Guest-blog: Neil Cattermull – ‘A Guide to Machine Learning’

Neil Cattermull

Because of new computing technologies, machine learning today is not like machine learning of the past. It was born from pattern recognition and the theory that computers can learn without being programmed to perform specific tasks; researchers interested in Artificial Intelligence wanted to see if computers could learn from data.

The iterative aspect of machine learning is important because as models are exposed to new data, they are able to

They learn from previous computations to produce reliable, repeatable decisions and results. It’s a science that’s not new, “but one that has gained fresh momentum”.

While many machine learning algorithms have been around for a long time, the ability to automatically apply complex mathematical calculations to big data “over and over, faster and faster“ is a recent development. Here are a few widely publicized examples of machine learning applications you may be familiar with:

• The heavily hyped, self-driving Google car? The essence of machine learning.
• Online recommendation offers such as those from Amazon and Netflix? Machine learning applications for everyday life.
• Knowing what customers are saying about you on Twitter? Machine learning combined with linguistic rule creation.
• Fraud detection? One of the more obvious, important uses in our world today.

Resurging interest in machine learning is due to the same factors that have made data mining and Bayesian analysis more popular than ever.
Things like growing volumes and varieties of available data, computational processing that is cheaper and more powerful, and affordable data storage.

All of these things mean it’s possible to quickly and automatically produce models that can analyze bigger, more complex data and deliver faster, more accurate results – even on a very large scale. And by building precise models, an organization has a better chance of identifying profitable opportunities – or avoiding unknown risks.

In the second of a two series blog (“Digital-transformation“), we welcome back Neil Cattermull – Public Speaker and Commercial Director living in London, United Kingdom and a public figure in writing about technology, and entrepreneurship, he is considered a global Industry influencer and authority within the tech scene.

Neil has travelled around the world assisting small to large firms with business models. Ranked as a global business influencer and technical analyst.

Neil has held directorship positions within technology divisions within the financial services market, such as Merrill Lynch, WestLB, Thomson Financial and I have created many small to midsize organisations.

Neil is going to discuss ‘A guide to Machine Learning’.

Thank you Geoff,
Machine learning is one of the most innovative and interesting fields of modern science around today. Something that you probably associate with things such as Watson, Deep Blue, and even the infamous Netflix algorithm.

However, as sparkly as it is, machine learning isn’t exactly something totally new. In fact, the concept and science of machine learning has been around for much longer than you think.

The beginnings of machine learning
Considered to be the father of machine learning, Thomas Bayes’ theorem was pretty much left alone until the rockin 50’s when, in 1950, famed scientist Alan Turing managed to create and develop his imaginatively named ‘Alan Turing’s Learning Machine’.

The machine itself was capable of putting into practice what Thomas Bayes had conceptualised 187 years earlier. This was a huge breakthrough for the field and along with the acceleration of computer development, the next few decades saw a gigantic rise in development of machine learning techniques such as artificial neural networks, and explanation based learning.
These formed the basis of modern systems being managed by artificial intelligence. The latter being arguably the most integral to the development of systems management technology.

Explanation based learning was primarily developed by Gerald Dejong III at the Chicago Centre for Computer Science. He essentially managed to build upon previous methods and develop a new kind of algorithm, enter the “explanation based algorithm!”

Yes, the explanation based learning algorithm was fairly standard in that it created new business rules based on what had happened before. However, what sets this apart as a breakthrough is that Dejong III had managed to create something that would independently be able to disregard older rules once they had become unnecessary.
Explanation based learning was one of the key technologies behind chess playing AI’s such as IBM’s Deep Blue.

A cold AI Winter
However, there was a period during the 70’s when funding was disastrously reduced because people had started thinking that machine learning wasn’t living up to it’s original billing.
This was compounded when Sir James Lighthill released his independent report which stated that the grandiose expectations of what artificial intelligence and machine learning could achieve would never be fulfilled.

This report led to many projects being defunded or closed down. This was incredibly unfortunate timing as the UK was considered a market leader when it came to machine learning. This dark period of time was effectively known as the ‘AI Winter’ and bar a momentary slip in the early 90’s, was the only real time that the possibilities of machine learning were ever really discounted by the scientific community.

Who is pushing the technology forward now?
Machine learning has reached a level now where companies such as DataKinetics have the capability to transform legacy systems into business driven analytics.

DataKinetics are at the forefront of their field and have been entrusted by many blue-chip companies, such as Nissan and Prudential, to streamline and optimize complex technology environments. With the advancements within technology today IT professionals are now capable of achieving so much more due to new innovations in machine learning.
However, this is just the beginning – if funding and interest into machine learning and AI remains consistent, there’s no telling what can be achieved.

Machine learning algorithms that can predict future outcomes, giving us – the humans – to react accordingly.

In essence, the main idea behind machine learning is that it’s essentially where a computer or a system takes a set of data created previously, applies a set of rules to it and provides you with an output that in that is more efficient.

In much the same way, there’s a cycle between the innovators and forefathers of machine learning and with the companies and groups of people that are doing it today.

That’s why companies such as DataKinetics are proud to be associated with such a rich and storied period of human endeavour.
Innovators are equally as important as pioneers, without innovation we have static evolution that does not progress our species further and we are staring at a near constant change in the tech space.

Datakinetics are innovators within technology and have had the foresight to predict the evolution of mainframe, machine learning and analytics with a tech roadmap spanning for over 30 years!

You can contact Neil Cattermull:
– LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/neilcattermull
– Twitter: @NeilCattermull
– email: Neil.Cattermull@gmail.com

Guest-blog: Neil Cattermull – Digital Transformation and ‘Open source on steroids’

Neil Cattermull


The two words ‘Digital Transformation’ seem to be words that we hear and see everyday across internal discussions at main executive board and c-suite. But exactly why are these discussions important, and why should they be a priority?

