Technology Industry Trends & Insights * ABL Member News * May 24, 2016

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How Amazon's Enabling "The Great Enrichment" of its 12,000 Warehouse Workers

Amazon recently announced that they'll soon open their seventh California fulfillment center - where hourly workers will pick, pack, and ship smaller items out of their 1.1 million-square-foot center. Amazon also noted that among the benefits these and their other 12,000+ full-time hourly California associates receive is "Career Choice," a program that pre-pays up to 95% of tuition for courses related to in-demand fields, regardless of whether or not the skills are relevant to a career at Amazon. Up for the challenge, since the program's launch, employees have begun pursuing degrees in game design, visual communications, IT programming, and more. Truly these employees will be "enriched" with the addition of their newfound skills - and so will society.

This is, in part, what Deirdre McCloskey, PhD, a distinguished University of Illinois at Chicago professor emerita and author of Bourgeois Equality: How Ideas, Not Capital or Institutions, Enriched the World, expounded on in a major feature in Saturday's The Wall Street Journal: "How the West (and the Rest) Got Rich." The liberally-minded and prolific author (one of whose 15 previous books, Crossing: A Memoir, was about her own transition from living as "Donald" for her first 53 years) leverages her background in history and communications, as well as economics, in the feature. As the sub-heading of the article proclaims: "The Great Enrichment of the past two centuries has one primary source: the liberation of ordinary people to pursue their dreams of economic betterment." And enriched we are, according to McCloskey: Americans earn on average $130 a day, compared to China, where the average citizen earns $20 a day - or the global average of $33 a day. To put it in perspective, just 200 years ago, in the U.S., we were earning $3 a day - and were earning that now global average of $33/day as recently as 1940, with a quality (and quantity) of life that was far inferior to what we enjoy today. How this "Great Enrichment" occurred over the past 200 years, according to McCloskey quoting Matt Ridley in his book, The Rational Optimist, was "ideas started having sex" - with invention after invention coming about, enriching our lives, and GDP in the process.

McCloskey believes that the past 200 years enabled "The Great Enrichment" due to our liberation - because "Liberated people, it turns out, are ingenious," coupled with equality of race and gender. Blend this philosophy with one of Jeff Bezos' (quoted in Subbu Murthy's "Insight" in this issue), "Think long term 5-7 years," and a pattern of long-term investment in people emerges. No doubt, some of those 12,000 hourly workers in the Amazon warehouses who are taking advantage of the company's "Career Choice" program, are going to imagine - and create - new ways to ship us our Prime deliveries even faster and cheaper, because they'll be merging their hands-on experience at work with the new skills picked up in the classes they're taking for "in-demand fields," many of which will enable Amazon to serve their customers even better. It's exciting to think just how much further this combination of liberation, equality, and ideation can take us - and the rest of the world - where, thanks to broadband, smart phones, and a universal hunger for a better life, we might actually achieve a universal "Great Enrichment."





City of L.A. Ties into High-Speed Internet Research Backbone

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti recently announced that the City of Los Angeles has signed an agreement to connect the city's databases and computers to an Internet network 1000 times faster than available previously, sponsored by the Corporation for Education Network Initiatives in California (CENIC), at no additional cost to L.A. taxpayers. The agreement will allow L.A. to plug into the California Research and Education Network (CalREN), which will enable high-speed delivery of the city's data and services to California's K-20 students, educators, academic researchers, and 10,000 member institutions, including Caltech, UCLA, USC, Cal State LA, and the Los Angeles Community Colleges. Following the connection to the City of Los Angeles, CENIC plans to enable other cities' open data initiatives, connecting them to CENIC's research community and to one another, creating a platform for sharing and analyzing data, and enabling the exchange of best practices and new applications. (, 5/13/16)

