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IT Conferences This Summer

IT Conferences This Summer

As mentioned in my previous blog, it is incredibly important to attend IT conferences throughout your career. This year brings many opportunities to learn from inspirational speakers and network through educational workshops. Who knows, you may even get the fortune of meeting with a tech giant CEO such as Sundar Pichai of Google or Satya Nadella of Microsoft. Here’s a list of conferences around the world taking place this summer.

June
The largest information security event in Europe, InfoSecurity Europe, is being held in London this year from June 5 through the 7th. It’s forecasted that there will be roughly 14,000 people in attendance this year. Also taking place in London on June 7th is the Tech for Britain conference, a gathering that will allow for the meeting of technologists across the globe to collaborate and learn while networking. Then from June 7th-9th, Poland will be hosting the ProductCamp conference. This three-day event is comprised of a workshop day, a conference day, and a barcamp day. A few days later, June 11th-15th, Germany will host one of the world’s largest computer expos, CeBIT. The projected attendance is over 200,000 people and just some of the topics are artificial intelligence, virtual intelligence, and cybercrime.

Here in the states, Chicago will host the Digital Workplace Experience (#DWX18) from June 18th-20th. This three-day event will showcase the latest best practices for leadership and employee experience.

July & August
If you can only make it to one conference this year, plan to attend Google Cloud Next held in San Francisco from July 24th-27th. With over 200 sessions to choose from, you’ll leave this conference knowing all about Google’s new and updated cloud services. Then from August 12th-17th in St. Louis, we’ll have the SHARE 2018 conference. This six-day conference is crafted by volunteers to educate professionals, provide space for networking, and influence the leaders of tomorrow.

September
September is the month for IT conferences worldwide. Internationally, the IP EXPO Nordic will be held in Stockholm, Sweden September 19th-20th. This two-day event showcases the latest innovations in IT and how they impact company growth. Then on September 24th-25th, my company, Gartner will be hosting their Digital Workplace Summit in London. This conference inspires engagement from employees worldwide and helps companies reassess how their employees collaborate and work with one another.

Stateside, the Strata Data Conference is held in New York City September 12th-13th. This conference is a combination of cutting-edge science and emerging techniques for the business world. What sets this conference apart is its collegial, informal atmosphere which makes networking much easier for those newer to the industry.

IT Conferences in April and May

IT Conferences in April and May

IT conferences are incredibly important to attend if you are looking to advance your career. The workshops and speakers that attend these events bring new information of the industry and share best practices. They are also a great opportunity to network with others in the industry. There are many chances to meet the CEOs of tech giants like Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft.

The list of conferences to attend grows each year, and 2018 is no exception. According to BMC Software, there are 31 conferences to be attended around the globe. A few have already been completed. Those are the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, IBM Interconnect also in Las Vegas, and EmTech Digital in San Francisco.  

Within the next few months, there are several conferences to attend here in the States. The next conference is the IDUG Tech Conference which is to be held in Philadelphia April 29th through May 3rd bringing together professional Db2 users from all parts of the globe.

In May, California is going to see at least four conferences. The first will be held May 4th through the 5th in Santa Clara, TiE Inflect. This is Silicon Valley’s 25th annual conference that will bring together thousands of tech entrepreneurs to discuss AI and its impact on the industry. Then in Anaheim, Citrix Synergy will be held May 8th through the 10th. Topics expected to be covered at Citrix Synergy this year are file sharing and collaboration, analytics, cloud services, security, and many others. About two weeks later in San Francisco will be the Pure//Accelerate conference which provides access to cutting-edge innovations in the tech industry, Then back in Santa Clara on May 30th through June 1st will be the Augmented World Expo. This is the world’s largest conference on augmented reality.

If you’re willing to travel out of the country, there are four more conferences to attend now through the end of May. The Dublin Tech Summit will be held in Dublin, Ireland April 18th and 19th. The Summit will have over 250 speakers discussing Artificial Intelligence, the Internet of Things, FinTech, and many more hot topics in the tech industry. My own company will be hosting a conference a little closer to home, the Gartner CIO & IT Executive Summit May 15th through the 17th in Toronto, Canada. Empowering CIOs and IT leaders, this Summit will focus on applying digital business concepts to scenarios we often see in the real-world. The Digital Enterprise Show (DES) is the world’s leading conference on digital transformation. DES will be held in Madrid, Spain May 22nd through the 24th. And finally, The Next Web (TNW) Conference is set to be held in Amsterdam May 24th and 25th. This two-day conference is a technology festival that will bring together leaders, top-tier investors, and technology executives from all across the globe.