Firstly, what is Digital Transformation and why is it so important?




Let’s start from the beginning. Heraclitus once said:
“The only thing that is constant is change,” – and this is very true and relevant today.

With major moves forward in technology and accessibility toward digital media in the past 10 years, people now view technology in a completely different way and also learn in a different way.
This has been a huge factor in creating a need for companies to evolve and stay relevant, transforming the way they run their business, and also train their staff.

With the general concentration span of millennials being much shorter than that of their predecessors, businesses must change the way they interact with millennial employees and customers.

If we look at this from an internal perspective too, we see everything from employee training to onboarding and productivity can be improved through digital transformation in the correct way.
It is important to remember though that digital transformation will generate some push back and resistance. This is very normal, and this is also why it is important to implement it in the right way.

Effectively, Digital Transformation is an ongoing effort to rewire all operations for the ever-evolving digital world, by adopting the latest technologies in order to improve processes, strategies, and the bottom line.

Digital transformation became a term, decades ago, and at that time largely meant digitising. But today, a company needs to leverage digital tools to be more competitive, not just more digital.

Going forward, companies will need to harness machine learning (ML), artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of things (IoT) to be pre-emptive in their business strategies, rather than reactive or presumptive.

And after that? We can only speculate. Technology is advancing at a faster pace than we can adapt to it. What is clear is that digital maturity is a moving target, which makes digital transformation ongoing.

Today I have the pleasure of introducing another Guest Blogger, Neil Cattermull – Neil is a Public Speaker and Commercial Director living in London, United Kingdom and a public figure in writing about technology, and entrepreneurship. He is considered a global Industry influencer and authority within the tech-scene.

Neil has travelled around the world assisting small to large firms with business models. Ranked as a global business influencer and technical analyst. He has held directorship positions within technology divisions within the financial services market, such as Merrill Lynch, WestLB, Thomson Financial and he has created many small to midsize organisations.

Neil is going to discuss ‘Open Source on Steroids’.

The words “digital transformation” are on the lips of every person in technology and tech media, as well as many business leaders – from company CIOs and CTOs to technology to business line managers to writers in news publications and tech blogs.

At its core, a digital transformation is the enablement of technologies and workplaces tuned to today’s digital economy. The beating heart of this digital economy is the API, and is being followed now by emerging technologies like IoT (Internet of things) and FinTech technologies like Blockchain.

Today the transformation of processes, IT services, database schemas and storage are proceeding at exponential rates with Cloud, AI and Big Data currently taking center stage as new ways of working in the enterprise.

The glue to the majority of developments in the technology world is the adoption, proliferation and acceptance of Open Source technologies. Community developments such as Hadoop, Apache Spark, MongoDB, Ubuntu and the Hyperledger project are some of the names that freely fall from any Open Source discussion.

The question is where do you run these workloads? How do you run these workloads? And in what form should these workloads take?

Most major companies will have mainframe systems at the core of their IT systems, so the question is really whether to run new workloads there, or on other platforms?

Any building architect will tell you that before tearing down the walls of an old house or doing any significant structural changes, you should always consult the original architectural plans. In the same way, any systems architect would look very closely at what a mainframe system is doing now before considering running workloads elsewhere.

However, it is imperative to understand the difference between mainframe and midrange server technology at a very high-level:

• Mainframe systems are designed to scale vertically not horizontally
• Input / Output is designed in mainframe systems to move processing away from the core and very fast I/O is built in to the core of a mainframe system, even at the hardware layer
• Centralized architecture is a key feature allowing mainframe systems to manage huge workloads extremley efficiently – catering for 100% utilisation without any degradation of perfromance
• Resilience is built in to every key component of a mainframe; redundancy at the core
• At a transactional level there is no other system that comes anywhere near the level of processing of data that a mainframe system can process.

An argument against the mainframe could be to decouple software systems onto commodity hardware or cloud systems; but this tends to create server and cost sprawl, particularly if an important goal is to mirror the mainframe’s performance, security, transaction throughput capacity, reliability, maintainability and flexibility.

But as we move further into the world of IoT, with databases and Big Data systems acquiring vast amounts of ingested social media and transactional data, how are we scoping the growth and security of these systems?
We are not if we simply just keep adding to existing IT infrastructures – we need to be able to scale access and throughput to manage, interigate and optimse the hottest commodity we have: data!

Data is becoming a currency in its own right but we need to secure this new currency in a way we do today with traditional moentary systems.
And perhaps the best way to leverage this valuable asset is via APIs that allow enterprises to take advantage of the mainframe investments already made – enter a LinuxOne Open Source ready mainframe that assists with creating a familiar Open Source tooling stack on steroids!

The argument here is that a digital transformation is more than just empty words and data thrown on cloud servers, it is a state of mind, and an architecture that should encompass current and future systems towards overall business goals.

At the heart of this goal is the end-user consumer, something that every system architect should be very mindful of; however, downtime and security are quite often understated when creating the initial framework for key infratsucture projects.

These key elements must be baked into every project and at the very core of future technology initiatives – something that the Open Source Ready LinuxOne infrastructure delivers extremely well.

You can contact Neil Cattermull:
– LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/neilcattermull
– Twitter: @NeilCattermull
– email: Neil.Cattermull@gmail.com

Guest-blog: Brad Borkan – Pivot from your goal for greater success

Brad Borkan

I have the fortune of meeting a fellow author recently, Brad Borkan, for a meeting of minds, to discuss our literature journeys, which I must say was incredibly enjoyable.

We discussed many subjects but importantly our personal thoughts and experiences across resilience and overcoming adversity.

