Author Archives: Jeffrey Young

How emerging economies led their own technological revolutions

Image source: entrepreneur.com

The conclusion that emerging markets can achieve an accelerated economic growth, through the help of new technology transfer and the resulting innovations, is nothing new to many research studies. In fact, these emerging economies from middle-income countries are slowly taking over the old technology hailed in developed countries and creating their own, globally recognized innovations, thanks to their access of today’s newest technologies.

One perfect example is how Kenya, dubbed as “the cradle of Africa’s technological innovation”, has successfully launched a large-scale mobile money transfer system. The concept was meant to answer to the demand of the Kenyan citizens who do not have a bank account.

The system allows a large number of the country’s population to remit funds to their friends and family. Even if it was just a small venture by a domestic mobile network operator, it rapidly grew in popularity, recording a 25% contribution to Kenya’s GDP. Its success story inspired other countries in Africa, Asia, and even Europe to adopt the same system.

There are other similar instances in which developing markets caught the attention of their developed counterparts. India’s Grameen Danone came up with a cost-effective system that allowed the production of yogurt even at small-scale plants. The system eliminated the need for freezer storage and transportation costs – and developing countries big in the yogurt industry were quick to accept the same process.

What contributed to the success of these innovations, even coming from humble beginnings can be summarized in one word: leapfrogging.

In definition, it is the concept that countries that have poor technological economic and development can easily move forward by adopting new technologies and developing modern innovations without the need to go through intermediary steps. In other words, their economies are like blank canvases that can easily be turned into a revolutionary masterpiece.

REPOST: Tech Stocks Still Lead U.S. Sectors For One-Year Trend

As the world becomes increasingly technology-driven, tech stocks will continue to dominate markets. Seeking Alpha has a brief overview on this sector:

Technology shares continue to post the strongest trend performance for US equity sectors, based on a set of ETFs ranked by one-year return. Although most sectors are posting year-over-year gains, the annual pace for tech remains notable for its outsized advance vs. the rest of the field.

Technology Select Sector SPDR (NYSEARCA:XLK) is up a strong 35.8% for the year through Wednesday (Jan. 3). The current gain is close to the ETF’s highest one-year total return since the recession ended in 2009 (At one point in last year’s fourth quarter, XLK’s rolling one-year change briefly accelerated to just under 40%, a cyclical peak for the post-recession period.).

XLK’s current upside momentum for the one-year gain is well above the number-two performer: stocks in the materials sector. The Materials Select Sector SPDR (NYSEARCA:XLB) is up 25.9% on a total return basis over the past 12 months – a solid increase, but no match for tech’s surge.

Although all but one of the 11 sectors are posting one-year gains, only five are beating the broad market, based on the SPDR S&P 500 (NYSEARCA:SPY), which is currently posting a 22.4% total return for the trailing one-year period.

The lone sector with a negative one-year trend at the moment: telecom. The Vanguard Telecommunication Services (NYSEARCA:VOX) was down 9.5% at Wedneday’s close vs. the year-earlier level. In fact, VOX’s rolling one-year total return has been consistently negative every day since Dec. 5.

The performance chart below presents a visual summary of tech’s dominance in recent history. Although most sector trends are positive, XLK’s run (black line at top of graph) stands apart as unusually bullish.

REPOST: Big tech succeeded in getting bigger in 2017 — but its failures to society became much more apparent

While its impact into the mainstream has been huge, Big Tech remains to be a largely evolving aspect of the economy and the society as a whole–thereby making it vulnerable to scandals, controversies, and criticisms. Here are some insights into the industry from Business Insider:

Facebook had a lot of growing up to do this year.

Financially, 2017 was a great year for big tech. But in just about every other way, it was a terrible year for the industry’s titans.

Even as the giant technology companies — a group that includes Apple, Google, Facebook, and Amazon — posted record profits and saw their stock prices soar, they had to contend with backlash to a slew of image-damaging controversies. The negative sentiment against big tech’s members has gotten to the point where some serious observers including Scott Galloway, a marketing professor at New York University, have started making the case that the government needs to them break up the way it did AT&T in the 1980s.

The controversies that plagued big tech this year and the potential for government intervention are guaranteed to bleed into 2018, and they could well accelerate. Public officials in the US and abroad are already taking a closer look at the technology giants, both at their dominant positions in the market and how billions of people rely on them every day for their news, information, and more. They’re already exploring what actions their governments can take to level the playing field for other competitors and curb the abuse of the tech companies’ systems.

As the year comes to a close, it’s worth taking a look back at how big tech bungled its way through 2017.

Big tech failed to proactively police its services

Repeatedly throughout 2017, consumers were alerted to how bad actors — propagandists, racists, child abusers, extremists, and more — had hijacked tech companies’ services to spread their messages and make money off them. And each time, it became more apparent how little the technology giants were doing proactively to prevent such abuse.

