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    Automating business processes saves time, money and Excel dependency


    Nicole Laskowski


    When Twiddy & Co. Realtors wanted to take a closer look at how much it was spending on work orders for its rental property business, Laura Carver ran into a problem. Data questions were beginning to exceed the limits of the technology at the family-owned Twiddy, which manages one of the largest portfolios of vacation homes on North Carolina's Outer Banks.
    Laura CarverLaura Carver
    "We could see how many work orders we had, but we didn't know how much money we were spending on a specific type of work order," said Carver, chief technology officer at Twiddy.
    The company, which works with some 1,200 vendors to maintain the vacation properties, was interested in seeing a more targeted piece of the pie: How much was it paying vendors to perform certain tasks, such as cleaning pools and hot tubs? And it also wanted to see a comparative picture: Could the company save -- or even make -- money by bringing certain types of work requests in-house?

    "It was taking one person all day long to do that," Carver said. "And sometimes it would take two days."To answer the kinds of questions the business was posing, however, was anything but trivial. Managing more than 950 vacation rental properties generates thousands of work orders -- and data points -- each year. In the case of the pool and hot tub cleaning, for example, just keeping track of vendor schedules was a time-consuming process. At one point, an employee was printing out, then faxing over the schedules for each of the more than 100 pool-cleaning vendors used by the company.
    Moreover, in 2010, when Carver was first asked to provide a more dynamic view of business data, that data didn't reside in a single location, and Excel spreadsheets, one of the only analytics tools at the company's disposal, couldn't turn out more than rudimentary insights. To provide better visibility into the data, Carver needed to combine data from disparate sources, as well as automate business processes, which required more than Excel.
    Carver, a 26-year employee at Twiddy, was determined to find the right tools for the job. "Is there anything out there to help us work smarter and not harder? That's one of the things we always say," she said.
    Working smarter, not harder turned out to be possible with the help of SAS Institute Inc.'s Business Intelligence for Midsize Companies technology. It provided more elaborate views of the data and helped Carver automate certain manual processes. What used to be an eight- to sixteen-hour task -- creating and distributing pool and hot-tub cleaning schedules, for example -- was cut down to 20 minutes.

    Internal support is key to success in automating business processes


    On the front end of the new platform, non-technical employees are given an easy-to-use Web-based interface to run their own reports. On the back end, the technology integrates data from different sources, giving Carver and her team a chance to build reports and other products that give a more intricate look at the data and automate processes.
    To help build those reports and other back-end projects, Carver leads an internal SAS team comprising five members, one from each department within the company, who are all trained to use the software. From May through September, when tourists stream to the Outer Banks, the team "sticks to their knitting," helping to ensure that reservations, check-in procedures and maintenance run smoothly. But during the off season, Carver will gather the SAS team together on a weekly basis to work on departmental projects.
    "If someone has a request for something, they email it to the SAS group, and out of the five of us, someone will create it or troubleshoot or show them what to do," Carver said.
    The push by midmarket and small companies for technology in general -- and analytics in particular -- as a way to innovate, target higher-value customers and improve loyalty is happening more and more, according to a 2012 survey by Deloitte Development LLC, a professional services firm based in New York. A year later, the same survey reported that data analytics was again a top-three investment priority for SMBs, and it also suggested the technology within organizations may be maturing.
    Deloitte's survey also shows that automating business processes has been a consistent, year-over-year priority for the midmarket. "Cloud computing and business automation were the most popular anticipated investments for midmarket companies, as firms look to technology solutions that could help them achieve greater efficiency and workforce productivity," the report reads.

    Working even smarter


    Beyond supporting the business, Twiddy's internal SAS group can also ask each other questions, learn new skills or even scrutinize how processes are working. In one case, the team built and automated a report for call record data, which now takes a matter of minutes to generate rather than hours. In another, the team discovered a billing error they were able to quickly correct.
    "It probably would have been another six months before we figured that out," Carver said. "It's just the benefit of having a team doing the work instead of just an individual."


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    Converged systems usher in data center transformation




    Remember the good old data center? It's on the way out thanks to the rise of converged systems. Gone are the twisted cable masses that connected many servers to one another and the SAN, while an overburdened cooling unit tried desperately to keep the temperature below 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
    TechWatchConverged infrastructure puts multiple servers, networking components -- and sometimes storage -- together in one box and includes a management platform to tie it all together. In these converged systems, hardware is managed as a service and delivered by an internal Platform as a Service (PaaS) cloud infrastructure. The goal here is to enable IT shops to be agile and rapidly deliver assets to the business's users.
    A converged infrastructure system is one way to get a handle on hardware costs. Often, IT equipment consumes more than 70% of the IT budget. With a traditional approach, where IT is made available insilos, many resources are available and paid for, but sometimes aren't used at all -- the phenomenon of IT sprawl. Based on the current business demands on IT, this model isn't cost-effective anymore.
    Customer demand for IT services in the office and on the road has increased dramatically. In those situations, it's not an option to order new hardware and wait days -- or weeks -- before it can be delivered. In a converged infrastructure system the hardware is already there, it just needs to be deployed or provisioned.
    To some extent, a converged infrastructure system is not just a hardware platform, but an overall approach to IT. In such a system, resources like storage, servers, networking, power and cooling and security are all brought together in a pool, from which resources can be allocated when needed. An essential part of the solution is themanagement platform used to bring all these parts together and make them available on demand.
    In a converged system, everything is virtualized. That means that server virtualization, storage virtualization, network virtualization and I/O virtualization are used together and made available from one integrated management interface to deliver resources on demand. This tight integration between virtualization and hardware makes it more difficult to see components as individual pieces instead of one integrated entity.
    To a certain level, an IT shop can create a converged infrastructure system by standardizing and consolidating its technologies. What currently makes it difficult to rapidly deploy PaaS in a cloud environment is the lack of integration and standard components. Once blade servers replace rack servers, it is much easier to develop a management interface to allocate those servers on demand, together with the associated storage and networking. Currently, industry-wide standards are still lacking; that is where different vendors come in with varying technologies.

    Current players in the converged infrastructure game


    Right now, vendors like Hewlett Packard, IBM, Dell and Cisco are pulling their hardware together and offering it as a converged infrastructure system. At this early stage of development, most vendors are looking inward only; the focus is on integrating their own parts, not making them compatible with other vendor offerings. It's a new market and each vendor wants to be the market leader -- there's a lot of money to be earned.
    As it stands, there are a few major players, but that number is increasing rapidly. Here's a short list of product descriptions for today's top offerings.

    HP Converged Infrastructure


    HP's Converged Infrastructure is not really a single product, but a system that brings different components together. It is comprised of four parts. The first is the HP Virtual Resource Pool, where server, storage, network and other key components are virtualized. Second, there is HP Data Center Smart Grid. This helps customers manage and optimize power in their data center by, for example, making it possible to switch off parts of the data center when not in use. Third is HP's Flex Fabric, which integrates the Ethernet and storage networks into one fabric for better management. Finally, HP has placed the HP Matrix Operating Environment on top of the hardware elements. This allows the allocation of resources from a single location.

    Cisco UCS


    Cisco's Unified Computing System (UCS) is as modular as the customer wants it to be and has several interchangeable options. The most important components in a Cisco UCS are the rack, fabric interconnects, proprietary switches and blade servers. All this hardware is managed from Cisco UCS Manager or UCS Express. UCS Manager is the main platform, tightly integrated with firmware on the different hardware components to make deployment of resources easy. UCS Express, on the other hand, is designed for remote management of IT infrastructure in branch offices; it integrates an original equipment manufacturer's version of VMware vSphere and connects to Cisco SRE 700 and 900 servers. These low-end servers have a maximum of 8 GB of RAM and two 500 GB hard drives, and are typically designed for use in branch offices.

    Vblock


    Vblock is a system from VCE, a company that doesn't build its own hardware but focuses on integrating hardware built by others. In the V block model, the customer purchases routers and blades from Cisco that are connected to EMC Storage and joined with VM ware Virtualization to create one integrated solution. VCE builds the solution at their premises and delivers it to the customer site, which means that one or more racks filled with hardware are placed in the customer data center. The advantage of this approach is the work can be finished at the customer site in a minimal amount of time, which means there is little interruption for the customer.

    PureFlex


    IBM is another interesting player in the converged systems game. IBM PureFlex offers systems that are relatively cheap compared with the competition, targeting both large enterprises and medium-sized companies. What is so interesting about the IBM offering is how similar PureFlex systems are to the tried-and-true mainframe. In other words, the company has started doing again what it was already doing decades ago but in different markets.

