Mar 02

Wal-Mart Raises the Stakes in E-commerce Arms Race With Amazon

walmart-amazon-pac-man_rd.3-600x400And the company is making management changes to reflect its new focus on online shoppers.

If Wal-Mart stands any chance of going head to head with Amazon, it’ll have to use its physical store locations to its advantage. To that end, the company is streamlining its management team to align its e-commerce and brick-and-mortar operations. The retailer will now have one technology officer — Jeremy King — for both its online and physical stores. Likewise, Tony Rogers will oversee marketing for both Walmart.com and Jet.com, in addition to U.S. Wal-Mart stores.

The move to unify management across efforts could help Wal-Mart make some inroads against its online competition. While Wal-Mart is the second largest online commerce site in the U.S., it still trails Amazon by a wide margin. What’s more, that gulf is getting bigger as Amazon’s growth continues to outpace Wal-Mart’s.

Reshaping e-commerce

“We’re on a mission to reshape e-commerce and create a best-in-class shopping experience that empowers customers to save money in completely new ways,” Marc Lore, head of Wal-Mart’s digital operations, wrote in a memo. Lore’s previous job as head of Jet.com started on that mission with its unique “buy more, save more” value proposition. With Wal-Mart’s massive supply chain, he’s in a strong position to continue that mission.

That means more than simply improving Wal-Mart’s online order and pickup service (which really needs improvement in my personal experience). It’s also more than Wal-Mart’s efforts to expand its online grocery ordering service, which has faced off against Amazon’s recent efforts to attract grocery shoppers.

Wal-Mart’s stores serve as a robust fulfillment center network, and its supply chain, which runs 24/7, is the backbone. Using those resources to fulfill online orders faster could give Wal-Mart a customer experience on the level of Amazon. But that means focusing more on online shoppers, whether that means increasing stockroom space, personnel, or even floor space.

Becoming Amazon before Amazon becomes Wal-Mart

As Wal-Mart integrates Jet.com and dedicates more resources to its e-commerce platform, Amazon is already accelerating its efforts to grab market share in some of Wal-Mart’s biggest markets.

But Amazon Go feels more like a publicity stunt than a viable nationwide store concept. If the company can get more consumers to associate Amazon with groceries, it could accelerate the rollout of Prime Fresh to new markets.

Wal-Mart is the largest grocer in the United States, and the grocery category is extremely important for the company. Not only does it make up a majority of Wal-Mart’s revenue, it supports its other categories by boosting foot traffic. If more shoppers start ordering groceries online, Wal-Mart stands to lose out on valuable sales.

That’s why the company is working hard to beat Amazon to the punch. Its online grocery order service is now available in over 100 markets, while it also tests new concepts like pickup and fuel, which allow customers to pick up grocery orders and fill up on gasoline.

But as Amazon builds out more physical locations — both consumer-facing ones like Amazon Go and its fulfillment center network — the advantage Wal-Mart enjoys with its large network of stores shrinks. Streamlining its operations, getting more customers to shop online, and improving the experience by leveraging its locations is the most important work Wal-Mart can do right now to take on Amazon.

Feb 27

Ajit Pai, FCC chairman: “We Don’t Expect to Review AT&T-Time Warner”

ajit2New Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai said Monday that the commission likely won’t take a look at the proposed $85.4-billion merger between AT&T (NYSE: T) and Time Warner, Inc. (NYSE: TWX).

Speaking at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Pai said that the fact AT&T isn’t planning to transfer over any of Time Warner’s FCC licenses means the commission likely won’t be involved.


AT&T has said it would likely choose to shed the licenses in order to avoid the review; the process started last week with a $70 million sale of Time Warner’s TV station in Atlanta to Meredith Corp.

AT&T has maintained the plans are subject to change, and Pai was yet to comment on his commission’s jurisdiction.

Without the FCC weighing in, sole regulatory approval for the deal will run through the Department of Justice, which has launched a review. AT&T and Time Warner this month responded to a group of senators– largely comprised of democrats – that have voiced opposition to the merger.

