Last week, Forbes announced its 2017 list of The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women. This year has been exceptionally difficult for women, but so many of these influential women have persevered and are an inspiration to us for the future. The top ten women this year, from 1-10, are: Angela Merkel, Germany; Theresa May, United Kingdom; Melinda Gates, United States; Sheryl Sandberg, United States; Mary Barra, United States; Susan Wojcicki, United States; Abigail Johnson, United States; Christine Lagarde, France; Ana Patricia Botín, Spain; and Ginni Rometty, United States. Of these top ten most powerful women, I want to make special note of the three that are in the category of technology; Sheryl Sandberg, Susan Wojcicki, and Ginni Rometty.
Sheryl Sandberg ranks as the 4th most powerful woman in the world this year. She currently is the Chief Operations Officer of Facebook and has been for the past nine years. In these nine years of being at Facebook, she has dramatically boosted their revenue. Prior to Facebook, she spent six years as Google’s Vice President, where she developed their online advertising. She founded a nonprofit to support women’s empowerment
6th on the list is Susan Wojcicki, the CEO of YouTube since February of 2014. She started as Google’s 16th employee back in 1999 as their first marketing manager, later climbing the ladder to head all of their marketing and commerce. In 2006, Susan advocated for Google’s acquisition of YouTube, allowing it to grow its worth to an estimated $90 billion.
Finally, we have Ginni Rometty, the CEO of IBM, making her appearance as 10th on the list. IBM had seen declining revenue for 21 consecutive quarters but this October, they saw their best earnings in almost nine years, thanks to CEO Rometty. In her time as CEO, she has been pushing for more cloud and analytics products to counteract the decline in demand for IBM’s traditional software products. In addition, IBM bought the digital parts of The Weather Company in 2015 which changed the way we forecast weather. The artificial intelligence IBM has implemented with its Watson-powered Weather Channel app was used during Hurricane Irma to reroute airplanes away from the storms.
Technology in the workplace has a direct effect on the way a company communicates internally and how they regulate when and where employees are working from. The standard for today’s work culture is becoming more reliant to working online.
Working millennials have a huge impact on the way people inside a company communicate with each other. According to Pew Research Center, millennials are now the most prominent generation in the workforce today. Their outside communication habits are becoming the model for communication inside the office. Their aversion to making phone calls is promoting the use of text messaging, emailing, and instant messaging apps, such as Slack and Google Hangouts, as the primary forms of communication between coworkers. This type of communication can help eliminate hierarchical barriers and allow for more effective collaboration across the whole company.
While this all sounds like a great way to boost productivity, there are downfalls to this form of communication. Smartphones can become a distraction in the workplace with the constant notifications disrupting a worker’s focus. A lack of focus can lead to errors in work. Instant messaging apps can also open the door to work becoming a nonstop chat room. Managers might need to enforce a set of rules to avoid problems such as these.
The easy access to internet connection almost anywhere these days is making way for more people to work remotely. Working from home, or remotely, is becoming a popular trend as well with companies allotting a certain amount of work from home days or more flexible hours for the typical workday.
At the same time, this technology allows access to work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, leading to an “always-on” kind of job. As stated above, these new communication trends are allowing managers to be able to reach their workers any time of the day with a quick text or email. This can lead to employees feeling overwhelmed and unable to disconnect from their jobs. For a better employee experience, a healthy work-life balance needs to be promoted by employers.
Productive habits must be taught to avoid the abuse of this new way of working. However, with the use of the right technology, collaboration and efficiency can thrive in the workplace, bettering today’s work culture.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a popular and exciting topic within the world of technology these days. This can cause misunderstandings to turn into wild rumors. Here are five AI myths that you must stop believing.
1. AI Will Replace Your Job
Viewing AI as a direct transfer of human labor to machine labor is large over-simplification. Industrial revolutions in the past, such as the shift from agricultural work to factory work in the nineteenth century, have feared the same thing. However, the number of jobs has stayed consistent throughout. There is very little evidence to suggest a mass unemployment is likely to happen. Instead, AI technology will enable human workers to work in a more efficient and clever manner.
