Archive for May 25, 2017

Wemo Bridge To Enable Apple HomeKit Compatibility

Posted in Commentary with tags on May 25, 2017 by itnerd

Wemo, the smart home brand from Belkin International, today announced it plans to enable Apple HomeKit compatibility to more than two million Wemo solutions on the market.  With the HomeKit enabled Wemo Bridge, Wemo users will be able to ask Siri on their iPhone, iPad or Apple Watch – “Siri, turn on Wemo” or “Siri, dim the living room lights,” or use the Apple Home app on any of these devices.   Users will also be able to include Wemo products into scenes and rooms to work with more than one hundred other HomeKit compatible products and access them while on the go.

The Wemo Bridge connects to any home Wi-Fi router via an Ethernet cable to enable HomeKit integration into Wemo smart plugs and light switches in the home.  The bridge then leverages the Wi-Fi of the home router to send the HomeKit capabilities from Siri enabled devices such as Apple iPhones, iPads and Apple watches to Wemo smart plugs and light switches.

Availability and Pricing
The Wemo Bridge for HomeKit is planned for availability later this fall.  Pricing will announced at time ofavailability.

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Lazaridis Institute Accepting Applications For 2017 Scale-Up Program

Posted in Commentary with tags on May 25, 2017 by itnerd
The Lazaridis Institute for the Management of Technology Enterprises at Wilfrid Laurier University announced it is now accepting applications for the second cohort of the Lazaridis Scale-Up Program. The program gives 10 Canadian scale-up technology companies the opportunity to fast-track their growth by working with experienced mentors and experts from around the world. The second cohort will begin in October 2017.
 
The Lazaridis Scale-Up Program focuses on a specific national challenge: the need for more globally competitive technology companies in Canada, and the jobs and economic benefits that come with them.
 
The companies that participated in the first year of the program benefited from 1:1 mentorship from executives with scaling experience who were specifically chosen for each participant based on their industry and current challenges.
 
The program opens up market opportunities and prepares companies for their next round of financing. The upcoming 2017/2018 program includes one weekend module each month between October 2017 and February 2018. A final weeklong session will take place in March 2018.
 
Weekend module themes in 2017:
  • What does it take to scale?
  • Scaling leadership
  • Product
  • Customer acquisition and scaling sales
  • Finance and operations
  • Global growth
 
The Lazaridis Institute is using Hockeystick for its applicant management process, as part of the first phase of the national scale-up data platform announced last month.
 
Applications for the next cohort of the Lazaridis Scale-Up Program will be open until June 30, 2017. The Lazaridis Institute is holding a series of information sessions across Canada for potential applicants. A listing of events can be found at http://lazaridisinstitute.eventbrite.com
 
Find out more about the Lazaridis Scale-Up Program at www.scaleupprogram.ca.

Now GM Is Involved In A #DieselGate Controversy

Posted in Commentary with tags on May 25, 2017 by itnerd

Owners of GM products with Duramax Diesel engines, largely encompassing the Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra pick up trucks, have filed a class action lawsuit against the carmaker claiming that their vehicles have the same sort of emission cheating software that has been found on VW products. If allowed to proceed, 705,000 vehicles could be covered by this lawsuit.

Since I have previously reviewed GM products, I asked them for a comment. Here it is in full:

These claims are baseless and we will vigorously defend ourselves. The Duramax Diesel Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra comply with all U.S. EPA and CARB emissions regulations.

Here’s the problem. Anyone who makes a diesel product at the moment is going to be assumed to be guilty of cheating. Thus they’ll be a target of one of these lawsuits. I guess we’ll find out if GM is guilty of something in a court of law sooner or later.

Guest Post: It’s not just about saving paper — going digital helps companies improve the bottom line and client experiences

Posted in Commentary with tags on May 25, 2017 by itnerd

By Mohan Mailvaganam, Director of Digital Process Automation at Xerox Canada

Every spring, thousands of students across Canada mull over acceptance letters and offers from colleges and universities, to decide where to go to school in the fall.

As tough as the choice may be for many students, the competition among the schools is even tougher. Academic reputations are at stake for the schools. They all want to attract the cream of the crop. And there are hundreds of millions of dollars in tuition fees on the line, which help institutions grow, enhance programs and innovate.

So how can an enterprising school stand out from the pack? Beyond the traditional recruiting tactics most schools use, Simon Fraser University (SFU) worked with Xerox Canada to find competitive advantage through the digital transformation of its admissions process.

The post-secondary application process in Canada is generally a very lengthy exercise. Students have to apply to the schools of their choice by the end of the calendar year and then typically don’t hear whether they’ve been accepted until spring — sometimes as late as the end of May. It takes weeks for admissions personnel to sort through the applications, extract the information they need and make offers.

Research shows that roughly 80 percent of students accept the first offer they receive from a school — so getting out of the gate quickly is crucial when vying to attract students in a highly competitive field.

By digitizing and automating the process, SFU aims to realize the benefits of faster decision making, reduction of operational costs, and improved student experiences resulting in greater acceptance rates on offers of admission. SFU is looking forward to assessing the impact of the investment once its first cycle of applications has been completed using the new process.

Organizations from all sectors and of all sizes – from small- and medium-sized businesses to large corporations – can realize similar benefits such as improving the client acquisition process and streamlining back-office operations by leveraging workflow automation and digitization capabilities.

So what’s holding companies back from overhauling their workflows?

By far, the greatest barrier to change we run into is institutional culture — how the organization thinks and acts from upper leadership to middle management and down to frontline staff. There has to be company-wide buy-in to effect real change.

Many organizations have a general idea of some of the advantages of trying to become more lean and agile for a digital future, but they don’t understand the specific benefits to their operations.

Until they have an accurate picture of how Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) like operating expenses and client satisfaction can be improved, it’s difficult for business leaders to see past the logistical challenges and effort required for digital transformation.

We saw this firsthand when we worked with Family Service Toronto (FST), a not-for-profit organization that provides counselling, community development, advocacy and public education programs.

The organization faced a daunting prospect of digitizing its heavily paper-based processes prior to a move into a new office location, including the digital conversion of decades of paper records stored in more than 500 bankers boxes.

But with a positive 10-year cost-benefit analysis in hand that showed the initial investment in a digital document management solution was worthwhile, FST leadership committed to a digital strategy.

As part of its transformation, FST automated paper processes in its Passport program, which helps adults with a developmental disability participate in their communities. By going digital, the organization was able to cut operating costs and improve internal business process, including reducing invoice processing time by 60%. More importantly, FST was able to redirect resources from back-office processing to direct client service, improving experiences for both staff and clients.

Like all major decisions organizations make, it’s important that they be made from an informed position. Before companies can figure out how to cut ties to paper and harness the power of digitization, they need a solid understanding of their paper use and document flows. It’s also important to keep in mind that today’s documents are more than paper and span the digital space from e-mails, to office documents, videos and images – all equally capable of causing friction in the process.

It’s crucial that companies embarking on the digital journey today know the fate of their documents — how they were generated, why they were printed and where they will eventually end up — through document analytics, in order to avoid them in the first place.

About the Author: Mohan Mailvaganam is Director of Digital Process Automation at Xerox Canada.