Technology

The Future of Cell Phones in Africa

This week due to popular demand, we are returning to our discussion on Cell Phones in Africa. Or more specifically, the future of them.

Okay, Africans do use cell phones for phone calls- we’ve established that. But they use them way less then Canadians.  Why? Because calls cost a lot money.  Remember, there are very are few unlimited phone and text packages here,  and they are generally too expensive for the average Burkinabe.  So they text alot!

But what I found fascinating here – and blame it on the fact that I left Canada about five and a half years ago and I am totally disconnected – is the other use for cell phones.

Many locals use the phone as payment system.

Banking in Burkina

The penetration of the banking system in Burkina Faso is marginal compared Canada . The average Burkinabe does not have a bank account as the average Burkinabe does not work in the formal economic sector. Instead of banks, the cell phone is used to transfer money..  Burkinabe send money to their loves one while in the country – or while working abroad by using their cell phone.

Airtel is the most common used telephone company for transferring money.  Each small village I have been to, and I mean small, has an Airtel kiosk where the person who receives the money can go and get it.  All they need is the verification code and their National Identity card if they have one… but in villages, like small towns, everyone knows everyone so there is not a big problem with stolen identity!

The impact of this service on the population is, you can imagine, tremendous.  There is no longer a need to go to a Western Union, which are usually not found in the small villages and which requires identification documents that many people in these villages don’t have.

Another important benefit to paying with the cell phone is the ability to pay bills at distance, including school fees.  In Côte d’Ivoire, and in Burkina, parents are now able to pay their kids’ school fees by phone.  This means that the mother (normally…) does not have to walk to the school, wait in line for hours and then be subject to the administration for bribery… because of course, parents have to pay the administrator who register their children a little something to make sure that the kids gets registered to the school.

 

So there are many little ways in which the cell phones have changed the lives and culture of their users here.

Burkina Uprising

Like other places in the world, cell phones have also had geopolitical ramifications here as well.

On October 30 and 31st, 2014 the Burkina uprising happened.

Cell phones were instrumental in keeping the population abreast of what was going on and for the opposition to communicate with its members to tell them where the march was going and what to do – or not. The cell phones allowed people to post to social media –   and in spite of the government’s efforts to block internet, thanks for the use of cell phones, we all were apprised of what was going on.

In the end the internet, such as it is, was restored quickly!

Advertisements

Reality Stranger than Fiction: JP Morgan and Minority Report

Can you be fired or arrested for a crime you haven’t yet committed, but most likely will? JP Morgan thinks so – and they’ve developed new algorithms to monitor their employees and stop rogue trading behaviour before it happens.

Stay tuned to find out how and why they’re doing this.

Transcript


Amanda: Remember the movie Minority Report? It was a few years ago, and Tom Cruise’s smouldering eyes aside, the general gist of it revolved around arresting people for crimes they hadn’t yet committed, but were going to. Well, reality is becoming even stranger than fiction, as JP Morgan attempts to stop rogue trading behaviour before it happens.

And Tom Cruise doesn’t even star.


Jeremy: In a scene reminiscent of the movie Minority report, the Tom Cruise thriller, JP Morgan is using predictive analytic software to stop rogue trading behaviour before it happens. Let’s discuss.

Archana: JP Morgan has paid $36 billion in legal fees over the recent times, and since the financial crisis – and that’s led to the company unveiling a new algorithm that helps it to pinpoint rogue employees before erroneous trades happen.

Shaheerah: As Archana mentioned, they’ve paid $36 billion in legal bills. One of the famous ones was the 6.2 billion London Whale Fraud. And this both hurts their reputation and it hurts their profits as well. Now if they can actually cut legal and other expenses, the investment bank’s return on equity would actually rise to 13% as opposed to the 10% they made last year.

Jeremy: What kind of data points do you think they’re analysing to predict this rogue behaviour guys?

Shaheerah: Well, there are a lot of factors that will go into this new deduction software, some of them will include: are these workers skipping the compliance classes; are they breaking the personal trading rules; or are they reaching the Market risk limits? The whole point of this software is to predict the themes and the patterns in their employee behaviour, so it’s actually pretty cool. You’re trying to predict how a human is going to behave. And one thing I think is that they should really be keeping an eye on the middle managers and the top-level executives, as opposed to the lower level managers. It’s the top-level executives that have the access to the data, and have the authority to make the decisions, and they know all of the internal systems and controls.