Most notably, it became clear the extent to which YouTube in particular had become the platform of choice for abusers. Many were able to make money off videos that advertisers would normally avoid by gaming the Google-owned company’s systems. But YouTube experienced a succession of black eyes.

In February, The Wall Street Journal reported that Felix Kjellberg, a popular YouTube personality known to fans as PewDiePie with whom the company was developing an original video series, had posted anti-Semitic jokes in some of his videos. YouTube quickly severed ties with Kjellberg, canceling the series and kicking him out of its preferred-advertiser program.

But the controversy was emblematic of those that followed. YouTube would work with — or at least wouldn’t do anything to hinder — the abusers on its site until they were identified in public reports or advertisers raised a fuss. YouTube’s move came only after The Journal started asking questions about the jokes and Disney canceled its relationship with Kjellberg.

The following month, The Times of London published an investigation that reported that extremist videos were being funded in part by YouTube advertisers. But it wasn’t until more than 200 advertisers — many of whom most likely had no idea that their ad dollars were going to extremists — threatened to pull out of YouTube that the company fixed the problem.

More recently, reporters discovered a community that was posting disturbing videos targeted at children, some of them depicting abuse of kids. Many of the videos had ads served up by YouTube, which was also helping market the videos to site visitors. Many of the videos were eventually removed — but, again, only after people outside YouTube raised the issue.

But it wasn’t just YouTube that seemed to have lost control of its service and left it open for abuse. A ProPublica investigation discovered Facebook’s automated advertising service let advertisers target “Jew-haters” and exclude people from ads based on race or ethnicity. Just this week, ProPublica and The New York Times discovered that Facebook made it possible for employers to exclude people of certain ages from seeing the recruitment ads they placed on the social network, a potentially illegal practice.

After the reports, Facebook moved to address some of the concerns — but not all.

The unfortunate, underlying narrative to all these cases? The largest tech companies seem all too happy to let anything go on their services — until they got caught.

Continue reading HERE.

Understanding the growing role of Private Banking in today’s financial setting

Confidentiality and personalized services. Perhaps these two factors separate private banking from its typical retail banking counterpart, helping clients make informed and strategic financial decisions that can potentially deliver long-term and short-term profits.

Private banking is a personalized type of financial and banking services that are usually available to high-earning entities who own substantial investment assets. With private banking, these high net-worth individuals (HNWIs) can choose from a wide variety of options that are often customized based on their financial preferences as well as future financial goals.

Clients of private banks have their own relationship managers or a private banker to guide them on how to handle and manage their assets. In addition, they enjoy more sophisticated products as well as a more focused and tailored customer service experience.

One of the primary reasons why HNWIs choose private banking is its dedication to client privacy. Generally, dealings between the bank and its client remain anonymous, promising a high level of confidentiality in every transaction.

In addition, because of HNWIs’ substantial assets, private banks offer generous discounts on their services. For instance, clients involved in an export enterprise can benefit from a more favorable foreign exchange rate.  Not only that, investors are given the opportunity to have an exclusive access to several top-performing hedge funds, just by being affiliated with a private bank.

Although the lessons of the global financial crisis in 2008 made authorities impose a more stringent and often restrictive regulatory setting for private banks, these changes, have actually helped ensure that clients get the best and most appropriate financial advice that they deserve.

For more insights on private banking, consult with an advisor from one of the leaders in the industry, LOM Financial.

REPOST: NASA Taps Young People To Help Develop Virtual Reality Technology

The same way the Internet evolved into a major force for development, virtual reality will soon be a huge business and an important pedestal for economic progress. Here’s the latest in this technological breakthrough from NPR:

NASA has big hopes for virtual reality technology. The agency is developing a suite of virtual reality environments at Goddard Spaceflight Center in Maryland, that could be used for everything from geological research to repairing orbiting satellites.

One displays fiery ejections from the Sun. In another, scientists can watch magnetic fields pulse around the earth. A virtual rendering of an ancient lava tube in Idaho makes scientists feel like they’re standing at the bottom of an actual cave.

“I think, and I hope, this can be extremely useful for NASA scientists,” explains NASA engineer Thomas Grubb, who manages the program.

The goal, he says, is to scale up the use of virtual reality technology in NASA labs, and go beyond public applications like the Mars immersion program that allows users to explore the Martian surface. For example, NASA volcanologist Brent Garry is hoping that virtual visits to a rock formation in Idaho can help him plan research trips in real life. That same VR environment also allows users to measure distances and leave notes in the landscape.

“You know, it’s cheaper to have people go to a lava tube in VR than to actually fly them out there for two weeks,” says Grubb.