The company argues that the vertical merger will spur innovation without hurting consumer choice. The letter to senators – among them, Bernie Sandersand Al Franken, who has been outspoken about his issues with the deal – emphasized several points of potential innovation.

Among them, AT&T says the merger would help the company develop more short-form content for mobile devices; build platforms to mix entertainment content with user content; and offer better choice, conveniences and value in programming bundles.

Feb 21

Microsoft’s Satya Nadella is Counting on Culture Shock to Drive Growth

Satya-Nadella-MicrosoftLast March, Microsoft unveiled Tay.ai, a Twitter bot that promised to usher in a new era of human-to-artificial-intelligence conversation.

Within hours, hackers turned Tay into a venom-spewing racist, and the project was quickly shuttered with a public apology.

In the old days of Microsoft, heads surely would have rolled.

But Satya Nadella, 49, a one-time company engineer who took the reins of the $500 billion tech giant three years ago this month, instead sent the Tay team a note of encouragement.

“Keep pushing, and know that I am with you,” he wrote in an e-mail, urging staffers to take the criticism in the right spirit while exercising “deep empathy for anyone hurt by Tay. (The) key is to keep learning and improving.”

The group responded with Zo, a new AI chatbot that debuted in December. So far, no issues.

A seismic cultural shift is rocking Microsoft under Nadella, part of a broad transformation that is moving the company away from an atrophying, software license-based past and towards a thriving, cloud-based future.

In the process, Nadella has managed to get investors and employees alike re-energized about a once dominant brand whose luster had faded. And while part of his strategy involves buying new companies and beefing up existing teams in order to tackle cutting-edge tech trends, ultimately he feels success comes down to reinvigorating Microsoft’s in-house mojo.

“What I realize more than ever now is that my job is curation of our culture,” says Nadella, who will explore this topic and others in a book due out this fall called Hit Refresh. “If you don’t focus on creating a culture that allows people to do their best work, then you’ve created nothing.”

Innovation is the lifeblood of any company, but especially those that traffic in the fickle world of technology. For every Facebook there’s also a Yahoo, shooting comets that cling to familiar paths and miss new trends.

For this one-time tech monolith, a cultural makeover capable of spawning revenue-generating ideas is critical to staying relevant.

“Microsoft has massive cloud growth from one direction,” a business that is second only to Amazon Web Services, with a $13 billion a year run rate, says Jan Dawson of Jackdaw Research. “But then there’s this drag from phone hardware and a move away from licensing, so there are a lot of things against them.”

While Microsoft stock passed an all-time high set in 1999 and has rallied nearly 80% since Nadella took over, the CEO has yet to jumpstart revenue growth out of the single digits in the past year.

“There’s so much legacy business with Microsoft, which is both a strength and millstone,” says Dawson. “Any new stuff seems to just offset the long-term decline on other fronts.”

Reviving the ‘enduring mission’

Almost since its founding in 1975, Microsoft road the crest of a surging computer wave to staggering profits. Armed with a monopolistic mandate, the company did more dictating than listening.

But the 2000s were a humbling decade as Microsoft struggled to keep up with new trends and products, from smartphones to social networking.

“When I joined the company in 1992, we used to talk about our mission as putting a PC in every home, and by the end of the decade we have done that, at least in the developed world,” Nadella says. “It always bothered me that we confused an enduring mission with a temporal goal.”

Now, he says, “any decision about a new product or a new hire, I’m always thinking about that sense of purpose and culture.”

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella tells USA TODAY’s Marco Della Cava about the company’s two biggest projects: HoloLens and the purchase of LinkedIn. Robert Hanashiro, USA TODAY

Nadella credits his work attitude to a former Microsoft boss, Doug Burgum, currently the governor of North Dakota. “He said you’re going to spend more time at work than you will with your kids, so it had better have that deeper meaning,” Nadella recalls. “It was a turning point for me personally at work.”

That missionary zeal even extends to making occasional phone pitches to promising college graduates. Far from being intimidated, “they’re fearless,” he says with a laugh. “They say, ‘I have five offers, tell me why I should join you?’”

