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Technology Becomes Fifth Utility for Cities

Posted by Christopher Geehern on Nov 16, 2018 11:19:01 AM

A sophisticated technology infrastructure and real-time data have allowed the Boston Police Department to reduce crime in the city by 20 percent while arresting far fewer people than in the past.

Smart Cities“A lot of that is because we are policing smarter. All this technology allows us to do our jobs better,” retired Boston Policy Commissioner William Evans told more than 200 business leaders at an AIM Executive Forum on Smart Cities this morning.

Evans, now Chief of Police at Boston College, said police now have access to video feeds, body camera footage, “shot-spotter” sound data and predictive analytics as they assign police officers to areas most affected by crime. Beginning in January, he said, Boston police officers will collect all of that information on smart phones.

Several miles to the south in Quincy, Chris Cassini is overseeing a $1.3 million project to install an adaptive signal platform that will allow the city’s traffic signals to share data to improve traffic flow. He said the system contains a software algorithm that can grow alongside the tremendous amount of economic development taking place in Quincy.

“There has been a tremendous amount of change, a tremendous amount of investment,” said Cassani, the city’s Director of Traffic, Parking, Alarm and Lighting.

Smart Cities technologies represent a kind of “fifth utility” for municipalities alongside water, electricity, gas and waste, according to three senior executives from Dell who lead the discussion. The executives said that technology not only makes more efficient the city services upon which businesses depend, but also increasingly makes reams to data available to employers on everything from flooding history to refuse collection.

“We absolutely have to build out a digital infrastructure,” said Corky Allen, Regional Field Director for State and Local Government Affairs for Dell EMC.

Rich Barlow, Field Chief Technology Officer for Dell, described how the City of Virginia Beach recently developed the ability to coordinate data from hundreds of flood sensors to minimize damage from hurricanes and other natural disasters.

AIM President Rick Lord said all the changes have important implications for employers.”

“Technology is transforming the world outside your business,” Lord told the gathering.

“It’s changing the management of the roads your employees travel to work, the infrastructure that “provides power to your building, and the municipal emergency services you call if the worst happens.”

Topics: Technology, AIM Executive Forum

Autonomous Driving Systems Developer Earns Global Innovation Award

Posted by Kristen Rupert on Oct 23, 2018 8:30:00 AM

A Boston company developing groundbreaking autonomous driving software and systems has been named the winner of the 2018 AIM Global Innovation Award.

nuTonomynuTonomy, an Aptiv company, will be honored at the 23nd annual AIM Global Trade Symposium on November 8 in Waltham.  Previously announced Global Trade honorees will include Bennett and Company, Universal Plastics, and John Hancock, all companies that have demonstrated excellence in international business.  

“The global marketplace is an innovative one,” said Richard Lord, President and CEO of AIM. “We are pleased that as part of our recognition of Massachusetts companies exhibiting best practices in advancing global business we have the opportunity to highlight the work of nuTonomy, a company that is truly re-imagining one of the most time-tested pieces of technology – the automobile.”

Founded out of MIT in 2013 by Karl Iagnemma and Emilio Frazzoli, nuTonomy was the first company to test autonomous vehicles on public roads - in Singapore in 2016 and Boston in 2017.  In November 2017 the company was acquired by global automotive technology company Aptiv.

nuTonomy reached a milestone six months ago when the company made its autonomous vehicles available to the general public in Las Vegas via the Lyft ride-hailing app.

Aptiv and Nutonomy together employ 150 people in Boston’s Seaport district. 

The AIM Global Trade Symposium & Awards Breakfast will take place from 7:30-10:30 am on November 8 at Waltham Woods Conference Center.  The event will feature keynote speaker Robert Z. Lawrence, Professor of International Trade & Investment at the Kennedy School of Government.

A panel discussion on “Global Business: Tariffs, Treaties and Trends” with speakers from the Port of Boston, Ocean Spray, and Brandeis International Business School, will follow.  The AIM Global Trade Symposium & Awards is sponsored by Massport, Massachusetts Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MassMEP) and The Provident Bank.

Registration for the Global Trade Symposium can be accessed online here

Topics: International Trade, AIM International Business Council, Technology

The Need to Support Manufacturing

Posted by Jeffrey Roy on Oct 5, 2018 8:30:00 AM

Rep.RoyEditor’s note –  Today is Manufacturing Day throughout the United States. Representative Jeffrey Roy is the House Chair of the Massachusetts Legislature’s Manufacturing Caucus.
He recently met with the AIM’s Manufacturing Committee. 