Archana: Algorithmic misbehaviour prediction is apparently a booming business. Again, this all boils down to big data and data analytics which we’ve been talking about of late quite extensively. And going back to what we specialize in as well, so P4Capital we do understand the space and we do have the right kind of candidates who are experienced doing data analysis, and working with some of the latest and greatest in terms of software tools that are out there.

Jeremy: Okay, both of my colleges here have mentioned that JP Morgan has spent $36 billion in legal fees, and this will be a measure to help reduce those fees and reduce scandals that occur, but I think they’re going to be hitting some new legal actions and sanctions against them. When you try to discipline a trader for something that he hasn’t done yet – is that really going to hold up in court? You’re just opening up a whole new can of worms I think.

Archana: Absolutely, I do agree with Jeremy – it is a very tricky space to venture in, but I guess it’s more for the compliance team and the regulators to show to the institutions out there that they have the right kind of checks and balances in place, so that if JP Morgan again faces a similar situation that it has witnessed in the past, it would have its books in order.

Shaheerah: And just apart from this software, they are also spending money as well. So the company has hired 2500 compliance workers, and they spent $730 million over the past 3 years to improve operations. They’re also  equating a special surveillance unit to monitor the other electronic and telephone communication in the investment bank. So if you go back and look at the fraud investigations that they’ve done, a lot of it could have been caught earlier on if they were checking the emails and the phone calls that the employees were having.

Jeremy: Yeah, a company like JP Morgan must have billions of emails going through their systems in a year. That’s a lot of work for 2,500 compliance people to be monitoring. I can see where there’s some value added to automating this to the Big Brother.

Amanda: What if people go outside of JP Morgan, and employees just send emails from their private servers?

Jeremy: That can probably be monitored as well, depending on how they’re using it. I don’t know about the legality of that.

Archana: So in the past JP Morgan and some of the other investment banks as well have used dedicated whistle-blower phone lines and email addresses where workers could actually email anonymously with tips to the management if they do see any fraudulent behaviour. Obviously this is a step up for them in terms of using technology to monitor behaviour of their employees. Also another interesting thing is that this is obviously just part one – the algorithm is just part one of the entire review of the investment bank’s work culture. The second part is obviously is HR and training related – JP Morgan is invested heavily in terms of training their employees and also to identify and fix areas where potential lapses could occur.

Shaheerah: And I also just wanted to bring some more facts to the discussion. It’s a fact that each year more than 30 million consumers actually fall victim to investment frauds – it’s a pretty big number. And the average loss for an investor is about $15,000 dollars, as well as individual losses could be all the way up to millions of dollars. And this happens because there’s nothing really suspicious in the beginning. I mean high returns and the financials seem legitimate, and this could go undetected for years. And it’s always usually in the end when you finally find out, and you start to investigate what has happened.

Archana: The new program that’s actually being rolled out would be tested in the trading part of their business first, and then the bank will spread it out throughout their global investment banking division, as well as their asset management division, and their complete roll out would happen by 2016.

Jeremy: JP Morgan has always been a market leader and they’re one of the première investment banks out there, so I imagine that there’s a bunch of other banks watching with bated breath to see if this experiment works. So only time will tell.


 

That was the P4Capital team discussing JP Morgan’s new initiative of stopping internal banking crimes before they happen. Want to know more? Check out our website  and previous posts at www.planet4it.com or follow us @p4capital. Thanks and see you next time.

Digital Platforms to Enhance your skills

Welcome to a new edition of the P4Digital Round Tables!

Have you heard about SAS? Do you know how to use it? This week we break down what it is and what other skills and platforms are needed to make you and your company competitive.

Stay tuned and enjoy

Transcript

(more…)

Death of the Salesman

Welcome to a new edition of the P4Digital rotating round tables.

Our special guest this week is an expert in sales, and how new technologies are changing how they are being conducted in both corporate and retail locations.

Curious about the future of sales? Well, stay tuned and enjoy.

Stay tuned and enjoy

Transcript

(more…)

Volckers Volley or Folly

Paul Volcker is an American economist who was the chairman of the Federal Reserve, under Presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan. He is still working though, and is still making recommendations that could forever change the American banking scene.

The P4Capital team investigates.

Stay tuned.

Transcript


Amanda: Change is never easy – but sometimes it is necessary. In this week’s round table discussion the P4Capital executive team talks about former chairman of the Federal Reserve, Paul Volcker, and changes he is recommending be made to US banking.

Jim: Today’s topic, or this week’s topic, is about Paul Volcker’s recommendation to put US banking and financial industry under one roof.