IBM Watson Bringing AI to Cybersecurity

IBM CEO Ginni Rometty recently introduced a cybersecurity-specific version of Watson, IBM's artificial intelligence (AI) platform, at a computer security summit. The project includes a partnership, that will begin in the fall, between IBM and eight universities, including California State Polytechnic University - Pomona, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, New York University, and Pennsylvania State University. IBM researchers have already begun feeding Watson with all sorts of computer security data sourced from its open access threat intelligence platform, called X-Force Exchange. The hope is that the trove of information on security vulnerabilities, spam messages, malware, and more will help the system become an expert assistant and advisor to security analysts. Watson is also designed to ingest research papers, blog posts, news stories, media reports, alerts, textbooks, social media posts, and more to build up knowledge about all the latest cyber threats. Students at the partnering schools will help input and annotate this so-called unstructured data (data that's not easily machine readable) to train the system. (, 5/10/16)

HP's New 'Tech Ventures' Plans to Invest in Emerging Startups

HP recently launched HP Tech Ventures, a corporate venture arm that is looking to invest in startups with cutting-edge technologies. The new initiative will have teams in Palo Alto and Tel Aviv to go after new companies in 3D transformation, immersive computing, hyper-mobility, internet of things, artificial intelligence, and smart machines. HP touts its 75 years of experience and patent portfolio as tools it can use to help aspiring entrepreneurs. It also notes that it has manufacturing and distribution partners in place, so it can help small companies scale quickly. (, 5/10/16)

SoCal Venture Capital Totals Drop in Q1

Southern California startups raised $810.5 million in venture capital in Q1 of 2016, according to the latest MoneyTree Report by PricewaterhouseCoopers and the National Venture Capital Association, based on data from Thomson Reuters. Southern California venture totals were down significantly from the $1.38 billion raised in Q4 of 2015, and even lower than Q1 of 2015, when $2.01B was raised in the region. Los Angeles had $399.1M in funds invested, across 47 deals; Orange County had $158M invested across 15 deals; and San Diego had $253.5M invested across 21 deals. (, 4/15/16)
     Nationally, the MoneyTree Report found venture capitalists invested $12.1B in 969 deals in the first quarter of 2016. Total venture dollars deployed to startup companies for the quarter remained flat and total deal count was down 5%, compared with the fourth quarter when $12B was invested in 1,021 deals. Compared with Q1 2015, dollars and deals are both down 11%. This is the ninth consecutive quarter of more than $10B in venture capital invested in a single quarter.
     The Software industry continues to receive the highest level of funding of all industries, receiving $5.1B going into 376 deals for the quarter, a 12% increase in dollars and a 5% decrease in deals versus Q4 2015. Half of the top 10 megadeals (investments of $100M or more) were in the Software industry. (, 4/15/16)

NantHealth Files for First SoCal Tech Firm IPO in 2016

Culver City-based NantHealth, one of the companies out of billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong's collection of NantWorks companies, has filed for an IPO - the first IPO filing for a Southern California technology firm in 2016. NantHealth provides personalized medicine and diagnostics products, using data analysis to better tune treatments for individual patients. Looking to raise up to $92 million in a public offering, NantHealth said it intends to list on the NASDAQ Global Market as NH. The IPO is being underwritten by Jeffries, Cowen and Company, First Analysis Securities Co., and FBR. NantHealth reported a net loss of $71.6M on $58.3M in total revenues for 2015. (, 5/9/16)

Google Debuts New Virtual Assistant

At its annual Google I/O developer conference last week, Google unveiled a virtual assistant tool called Google Assistant. According to TechCrunch, it appears to be similar to what Google Now can do already, but in an upgraded version. Google Assistant is more of a direct competitor to Amazon's Alexa and Apple's Siri, as well as virtual assistants like SoundHound's Hound. It could signal that Google is getting more serious about branding itself as a virtual assistant that can return anything and everything that users need when they are searching for an answer. Google wants to extend its search functions across all kinds of devices and interfaces, whether that's a conversational user interface similar to Facebook's messenger bots, a voice interface like Alexa, or standard search queries through Google's traditional search engine. At the conference, Google also announced Google Home, a competitor to Alexa that serves as an ambient voice-recognition interface for Google Assistant. (, 5/18/16)