Manufacturing is vitally important to the Massachusetts economy. It provides pathways to economic prosperity for residents of varied educational levels. Massachusetts’ strong regional manufacturing clusters help anchor regional economies, especially outside the Boston core.

And manufacturing is becoming increasingly reliant on advanced and emerging technologies – a trend that plays to the commonwealth’s strengths.

It is the sixth largest employment sector here. Statistics show that 10.1 percent of the commonwealth’s total economic output is tied to manufacturing. Some $26 billion in manufactured goods were exported from the commonwealth in 2016 alone.

Roughly 250,000 employees work in the manufacturing sector in Massachusetts, comprising 7.8 percent of the total work force in the state.

This local manufacturing capacity helps Massachusetts innovators bring new products to market quickly, and helps innovative companies grow to scale in Massachusetts.

The Legislature’s Manufacturing Caucus was formed in 2014 and consists of 60 members of the House and Senate. As the House Chair working with the Senate Chair Eric Lesser, this caucus serves as a link for issues that affect the manufacturing industry.

We came together in particular to address problems faced by the commonwealth's manufacturing industry in filling technically demanding jobs with people who have the right skills. 

ManufacturingWorkerSmallAs lawmakers, we focus on training for manufacturing employees. We encourage innovation by helping start-ups access resources, and by expanding apprenticeship opportunities, among other things. We set policies and allocate budget dollars to bolster the economy and build upon the renaissance of manufacturing here.

We passed legislation to form an Advanced Manufacturing Collaborative, made up of industry leaders, innovators, and government officials.  Our mission is to make Massachusetts the most complete, connected, and fastest ecosystem for applying advanced technology to commercialize products from innovation through production.

And it is working. We have created a great ecosystem for manufacturing, and we are committed to strengthening it.

We understand that during the next decade, baby boomer retirements and economic expansion will lead to job openings in manufacturing. Manufacturers will struggle to find skilled employees to fill these positions.

On top of that, manufacturers are faced with overcoming a negative image of the industry among young people. While most Americans consider manufacturing one of the most important domestic industries for maintaining a strong national economy, young people rank it low as a career choice for themselves.

Eighty percent of manufacturing executives report that they are willing to pay more than market rates in areas reeling from a talent shortage. It takes an average of 94 days to recruit employees in the engineering/research/scientific fields and an average of 70 days to recruit skilled production workers.

Facing these time frames for recruiting, it is no surprise manufacturers report the most significant business impact of the talent shortage is their ability to meet customer demand.

To address these needs we are fostering collaboration between manufacturers, community colleges, technical high schools and regional work force boards in order to create regionally-specific talent pipelines.

We are aligning education programs, the state work force system and economic development to meet employers’ needs for workers in each region of the state. And we are putting money behind our objectives, funding the following programs:

  • The Workforce Training Fund Program;
  • The UMass Lowell Innovation Hub;
  • The UMass Innovation Center;
  • Mass Tech;and
  • The Massachusetts Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MassMEP).

We have created a MA Manufacturing website, which I urge you to visit regularly. It focuses on, among other things, the resources manufacturers need to access creative financing solutions, save on energy costs, attract qualified workers, and take their businesses to the next level.

We do this work because we believe “making it” in Massachusetts is critical to economic prosperity and success for all of our residents. And because it is one of the keys to maintaining the commonwealth as a great place to live, work, and raise a family.

If we look at our nation’s history, times of big growth have always been fueled by manufacturing revolutions. Look at the steam engine in the middle of the 19th century, the mass-production model in the beginning of the 20th century, and the first automation wave in the 1970s. Those resulted in tremendous growth. Fifty years later, we are on the verge of another huge change, and once again, manufacturing is leading the way.

We are seeing manufacturing converge with large technological innovation. And harnessing these technologies in the manufacturing space is the next revolution that will boost industrial productivity and create growth. And Massachusetts can lead the way.

Along with you, we are writing the next chapter in manufacturing history, and I am happy to be able to join you on this journey.

Please contact Bob Paine at rpaine@aimnet.org for more information about the AIM Manufacturing Committee. 