    Smaller converged infrastructure vendors making a splash


    There are many other vendors in the market of converged infrastructure systems such as Hitachi, Dell, Oracle and NetApp. Their products align with the basics outlined in the systems above, where integrated hardware is sold with management interface software that makes it possible to manage all parts of the system.

    The skeptic's view of converged infrastructure


    Converged infrastructure systems have drawn the attention of some companies, but they aren't cheap. Some of the least costly systemsstart around $100,000, with prices easily rising to more than $1,000,000 per rack. The main argument vendors are using to convince their customers is converged infrastructure systems can cut down costs of operating the IT environment. But how useful is it to save a million dollars on people if you have to spend the same amount of money on hardware every refresh cycle?
    Apart from price, on the current market there seems to be a concern that old technologies are just rebranded to be sold in a box as converged infrastructure systems -- routers, fabrics, switches, blades and management software have all been around for a long time. Maybe a converged infrastructure system is just a rack filled with hardware that is organized in a better way and comes with a bettermanagement interface. And if that is the case, the customer might have other choices than to buy it all from one vendor.
    Converged infrastructure systems are an important step forward in the configuration of the data center, especially since they allow the data center to provide PaaS services. Currently, we're just at the beginning of this game -- characterized by huge investments by the different vendors to develop a platform that works. As a result, interconnectivity is not on the list of developers' concerns, and as the systems are sold as an entity, it is difficult to integrate parts of other vendors. In the current market, there's a huge risk of vendor lock-in at high prices.

    Developing converged systems for the future


    The most important development that needs to happen for converged infrastructure systems is making them open. It is only a matter of time before customers start asking how to integrate products from other vendors, and someone comes along to make interoperability a unique selling point.
    VCE's Vblock already makes small moves in the interoperability realm, but it is still tied down to a few specific vendors. Once the first vendor has started to really open its product, other vendors will follow and cheaper parts will enter the market -- with prices dipping to more reasonable levels as a result.

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    Keeping the lights on: Michigan CIO talks GPS usage, leadership role


    Rachel Lebeaux



    Our SearchCIO-Midmarket 2013 IT Leadership Awards recognize the contributions and innovations of IT professionals within midmarket companies. We put out a call for nominations of individuals who have excelled in six categories: cultural innovation, technological advancement, business value, green IT, IT engagement and customer experience.
    Daniel RyanDaniel Ryan
    IT departments are often charged with "keeping the lights on" -- a catch-all phrase that doesn't really do justice to everything IT accomplishes on behalf of the organization. But to call the work of Daniel M. Ryan, CIO for the city of Battle Creek, Mich., "keeping the lights on" is no slight -- it's a fairly accurate description of how his innovative GPS usage has benefitted his city's 53,000 residents. Ryan turned to GIS-grade global positioning system (GPS) units and Esri ArcPad software for precise field location and attribute collection of all lights, in order to track and maintain 4,000 street lights along 320-plus miles of roadways. In this Q&A, Ryan, a finalist in the 2013 SearchCIO-Midmarket IT Leadership Awards in the business value category, talks about trends in GPS usage, the IT leadership role and other hot technology topics.
    Number of years in IT: 15 plus
    Revenue: $37 million general fund
    Number of employees in the company: 600
    Number of employees in IT: 13
    Educational background: Bachelor's degree in surveying engineering and Master's degree in public administration.
    First job: My first job was as a janitor at a racquet club where I learned a lot of lessons about customer service.
    LinkedIn: Dan Ryan
    What's the best advice you've ever received?
    One of the many bits of advice from my dad: "Work hard, play hard -- but know the difference."

    AN EXCERPT FROM THE NOMINATION

    [Ryan] listens first and then approaches the challenge with an engineered solution that delivers the best results at an economy that the city can afford using -- in this case, multiple technologies that we already owned.
    In the movie of your life, who would play your character?
    Woody Harrelson -- his characters are so underrated.
    If you could have just one superpower, what would it be and why?
    I think that being able to stop time could be incredibly useful for getting things done without interruption, but there are so many excellent fun choices amongst superpowers.
    What's your favorite app on your smartphone or tablet device?
    Great question! So many apps just mimic what I can do at my desktop. Right now, I really like Card Munch as a way to get all those business cards I meant to enter into my contacts list.
    Where do you fall in the iPhone vs. Android debate?
    I currently have an iPhone and like the standardization of the iOS across carriers. So right now, I personally find the iPhone creates fewer issues in the workplace for tech support.
    Describe the best technology decision you ever made.
    Relocating our data center to on-premises at our main building, City Hall. It gave us the opportunity 10 years ago to "green" the data centerand forced us into a smaller, more efficient footprint. An intangible benefit was giving IT a face rather than simply being a faceless consumer of resources and revenue.
    Was there ever a technology that you thought was a gimmick but now couldn't live without?
    GPS. I think back to my early university days, when GPS required mission planning to utilize it to get a position, and I recall articulating that this was a technology that would never have application beyond military use! Now it's in everything and becoming a bit of a commodity.
    What's the biggest challenge you face in IT today?
    Security, more than ever, is the greatest challenge we face as technologists. With BYOD [bring your own device], the consumerization of IT and life in the cloud, there are more demands made upon IT to provide solutions that mimic what employees can do at home in the workplace than ever before.

    EXCERPT FROM THE NOMINATION

    Dan is an exemplary IT leader in that he sees business problems and searches for ways to assist.
    Which role and/or internal partner do you rely upon the most?
    Our purchasing agent.
    What's your prediction for the next big technology?
    If I could predict the next "big technology," I would assemble the team and begin working on it now! Seems the focus has been on smaller, faster and mobile -- we are in need of something really exciting.
    What's your favorite non-monetary benefit or perk of your job?
    I'd have to say my favorite non-monetary perk of the job is being able to talk to people about their business problems and find ways to help them. A lot of my time is spent with our business leaders just listening to what challenges they have in delivering the service of local government.
    What is the biggest problem you see with corporate cultures today?
    Corporate cultures have become undercommunicated, and a shift to managing rather than leading has occurred. It's a natural evolution -- once no one understands why we make widgets, [we] simply focus on counting them.
    What are "rookie mistakes" that you see in up-and-coming IT leaders?
    I'm inclined to say that the "rookie mistakes" in up-and-coming IT leaders is they lack having enough time with a good mentor. As the Baby Boomers leave the workforce, we are entering a time period where the up-and-comers can rise quickly, but without gaining all the understanding of truly leading and having all the soft skills that go with being the IT leader.
    Describe your leadership style.
    I am a very competitive individual and I often think in terms of sportsand analogies. I have created and I lead a high-performing group very similar to being the coach of a high-performing team. You have various egos, skill levels, roles that each employee brings to the table, and my job becomes assessing those components and people so each project sees the most success and the "players" are all placed in a manner that failure is minimized. Sometimes, this means starting a "bench player" or bringing them in for specific items on a project and quickly rotating them out, but the end goal is to "win," or implement our initiatives successfully.

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    How to Assess an Ad's Creativity