Another application in development could allow technicians repair satellites. People on earth could watch in real time as they manipulate actual tools in space. If the repairs are successful, satellites that would have died when their batteries did could keep working instead. “All of these things can save a lot of money or time, or just enable new things,” says Grubb.

And Grubb has stumbled upon a new talent source to help develop the pilot programs: young students, some of them still in high school.

Continue reading HERE.

The rise of data economy will transform every industry in the world

Image source: iamwire.com

The Internet of Things (IoT) is set to transform and modernize the way industries and even governments do business – and the significance of its impact will be felt in every country across the globe.

In definition, IoT is the connection of modern and day-to-day devices, not just computer and smartphones, to the internet. Imagine your house appliances, cars, security system and even your heart monitor connected to a bigger, grander system that is the IoT, enabling anyone who has access to gain control even if they’re miles away. More importantly, imagine how businesses and companies can use this technology to reach millions of people and totally create a whole new connected world through the Internet.

In the next few years, the IoT will be more advanced and unrecognizable from its early stages, and many devices are set to join the list.  In fact, a research conducted by experts predicted that come 2020, we’ll have over 24 billion IoT devices on the planet.

Image source: linkedin.com/peterbinggeser

As an answer to this outstanding innovation, many industries are starting to realize the potential of using data and its different types to more valuable applications. This optimistic approach to manage the rising data economy has left establishments to review their organization’s structure and how they can strategically respond to the changing times. So what can industries expect from this new revolution?

One example is how the emergence of data economy can transform organizations such as supply chains into more complex network of ecosystems. Another is how it can change customer expectations, forcing production and marketing strategies to shift. Furthermore, collaboration through the availability and easy access of data and connection can create smooth, open and unrestricted flow of information across industries.

However, not all companies can readily participate in this revolutionary wave of development—unless they start to reinvent themselves and redefine their role under the new data economy.

REPOST: Is Technology Really Going to Destroy More Jobs Than Ever Before?

It is a question most economists constantly have contrasting opinions on, but what is an absolute fact is that technology has a huge ability to transform the way we accomplish specific tasks. Will it ever replace human skills in certain roles? Perhaps… but not all. Read more on futurism.com:

You’ve probably heard that a robot is going to take your job. It’s an oft-repeated refrain, heralded in article headlines and speeches from luminaries such as Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking. Some experts predict that anywhere from 38 to 57 percent of jobs could be automated in the next few decades, depending on who you ask, and the jobs aren’t limited to any one industry. Automation threatens to eliminate or limit jobs such as waitstaff, truck drivers, factory workers, accountants, cashiers, and retail employees, according to a recent report from PBS.

But to other experts, these apocalyptic predictions are overblown. Even worse — they fear that the warnings themselves could slow the progress of innovation, leaving society worse off.

Two economists from the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) decided to clear up the debate once and for all. In May, Robert Atkinson and John Wu published a report titled “False Alarmism: Technological Disruption and the U.S. Labor Market, 1850–2015.” By analyzing data about occupational trends from the United States Census over the past 165 years, the duo concluded that those dark predictions of future employment are based on faulty logic and incorrect analyses.

For their report, the researchers focused on identifying increases or decreases in occupations that could be attributed to technological innovations. For example, the significant increase in the number of automobile repair workers following the production of the Model T and the decrease in the number of household workers following the invention of the washing machine were both identified as examples of technology-caused change. The researchers do admit in the paper that this method of determining whether technology affected the growth or decline of an occupation was “clearly a judgement call and subject to errors.”

Based on this methodology, Atkinson and Wu reached three primary conclusions. One: that the total number of jobs has changed very little over the past 20 years. Two: Growth in existing industries has made up for jobs lost to automation (example: a factory replaced workers with machines on the production side, but invested the money it saved into new jobs in sales and marketing). Three: Between 2010 to 2015, the U.S. lost the fewest jobs to automation.

Continue reading HERE.

Can technology accelerate the death of the labor market?

Image source: techcrunch.com

When the advancements of technology started making their way to our own homes, drastically changing and improving our way of life through their offers of convenience and efficiency, many started believing that we are indeed, living in the future.

However, there are others who think that the comforts of technology go hand In hand with the tragedy of a totally different future that is no longer ruled and ran by humans, but by intelligent and flawless machines. One recent news seems to echo this concern.

According to a recent news report, cafeteria student-workers at a community college will soon lose their jobs as food dispensing machines will be assigned to replace human workers.

These self-serve machines may be far from its perfected and highly intelligent non-human worker but with the technology and knowledge that we have today, it’s only a matter of time until our concerns of robotic domination especially in the labor market can become a reality.