Wearables Grew 67.2% in Q1 2016, Says IDC

Despite expectations that big tech companies will dominate wearables just as they have with smartphones and tablets, the little guy continues to hold on. In Q1 2016, Fitbit took first place again, while Xiaomi stole second place from Apple. Mobile companies shipped a total of 19.7 million wearables worldwide last quarter - up 67.2% from the 11.8 million units shipped in Q1 2015. According to IDC Worldwide, the top five wearables vendors in terms of shipments, market share, and year-over-year growth in Q1 2016 were Fitbit, Xiaomi, Apple, Garmin, and Samsung. (, 5/16/16)
      Meanwhile, the Consumer Technology Association reports that the tech devices experiencing the largest increase in household ownership from 2015 to 2016 include portable wireless speakers - up 10%, to reach 35% household ownership; wearable fitness activity trackers and wireless headphones - both up 9%, to 20% and 36% ownership, respectively; and smart TVs - up 7%, to reach 50% ownership. (CTA SmartBrief, 5/17/16)

Tap Systems Turns Human Hands into Keyboards

Ran Poliakine, best known for founding Powermat Technologies Inc. to eliminate the world's dependence on electrical cables, is setting his sights on improving communication with wireless devices by transforming human hands into keyboards that type anywhere, and on anything. The new endeavor, called Tap Systems, came out of stealth mode recently with a foam strap that slips onto the hand almost like a brass knuckle. It translates 31 finger taps into letters and numbers, which are transmitted by Bluetooth to mobile devices like phones and tablets. With an accuracy level of "99%," according to Poliakine, the strap is an alternative to voice-based systems, such as Apple's Siri, or gesture technologies, and eliminates the need to carry a keyboard. Tap intends to offer the strap early on to the blind or visually impaired. The strap won't stop at typing text - software developers will be invited to create applications for use with the platform. Poliakine foresees a future where music could be composed or played by tapping on a knee instead of piano keys. Tap's possible drawback may be that users need to learn to "tap," an obstacle the company has tried to overcome with a learning game that uses ditties and music to improve memory retention for finger combinations. Poliakine said it takes most people no more than an hour to adjust. (, 5/11/16)

SkySafe Finds $3M in Funding to Disable Rogue Drones

San Diego-based SkySafe, a developer of technology to disable, and take over, rogue consumer drones, has raised $3 million in a seed funding, the company has disclosed. The funding was led by Andreessen Horowitz, and also included Founder Collective and SV Angel. The company, which is targeting the public safety market, says it is developing systems which track and identify drones in airspace, and let public safety agencies either disable a drone - immediately sending it plunging to the ground, or even take over and fly those drones, remotely. (, 4/20/16)

Amazon to Open 7th California Fulfillment Center in San Bernardino, Inc. has announced plans to open a seventh California fulfillment center in San Bernardino, where the company launched its first Golden State fulfillment center in 2012. Amazon currently employs 12,000+ full-time hourly associates at its six existing California locations and plans to create over 1,000 more full-time positions in the new facility. Employees at the 1.1 million-square-foot San Bernardino fulfillment center will pick, pack, and ship smaller customer items, such as books, electronics, and toys. (Business Wire, 3/30/16)


BatchMaster Delivers New Features for Fyna Foods

Australian confectionary manufacturer Fyna Foods has selected BatchMaster Manufacturing, from BatchMaster Software, to round out its existing SAP Business One application, giving Fyna a single, fully integrated ERP solution designed for its entire food manufacturing operation. The expanded system will have an impact across every department but will especially deliver major ROI in the warehouse and production areas where scanning technologies and production scheduling capabilities will reduce manual efforts and improve productivity and visibility. (Sahib Dudani, Orange County)