    In the early 2000s, Torrance's metrics were adapted to an advertising context by a group around communications researcher Robert Smith from Indiana University. Focusing only on the components that are directly related to how consumers consume and process advertisements, Smith's group defined advertising creativity as the degree of divergence from a norm along five dimensions: originality, flexibility, elaboration, synthesis, and artistic value.
    As we describe in our HBR article, we used Smith's scale to assess the creativity of 437 TV advertising campaigns in Germany. We recruited a panel of representative consumers and asked them to give a response on a scale of one to seven to a series of questions. From these responses we were able to assess the various ads and we found that there was significant divergence across ads in terms of the type of creativity that were most salient. Here's how we defined and assessed the five dimensions:
    Originality
    An original ad comprises elements that are rare, surprising, or move away from the obvious and commonplace. The focal element here is uniqueness of the ideas or features contained in the ad. To assess originality we asked three questions:
    1) Is the ad "out of the ordinary"?
    2) Does it depart from stereotypical thinking?
    3) Is it unique?
    The highest originality score was given to Coca Cola's "Happiness Factory." The panelists unanimously gave it the maximum score of 7.0. This ad also scored 6.3 for artistic value.
    Flexibility
    Flexibility is seen in an ad's ability to link a product to a range of different uses or ideas. We asked panelists the following questions to assess it:
    • Does the ad contain ideas that move from one subject to another?
    • Does it contain different ideas?
    • Does it shift from one idea to another?
    The highest creativity score was given to Jacob Krönung's "Time for Chatting" ad that respondents rated at 5.0. This was by some margin the ad's highest-scoring creativity dimension.
    English translation: We think its great that you men are practical in nature. That you are ready to tackle any challenge and never give up. Because Jacobs Krönung has given us time: time to talk, time to enjoy the new coffee specialties from Jacobs Krönung for Tassimo.
    Elaboration
    Many ads are creative because they contain unexpected details or extend basic ideas so they become more intricate and complicated. We again asked respondents three questions:
    • Does the ad contain numerous details?
    • Does it extend basic ideas and make them more intricate?
    • Does it contain more details than expected?
    The highest score in this dimension (4.0) was given to the Ehrmann Yogurt "Strawberry Tongue" ad, although this was not the ad's highest creativity factor (it scored 5.0 for artistic value).
    Synthesis
    An ad that is creative along this dimension blends normally unrelated objects or ideas. To assess it we asked the following:
    • Does the ad connect objects that are usually unrelated?
    • Does it contain unusual connections?
    • Does it bring unusual items together?
    The highest synthesis score (6.3) was awarded to Wrigley's Juice Fruit Squish "Juicy Fruit Ranch" ad. But this was not the ad's highest score (like the Coke ad, it took 7.0 for originality).
    English translation: Background voice: "These are Martin and Schnuffler (male character pointing towards two rabbits). These are their friends (pointing towards more rabbits). This is the production. This is Betsy." Betsy: "Hello, I am Betsy." Voiceover: "Crispy on the outside. Fruity on the inside. Juicy Fruit Squish."
    Artistic Value
    Ads with a high level of artistic creativity contain aesthetically appealing verbal, visual or sound elements. Their production quality is high, their dialog is clever, their color palettes is original, or their choice of music is somehow memorable. To assess artistic value we ask again three questions:

    • Is the ad visually or verbally distinctive?
    • Does it make ideas come to life graphically or verbally?
    • Is it artistic in its production?
    The Danone Fantasia Flavor Trip ad gave us the highest score for artistic value (6.67). This ad also scored highly for originality (6.67 as well) and elaboration (6.33).
    English translation: New from Danone: Fantasia. Wonderful creamy yogurt. Go on a taste voyage. Let yourself be seduced by Fantasia. For a fantastic €0,29.
    As we explain more fully in our article, these was considerable variation in overall creativity across the 437 campaigns we assessed. On the 1-7 scale the average overall creativity score was 2.98, the lowest 1.00, and the highest 6.20. We also found the biggest sales impact from creativity came when two dimensions were emphasized in an ad and there was clear pecking order in terms of which combinations were best.
    Combining elaboration with originality had almost double the average impact of a creative pairing on sales, closely followed by the combination of Artistic Value and Originality (1.89, accounting for 11% of all combos). The weakest combination was flexibility and elaboration, which had less than half the average pairing's impact on sales. Yet we found that in terms of usage there was little difference between them: advertisers did not seem to favor any one combination over the other.
    Perhaps the most valuable contribution of our study is that it shows how ad professionals and their clients might better channel the energies of their creative people. By applying research methodologies like ours they can have a better sense of what kind of creativity matters the most for their products and place their creativity investments accordingly.


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    Neurons that can multitask greatly enhance the brain's computational power, study finds



    Neurons that can multitask greatly enhance the brain's computational power, study finds May 20, 2013 by Anne Trafton in Neuroscience Enlarge An artist's impression depicting a network of neurons of the nervous system. 

    Neurons that can multitask greatly enhance the brain’s computational power, study finds


    Credit: MAURIZIO DE ANGELIS/WELLCOME IMAGES

     Over the past few decades, neuroscientists have made much progress in mapping the brain by deciphering the functions of individual neurons that perform very specific tasks, such as recognizing the location or color of an object. Ads by Google GoDaddy - Official Site - Rs 109 Limited Time Domain Sale Register Your Domain Now! - in.GoDaddy.com However, there are many neurons, especially in brain regions that perform sophisticated functions such as thinking and planning, that don't fit into this pattern.

     Instead of responding exclusively to one stimulus or task, these neurons react in different ways to a wide variety of things. MIT neuroscientist Earl Miller first noticed these unusual activity patterns about 20 years ago, while recording the electrical activity of neurons in animals that were trained to perform complex tasks.

     "We started noticing early on that there are a whole bunch of neurons in the prefrontal cortex that can't be classified in the traditional way of one message per neuron," recalls Miller, the Picower Professor of Neuroscience at MIT and a member of MIT's Picower Institute for Learning and Memory.

     In a paper appearing in Nature on May 19, Miller and colleagues at Columbia University report that these neurons are essential for complex cognitive tasks, such as learning new behavior. The Columbia team, led by the study's senior author, Stefano Fusi, developed a computer model showing that without these neurons, the brain can learn only a handful of behavioral tasks. 

    "You need a significant proportion of these neurons," says Fusi, an associate professor of neuroscience at Columbia. "That gives the brain a huge computational advantage." Lead author of the paper is Mattia Rigotti, a former grad student in Fusi's lab. Multitasking neurons Miller and other neuroscientists who first identified this neuronal activity observed that while the patterns were difficult to predict, they were not random. 

    "In the same context, the neurons always behave the same way. It's just that they may convey one message in one task, and a totally different message in another task," Miller says. Ads by Google Show your ad here - Rs.2000 credit and 30 day support Advertise Now! - www.Google.com/AdWords For example, a neuron might distinguish between colors during one task, but issue a motor command under different conditions. Miller and colleagues proposed that this type of neuronal flexibility is key to cognitive flexibility, including the brain's ability to learn so many new things on the fly. "You have a bunch of neurons that can be recruited for a whole bunch of different things, and what they do just changes depending on the task demands," he says.

     At first, that theory encountered resistance "because it runs against the traditional idea that you can figure out the clockwork of the brain by figuring out the one thing each neuron does," Miller says. For the new Nature study, Fusi and colleagues at Columbia created a computer model to determine more precisely what role these flexible neurons play in cognition, using experimental data gathered by Miller and his former grad student, Melissa Warden. 

    That data came from one of the most complex tasks that Miller has ever trained a monkey to perform: The animals looked at a sequence of two pictures and had to remember the pictures and the order in which they appeared.

     During this task, the flexible neurons, known as "mixed selectivity neurons," exhibited a great deal of nonlinear activity—meaning that their responses to a combination of factors cannot be predicted based on their response to each individual factor (such as one image). Expanding capacity Fusi's computer model revealed that these mixed selectivity neurons are critical to building a brain that can perform many complex tasks. 

    When the computer model includes only neurons that perform one function, the brain can only learn very simple tasks. However, when the flexible neurons are added to the model, "everything becomes so much easier and you can create a neural system that can perform very complex tasks," Fusi says. The flexible neurons also greatly expand the brain's capacity to perform tasks. In the computer model, neural networks without mixed selectivity neurons could learn about 100 tasks before running out of capacity. 

    That capacity greatly expanded to tens of millions of tasks as mixed selectivity neurons were added to the model. When mixed selectivity neurons reached about 30 percent of the total, the network's capacity became "virtually unlimited," Miller says—just like a human brain. Mixed selectivity neurons are especially dominant in the prefrontal cortex, where most thought, learning and planning takes place.

     This study demonstrates how these mixed selectivity neurons greatly increase the number of tasks that this kind of neural network can perform, says John Duncan, a professor of neuroscience at Cambridge University. "Especially for higher-order regions, the data that have often been taken as a complicating nuisance may be critical in allowing the system actually to work," says Duncan, who was not part of the research team. 

    Miller is now trying to figure out how the brain sorts through all of this activity to create coherent messages. There is some evidence suggesting that these neurons communicate with the correct targets by synchronizing their activity with oscillations of a particular brainwave frequency.

     "The idea is that neurons can send different messages to different targets by virtue of which other neurons they are synchronized with," Miller says. "It provides a way of essentially opening up these special channels of communications so the preferred message gets to the preferred neurons and doesn't go to neurons that don't need to hear it." 