Adversity of any magnitude should make us stronger and fill us with life’s wisdom, however, art in any form is born from adversity, I wrote ‘Freedom after the Sharks’ from adversity and set up a business in the double dip of 2008 and 2009, many people have done the same and it is almost a universal theme in the lives of many of the world’s most eminent creative minds.

For artists who have struggled with physical and mental illness, parental loss during childhood, social rejection, heartbreak, abandonment, abuse, and other forms of trauma, creativity often becomes an act of turning difficulty and challenge into opportunity.

As Eckhart Tolle once said:
Whenever something negative happens to you, there is a deep lesson concealed within it.

Much of the music we listen to, the plays we see, the books we read, and the paintings we look at among other forms of performing art are attempts to find meaning in human suffering.
Art seeks to make sense of everything from life’s potentially smallest moments of sadness to its most earth-shattering tragedies. You have heard the statement ‘there is a book in everyone’ we all experience and struggle with suffering.

Determination, resilience, and persistence are the enabler for people to push past their adversities and prevail. Overcoming adversity is one of our main challenges in life. When we resolve to confront and overcome it, we become expert at dealing with it and consequently triumph over our day-to-day struggles.

Today I have the pleasure of introducing another Guest Blogger, Brad Borkan, who works in SAP Strategic Partner Marketing. He has a graduate degree in Decision Sciences from the University of Pennsylvania. Brad co-authored the book, “When Your Life Depends on It: Extreme Decision Making Lessons from the Antarctic”. He is also a Fellow of the Royal Geographic Society and lectures internationally on early Antarctic exploration and its relevance to modern-day decision making. His website is: www.extreme-decisions.com.

Brad is going to discusses with us today “Pivot from Your Goal for Greater Success:”

One of the five key lessons from the early Antarctic Explorers

Have you ever been in a situation where you are so close to achieving your goal, you can almost taste it? With just a bit more effort, luck and perseverance you can get there, but there is high risk and danger along the way. At what point do you push through and at what point do you determine that the risk is too great and turn back?

This was the dilemma facing Ernest Shackleton on January 8th 1909. Shackleton was leading a team of three other men: Jameson Adams, Eric Marshall, and Frank Wild. Their aim: to be the first to get to the South Pole.

As described in my book, When Your Life Depends on It: Extreme Decision Making Lessons from the Antarctic, this was the first Antarctic expedition under Shackleton’s command. In the style at the time, Shackleton named it the Nimrod Expedition, using the name of the ship in which he and his men sailed to Antarctica. The Nimrod Expedition had taken years to plan and everything hinged on this one life-and-death decision.

By January 8th Shackleton, Adams, Marshall and Wild had been on the ice for two and a half months, man-hauling a heavy sledge containing all their equipment: food, cooking oil, tent, sleeping bags and other gear necessary for survival across 750 miles of dangerous terrain in sub-zero temperatures. They were totally on their own; the only communication was as far as they could shout. However they were nearing their goal.

In that era, there was no understanding of nutrition, calories, vitamins or the causes of scurvy. Shackleton and his men knew they were running desperately low of food and were subsisting on starvation rations. While there were some depots of food and supplies they could pick up on their return journey, there was a substantial risk they could die on the way back trying to reach one of those depots.

Yet the South Pole was tantalizingly close. One hundred and three miles to go to attain the biggest, unclaimed, land-based prize on Earth – the first to the South Pole. It would guarantee their names in the record books forever. A bit of luck with the weather and snow conditions, fewer rations, a bit more effort each day — surely goals this big deserved some risk. As goal-driven human beings, wouldn’t we all want to go for the goal, regardless of the consequences?

Yet, amazingly, Shackleton turned back.

What he did before turning back is one of the great lessons from the “Heroic Age” of Antarctic exploration. He told Adams, Marshall and Wild that on January 9th they would leave the tent, sleeping bags and all other supplies behind and walk South as far as they could in one day, plant the flag, and turn back to their camp. Then the next day they would begin the long and treacherous journey home. Why did Shackleton do this? Why not just turn and head back immediately? They all knew the return journey would be risky.

The answer is: Shackleton wanted to cross the 100 mile mark. He wanted to go back to England with a prize. Maybe not the prize, but getting to within 100 miles of the South Pole sounded a whole lot better than either: (1) achieving the South Pole and starving to death on the return journey or (2) getting back alive with only have reached the 103 mile mark. In a letter to his wife Emily about the decision, Shackleton wrote, “I thought you would rather have a live donkey than a dead lion.”

He and his team did almost starve to death on the return journey. Remarkably, they did survive and upon his return, Shackleton wrote a two-volume book about the expedition called, “The Heart of the Antarctic”. He didn’t dwell on failure. He celebrated success — pivoting from his initial goal, and achieving a memorable landmark — the farthest South.

So why is this an important lesson for today’s business leaders? Because it is exceedingly difficult to turn away from one’s goal. It is difficult for a business to do it, and even more difficult for goal-driven businessperson to do it.

Business schools teach us that:
“Goal attainment = Success”

&

“Success = Goal Attainment”

Yet, this is not always the case. Businesses can be so goal driven that they do not see the big obstacles in their way. Take the case of Blockbuster. Their goal was to dominate the high street of every US and UK city and town, and they were achieving that. They were on such a tear, that in 1989, a new Blockbuster video rental store was being opened every 17 hours! In the early 2000’s Netflix was offered to Blockbuster for $50 million. Why should Blockbuster turn away from their goal of high street dominance? Goal attainment was so tantalizingly close.

We all know what happened to Blockbuster and Netflix. Had Blockbuster taken the Shackleton goal-assessment approach – that survival is more important than goal attainment — they may have survived, just like Shackleton and his men did, to live to see another day.

