Archive for March, 2018

Women in Tech Share Their Stories Ahead of April 7 #GirlMeToo Day

Posted in Commentary with tags on March 31, 2018 by itnerd

Over the past year, the #MeToo has gained momentum around the world as a rallying cry for women. This year, on April 7th, women around the country will celebrate #NationalGirlMeTooDay or #GirlMeToo. The day is meant to break down divisions among women of all walks of life and remind them that they all carry similar burdens and struggles.

In the tech world, the idea of having a ‘seat at the table’ and being visible are more important than ever. In honor of the day, here’s a Q&A with the top three female executives at Alfresco. Alfresco is the leading enterprise open-source provider of process automation, content management, and information governance software in Silicon Valley.


How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?

Answer from Sydney Sloan, CMO: My childhood instilled the values of having a strong work ethic and having empathy for others. Until I was about 16 years old, I grew up and lived on a working farm. I would wake up every morning at 5 am to feed and check on the cows. From there, I would attend early basketball practice before school. After school, I’d come home and still complete additional chores on the farm.

These experiences shaped me and, eventually, my career. I’ve never been afraid of working hard – it’s not just about being a leader on a team, but inspiring others through hard work and dedication. Sometimes, that means rolling up your sleeves and putting in the long hours to get everything done. The best leaders are always available to their team, regardless of the situation, to help coach and guide them.


How has your previous employment experience aided your tenure at Alfresco?

Answer from Sydney Sloan: I’ve been fortunate to have a lot of different marketing roles over the years, both at smaller companies and large, public companies before Alfresco. For example, I spent 15 years at Adobe. In that time span, I moved around quite a few different positions, which helped me to apply those skills across different markets and buyers. After Adobe, I spent time at two smaller companies, where I continued honing in on my leadership skills. I’ve enjoyed these interchangeable roles. Having a C-level title doesn’t mean you should avoid getting your hands ‘dirty’ with the details. For instance, the other night, I was up writing marketing email copy – not something that’s necessarily part of my daily job description. You have to just be willing to chip in where needed, to get things done.


What have the highlights and challenges been during your tenure at Alfresco?

Answer from Andrea Lagan, Chief Customer Officer: I’ve come to realize that the career challenges are really also the highlights. A few years ago, our support team was struggling a bit and, as a result, we had a poor customer retention rate. My goal was to help our CEO steer the company and our customer team in a new direction. We have since completely transformed the customer experience, across every level of the organization. We’ve focused on the full customer journey: assessing each step of the way how we can help customers operationalize their digital roadmap goals.

I live by the philosophy of rarely saying “no” to challenges. That approach led early on to being exposed to nearly every functional area of business.  I started as a receptionist, then moved into what was a sales administrative role. Then I spent several years doing contracts, as well as time in operations (both in the front and back office). I lived in the support and services world. These experiences helped me understand how every function of the business impacts the success of the customer.


What advice can you offer to women who want a career in your industry?

Answer from Andrea Lagan: My advice to women, regardless of your industry or role, is to turn your doubts into opportunities. The other week, I had a conversation with someone who’s fairly new to management and has been struggling with her self-confidence. In my opinion, that lack of self-confidence was unwarranted. I encouraged her to start looking more for small wins – such as how she successfully handles sticky situations – to ‘congratulate’ herself on. No one else needs to know.

The early days will always be a challenge. Turn your doubts into strengths.

Acknowledging and congratulating yourself for your successes is a confidence-booster.


What is the most important lesson you’ve learned in your career to date?

Answer from Berny Nixon, Chief Revenue Officer: The law of the jungle – as Rudyard Kipling wrote – is that ‘the strength of the pack is the wolf, and the strength of the wolf is the pack.’ In order for a team to be strong, it needs a strong leader. At the same time, while you’ll lead from the front and always think ahead, you need to stay mindful that you aren’t running too far ahead and leaving people behind. For example, I’ve seen a lot of women in business think that they have to be overtly strong and forceful to get results. Going this route can risk losing the goodwill of the ‘wolf pack’ – which defeats the purpose of being a leader.

Ultimately, self-awareness and emotional intelligence (EQ) trumps IQ for leaders. It’s important to find balance through communication, and identifying ways to help your team become invested in their work. If you lack EQ, your team will not be as invested in the organization’s success.


How do you maintain a work/life balance?

