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Digitalist Flash Briefing: Your Duty Of Care And The Increase In Traveler Concerns

For nerds, the weeks right before finals are a Cinderella moment. Suddenly they’re stars. Pocket protectors are fashionable; people find their jokes a whole lot funnier; Dungeons & Dragons sounds cool.

Many CIOs are enjoying this kind of moment now, as companies everywhere face the business equivalent of a final exam for a vital class they have managed to mostly avoid so far: digital transformation.

But as always, there is a limit to nerdy magic. No matter how helpful CIOs try to be, their classmates still won’t pass if they don’t learn the material. With IT increasingly central to every business—from the customer experience to the offering to the business model itself—we all need to start thinking like CIOs.

Pass the digital transformation exam, and you probably have a bright future ahead. A recent SAP-Oxford Economics study of 3,100 organizations in a variety of industries across 17 countries found that the companies that have taken the lead in digital transformation earn higher profits and revenues and have more competitive differentiation than their peers. They also expect 23% more revenue growth from their digital initiatives over the next two years—an estimate 2.5 to 4 times larger than the average company’s.

But the market is grading on a steep curve: this same SAP-Oxford study found that only 3% have completed some degree of digital transformation across their organization. Other surveys also suggest that most companies won’t be graduating anytime soon: in one recent survey of 450 heads of digital transformation for enterprises in the United States, United Kingdom, France, and Germany by technology company Couchbase, 90% agreed that most digital projects fail to meet expectations and deliver only incremental improvements. Worse: over half (54%) believe that organizations that don’t succeed with their transformation project will fail or be absorbed by a savvier competitor within four years.

Companies that are making the grade understand that unlike earlier technical advances, digital transformation doesn’t just support the business, it’s the future of the business. That’s why 60% of digital leading companies have entrusted the leadership of their transformation to their CIO, and that’s why experts say businesspeople must do more than have a vague understanding of the technology. They must also master a way of thinking and looking at business challenges that is unfamiliar to most people outside the IT department.

In other words, if you don’t think like a CIO yet, now is a very good time to learn.

However, given that you probably don’t have a spare 15 years to learn what your CIO knows, we asked the experts what makes CIO thinking distinctive. Here are the top eight mind hacks.

1. Think in Systems

Q118 Feature3 img1 Jump Digitalist Flash Briefing: Your Duty Of Care And The Increase In Traveler ConcernsA lot of businesspeople are used to seeing their organization as a series of loosely joined silos. But in the world of digital business, everything is part of a larger system.

CIOs have known for a long time that smart processes win. Whether they were installing enterprise resource planning systems or working with the business to imagine the customer’s journey, they always had to think in holistic ways that crossed traditional departmental, functional, and operational boundaries.

Unlike other business leaders, CIOs spend their careers looking across systems. Why did our supply chain go down? How can we support this new business initiative beyond a single department or function? Now supported by end-to-end process methodologies such as design thinking, good CIOs have developed a way of looking at the company that can lead to radical simplifications that can reduce cost and improve performance at the same time.

They are also used to thinking beyond temporal boundaries. “This idea that the power of technology doubles every two years means that as you’re planning ahead you can’t think in terms of a linear process, you have to think in terms of huge jumps,” says Jay Ferro, CIO of TransPerfect, a New York–based global translation firm.

No wonder the SAP-Oxford transformation study found that one of the values transformational leaders shared was a tendency to look beyond silos and view the digital transformation as a company-wide initiative.

This will come in handy because in digital transformation, not only do business processes evolve but the company’s entire value proposition changes, says Jeanne Ross, principal research scientist at the Center for Information Systems Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). “It either already has or it’s going to, because digital technologies make things possible that weren’t possible before,” she explains.

2. Work in Diverse Teams

When it comes to large projects, CIOs have always needed input from a diverse collection of businesspeople to be successful. The best have developed ways to convince and cajole reluctant participants to come to the table. They seek out technology enthusiasts in the business and those who are respected by their peers to help build passion and commitment among the halfhearted.

