The Best Blockchain Jobs And Careers Available Today – Bernard Marr

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Blockchain expertise captured the No. 1 position on the latest skills index by Upwork for being the hottest in the U.S. job market. This is just one of the many indicators of how high the demand is for people with blockchain skills. Blockchain may have begun in finance to support cryptocurrencies, but now blockchain technology and the solutions it can provide are being explored by industries from healthcare to insurance to manufacturing and more.

The only way companies can explore and achieve goals with blockchain is to hire those who have the skill-set to navigate this new technology. Here we’ll spotlight what blockchain technology is, who wants those with blockchain skills and some of the best blockchain jobs and careers that are available today.

What is blockchain technology?

Although blockchain technology was first developed to use with the cryptocurrency bitcoin in 2008, it is essentially a distributed database that can store any type of record. Users can only edit the parts of the blockchain they own, making it highly secure, but anyone with access to the blockchain can see it, so it is also highly transparent.

Some have described blockchain as the “internet of value”—anyone can send value anywhere the blockchain file can be accessed just like anyone can publish information that others can access on the internet no matter where they are in the world. Now that blockchain technology has expanded beyond the financial sector, many companies representing many industries are researching and exploring how adopting blockchain could help their business.

Where is the demand for blockchain skills?

Blockchain has become what the “cloud” was in the mid-2000s, poised to be the most highly talked about technology and one that offers tremendous professional opportunity. According to Upwork’s skills index, blockchain is the fastest-growing skill out of more than 5,000 on the site. Currently, demand is far outpacing supply. According to Burning Glass Technologies, there were more than 5,743 largely full-time job openings posted that required blockchain skills in the last 12 months.

Even though as a skill-set, blockchain technology is in its infancy, it’s in demand from start-ups as well as established companies such as IBM and Samsung. Organizations are exploring not only cryptopcurrencies powered by blockchain but how the distributed ledgers that are the backbone of blockchain can be applied in other areas such as supply chains, legal, contracts and more.

Blockchain research and adoption requires the leadership and skills of professionals who can build the strategy and develop the blockchain solutions. Here are a few of the hottest positions:

Blockchain Developer

Since there is virtually no industry leader who isn’t somewhat intrigued by the potential opportunities made possible through blockchain technology, blockchain developers who have the expertise to help companies develop blockchain platforms are in high demand. Blockchain development might offer the most robust career path at the moment, because until solutions are developed, all the benefits of blockchain can’t be realized. Some organizations call this role a blockchain engineer. This is a highly technical position that requires tremendous attention to detail.

Blockchain project manager

A blockchain project manager has the responsibility to connect the dots from an organization’s specific business cases for blockchain technology to blockchain experts (internal or external) who will develop the blockchain solution. This expert needs to have the traditional expertise of a project manager working in any industry plus the technological know-how to make sense of blockchain and communicate to non-technical people in the organization to provide effective updates and get resourcing.

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Blockchain designer

Now that blockchain is expanding to a variety of industries and being used not just by computer scientists but also by people who want to capitalize on its efficiencies, cost-savings and more, the user interface and design of blockchain solutions is becoming more important. Blockchain designers consider how to design a user experience that connotes trust and is appealing to an everyday user while also reflecting the very attributes that make blockchain special—no middlemen, a frictionless experience and more.

Blockchain quality engineer

Similar to quality assurance engineers in any development environment, a blockchain quality engineer has a responsibility to test and ensure all areas of quality in the blockchain development environment. The specialty of blockchain quality engineers is testing and automation and test frameworks for blockchain. They guide the test strategy for blockchain development and develop and maintain QA test standards.

Blockchain attorney or legal consultant

As organizations grapple with the implications of launching new technology, legal questions arise. Companies are increasingly looking for legal expertise on what they need to consider as they launch blockchain technologies with implications for how business and finance are handled, transactions are tracked and confirmed, as well as how identity is managed.

As blockchain technology continues to evolve, so will the professional opportunities it makes possible. Although it’s impossible to predict how it will all shake out, those with blockchain expertise will likely be in high demand for many years to come.

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Restaurant POS Lightspeed Announces iOS Integrations – Michael Guta

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Lightspeed has announced it is integrating Intuit QuickBooks Online and Planday so retailers and restaurateurs can efficiently manage their finances and workforce within the iOS ecosystem.