    View at the original source

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    IkeaBot Assembles Furniture Using “Common Sense”

    by NANCY DUVERGNE SMITH
    Assembling popular Swedish furniture may help the masses, but it’s only a hint of what goes on in MIT’s Distributed Robotics Laboratory. How the bots do it is the breakthrough. According to a recent IEEE Spectrum article, the bots are fully autonomous and need no human help to whip together a Lack table in 10 minutes. The magic is in the software and the grippers—and that magic can be applied to industrial-scale problems in manufacturing.
    Ross A. Knepper, a postdoctoral associate, is leading the effort to teach a team of commercially available KUKA youBots to assemble the furniture. In an earlier life, he created motion planners that drive Mars rovers, unmanned military vehicles, and a personal home-assistant robot called HERB.
    With the Ikeabot, Knepper is tackling a key problem in robotics with savvy algorithms.
    “A lot of problems in factory automation are similar to the problem in Ikea furniture assembly,” says Knepper. “There are many robots in factories but they perform very simple functions. In the future, we want robots that can move around in the factory and interact with people…so they can be treated as teammates, not just tools.”
    Knepper is writing code that creates the kind of common sense that allows humans to work side by side intuitively. “If you imagine two people assembling furniture together, they can infer what the other is doing—they don’t have to explain it. [The IKeabots] are trying to infer how parts fit together and the logical order of assembly.”
    Using a natural language feature, the robots can ask for help. If they can’t reach a part, for example, they find a human and ask that the part be handed to them, and then they continue to work.
    Space requirements have guided much of robot research in the past few decades, Knepper says. In space, robots need a higher order of intelligence to solve problems and work independently. The payoff may be closer to home though—on the factory floor. Using intelligent robots could help rebuild manufacturing and create jobs in the US. “We will need highly skilled people to operate the robots and robots and humans can trade off jobs,” he says. “You can have a much more efficient process.”
    What’s next for the Ikeabot? The team is working on an Allen Wrench glove that the robot can put on and off as needed, and the future is about groups of robots working collaboratively with one another—and with people. And all that fits neatly into the Distributed Robotics Laboratory, which is headed by Daniela Rus, director of the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL). DRL is known for research in programmable matter and distributed robotics. In fact, the lab’s robots have many talents: they can end a garden, bake cookies from scratch, fly in swarms to perform surveillance functions, and dance with humans.
    Want the details? Download “The IkeaBot: An Autonomous Multi-Robot Coordinated Furniture Assembly System,” which was nominated for Best Automation Paper at the International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA)in Karlsruhe, Germany, May 2013.

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    'Culture of Purpose' Is Key To Success According To New Research From Deloitte

    Deloitte Chairman Punit Renjen
    Deloitte Chairman Punit Renjen
    Interview with Deloitte Chairman Punit Renjen…
    There is a link between organizations that instill a sense of purpose and their long-term success, says a new survey  just released by Deloitte. Yet, businesses are still not doing enough to create this sense of purpose and make a positive impact on all stakeholders.  In fact, according to the report, 91% of respondents who said their company has a strong sense of purpose also said their company has a history of strong financial performance.  However, 68% of employees and 66% of executives believe businesses do not do enough to create a sense of purpose and deliver meaningful impact.  So says Deloitte Chairman Punit Renjen who has been out and about evangelizing for the power of purpose.   “Our research reveals the need for organizations to cultivate and foster a culture of purpose,” says Chairman Renjen.

    Yet there is a larger and very personal mission that drives this innovative business leader.   The financial melt-down that began in the fall of 2008 and the rise of the Occupy Wall Street movement that it inspired was a defining moment for Punit.  Through interviews with the media and then in speaking engagements that he did at various campuses around the world during those  times, the Deloitte Chairman was regularly challenged to justify business in general and even more specifically Deloitte’s reason for being beyond returning profits to its partners.  “I found it disconcerting that business has been cast in a not so positive light,” said PunitWhat’s the leader of the world’s largest audit, tax and consulting firm doing preaching about what seems like a squishy business attribute like “purpose”?  As Punit tells me, “exceptional firms have always been good at aligning their mission or purpose with their execution, and as a result have enjoyed category leadership in sales and profits,” (think Whole Foods, Tom’s Shoes or even Apple).  This seems particularly clear for companies where the founder is still very much involved in the business or where the founder’s ethos is culturally ingrained in the organization.  Companies that are singularly focused on exceeding customer expectations tend to fall into this category.  “So there is an empirical financial benefit to organizations that instill a purpose-driven culture,” says Punit.
    According to Punit, businesses have a bigger issue than just the standard challenges of profit and loss.  Most suffer from a lack of a clear purpose in the minds of customers.  Punit began devoting himself and his firm to understanding the issue as a driver of financial outcomes (hence the research) and to committing to ensure his own firm’s mission and purpose was clearly understood by its customers and its nearly 60,000 employees in the U.S.  During these challenging times, Deloitte invested $300 million in training and education for its employees with the introduction of Deloitte University.  In the midst of the recession, high performing professionals received raises.  It was the kind of action exceptional companies do.  “It’s not just words on a piece of paper,” said Punit.  This hits home with Millennials who are particularly motivated by this concept of purpose and skeptical of business.  And talent attraction and retention is key to a knowledge business like Deloitte.
    Building a purpose focused culture is also not just about supporting social responsibility activities.  “It first comes from treating customers well.  It’s not about transactions, but about building a relationship that exceeds expectation,” says Punit.  “My goal is to change the conversation about what makes companies succeed,” Punit continues. And certainly the mission is good for Deloitte and serves to position the firm as a thought leader in how businesses operate best in today’s complicated, global economy.  But perhaps more importantly, as Punit states frankly, “it just feels good.”

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    Data Driven Content Marketing Strategies in Higher Education

     • By: Kaila Strong  
    Data Driven Content Marketing Strategies in Higher Education
    Marketers today have access to more data on website visitors, e-mail subscribers, leads and social media fans than ever before. Leveraging this data, in addition to demographic data, helps to ensure marketers can produce the best content for prospective customers. That is, when it’s actually examined and used properly.
    Many brands are new to content marketing and use of data, and properly laid out strategies often fall to the wayside. Harvard Business Review reports an estimated 89% of marketers make customer related decisions based on factors other than analytics. It’s imperative to understand how best to execute a data driven content marketing strategy for the best results in today’s online environment. This is especially true in the world of higher education marketing.
    Today’s prospective online students are barraged with ads, e-mails, tweets, pop ups and other forms of marketing from the large array of schools offering degrees. Consumers are growingly aware of marketing tactics, which requires marketers to be extra creative. Learning to develop a data driven content marketing strategy will ultimately aid in being able to deliver the content students are looking for and improve the effectiveness of your marketing efforts.

    What is Data Driven Content Marketing?

    Data driven content marketing utilizes data, statistics, market research, surveys and/or public data to dictate a content strategy. Producing content based on the backing of numbers and research is one way to tactically execute the development of content for maximum results.
    The term is also used to describe the use of data to create content such as Infographics, case studies, blog posts, video and images. By discovering a unique idea to cover with data, asking the right questions, or adding the right data sets you’re able to create data-driven content. For the purposes of this blog post, however, we’ll focus more on the use of data to drive marketing efforts not data focused content.

    Data Points Available for Higher Education Content Marketers

    There are many third party data resources available to you as marketers. In addition, your own site can serve as a place to gather data too – even if you haven’t started utilizing a formal content marketing strategy. Here are a few of the data points you can use in higher education to help start driving your content strategy.

    Student Demographic Data

    Higher Education Demographic
    An example of a higher education demographic study that can be used as a data point for content marketing. Source: Arizona State University.
    As a higher education marketer you’re likely to have done extensive research on who the prospective students are for your institution. Each degree program is catered to a different student and having a handle on who that individual is will of course be important to any marketing initiatives. Make sure you’re examining this information and using this data to focus your content marketing efforts to attract that individual. Some third party resources are provided below that may help you understand students a bit better as well.
    Using your website analytics program such as Google Analytics, you’re able to see some limited demographic data such as: language and location.  Dive deeply into the location of your visitors and review possible opportunities to focus content on a specific geo-area as well. Examine data on your Facebook page as well using Insights. You may find a lot of valuable information about your current student body or prospects. Insights helps you see gender, location, and age of your fans on Facebook.

    Site Visitors: Visits, Time of Day, Time Onsite and % Return Visits

    Another data source that can provide insight for content marketing is found on your site with visitor information, time of day, time on site and % of return visits. Looking at the content that currently draws in the most visitors, what time of day they access this content, how long they spend on that content and the type of content that visitors return to are all important areas to examine. Tailoring your strategies to address areas where visitors most frequent, return to often or stay on longer are all ways in which you can use data to support your initiatives. Develop the content that is already working for your site visitors, spend more of your efforts on those initiatives than ones that aren’t producing the same results. Analyze the numbers and get smart about why you’re developing content.