Digital transformation amps up the urgency for building diverse teams even further. “A small, focused group simply won’t have the same breadth of perspective as a team that includes a salesperson and a service person and a development person, as well as an IT person,” says Ross.

At Lenovo, the global technology giant, many of these cross-functional teams become so used to working together that it’s hard to tell where each member originally belonged: “You can’t tell who is business or IT; you can’t tell who is product, IT, or design,” says the company’s CIO, Arthur Hu.

One interesting corollary of this trend toward broader teamwork is that talent is a priority among digital leaders: they spend more on training their employees and partners than ordinary companies, as well as on hiring the people they need, according to the SAP-Oxford Economics survey. They’re also already being rewarded for their faith in their teams: 71% of leaders say that their successful digital transformation has made it easier for them to attract and retain talent, and 64% say that their employees are now more engaged than they were before the transformation.

3. Become a Consultant

Good CIOs have long needed to be internal consultants to the business. Ever since technology moved out of the glasshouse and onto employees’ desks, CIOs have not only needed a deep understanding of the goals of a given project but also to make sure that the project didn’t stray from those goals, even after the businesspeople who had ordered the project went back to their day jobs. “Businesspeople didn’t really need to get into the details of what IT was really doing,” recalls Ferro. “They just had a set of demands and said, ‘Hey, IT, go do that.’”

But that was then. Now software has become so integral to the business that nobody can afford to walk away. Businesspeople must join the ranks of the IT consultants. “If you’re building a house, you don’t just disappear for six months and come back and go, ‘Oh, it looks pretty good,’” says Ferro. “You’re on that work site constantly and all of a sudden you’re looking at something, going, ‘Well, that looked really good on the blueprint, not sure it makes sense in reality. Let’s move that over six feet.’ Or, ‘I don’t know if I like that anymore.’ It’s really not much different in application development or for IT or technical projects, where on paper it looked really good and three weeks in, in that second sprint, you’re going, ‘Oh, now that I look at it, that’s really stupid.’”

4. Learn Horizontal Leadership

CIOs have always needed the ability to educate and influence other leaders that they don’t directly control. For major IT projects to be successful, they need other leaders to contribute budget, time, and resources from multiple areas of the business.

It’s a kind of horizontal leadership that will become critical for businesspeople to acquire in digital transformation. “The leadership role becomes one much more of coaching others across the organization—encouraging people to be creative, making sure everybody knows how to use data well,” Ross says.

In this team-based environment, having all the answers becomes less important. “It used to be that the best business executives and leaders had the best answers. Today that is no longer the case,” observes Gary Cokins, a technology consultant who focuses on analytics-based performance management. “Increasingly, it’s the executives and leaders who ask the best questions. There is too much volatility and uncertainty for them to rely on their intuition or past experiences.”

Many experts expect this trend to continue as the confluence of automation and data keeps chipping away at the organizational pyramid. “Hierarchical, command-and-control leadership will become obsolete,” says Edward Hess, professor of business administration and Batten executive-in-residence at the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia. “Flatter, distributive leadership via teams will become the dominant structure.”

Q118 Feature3 img3 rock Digitalist Flash Briefing: Your Duty Of Care And The Increase In Traveler Concerns5. Understand Process Design

When business processes were simpler, IT could analyze the process and improve it without input from the business. But today many processes are triggered on the fly by the customer, making a seamless customer experience more difficult to build without the benefit of a larger, multifunctional team. In a highly digitalized organization like Amazon, which releases thousands of new software programs each year, IT can no longer do it all.

While businesspeople aren’t expected to start coding, their involvement in process design is crucial. One of the techniques that many organizations have adopted to help IT and businesspeople visualize business processes together is design thinking (for more on design thinking techniques, see “A Cult of Creation“).

Customers aren’t the only ones who benefit from better processes. Among the 100 companies the SAP-Oxford Economics researchers have identified as digital leaders, two-thirds say that they are making their employees’ lives easier by eliminating process roadblocks that interfere with their ability to do their jobs. Ninety percent of leaders surveyed expect to see value from these projects in the next two years alone.