2. Low-Skilled & Manual Workers Are Most Likely To Be Replaced
Most of the focus for AI is reducing the laborious aspects of day-to-day work, often for the highly trained professions such as doctors and lawyers. In the medical field, AI is used to scan images, such as x-rays and MRIs, to detect early warning signs of different diseases. In the case of a lawyer, AI can be used to scan large documents at warp speed to find the most relevant information for an ongoing case. AI isn’t taking over these jobs but instead helping professionals use their time for more high-level work.
3. Computers Will Become Better Than Humans
There are two groups of AI applications – generalized and specialized. Specialized AIs focus on performing one specific job in a certain field. The examples listed above are specialized AI functions. What people fear will lead to computers becoming better than humans are the generalized AI functions, where it is capable of accurately completing multiple tasks across any given field; but, we are nowhere near this feat.
4. Artificial Intelligence Will Outpace Human Intelligence
It’s certainly true that AI has outpaced us in some dimensions, such as calculation speed and recall capacity; however, there are some dimensions of human intelligence that computers still cannot do. Emotional intelligence and strategic thinking is something that AI is not likely to be able to do anytime soon.
5. AI Will Lead to Robots Taking Over the World
The thought of robots learning to develop self-preservation skills and putting humans under a robotic control is something of a science-fiction novel and is highly unlikely to happen in real life. There are boundaries that would have to be eliminated and allowances by society made before anything of this sort could even be possible. So if robots taking over the world keeps you up at night, know that we are far closer to having aliens invade instead.
In a recent blog, I took the time to explain what the IoT (internet of things) is and how it has changed the landscape of technology. The internet of things, or the connection of devices to the internet, is a double-edged sword that both simplifies and complicates our lives. These connected devices are accessed through the internet and can identify themselves to other devices, using embedded technology to interact with their surroundings. Some may argue that change and progress are inevitable, so there will always be new technologies, and while there may be no stopping the dawn of an age where our lives are inextricably bound to the internet, we should at least be prepared to manage it.
The connection of so many objects to the internet makes our world more vulnerable to hackers. If so many things all connect back to a shared database, it raises some alarming questions. Does that mean our watches could be hacked? Our cars? Even our homes? “Paradoxically, the very principle that makes the IoT so powerful- the ability to share data instantly with everyone and everything- creates a huge cybersecurity threat,” the Harvard Business Review reports.
Hackers are already clever, devising new methods to access personal information and confidential data. The Internet of Things could make it even easier for hackers, because all it would take is one flaw in the security chain to open the gate to a wealth of exploitable data. Here are some stats on how authoritative the Internet of Things has become and why we should be concerned:
- A survey from Cisco predicts that 50 billion devices will be connected to the internet by 2020
- A Hewlett Packard study revealed that 70 percent of IoT devices contain serious security flaws.
- IoT is becoming a leading topic of conversation in the information technology sector; at the 2014 Black Hat Conference, many discussions were centered around it.
One of the major threats the Internet of Things poses is terrorism attacks. It’s not just data and personal information at stake, but national security. The Internet of Things gives hackers the ability to craft attacks not just from public networks, but also from private sources such as cars, smartphones, voice-activated devices like the Amazon Echo, and even appliances. As entire cities embrace the power of the internet to become “smart,” it also opens to door to large-scale attacks.
In order to derive the full benefits of the Internet of Things and prevent cyber attacks, the technology industry must actively take measures to leverage its best security practices and be vigilant about keeping systems updated with the most advanced antivirus software.
The Internet is truly all-present today. It contained 4.4 zettabytes of data as of 2013, and by 2020 is expected to hit 44 zettabytes. However, a huge portion of that data –an estimated 70% to 80%– is unstructured, and therefore not useful for companies that process and analyze data. This unstructured data, known as “dark data” includes things such as images and text.
Recently, companies have begun exploring how to use AI, or artificial intelligence, to unlock some of the information contained in this dark data. AIs would be able to find useful information and convert it into more useful formats. To this end, computer scientists at Stanford created DeepDive, a tool that could extract dark data.