    E-mail Open Rates & Click Through Rates

    Do you send out regular e-mails to prospective students – maybe a newsletter or other marketing materials? Take the time to examine your e-mail open rates and click throughs on links contained within your e-mails. Which e-mails get opened most? Which links get clicked on the most? What insight can you gain from looking at this information?
    E-mail subject lines and content contained within this marketing effort can provide you with insight that can be applied to future efforts. Examine this data, provide the type of content that performs well and you’ll be better off when trying to promote using e-mail marketing in the future.
    Examining click through rates within your site, using Google Webmaster Tools and tracking URLs are also great ways to gather information on content effectiveness. Figure out why your prospects click on links, determine any patterns in the reasons why they perform that action and execute content initiatives that help replicate this pattern.

    Third Party Data 

    Polling

    Have you ever used Google consumer surveys? These fast, affordable and accurate customer market research surveys allow you to discover key insights from users across the web. Learn how it works here, as a potential opportunity to gather data.
    Consider also polling your existing e-mail subscriber base or setting up a poll on your website that visitors can take, helping answer questions such as: content type they like the most (blog, images, video, etc…), where they go to find content (trade publications, magazines, blogs, etc…), and what content helps them understand more about a degree program. The types of questions you can ask are are endless, just take the time to really think through the poll and what information you are looking to gather from it.

    Gathering Data

    Data.gov is another site with valuable information providing “public access to high value, machine readable datasets generated by the Executive Branch of the Federal Government.” Check back to see if any data is currently available to help you understand your demographic and changes that take place with those individuals on an annual basis.
    Additionally research into demographic data and marketing strategy is provided below. Have an article that you find useful? Share with us in the comments below and we’ll add it to this list:

    Preparing Your Site to Measure Content Data

    Now that you have a pretty good idea on what data to measure, you’ll want to dive into preparing your site to gather information and setting up baselines.
    One suggestion is to set up Google Analytics to understand how prospective students utilize content onsite to gather information during such a long customer cycle. Josh Braaten, Sr. Online Marketing Manager at Rasmussen College, describes how he has worked with Google Analytics to set up multi-content funnels. This helps him to examine how users interact with web content on their path to conversion, and he’s able to make changes based on the path a user takes. This is a worthwhile read for anyone in higher education looking to gather content data and prove the value as well.
    Having the means to gather data is important to the entire process of data driven content marketing. Ensure that your site is ready to gather data and use a reputable website analytics program. Test out the program and make sure code loads properly and is tracking effectively as well. Write down baselines and examine those monthly, quarterly, semi-annually and yearly.
    An example if a Muti-channel funnel in Google Analytics
    An example if a Muti-channel funnel in Google Analytics

    Data Driven Content Marketing Best Practices

    Lastly, it’s integral for your success to cover some of the best practices that are important to thoroughly understanding data driven content marketing. Here are just a few…. Feel free to add your own in the comments below.
    1. Segment and/or update your subscriber lists – make sure you have your e-mail marketing lists set up to accommodate promoting niche e-mail users. It’s pointless to promote niche content to prospective students who aren’t interested in that degree program, so make sure your e-mail lists are segmented to accommodate.
    2. Focus on quality over quantity: clean up your lists – have you de-duped your e-mail subscriber lists lately? How about checking for spam and validating e-mail addresses? Spend some time every few months ensuring you have a quality list of e-mail subscribers.
    3. Share data across departments – it’s always wise to share data that you gather from your research with other departments. Sometimes data you glean from how content performs on your site can help your PR department as well as sales or account managers. Imagine if a piece of content was providing a lot of use for online visitors, don’t you think a sales team or account management team could provide this content to help sell a student as well? Ensure you’re sharing data across multiple departments.
    4. Execute using the data you find – certainly it’s one thing to research and have a lot of useful observations available, but how well are you actually executing? Make sure your follow through matches your intent with data driven content marketing.
    5. Don’t make assumptions about your data – an incredible piece of advice is to really understand the data you’re looking at and avoiding assumptions with data. Avinash Kaushik has an insightful blog that provides great digital marketing advice, and one article “Eight Silly Data Myths Marketing People Believe That Get Them Fired“ is an awesome read. He goes over several myths with data that you should avoid, and helps you in understanding some of the basic concepts data should help you observe.
    Data driven content marketing is the smart way to execute content. Use these tips to help you propel your content marketing strategy to the next level.

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    4 Reasons Why Content Marketing Should Care About Audience Development



    Over the past year, questions about content marketing effectiveness are beginning to surface. The Content Marketing Institute as well as a survey sponsored by eConsultancy, indicated belief in effectiveness was under 40%. Most recently, SiriusDecisions made this statement:


    “Fully 60 to 70 percent of content churned out by b-to-b marketing departments today sits unused. This stark statistic underscores the urgent need for a content revolution in b-to-b organizations.”


    There is consistency on both the customer/buyer as well as the seller side regarding this issue. In my qualitative research work in the past year, this view was evident. Digging into the “why” is the challenge. Some 4 “whys” I’ve noticed:


    Skipping to the Solution


    One of the reasons this is occurring is the act of jumping to the solution too quickly. You can call it education material, insight, information, and etc. However, reading between the lines, content is loaded with non-value messaging. Content is filled with the usual “we are great, we know your problem, and we have the greatest solution” messaging.


    Product Marketing Origins


    Some companies have been product-centric for decades. Reshaping such DNA is not an easy transition some are finding out. When the majority of content is being produced from the product marketing or management epic center, it is hard to resist. Resist what you ask? The temptation to talk about how great the product is.


    Sales Driven


    Contrary to the above, some organizations have been sales-centric for years. Thus, putting enormous pressure on marketing to generate sales-ready leads. Patience for nurturing may be on the low-end of the scale. The result is content bleeds “selling” in every way.


    One Size Fits All


    Some organizations have not moved beyond the “single” view of the buyer. Content is oriented towards this single view in all aspects. Thus, content is not developed for other members of the buying team nor external influencers. I include in this category firms too focused on a single buyer persona.


    The Audience Development Manifesto


    Three categories of buyer behavior getting plenty of notice recently are:


    • Not in the market to buy


    • Not ready to buy


    • Do nothing


    Read them again. If all content is oriented towards “ready to buy”, then it is no wonder 60 to 70 percent of content goes unread or unused. Let this voice of a buyer interview subject do the talking:


    “It is important to stay abreast of new ideas, trends, technology, and the likes. But, some just make it difficult to do so. Everything is set up to sell me something right away. So I am reluctant to give details about myself.” (Vice President, Mortgage Operations)


    If your content is product-centric or sales-centric in the wrong place, time, or situation, this may be the voice of your potential buyers.


    Audience-Centric


    We are seeing the term audience-centric used more often. What does this mean exactly? The obvious is to develop content specific to an audience. To do so implies not skipping the first step of knowing your audience.



    First Step


    The first step to be taken is to gain an understanding of segmenting 3 types of personas which are reflected in the Persona Buying Cycle™:


    Audience persona: oriented towards “not in the market to buy.” Understanding how to meet the needs and goals of people as well as companies who fall into this category is pivotal. It can include a wide spectrum of industry influencers to non-buying teams in prospect companies. Sound audience development messaging begins with understanding audience personas.


    Lead persona: oriented towards “not ready to buy” but have needs and goals specific to their role as well as situation. As we have seen often in buying teams, team members are assigned research and evaluation roles, which can take place over a 6 to 12 months period. Sound lead nurturing begins with understanding lead personas.


    Buyer persona: understanding when the buying cycle “kicks” into sales-ready mode is crucial. Buyer personas should be specific to active participation in the process of buying. Buyers can and will choose the “do nothing” choice. If so, you may be able to trace this back to a lack of understanding your buyer personas.
    Armed with the knowledge of how these three distinct personas behave can help lead to this summary point:
    Improving content marketing effectiveness requires an audience development strategy.



    A plain and simple statement yet with much work to be done.




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    Competitive Advantage Is Dead. Here's What To Do About It.