Shaheerah: Yes, he has outlined a new plan for revamping the way that the US government is going to oversee their financial plans. And he’s going to be publishing a paper soon which is going to talk about consolidating and reorganizing the US financial regulators, so what they’re going to do is create one single agency to supervise the financial institutions, while the Federal Reserve will be responsible for writing these regulations.

Archana: Paul Volcker is not new to devising strategies. When he was the Chairman of the Federal Reserve he actually was the person who in fact tamed inflation at that time. More recently, he also came up with the Dodd Frank initiative itself, where we wanted banks to engage less and less in risky, Wall Street style trading, and I guess this Volcker Alliance, which terms itself as a think tank, was basically set up to improve the way government essentially works at the local state and the federal level in terms of policy making and the financial decision-making.

Jim: With that said is, the current system in the US has a heavy regulation feel to it. The institutions that play in the US are now pushing back at a fairly aggressive rate, of saying “My business is my business. My business is not supporting your regulation.” In fact, the US has leaned heavily on the regulators side over the last seven years since 2008. Some of the legislation is badly needed, but some is over the top and more importantly, in Volcker’s words, is “why is the futures exchange being regulated by the Ministry of Agriculture?”

Shaheerah: This new plan is that the Fed would write the regulations, and then another agency would make sure that these rules and regulations were actually being followed. So this would be a combination of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the office of the controller of the currency, the Fed and then the other regulators such as the SEC and the CTFC. Paul Volcker was also responsible for proposing the Volcker rule, and the role prohibits short-term proprietary trading that Archana was talking about, of the securities of the securities, derivatives, commodity futures and options on these instruments on their banks’ own accounts. Basically this rule is to prohibit activities that don’t benefit the banks’ customers.

Jim: But in fact benefit the banks themselves, as long as they introduce the element of low to very high risk. Correct Shaheerah?

Shaheerah: Yup. And it was estimated that the banks would have to hire 3000 new employees in order to implement these rules, and another study had already mentioned that it would actually cost 350 million dollars for the banks and the investors in order to implement this rule.

Jim: So a billion dollar overhead put onto the banks by and large by the representatives that may or may not have their voters’ best interests at heart. It’s an interesting conundrum. We are hoping Paul Volcker wins this one.

Archana: So by the way, while we’re on this topic of regulations and compliance, we at P4Capital – we specialize in these kinds of jobs. So if you’re a person, or a capital markets professional with specialization in this area, or any other capital markets area, please do not hesitate to either give us a call or to send us your resume. We absolutely look forward to hearing from you. And that number by the way that we can be reached at is (416)363-9888. And you can either ask for Shaheerah Kayani or Archana Ravinder.

Jim: And the interesting part of what Archana just mentioned there, is not only are we at P4Capital dedicated to this space, we also understand the heavy impact that new legislation, new rules, new governing bodies have on the overall industry, and the complexity of big data coming onto the market from a global sense. So when we look at Chairman Volcker’s think tank recommendation, we understand the very many sides that he is speaking from. Not only from a centralized regulatory body, but the impact on big data, the impact on being able to do very fast high frequency trading, and be extremely competitive in the world.


 

That was the P4Capital team discussing the Volcker Recommendations, and the impact they could potentially have on banks. What to know more? Check out our website  and previous posts at www.planet4it.com or follow us @p4capital. Thanks and see you next time.

Job Hunting – Little things to help you overcome those tricky obstacles

Job Hunting can be mind boggling.  Knowing what kind of job you are qualified for can be intimidating.  Don’t let things overwhelm you.  Think of the positives and form a plan to accomplish your goal.  First thing I do when anything is overwhelming me is make a list.

  • What kind of jobs does your education qualify you for
  • What experience do you have and is it transferable from industry to industry, ie banking to government
  • Who do you know in the industry
    • Call them and set up an information interview to find out what types of jobs you would be qualified for or that would interest you
  • Network – let everyone know you are looking.  Do you volunteer, let the board know you are looking for a new job.  Play sports or children play sports, teams are a great place to network.  The gym, yoga studio – everyone knows someone who knows someone and most people are more than happy to lend a hand.
  • Use a Recruiter.  Recruiters have job boards sometimes exclusive to them.  Research your recruiter and find the one who deals with the companies on your list of places you would like to work.  Also find the Recruiter who deals with your skills.  Recruiters specialize – IT, Finance, Admin, etc so make sure you contact the right one.  Be diligent don’t them forget about you, keep in touch with him/her.
  • Check the job boards.  Don’t be afraid to recontact your Recruiter and let him/her know about job openings.
  • Check specific company websites.  Again before applying online check with your Recruiter to see if he has a contact there.
  • Connect with people on LinkedIn who work for specific targeted companies that you are interested in
  • And then go back and do it all again
There is a job out there with your name on it.