In contrary, many experts believe that human workers don’t need to worry, pointing out that only less than 5% of jobs can be fully replaced by technology. These are labors in structured environments with predictable and repetitive activities that can be easily replicated through automation.

In addition, jobs that include intuitive decision-making in complex physical work environments can be extremely challenging for machines since computers often struggle with tasks that rely on abstract and creative thinking.

Researchers who are studying on the possible effects of robots and technology in the job market predict that it will take 120 years, with a 50% chance, before machines can be finally capable of taking over the entire labor force.

REPOST: What is bitcoin, how does it work and what affects its price?

Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, considered to be technological miracles, have posted massive gains in the past few months and created a phenomenon that even seasoned investors did not see coming. But what exactly are these virtual ‘currencies’ and are they a secure investment? This article on The Telegraph has the answers:

Few technologies have the ability to stir passionate online debate and baffle the vast majority of the population as bitcoin. The virtual currency has been a constant source of interest and confusion since it thrust itself into the mainstream more than five years ago.

But interest in bitcoin is now greater than ever. Its value has soared to above $4,000, a new high point, turning some people who hoarded vast amounts early on into millionaires.

But why? Is bitcoin the future of currency? Is it currency at all? What is it for? And should I buy some? Read on to have your questions answered.

 

What is bitcoin?

Bitcoin is a digital currency created in 2009 that uses decentralised technology for secure payments and storing money that doesn’t require banks or people’s names. It was announced on an email circular as a way to liberate money in a similar way to how the internet made information free.

 

How does it work?

Bitcoin works on a public ledger called blockchain, which holds a decentralised record of all transactions that is updated and held by all users of the network.

To create bitcoins, users must generate blocks on the network. Each block is created cryptographically by harnessing users’ computer power and is then added to the blockchain, letting users earn by keeping the network running.

A limit for how many bitcoins can be created is built into the system so the value can’t be diluted.  The maximum amount is just under 21 million bitcoin. There are currently 15 million in circulation, each of which was worth more than $4,000 ($3,080) at the time of writing.

 

What affects its price?

The price of a bitcoin has jumped up and down since it first entered the mainstream consciousness in 2013. That year prices rose by almost 10,000 per cent before the collapse of Mt Gox, the biggest online bitcoin exchange, sent it crashing.

Prices slowly crept up after that but have since surged again. This is largely put down to regulators appearing to warm to bitcoin and the rise of initial coin offerings – a way for projects to raise money by selling cryptographic tokens similar to bitcoins. Many sceptics believe we are in the middle of a new bitcoin bubble while advocates say we are just beginning to see the rise of bitcoin.

 

Continue reading HERE.

Tech homes beyond Silicon Valley: Top emerging startup hubs in the world

The rise of the new generation of startups have invited passionate, skilled, and creative people to redefine success and come together from different parts of the globe,  building digital and wired kingdoms in the most unexpected places. One perfect example is the tech haven, Silicon Valley, the prime destination for startups and tech wizards whose programs have shaped the world to what we know it today. However, the popularity of “the valley” is losing its charm as more countries have created their own technological hubs that are competitively winning the spotlight.

Let’s take a look at the rising stars in the startup ecosystem that you can only find if you look beyond Silicon Valley.

 

“Silicon Wadi,” aka Tel Aviv’s Startup Nation

Image source: inmygroup.com

Yes, you’ve read that right. Israel’s tech hub located in Tel Aviv is the home to growing companies. No one had expected that Israel could someday house the highest density of startups in the world, but this interesting country and its NASDAQ-registered 60 ventures feature an impressive pool of talents and boast an open business culture. Viber and Waze, among other tech success stories, were developed in Silicon Wadi.

 

Europe’s Atomico “deep tech” revolution

Image source: newmediaeurope.com

Europe used to be a tech laggard but the region is about to reintroduce itself as one of the pioneers of a complex artificial intelligence developed by Google’s DeepMInd, deep tech Atomico.  There is a growing demand for the continent’s tech talents and in fact, foreign firms such as Facebook, Amazon, and Google have announced massive expansion plans of their European bases. The revolution is being led by Europe’s newest tech hubs and it can be observed in different startup hotspots like London, Stockholm, and Berlin—encouraging a digital awakening in their once traditional industries.

 

Seattle, U.S.A.

Image source: bekinsmovingandstorage.com

Seattle, a city on the west coast of the United States, is a home to a large number of startups, thanks to its army of talented software engineers that’s securing this hotspots’ position as the number one when it comes to the highest population of software developers among all tech hubs in the world. What’s interesting about the city is its diversity and versatility in terms of startup size, making it accessible to both entry-level and high-net-worth entrepreneurs. Among the city’s biggest tech companies are Amazon.com and Microsoft, but many more are rapidly growing.