Hackathons, town halls and big bets

Among the changes Nadella has put in place are campus hackathons to drive bottom-up ideas and monthly town hall meetings accessible to all 120,000 global employees. And top execs now travel more in order to better understand their enterprise customers’ needs.

One of those road warriors, cloud and enterprise chief Scott Guthrie, says “these days, we acknowledge others may have better ways of doing things, as opposed to us saying, ‘Here’s how we do it at Microsoft.’”

Adds Kathleen Hogan, head of human resources and a 14-year veteran of the company: “There was more a fixed mindset here before, a need to know it all and look smart. Before, the competition was internal, but it needed to be with the world outside.”

To that end, Nadella has begun inviting CEOs of newly acquired companies to annual retreats that had been reserved exclusively for veteran company leaders. Under Nadella, Microsoft has made dozens of acquisitions including a massive $26 billion purchase of professional networking site LinkedIn.

Chuck Dietrich, a Salesforce veteran whose Mobile Data Labs AI company was bought by Microsoft in 2015, attended last year’s executive retreat. He says Nadella has managed to alter a corporate reputation for being “stodgy, closed and insular. We (new hires) are being asked for our opinions, and even leading best-practice meetings.”

Embracing outsiders as potential allies seems like a shrewd move when profits and longevity hang in the balance.

“I asked myself the question, ‘If we sort of disappeared from this planet, will there be any sensibility lost?’” Nadella says. His conclusion: Microsoft should have a role in bringing about the next computing revolution, one tethered to the cloud, artificial intelligence and augmented reality.

“I deeply understand (that),” he says. “I mean, I see the future.”

Since taking over, Nadella has allocated some $35 billion towards R&D for projects such as the company’s $3,000 mixed reality headset, HoloLens. Last fall’s launch of Microsoft Teams aims to steal thunder from hit office communication company, Slack. And just last week, the company announced a new initiative called Healthcare NExT, which will leverage advanced technology to improve patient care and provide new tools to doctors.

It’s still in the PC market 

But the headwinds facing Nadella and his gradually turning ocean liner of a company are strong.

slowing global PC market continues to chip away at revenue from software licensing. That part of Microsoft’s business is transitioning steadily to a cloud-based subscription model, which is inherently less profitable.

Nadella also is unwinding a failed $7 billion Nokia acquisition made under his predecessor. A goal of getting its Windows 10 operating system onto a billion devices has hit a snag due largely to shortfalls in that mobile strategy.

What’s more, a growing number of cloud players such as Salesforce, Google, IBM and late-entry Oracle means increasing competition for enterprise customers. Meanwhile, LinkedIn’s full financial contribution has yet to be realized and HoloLens remains in the hands of developers.

Scott Kessler of CFRA Research lauds the stock bump under Nadella but suggests the honeymoon may soon be over as investors look for restructuring moves to hit the bottom line.

“FY18 (fiscal year 2018) will be the year where Nadella has to transition from someone who is new and learning and making these significant changes, to one who is about execution, about demonstrating improvement and traction with products and financials,” says Kessler, who rates Microsoft shares a hold.

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, who remains on the company board, says his company’s “ambitious product plans” will prove key to its success.

“I enjoy working with Satya, and the R&D stuff he is pushing is really building up a lot of strength for the company,” says Gates.

But, he adds, “it’s still a very competitive business we’re in. Google is the strongest by many metrics, though mainly on the consumer side. Apple continues to do well. Facebook is amazing. And Amazon is in our same town.”

Big changes from a ‘consummate insider’

When Nadella strolls the expansive Microsoft campus, home to a third of its global army, there is no parting of the waters. Employees offer a quick nod or a smile.

If he seems like one of their own, that’s for good reason. Nadella joined the company as a 24-year-old graduate of Indian and U.S. schools (Mangalore University, electrical engineering and University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, computer science), and eventually was noticed for his work in the burgeoning cloud and enterprise group.

That all this change should come from a man who has spent a quarter-century at the firm is ironic. But, says Nadella, not surprising.