Answer from Berny Nixon: I don’t think there’s one right way to achieve work/life balance – it’s about integrating these two in a way that works for you personally.  For instance, our company was founded in the UK – where I live – and a good majority of our work is done in Europe. However, our CEO and our headquarters are in Silicon Valley. Working in both the European and U.S. market means it’s easy to get sucked into working late into the night. What works for me is to set priorities – and let people clearly know when I am (or am not) available. My teams know that although I’m traveling, I can make time for them with the right notice. Of course, when I’m on vacation, I do unplug. I love to sail, and when I go boating this summer, you’re not going to be able to reach me for a few days.


Which other female leaders do you admire and why?

Answer from Andrea Lagan: What I admire about any leader, is her or his ability to engage with whomever they are talking to, irrespective of role, title or gender. There are very few people that have this skill. My colleague, Berny, is the first to come to mind. In any conversation, she can guide it to an outcome that is productive and beneficial for every single person involved.



Guest Post: SAP Concur’s Voice Assistant Technology Is Bringing Consumerization To The Corporate World

Posted in Commentary with tags on March 30, 2018 by itnerd

By Kevin Craig, Managing Director, Canada, SAP Concur

Over the last few years we’ve seen the market for voice assistants grow rapidly — estimated to reach $7.5 billion by 2024. While assistants like Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant are more commonly marketed to simplify life at home, their role at the office is saving businesses significant time and money.

Conversational interfaces are one of the fast-growing trends in tech, and voice assistants have helped bridge the gap between consumer convenience and workplace efficiency. The list of business applications for virtual assistants keeps growing.

Alexa for Business, announced this past November, is one of many new technologies based on trigger-response programs. Voice bots and interfaces, chatbots, and messaging platforms are each capable of capturing and filtering key information and delivering customized responses to users.

For example, SAP Concur—a leading travel, expense and invoice management company— recently announced integration with Alexa for Business, allowing business travellers to ask Alexa about upcoming business trips, flights, hotel bookings, and transportation.

Employees just have to link their SAP Concur account to Amazon, and their voice seamlessly triggers a personalized experience. Workers simply have to say: “Alexa, ask Concur” to access their latest business travel information. They can ask Alexa questions like, “When do I leave for my next business trip?” “What is my flight number?” “What hotel do I have booked?” Alexa will then be able to sort through the traveler’s bookings in the Concur system to retrieve the information.

This development represents a massive shift in workplace productivity and efficiency. Users no longer have to be concerned about keeping records, forgetting about minute trip details—all of this data is stored within SAP Concur software and can be accessed simply by asking Alexa about it.

Alexa for Business also has the power to place conference calls through companies like Cisco, incorporate calendars from Office365 and Google’s G Suite, and access Salesforce data.

SAP Concur has been working on the development of other virtual assistant platforms that seek to improve workplace efficiency. For example, we created a Concur Expense on Slack bot to bring SAP Concur to users, in Slack, where many customers spend several hours a day. With the bot, you can interact with Concur Travel and Expense in a conversational manner, sending requests instead of navigating webforms. This means you can type simple notes and instantly retrieve travel and expense information.

Virtual assistants are bringing the business world into the 21st century, introducing a consumer-driven experience that bridges the gap between convenience and workplace efficiency.


My Fitness Pal Pwned…. 150 Million Accounts In The Wild

Posted in Commentary with tags on March 29, 2018 by itnerd

Under Armor has a slogan which is “Protect This House.” Well, they did a craptastic job of that as they’ve told the world that My Fitness Pal which is an online fitness and nutrition website/app that they own has been pwned by hackers to the tune of 150 million accounts which may include usernames, email addresses, and hashed passwords. And it happened in February though they only found out about it last week. Payment info wasn’t swiped. Users of the fitness site/app should change their passwords immediately. Also they should ensure whatever password that used here isn’t used elsewhere. If it is, those need to be changed as well.

Now the company is working with law enforcement on this, but this is not trivial and it underscores the need for government to smack companies who get pwned silly so that they take whatever measures are required to ensure that pwnage doesn’t happen.

US Tech Workers Are Fleeing To Canada: Axios

Posted in Commentary with tags on March 29, 2018 by itnerd

Canada is attracting an exodus of tech workers from the U.S., with some Canadian companies seeing two to three times the number of applicants from a year earlier, according to an Axios report. A survey of 55 companies, conducted by the MaRS, a research hub in Toronto found the following:

  • 53% of the companies said their international applications rose in 2017
  • 82% of new applicants were from the US.
  • According to the report, the applicants primarily worked in a variety of tech jobs, with 47% engineers, 24% data scientists and 10% researchers.