 

Job Revolution: Recruiting in the Digital Age

Welcome to a new edition of the P4Digital Round Tables!

This week we have a special guest star – Nadine Lamothe, one of the officers here at Planet4IT. She will be joining us today, along with Jim Carlson and Andrew Carlson, to discuss Job Hunting and Recruiting in the Digital Age.

Stay tuned and enjoy

Transcript

(more…)

How Big Data and Technology has changed the face of HR

Do you remember typing your resume up on an electric typewriter (lol even I don’t go back as far as the manual typewriters).  One for each company you were applying for.  Back in the 1980’s jobs were in short supply.  It was normal for someone to send out 200 resumes before they received an interview.  Each resume had to be typed individually.  Stuffed into an envelope, stamped and posted or dropped off manually hoping this might give you a leg up on the competition.  Every morning a mini forest landed in the mailroom, sorted into a cart and delivered to the Hiring Manager by the “mail girl” (that was how I started at Ontario Hydro).  Reams of resumes had to be sorted into job categories and then sorted into:  trash, contact, keep on file.  And yes you are right, all these people were then contacted by mail or phone depending on the decision.  Answering machines were in short supply in homes in the 70s and 80s, so it was OK to phone the company to see what the status was on your application.  The next step was storage.  The resumes that weren’t put in the trash were stored in big grey filing cabinets.  After their “shelf live expired” they were archived – which meant put in a box and stored in another location.  There was no recycling back then and we hated throwing anything away.   If you didn’t have a good filing system good luck finding anything in this paper filled “big data” system.

One of the companies I worked for in the early 90’s used to scan 1000’s of paper resumes into their databases every day.  It was a very basic database, name, contact info and a dump of the resume.    

 

Along came the Recruiter

Large companies like IBM, Ontario Hydro, General Electric, etc soon figured out that they couldn’t keep up with the piles of paper resumes coming in.  What to do?  Here’s a great idea let’s outsource it to a “Headhunting/Recruiter” company.  They can deal with all the paper, the follow up with the people we aren’t interested in and do the screening of the applicants we are seriously interested in.  

 

Next step was the Applicant Tracking System “ATS”

The monster job board was created in 1994.  Companies jumped onboard paying the fees to use their online database.  The late 1990s found companies running their own ATS systems.  If you go onto the TD site today there are 21 pages of jobs with the keyword “Developer” in it.  If you are interested in one of these positions, be prepared for 15 minutes of ticking boxes and entering data before you even attach your resume.  Don’t forget anything or – boom – rejected.  Your resume then goes into a MASSIVE database of potential employees.  

The ATS morphed into individual databases for SMBs.  Recruiting companies’s can easily have 100,000 entries in their databases.  Now comes the problem, how do you deal with all this information?  

  • Let’s look up keywords.  Oops that can be an issue because anyone who has written a resume in the last 15 years knows to make sure they put the keywords all over their resume. 
  • Keep it clean, don’t let your DB become a MONSTER.  
  • Keep your candidates active.

Big Data and HR is a 2-way Street

This is where H2H (human 2 human) is still an important part of the HR and Big Data Analytics system.  They have to work together.  What is the most important thing you both can do to keep the system working properly?

  • Databases can easily get overrun with duplicate records.  Don’t send in your resume multiple times with different names or different email addresses.  It just clogs up the search process.  You might be the one who gets lost.
  • Use standard titles, a Java Developer is easy to search on.  A fancy title isn’t
  • Keep in touch – Keep your contact information and resume up to date.  When you change jobs send a new copy of the resume in to your recruiter, or update the companies online DB.  
  • If you are a recruiter send out newsletters and email blasts.  If you are a candidate subscribe to these.  
  • Don’t forget the direct approach – a direct email or a phone call is always the best way to keep your relationship growing.

HR – means Human Resources, hiring a person can’t be done strictly from a database. Resumes are your history, databases are a means of contact.  To land the job you have to bring the H2H into the process.  

What else can you print?

It’s 2015 and we are well into the manufacturing revolution, or so the media claims. No longer restricted to the realm of science fiction, 3D printing and one off manufacturing are becoming surprisingly commonplace.