    The longstanding premise of corporate strategy has been to help companies identify their “sustainable competitive advantage” in the marketplace, and then exploit it over time. It was a nice idea while it lasted, says Columbia Business School professor Rita Gunther McGrath, but those days are over. In her forthcoming book The End of Competitive Advantage: How to Keep Your Strategy Moving as Fast as Your Businessshe argues that business is now evolving too rapidly for anything to be sustainable. The real secret to success may be knowing when it’s time to quit or adapt.
    “If you accept the idea that advantages are temporary, a lot of corporate structures don’t make sense,” she told me during an interview at the recentNational Association of Broadcasters conference, where we were both speakers. The next wave of strategy should instead encourage companies to “build up an advantage, exploit it – and then get out of it. But it’s tempting to stick with it longer than you should.”
    Indeed, executive success is often measured by how many people you manage or how much budget you control – a powerful disincentive to call it quits when a market shift is underway. “Imagine you’re the Walkman group at Sony,” she says. “Someone says [the future] will be all digital, and how do you feel about it? Incredibly threatened and depressed!” She argues for a budgeting model that isn’t tied to specific senior executives (the old model allows too many executives to allocate funds without questioning whether their project should be funded at all) and encourages companies to budget quarterly, rather than annually. 
    Part of the challenge is learning to reframe the notion of competition. “We used to think our main competition was within our industry, not coming from other industries,” says McGrath. “But if you’re a restauranteur today, your main competition is not other pizza parlors. [With limited customer dollars at stake], it’s Apple or Verizon. It’s a really different way of thinking about competition.”
    It’s no longer enough to cultivate deep expertise in your business, she says. Instead, “the capacity you want to create is networks and the ability to move quickly and learn to be dynamic.” She admits it won’t be easy; many executives are good “idea people,” and some are terrific at executing those ideas. “But very few of us are going to be good at saying, ‘it’s over,’” she says.
    The mentality you need to cultivate is the ability to “get into and out of spaces” while understanding that every innovation or advantage is likely to be overtaken within a short time period – maybe a year or two. That market dynamism also has personal implications for your career. “Individuals need to take responsibility for their own career,” she says. “It’s permanent job hunt mode. You have to develop commercially marketable skills. Have you learned a new skill in the last two years, even though you think it may not be directly related to your job?…Far too many people land in one corporation and that’s all they know – and that makes you very vulnerable.”
    Do you agree that the era of sustainable competitive advantage is over? How are you adapting?

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    How to Teach About the Effects of Agriculture on Biodiversity



    The ways used to grow crops and raise animals can have either good or bad impacts on biodiversity. On one hand, farmers can support biodiversity through careful farming methods. On the other hand, if farmers are not careful, the environment and organisms on and near the farm can be harmed. This article explains how teachers can teach the possible impacts of farming on biodiversity and provides some ideas for what a farmer can do to mitigate negative
    consequences to biodiversity. Students can apply this information for projects or for interactions with a local farming community to share knowledge between each other.


    Steps

    1. Explain the impacts of pesticides use. Using pesticides can have unexpected and unwanted side effects. Often, the same chemicals that farmers apply to get rid of crop pests harm other species living around the farm. Some of these species may actually help to control the real crop pests! For example, DDT (Dichloro-Diphenyl-Trichloroethane) is a powerful pesticide that is poisonous to not only insects, but also animals and humans. DDT is so powerful it was banned in many countries, however, some countries that face malaria problems still use it to kill mosquitoes.

    2.Teach about the impacts of overuse of natural resources. If farmers are not careful in their use of natural resources, farming activities can decrease the amount of resources available to grow food. When there are not enough nutrients in the soil, farmers often buy chemical fertilizers. Using fertilizers can help grow more food, but using too much can pollute the water. Polluted water affects organisms that drink the water or that live in it. For example, too many pollutants can kill fish. Water pollutants also affect our health, as it decreases the amount of clean water to drink, wash and grow crops.

    3. Explore the impacts of industrial farming. Some industrial farms mass-produce a few select breeds in their quest to produce more meat, milk or eggs. This practice, however, leads to a decline in livestock diversity. The same principle applies to crops. As the number of varieties decreases, existing crops become increasingly at risk to destruction by disease and pests. If crops are all identical, it is much easier for a new disease or pest to wipe out an entire harvest. The less diversity farmers maintain, the greater the risk of diseases and pests. This increase in risk means farmers apply more pesticides to the crop fields or administer antibiotics to the animals.

    4. Help students to be aware of the interconnections between farming and negative biodiversity impacts. Farming usually changes the landscape, the water, the air and biodiversity. For example:
    • Construction workers build roads so that trucks can pick up farm produce and take it to markets.

    • When farmers cut trees to create space for growing crops or raising livestock, they also reduce natural water filtration (cleaning) and available habitats for many species.

    • Tractors and other farm machinery emit air pollutants.

    • In some areas, farming brings enormous changes to the landscape. In parts of the Amazon, large tracts of forests have been cut down and replaced by monoculture (one crop) farming or pastures for cattle grazing. These changes reduce the number and variety of habitats available for species. Without suitable habitats, hundreds of species, including trees, vines, plants, birds, snakes, frogs and mammals, can no longer live in the area. The end result is a loss of biodiversity.
    5. Have the students research the positive interconnections between farming and biodiversity. There are also many positive examples of how farmers find a perfect balance between agriculture and biodiversity. For instance:
    • In some areas, the land does not change much. Some farmers use the landscape as it is. For example, grasslands are natural pastures for many farm animals or wild herbivores. Many farmers do not fence in these natural pastures so that wild herbivores can use them too. Leaving the pastures open can be risky – carnivores may prey on farm animals.
    • Other farmers design their farms to minimize changes to the natural landscape. They might even try to enhance biodiversity on and around the farm. They can promote biodiversity by using sustainable farming methods such as including both plants and trees in one field, using little or no pesticides and planting a variety of crops.
    6. Explore the ways in which agricultural activities that promote and protect biodiversity. There are numerous ways that farming can promote biodiversity conservation. Here are just a few of them:
    • Farmers who choose to spray chemicals, can make sure to always follow the instructions carefully to minimize the damage to other harmless species.

    • Rotate crops. When farmers are careful and manage resources sustainably, they can help preserve biodiversity and the environment. Many farmers around the world use sustainable farming and organic or ecological farming methods. One method is to grow two or more crops in the same field. This helps the farmer reduce crop pests while using fewer pesticides. Another method is to avoid applying pesticides on rainy or windy days so less pesticide will enter waterways causing pollution or get blown away.

    • Use trees as part of regular farming practice. Trees can act as natural water filters. Their roots absorb rainwater, and minimize the amount of runoff entering rivers and lakes. Runoff often carries pesticides from farmers’ fields that can damage aquatic ecosystems.

    • Keep the soil filled with beneficial organisms. A handful of farm dirt is rich in biodiversity. Soil biodiversity includes animals, bacteria, fungi and even the roots of plants growing above. Soils form complex ecosystems that make farming possible. There are millions of organisms that live in soil — microorganisms, such as bacteria and fungi, and macroorganisms, such as worms, mites, ants and spiders. These organisms can help farmers to reduce the negative effects of farming. When they eat and dig underground, earthworms, termites and other burrowing organisms mix the upper layers, redistribute nutrients and increase the amount of water absorbed by the soil. Some macroorganisms are critical to local farming techniques. Farmers in Burkina Faso and in other areas of West Africa encourage termites to live and burrow in their farm plots because they improve the soil.

    Things You'll Need

    • Examples of farming practices - use magazines, TV, internet etc. to find examples

    View Shyam's contribution to wikiHow

    Article provided by wikiHow, a wiki how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Teach About the Effects of Agriculture on Biodiversity. All content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons license.


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    Robot exoskeleton suits that could make us superhuman


    Lockheed Martin's HULC exoskeleton is designed to allow soldiers to carry superhuman loads. Lockheed Martin's HULC exoskeleton is designed to allow soldiers to carry superhuman loads.