6. Learn to Keep Learning

The ability to learn and keep learning has been a part of IT from the start. Since the first mainframes in the 1950s, technologists have understood that they need to keep reinventing themselves and their skills to adapt to the changes around them.

Now that’s starting to become part of other job descriptions too. Many companies are investing in teaching their employees new digital skills. One South American auto products company, for example, has created a custom-education institute that trained 20,000 employees and partner-employees in 2016. In addition to training current staff, many leading digital companies are also hiring new employees and creating new roles, such as a chief robotics officer, to support their digital transformation efforts.

Nicolas van Zeebroeck, professor of information systems and digital business innovation at the Solvay Brussels School of Economics and Management at the Free University of Brussels, says that he expects the ability to learn quickly will remain crucial. “If I had to think of one critical skill,” he explains, “I would have to say it’s the ability to learn and keep learning—the ability to challenge the status quo and question what you take for granted.”

7. Fail Smarter

Traditionally, CIOs tended to be good at thinking through tests that would allow the company to experiment with new technology without risking the entire network.

This is another unfamiliar skill that smart managers are trying to pick up. “There’s a lot of trial and error in the best companies right now,” notes MIT’s Ross. But there’s a catch, she adds. “Most companies aren’t designed for trial and error—they’re trying to avoid an error,” she says.

Q118 Feature3 img4 fail Digitalist Flash Briefing: Your Duty Of Care And The Increase In Traveler ConcernsTo learn how to do it better, take your lead from IT, where many people have already learned to work in small, innovative teams that use agile development principles, advises Ross.

For example, business managers must learn how to think in terms of a minimum viable product: build a simple version of what you have in mind, test it, and if it works start building. You don’t build the whole thing at once anymore.… It’s really important to build things incrementally,” Ross says.

Flexibility and the ability to capitalize on accidental discoveries during experimentation are more important than having a concrete project plan, says Ross. At Spotify, the music service, and CarMax, the used-car retailer, change is driven not from the center but from small teams that have developed something new. “The thing you have to get comfortable with is not having the formalized plan that we would have traditionally relied on, because as soon as you insist on that, you limit your ability to keep learning,” Ross warns.

8. Understand the True Cost—and Speed—of Data

Gut instincts have never had much to do with being a CIO; now they should have less to do with being an ordinary manager as well, as data becomes more important.

As part of that calculation, businesspeople must have the ability to analyze the value of the data that they seek. “You’ll need to apply a pinch of knowledge salt to your data,” advises Solvay’s van Zeebroeck. “What really matters is the ability not just to tap into data but to see what is behind the data. Is it a fair representation? Is it impartial?”

Increasingly, businesspeople will need to do their analysis in real time, just as CIOs have always had to manage live systems and processes. Moving toward real-time reports and away from paper-based decisions increases accuracy and effectiveness—and leaves less time for long meetings and PowerPoint presentations (let us all rejoice).

Not Every CIO Is Ready

Of course, not all CIOs are ready for these changes. Just as high school has a lot of false positives—genius nerds who turn out to be merely nearsighted—so there are many CIOs who aren’t good role models for transformation.

Success as a CIO these days requires more than delivering near-perfect uptime, says Lenovo’s Hu. You need to be able to understand the business as well. Some CIOs simply don’t have all the business skills that are needed to succeed in the transformation. Others lack the internal clout: a 2016 KPMG study found that only 34% of CIOs report directly to the CEO.

This lack of a strategic perspective is holding back digital transformation at many organizations. They approach digital transformation as a cool, one-off project: we’re going to put this new mobile app in place and we’re done. But that’s not a systematic approach; it’s an island of innovation that doesn’t join up with the other islands of innovation. In the longer term, this kind of development creates more problems than it fixes.

Such organizations are not building in the capacity for change; they’re trying to get away with just doing it once rather than thinking about how they’re going to use digitalization as a means to constantly experiment and become a better company over the long term.