Shackleton’s next expedition, the Endurance Expedition, also didn’t achieve its goals. Again he had to pivot from his primary goal. Yet it propelled Shackleton to even greater fame, success and glory. It also revealed compelling lessons for modern business decision making. We will save that story for the subject of another blog.

You can contact Brad Borkan on LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/bradborkan or by email: brad.borkan@gmail.com or via his website: www.extreme-decisions.com

Guest-blog: Mike Johnson – The gig economy and 31 tips to get ahead of the competition

Mike Johnson

There are an estimated 1.3 million workers in the UK’s gig economy that means approximately 1.3 million people are engaged in ‘gig work’ according to ‘To gig or not to gig: Stories from the modern economy’ a new report from the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development. The report is based on a survey of 400 gig economy workers and more than 2,000 other workers, as well as 15 in-depth interviews with gig economy workers, who, instead of a regular wage, get paid for the ‘gigs’ they perform, such as a taxi ride or food delivery. The rapid growth of the gig economy threatens to transform the way we work and make the traditional nine-to-five job with a single employer a relic of the past.

Readers may recall that in February 2016 I wrote a blog: ‘So exactly what is the gig economy’

Today, I would like to introduce Mike Johnson, Mike is a self-taught prepper that turned his passion for preparedness into an online survival guide: MikesGearReviews.com. Mike shares his experiences and knowledge with the main objective of teaching families how to get ready to survive pretty much everything and anything from civil unrest to natural disasters.

Mike is going to speak to us today on the gig economy and 31 tips for using the gig economy to get ahead of the competition.

Working under the so-called gig economy isn’t always easy. You get to choose your schedule, sometimes also your terms, and your commitment. You get paid for your work output and nothing else. The gig economy can be a great thing for you but can also be the worst decision for your career.

The pros and cons of the expanding gig economy are still up for discussion. Some analysts fear what it can mean for the future of the whole labor industry. But it doesn’t look like it is going any time soon. After all, freelance and contractual jobs aren’t a new concept; these have been around for a long time.

Some also prefer doing freelance work rather than commit to a full-time job. For all the cons of not having a regular work, there are those who feel that providing jobs on a contractual, temporary basis is the best choice for them. They have more freedom that way, and they have more control of their situation.

If you are convinced that working freelance is the right choice for you, prep yourself for some competition ahead. Because like any other labor setup, the gig economy is full of competitive individuals.

Read our infographic for more information about gig economy and how you can get ahead presented by MikesGearReviews
(click to expand in new tab):

Source: https://www.mikesgearreviews.com/gig-economy/

If you have any questions, you can contact Mike on mike @ mikesgearreviews. com (just remove all 3 spaces)

Guest-blog: Roger Phare – The Jekyll, Hyde and The Executive Director

Roger Phare

As an executive director, how do you powerfully lead your organisation through complex challenges? How do you align your organisation, staff, and board around impact and achieve financial sustainability? As daunting as these questions can seem, they are fundamental executive leadership responsibilities.

In spite of its institutional power, the position of an Executive Director remains an immensely demanding one, and not one that any qualified and capable man or woman will agree to lightly.

We welcome back Roger Phare as our guest blogger who is an accomplished Global Executive Director, equipped with a commanding track record over the past 37 years of bringing sound judgement and a strong commercial perspective to IT businesses, from ‘Mainframe to Mobile’. Roger have been fortunate to have been part of the commercial computing lifespan. With a market driven approach, which he has strategically supported, a number of organisations, both at significant Board, Executive and Regional Directorship and responsibilities. An expert in corporate governance and compliance and risk management; enjoying challenging the status quo and providing independent advice to Boards whilst maintaining sound judgment, impartiality and with integrity.

Roger is going to talk to us about ‘Jekyll, Hyde Associates and the Executive Director’

Thank you Geoff, today I would like to discuss the role of the Executive Director, which can arguably be the most individually challenging and changeable of all Board roles. Not that the responsibilities are any greater or less than Non- Executive counterparts, yet the concept of disassociating the “day job” with the Board role can be tricky and take some fortitude. The Executive director must possess or develop the ability to perform separate roles with separate mindsets; a veritable Dr Jeckyll and Mr Hyde (and maybe other) set of personas.

The majority of companies start from small beginnings. Friends, family or work colleagues decide to set up in business and likely form a limited liability company. Almost invariably they become shareholders, directors and employees overnight. Generally there will be a leader; a chief executive who, more often than not, will also be elected chairman of the board. The other board members are often generalists, providing input based upon their work role experience.

Confusion can set in as the company grows and more employees are taken on board. This is where the understanding of role demarcation is vital. I recall being an executive director on the board of a growing company some years ago when one of my colleagues, who was head of the technical department as well as an executive director/shareholder, threatened to fire the receptionist for an indiscretion.
The receptionist did not report to this individual but his view was that as a major shareholder and director he had the over-riding power and right to make such decisions. He clearly had confused the roles, effectively merging all three responsibilities into one.

In the board room the need to disassociate the individual roles becomes even more apparent. Recalling that a director’s duty is to represent the medium and long-term interests of the shareholders, the double or triple role can be a major challenge. Let’s say that within a growing goods and services company the head of development, one of the founders and a minority shareholder, also sits on the board as an executive director. As a manager doing his day-to-day job, he has put up a business case to employ a number of new staff members within the development team.

At a board meeting, the annual item regarding profit distribution by way of dividends is discussed. The head of development sees this as an ideal forum to lobby for the approval of the business case. This is not say the overall decision will necessarily be wrong; it is that he has unwittingly brought his managerial role into the boardroom.