Topics: Manufacturing, Massachusetts Manufacturing, Technology

Employer Training Drives Growth in Educational Technology

Posted by Christopher Geehern on Sep 26, 2018 1:30:00 PM

The educational technology sector in Massachusetts, which already employs some 25,000 people, continues to grow in large part because of burgeoning interest by employers in providing training to employees, according to a new report from an industry accelerator.

StateofWorkforceThe State of Work Force Edtech, published by LearnLaunch in Boston, reports that investors are pouring tens of millions of dollars into Massachusetts educational technology companies such as CareAcademy and Authess. But while the industry grew initially by developing software and services for colleges and universities, the action is now around worker training.

“We found that close to $3 billion has been invested in last three years in whole set of new players providing either functional training or 21st century skills or marketplace skills,” says Eileen Rudden, co-founder of LearnLaunch.

“It addresses the whole system of how companies are finding and growing employees in a tight labor market in Massachusetts.”

The report, funded by the Lumina Foundation, finds that workforce educational technology companies in the United States attracted $2.9 billion in funding between 2015 and this year, with half of that money going into companies developing solutions to train workers, rather than to educational institutions. The potential market is immense in a world where experts believe that technology disruption may displace as many as 800 million jobs worldwide.

The global market for corporate learning alone is expected to reach $31 billion by 2020.

“To keep pace with innovation, modern corporations are expanding their learning and development programs. On-demand training is essential to corporations operating in dynamic and compliance-driven markets. In addition, businesses are increasing the use of online functional training programs as middle-skill talent becomes scarcer,” the report concludes.

Associated Industries of Massachusetts, which provides management and human-resources education for hundreds of employers, is part of the trend. The association has for many years offered online training courses in collaboration with MindEdge Inc. of Waltham.

“The persistent challenge of finding skilled employees is placing a premium on training as a means of improving productivity and reacting to market opportunities,” says Gary MacDonald, Executive Vice President of AIM HR Solutions.

The LearnLaunch Accelerator provides educational technology startup companies with access to capital, mentors, knowledge and work space. The organization has nurtured more than 45 companies.

Rudden said educational technology startups are still selling to colleges and universities, where 25 percent of graduate degrees are earned online, as well as to so-called “informal” education settings such as coding boot camps. Some companies such as New York-based Trilogy Education Services are combining those markets by establishing partnerships to deliver training boot camps within universities.

Investment in the Massachusetts Edtech sector has been steady:

  • Panorama Education raised a $16 million B round led by Emerson Collective
  • Ellevation Education raised a $10 million B round led by Reach Capital
  • Better Lesson raised a $10 million B round led by Owl Ventures
  • Tinkergarten - $5.4 million Series A led by Owl Ventures
  • DataCamp - $4 million Seed 4 funding led by Arthur Ventures
  • College Vine raised $3.1 million a round from Morningside Technology Ventures
  • AdmitHub raised $2.9 million led by Reach Capital
  • Pragya Systems - $1.67 million of Series 1 and 2 Seed funding from undisclosed investors
  • KinderLab Robotics - $1 million raised of Seed funding from Brain Robotics Capital
  • Chalk Talk - $2 million from undisclosed investors.
  • CareAcademy - $1.93 million Seed led by Rethink Education, Lumina Foundation and Techstars

Topics: Technology, Workforce Training, Massachusetts employers

Video Blog: How Will Automation and Robotics Affect the Economy?

Posted by Christopher Geehern on Feb 5, 2018 8:30:00 AM

How will artificial intelligence, automation and robotics affect the Massachusetts economy? The Associated Industries of Massachusetts Economic Outlook Forum tackled that question on January 26. Expert analysts included, left to right, moderator Jeff Brown, Business Editor of WBZ radio in Boston; Peter Russo Director of Growth and Innovation at the Massachusetts Manufacturing Extension Parntership; Martha Sullivan, President and CEO of Sensata Technologies in Attleboro; and David Askey, Co-Founder and CEO of Ascend Robotics in Cambridge.

Topics: Technology, robotics, AIM Executive Forum

DraftKings CEO Sees Bright Future

Posted by Christopher Geehern on Nov 17, 2017 11:33:48 AM

The worlds of sports, media and gaming are likely to coalesce during the next several years and the co-founder and chief executive of Boston-based DraftKings believes his company and its 8 million customers will be a major player in that new world.