Q118 Feature3 img6 CIOready Digitalist Flash Briefing: Your Duty Of Care And The Increase In Traveler ConcernsAs a result, in some companies, the most interesting tech developments are happening despite IT, not because of it. “There’s an alarming digital divide within many companies. Marketers are developing nimble software to give customers an engaging, personalized experience, while IT departments remain focused on the legacy infrastructure. The front and back ends aren’t working together, resulting in appealing web sites and apps that don’t quite deliver,” writes George Colony, founder, chairman, and CEO of Forrester Research, in the MIT Sloan Management Review.

Thanks to cloud computing and easier development tools, many departments are developing on their own, without IT’s support. These days, anybody with a credit card can do it.

Traditionally, IT departments looked askance at these kinds of do-it-yourself shadow IT programs, but that’s changing. Ferro, for one, says that it’s better to look at those teams not as rogue groups but as people who are trying to help. “It’s less about ‘Hey, something’s escaped,’ and more about ‘No, we just actually grew our capacity and grew our ability to innovate,’” he explains.

“I don’t like the term ‘shadow IT,’” agrees Lenovo’s Hu. “I think it’s an artifact of a very traditional CIO team. If you think of it as shadow IT, you’re out of step with reality,” he says.

The reality today is that a company needs both a strong IT department and strong digital capacities outside its IT department. If the relationship is good, the CIO and IT become valuable allies in helping businesspeople add digital capabilities without disrupting or duplicating existing IT infrastructure.

If a company already has strong digital capacities, it should be able to move forward quickly, according to Ross. But many companies are still playing catch-up and aren’t even ready to begin transforming, as the SAP-Oxford Economics survey shows.

For enterprises where business and IT are unable to get their collective act together, Ross predicts that the next few years will be rough. “I think these companies ought to panic,” she says. D!

About the Authors

Thomas Saueressig is Chief Information Officer at SAP.

Timo Elliott is an Innovation Evangelist at SAP.

Sam Yen is Chief Design Officer at SAP and Managing Director of SAP Labs.

Bennett Voyles is a Berlin-based business writer.

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Amex Global Business Travel pools data lake to bolster ‘duty of care’

Business travel is seldom an unalloyed pleasure. Nor is it a trivial cost for corporate organisations. New American Express Global Travel (Amex GBT) president Philippe Chérèque, formerly the firm’s chief commercial and technology officer, says some customers are close to spending $ 1bn on travel each year.

Chérèque, who was American Express Global Travel’s CIO as well as its commercial head before becoming president, joined the firm two years ago. He has been putting $ 1bn into modernising the firm’s IT – in the direction of cloud computing, and capitalising on analytics.

“Traditionally, travel management companies have been satisfying the chief procurement officer rather than the business traveller,” he says.

Chérèque speaks of the need for more proactive care: “If there is fog at Heathrow, we call the passenger to say, ‘We have booked you on the Eurostar and you can fly from Paris.’

“The traveller is the key. If your engineer is stuck in the middle of India, that costs more to the company than saving 10% on the cost of the ticket.”

Chérèque says Amex GBT’s corporate customers are placing increasing importance on duty of care in the light of terrorist incidents and other misfortunes. When Brussels Airport was bombed in March 2016, Amex GBT could tell where travellers were because it had their Amex card data.

The company built an application that automatically sends an SMS text message to travellers when an incident happens: those who respond immediately show as green, then travellers not responding go orange then red. For example, it could immediately tell that there was one passenger on board the EgyptAir flight that crashed in May 2016.

The company is a joint venture between Amex and a private equity group headed by investment firm Certares. It has a treasure chest of $ 1bn in cash to put into IT, and has taken a comprehensively cloud approach.

“In the past two years, we have migrated not only from the data warehouse of Amex, but moved away from its HR system, its finance system and so on,” says Chérèque.

It is using Workday for HR, NetSuite for finance, and Coupa for procurement.

Data lake and visualisation

Christophe Tcheng, vice-president of core products and platform architecture, joined Chérèque from travel company Amadeus, which is the business alma mater for both men. Tcheng was head of research and development services at Amadeus, while Chérèque was executive vice-president. He was at the company for nearly 25 years.