Lightspeed iOS Integration

Intuit is going to bring its payroll solution, while Planday will provide a workforce management platform. Together with Lightspeed’s cloud-based point-of-sale systems, the collaboration will give independent businesses in both industries a fully integrated finance and employee scheduling capability.

All three companies are Apple Mobility Partners, which will ensure a “compatibility issue free” integration. For many independent retailers and restaurant owners, who are in the small business segment, having the technology they choose work out of the box is extremely important. And the relationship between the three companies plays a role in this.

Julian Teixeira, VP of Sales, Lightspeed, explained the significance of the relationship in the press release. He said, “This relationship ushers in a new era of ease and innovation for our customers. With this integration, we are delivering one experience to retail and restaurant customers to help them save time, make more money, and improve data accuracy through automatic syncing of all systems.”

Benefits of the Integration

The applications of all three companies are going to be integrated into the iOS platform to deliver a seamless user experience. According to Lightspeed, this will save businesses time and money while being able to engage with their employees more effectively.

When Lightspeed users get on their iPhone or iPad, they will be able to deliver a better customer experience because they will be able to see a comprehensive picture of their business. Owners will have a centralized location where they can manage and report on their entire inventory.

Anytime there is a sale, the information automatically goes from Lightspeed into the correct ledger in Intuit QuickBooks Online.  And when it comes to scheduling your workforce, Planday lets owners plan shifts based on expected revenue while managing individual or group communications.

While these functions are taking place, the three platforms are communicating with each other. So the information on sales, worker times and attendance will go from Planday and Lightspeed into Intuit QuickBooks Online to run payroll.

What this means for the small business operator is no more wasted time creating reports for each task because they will be consolidated.

Christian Broendum, CEO, Planday, said it best as to how retailers and restauranteurs will benefit from this integration, “Ensuring the right employees are in position and with the right team size during busy or quiet periods is key to success, but this has been a real admin challenge for operators. The combined solution represents a significant step in solving this equation with the minimum of effort.

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Labstep Wants to Fix The Way Science Experiments are Recorded & Reproduced — TechCrunch

Labstep, an app and online platform to help scientists record and reproduce experiments, has raised £1 million in new funding, including from existing investors. The company, whose team has a background in commercial R&D and academic research, including at Oxford University, is backed by Seedcamp and says it plans to use the new capital to…

via Labstep wants to fix the way science experiments are recorded and reproduced — TechCrunch

Can NanoTechnology Help Treat Alzheimer’s – Ileana Varela

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Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most common form of dementia. It takes a devastating toll on patients and family members, who are usually the caregivers. Current drugs only treat symptoms of AD, not its causes.

FIU researchers are studying a new approach to treating Alzheimer’s using nanotechnology aimed at reducing the inflammation in the brain.

“Current drugs affect neuro-transmitters in the brain. However, inflammation is still clearly present in patients with AD—and seems to be a root cause,” says Madhavan Nair, associate dean for biomedical research and vice president for nanotechnology at Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, more than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s; someone in the U.S. develops the disease every 66 seconds; and it is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States – killing more people than breast cancer and prostate cancer combined. June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month.

Nair and his team will target brain cells called microglia and will use his FIU patented MENs (magneto electric nanoparticles) carrier system for the specific delivery and sustained release of two
anti-inflammatory drugs, Withaferin A and CRID3, into those cells.

“We are hoping that this will inhibit the neuroinflammatory response in microglia and thus help to improve cognitive function in AD patients,” Nair says. The study is funded by a $224,643 grant from the Florida Department of Health.

Although scientists are not sure what causes cell death and tissue loss in the Alzheimer’s brain, they suspect plaques and tangles are to blame. The plaques form when protein pieces called beta-amyloid clump together between nerve cells (neurons) in the brain.

Investigators in Nair’s lab are using sophisticated technology –bioinformatic tools and 3D structure of beta-amyloid – to find the binding site of these anti-inflammatory drugs on beta-amyloid. These studies could translate into new therapies in the treatment of Alzheimer’s.

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4 Pitfalls to Avoid When Choosing Tech for Your Business – Jonathan Herrick

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Technology is often thought of as the antidote to business woes. Once you get the right tech in place, the thinking goes, you’ll start doing whatever it is you do much faster, better and more efficiently. The thing about technology, though, is that new advancements hit the market daily.

