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!

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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

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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

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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

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Hedge Funds: The Wild West

Welcome to the wild, wild west. Have you heard about the Canarsie Hedge fund? More money was lost in three weeks than most of us will see in our entire lifetimes. How did this happen and why? The P4Capital team examines this in this week’s Round Table Discussion.

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Robbing the Bank

Ever wonder how easy it would be to rob a bank? Well, it happened recently at RBC in Vancouver by two ex-employees of the company. Find out how they pulled it off in this week’s Round table discussion.

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The next industrial revolution – The Conclusion

This week, the P4Capital team continues it’s discussion into the Next Industrial Revolution.

Stay tuned.

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How are jobs and careers changing in the Digital Age?

Welcome to a new edition of the P4Digital Round Tables!

Digital marketing is changing the face and infrastructure of the world. The job of recruiting is not exempt from this. This week, the P4Digital executive team examines how their jobs are changing in this new age.

Stay tuned and enjoy

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