    Lockheed Martin HULC

    (CNN) -- If you've been dreaming of strapping on your own "Iron Man" armor, you might have to wait a while longer. But revolutionary "bionic exoskeletons," like the metal suit worn by comic book hero Tony Stark, might be closer than you think -- just don't expect to fly away in one.
    Exoskeleton developers working in rehabilitation are leading the way, creating wearable robotic suits that allow people with lower-body paralysis to walk upright again.
    Other developers are hoping to enhance users' existing strengths, with the DARPA Warrior Web project aiming to produce an undetectable under-suit exoskeleton for the U.S. Military.
    Bionics expert Thomas Sugar says that medical and military exoskeletons are going to become a much more common sight -- and that exoskeletons for the average person are not fae behind 
     "In the next five years we're going to see more and more exoskeletons out there in practice," says Sugar, associate professor at the Department of Engineering, Arizona State University.
    In addition to personal systems being pioneered in Japan that aim to "give aging people a spring back in their step," Sugar says devices for the active individual or "weekend hiker" are on the horizon: "If you live near where I do and want to go out and hike the Grand Canyon, exoskeleton devices 10-15 years from now could assist you to do that."
    But there are hurdles that need to be overcome. Finding batteries powerful enough to fuel an exoskeleton's motorized joints remains a key stumbling block, explains Sugar. But he says that the real acid test for exoskeletons of the future is whether the device can interpret the user's intent effectively into action.
    "If you look at some of the devices out there, they're actually quite hard to walk in," says Sugar. "You've got to make sure they really enhance people's abilities."
    Here are some of the most advanced exoskeletons aiming to supercharge our lives in the near future.
    Lockheed Martin HULC
    Defense technology developer Lockheed Martin leads the efforts to develop a exoskeleton fit for the battlefield with its Human Universal Load carrir.
     The system aims to divert up to 200 lbs in weight through powered titanium legs while allowing the user to move freely.
    Lockheed claims that a fully laden soldier will retain the ability to march at 3mph and even break into 10mph sprint "bursts" while wearing the battery-powered HULC.
    The system is designed to reduce the stress on the leg and back muscles -- a common cause of injury among soldiers -- and comes with a Lift Assist Device attachment that allows a soldier to safely lift heavy loads with the strength of two or more men.
    Cyberdyne HAL-5
    HAL made news at the time of the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster in 2011, when Japanese firm Cyberdyne ventured its robot suits as the disaster-fighting protection of the future.
    While a radiation-resistant model is yet to see action, HAL-5 Type-B has become the first personal exoskeleton robot to receive a global safety certificate.
    Cyberdyne says that so far, 330 of the full-body exoskeletons have been leased to hospitals across Japan, where they assist patients with muscle weakness or disabilities due to stroke and spinal cord injuries.
    The company boasts that it is the world's first "cyborg-type robot" as the system interprets faint electrical signals in the skin around damaged muscles and moves the motorized joints in response.
    Muscle Suit by Kobalab
    Scientists from Tokyo University are gambling that they can beat the competition to launch a superstrong exoskeleton by shunning complex computer systems.
    Kobayashi Labs' Muscle Suit replaces electronic actuator motors with a system of inflatable pneumatic "artificial muscles" to help nurses or care workers carry elderly or ill patients.
    Volunteers have been invited to try on the suit, which currently allows users to support 50kg with ease, carrying it with fixed arms, like a walking forklift truck.
    Argo ReWalk
    Argo's ReWalk has already propelled former chiropractor Claire Lomas into the record books. Five years after a horseriding accident left Lomas paralyzed from the chest down, she became the first person to complete a marathon in a bionic exoskeleton at the London Marathon in May 2012, while using the ReWalk.
    Already on the market for $65,000, the ReWalk enables people with spinal cord injuries to walk again and can now claim 220 trained users around the world.
    Competitor Ekso Bionics has seen similar success -- claiming to have powered one million steps with its 50lb wearable robot -- and will launch a personal version in 2014.
    Nasa X-1
    What if an exoskeleton inhibited a person's movement as well and helped it? It doesn't seem like such a useful idea on Earth -- but up in the resistance-free environment of space, Nasa astronauts could benefit from a little hindrance.
    The 25kg X-1 has been designed to allow astronauts to exercise without the Earth's gravitational pull and could be critical for future missions into deep space, NASA says.
    The device could improve the health of crew aboard the International Space Station -- and potentially during future long-duration missions to far away asteroids or Mars.
    The legs have the added benefit of assisting movement, with four motorized joints, if used here on Earth -- but there are currently no details on when the legs might see a wider release.


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    Why The Best Teachers Change Their Minds

    Why The Best Teachers Change Their Minds
    When I first started teaching, I thought essay writing was the ideal form of assessment.
    If students could “write intelligently” about an idea (or the big idea of a certain academic standard), they understood. If they struggled, they probably didn’t—and that struggle was on full display in the essay, which made it easier to highlight, conference with students, and plan future learning experiences.
    Essays were (mostly) easy to grade, rubrics were simple to create, and the best examples could be hung on walls or saved for student portfolios.
    After all, writing essays was how it was done in my high school and college coursework, and I turned out okay.
    But it didn’t take long for me to see that the writing process –the craft of writing—got in the way of students communicating their understanding of specific academic content. Rather than a template for emptying thinking, for many students the writing process was a barrier to that kind of transparency.
    The same change of heart applies to whole class direct instruction.
    In lieu of everything I read and was told, it seemed to work in my classroom. Whether a brief mini-lesson modeling how to do something, or a full-on 15 minute lecture, students responded to direct instruction, and seemed to be able to explain in greater detail what they understood . It also fit with the school’s practice of very specific and clear learning targets, and allowed me to build strong relationships with students, which would pay dividends as the year went on.
    My opinions on both writing-as-assessment and direct instruction were both based on a limited amount of experience.
    Or rather, almost none.
    So it makes sense that by my third year of teaching, I had abandoned essays as the ultimate assessment tool, and had delegated whole class direct instruction to literally timed sessions that were complete with QFT sessions and student questioning—more accountable talk than lecture.
    Somewhere in your tool belt of teacher tools, there is something you cling to that may be wrong-headed, but you don’t see it yet.
    And that’s okay. In many ways, there is no “right” or “wrong,” but only degrees of fit and subjectivity. If you’re changing your mind—about the role of technology in learning, the ideal lesson template, or the best audiences for project-based learning products—that means you’re growing.
    You’re reacting to formal and informal data in front of you every day. Anecdotal data, parent conferences, literacy rates, test scores, and a thousand other points.
    You’re responding to the progression of technology in the world around you. Mobile learning might’ve indeed been clumsy and awkward 10 years ago, but as we approach the 2013-2014 school year, it might be time to give it another look.
    You’re changing to meet the needs of a new generation of students whose natural skills and interests seem to tend towards project-based learning.
    You see the cognitive rigor of a game like Portal 2, and you wonder if game-based learning might have a place–if even a small place–in the classroom you share with students. (You no longer call it “your” classroom.)
    The best teachers change their mind because things themselves change. 21st century learning is, above all else, diverse, interdependent, and formless. Technology, culture, academic standards, assessment forms, and the cost–and format–of higher education all evolve endlessly.
    Which means, as their most powerful common mediator, you have to as well.
    Image attribution flickr user woodleywonderworks; Why The Best Teachers Change Their Minds

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    'Astronaut Abby' is crowd funding her way to outer space




    Meet Abby: Normal teenager, wears braces, loves gymnastics, planning a mission to Mars.


    But unlike most other teenagers pining for a car, Harrison’s eyes are set on a completely different mode of transportation — a spacecraft.
    The teen’s bedroom says it all: Her walls are covered with autographed astronaut photos and posters of rocket ships; books about space exploration are stacked on her desk. She even has a blue flight suit hanging in her closet.
    “I’ve always looked up at the sky and wanted to go there,” said Harrison, a Minneapolis sophomore. “I want to be the first astronaut on Mars.”
    Her dream is a big one, but the teen is well on her way to achieving it. Online, Harrison is known as Astronaut Abby, a space celebrity in the making. She has more than 8,000 followers on Twitter and almost 2,000 likes on Facebook.This week, she’s traveling to Kazakhstan to watch the launch of the Soyuz TMA-09M, a Russian craft headed for the International Space Station on May 28. She’s used her social media prowess to spearhead a successful Kickstarter-like crowdfunding campaign, raising more than $30,000 to help pay for the rare trip.
    While she’s only watching this time, her community of supporters is convinced Harrison’s next milestone will be in the stars.
    “Abby’s going to be on Mars,” said her fifth-grade science teacher, Mary Hill. “She will go as far as anyone can go.”
    Chasing space dreams
    By the time Harrison was 6 years old, she was already dreaming about being an “astronavigator.” Her bedtime story of choice was a massive coffee-table book about the universe. In fifth grade, Harrison decided she wanted to be an astrophysicist. By the end of sixth grade she had an action plan.
    “She had two pieces of paper and she said, ‘There are two ways to become an astronaut: civilian and military. Here is the path in each way,’ ” said her mother, Nicole Harrison.