Just think about how much artificial intelligence has advanced in a very short period of time. We went from Microsoft’s now-iconic Clippy to Google unveiling a chatbot with humanlike tendencies, Apple releasing an augmented reality upgrade to counter smartphone addiction and researchers from Cornell and the University of Pennsylvania developing an autonomous robot that can complete high-level tasks by sensing its surroundings.

Innovations such as these aren’t just fueling competition in the tech industry. They’ve made many companies question their relevance. Some would argue that they’ve led to a full-blown fear of missing out on the latest tech.

So not only are the options near endless (Harvard Business School professor Clay Christensen estimates that upward of 30,000 products launch each year), but the pressure can also be so strong that you might invest in a solution that isn’t a great fit. And when you’re lacking the underlying strategy that ensures technology adds value, you have no real way to tell whether it was worth the investment at all.

An ounce of cure?

Even when you do pull the trigger on tech, the right choice may not stabilize the business like you thought it would. Sure, chatbots can provide 24/7 customer service, even using a caller’s preferences and past order history to inform interactions. But if you often have to engage in complicated, nuanced conversations with your customers, a chatbot probably won’t be able to deliver.

Similarly, smart devices can provide companies with real-time data. If you were to install sensors in your brick-and-mortar store, for instance, you could track customer traffic patterns to determine the best locations to place displays. But at the same time, employing them opens you up to risk. Should sensitive information in your system fall prey to hackers, you could be looking at a class-action lawsuit.

All that’s to say: If you’re going to chase technology, you must ensure that it’s not only a good fit for your business needs, but also that you fully understand the risks and rewards. This, then, leads to the question: How do you choose and use tech advancements to move your startup forward? The following tips are a good place to start:

1. Go full Sherlock on the competition.

Competitive analyses have been around for decades, but even still, few companies widen the scope beyond potential threats, barriers and vulnerabilities. If you already monitor rivals, why not see what technology they’re leveraging? AI has a way of making all things equal and allows a startup to go head-to-head with its Moriarty. Besides, more than 50 percent of business and tech professionals are considering implementing AI, according to Forrester Research. But again, invest only in technology that fills a hole or makes business sense.

2. Seek validation from your VIPs.

You know your customers. Most marketing, communication and product development decisions are already based on what appeals to them. But these customer insights can also help prioritize your technology needs and shed light on where to improve the user experience.

For instance, statistics from Kik reveal that chatbots have a fairly limited audience, with 60 percent of users being in their teens and the majority (81 percent) living in the United States. So if you speak to an older audience, chatbots might not be the best fit. Think long and hard about your product and audience before investing in any technology.

3. Make your money matter.

Choosing tech is like any other business decision: You need to do your due diligence. Yet research from the Queensland University of Technology published in The Conversation has shown company leaders often make poor decisions when it comes to technology because they don’t accurately weigh the benefits with the costs. You’ll be bound to your investment — and it’ll be an investment — for years to come. So consider what you gain by choosing one thing over another. Will it free up time to focus on other priorities? Or is it just a novelty with a short shelf life?

4. Don’t assume your job is finished after implementation.

Many advanced technologies require more than a financial investment; they demand your time. You can’t rely on technology to take over completely. When machines are left to generate tailored messaging from customer data, for example, there’s definitely room for error. Remember when Microsoft’s AI chatbot set off a racist tweet storm?

To avoid such a mistake, you must add a human component to all interactions and constantly do A/B tests to determine the best options. According to the previously mentioned research from the Queensland University of Technology in The Conversation, businesses grow when technology and human capabilities come together to meet consumer needs.

Trying to be on the cutting edge of technology is a great ambition for any business — big or small. But as you sleuth out your options, make sure to spend some time actually evaluating whether this tech will move your company forward.

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Artificial Intelligence Will Improve Medical Treatments – Jennifer Kite Powell

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A digital health company from the UK wants to change the way a patient interacts with a doctor through the creation of an artificial intelligence (AI) doctor in the form of an AI chatbot.

Babylon Health raised close to $60 million in April 2017 to diagnose illnesses with an AI chatbot on your smartphone. Around the same time, Berlin and London based start up Ada announced its push into the AI chat bot space.