Tcheng designed Amex GBT’s data architecture. He confirms it has 300 data people, with a small group of “around four” hardcore data scientists and developers.

Of choosing Hortonworks as the Hadoop distribution to build a data lake, which has been operative from 2016, he says: “It was a conscious choice to go for open source; it’s very robust and efficient. It’s not rocket science, but the trick is to make it work.

“In the past two years, we have migrated not only from the data warehouse of Amex, but moved away from its HR system, its finance system and so on” Philippe Chérèque, Amex GBT

“The idea emerged at the back end of 2014. We had an enterprise data warehouse, from Microstrategy. It was good technology, but it is technology from the 1990s. The industry is moving to Hadoop plus visualisation layers”.

For the latter, Amex GBT partnered with cloud business information (BI) and analytics company Birst to build a product called Premier Insight for corporate clients. This launched in November 2015, and Chérèque says dozens of corporations are using it.

Tcheng says on choosing Birst: “It is cloud enabled, and also because of its roadmap – with embedded BI, vision and investment. We didn’t want to choose the best platform for today if, in two years’ time, it is behind the pack.”

Amex can provide analytics into customers’ spend levels and so indicate where additional costs are being incurred, or where there are opportunities to make use of better buying power to improve efficiency of spend. It has card data from MasterCard and Citibank, among others, through application programming interfaces (APIs), as well as the Amex card data.

The analytics relies on having all the data sources together in one place, and then being able to visualise it for people to use through a browser. Birst provides the analytics platform and the data visualisation. 

Chérèque gives such examples as its customers being able to easily see where employees are not compliant – and so not using negotiated deals with hotel chains – and calibrating their airline spend.

“With the airlines it can be a cliff system – if you buy 100% [of the negotiated deal] you get a bonus back, if you spend 99% you get nothing. And if you spend more than 100% you could spend that money elsewhere. Airlines have had better statistics than the corporations, but now [the latter] have the information in advance – getting the data afterwards is no use.”

Chérèque also points to the sector possibilities in the firm’s use of a data lake with analytics. “We take care of most of the travel meeting and events for the pharmaceutical industry. We organise 40,000 meetings per year for them. With Birst, we can provide information about what is the average spend per trip in the industry. Someone in the pharmaceutical industry is not very interested in being benchmarked against Cisco or IBM.”

For individual travellers, Amex GBT is using the data lake to develop personalisation. “We know what kind of restaurants you like to go to, so when you make the booking we can make recommendations. Also we draw on people who have the same behaviour as you, who are in your cohort – which kind of restaurants, which kinds of hotel they go to.

“The booking is the tip of the iceberg. There are a lot of things happening below,” he concludes.……..    ……………… ……. ………

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U.S. chief data scientist: Entrepreneurs should do a ‘tour of duty’ in government

There’s no question that the U.S. government has incredible amount of data. Whether it’s for things like the census, housing, agriculture, transportation, or health care, federal agencies have accumulated a lot of data around what’s going on in the country, but what use is talking about governmental innovation if everything remains siloed?

In the past seven years, the White House has taken up efforts to leverage more technology at the federal level. It has tapped Aneesh Chopra, Todd Park, and most recently former Googler’s Megan Smith to the post of U.S. chief technology officer, a position first created by President Obama, brought on board Twitter veteran Jason Goldman to assist the administration with digital outreach, and recruited renowned data scientist DJ Patil as the country’s inaugural chief data scientist.

“President Obama has been unique,” Patil told VentureBeat in an interview during visit to the San Francisco Bay Area where he still maintains a residence. “He’s recognized the sea change with data and made it a cornerstone of his administration. With a data-driven government, you take the data that we use in services like weather forecasting, data submitted by citizens like with the census….and use it to make better and faster decisions.”