Catasys Expands Rollout of Program in Texas

Catasys, Inc., a provider of proprietary data, predictive analytics, and modeling-based behavioral health management services for health plans, has launched its OnTrak-H solution in Texas with one of the nation's leading health plans. Eligible members will be covered under the 52-week, multi-phase program in which enrolled members receive medical and psychosocial interventions, as well as intensive care coaching. This represents the eighth state in which Catays has launched OnTrak-H since announcing its national agreement with the leading health plan partner, and represents expansion into its 13th state overall. (Rick Anderson, West Los Angeles)

Cornerstone Announces New People Analytics Products

Cornerstone OnDemand has launched a suite of people analytics products, which include Cornerstone View, an interactive data visualization application that gives business leaders deeper intelligence about their people, as well as Cornerstone Planning, an intuitive workforce planning application that helps organizations easily create, manage, and execute accurate hiring plans over multiple time horizons. The company also added two new dashboards to Cornerstone Insights, its predictive and prescriptive analytics solution that equips business leaders with the intelligence to better recruit, train, manage, and develop their people. (Adam Miller & Dave Wachtel, West Los Angeles)

Express Analytics Explores Predictive Financial Analysis

In its post - How Analytics Is Re-Defining Financial Planning & Analysis - Express Analytics (EA) notes that today's CFOs are under increasing pressure to execute financial planning and analysis processes faster in order to discover insights that would augment the company's future results. EA shares that only 24% of the respondents to a survey on how data was utilized to assist in an organization's decision-making said it was used for predictive analysis techniques to project their company's future outcomes. However, this study also concluded that there is growing interest in analytical approaches, such as driver-based planning and rolling forecasting. (Hemant Warudkar, Orange County)

Masergy Upgrades Solution & Wins Award

Masergy Communications has added powerful service management capabilities to its Unified Communication as a Service (UCaaS) Analyst performance monitoring portal, including a consolidated view of user profiles and service inventory reports, as well as customizable dashboards. IT professionals now have a detailed view of user types, the services and devices they are using, and profile status.  Meanwhile, Masergy's Visual Automated Attendant was a Silver Winner in the 2016 Customer Sales and Service World Awards, honored for its ability to offer real-time customer interactions directly from any webpage leveraging WebRTC and bypassing the Public Switched Telephone Network. (Dean Manzoori, Downtown Los Angeles)

Mentor Graphics' Tool Achieves SAP Certification

Mentor Graphics Corp.'s Valor Production Plan software has been certified by SAP as powered by the SAP NetWeaver technology platform. This integration streamlines printed circuit board (PCB) assembly planning, including surface mount technology, manual assembly and test, helping to improve manufacturing efficiency and reduce operational cost. The Valor solution can add finite PCB production planning to the SAP ERP application.  Meanwhile, the Sentral Group has significantly improved its processes for preparing new harness designs for production by deploying software tools from Mentor's Capital suite, enabling substantial automation and an unbroken data flow from design receipt to shop floor, compressing turnaround times, minimizing errors, and reducing engineering costs. (Greg Lebsack, West Los Angeles)

NC4 Spotlighted in Delaware News Journal

A recent article in The News Journal reports on the recently unveiled Real Time Crime Center in Wilmington, Delaware, which uses NC4 Street Smart software to show where police officers are deployed throughout the city, share information between patrol units, and relay status updates on major investigations. Live interactive boards allow on-duty commanders to sketch out and share response plans directly to personnel at the scene while seeing where officers are through global-positioning software in patrol cars. (Chris Gundel, Orange County)


Dave Berkus on:  Hiring People with Broad Skills

In Hire "Jacks" (and "Jills"), Dave endorses hiring someone who has proven from past experience to be a "jack of all trades," able to fill many positions, do many tasks, learn and perform in many situations. "Many breakthroughs in business and science have come from the intellectually curious, the critical thinker who can ask questions that may be unexpected but lead to new solutions," Dave notes. "And many business leaders have expressed their opinions that their best hires have been the ones that are most able to expand the enterprise's ways of thinking and performing - using creativity rather than rote memory and specific academic education as the driver of innovation." (Dave Berkus, Downtown Los Angeles & West Los Angeles)