Robins.jpgJason Robins, who built DraftKings into a $1.5 billion fantasy sports colossus in just five years, told 250 business executives at the AIM Executive Forum this morning that companies like his have raised interest in professional sports and given fans an entirely new experience of watching everything from NFL Football to major league soccer

“A lot of exciting things on the horizon,” he said during a 45-minute conversation with AIM President Richard Lord.

"What technology and mobile have done for gaming and media, it's incredible, and we've only sort of reached the tip of the iceberg. I think you're going to see a convergence of media and gaming.

"I also think this sort of media landscape where all the content is scattered around different places and you have to have a bunch of different services or you have to sort through 800 cable channels to find what you're looking for, it's not necessary anymore."

Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) allows fans to enter daily and weekly fantasy sports contests and win prizes based on individual players’ performances. Industry researchers estimate that players spent an estimated $3.26 billion on daily fantasy sports in 2016.

Robins said DraftKings surpassed more established competitors to became the pre-eminent DFS company “because we had a better mousetrap.” The keys to that mousetrap, he said, were products, technology and analytics that created a “game within a game” for sports fans.

What Robins and his partners did not anticipate in 2012 was the intense level of regulatory scrutiny that DraftKings and other DFS companies would engender both in Massachusetts and across the country.

DraftKings has supported consumer-protection regulations for the fantasy industry implemented by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey in 2016 covering issues such as excluding minors, ensuring “fair” gameplay, prohibiting contests on college sports, and spelling out standard marketing practices. Robins said those regulations, though not perfect, have become the basis for DFS legislation in more than a dozen other states.

The company is less enthusiastic about a commission report several months ago that recommended that the Massachusetts Legislature enact a law that would label DFS as gambling and give the Massachusetts Gaming Commission oversight over the industry.

“I will continue to work with them on the way they have gone about their analysis,” Robins said.

He believes the future is a bright one for DraftKings in large measure because of its customer demographics. DraftKings, he said, have the customers everyone wants – millennials in higher income brackets who do not hesitate to spend money on entertainment.

"What we've tried to do is position ourselves as a platform, partner with companies that own these types of rights, and say, look, we can help you in the world where you're trying to grow your subscriptions, your direct-to-consumer business," Robins said.

"We have the customers you want, we know exactly what they're interested in and we have the data to target them."

Topics: AIM Executive Forum, Technology

Video Blog | Startup Provides Internet Access in the Developing World

Posted by Kristen Rupert on Nov 2, 2017 1:37:13 PM

Editor's Note - How do you provide Internet access to people in developing countries where there is no power to charge phones or access the Web? WrightGrid, a startup based in Somerville’s Greentown Labs, has come up with the answer. WrightGrid has developed a solar-powered cell phone charger and wi-fi station designed to provide information access to people in countries such as Ghana and the Democratic Republic of Congo. WrightGrid this week accepted the 2017 AIM Global Innovation Award.

 

Topics: AIM International Business Council, International b, Technology

AbbVie - Employer Remains Determined to Make a Difference

Posted by Christopher Geehern on Oct 2, 2017 3:25:52 PM

Editor's note: The global pharmaceutical company AbbVie will receive a 2017 AIM Next Century Award on Thursday at the association's annual employer celebration from 4:30-6:30 at Mechanics Hall in Worcester. AbbVie's 450,000-square-foot Worcester facility employs approximately 900 employees who primarily focus on immunology drug research, protein engineering, and small-batch manufacturing of biotech drugs for clinical trials.

 

Register for the Worcester Celebration

Topics: AIM Next Century Award, Massachusetts employers, Technology

TechSpring - Collision Space for Health-Care Technology

Posted by Christopher Geehern on Sep 19, 2017 2:04:52 PM

Editor's note - TechSpring at Baystate Health will receive an AIM Next Century award at the association's Western Massachusetts employer celebration on September 28 from 4:30-6:30 pm at the Wood Museum of Springfield History. TechSpring, a health-care technology innovation center launched in 2014 by the regional medical services company Baystate Health, provides technology companies access to a live health system to test and validate digital-health solutions. Here is one example:

Next Frontier in Population Health from TechSpring Health on Vimeo.