In terms of the reasons for this movement of tech workers to Canada, the report said this:

The spike in applications and hiring adds to the evidence suggesting that President Trump’s immigration crackdown is resulting in a loss of tech workers to Canada.

That’s got to be horrifying for US tech companies. Let’s see if anything happens in the US to stop this trend.

Apple Aims To Not Be Facebook With New Privacy Features In iOS 11.3

Posted in Commentary with tags on March 29, 2018 by itnerd

Apple has had iOS 11.3 in beta for a while now, but the timing couldn’t be better as it’s release today brings a ton of privacy related changes that were likely prompted by the enormous new European data protection regulation GDPR. From the press release that Apple put out today:

iOS 11.3 and macOS 10.13.4 introduce updated data and privacy information that makes it easier than ever for users to understand how their personal data may be used. A new privacy icon and detailed privacy information will appear whenever Apple asks for access to personal information to enable features, secure Apple services or personalize an iOS experience.

Ignoring the fact that they’ve pretty much confirmed that macOS 10.13.4 is due any day now, they’re likely un-intentionally trolling Facebook when users upgrade to iOS 11.3. I say that because after the upgrade, you’ll see this screen:


In a backhanded way they’re saying that Apple is not Facebook. And you will know every time an app asks to use your personal info, unlike Facebook. I guess it also in a backhanded way ties into an interview that Apple CEO Tim Cook had yesterday when he said this:

If that’s not a mic drop moment, I don’t know what is.

#PSA: iOS 11.3 Brings The Ability To Monitor Battery Health In iPhones…. Here’s How You Use It

Posted in Commentary with tags on March 29, 2018 by itnerd

One of the things that Apple committed to when #BatteryGate broke out was to give users move visibility into the health of the battery on their iPhone via a software update. Today Apple released iOS 11.3 and that functionality is here. Before I explain how you access it, let me take a moment to explain the purpose behind this functionality.

What this functionality does is:

  • It offers details on maximum battery capacity relative to when it was new.
  • Information on if and when a device is being throttled with performance management features to prevent unexpected shutdowns. And the ability to disable that if you so desire. I wouldn’t. But that’s just me.
  • What apps are using your battery the most.

To utilize this functionality, go to Settings and Battery. You will then see this:


Note the section called Battery Health (Beta). I find it interesting that this is classified as a beta. But in any case, click that and you’ll see this:


In my case, my year old iPhone 7 Plus has lost only 4% of its maximum charge since I got it which is pretty impressive. If your battery is 80% or lower in terms of its maximum capacity, you might want to consider replacing it.

Now if you’ve had an “unexpected shutdown” as Apple calls it, the Peak Performance Capability section will look different. It will tell you that you’ve experienced an “unexpected shutdown” and that the phone is in a performance management mode (aka: it is being throttled) to extend battery life. You’ll also be able to disable it here if you so choose to get maximum performance.

Now to be clear, this functionality is specific to the iPhone. Apple has introduced a new iPad charge management for tablets that are plugged in for long periods of time. In other words, you won’t see any of this if you have an iPad. Regardless, this is a top shelf reason to update your iPhone to iOS 11.3 today.


LinkedIn Launching New Marketing Solutions

Posted in Commentary with tags on March 29, 2018 by itnerd

LinkedIn today has announced two major updates that will build upon its position as the most effective platform for marketers to engage professionals in a quality environment. These updates will help marketers improve brand awareness and ROI by telling rich, compelling stories in the LinkedIn feed. They are:

  • Video for Sponsored Content: Native video ads represent the next evolution of LinkedIn Sponsored Content that lets you  engage with business decision-makers throughout the buyer’s journey on Linkedin. Unlike pre- or post-roll video ads, video for Sponsored Content ads live directly on the news feed as standalone posts.
  • Company Page Video: With Company Page video, organizations can now share first-hand looks into their cultureproductsnews, and events to attract talent, and drive engagement and conversation with professional audiences right from their Company Page on LinkedIn.

More detail on this announcement can be found in this LinkedIn Blog post from Phil Spitzer who is the Product Manager at LinkedIn.