“I didn’t start this (CEO) journey with a very explicit goal of change,” he says. “I mean, I’m not an outsider. In fact, I’m the consummate insider. But I also have a worldview, a sense of purpose for this company.”

Nadella says he drew inspiration from the company’s founders, Gates and Paul Allen, who had created computer software for a hobby computer called the Altair.

“A lot of technology has come and gone since the Altair, but we are that same company, a company that creates technology (and) puts it into other people’s hands so they can create more technology,” he says. “That’s where the empowerment comes from.”

Much the way Gates and Allen envisioned a world where their language would drive a new age of productivity, Nadella doubled down on HoloLens just as its team members were sure they’d fall to the budget-cutting ax.

“In my world, you’re selling a vision, which by definition is something you can’t see,” says HoloLens guru Alex Kipman. “So you’re telling a CEO, this is super expensive and requires you have a long-term approach to life. Luckily, he does.”

Nadella says it was easy to bet on the futuristic computing platform that allows humans to interact with holograms in space: “As a leader, you often have to suspend your disbelief and just go create.”

Microsoft’s leader comes across as a man who feels pleased if not shocked at where his life journey has taken him — from an Indian kid working with Microsoft software tools who dreamed of a career in tech, to an American citizen running Microsoft who meets with presidents and prime ministers.

And with that sense of good fortune has come a sense of responsibility, one that is focused on not just the next Microsoft quarterly report but also the legacy he will leave behind.

“Organizations should not be measured so much during a CEO’s tenure, but after,” says Nadella. “Because if it all falls apart after you’re gone, then you haven’t created an organization that is enduring.”

Feb 08

Quarter of U.S. Tech Workers Perceive Discrimination: Survey

google-tech-discrimination-960x540Fifty-seven percent of tech workers said they did not know what actions their company is taking to address the issue. About a quarter of U.S. workers in the technology sector, which has faced criticism for a lack of diversity, said they felt discrimination at their workplace in a survey released on Tuesday by job site Indeed.com.

The survey of 1,002 U.S. tech sector workers, conducted in December, found that 24 percent said they felt they had been discriminated against at their current companies due to their race, gender, age, religion or sexual orientation. The national survey was conducted online by survey consulting firm Censuswide, which invited participants to opt in through an online newsletter. This was the first such survey by Indeed.

Some 29 percent of female respondents said they experienced discrimination compared with 21 percent of men. Some 32 percent of Asian and nonwhite employees said they were discriminated against, versus 22 percent of white employees.

The survey did not provide details surrounding the nature of the discrimination.

“These results should be seen as a wake-up call to the industry that simply striving to hire diverse talent is not enough: culture and attitude need to be addressed,” said Raj Mukherjee, senior vice president of product at Indeed.

Over the last three years Alphabet Inc’s Google, Facebook Inc, Apple Inc and other major tech companies have released employee demographic data, adjusted recruiting strategies and offered training on unconscious bias. Mukherjee added that companies should make greater efforts to include current employees in its diversity initiative, since 57 percent of respondents said they did not know what actions their company is taking to address the issue.

An additional 25 percent did not believe their companies were taking any action. “With so many people disengaged it’s hard for real change to occur,” said Rev. Jesse Jackson, whose Rainbow Push Coalition led a campaign in 2014 urging tech companies to release employee demographic data and diversify, in a statement.

Feb 07

The Importance of Cyber Security for Law Firms.

Few industries handle as much sensitive material on a daily basis as the legal vertical—or have as much to lose if a cyber attack occurs. Law firms are becoming increasingly reliant on technology, and hackers are only growing more sophisticated in their methods of attack. If your cyber security is not up to the challenge of keeping them out, you leave your firm—and your clients—at risk.

Any cyber attack, regardless of magnitude, is worrisome. A large-scale breach can be devastating. If your firm’s computer systems are damaged or disabled for even a day, the resulting loss in revenue and productivity may be massive. Worse, a single hacked email account has the potential to reveal a plethora of confidential information pertaining to hundreds, if not thousands, of clients. If a firm proves itself incapable of protecting its network and data, clients will not trust it to handle their business.