In the role of the chief data scientist, Patil has been tasked with looking at the policies, rules, and laws that are in place in our government to evaluate whether they’re hindering or enabling U.S. innovation. Smith once wrote that “across our great nation, we’ve begun to see an acceleration of the power of data to deliver value,” and on the one-year anniversary of Patil’s appointment, we spoke with him about how the Obama Administration views the tech industry and how it’s working to make our data more transparent to not only spur innovation, but also move the country forward.

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Above: President Barack Obama holds a precision medicine meeting in the Oval Office, Oct. 3, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Opening data of the people to the people

“How unique is it, as a professor of constitutional law, to grasp what it means to have data and understand how transformative data is in this day of age,” Patil remarked, referencing Obama’s comprehension on the enormous stockpile of information his government has on the people.

As part of this effort, the president has removed an obstacle that prevented not only the sharing of data between agencies, but also with the public. In 2013, Obama signed an executive order that mandated government information must now be “open and machine-readable.” For decades, it was the default that data was shared in a PDF, making it difficult for someone to take action on that data.

“How do we ensure that we are staying at the forefront as a country riding this wave [of data]?” Patil asked. “This world is about to change and the government needs to change.”

He cited a study by Harvard professors Raj Chetty, Nathaniel Hendren, and Lawrence Katz which used data from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to explore the effects on children in high poverty areas. Among the findings is that when a child is moved to a low poverty area while young, they saw a 40 percent lift in their median income over life.

Patil also referenced the work that his team is doing with the Precision Medicine initiative, a research effort to change how the country improves health and treats disease separate from the Affordable Care Act. He thinks that the use of data and the human genome can be used to ascertain cures for diseases like cancer and this White House program is “pushing the whole ecosystem” forward into the “genetic era.”

And for all the examples he provided during our conversation, his message was quite clear: The U.S. has data and needs the public and even Silicon Valley’s help.

Bringing Silicon Valley together with Washington, D.C.

While many might know Patil as being a member of Obama’s administration, he’s an accomplished entrepreneur and iconic data scientist within the technology industry. In fact, he and Jeff Hammerbacher coined the term “data scientist.” He led the data products and security teams at LinkedIn, was a data scientist in residence at Greylock, and served as vice president of product at RelateIQ, which was acquired by Salesforce in 2014 for $ 392 million.

But he believes there’s a myth that “Silicon Valley is coming to save [Washington] D.C.” when in fact data scientists in the tech industry are coming from the federal government. In fact, Patil started out as an academic at the University of Maryland before working with the Department of Defense (DOD) doing threat anticipation and hunting down bioweapons. “I am forever grateful for that experience and when I had the opportunity to jump into Silicon Valley, those lessons were critical,” he said.

And as the White House pushes to make data more transparent, Patil thinks that more entrepreneurs and tech companies should seize the opportunity to use this new-found data proliferation.

“What I would love to see is a model where people move back and forth more seamlessly, where people are able to do a tour of duty like we’re seeing here in Silicon Valley, spending a couple of years here and then decide that they want to do something for the government, for your local city, for a community outside the industry,” he stated although Patil understands the allure of Silicon Valley can be too much for entrepreneurs to pass up.

Patil believes that the government work isn’t looked at being sexy enough because the government hasn’t done a good enough job to explain its mission: “Over time, it’s gotten harder and harder for a technologist, product manager, designer to get into government.” This is one of the main reasons why Obama created 18F, a digital services consultancy within the government to deploy tools companies can use to build products using public data.

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“These are the ways for people to come in and have the direct impact,” Patil explained.

Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter once told Patil that there was something about waking up every morning and thinking that we’re part of something bigger. And this is what keeps the chief data scientist going, understanding that it’s not about creating the next photo-sharing app or luxury valet service or even an Uber for X, Y, and Z.

It’s about “what’s important for your kids and your kids’ kids,” he said. “There is a quest for happiness out there….And when you’re worked on solving those problems…and come to Silicon Valley, you’re hurting because it’s hard to find a company with a strong mission. We’re going to see a shift where there’s a notion that mission and happiness are more valuable.”

