IBM plans to hire 1800 people in France for blockchain and AI

IBM  CEO Virginia Rometty is currently having lunch with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris. And Rometty talked with Le Monde and announced some new investments in France as part of the Tech for Good Summit organized by Macron.

The company plans to hire 1,800 new people in France over the next couple of years. While this isn’t really groundbreaking as IBM has 380,000 employeesaround the world, it’s interesting to see the focus of these hires.

IBM plans to put together a research team focused on blockchain projects, artificial intelligence and the internet of things. This hiring plan still represents pocket change for such a big company with hundreds of thousands of people.

Le Monde also noticed that IBM has reduced its team in France for years. Since 2012, IBM has cut more or less as many people as the company plans to hire. IBM clients in France include Orange Bank, SNCF and LVMH.

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Article Credit: TC

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How AI Will Change Marketing As We Know It

One of the biggest and most important trends in business today is the steady growth of artificial intelligence (AI). While people often think of AI in terms of the ways it can eliminate menial tasks such as paperwork and scheduling, the fact is that it will soon be touching every part of the business world, if it is not already.

AI is doing more than just providing companies with virtual personal assistants — it is changing marketing as we know it. Digital marketers today are helped by an incredible wave of information that is available from accessible, advanced data analytics tools, providing more insight into consumers as well as how to market directly to them.

As the chief digital officer at Advantix Digital, I have had the chance to be exposed to AI — from the introduction of machine learning to AdWords and optimizing for voice search.

A More Educated Marketing Process

While marketers have always used data as much as they could, the fact is that many ad campaigns still involve a lot of educated guesswork from marketers. However, the growth of AI in the marketing world will allow for more truly data-driven marketing campaigns, where AI will allow data to be more properly used and integrated into each ad campaign.

While companies have gotten increasingly better at collecting as much data as possible, it’s also true that they often have more data than they can actually assemble and use. Advanced artificial intelligence will help to narrow that gap, offering the ability to seek out and identify patterns that will be beneficial for marketers in their campaigns.

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Article Credit: Forbes

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The Future of AI Depends on High-School Girls

Women make up one-quarter of computer scientists. But in the field of artificial intelligence those numbers are likely much lower.

During her freshman year, Stephanie Tena, a 16-year-old programmer, was searching the internet for coding programs and came across a website for an organization called AI4All, which runs an artificial-intelligence summer camp for high-schoolers. On the site, a group of girls her age were gathered around an autonomous car in front of the iconic arches of Stanford’s campus. “AI will change the world,” the text read. “Who will change AI?”

Tena thought maybe she could. She lives in a trailer park in California’s Central Valley; her mom, a Mexican immigrant from Michoacán, picks strawberries in the nearby fields. Tena has long black hair, a cheery, high-pitched voice, and an unflappably professional bearing: She refers to other students as “my peers” and her mentors as “notable professors,” and she has nailed the language of the scientific method (“My hypothesis was proven incorrect”). She had been coding for a couple of years, ever since attending a programming club at the local community college when she was still in junior high. “I prefer science over history,” she says. The summer after the 8th grade, she had flown to Los Angeles for a coding boot camp run by the supermodel Karlie Kloss, (who had gotten interested in coding after taking a class herself), where she had learned some programming languages and developed a website. She saved up for more than a year, both her allowance and her pay from working at a bubble-tea shop, and bought a new MacBook.

But even as Tena applied, and was accepted, to the AI4All program on a full scholarship, she knew little about artificial intelligence. Nor was she fully aware of AI4All’s reason for existing: While women make up only a quarter of computer scientists, their numbers appear to be even smaller in the AI field in particular. While there are no government statistics on the percentage of women in AI, women at the Annual Conference on Neural Information Processing Systems (NIPS), the AI field’s top conference, made up only 17 percent of attendees last year. The percentage of women has risen for the last four years, and NIPS is considering changing the anatomically evocative conference title “in the context of diversity issues,” according to its website.