In 2016, the “Panama Papers” document leak at Mossack Fonseca demonstrated just how destructive a breach could be. Through a hack in the firm’s email server, millions of sensitive documents were leaked. The private financial information of hundreds of high-profile clients was revealed, resulting in embarrassment for many—especially the firm. What went wrong? In addition to using outdated software, Mossack Fonseca was not encrypting its emails. The firm left itself vulnerable, and put its clients’ private data at risk.

Failure to protect client information can permanently damage your firm’s reputation. A firewall and basic antivirus software are not enough to keep sensitive data safe from threats. Demonstrating to your clients that you take IT security seriously will ease their minds, and yours—and is justification enough for a proactive approach.

The importance of email encryption and other security measures to the legal industry cannot be downplayed. You may find clients specifically request these measures, and many will not work with you if your network isn’t absolutely secure. If your security measures are not up to scratch, you will see clients migrating to other firms that can provide adequate protection. The time to seek guidance is now.

At eMazzanti, we provide managed network security services for the legal vertical and beyond. We can inform you about best practices, industry standards, and most importantly how to keep your cyber security up to date to prevent any potential threats—and ensure your network is secure and reliable.

Feb 06

TechLatino Applauds the 97 Tech Companies that Just Opposed Trump’s Travel Ban.

100-orange-EmojiNearly 100 companies, mostly based in Silicon Valley, on Sunday issued a legal brief challenging President Donald Trump’s temporary travel ban, arguing that it hurts business and violates the Constitution.

“The tremendous impact of immigrants on America — and on American business — is not happenstance,” the companies wrote in the brief, filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in San Francisco. “People who choose to leave everything that is familiar and journey to an unknown land to make a new life necessarily are endowed with drive, creativity, determination — and just plain guts. The energy they bring to America is a key reason why the American economy has been the greatest engine of prosperity and innovation in history.”


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A federal judge on Friday halted Trump’s executive order, which barred travel by citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries for 90 days and suspended the refugee program for 120 days. The administration has a deadline later today to argue why the judge’s order should be reversed.

In all, 97 companies signed the legal brief. These notably included AppleGoogleeBayFacebookIntelMicrosoft, Netflix, Salesforce, Twitter, and Uber. CiscoOracle, and Tesla were conspicuously absent from the list.

The brief noted that more than 200 companies on the Fortune 500 list were founded by immigrants or the children of immigrants. Silicon Valley’s two biggest companies, Apple and Google, are included in that list. Since 2000, more than a third of American Nobel prize winners in chemistry, medicine and physics have been immigrants.

The Trump administration has signaled that it may continue to squeeze Silicon Valley on immigration, possibly by changing the structure of the H-1B visa program, which admitted 85,000 highly-skilled workers into the U.S. last year.

In December, executives from 12 technology companies met with Trump and a small circle of his advisors to talk about issues important to the group. Seven of the 12 companies either signed Sunday’s legal brief or filed one of their own.

The 97 companies signing Sunday’s legal brief:

