Tag Archives: Technology

Updates from Chicago Booth

Want to pay less tax? Improve your firm’s internal reporting
By Marty Daks – When companies engage in the great American pastime known as tax avoidance, many parse the Internal Revenue Code for loopholes to reduce their effective tax rate. But research suggests they should also scrutinize the quality of their internal reporting.

Internal information quality (IIQ), a term coined by Chicago Booth’s John Gallemore and University of North Carolina’s Eva Labro, encompasses computer reporting systems and any other resources that a company devotes to ensuring the quality and ease of access of information within a firm. The elements that constitute IIQ have been largely overlooked in tax-avoidance literature—perhaps because they are usually not observable, and are difficult for academics to measure.

Gallemore and Labro argue companies should pay more attention to these issues, which they define in terms of the accessibility, usefulness, reliability, accuracy, quantity, and signal-to-noise ratio of the data and knowledge within an organization. Their findings suggest that firms with high IIQ tend to enjoy lower effective tax rates and, all else being equal, a smaller tax bite.

Gallemore and Labro employed four publicly available variables, using data from 1994 to 2010, to rate firms’ IIQ: the speed at which management released an earnings announcement after its fiscal year closed, the accuracy of management’s earnings forecasts, the absence of material weaknesses in internal controls, and the lack of restatements due to errors.

The researchers used these measures to identify companies that released earnings more rapidly and forecasted them more accurately, and had fewer Section 404 citations and restatements due to errors. They assigned these firms higher IIQ ratings.

High-IIQ firms, they find, tend to exhibit some positive traits, including centralized and standardized business transaction processing, more-efficient reporting practices, and the ability to share data across business units and geographical locations. more>

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Updates from Siemens

Spaceport America Cup Student Competition Soars to 30,000 Feet, Now with Siemens Software Partnering
Siemens commitment to workforce development
By Chris Penny – Siemens Digital Industries Software’s academic partnering staff recently attended the Spaceport America Cup (SA Cup) for the first time as a sponsor. We are very excited to be working with these teams to provide software and training grants to help team excel in the design and manufacturing of their rockets. Leigh Anderson from the global academic team and Chris Penny from the US academic team met with virtually every team of 120 teams from 14 countries, and Chris gave two workshops on Siemens software featuring demonstrations in STAR-CCM+ for aerodynamic analysis.

We selected this competition to sponsor due to the sophistication of the student challenge, the opportunity to engage with and support these students, and the high level of industry support (many of which use Siemens software).

A great example of how this competition prepares students for the workforce could be seen when James Ferrese (University of Washington) who led the development of an advanced plasma actuator payload obtained on-the-spot job offers from Raytheon and Northrup Grumman after their design presentation. more>

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Updates from Adobe

A Catalogue of Imaginary Beings
By Serena Fox – Imagine a world of monumental mythical beings dressed in surreal costumes: people made of mountains, city streets, rough-sawn logs, or plumes of steam; people who wear houses, bird wings, crystalline geodes, or even the moon.

That was the vision of collage artist Johanna Goodman in 2015 when she embarked on A Catalogue of Imaginary Beings, a personal project inspired by magical realism, surrealism, and symbolism that explores the role of the individual in fashion, history, and the artistic imagination. Four years later, the project has grown into a series of moret than 350 playful and strangely iconic images, and has led to a New York Foundation for the Arts fellowship, commissions from National Geographic and the New York Metropolitan Transport Authority, and ad campaigns ranging from skateboards to West Elm home furnishings.

“I keep thinking it’s run its course, but it hasn’t,” says Goodman. “I have not run out of ideas, and I keep getting more interest from the outside world.”

A diverse artist, Goodman works in paint, ink, and digital collage, and she brings more than 20 years’ experience in editorial illustration and portraiture to the project. A lifelong freelancer based in Nyack, New York, she creates illustrations for newspapers and magazines, book covers, hotel chains, and product advertising. Her work has appeared in the New Yorker, Time, Rolling Stone, Le Monde, the Los Angeles Times, Smithsonian, and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. The Imaginary Beings are her current passion.

The basic concept is straightforward: a single figure—defined by head, arms, and feet—dressed in unusual objects and placed in a surreal setting. But the resulting images are both humorous and oddly archetypal and statuesque, like pop-culture totems.

Goodman takes photographs of everyday objects and landscapes, cuts them into pieces, and arranges them to “clothe” her characters in bizarre and beautiful outfits. She plays with cumbersome proportions, favors out-of-context facial expressions, and adds innocuous items like iPhones or coffee cups as if they were talismans. more>

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Hello From the Year 2050. We Avoided the Worst of Climate Change — But Everything Is Different

By Bill McKibben – Let’s imagine for a moment that we’ve reached the middle of the century. It’s 2050, and we have a moment to reflect—the climate fight remains the consuming battle of our age, but its most intense phase may be in our rearview mirror. And so we can look back to see how we might have managed to dramatically change our society and economy. We had no other choice.