“The news that Babylon Health has raised near £50M to build an ‘AI doctor’ is a promising development for the health industry; trials are currently ongoing in London, where Babylon’s tech is being used as an alternative to the non-emergency 111 number,” said Dr. Joseph Reger, CTO, Fujitsu EMEIA.

The rapid commercialization of machine learning and big data has helped bring AI to the forefront of healthcare and life sciences and is set to change how the industry diagnoses and treats disease.

In a 2016 study by Frost & Sullivan, the market for AI in healthcare is projected to reach $6.6 billion by 2021, a 40% growth rate. The report goes on to say that clinical support from AI will strengthen medical imaging diagnosis processes and using AI solutions for hospital workflows will enhance care delivery. Frost & Sullivan also reports that AI has the potential to improve outcomes by 30 to 40 percent at the same time the costs of treatment by as much as 50%.

“AI is now disrupting how businesses operate and will change the way that organizations create real value for the customer or patient. Industries can reap huge benefits by developing cooperative models that can quickly combine businesses needs with AI tech,” said Reger.

In their Fit for Digital research, Fujitsu identified that 67% of business leaders believed that partnering with technology experts is essential.

AI In Chinese Hospitals

China has one of the highest lung cancer rates in the world. Forbes reported in April 2017 that there were more than 700,000 new cases of lung cancer in the country in 2015 and there are 80,000 radiologists in China who diagnose around 1.4 billion radiology scans a year.

At Shanghai Changzheng Hospital in China, radiologists have been utilizing AI technology from Infervison to improve medical diagnosis in reading CT scans and x-rays and identify suspicious lesions and nodules in lung cancer patients.

The company, which partners GE Healthcare, Cisco, and Nvidia and works with 20 tertiary grade A hospitals in China, pairs a computerized tomography (CT) scan with AI that learns the core characteristics of lung cancer and then detects the suspected cancer features through different CT image sequences. Earlier diagnosis allows doctors to prescribe treatments earlier.

In a statement, Chen Kuan, founder, and CEO, Infervision said that in no way will this technology ever replace doctors.

“It’s intended to eliminate much of the highly repetitive work and empower doctors to help them deliver faster and more accurate reports,” said Reger.

Fujitsu’s Reger says the process of machine learning is considered to be time-saving but will only be successful if data is implemented as the lifeblood of the system.

“In this instance, data will enable AI machines to learn and understand new medical functions, and then critically provide humans e.g. doctors with the necessary information to diagnose problems,” added Reger. “The potential application of AI in healthcare could even grow to possibly predict future illnesses even before they manifest, improving the quality of services for patients. All of this will not be achieved without vast swathes of data, an acceptance that AI will supplement jobs, not replace them, and the overall investment in the technology itself.

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Inside the Binge Factory Netflix Is Hiring Everybody In & Out of Hollywood To Make More TV Shows

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What do you think about gas in the tank for the long term?” asks Cindy Holland, Netflix’s vice-president of original content. It’s a Tuesday morning in May, and Holland and a handful of her direct reports are meeting in the 14th-floor San Junipero conference room of the company’s Hollywood headquarters. They’ve come to discuss renewal decisions for two existing shows, the Drew Barrymore–Timothy Olyphant zombie comedy, Santa Clarita Diet, and the recently launched remake of Lost in Space.

As Holland goes around the room, she stares at a laptop screen filled with the memos her team has prepared. She notes the mixed reviews for Lost in Space. “Do we care?” Not that much, it turns out. The show is renewed for a second season.

As they discuss story lines and other creative matters, there’s talk about “completion,” i.e., how quickly subscribers are moving through episodes to the end of the season. Holland quizzes the room about how the shows are doing internationally and if they’re under- or overperforming in certain territories. Someone mentions that Barrymore and Olyphant traveled to the Philippines to promote season two of Santa Clarita: “It’s the first time we took a show there,” she says, adding that the promotional support seemed to pay off: “We’re really, really excited about the fact that it’s traveled globally.” There’s enough gas in the tank, they decide, for a season three.

The conversation moves on to new projects, including Away, an unannounced drama from creator Andrew Hinderaker (Penny Dreadful) and executive producers Jason Katims (Friday Night Lights) and Matt Reeves (Cloverfield) that revolves around an international group of astronauts on the first-ever mission to Mars. “Do you have a clear sense of who is that core fan base?” Holland asks. “I feel it’s a pretty global show in terms of the cast and the diversity of players,” says one executive. “But I also think because there’s that epic love story at the center, it’s going to attract a female audience.” “You probably also get the sci-fi audience as well, right?” Holland says. “I don’t think we’re going to get a hard-core sci-fi action audience,” the executive replies. “That’s not what this is.”