 Register for the Western Massachusetts Next Century Celebration

Topics: AIM Next Century Award, Technology, Health Care

Using Digital Transformation for Business Success

Posted by Jeffrey Lauria on Sep 13, 2017 1:30:00 PM

Digital.jpg

Editor’s note – Jeffery Lauria is Vice President of Technology at iCorps Technologies. He will be among the presenters during a complimentary four-part webinar series that AIM is presenting entitled “The Digital Transformation.”

If you’re at all tuned in to the business or technology environments of today, you’ve likely heard about the “digital transformation." This popular phrase simply means leveraging innovative technologies to help your business become the best version of itself.

Digital Transformation sounds like something that could be phenomenal for your business, and something you should prioritize… but then daily life steps in and reminds you that you have a business or department to run and employees to keep happy.

So, is digital transformation worth the hype?

Here are three positive results that business organizations have experienced from their digital transformation, then I’ll explain how to take that first step. 

1. Operate efficiently and cost-effectively with the cloud.

At the center of digital transformation sits one key player: the cloud. The maturity of cloud services over the past five years has opened a wealth of opportunities for business of all sizes, providing the capability to streamline tedious processes, scale application usage up or down, and reduce reliance on physical, costly hardware at the same time. The cloud is leveling the field for companies of all sizes.

Many organizations have already dipped a toe in – migrating email or hosting their websites in the cloud, for example. But true digital transformation comes when business leaders think about where they want to be in six, 12 or 18 months and then work with a cloud partner to strategically get them there.

In a study of more than 6,000 executives, International Data Corporation (IDC) found that those businesses strategically consuming more cloud, achieved higher levels of business benefits.1 IDC’s research confirmed that greater levels of cloud maturity are associated with improved business metrics such as top-line revenue increase, improved strategic IT allocation, greater flexibility with reuse of computing assets and IT staff, reduced costs, and increased service performance as key benefits - and the gains increase as cloud use grows.

2. Empower employees to produce and collaborate, anywhere.

The most competitive businesses are leveraging business-class, cloud-based productivity tools to empower their employees to maximize their productivity without sacrificing the security of corporate data.

Today’s on-the-go, mobile employees need convenient access to corporate systems, applications, and information – anywhere, anytime, and from any device – and require the right technology to do so. Maximizing their productivity means enabling them to access company files and documents in the same way they'd access these things from the office.

Whether they're traveling, working from home or visiting clients, the expectation of today’s work force is quick and easy digital access to whatever data is needed to get the job done. Following a study of more than 200 organizations that have deployed Microsoft Office 365, Forrester Research determined that the average mobile worker saved about 15 minutes a day while on the road by accessing, sharing, and syncing files. For 50 mobile employees, that amounts to 750 minutes or 12.5 hours that can be repurposed for real producitivity.2

3. Secure your data so you are resilient against sophisticated cyber threats.

The “here and now” reason to kickstart your digital transformation comes down to security. In May, the WannaCry ransomware attack impacted more than 300,000 unpatched and/or outdated computer systems globally.

Organizations using updated Windows 10 systems were not affected.

Getting more juice out of unsupported servers or outdated operating systems may seem frugal in the moment, but can your organization afford the cost of downtime, data loss and reputational damage when the next WannaCry variant strikes? Scare tactics aside, those who haven’t felt the blow of a ransomware or phishing attack, will at some point if unprepared.

The good news is that IT security vendors are elbowing each other in the race to be first to detect new threats, the best at battling ransomware, or the most comprehensive in threat analysis.

Many of today’s cloud solutions such as Office 365 also have built-in security capabilities. Organizations of all sizes now have access to affordable security technology that was once only attainable for organizations with large IT budgets. It’s just a matter of figuring out which are the best fit for your organization and which mix will keep you protected at all levels from everything from email to vulnerability mitigation.

The Time is Now

Never before have organizations had access to the type of technological resources they have now. Digital transformation is possible today because of advances in technology such as the cloud and cybersecurity, but it’s only valuable to those who enable and leverage its benefits.

Digital transformation will indeed alter the way your organization works for the better, but the transition does not have to be a disruptive one. The most successful companies enlist the expertise and experience of a technology partner that has not only been through the transformation themselves, but helped other organizations navigate their roadmaps.

Small, medium and large companies have taken those steps. Listen to their stories and learn more about the why and how of Digital Transformation during our free webinar series with AIM.

Register for The Digital Transformation

Topics: Technology, Management

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