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Article Credit: The Atlantic

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Scatolificio 2G Italian Leaders in Cardboard Box Design

Established in 1969, Scatolificio 2G is an innovative Italian packaging company specialising in unique cardboard box design. It descended from Scatolificio Alessandro Bettin, which produced seed boxes for plant nurseries. The company then evolved into manufacturing shoe boxes, due to demand from the booming shoe businesses in local towns. They then diversified further and now Scatolificio 2G caters for a large number of different companies, designing personalised packaging for their products.

Diverse Client Base

From bangles to bowties, publications to plaques, Scatolificio 2G offers packaging solutions to a wide range of leading Italian manufactures. Any product based business needs to consider how to box and present their goods and Scatolificio 2G pride themselves on their ability to create diverse, individualised packaging to meet the needs of each of their specific clients. They list erotic toys, costume jewellery and alcohol as some of the many products they have designed and produced boxes for and are constantly evolving and experimenting with new ideas.

Stunning Design

A product’s packaging is the first thing a customer sees of their purchase so it needs to be eye-catching, appealing and memorable. Scatolificio 2G work collaboratively with their clients to design and produce product boxes for them that suit their brand and are attractive and on trend, ensuring that their customer’s first impression is a great one.


Although Scatolificio 2G is known for their cardboard box designs, they do use other materials in their products. The vast range of businesses that they work with means that they can not always use the same stuff to make their packaging and they need to be innovative with the materials they include. They make sure they source the highest quality materials for their packaging and that they are appropriate for the products they will be housing, taking into account budgets, style and practicality.

Personalised Packaging

Scatolificio 2G makes individualised boxes for businesses to match their brand, budget and products. They can also produce limited edition and gift boxes for celebrating those special occasions in style. Working closely with their clients throughout the design process ensures that Scatolificio 2G provide excellent packaging that is uniquely personalised.

The Design Process

The design process begins with a meeting to discuss the client’s needs and requirements. Taking these into account, Scatolificio 2G will then develop, present and discuss their proposal. Once this has been approved they will quickly build a prototype so the client is able to see and touch the packaging and make any last minute checks. When the final design has been agreed on, the boxes can go into series production and then are packaged and shipped out using Scatolificio 2G’s own vehicles.

Scatolificio 2G pride themselves on constantly experimenting and evolving to provide exceptional designs for any businesses that require packaging for their products. Their wealth of industry experience and the emphasis they place on building a close working relationship with their clients ensures that the packaging they produce perfectly accentuates and compliments the goods they contain.

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SAP Brings Built-In Support to SAP S/4HANA Cloud

SAP SE  announced the expansion of built-in support functionality for SAP S/4HANA Cloud, providing customers with direct in-solution access to product support through the SAP CoPilot Web application. This eliminates the steps between requesting support and resolution.


Using SAP Leonardo Machine Learning capabilities and sophisticated intent-matching features, the built-in functionality analyzes support requests from SAP customers through its AI chat features. After processing the text used in the informal support request, SAP CoPilot uses context-sensitive knowledge to provide personalized support.

“As the intelligent enterprise becomes a reality, businesses don’t have time to go out of their way to search for support,” said Andreas Heckmann, senior vice president of SAP Digital Business Services and head of Support, SAP. “With the addition of built-in support, we’re meeting our customers where they are and providing answers in a single channel through fast, easy-to-digest guidance.”

Built-in support is available through cloud solutions from SAP running in SAP S/4HANA Cloud* to provide benefits such as:

  • Moving support into the product: Without needing to leave the solution to search for support externally, customers can get help from support experts from SAP, access solution-relevant SAP software documentation, and find support for best practices all in one place.
  • Increased personalization: Natural language processing technology allows built-in support to interpret the problem at hand quickly and efficiently and provide case-specific guidance through the user’s preferred medium, creating a conversational experience.
  • Collaboration with experts: Users can share case-specific situations with and direct questions to internal key users through the SAP CoPilot digital assistant’s chat functionality. Based on this rich context, the built-in support function can assist in finding knowledge or forwarding relevant information to SAP. This seamless integration provides the support expert from SAP who is assigned to the incident relevant information right from the start. This ensures a customized and appropriate resolution to the problem raised.