Also on the agenda is a not-yet-announced limited series. There’s a brief debate over which of Netflix’s many content “verticals” it will fall under. “It’s kind of a hybrid between series and film in terms of the biopic nature,” one executive says. “Right now, it’s projected somewhere between period romance and the black-film vertical,” says another. Adds someone else, “It doesn’t fit squarely in either, so we think there’s a nice in-between.”

The meeting ends in less than an hour, and the futures of four of the roughly 1,000 original titles Netflix plans to make (or acquire and distribute) this year are a bit more certain.

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Netflix’s overthrow of television’s old business model began just seven years ago. That’s when the Silicon Valley company best known for mailing DVDs in little red envelopes outbid AMC and HBO for the rights to a drama from director David Fincher, a remake of the British mini-series House of Cards. It was a big deal at the time, both because of the money Netflix was spending ($100 million for two seasons) and because it was the first hint of the streaming platform’s ambitions to evolve beyond a digital warehouse for other conglomerates’ intellectual property.

House of Cards is airing its final season this fall, and Netflix now makes more television than any network in history. It plans to spend $8 billion on content this year. “I’ve never seen any one company drive the entire business in the way Netflix has right now,” says Chris Silbermann, managing director of ICM Partners and agent for Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal creator Shonda Rhimes, who moved her production company to Netflix last year.

TV has gone through major transformations in the past — cable and Rupert Murdoch’s Fox toppled the hegemony of the Big Three broadcast networks in the 1980s, for instance — but this leap dwarfs all others. Netflix doesn’t want to be a streaming, supersized clone of HBO or FX or NBC. It’s trying to change the way we watch television. Whether it can do that while turning a profit is another matter, given the more than $6 billion in debt it’s amassed during its expansion. But Wall Street seems optimistic: In recent weeks, its overall market capitalization has at times grown past $150 billion, surpassing Disney to become the most-valued media company in the world.

CEO Reed Hastings and tech entrepreneur Marc Randolph launched Netflix in 1997, rolling out its DVD-by-mail service the next year and introducing the all-you-can-watch subscription model in 1999. The service has offered streaming since 2007. But it was the company’s move into original content that has upended so many norms of the TV business: Netflix doesn’t waste millions making pilot episodes of shows that will never air; instead, almost every project it buys is purchased with the intention of going straight to series. It invented the idea of binge-releasing — dropping full seasons of shows all at once, rather than doling out episodes week-to-week, as TV had done since I Love Lucy. Instead of selling its content to international partners, Netflix has eliminated global middlemen and set up shop in over 190 countries, allowing it to debut a new season of an American animated series (BoJack Horseman) or a German thriller (Dark) around the planet, all on the same day and at the same time. It has replaced demographics with what it calls “taste clusters,” predicating programming decisions on immense amounts of data about true viewing habits, not estimated ones. It has discovered ways to bundle enough niche viewers to make good business out of fare that used to play only to tiny markets.

And shareholders have given it the money to poach the top showrunners from ABC (Rhimes) and FX/Fox (Ryan Murphy), committing upwards of $400 million to deny those networks their biggest hitmakers. It’s greenlit series from the past two Oscar-winning directors (Damien Chazelle, Guillermo del Toro) and today’s most successful producer of network sitcoms (Chuck Lorre, whose next show for the service stars Michael Douglas and Alan Arkin). Netflix has also handed out paychecks worth, in some cases, more than $20 million to a constellation of stand-up stars (Chris Rock, Dave Chappelle, Ellen DeGeneres), signed the next generation of talk-show hosts (Michelle Wolf, Hasan Minhaj), and given a new home to older ones (David Letterman, Norm Macdonald). And last month, it announced a deal with Barack and Michelle Obama to make TV shows and movies.

“The first word out of everybody’s mouths in meetings is, ‘How do we deal with Netflix?’ ” says one longtime TV-industry executive. “‘How do we compete with Netflix? What are they doing?’ ” Disney’s pending purchase of much of 20th Century Fox’s film and TV assets — which has prompted a counterbid by Comcast, parent company of NBCUniversal — is in no small part a reaction to the rise of Netflix. Robert Iger, Disney’s CEO, wants the added scale 20th Century Fox’s assets will bring as he prepares to launch Disney’s own direct-to-consumer streaming service next year. The proposed AT&T–Time Warner merger is similarly designed to help AT&T take on Netflix.