  1. AdRoll
  2. Aeris Communications
  3. Airbnb
  4. AltSchool
  5. Ancestry.com
  6. Appboy
  7. Apple
  8. AppNexus
  9. Asana
  10. Atlassian
  11. Autodesk
  12. Automattic
  13. Box
  14. Brightcove
  15. Brit + Co
  16. CareZone
  17. Castlight Health
  18. Checkr
  19. Chobani Global Holdings
  20. Citrix Systems
  21. Cloudera
  22. Cloudflare
  23. Copia Institute
  24. DocuSign
  25. DoorDash
  26. Dropbox
  27. Dynatrace
  28. eBay
  29. Engine Advocacy
  30. Etsy
  31. Facebook
  32. Fastly
  33. Flipboard
  34. Foursquare Labs
  35. Fuze
  36. General Assembly Space
  37. GitHub
  38. Glassdoor
  39. Google
  40. GoPro
  41. Harmonic
  42. Hipmunk
  43. Indiegogo
  44. Intel
  45. Warby Parker
  46. Kargo Global
  47. Kickstarter
  48. KIND
  49. Knotel
  50. Levi Strauss & Co.
  51. LinkedIn
  52. Lithium Technologies
  53. Lyft
  54. Mapbox
  55. Instacart
  56. Marin Software
  57. Medallia
  58. Medium
  59. Meetup
  60. Microsoft
  61. Motivate International
  62. Mozilla Corporation
  63. Netflix
  64. Netgear
  65. NewsCred
  66. Patreon
  67. PayPal
  68. Pinterest
  69. Quora
  70. Reddit
  71. Rocket Fuel
  72. SaaStr
  73. Salesforce.com
  74. Scopely
  75. Shutterstock
  76. Snap
  77. Spokeo
  78. Spotify
  79. Square
  80. Squarespace
  81. Strava
  82. Stripe
  83. SurveyMonkey
  84. TaskRabbit
  85. Tech:NYC
  86. Thumbtack
  87. Turn
  88. Twilio
  89. Twitter
  90. Turn
  91. Uber Technologies
  92. Via Transportation
  93. Wikimedia Foundation
  94. Workday
  95. Y Combinator
  96. Yelp
  97. Zynga

Feb 03

Join TechLatino this February 7th to Make the Internet Safe Again and Why It Matters

internet-safetyNext week on February 7, TechLatino: Latinos in Information Sciences and Technology Association and NCTA – The Internet and Television Association will add its support to the worldwide celebration of Safer Internet Day 2017 – “Be the Change: Unite for a Better Internet”. Now taking place in over 100 countries, Safer Internet Day is an annual, globally coordinated event promoting the efforts of internet users of all ages, interests and backgrounds, to make the internet a better place and vice versa – to make the world a better place with the help of the internet. The U.S. host for Safer Internet Day is ConnectSafely.org. Its U.S. steering committee includes organizations such as Common Sense Media, Family Online Safety Institute, iKeepSafe Coalition, Internet Education Foundation, National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, National Cyber Security Alliance and National PTA.

In support of Safer Internet Day 2017, NCTA is excited to introduce a new video-based resource for parents called “In Case You Missed It (ICYMI)This original video series covers the latest and greatest websites, apps and products to help parents manage their children’s online and media activities. For example, one episode explains the basics of TV ratings, while another promotes awareness of KnowWhatsInside.coma fantastic web resource that helps parents decide which apps are right for kids. Other episodes cover new products, such as Circle with Disneyan integrated solution for managing usage time and content filtering across all of a household’s Internet connected devices.

ICYMI is the latest addition to Controlwithcable.orgNCTA’s contribution to the parental controls resource landscape. Controlwithcable.org continues to grow as a priority tool for parents seeking to educate themselves about parental controls issues and available resources. ICYMI should accelerate this trend, as it provides for the opportunity to deliver timely, up-to-date and actionable information about these resources.

safe

Many of our member companies have been actively engaged for years in efforts to give parents and families the knowledge and tools they need to be safe and savvy users of broadband technology, digital content, and media. At NCTA, we want to help parents put these tools to good use, and continue to improve families’ online and media experiences.

Please join us in celebrating Safer Internet Day 2017and be sure to check out ICYMI and the rest of Controlwithcable.org!

Feb 03

Techlatino Guest Blogger: Miguel Gamiño New York City’s CTO is Calling for New Vocabulary

miguel-gaminoCommentary: Miguel Gamiño says he’s done “innovating.” Instead, he will iterate, modernize and pursue breakthroughs in pursuit of both new efficiencies and profound change. 

I take issue with the word innovation. I have banned its use in our office.  Innovation without more specific strategy is meaningless. This is especially important at a moment when we are being flooded with emerging technology. We must concentrate on what produces measurable results and not lose sight of ideas that could be transformative. I want my team focused on concrete goals: modernizing government, improving existing technology and creating breakthroughs that lead to meaningful change.

 Modernizing Government

I know firsthand that we have a lot of doers in city government. People that are willing, capable and sometimes obligated by their job descriptions to modernize by replacing outdated legacy systems, improving efficiency and/or effectiveness. These people are “innovators” and have been for many years. I, and others, should provide them with the air-cover to drive change and progress by implementing modern technology that is tied to impact.