Trust your government

And while it’s easy to say that the government wants more transparency, it’s also understandable that there may be some skepticism, especially from the technology industry. One need only look at the revelations coming from Edward Snowden, companies releasing periodic transparency reports, and even the recent legal battle between the FBI and Apple over access to the iPhone belonging to one of the San Bernardino terrorists.

For Patil, Silicon Valley thinks about protecting the American public from a one-dimensional point of view. He agrees with something Carter once said: “Security is like air: You only realize it when you don’t have it. There are a lot of countries in the world that don’t have security.”

“There is a really important dialogue happening around encryption, security, and cyber,” Patil explained. “The place and the way to make the best progress on this is through that model where people are coming in and out of government more easily, making government more porous. That’s how we make the best decision. The ability for companies that are out here and how they think about cybersecurity is because we’re dealing with an adversary that’s beating us up and we get to see that. The government also sees a different side of the adversary and the more that we share of that, the better we get and the smarter we become.”

As it relates to encryption, he said “the president is very much for strong encryption. The policy is for strong encryption because it’s the most important path forward for cybersecurity. What he has also called for is saying that we are living in a world where we have to work collectively together…Technologists offer a very unique way to have the conversation.”

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Above: President Barack Obama views science exhibits during the 2015 White House Science Fair celebrating student winners of a broad range of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) competitions, in the Red Room, March 23, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

Patil said not to worry about the data policies being undone with the next administration they have seeped into the DNA of agencies, meaning they can’t just be undone. “The long arc of the government has shifted as a result of this president. Because of this, it doesn’t change easily. That only happens with presidential powers of focus,” he said.

He hasn’t thought much about what he’s going to do after he leaves the White House. However, he remains fascinated by all that has been accomplished over the course of Obama’s presidency, citing the launch of the Opportunity project, which uses open data to improve economic mobility for Americans, the White House science fair, a hackathon where New Orleans police chief Michael Harrison worked with a student to write his first line of code so he could access data about his own police department, the creation of a working group around the benefits and risks of artificial intelligence, and more.

He’s convinced that a data-driven government will not only improve the services it offers, but that it can keep the country’s competitive edge, enhance national security, and develop the next generation of technology. And because these policy shifts take time, we won’t see the effects immediately. In the end, Patil believes that as the government moves forward, so too does the nation.

The White House is recognized as the symbol of the President, of the President’s administration, and of the U.S….. All The White House news »

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DJ Patil is the VP of Product at RelateIQ. He coined the term “Data Scientist”. Previously he was the Chief Data Scientist at Greylock Partners and before that he was the Chief Product O… All DJ Patil news »

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Pool Noodle Bed Duty

Keep kids safe and happy in the pool and in bed.

hi6S3b Pool Noodle Bed Duty

“Kids fall out of bed?  Fitted sheet plus 1 pool noodle
Image courtesy of http://imgur.com/hi6S3.

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Alibaba's Tmall Global Launches Duty Free Shopping

Tmall Global, the international branch of Alibaba’s Tmall.com, has reached an exclusive strategic deal with South Korea’s largest duty free store group the Shilla Duty Free and Thailand’s largest duty free store group King Power to commence a global duty free project in China.

According to Liu Peng, general manager of Tmall Global, this is an innovation for cross-border e-commerce. By introducing overseas duty free stores to Chinese consumers, Tmall will provide a new model to Chinese tourists who shop in foreign countries.

With the deal, Chinese consumers will be able to order products from Korean and Thai duty free stores on their PCs and smartphones after booking outbound flights. They will be able to track product availability and pricing at the stores. When finishing their tours in those countries, consumers can directly pick up the products they ordered from airport duty free stores by providing messages or barcodes they received. In addition, they can enjoy Tmall Global’s special discounts and convenient payments in RMB.

Liu said that Tmall Global’s world duty free project is an important focus of Alibaba Group’s global strategy. Based on the real consumption scenarios of outbound traveling and outbound purchases, this project was hatched in September 2014.

Liu revealed that Tmall Global is still contacting overseas duty free groups which can cover many countries in Europe and America as well as some of the Chinese duty free groups. They will continue to expand to reach more popular outbound traveling destinations.

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