Mysterious though it may seem, Netflix operates by a simple logic, long understood by such tech behemoths as Facebook and Amazon: Growth begets more growth begets more growth. When Netflix adds more content, it lures new subscribers and gets existing ones to watch more hours of Netflix. As they spend more time watching, the company can collect more data on their viewing habits, allowing it to refine its bets about future programming. “More shows, more watching; more watching, more subs; more subs, more revenue; more revenue, more content,” explains Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s chief content officer. So far, it’s worked spectacularly well: Netflix has gone from around 33 million global subscribers before House of Cards premiered to over 125 million today. Wall Street analysts have predicted Netflix could flirt with 200 million subscribers by the end of 2020; by 2028, one Morgan Stanley analyst has said, 300 million is possible. “The thing that keeps me up at night is scale,” says Sarandos. “It’s a mind-boggling amount of programming that’s being produced here. How do we keep scaling it?”

One answer is cultural. “I’m building a team that’s oriented as saying ‘Yes’ in a town that’s built to say ‘No,’ ” Sarandos says. That’s not just New Age–speak. It’s practical. To stimulate volume, Sarandos and Holland have put in place an extraordinarily decentralized development and production pipeline, one that allows Netflix to operate like ten or 15 semi-independent entertainment companies — whose output all happens to be distributed by a single service.

“Two layers beneath Cindy have full greenlight” authority, Sarandos says. “The only way that we can do what we do at the quality and volume we’re doing it is to give power to my executives to make those choices.” One agent I spoke to told me that translates to at least “five or six” scripted-development executives he can pitch knowing they have the authority to make a project a reality. The heads of Netflix’s other big divisions — international, unscripted, documentary, stand-up comedy — are similarly able to give an idea the go-ahead. “Most of my team have more buying power than anyone has selling power in Hollywood. My direct-report team can greenlight any project without my approval. They can greenlight it against my approval!” says Sarandos.

I ask Sarandos to give me an example of something that’s gotten made over his objections. He cites What Happened, Miss Simone?, the documentary from director Liz Garbus. Lisa Nishimura, Netflix’s VP of original documentaries and comedy, was a big proponent of the film, but Sarandos wasn’t convinced. “We fought about it for six months,” he recalls. “She came in once or twice a week to say why she had to make this movie, and I would tell her that it’s too expensive, and music docs don’t play very big. She’d come back and explain to me why this isn’t a music doc. She was 100 percent right and I was 100 percent wrong. That was an incredible movie, and as soon as it started delivering, I felt like it was a big miss for me to have held it back that long.” Sarandos was similarly iffy on American Vandal, last summer’s comic mockumentary that ended up being a word-of-mouth hit. He kept telling the development team he didn’t think it made sense; they made it anyway, and now Netflix is working on a sequel.

Lower-level executives aren’t completely free agents. “They have some budget constraints,” Sarandos says. “Somebody who typically can greenlight a $3 million show, but has a $10 million show [under consideration] — they’re going to check first. Cindy will bring things to me that seem [riskier] and be like, ‘Hey, this is why we’re going a bit further on the limb with this one.’ ”

“This [idea] that if you have volume, you can’t have quality?” says Holland. “I think it’s convenient for people who are limited by time slots or budget. If you can have one network that has a dozen shows and they’re good quality, why can’t you have the equivalent of four networks with a dozen shows each? Why can’t you have more than that? We have the ability to support a larger number of artists than most people can.”

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While there’s still room to grow domestically, Netflix’s biggest opportunity for scale is overseas. On a Monday morning in April, I attend a meeting run by Erik Barmack, head of the company’s international-originals team, where a couple of wall-mounted video screens show the names of various staff phoning in, as well as a live feed from the Amsterdam office. Netflix has a division devoted to acquiring foreign programs from networks like the BBC, but Barmack oversees the production of original non-English-language shows made for Netflix outside the U.S., including Dark (Germany), Ingobernable (Mexico), and 3% (Brazil). A number of Netflix American-made originals are popular outside the States — “As a percentage of total watchers, as many people watch 13 Reasons Why in India as watch it in the U.S.,” Sarandos tells me — but in order to compete and grow in foreign markets, Netflix believes it needs to offer subscribers stuff made in their own countries, by local artists.