Then, in 2015, MacArthur Genius Grant recipient Christopher Ré, along with Michael Cafarella, Raphael Hoffmann, and Feng Niu, founded Lattice, a company dedicated to the concept of data extraction with AI. Lattice was recently acquired by Apple, which hopes to expand into the artificial intelligence market. Prior to its acquisition, Lattice went largely unnoticed by the general public, although it certainly didn’t escape the gaze of tech companies. Lattice is at the forefront of AI development, and has even been talking with companies like Amazon and Samsung about how to improve their own artificial intelligence programming.
Why is it so important to be able to analyze dark data? Today, data is a multibillion dollar industry, and everyone from start-ups to world governments are trying to get in on it. It can be used in everything from advertising and medicine to international policing and paleontological research. The net has become a place where major financial transactions take place, where global market trends become apparent, and where crimes are committed and solved. More data means that the companies that analyze this data can see patterns more easily, and see these patterns on a broader range of subjects. Structuring dark data would make analyses much more effective.
Meanwhile, more and more companies are investing in artificial intelligence. The AI market value is expected to double this year, from 6.43.7 million dollars in 2016. The increased accessibility of data likely to result is bound to raise concerns about internet privacy, but also a slew of exciting possibilities for the coming years.
It used to be that technology was a man’s field- women could busy themselves with the housekeeping and childrearing and leave the math and science to the men. The modern workforce has seen some drastic changes since the days of the doting housewife. Women now dominate 56% of the professional workforce, for the first time in history surpassing the number of men holding professional jobs. While men continue to dominate the technology sphere, the paradigms have largely shifted. Women may only hold 28% of software jobs and 25% of IT jobs, with 11% of executive positions at Fortune 500 companies being held by women and 5% of tech startups owned by women, but they have made significant gains in a relatively short span of time.
Names like Sheryl Sandberg, Virginia Rometty, Marissa Mayer, and Arianna Huffington would not be in circulation today if it were not for the combined efforts of female leaders in business and technology around the world. Women have made some pretty incredible contributions to some of the biggest names in business, so it’s about time they be recognized for their accomplishments. I’ve compiled some of my favorite quotes from women in technology that demonstrate the meaning of “girl power” and remind me why the work I do as a woman IT executive is so important and inspirational. Here are a few that stand out from female tech leaders both past and present, and well-known and less-recognized:
1. “If there is something that you really want to do, if you believe in it…simply keep forging forward because success will come.”– Cassandra Sanford, Co-Founder and CEO of KellyMitchell Group.
2. “A ship in port is safe, but that is not what ships are for. Sail out to see and do new things.”– Rear Admiral Grace Hopper, U.S. Navy’s oldest active-duty officer at the time of her retirement and developer of the first compiler for a computer programming language. She coined the terms “computer bug” and “debugging.”
3. “Leadership is about making others better as a result of your presence and making sure that impact lasts in your absence.” –Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Facebook.
4. “I always did something I was a little not ready to do. I think that’s how you grow. When there’s that moment of, ‘Wow, I’m not really sure I can do this,’ and you push through those moments, that’s when you have a breakthrough.”
“If you can find something that you’re really passionate about, whether you’re a man or a woman comes a lot less into play. Passion is a gender-neutralizing force.” — Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo since 2012 and Google’s first female engineer.
5. “Most engineers like to proceed from A to B to C in a series of logical steps. I’m the rare engineer who says the answer is obviously Z and we will get on with that while you guys work out how to do all the intermediate steps. It makes me a dangerous person to employ in IT but a useful one.” –Sophie Wilson, designer of the Acorn Micro-Computer and its programming language, BBC BASIC.
The hashtag is consistently trending on Twitter and tossed around in business jargon. You may have even used it in your own tweets, but do you really know what “the Internet of Things” is and what it means? You know what the internet is (obviously) but do you know how to properly use the term and understand it as more than just a concept?