Once a company goes public, then the appetite for executive director’s wanes considerably. Most Commonwealth countries operate a unitary system, indicating a balanced mix of executive and non-executive directors. Yet over the past twenty years there has been a push for greater board member independence, with a move towards more non-executive directors. The executive directors are often consigned to the roles of chief executive and possibly head of finance.

Yet are we about to see the return of the executive director on public boards? There is no doubt that the need for up to date subject matter knowledge of industry trends is as much a requirement as expertise around governance and compliance. The need for this has started show itself in the rise of the advisory board; yet this can never replace true in-house expertise.

Perhaps we are about to witness the return of our Henry’s and Edward’s; but this time around improved peer mentoring and coaching maybe the answer.

You can contact Roger Phare via LinkedIn. Roger Phare on LinkedIn or by email: roger phare @ gmail .com (remove all spaces)

Guest-blog: David Priseman – The future of technology in home-care for the elderly

David Priseman

Technology is currently critical to home health care. Future advances in home health care technologies have the potential not only to facilitate the role of home health care within the overall health care system but also to help foster community-based independence for individuals.

Today I have the pleasure of introducing another Guest Blogger, David Priseman, who is an accomplished Executive Director. David had a career in consultancy and banking, including spells abroad with two major European banks and has worked for several years in the field of private equity and alternative finance as well as an advisor to SMEs. He has considerable board experience and currently chairs a mid-sized care home group and is a non-executive director of a small but ambitious technology company. He has a particular interest in how technology can address the challenges of the care sector, which is often slow to adopt innovation.

David is going to discuss with us today the future of technology in home-care for the elderly.

Both councils and families strive to keep the elderly living in their own home for as long as possible. Councils see a simple cost advantage in doing so, whilst families also like the idea that mum (statistically, it is usually mum) can still live at home.

However the reality of a single elderly person living at home on her own can be far from the rosy ideal. There is an alternative image of a harassed care worker rushing into an elderly person’s home, quickly heating up a tin of baked beans then 15 minutes later rushing out of the door. Yet this might be the only contact the person has with anyone until the same or a different care worker rushes by the next day.

Domiciliary care, like residential care, is difficult to provide effectively and profitably. Companies are handing back council care contracts as they cannot operate at the fee levels on offer (1). Staff recruitment and retention is a permanent challenge.

Councils are reluctant or unable to pay more than £15/hour, which is not financially viable for home-care providers, who now have to pay employees a higher minimum wage as well as their travel costs. However it can be viable at £20/hour. With care home costs around the £1,000/week level, half this amount would buy 25 hours of home-care per week. As the number of residential care beds is in slight decline whilst the number of elderly people is projected to rise steeply, this implies that the number of elderly people living at home will also rise. With this could come a significant growth in the self-payer home-care market.

People living at home are exposed to the risk of physical vulnerability, slow and inappropriate care delivery and social isolation. However the recent development of new technologies may in combination significantly improve the social and care experience for such people.

The unpredictability of the number of hours worked together with the short term notice of rotas and sudden changes in rotas are a major cause of high home-care worker turnover (2) and a headache for domiciliary care providers. However a range of competing software and apps have now been developed to mitigate (though not remove) this challenge. This can improve the efficiency of staff scheduling from a provider’s view point, addressing one of the main sources of dissatisfaction of employees whilst also introducing flexibility for the elderly resident.

Many elderly people have traditionally had a regular, perhaps weekly, phone call with their children. Some now conduct this through Sype. In addition, some families have installed a videocam or webcam in their parent’s home, usually in the kitchen or lounge/dining room, so they can see mum. This helps to maintain social contact and give reassurances about mum’s safety and wellbeing.

The development of ‘wearable technology’ should become more widespread. Currently the dominant application is for fitness monitoring during exercise, however it will increasingly move over to healthcare monitoring. This can be a watch or a monitor which is worn as an arm panel or in the future may be embedded in clothing; in all cases it measures certain of the wearer’s vital signs.
At present, these are mostly used in hospitals to reduce the requirement of nurses, of whom there is a well-documented shortage, to conduct routine patient checks. Instead, the data are transmitted to a cloud-based server and if a vital sign reading crosses a warning threshold this immediately signals an alert. In time, these devices will migrate to the residential setting.
This will speed up the awareness and treatment of a wearer’s condition. Major medical devices companies such as Medtronics and GE are active in this area, which has also seen technology start ups enter the market, such as EarlySense and Snap40. (3)

The internet of things (IoT) is rapidly increasing the number of internet-connected devices in the home. This can be used in a number of ways to improve the safety of elderly people living at home. For example, many people get up, go to the toilet, have a cup of tea and open the curtains. Sensors can detect whether or not the toilet has been flushed, the kettle boiled and the curtains opened, and if any of these things has not happened by say 9am then an alert would be triggered. (4)

One of the main problems facing the elderly living alone is loneliness and the lack of contact with others. Here, a combination of technologies is emerging to provide at least a partial solution. Awareness has recently increased of Amazon’s Alexa voice-controlled system which can search the internet, answer questions and respond to simple commands. Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana are similar and rival devices.
Owing to improvements in voice recognition and AI, it will increasingly be possible to have an interactive ‘conversation’ with such devices. At some point, it may be possible to combine this with the face of a person on a screen or even a hologram of a person in the room to create the impression that a human is having a conversation with and maybe even developing a relationship with an intelligent machine-based ‘person’.
This idea has been explored in television and film, for example the science-fiction drama Her when a man develops a romantic relationship with his computer’s feminised operating system (5). Soon, it may become reality and even commonplace.

Finally, more than one of these technologies may combine in a way that provides care monitoring, practical assistance and companionship. Developed countries all have aging populations so the need to find solutions is urgent and many companies and universities are conducting research into this area, such as robotics with AI (6). New market opportunities are emerging to integrate and package appropriate technology solutions.