Netflix’s international push is grounded in lessons the company has learned from its expansions into genres once thought to have limited appeal to American audiences. Big numbers in niche categories prompted Lisa Nishimura, VP of original documentaries and comedy, to suggest the company start making content in those areas. “We started to ask, ‘Is it really niche, or have the distribution channels for those categories been historically disaggregated, making it difficult to actually get scale and momentum and word-of-mouth and all those things that help to grow audiences over the course of time?’ ” Nishimura says. “On the documentary side, people pointed to box office to say, ‘See? It’s tiny.’ What I contended was, that was a reflection of how many people watch a documentary on Friday night in that particular moment in time, not the potential of the actual audience size for the documentary if you made it easily available.”

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AI and The Future of Working

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Artificial Intelligence is on the verge of penetrating every major industry from healthcare to advertising, transportation, finance, legal, education, and now inside the workplace. Many of us may have already interacted with a chatbot (defined as an automated, yet personalized, conversation between software and human users) whether it’s on Facebook Messenger to book a hotel room or ordering flowers through 1-800 flowers. According to Facebook Vice President, David Marcus, there are now more than 100,000 chatbots on the Facebook Messenger platform, up from 33,000 in 2016.

As we increase the usage of chatbots in our personal lives, we will expect to use them in the workplace to assist us with things like finding new jobs, answering frequently asked HR related questions or even receiving coaching and mentoring.  Chatbots digitize HR processes and enable employees to access HR solutions from anywhere. Using artificial intelligence in HR will create a more seamless employee experience, one that is nimbler and more user driven.

Artificial Intelligence Will Transform The Employee Experience

As I detailed in my column, The Intersection of Artificial Intelligence and Human Resources, HR leaders are beginning to pilot AI to deliver greater value to the organization by using chatbots for recruiting, employee service, employee development and coaching. A recent survey of 350 HR leaders conducted by ServiceNow finds 92% of HR leaders agree that the future of providing an enhanced level of employee service will include chatbots.

In fact, you can think of a chatbot as your newest HR team member, one that allows employees to easily retrieve answers to frequently asked questions. According to the ServiceNow survey, more than two thirds of HR leaders believe employees are comfortable accessing chatbots to get the information they need, at the time they need it. The type of questions HR leaders believe employees are comfortable using a chatbot for range from the mundane and factual ones; such as how much paid time off do I have left, to the more personal ones; such as how do I report a sexual misconduct experience. The comfort level with using AI to answer employee inquiries is shown in Figure 1:

Future Workplace

According to Deepak Bharadwaj, General Manager, HR Product Line, ServiceNow “By 2020, based on the adoption of chatbots in our personal lives, I can see how penetration in the workplace could reach adoption rates of as high as 75% with employees accessing a chatbot to resolve frequently asked HR questions and access HR solutions anywhere and anytime.” Bharadwaj points out how fast we are changing our behavior as consumers, given the dramatic rise of conversational AI technology and its ease of use. For example, Amazon’s Alexa now has more than 15,000 “skills” (Amazon’s term for voice-based apps), nearly all of which were created in the last two years since Amazon opened Alexa to outside developers. In fact, 10,000 Alexa skills were created since fourth quarter, 2016.

Artificial intelligence and chatbots are revolutionizing both the candidate and employee experience. As Diana Wong, Senior Vice President of HR at Capital Group says,”Technology is an enabler to delivering world-class Advisor and Investor experiences to our customers. So, we believe HR must mirror these best in class experiences by leveraging artificial intelligence for all phases of the employee life cycle from recruiting to on-boarding and developing employees.”

Capital Group is piloting a number of artificial intelligence technologies in HR, from using Textio to write more effective and bias free job descriptions to using predictive analytic web based video interviewing through the MontageTalent platform. Wong believes the piloting and usage of artificial intelligence not only improves the efficiency and effectiveness of the candidate and employee experience, but also enables Capital Group to be seen as a modern employer with Millennial workers.