The Internet of Things, as it’s defined, actually seems quite simple but there is a lot that goes into it, from the devices and platforms it encompasses to how it’s implemented in various industries. The Internet of Things refers to the connection of devices to the internet beyond the obvious players like cell phones and computers. Business Insider defines it as “a network of internet-connected objects able to collect and exchange data using embedded sensors.” Think appliances with voice command technology, wearable devices, and personal assistants like Alexa. But that’s just the most basic definition. In order to really understand the Internet of Things, you’ll have to understand everything that goes into it, and the internet is essentially its own galaxy. It’s important to have at least a basic understanding of the Internet of Things because this interconnected network of things that we have come to call the IoT runs our lives. According to Gartner, by 2020 there will be over 26 billion connected devices.
Because there are so many pieces at play, it helps to break it down into categories. Here are the main devices, platforms, industries, and trends you should know about that make up the Internet of Things.
It’s important to realize that the devices that comprise the IoT are not themselves “smart”; it’s the sensors they contain that are intelligent. Devices are just the instruments through which sensors operate. Without the sensors gathering, measuring, and evaluating data, these machines that can communicate with each other would be useless. “The internet of things really comes together with the connection of sensors and machines,” says Wired. These devices can include anything from wearables like smartwatches to smart street lights to smart coffee machines to smart cars- even smart cement to prevent infrastructure problems! Really, nothing is off limits.
As Business Insider explains, you can think of platforms as the bridges between devices’ sensors and the data networks that they tap into to connect to the internet and each other. You probably already have a general understanding of platforms as the software and hardware that support application functions; however, in the specific context of the Internet of Things, “platforms are designed to deploy applications that monitor, manage, and control connected devices,” according to McKinsey & Company. Some of the most popular platforms today, to name a few, are Amazon Web Services, Cisco IoT Cloud Connect, and Microsoft Azure.
The power of the IoT can be harnessed and applied to virtually all industries. It only makes sense that some of the major players are the huge tech companies like Apple, Google, Amazon and Comcast. However, according to Business Insider, there are three primary groups that will benefit from the IoT: consumers, governments, and ecosystems. Among those groups, a variety of industries including manufacturing, infrastructure, oil/gas, mining, utilities, transportation, insurance, retail, hospitality, defense, logistics, connected home, health care, agriculture, banks, food service, and smart buildings will be the most affected. The IoT is not off-limits to anyone. Virtually no industry is left untouched.
The IoT is a fluid, dynamic entity that is subject to the rapidly-changing tides of technology. As such, it can be difficult to predict precisely what the future of IoT looks like. One area that seems to have immense potential for growth is smart cities. Smart devices could tap into transportation networks, helping us to reduce waste and increase efficiency for energy use. Sensors could be used to improve infrastructure as well as driving safety, alerting drivers to hazards. Stoplights could be equipped to streamline traffic. As you can see, the impact here is huge. According to Wired, “When we start making things intelligent, it’s going to be a major engine for creating new products and new services.” However, with great power comes great responsibility (forgive me for the cliche). The IoT creates both opportunity and challenges. With so many devices containing sensitive information connected to the internet and each other, it raises security concerns. Another challenge for IoT will be the massive amount of data that these devices must be equipped to store and process.
The Internet of Things still has some challenges to sort through before it becomes a fully-functioning force, but as we can see, it is already well on its way to becoming just that. Until that day when our lifestyles are completely defined by the IoT, it pays to at least be educated on what it is and how it could impact your life.
International women’s day was celebrated by women all around the world this Wednesday, March 8. Google’s doodle of the day featured 13 inspiring women who made history. Women changed their profile pictures on Facebook to have a red frame, red being the color of the movement. Marches, strikes, and lectures took place across the globe. Snapchat even changed some of its filters to include famous women from history. Here are just a few of the demonstrations that were held around the world: In Tbilisi, Georgia women stood under a symbolic “glass ceiling”; thousands of women (and men) marched through Rome to protest wage inequality, discrimination, and violence against women; women in Buenos Aires left work for a one-hour strike, women in Paris staged a rally for gender equality beginning at 3:40pm (the time of day when Frenchwomen symbolically stop being paid as a result of the 26 percent pay gap with men), and women in the U.S. took to the streets in Washington DC and New York City.