The vulnerable elderly living on their own at home have often been poorly served to date. Yet the number of such people is poised to continue to rise steeply. However a number of technologies are now being developed in parallel to tackle the problems they face. The result may be an improved care environment for the elderly at home: safer, reliable, better supported and less isolated. Such a future could be with us sooner than we think.

You can contact David Priseman on LinkedIn or by email: davidpriseman @ btconnect.com (remove spaces).

References

1. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-39321579
2. http://timewise.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/1957-Timewise-Caring-by-Design-report-Under-200MB.pdf
3. http://www.earlysense.com/ and http://www.snap40.com/
4. https://www.ibm.com/blogs/internet-of-things/internet-caring/ and https://www.ibm.com/blogs/internet-of-things/elderly-independent-smart-home/
5. http://www.herthemovie.com/#/about
6. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-39255244

Guest-blog: Roger Phare – The qualities and experience needed to getting the right advise on the Board

Roger Phare

In the small business world, there is a lot of talk about whether a company should have a Board of Advisors (Advisory Board), and if yes, what the composition of such a group should be. In my time in the small and medium enterprise (SME) world, I have been exposed to and worked with hundreds of companies, a small percentage of which have had a Board of Advisors. Whether having such an advisory group makes sense depends a lot on the business and more importantly, the CEO and senior management team of the business.

In my opinion and I state this with wisdom, one of the smartest growth initiatives a business owner can implement is an advisory board: a hand-selected group of advisors that believe in your leadership, are aligned with your culture and mission, and are committed to your success.

The vast majority of business owners who implement an advisory board fail to see a strong return on investment because they have not followed guidelines to recruiting the right advisors, and have not set them up for success.

Today I have the pleasure of introducing another Guest Blogger, Roger Phare, who is an accomplished Global Executive Director, equipped with a commanding track record over the past 37 years of bringing sound judgement and a strong commercial perspective to IT businesses, from ‘Mainframe to Mobile’. Roger have been fortunate to have been part of the commercial computing lifespan. With a market driven approach, which he has strategically supported, a number of organisations, both at significant Board, Executive and Regional Directorship and responsibilities. An expert in corporate governance and compliance and risk management; enjoying challenging the status quo and providing independent advice to Boards whilst maintaining sound judgment, impartiality and with integrity.

Roger is going to talk to us about the qualities and experience needed to getting the right advise on the Board.

Over recent years we have seen the rise of the Advisory Board concept, a trend that reflects the changing nature of modern organisational leadership and governance. Thinking further on this, the obvious question is why? What has changed in public and private Boardrooms to see such a demand for specialist knowledge and expertise?

The answer perhaps dates back some twenty or even thirty plus years. Up until the late eighties board members generally came with experience related to the company’s market or industry, together with all round leadership and business skills. This had largely been the post war formula, in other words Executive or Non-Executive Directors in 1958 had much the same attributes of those in 1988 – then everything changed.

We had Wall Street, Enron and the Sub-Prime less than twenty years apart. Not co-incidentally, this timeframe was paralleled with the rapid rise of business computing and the internet. Ironically, while technology was an enabler for business growth it became an inhibitor for effective all-round board performance. Directors became much more focussed on financial and legal due diligence as the regulators took control. Boards became largely the keepers of compliance and governance, with their members skilled and qualified in these disciplines. So what happened to the much needed advice in areas such organisational structure and market direction?

Enter the Advisory Board, bringing relevant expertise and experience in key strategic areas.

There is perhaps another reason for the rise of the advisor(s) in the boardroom. Casting the mind back to our pre-1988 Director, past industry experience was a key attribute for the senior board member. Being five to ten years away from a hands-on roles was not a major issue – as business and market fundamentals remained consistent. Today key industries are in rapid growth mode that did not even exist five to ten years ago, with “here and now” expertise required.

So Advisory Boards are most likely here to stay and ideally should complement our incumbent NEDs or Exec Directors; the key is find the right balance and consistency.

You can contact Roger Phare via LinkedIn. Roger Phare on LinkedIn or by email: roger phare @ gmail .com (remove all spaces)

Guest-blog: Karthik Reddy – Cybercrimes and How to Prevent Them

Some of you may recall I was a Global CMO for a large company that delivers end point protection across mult-platforms and devices, its a true statement that everyone has the right to be free of cybersecurity fears.

There’s no doubt that cybercrime and cybersecurity are hot topics. Indeed, according to Comparitech, global cybercrime damages predicted to cost $6 trillion annually by 2021, it’s important to be in-the-know about the potential threat cybercrime poses, the impact it is having, and what is being done about it.

One of the biggest problems in trying to understand what’s happening in the ever-changing world of cybersecurity is that there is just so much information out there. Not only are the nature of threats constantly evolving, but the responses to them differ across the globe.

Despite an overall decrease in fraud and computer misuse in 2017, the latest UK Office for National Statistics (ONS) reports show that incidents involving computer misuse and malware against business are way up.

There were 4.7 million incidents of fraud and computer misuse in the 12 months to September 2017, a 15% decrease from the previous year, according to the latest crime figures and this is just for England and Wales.

The latest figures suggest that while consumer-targeted attacks might be falling, as consumer-grade security improves, cyber criminals are now shifting their gaze to the potentially more profitable enterprise sector.

Andy Waterhouse, pre-sales director for Europe at RSA Security, said UK business is facing tougher conditions than ever as cyber attackers chase greater profits.

“In this post-WannaCry world, both consumers and organisations need to do more to assess their data, identify their most valuable assets, and protect these ‘crown jewels’ as best they can through a mix of multi-factor authentication, strong and unique passwords and a greater level of education on cyber skills,” he said.