The entire Next-Generation Support approach provides assistance for on-premise and cloud-based solutions at no additional cost. In a continued effort to optimize the customer support experience, the built-in support concept will be expanded to integrate additional support channels across additional SAP solutions in the future.

In addition to the convenience the built-in support concept provides for SAP S/4HANA Cloud, Next-Generation Support equips SAP customers with a variety of resources across the entire SAP solution portfolio. For example, customers can interact with SAP’s support organization in real time through the Expert Chat service. Or they can choose the Schedule an Expert service to schedule a live, one-on-one call with an SAP support engineer at a time convenient for them.

For those who prefer a self-service approach to support, the SAP Knowledge Base Article service provides access to incident-specific articles through Google Search. The articles are conveniently available in the customer’s preferred language through automatic translation generated by the SAP Translation Hub application. Translations are offered in Japanese and Brazilian Portuguese at the click of a button, and it is planned that additional languages will be available in the near future. Additionally, SAP customers can take advantage of the Guided Answers service, which curates an interactive, step-by-step guide to issue resolution.

To learn more about how to take advantage of the latest innovations in the Next-Generation Support approach and apply them to an SAP solution, additional information can be found at the SAP Support Strategy area of the SAP Support Portal.

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Manufacturing pauses for breath in May – CBI

Manufacturing output was broadly unchanged in the three months to May and firms reported a further softening in order books, according to the CBI’s latest monthly Industrial Trends Survey.

The survey of 411 manufacturers found that the volume of total order books fell to the lowest since November 2016, though orders remained above their long-run average. Export order books held up better, having been broadly unchanged in recent months at a level that is also well above the historical average.

Output was broadly unchanged in the quarter to May, the weakest performance since April 2016, but is expected to rebound over the next three months. Output grew in only 8 of the 17 sub-sectors, with the heaviest drag coming from the chemicals, and food, drink and tobacco, sectors.

Stocks were considered to be above adequate levels, in line with the long-run average.

Anna Leach, CBI Head of Economic Intelligence, said:

“UK manufacturing has lost some steam since the start of the year, on the back of a softening in both domestic and global growth.

“While global economic growth – particularly in the EU – has disappointed in the first quarter of the year, demand from overseas continues to shore up manufacturing activity in the UK, with export order books remaining well above historical average.”

Tom Crotty, Group Director of Ineos and Chair of CBI Manufacturing Council, said:

“Overseas markets are crucial for the prospects of UK manufacturers.

“To plan their future investments effectively, it’s absolutely vital that trade between the UK and the EU remains as frictionless as possible, and that there are no further barriers to trade either North-South or East-West for Northern Ireland. Progress must also be made on critical issues like immigration and EU rules.”

Key findings:

  • 22% of manufacturers reported total order books to be above normal, and 25% said they were below normal, giving a balance of -3% – the lowest since November 2016 (-3%) but above the long-run average (-19%)
  • 21% of firms said their export order books were above normal, and 13% said they were below normal, giving a balance of +8% – well above the long-run average of -19%
  • 28% of businesses said the volume of output over the past three months was up, and 24% said it was down, giving a rounded balance of +3% – the lowest since April 2016 (+1%)
  • Manufacturers expect output to grow at a more robust pace in the coming quarter, with 39% predicting growth, and 12% a decline, giving a balance of +27%
  • Expectations for growth in average selling prices for the coming three months (+19%) were in line with the two previous months (+18%)
  • 19% of firms said their present stocks of finished goods are more than adequate, whilst 8% said they were less than adequate, giving a rounded balance of +12% – just below the long-run average (+13%).