There was a point after 2020 when we began to collectively realize a few basic things.

One, we weren’t getting out of this unscathed. Climate change, even in its early stages, had begun to hurt: watching a California city literally called Paradise turn into hell inside of two hours made it clear that all Americans were at risk. When you breathe wildfire smoke half the summer in your Silicon Valley fortress, or struggle to find insurance for your Florida beach house, doubt creeps in even for those who imagined they were immune.

Two, there were actually some solutions. By 2020, renewable energy was the cheapest way to generate electricity around the planet—in fact, the cheapest way there ever had been. The engineers had done their job, taking sun and wind from quirky backyard DIY projects to cutting-edge technology. Batteries had plummeted down the same cost curve as renewable energy, so the fact that the sun went down at night no longer mattered quite so much—you could store its rays to use later.

And the third realization? People began to understand that the biggest reason we weren’t making full, fast use of these new technologies was the political power of the fossil-fuel industry. Investigative journalists had exposed its three-decade campaign of denial and disinformation, and attorneys general and plaintiffs’ lawyers were beginning to pick them apart. And just in time. more>

‘American Factory’: It’s Not the Culture, It’s the Current

By Sunny Wang – Telling the story of a factory in Dayton, Ohio, that a Chinese manufacturer has invested in, the documentary “American Factory” has been gaining tons of attention in China. It’s currently #3 on the trending chart of documentaries on Tencent Video — a Chinese video streaming website with over 900 million monthly active users — as the only foreign documentary in top 10 of the chart.

The film offers clear views from both the Chinese and the Americans in the story, bringing out the unsettling conflict to the viewers – it’s not just about the differences between two cultures; it’s more about the conflict that comes with primitive accumulation of capital, the one that comes along with the changes taking place in the manufacturing industry.

I think this is a great metaphor describing how the Chinese workers are positioning themselves. The society is always moving forward; anyone standing still — not improving or educating themselves, or working extra hard constantly — can easily be left behind. Our current situation is even crueler than before, because we’re in the age of A.I. and automation, which would only accelerate the changes, or the “current” in this metaphor. The Chinese factory workers found their place in this “current” by being cost-efficient laborers in the manufacturing process — they chose to work harder to ensure high efficiency. But the conflict sets in on the other side of the ocean where automation outperforms labor at a lower cost.

As seen in the film, the working environment was dangerous, pay was low, and working shifts were long at FGA, yet the workers in the Dayton plant chose to stay and complain instead of leaving for better jobs that are safe, easy, and with better pay. Could it be because they didn’t have a choice? more>

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Updates from ITU

Here’s how we can build public trust in self-driving vehicles
By Chaesub Lee – The automotive industry is undergoing extraordinary transformation.

The future of transport looks to be electric; highly automated; and – increasingly – shared.

This transformation is ambitious, and this ambition is very welcome.

In mobility, we can impact billions of people’s lives for the better.

We can save countless numbers of lives. We can improve environmental sustainability. And we can expand access to the many opportunities that mobility brings.

New technologies are at the heart of this transformation, and international standardization will be essential to ensure that these technologies are deployed efficiently and at scale.

That is why the ITU membership includes Volkswagen Group and Hyundai – and a diverse range of other automotive industry players such as China’s Telematics Industry Application Alliance, Continental, Bosch, BlackBerry, Tata Communications and Mitsubishi Electric.

By joining the United Nations specialized agency for information and communication technologies, ICTs, they are helping to shape international standards that protect and encourage key investments, improve road safety and help build intelligent transport systems. more>

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Are ‘you’ just inside your skin or is your smartphone part of you?

By Karina Vold – Most democratic constitutions shield us from unwanted intrusions into our brains and bodies. They also enshrine our entitlement to freedom of thought and mental privacy. That’s why neurochemical drugs that interfere with cognitive functioning can’t be administered against a person’s will unless there’s a clear medical justification. Similarly, according to scholarly opinion, law-enforcement officials can’t compel someone to take a lie-detector test, because that would be an invasion of privacy and a violation of the right to remain silent.

But in the present era of ubiquitous technology, philosophers are beginning to ask whether biological anatomy really captures the entirety of who we are. Given the role they play in our lives, do our devices deserve the same protections as our brains and bodies?