Subbu Murthy on:  Amazon's Principles

In his recent post - Six Principles from Amazon can also guide CIOs - UGovernIT's Subbu Murthy shares that after nearly 20 years, the following principles gleaned from Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos are still very true:
1. When there is a window of opportunity, go for it.
2. Think long term 5-7 years.
3. Focus on long-term market share, not short-term profits. 
4. OK to make mistakes, but not be timid. 
5. Obsess over customers.
6. Be the first.
Subbu goes on to explain why these principles are applicable to IT leaders as well as entrepreneurs, to transform the enterprises they work for. (Subbu Murthy)


Alvaka Networks Warns about New Forms of Ransomware

In his post, New 'Jigsaw' ransomware is insidious, deletes files exponentially in punishment, Oli Thordarson, CEO of Alvaka Networks, warns to beware of Jigsaw, a new ransomware trojan. "It does not wait for you to pay a ransom. Within the first 24 hours it deletes files and then accelerates the process exponentially to show you they mean business in the nastiest way. Once the files are deleted, nobody can get them back, not even the ransomware hostage-taker." He also provides links to several useful resources for combating cybercrime.  And, in CryptXXX is ransomware that also steals your passwords and your Bitcoins, Oli details another new ransomware that not only holds your data hostage, but steals login names, passwords, and Bitcoins if you have any. Oli laments, "Ransomware is the most prevalent cyber threat today facing individuals, small and large businesses, governments and not-for-profits. No one is safe from this scourge." (Oli Thordarson, Orange County Healthcare)

FirstWatch Tools Employed to Track Spike in Heroin Overdoses

Following a recent prescription drug bust in Reno, NV, the area's Regional Emergency Medical Services Authority (REMSA) is using FirstWatch tools to track and trend a possible spike in Heroin overdoses. Law enforcement agencies, fire departments, paramedics, and hospitals have met multiple times following a federal raid at Jones-West Ford and Rand Family Care, sites of an illegal prescription drug operation. After that recent incident, officials have reached out to the community to let them know some of the signs and symptoms that people may face if they do have prescription drug addictions. "The fear would be that those people then have to turn to non-pharmaceutical grade or street level drugs such as heroin, which is very dangerous," Adam Heinz, Director of Communications for REMSA said. (Todd Stout, San Diego Healthcare)

MYnd Analytics Receives Approvals for SMART-MD Replication Trial

MYnd Analytics, Inc. has obtained approval from two Institutional Review Boards to conduct a clinical trial of its Psychiatric EEG Evaluation Registry (PEER) Interactive platform, based on the protocol used at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. The company plans to enroll 500 patients in the replication study, with initial sites to include Southern California and Canada. Using the largest psychiatric registry of patient outcomes in the world, the SMART-MD study will add to the four previous studies validating use of EEG to predict medication response. Like previous studies, the SMART-MD trial is expected to show the impact of PEER on reducing trial and error prescribing. Previous trials have shown that reduced trial and error prescribing improves depression and PTSD, reduces suicidality, and improves treatment adherence.  Meanwhile, MYnd Analytics CEO George Carpenter was interviewed in a recent issue of Vanguard - The Forum for Canada's Security and Defence Community, which hailed George as a "Game Changer." (George Carpenter, Orange County Healthcare)

SAVI Group Promotes Use of Tech in Doctor Appointments

SAVI Group's recent post - Using Tech in Front of Patients - reports that a survey of 4,500 patients regarding electronic health records (EHRs) found that the vast majority were fine with the use of devices like tablets during an appointment. In fact, the idea of someone transcribing a doctor's notes after the fact was two times as likely to bother them. Also, research indicates up to 80% of physicians use a tablet, and as many as 75% of them alternate between smartphones, tablets and laptops. Smartphones tend to be used for smaller or app-based tasks, like looking up medications. More involved tasks, like note-taking and research, occur on tablets or laptops. EHR management is cited as the number-one professional task physicians do on tablets, and early adopters of EHRs and tablet technology indicated that they were saving as much as an hour a day by removing redundant workflows. (Veena Mahendru, Los Angeles)

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