The doers making this happen don’t have to work in the “department of new things,” and more often they won’t. They are close to the action. They won’t wait for the secret agent of innovation to appear in the lobby with a superhero belt of tech gadgets ready to make the magic happen. I’ve seen it, and that approach often doesn’t work. We need to promote and improve cross-agency collaboration, as many with a desire to drive change would be energized by the freedom and support to do so.

Improving existing technology

Innovation is one of those ambiguous terms defined in the eye of the beholder. Just like describing something as “good” or “better,” it’s all relative. Some of the doers in government have a special ability to take something from “good” to “better” through iteration of current technology. They must be empowered to take measured risk, because not everyone will immediately follow. This is often due to fear of change or the fact that they just can’t see over the horizon.

Iterative projects are somewhere between replacing legacy systems and revolutionary breakthroughs. These improvements often are moving to the cloud or developing new systems on open-source platforms. These are important to keep the organization on pace with the change of tech, public expectations, and avoid growing the backlog of things that become ineffective.  

Miguel is a leader in IoT, Before coming to NYC, he was the CIO of the City of San Francisco

Breakthroughs

Finally, there are breakthroughs: bold ideas whose immediate value isn’t totally clear, but that have the potential to change our world.

The exponential acceleration of change in technology means these ideas are right around the corner. Meanwhile, government’s adaptability has not kept pace. If you’ve complained about federal, state or local government’s inability to keep up with the needs of the people, prepare yourself to be more frustrated — unless we have a breakthrough of our own.

Emerging technologies like autonomous vehicles will have impact on more than our taxi drivers and pedestrian safety. These breakthroughs will change the world around them beyond their intended disruption. What will a city do with lanes of asphalt no longer needed for street parking? Plant grass? In NYC, that would likely create the largest urban park on earth, an idea which many would consider fantastic! How about the revenue that goes with it? When those vehicles start flying, it may eliminate pedestrian-vehicle collisions, and maybe roads altogether.

In New York City, my office is working on plans to better focus our efforts on modernization, iteration, and breakthroughs that will change our city. We will improve how we invest our resources to play our role more effectively. We’re thinking about physical and virtual experimentation, focused and responsible risk-taking, and meaningful measurement of outcomes, partnering with agencies across the city to maximize the civic impact for New Yorkers.

I encourage cities around the world to be thoughtful about the use of innovation and instead develop a set of strategies that are more precise and meaningful. The impacts are profound — in both directions. So profound, they require the same brilliant thinking in government to become a city that can handle it well and protect the values and people of its community in every corner of the world, beginning right here in New York City.

 

Miguel Gamiño

 

Feb 03

How Maggie Hardy Magerko’s Company Leveraged a Super Bowl Ad Smackdown

maggieIn the race for Super Bowl ad spots, 84 Lumber was the first to snag a 90-second slot last month.

The Pennsylvania-based building materials company has been working with Pittsburgh agency Brunner to create an ad that would fit owner and president Maggie Hardy Magerko’s hope of recruiting new talent and building brand awareness as 84 Lumber expands its national presence.

“Our industry is going through a period of extreme disruption. And I’ve always preferred to be the one doing the disrupting, rather than the one being disrupted,” Hardy Magerko said in a statement. “But to do that, we need to hire and train people differently. We need to cast a wider net, and to let the world know that 84 Lumber is a place for people who don’t always fit nicely into a box.”

84 Lumber spent $15 million on the spot, the Pittsburgh Business Times reported. But in mid-January, Fox reportedly rejected 84 Lumber’s initial storyline because of political imagery. The proposed ad would depict a large wall that seemed similar to President Donald Trump’s promised border wall, according to Ad Age.

“We knew they had concerns,” said Amy Smiley, director of marketing for 84 Lumber. “They ultimately told us they weren’t going to approve, and we understood that.”