After all, your smartphone is much more than just a phone. It can tell a more intimate story about you than your best friend. No other piece of hardware in history, not even your brain, contains the quality or quantity of information held on your phone: it ‘knows’ whom you speak to, when you speak to them, what you said, where you have been, your purchases, photos, biometric data, even your notes to yourself – and all this dating back years.

In 2014, the United States Supreme Court used this observation to justify the decision that police must obtain a warrant before rummaging through our smartphones. more>

Updates from Ciena

5 reasons why it’s time to evolutionize your network, now.
We’ve reached a tipping point. Carrying on with legacy network infrastructure is no longer a long-term option.
By Chris Newall – While the benefits of modernizing networks are clear – reduce network footprint, energy and support costs; scale to support new apps, services and use cases; and enhance end-customer experience – there are also significant change management and service continuity challenges to get over. In an attempt to avoid disruption, or in an attempt to extend ROI on their existing assets, many service providers simply limp on with their legacy infrastructure.

This common strategy of delaying modernization projects and building new overlay networks on old infrastructure has more or less worked until now, but time is running out.

So, what’s changed and why is the network modernization conversation more urgent now?

There are lots of reasons why many are now at a critical point with legacy infrastructure, and why network modernization is now a matter of urgency:

  1. Legacy networks are increasing technology and business risks
  2. Legacy skills are dying out, leaving your operations vulnerable
  3. High network costs are eating into already slender margins
  4. New apps need more capacity than legacy networks can provide
  5. Unpredictable demand peaks are getting bigger and more frequent

Most services providers have been talking about network modernisation with vendors and partners for years. We all know that replacing legacy networks with modern, efficient, scalable infrastructure can help you reduce your network footprint, reduce energy and support costs, and scale on demand to support bandwidth-intensive apps and use cases. more>

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Updates from Siemens

Siemens Case Study: Lean Digital Factory Project

By Gunter Beitinger – In October 2017, Siemens launched their Lean Digital Factory (LDF) program. Combining a group of experts from different business functions and technology units, its purpose is to define a conceptual holistic digital transformation roadmap for all factories of the operating company Digital Industries (DI).

To fully capture the value of using big data in manufacturing, the plants of DI needed to have a flexible data architecture which enabled different internal and external users to extract maximum value from the data ecosystem. Here, the Industrial Edge layer comes into the picture, which processes data close to the sensors and data source (figure).

The Industrial Edge and data lake concept will enable a more powerful solution than any other data storage and utilization concept:

  • The MDP will be a colossal storage area for all manufacturing data and will be tremendously powerful for all user levels
  • The MDP data platform is a centralized and indexed aggregation of distributed organized datasets
  • Big data will be stored in the MDP independently of its later use, this means as raw data
  • In combination with Industrial Edge, the MDP is the pre-requisite for effective and scalable cloud computing and machine learning
  • The Industrial Edge is used in this architecture for multiple purposes like data ingestion, pre-preparation, security-gate, real-time decisions.
  • Highly integrated, but module and service-based ecosystem functionalities.

In DI, it can be challenging to harness the potential of digitalization at full scale due to installed proprietary software solutions, customized processes, standardized interfaces and mixed technologies. However, at Siemens, this doesn’t mean that we ran a large standardization program before leveraging the possibilities of data analytics and predictive maintenance in our plants.

To get rubber on the road at large scale, we required an architectural concept which allowed us to develop applications, scale up and transfer solutions from plant to plant, from engineering to shop floor as well as supplier to customer and reuse identified process insights from one application to another. more>

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Updates from ITU

Prioritize digital skills to drive global development
By Doreen Bogdan-Martin – By 2030 there will be an estimated two billion young people seeking opportunities for a bright future. If we give these young people the right skills, they will each have the chance to reach their full potential – and their personal success can begin to translate into sustained economic success for their local economies.

Education is the tool that empowers us all. Building digital skills and leveraging young people’s natural affinity with technology is a powerful way to help nations around the world grow and strengthen their economic base and become more competitive in today’s globalized markets.

Right now, however, we know that investments in building digital skills are falling far short of needs. Even in the world’s wealthy nations, millions of students still aren’t getting access to technology in the classroom and at home.

In the developing world, access is even more limited. Without digital skills, these young people are being left behind in a world that grows ever more digital by the day.

Empowering populations with digital skills and literacy is also vitally important to connecting the remaining half the world’s population that is still offline. Digital skills generate demand for the Internet, and drive deployment of broadband. And new ITU research confirms that higher broadband penetration translates into a boost for GDP, particularly in developing countries.

In ITU’s new edition of Digital Skills Insights (formerly Capacity Building in a Changing ICT Environment), we bring together the latest information and perspectives in the fast-growing field of digital learning and skills development. more>

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