Skills for the IT Industry

Skills for the IT Industry

The IT industry is booming and many companies are looking to hire top-talented employees to keep up with this growth. Having a plethora of skills can help you land a job or move forward in your current role. CIO.com compiled a list of skills that employers are looking for in 2018. This data was collected from the job search platform, Indeed.

React
Having an understanding of how to use React by JavaScript is essential in the technology workforce today. This user interface (UI) is used by major social media sites such as Facebook and Instagram.

Azure
Azure, the cloud computing solution from Microsoft, is another highly searched skill on Indeed. It provides support of many different programming languages, platform-as-a-service (PaaS), software-as-a-service (SaaS), and infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS). With its use across the globe, this skill is required by almost all tech companies.

Offensive Security Certified Professional (OSCP)
When you become an Offensive Security Certified Professional (OSCP), it shows employers that you are able to navigate unknown networks, identify weaknesses, and build a stronger security to prevent malicious attacks or data breaches. With this being a heavy new topic today, many, if not all, companies are taking their security very seriously.

Apache Spark
The data processing engine, Apache Spark, is what companies like eBay, Yahoo, and Netflix use for their data analysis, machine learning, and streaming services. Spark allows a number of languages for their applications such as Java, Scala, and Python.

AngularJS
Understanding how to use the AngularJS application is a two-headed skill; you must understand how to write in HTML as well. Angular takes the traditional HTML coding and allows for more dynamic website building.

Programming Languages
Many of these languages have been mentioned above already but it’s important to reiterate their importance in the IT industry. ComputerScience.org provides a great explanation of many of these languages such as Python, Java, JavaScript, HTML, and many more. Think of it as a spoken language: many employers today are looking for candidate who are multilingual. This applies to the tech field as well, our language is just to communicate with computers!

Did You Know This About AI?

Did You Know This About AI?

With each passing day, artificial intelligence (AI) is transforming into something bigger and greater than what we knew of it yesterday. Because of this, it sees more attention than ever from investors. Advancements in AI isn’t going to impact just a business’s products and services, but instead almost every aspect of their business. Here are some interesting facts about where AI is today.

AI is a catch-all phrase
The term “artificial intelligence” is an umbrella term for a few different definitions such as machine learning and deep learning. The AI we think of that is shown in movies is not quite where technology is at yet. To learn more about this, check out Chris Neiger’s article.

AI will boost our future global economy
A 2017 report from PwC claims that by 2030, AI will have the potential to contribute over 15 trillion dollars to the global economy. Not only that, but North America is expecting to see an increase of 14.5% of GDP as well.

Booming car industry
By 2027, only nine years from now, it’s expected that the self-driving car industry will be worth $127 billion. AI plays an important part in making this become a reality.

Better home connections
Amazon’s Echo line and Alphabet’s Google Assistant are both powered by their own artificial intelligence. These are just the big names in the business. It’s expected to see more growth with the increasing popularity of these AI-powered, personal assistants.

Impacting e-commerce
Amazon is already implementing the use of AI technology to recommend specific products to its users. Also, it will be helping a business determine which deals to offer and at what time for better customer experiences and to help grow the business.

Alphabet already has a leg up
Google’s parent company has its own AI processor which makes its services, such as its search engine and Gmail, smarter. This processor is called the TPU – the Tensor Processing Unit.

It could be a dangerous path
The technology guru, Elon Musk, has not been quiet about his concern for humanity with the advancements of AI. He suggests there be regulations set in place and the complete avoidance of autonomous weaponry. Read more about his warnings here.

Loss of jobs
According to Stephen Hawking, AI will make many jobs disappear without being able to create new ones in exchange at the same rate. But, it’s not just Hawking making these claims, PwC has also predicted that over the next 15 years, we could see a decrease in 38% of U.S. jobs.

2017’s Most Powerful Women in Technology

2017’s Most Powerful Women in Technology

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 Today’s Work Culture

Technology in Today’s Work Culture

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.

Communication
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.

“Always-On” Workplace
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.

Busting the Top 5 Myths of AI

Busting the Top 5 Myths of AI

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.

Cybersecurity Challenges in the Age of IOT

Cybersecurity Challenges in the Age of IOT

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:

Some stats

  • 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.

Threats

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.

AI is the Key to Data

AI is the Key to Data

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.

Inspiring Quotes from Female Technology Leaders

Inspiring Quotes from Female Technology Leaders

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.”

AND

“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.