This annual celebration, which has officially been in existence since 1911, is a celebration and recognition of all women throughout history. It both celebrates the accomplishments made by women and also acknowledges that major disparities still exist and gender equality, even 106 years after the event’s founding, has not yet been achieved. While International Women’s Day is a day to celebrate all women from all fields and walks of life, this year in particular had an emphasis on women in science and technology.
Women in science and technology fields have been grossly underrepresented and under-appreciated since first occupying these traditionally male-occupied roles. According to the Department of Labor, women represent only 26 percent of all computer and mathematics jobs in the United States. Furthermore, according to Forbes less than 5% of women are tech leaders yet in the best-performing tech companies, more than a quarter of the leaders are female. However, if the recent marches and demonstrations are any indication, women are acutely aware of their unequal status in society and are energized and motivated to take action by it, so perhaps times really are a changin’.
Case in point: four of the 13 women featured in Google’s doodles of influential women held technology jobs and accomplished major milestones in their professions. Ada Lovelace, born in 1915, was the world’s first computer programmer. Olga Skorokhodova came from humble and trying beginnings; she was born into a poor Ukrainian family in 1911 and lost both her sight and hearing by the age of five. In spite of these obstacles, she rose to hold several positions over her lifetime, one of which was a researcher where she established scientific works on the advancement of education for deaf-blind children. Sally Ride, an astronaut and physicist who joined NASA in 1978 after gaining her PhD, was the first American woman and the third woman ever to go into space. Lastly, Cecilia Grierson was a physician who made significant contributions to Argentinian healthcare. Born in Buenos Aires in 1859, she became the first woman in Argentina to obtain a medical degree at a time when women were not allowed to enroll in medical school.
Social media was the main powerhouse for International Women’s Day, with Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat all serving as engines through which women came together to express their support. Last year, Facebook launched the #SheMeansBusiness program last year to “support, celebrate and empower women entrepreneurs and women-owned businesses.” The social network also hosted a 24-hour live broadcast on Wednesday featuring women all around the words sharing their ideas and inspiration. The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day, #BeBoldForChange was trending on Twitter. Even Snapchat got involved, featuring filters of Frida Kahlo and Marie Curie.
I’ll be blunt: women still have a long way to go before obtaining total equality with men, especially in the science and technology sectors. Although schools are gradually starting to implement more advanced technology programs encompassing women, women are rarely encouraged to pursue careers in technology, with only 16% of women reporting to The Mirror they’ve had a career in technology suggested to them compared with 33% of men. The World Economic Forum predicts it will take until 2186 for the gender gap to close completely.
These statistics may appear to be grim, but I am inspired by women every day. As the Senior Client Director at Gartner, I represent one of the few women leaders in technology and I credit my own drive and determination for getting there. Women have the tools at the their disposal to achieve great things. We may not always receive the support we should, but together we can create change.
As the Senior Client Director of Gartner, the world’s leading information technology research and advisory company, I bring over 20 years of consulting experience to the job, driving IT initiatives for Fortune 500 companies. At Gartner, I help businesses understand IT at an executive level to solve internal and external needs utilizing data and analytics.
That probably sounded like a whole lot of tech talk, without explaining exactly what I do. Consulting is a vital aspect of many businesses and you’ve probably heard of it before and know it has something to do with giving advice in a certain field. Some consultants are self-employed, while others (like myself) were hired into a consulting position for a company. As important as consulting work is for companies across all fields to help them increase revenue and cut costs, consulting can be somewhat difficult to define because it encompasses different industries. It also, as Forbes explains in the example of a beauty consultant contestant on The Bachelorette, sometimes gets a bad rap. There’s a famous saying: “Consultants take your watch and tell you what time it is.”
I can assure you, consulting work is much more complex than the stereotypes make it seem, and it’s also one of the most important and lucrative professions in the United States. A survey from the Association of Management Consulting Firms reported that entry-level consultants earn an average annual salary of $58,000 while senior consultants can earn up to $259,000, on average. Even when the economy is in decline, there will always be a need for consultants.