From food to computers to cars, 3D printing is rapidly becoming a major component of our lives. I’m not just talking about printing plastic toys or parts – no, 3D printing has evolved! From computers that make themselves, to drivable cars printed in 24 hours, it seems like the only limit to what we can make is self imposed by our own imaginations.

Or by what we saw on Star Trek as kids. You decide.

 

VOLTERA

Building hardware sucks!

I assume. I haven’t so much as built my own computer, let alone built my own computer chips and circuit boards. But I know people who have, and according to them it is not a simple venture.

According to them one of the most dangerous components of any electronics project is the circuit board. It involves experimenting with violable chemicals, or waiting weeks after sending their designs off to a  fabrication house.

In short, building a circuit board had two options – messing with chemicals or waiting for weeks. Kind of a tough choice if you’re in a rush.

The Voltera V-One 3D printer wants to offer a third option.

L: insulating mask being laid down, R: second layer bridging over first layer

The Voltera V-One can create a prototype board right from the comfort of your own home.

Gerber files go in; prototype circuit boards come out.   According to the Kickstarter funding this project, the printer lays down a conductive ink to create the traces and an insulating ink as a mask between layers.

These boards aren’t meant to replace mass manufactured PCBs – this is a one off manufacturing prototype tool that helps you get  there faster. The designers claim that you can now you can quickly test an idea without wasting money or two weeks of your time!

The Kickstarter campaign started for this project around Valentine’s day. Their goal was $70, 000 over the course of the month. As of February 18th they have raised $333, 137 and have over 20 days go to.

Conductive ink dispensing

FOODINI

This one is for those of us who hate to cook. A full meal with the touch of a button – sounds like a dream! Or restricted to the realm of science fiction and Star Trek.

Come on, we’re all thinking it.

Although the Fodini hasn’t reached ‘Replicator’ status yet, it is certainly on its way. The meals are raw, but with the push of a button you can have a fully prepared  meal. All you have to do is cook it.

It isn’t too different from a regular 3D printer, but instead of printing with plastics, it deploys edible ingredients squeezed out of stainless steel capsules:

“It’s the same technology,” says Lynette Kucsma, co-founder of Natural Machines, “but with plastics there’s just one melting point, whereas with food it’s different temperatures, consistencies and textures. Also, gravity works a little bit against us, as food doesn’t hold the shape as well as plastic.”

The startup is based out of Barcelona and it is one of a kind. It can print a large selection of foods, from desserts to more savory meals.

The creator,  Natural Machines, points out that it’s designed to take care only of the difficult and time-consuming parts of food preparation that discourage people from cooking at home. Like preparing homemade pasta, or perfectly shaped cookies.

As mentioned before, the device only prints the food, which must be then cooked as usual. But a future model will also cook the preparation and produce it ready to eat.

foodini

And since we live in the Digital Age, everything needs to be connected to the Internet of Things.

“There’s a touchscreen on the front that connects to a recipe site in the cloud, so it’s an internet-of-things,-connected kitchen appliance,” said Kucsma. Users will also be able to control the device remotely using a smartphone, and share their recipes with the community.

Doodler

The Doodler is kind of the odd man out. It is not a 3D printer per se, but it is  an additive manufacturing device.

In other words, it’s a pen that draws in 3D.

There is nothing controlling where the 3Doodler lays down material except for the user. You’re essentially printing in air.

Positioned as something of a toy, and developed by engineers from the toy industry, the 3Doodler helps to bring the concept of additive manufacturing to a new user

 

The Strati

3d-printed-car

With all the talk of those self-driving cars, we can sometimes overlook how those cars are made. Cars are not exempt from 3D printing. In fact, it’s already been done.

ABS plastics is the first to attempt to print an entire car.  They eliminate a car’s “frame” and integrate all exterior and interior features into a drastically parts-reduced automotive creation.

Everything on the car that could be integrated into a single material piece has been printed. This includes the frame, exterior body, and some interior features. The mechanical components of the Strati, like battery, motors, wiring and suspension are sourced from Renault’s Twizy, an electric powered city car.

Not only that, but this car may be on the road within the year. Once the 3D-printed car is cleared by U.S. vehicle rules and regulations, it will be drivable on public roads.

The Strati takes 44 hours to print, with the hopes that they can cut that rate to 24 hours.

With all these printing developments, one question remains – how long until we can 3D print the perfect spouse?

Rise of the Digital Space

Welcome to a new edition of the P4Digital Round Tables!

Who among you would love to work from home. With Digital technologies it’s becoming easier to do. This week the P4Digital executive team examines the rise of the digital space.

Stay tuned and enjoy

Transcript

(more…)