Today I have the pleasure of introducing another Guest Blogger, Karthik Reddy, who is an accomplished Editor with a demonstrated history of working in the online media industry. Skilled in on-line content creation, WordPress, and editing. Strong media and communication professional with a Master In Business Administration focused in International Business from Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University.

Karthik is going to talk to us about the cybercrime and what is needed to prevent them.

As a society, we cherish our right to privacy probably more than anything else. Sharing is great, and we all enjoy it, but there is always that other side, the untold story, the personal, the secret. Now, let’s extrapolate this to a societal level. How many information is out there, purposely being concealed for the sake of greater good, for the sake of our own safety? The number is probably unfathomable. Today, when everything is online, and our lives are intertwined with a world most of us know nothing about, privacy and safety become an issue of epic proportions.

That is why we need to talk about cybercrime and utilize the very best VPNs. However, instead of writing a tract of tedious length, here is an infographic that outlines the most important cybercrime facts all of us should be aware of in 2018.

The internet has opened many doors for us. It shows us a world of possibilities.

Whether it is for fun, business or education, we spend a lot of time online.

We pay our bills, transfer money, order products and post photos of our children.

Remote workers are getting paid online, and travelers buy tickets with just a click.

But the cyberspace holds a lot of secrets.

We may think we are always safe but just think about all of those times you’ve given your personal information on a social media platform or on a forum.

Search engines and social media systems are gathering your personal data in order to present you with the best possible results. They keep track of all your movements and check-ins, and suggest friends on Facebook based on mutual friends and interests.

(original image: cybercrime facts – click on image below to enlarge)

Click to enlarge

Cybercrimes are affecting us all, breaching into our professional and personal lives.

I’m not saying we should stop using the internet, but we should all be aware of the security issues, some of which can be prevented.

It’s an occurrence that mustn’t be ignored.

Using a VPN service can help with hacker attacks and provide you with more privacy. It helps securing data flowing between your PC, mobile phone, and tablet.

Most affected industries are business, healthcare, education, as well as governments and military organizations.

Lately, hackers and frauds have been targeting small businesses because big corporations are regularly working to improve their security. Spending on cyberprotection has risen to 2.5 billion in 2016.

The most common cybercrimes are phishing, spam, and ransomware.

80% of these criminal acts are committed by the tech-savvy young people.

Now, let’s examine some of the most harmful cybercrimes.

– Hacking is an act when someone enters your computer without your knowledge or consent. Hackers can post and act in your name, steal your bank details and infect your computer system with viruses.

– Phishing is a scam that uses people’s naivety to extract credit card passwords and bank statements. Fraudsters create fake websites and email you links full of malware.

– Ransomware is a malware attack that locks access to your files and demands a certain amount of money to give you the access key. The average ransom demand is up to $679. Most antivirus programs can’t even recognize ransomware malware. Your computer devices can get infected by clicking on fake websites, infected email attachments or malicious downloads.

– Botnets, networks of infected computers, send spams and overload websites. They are also used for information theft and pranks.

– Denial-of-service attacks stop computers from working properly. They overload the system causing it to slow down or crash.

– Online identity theft is an impersonation of other people with the purpose of using their finances. These tricksters can take up loans in your name and use your medical benefits.

– Cyberstalking is a relatively new form of cybercrime which involves pursuing someone online. The stalker verbally assaults the victim via email, social media networks, and websites. Children and women are the most common victims of cyberstalking. Paedophiles and other predators keep track of the victims and abuse them mentally.

In order to protect yourself or your ebusiness from becoming a cyberattack victim, follow at least some of these tips.

Most significant perhaps, is to be careful with your email address and usernames. Use a gender-neutral nickname for your online accounts and don’t give your email address to unknown and shady websites or individuals.

It is of the utmost importance not to give your personal data such as address, phone number, social security number and bank details to any online entities.

Never use the same email address for business and personal purposes.

If you have multiple social media accounts and emails, and chances are you do, use different passwords for each one. The passwords should be strong, long and contain letters and numbers.

Make sure to update them regularly.

Also, your personal information on social media should be locked down.

Phishing emails are the most popular way of cybercrimes since they start innocently enough.

Every month there are more than 8,000 reports of phishing scams.

Don’t trust business offers and deals from strange people and websites.

Even clicking on links and opening attachments in these shady emails can be disastrous to your cybersecurity.

Use anti-malware software and a firewall on your computer.

Another good idea is to use a VPN to hide your IP and location. Surf anonymously, and prevent unwanted monitoring.

Last but not the least, educate your children to use the internet safely and responsibly. Make sure they don’t talk to strangers, post photos and give personal information. Let them know to talk to you if they encounter any suspicious offers, cyberbullying or harassment.

Even celebrities aren’t spared from cyberattacks. Emma Watson, Jessica Alba, and Tiger Woods are some of the celebrities whose online accounts have been hacked.

LinkedIn, Yahoo and Target were also cyberattack victims.

Cybercrimes are likely to increase in the following years due to the lack of laws and regulations in some countries. Cybersecurity specialists will continue to fight frauds, but these criminals are protected by being invisible.

If you have any questions for Karthik, please email him on: karthik@bestwebmstertools.com

Guest blogger Frank Lewis discusses the qualities and experience needed to be a good executive chairman

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Today I have the pleasure of introducing another Guest Blogger, Frank Lewis, who is an accomplished Non-Executive, Executive Director and Chairman, equipped with a commanding track record over the past ten years of bringing sound judgement and a strong commercial perspective to the full business lifecycle from start-ups to success, from flotation to delisting, and in a few cases, to exit. Developed great versatility from dealing with diverse businesses and cultures, nationally and internationally, and acquired significant experience working with rapidly expanding AIM-quoted SMEs. An expert in corporate governance and compliance and risk management; enjoying challenging the status quo and providing independent advice to Boards whilst maintaining sound judgment, impartiality and integrity.