So, how does one become a consultant? Consulting isn’t one of those jobs that perfectly aligns with a given college major. There is no one, straight path to becoming a consultant. However, if you think you want to get into consulting, here are a few tips to help you get started:
- Evaluate if this is the right field for you. I have found consulting to be a rewarding and fulfilling career path, but it’s not for everyone. Consulting is a lot of work, but if you really enjoy what you do, it won’t feel like work. You should be aware of the demands of the job though. Consulting will most likely require you to travel often, and you will need to have a flexible schedule and work ethic to adapt to whatever the job requires. As Forbes explains, “ The job also requires you to share ideas, explain concepts, and present findings almost on a daily basis.” So you should be an excellent communicator. In consulting, you shouldn’t shy away from an occasional late night at the office. If you want to get ahead in the field, you’ll have to do whatever it takes to get the job done. If you’re someone who enjoys challenging yourself and pushing yourself to new limits, consulting could be your key to a successful and happy life.
- Make sure you have the required skills and attributes. I’ve touched on some of these already, but certain personalities are better suited for consulting work than others. You don’t need an MBA to break into consulting; skills and ambition are the most important factors when it comes to getting the job. You should have demonstrated leadership skills, an ability to work well under stress, and excellent problem-solving, management, communication, and computer skills.
- Know what to expect and become an expert in the industry. You should come across as informed and invested in this field if you want to ace your interview for a consulting job and begin a career. Read up on the typical trajectory for consulting jobs, the job titles and descriptions, the responsibilities, and how to prepare sample proposals for clients.
- Decide if you want to work as a consultant for a firm or company, or be self-employed. Plan accordingly. There are two main paths to a career in consulting- you can either apply directly to a consulting firm or a consulting position within a company, or if you’re an entrepreneurial type, you may want to offer your own services on a freelance basis. Your strategy will be different depending on which path you decide to take; for instance, you should familiarize yourself with the interview process if your goal is to work for a firm, and you’ll need to come up with a gameplan if you plan on going solo, such as advertising and pricing your services.
With these tips in mind, you should be able to evaluate if a career in consulting is right for you, and if you find that it is, don’t be afraid to go for it! The first step to accomplishing any goal is having the drive and motivation to do so, and from there, you start planning for your future.
On September 22, Yahoo announced that 500 million users’ email accounts had been hacked in 2014. The stolen information, according to Hacked.com, includes:
- Email addresses
- Telephone numbers
- Dates of birth
- Hashed passwords (which is a way of taking a variable-length password and creating a cryptic, fixed-length password from it)
- Encrypted or unencrypted security questions and answers
Rumors about the hack had surfaced in August, but it wasn’t until September that the company “admitted” to the security breach by what it believed to be a “state-sponsored actor,” which essentially implies culpability from a government who is financially supporting a third party engaged in non-violent cyberterrorism.
However, many are skeptical about Yahoo’s “state-sponsored” claims with one expert telling Computerworld that “This just doesn’t reek of nation-state activity. Nation-states are after intellectual property. They don’t give a damn about emails and passwords from a Yahoo account.”
On the other hand, though, a possible hypothesis could be that a “government might have been interested in targeting the email accounts of human rights activists.”
It seems that hypotheses is pretty much all the public has right now as Yahoo has been tightlipped about what, specifically, it knows about the hack and the hackers. For now, Yahoo is eschewing transparency; it has yet to provide evidence supporting its theory.
This week, Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) asked the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to “investigate whether Yahoo and its senior executives fulfilled obligations to inform investors and the public about a hacking attack affecting 500 million user accounts.” Furthermore, Warner wants the SEC to find out if Yahoo has been accurately representing the nature of the security breach. In a letter to SEC Chairwoman Mary Jo White, Warner said,“Disclosure is the foundation of federal securities laws, and public companies are required to disclose material events that shareholders should know about.”
Although the hacking incident happened in 2014, consumers might still want to take a few safety precautions, say the experts at Hacked.com. What precautions, you ask? First, change your password. Also, turn on Yahoo’s two-step verification process and/or take advantage of Yahoo’s account key. Then, as always, be vigilant about watching out for fraudulent activity on your credit cards or bank statements.
Domenica Cresap is an Illinois-based expert in information technology whose career has spanned many years. Currently, Domenica serves as the Senior Client Director at Gartner, one of the country’s largest research and advisory firms providing information technology related insight.