Maggie Hardy Magerko, 84 Lumber’s president and owner, told the New York Times she couldn’t understand why it was censored. “I’m flabbergasted by that in today’s day and age. It’s not pornographic, it’s not immoral, it’s not racist.”

Magerko said the ad was designed to recruit younger employees who “really believe in American dreams,” she told the Times.

The company created a new ad to air in its pre-halftime slot, but still plans to release the original commercial online on Feb. 5, in addition to some extra content.

“We really believe in the message behind the spot so strongly, and we didn’t want to leave it on the editing room floor,” Smiley said.

She did not give away details about the final message, postponing the big reveal until Sunday. The on-air commercial will include a link where viewers can watch “part two” as well as the full extended version of the commercial, Smiley said.

In a recent faculty newsletter at the University of Maryland, Henry C. Boyd III, marketing professor in the Robert H. Smith School of Business, analyzed 84 Lumber’s strategy. Boyd said it’s not uncommon for brands to push the envelope with Super Bowl ads to get some extra publicity out of the expensive buy.

But, Boyd said, it’s a “dangerous game” for 84 Lumber to involve politics, especially in the current divisive climate.

“From the standpoint of business, you can be thought-provoking and edgy,” he said. “But the stakes are different and give more reason to stay within safer confines.”

The company has aggressive expansion plans for 2017, Smiley said, and is expecting to open 20 new locations primarily in the western part of the country. The company already has 250 locations and was named one of Forbes’ Largest Private Companies in America in 2016. 84 Lumber decided to purchase its first Super Bowl ad this year to increase recruitment and national brand awareness as the business expands.

‘The overall message behind the ad spot is this is who we are and this is what we stand for. We want people to join us,” Smiley said. “We believe in an honest day’s work and we’re looking for people who share that mentality.”

Jan 20

Ajit Pai, May be the Next FCC Chairman

ajitPresident Donald Trump will tap Ajit Pai as his pick to lead the FCC in the new administration, elevating the sitting GOP commissioner to the top spot overseeing the nation’s communications industry, according to two industry sources familiar with decision.

The announcement could come as soon as this afternoon, the sources said. Pai, a Barack Obama nominee who has served as the senior FCC Republican for more than three years, could take the new role immediately and wouldn’t require approval by the Senate because he was already confirmed to serve at the agency.

A spokesman for Pai declined to comment and the Trump transition team did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.

Pai, who met with Trump in New York on Monday, had been seen by many as a top contender for the job given his reputation as a telecom law expert who’s comfortable in front of the camera. But his selection is also somewhat of a departure for the incoming administration, which has tapped people outside of Washington for many top positions.

By contrast, Pai is already a familiar name in tech and telecom policy debates. He’s a fierce and vocal critic of many regulations passed by the commission’s Democratic majority, including the 2015 net neutrality rules that require internet service providers to treat all web traffic equally and are opposed by the major broadband companies. As chairman, Pai will be able to start the process of undoing the net neutrality order and pursuing other deregulatory efforts.

Pai was widely assumed to be taking the agency’s gavel at least temporarily as an acting chairman at the beginning of Trump’s tenure. But Trump’s decision to make him a more permanent chairman affords the Kansas-bred Republican a bigger mandate to make his mark on the agency and its rules.

Pai and fellow GOP Commissioner Mike O’Rielly, for example, said last month that they will “seek to revisit” the net neutrality rules “as soon as possible,” and Pai said in a December speech he believes 2017 is the best opportunity in the last decade to advance conservative principles. In September, he outlined a “Digital Empowerment Agenda” — a four-point plan he says will help spur investment in internet networks and close the digital divide between rich and poor. The approach seeks to expand access to mobile broadband and reduce regulatory barriers to broadband deployment.

Pai, who turned 44 earlier this month, has spent much of his 18 years in Washington in public service with the DOJ, Senate Judiciary Committee and the FCC. He also worked for two years as a lawyer for Verizon, and spent another year representing telecommunications clients at Jenner & Block.

His FCC term technically expired last year, but agency rules allow him to continue serving through 2017. He would need to be reconfirmed by the Senate this year if he were to continue serving as chairman.

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