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Epicor to accelerate Cloud ERP adoption

Epicor Software Corporation, provider of industry-specific enterprise software to promote business growth, has announced from the main stage of its annual user conference Insights 2018 an expanded strategic partnership with Microsoft to deliver Epicor enterprise-class solutions globally on the Microsoft Azure platform.

Epicor will initially standardise cloud deployment of its Epicor ERP and Epicor® Prophet 21 enterprise resource planning (ERP) suites on Microsoft Azure, empowering customers to drive faster growth and innovation as they move to digitally transform their businesses.

“Microsoft’s focus on the ‘Intelligent Cloud’ and ‘Intelligent Edge’ complement our customer-centric focus,” said Steve Murphy, CEO, Epicor. “We looked at several public cloud options. Microsoft Azure offers the best foundation for building and deploying enterprise business applications that will enable our customers’ businesses to adapt and grow. Today, we are seeing more than three-quarters of prospects ask about cloud ERP. As that deployment model becomes the norm, we are ready to enable our customers to move to the cloud with confidence leveraging the reliability, security, and scalability of Microsoft Azure.”

“Standardising cloud deployment of its world-class manufacturing and distribution solutions on Microsoft Azure is a natural step for Epicor with its history of leveraging forward-looking technology to deliver the utmost value to its customers,” said David Willis, corporate vice president, Microsoft. “With Epicor solutions running in the cloud, customers will reap the benefits of greater agility, faster innovation, and favourable economics of Azure as they embrace digital transformation.”

Unleashing the power of Epicor on most trusted public cloud platform

For most companies, the big question is not if, but when they will adopt cloud computing for the bulk of their IT operations, including the ERP software they use to manage inventory and product manufacturing.1

The Epicor and Microsoft partnership expands an already proven strategy to a global scale, as more customers are able to access the power of Epicor ERP and Prophet 21 running on the world-leading public cloud platform.

Microsoft technologies will optimise productivity and innovation for Epicor, its customers and partners. Epicor will leverage a range of Azure technologies including Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning (ML) to deliver ready-to-use, right-sized solutions for midmarket manufacturers and distributors. Epicor also plans to explore Microsoft’s technologies for advanced search, speech-to-text, and other use cases to deliver modern human/machine interfaces that improve productivity for its customers.

1 IDG Contributor Network, Talking Tech in the Age of Cloud: “Why CFOs (and CIOs) are finally embracing cloud ERP,” by Barbara Darrow, Contributor, CIO (April 25, 2018)

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Epicor Unveils Product Vision for the Future of Business with ERP as the New Backbone for Digital Transformation and Growth

Poised to transform the future of enterprise resource planning (ERP) for manufacturers, distributors, and retailers, Epicor Software Corporation, a global provider of industry-specific enterprise software to promote business growth, unveiled its product vision for the next-generation of user interface (UI) technology and design and industry cloud platforms that will drive Epicor solutions enabling customers and partners to embrace cloud, Internet of Things (IoT), mobility, predictive analytics, and other emerging technologies.


“Analysts have said that by 2020 nearly 80 percent of CTOs in leading organizations will facilitate the identification of emerging technologies to accomplish digital transformation,” said Himanshu Palsule, chief product and technology officer at Epicor Software. “Our product strategy embraces the unique strengths of Epicor industry-specific platforms, underpinned by a modern service fabric and topped with cross-platform applications that achieve digital transformation and raise the bar for automation, analytics, and customer experience.”

The pillars of the Epicor product vision start with the aim to deliver leading global industry-focused ERP in the cloud through supporting customer-centric best-in-class cloud solutions fit for industry; expanding the global ERP footprint; providing global customers with easy-to-deploy solutions for evolving compliance and legislative needs; leveraging an ecosystem of solutions for vertical extensibility; and, enabling use of a delightful and consistent user interface model—all deployed across a global Microsoft® Azure® public cloud infrastructure.

Connected Factory and Warehouse of the Future are within reach

Innovative ERP solutions, combined with Industry 4.0 developments, are already helping to automate production lines, streamline supply chains, and provide the intelligent data manufacturers and distributors need to react quickly to changing consumer demands.

