Energypot WizardseSubaFnatic RisingMousesports

Those of you who arent familiar with European regional leagues likely wont know which leagues are the strongest and which teams to look out for. The tournament has run for four splits, and the past champions are Origen (EU-wide), Mad Lions (Spain), Misfits Premier (France), and Berlin International Gaming (Germany). In this article, we will look at the five teams best poised to take the title this year.

Christian Sleeping Tiensuu(Top)Erberk Gilius Demir(Jungle)Lukas Lurox Thoma(Jungle)Daniel Sertuss Gamani(Middle)Nihat Innaxe Aliev(ADC)Mat Neon Jakubk(ADC)Risto SirNukesALot Luuri(Support)

The Prime League champions will be looking to retain the Masters title for Germany and the DACH region this split. They will also be hoping to redeem the Schalke organization after a poor LEC performance by its first team. The team qualified straight to the Main Event after following up a first-place regular-season placing with back-to-back series victories over Mousesports, winning the Prime League trophy in an efficient fashion.

Keen LEC viewers will recognize several of the names on this roster, as 5/7 of these players have played in Europes top league in the past. In fact, Gilius, Lurox, and Innaxe were active on Schalkes LEC team during the Spring split.

All three players are still eligible to play in EU Masters as no member of the trio played more than thirteen games in the LEC. Schalke is the roster with the most LEC-calibre players in one package, and theyll certainly be hoping to leverage some of the experience of members such as Gilius and Innaxe to gain a mental edge.

As a pool one team, Schalke was always going to be able to dodge some of their closest rivals. However, even considering their pool one status they were fortunate to be drawn into their group.

Theres no such thing as an easy group in EU Masters but it would certainly be an upset if Schalke were not to top their group. That being said, each of their opponents in Movistar, K1CK, and Singularity have the potential to cause Die Knigsblauen trouble.

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Remembering the Boston Marathon Bombing Victims and Survivors 7 Years Later – Newsweek

Posted: at 2:44 am

On April 15, 2013, tragedy struck when two homemade pressure cooker bombs exploded at the annual Boston Marathon. 7 years later, runners hoping to honor the victims and survivors of the terrorist attack will have to wait to do so due to the coronavirus lockdown.

On Patriot's Day, two bombs exploded at 2:49 pm near the 117th marathon's finish line. Brothers Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and Tamerlan Tsarnaev were responsible for the deaths of three spectators and the injuries of about 260 innocent victims. After security camera footage connected the two suspects to the bombing, federal and state law enforcement pursued the Tsarnaev brothers.

After an intense gun battle at Watertown street, Tamerlan Tsarnaev died from his gunshot wounds. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev could not evade capture and faced his own trial, where he was found guilty of 30 federal charges. While on death row, Dzhokhar has been incarcerated at a penitentiary prison in Colorado.

Marc Fucarile, a bombing survivor who lost his leg, recently discussed how he moved on with Boston 25 News, "You can never change the past, no matter how much you focus on it. So, I strongly believe you chose to live in the moment you are in. Right now. At this minute. And that's the only thing you can control."

In a recent interview with Associated Press, Bobby O'Donnell talked about dealing with trauma, "It took having this terrible thing happen to me to have all the wonderful things that followed occur. When I face tragedy or adversity, what I've come to realize is I need to decide where I want this to go from here."

The survivors of the 2013 marathon bombing made a special video to express their gratitude to the first responders and their "healthcare heroes."

Due to the pandemic, this year's Boston marathon has been postponed until September 14. The Town of Hopkinton, where the annual event begins, and the Boston Athletic Association (B.A.A.) believe participants in the marathon should stay at home instead. Because runners are expected to break lockdown rules, extra parking restrictions have been set near the marathon's start line.

B.A.A. CEO Tom Grilk expressed hope for the future, "We very much look forward to seeing what Hopkinton looks like at the starting line in September with leaves on the trees and green grass."

"It will be a very different look. It should be quite fun. It will be something of a singularity," added Grilk.

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