Frank is going to talk to us about the qualities and experience needed to be a good chairman.

The role of the chairman has become much higher in profile and the expectations have increased as, quite rightly, stakeholders now expect an engaged, energetic and involved chairman who does more than simply manage the corporate governance process.
The success of a chairmanship undoubtedly hinges on the relationship the chairman has with the chief executive, a relationship which should be centred on honesty, trust and transparency. The success of this relationship is based on mutual understanding by both parties of the distinction between their two roles.

Effective chairmen must have an extremely good knowledge of the business they are chairing, they must know enough to ask the right questions, and must provide a constructive level of challenge to the chief executive. One of the main faults of chairmen deemed to be ineffective is their failure to comprehend that they are not there to run the business, and that their role is instead to support and guide. In simple terms, the job of the chairman is to ensure that the business is well run and not to run the business.

There is, however, a fine line to walk between being too involved and being too remote. This means chairmen should devote the appropriate level of time to their roles, which means visiting operations, talking with staff and customers, as well as investors. The best chairmen are able to develop an empathy with the business and engage with its people and issues. But there is no “one-size-fits-all” prescription for an effective chairman. The right level of engagement will vary depending on the company’s stage in the business cycle, competitive environment and the experience of the chief executive.

What ultimately defines a good chairman is the ability to run an effective board and to manage relationships with both shareholders and stakeholders.

The qualities of an outstanding chairman are:
• Charismatic personality.
• Good communicator and listener.
• Clear sense of direction.
• Strategic view – The Big Picture.
• Allow chief executives to get on with their job.
• Good at governance.
• Broad experience.
• Business acumen.
• Able to gain shareholders’ confidence.
• Able to get to the key issues quickly.

The Role of the Chairman in an initial public offering

The appointment of the right chairman is key for a business wishing to IPO. The chairman would greatly enhance the prospects of a successful IPO, by building an effective board and calling on their years of experience to ensure the story a company sells to the market is both compelling and real.

Further, it is the task for the chairman to set the tone at the top and to say what they want the organisation to be, establishing good governance and making sure the business has the right corporate reputation in its community.

In conclusion, a chairman has done their job when the “vision for the business”, as set out and presented in the strategic plan to shareholders and stakeholders, has been achieved.

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You can contact Frank Lewis via his website: www.franklewis.co.uk and at: LinkedIn .

Guest blogger, international wine expert Aitor Trabado talks about Port

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Aitor Trabado now concludes his 4th and final wine blog on Port Wine:

Today we will talk about Port wine. I love sweet wines. They come in different ways. We have sweet wines produced leaving the fruit in the plant for a longer time, allowing the water to evaporate thus making the sugar levels higher. Many producers elaborate this kind of wines either with white and red varietals. It comes with the expression “Late Harvest” in the label.

A step further is leaving the fruit in the plant even longer waiting for a fungus to attack the grapes: the botrytis cinerea. The most popular of these wines are the French Sauternes, where we can find Château D’Yquem, whose wines are really sought after and very expensive. In Hungary they produce the Tokaj following the same principle.

Then we have wines made by adding alcohol to stop the fermentation. This provokes the yeast to die due to the action of the alcohol. The remaining sugar that has not been turned into alcohol will give its particular sweet taste. Portugal’s Porto is the best place in the world for this kind of wine. The first notice we have of this wine goes back to the XVII century, when the wine had to be added alcohol to survive its transportation to England by sea due to the wine shortage they had in the island.

Red Port wines use mostly the following grapes: Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz, Tinta Barroca, Touriga Nacional and Tinto Cão.

We can divide the red Port wines into two big groups: those which are aged in oak barrels and those which are aged in bottle.

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Aged in oak are full bodied, fruity wines with a deep red tonality and dark fruit flavors. We have Port Ruby, aged for two or three years, Port Reserva, a more quality wine, and Port Late Bottled Vintage (LBV) with four to six years in oak.
Then we have Port Tawny, which can be 10, 20, 30 and 40 years old.

The other group is the one aged in bottle. We have here the Port Vintage, the best wine produced in a single vintage. These wines spend two years in the barrels, then more in the bottle. Their longevity due to its quality is the longest one of Port wines. These are the most full bodied, structured Port wines. Not done using grapes of a single vintage is the Port Crusted. They can also age well in bottle.

Finally we have white Port, produced using Malvasía Dourada, Malvasía Fina, Gouveio and Rabigato. They age for two or three years in big oak barrels and we can find them in dry and sweet styles.

Port wineries have traditionally bought grapes to other producers. Still, some of them have their own plots where they cultivate their own grapes. These are called Quintas and when the Port is done with the grapes of one single quinta the name of it appears in the label. Some of the most popular are Quinta de Vargellas of Taylor’s; Quinta da Roêda, of Croft and Quinta do Panascal, de Fonseca.

Some other important producers of Port wines are Niepoort, Graham’s, Cockburns, Sandeman, Dow’s, Ferreira, Quinta do Infantado and Quinta do Noval.

Port is one of the places where the grapes are still pressed by stepping into them, not using press machines.

If you want to enjoy a nice glass of Port wine, serve it with cheese or chocolate, and make sure you sit, relax and share it with a friend. This will be the best way to discover Port.

Aitor Trabado

Twitter: @atrabado
Mi Amigo El Vino – www.miamigoelvino.com

My other posts:
Guest blogger, international wine expert Aitor Trabado
Aitor Trabado talks about Cabernet Sauvignon
Aitor Trabado talks about white wine