Gartner calls the entwining of people, devices, content, and services the intelligent digital mesh. It’s enabled by digital models, business platforms, and a rich, intelligent set of services to support digital business.

“This shift in business models is transforming how people think about the technologies they have today—systems of record are now systems of engagement, intelligence, and decisions,” Palsule continued. “Today, we unveiled a true platform for innovation that delivers common shared services that power everything, through layers, design and externalization of cloud, that our partner ecosystem and customers can build on top of, to a collection of industry experience coupled as reusable services.”

Introducing Epicor Kinetic Design common cross-platform UX framework

Unveiled to more than 3,000 customers attending the Epicor global user conference Insights 2018, Epicor Kinetic Design is a three-pronged common cross-platform user experience (UX) framework comprised of Epicor Kinetic Design, Epicor Kinetic Framework, and Epicor Kinetic applications.

Epicor Kinetic Design is a set of new user experience guidelines and patterns for building applications for Epicor solutions. Delivering unified colors, typography and icons, user interface (UI) elements, and page layouts, Epicor Kinetic Design empowers partners to deliver value-added solutions consistent with Epicor usability best practices and interaction guidelines to enhance customer experience.

Epicor Kinetic Framework embodies Epicor Kinetic Design principles and lives as a website accessible by approved Epicor partners and customers. They have access to sample code and tutorials, a UI component code library, API documentation, and actual code, all with web native and responsive design—working seamlessly on desktop, tablet, or mobile.

Epicor Kinetic application is any application that is coded to Kinetic Design standards. Customers can catch live demonstrations of how to build basic Kinetic applications that integrate with APIs for the Epicor ERP and Epicor Prophet 21® enterprise resource planning (ERP) suites and also explore the transformative value of connected, emerging technologies in the Experience Zone at Insights 2018.

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Understanding Big Data: You have it, but how do you get value from it?

A much-touted benefit of adding sensors to products and connecting them to the internet is the ability to capture everything that is going on with your products. Knowing this information in detail is useful, and it drives companies to start collecting and storing different types of data. In the beginning, it became evident there was so much information that the analytical tools everyone used for decades no longer worked.  That is when a new buzzword — Big Data — and a new approach to analytics were invented. The method uses analytical algorithms to answer four critical questions about the products the data comes from.

What happened?

The first question that can be solved by delving into Big Data, is the same question we have been answering with standard analytics on smaller data sets: What happened? This is called “descriptive analytics,” and as the name implies, the results of looking at the data describe things. The classic example of data collection and analysis to determine what happens is the flight recorder in every commercial airplane, usually called the black box. In the past, this was a simple recording device that kept track of speed, altitude, position of various moving parts on the plane, and fuel. The device is read after an event and investigators analyze that data to see what happened. Today’s device record similar information, just a lot more of it and far more often. The extra details give a far more accurate answer to the question, what happened?

Why did it happen?

The next question that Big Data can answer is why did it happen? Because there is more data and more accurate information, investigators can determine the cause(s) of an event, which is called diagnostic analytics. The event being studied may be something catastrophic, like why a machine stopped working or some aspect of a device failed. Or it could be information that describes why a user of your product used a particular feature. A smart thermostat will record that a user set the inside temperature to a higher value, and a sensor on windows and doors can tell a home automation system that a large window is open. From this, we can deduce that the user turned up the temperature because cold air was coming inside.

What will happen?

When it comes to Big Data, the question that the company making a product really wants to know is “what will happen?” The application of predictive analytics is excellent because someone monitoring the data can make changes to the system the data is coming from in order to avoid an event, or to improve some aspect of the system. A great example of this is a simple sensor on the drive shaft of a car that measures vibration. If it starts to sense a lot of vibration, then predictive analytics can determine that this vibration usually exists right before the bearing that holds the shaft is about to fail. The owner is informed, and the bearing can be replaced.

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Article Credit: Bizjournals

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