However, there are barriers along the journey as HR experiments with artificial intelligence. I recently spoke about the impact of artificial intelligence to a group of senior HR leaders in Milan last week. This group identified a number of barriers to using artificial intelligence in HR, namely the fear of job loss among HR team members, lack of skills to truly embrace these new technologies and the change management needed to adopt to new ways of sourcing, recruiting, and engaging employees.

Wong emphasizes this when she says, “One of the critical success factors to adopting artificial intelligence for HR is the cultural orientation around change and on-going employee communications on how and why the organization is digitally transforming HR.”

Delivering a compelling employee experience is a competitive advantage in attracting and retaining talent. Companies are realizing that transforming employee experience is not an HR initiative, rather it is a business initiative. This means senior C-level executives from HR, IT, Digital Transformation, Real Estate, and Corporate Communications need to develop one common shared vision on what a memorable and compelling employee experience is and define the elements of the employee experience over the short, medium, and long term.

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The Impact of Fintech on Investment Banking

Leon Saunders Calvert, Global Head of M&A and Capital Raising at Thomson Reuters explores to what an extent Fintech is now changing the Investment Banking industry.

New technologies, like machine learning/artificial intelligence, predictive behavioral analytics and data-driven marketing, will take the guesswork and habit out of financial decisions. “Learning” apps will not only learn the habits of users, often hidden to themselves, but will engage users in learning games to make their automatic, unconscious spending and saving decisions better.

The Fintech Landscape

Fintech startups received $17.4 billion in funding in 2016 and were on pace to surpass that sum as of late 2017, according to CB Insights, which counted 26 fintech unicorns globally valued at $83.8 billion. North American produces most of the fintech startups, with Asia following. Some of the most active areas of fintech innovation include or revolve around the following:

  • Cryptocurrency and digital cash
  • Blockchain technology, including Etherium, a distributed ledger technology (DLT) that maintain records on a network of computers, but has no central ledger.
  • Smart contracts, which utilize computer programs (often utilizing the blockchain) to automatically execute contracts between buyers and sellers.
  • Open banking, a concept that leans on the blockchain and posits that third-parties should have access to bank data to build applications that create a connected network of financial institutions and third-party providers. An example is the all-in-one money management tool Mint.
  • Insurtech, which seeks to use technology to simplify and streamline the insurance industry.
  • Regtech, which seeks to help financial service firms meet industry compliance rules, especially those covering Anti-Money Laundering and Know Your Customer protocols which fight fraud.
  • Robo-advisors, such as Betterment, utilize algorithms to automate investment advice to lower its cost and increase accessibility.
  • Unbanked/underbanked, services that seek to serve disadvantaged or low-income individuals who are ignored or underserved by traditional banks or mainstream financial services companies.
  • Cybersecurity, given the proliferation of cybercrime and the decentralized storage of data, cybersecurity and fintech are interlocked.

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Fintech Users

Who uses fintech? There are four broad categories: 1) B2B for banks and 2) their business clients; and 3) B2C for small businesses and 4) consumers. Trends toward mobile banking, increased information, data and more accurate analytics and decentralization of access will create opportunities for all four groups to interact in heretofore unprecedented ways.

Customers now expect seamless digital onboarding, rapid loan approvals, and free person-to-person payments – all innovations that FinTechs made popular. And while they may not dominate the industry today, FinTechs have succeeded as both standalone businesses and vital links in the financial services value chain,” a recent industry report by Deloitte and the World Economic Forum (WEB) stated.

According to Deloitte and the WEB, disruptive forces that have reshaped the FinTech industry include, but are certainly not limited to:

  • The growth of online shopping, which is expanding quickly at the expense of in-person shopping, leading to the dominance of online, cashless solutions for transactions.
  • A shifting balance of power that swings from banks and other financial services to those who own the customer experience. Banks are eliminating in-person services and looking to FinTech and large technology companies for other ways to engage customers.
  • New trading platforms that are collecting data to create an aggregated market view and using analytics to uncover trends.
  • Insurance products, which are becoming more tailored to customers who, in turn, are demanding coverage for specific locations, uses and timeframes. That’s driving insurers to collect and analyze additional data about their clients.
  • Artificial intelligence, which now plays a role in differentiating financial services products as it replaces complex human activities.
  • Transaction process improvement and middleware, both of which remain expensive. This is pushing traditional financial services firms to consider partnerships with marketplace lenders for FinTech solutions that don’t require a full infrastructure overhaul

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