    The elder Harrison describes herself as a “space mom,” involved in every step of her daughter’s off-world goals. The marketing specialist helped create the Astronaut Abby website. She manages her daughter’s busy schedule and accompanies the teen to astronaut events.
    The younger Harrison’s passion really blasted off after meeting Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano in 2011. The two were both in attendance for NASA’s final launch of the space shuttle Endeavour (STS-134) off the Florida coast. Harrison bumped into Parmitano by chance while waiting in an airport security line.
    “When I met Abby the first time, she was barely a teenager,” said Parmitano by e-mail. “But I was smitten by her enthusiasm for space flight, her ardent desire to experience it and be a part of space exploration, and her unusual maturity.”
    The pair talked for an hour and the conversation kicked off a two-year mentorship via e-mail, Twitter and Skype.
    “I believe in myself,” Harrison said. “But it means something special that someone else who has already made it believes in me also.”
    Her attendance at the Soyuz launch next week came at the personal invitation of Parmitano, one of the three astronauts set to board the flight. For Harrison, the soyuz adventure (as she’s calling it on Twitter) is no vacation. She’ll be blogging, tweeting and shooting video every step of the journey to share with her growing Internet audience.
    When Harrison returns from Kazakhstan, she’ll embark on a six-month outreach campaign in which she’ll write for national science magazines, share her experience in classroom visits and speak at space conferences like the Mars Society’s annual convention this summer in Colorado. The teen will also serve as Parmitano’s Earth liaison — talking with the astronaut daily in order to pass along updates via e-mail, Facebook and Twitter.
    The social space scene
    Harrison and her mom run a well-oiled social media machine that has convinced more than 450 people from around the world to contribute money to help the teen get to Kazakhstan. Instead of Kickstarter, Harrison used the appropriately named Rocket Hub, a crowd funding website where users can donate money to a number of projects.
    “Everyone has $20 to give to a good cause, if only they knew what that cause was,” said Sean Costello, a Canadian businessman backing Harrison’s dream on the site. Social media gives people an outlet to find that cause, he said.
    Harrison’s campaign reached its goal of $35,000 a few days ago.
    The teen first used social media to help her connect with a NASA employee for an eighth-grade history project about the International Space Station. One tweet later and Harrison was on the phone talking to a NASA engineer. That’s when she realized a community of people existed online who loved space just as much as she did.
    Mick Hamilton, Harrison’s AP biology teacher at South High School, said the teen’s love for space shows other students that “science can be cool.”
    “She’s not afraid to let her space-nerd flag fly,” Hamilton said.
    Harrison does have other interests. When she’s not dreaming about Mars, she dedicates her time to gymnastics. But even with that sport, she sees a connection to her larger ambitions.
    “[More] than just gaining physical strength and being healthy, gymnastics is helping prepare me for a future [in space],” Harrison said recently, after finishing a two-hour private lesson at Elite Gymnastics Academy.
    But she’s put her 15-hour-a-week workouts on hold as she travels to Kazakhstan and prepares to send her mentor off into space.
    “It’s possibly the coolest thing that’s ever happened to me,” Harrison said.
    Well, the coolest thing until she lands on Mars, of course.

    Morgan Mercer is a University of Minnesota student reporter on assignment for the Star Tribune.

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    3 Reasons to Treat Employees Like Family


    Applying some basic family principles to your employees can go a long way to improving loyalty and retention--especially during tough times.
     

    When starting a business, your main objective usually involves turning a profit. As the business grows, your focus often expands to another key issue: your people.
    Deciding to expand beyond your core start-up team reflects good times for the business, but don't underestimate the pressure that comes with a larger workforce. Much like a parent who provides for her children, a founder of a growing business often feels the pressure to provide for her employees, overseeing internal disputes, ensuring promised benefits and providing advice (both professionally and personally).
    Here are three basic family principles that you can use to lead your team through the inevitable peaks and valleys of business:

    1. Open Communication

    Employees who believe they are "in the know" are more likely to believe they are a valued member of the team. Therefore, it's important to host a regular cadence of staff meetings or other communication forums to share both the good and the bad news. During tough times, make sure there are plenty of opportunities to answer questions and alleviate concerns. During good times, openly share new client wins, or pop the bubbly when revenue targets are reached. Find reasons to celebrate as a team and ensure all members are included in the festivities.

    2. "Family Time"

    Every now and then it's smart to take breaks, recharge, and reconnect as a team. Spending some quality R&R can boost moral or even mend some fractured relationships. There are many ways to provide "family time" to your staff, including occasional happy hours, off-site meetings, or other team-building events. For example, we volunteered over the holidays with a local non-profit organization to assist with weatherizing elderly homes. We all felt good about it afterwards, and had fun in the process.

    3. Care

    This seems like a no-brainer, but showing that you genuinely care about your people can boost performance when everyone is running at full speed. Empathy can go a long way with employees. Managers who take time to listen to their employees, understand their career objectives, and show that they care enough to help are likely to see better employee engagement and retention rates. And engaged employees can increase the chances of success and innovation for the organization.
    We value our people above all else and find a family-based approach to recruiting, grooming, and maintaining a loyal team to be very successful.

    View at the original source



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    Study defines level of dengue virus needed for transmission 



    Researchers have identified the dose of dengue virus in human blood that is required to infect mosquitoes when they bite. Mosquitoes are essential for transmitting the virus between people, so the findings have important implications for understanding how to slow the spread of the disease.
    By defining the threshold for transmission, the research also provides a target that experimental dengue vaccines and drugs must prevent the virus from reaching in order to be successful at preventing the spread of disease during natural infection.

    Dengue, also known as 'breakbone fever', is a viral infection that is transmitted between humans by mosquitoes. In most people it causes flu-like symptoms, but in a small proportion of cases the disease can become life-threatening. Recent estimates indicate that there are 390 million infections of dengue across the globe each year and with no vaccine or specific treatment available, current measures to prevent the spread of disease focus on controlling the mosquito vector.

    In research funded by the Wellcome Trust, scientists and doctors at the Oxford University Clinical Research Unit at the Hospital for Tropical Diseases in Vietnam studied the factors that influence the transmission of dengue viruses from dengue patients to the mosquitoes that feed on them. Their findings reveal that mosquitoes that feed on dengue patients with very high levels of virus in their blood are more likely to be infectious to other people two weeks later.

    "Our findings suggest that focused public health intervention strategies to prevent transmission from these 'high risk' spreaders of the virus could have a major impact in slowing the spread of disease," explains Professor Cameron Simmons, a Wellcome Trust Senior Fellow at the Oxford University Clinical Research Unit in Vietnam.

    Although the levels of virus in patients who had been hospitalised by the disease were much higher, the majority of patients with mild symptoms who were treated at outpatient centres also had enough virus in their blood to support transmission.

    "At the moment, dengue surveillance systems typically only count hospitalised patients, but our findings confirm that less serious cases represent an equally important source of virus infection. Since these cases often remain in the community for the duration of their illness, it’s important that we explore ways to prevent such patients from providing a source of further virus transmission," added Professor Simmons.

    The researchers hope that understanding the level of virus needed for transmission of infection will provide a useful reference point for the development of experimental drugs and vaccines and could be used to inform the endpoints for clinical trials evaluating such interventions.

    The study is published online today in the journal 'Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences'.


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    Electrical boost to mental arithmetic powers

    Science
    Brain waves
    The brain stimulation is thought to boost the way neurons fire in synchrony
    A weak electrical signal can boost people's powers of mental arithmetic over a period of months, suggests a small scale study at the University of Oxford.
    The technique involves placing electrodes on the scalp of the head and applying random electrical noise to stimulate parts of the brain and encourage nerve cells to fire. In this case the electrodes were placed on the head to target regions of the brain known to be involved in doing maths.
    Dr Roi Cohen Kadosh of the Department of Experimental Psychology at the University of Oxford, who led the research, says the brain stimulation technique called transcranial random noise stimulation (TRNS) is painless, non-invasive and relatively cheap.
    The group asked 51 Oxford students to perform two arithmetic tasks over a five-day period that tested their ability to perform calculations in their head and learn arithmetic facts by heart. 25 participants took part in the main experiment and 26 in a control experiment.
    The study was designed to test whether TRNS applied while performing the mental arithmetic tests each day had an effect.
    'We found that with just 5 days of TRNS-accompanied cognitive training, we were able to bring about long-lasting improvements in cognitive and brain functions,' says Dr Cohen Kadosh.
    Performance on both the calculation and rote learning tasks improved over the 5 days. The improvements in performing mental calculations lasted for 6 months after the training.
    Dr Cohen Kadosh adds: 'Our neuroimaging results suggested that TRNS increases the efficiency with which stimulated brain areas use their supplies of oxygen and nutrients.'
    The research was funded by the Wellcome Trust and the findings are reported in the journal Current Biology.
    This was a small-scale lab study, and more work needs to be done to know how the technique might be used in future. It's certainly not something that should be attempted at home, for instance, because of the potential for harm.
    But Dr Cohen Kadosh is positive about the possibilities. 'The progression of [these] techniques to the clinic and classrooms is a realistic aim, yet several socio-ethical, financial and scientific barriers need to be overcome before it can be achieved,' he says.
    Dr Cohen Kadosh says the current results open up a line of study to see if the findings are repeated in larger and more diverse groups of people, and in more natural settings such as a classroom.
    'If experimental results continue in this positive direction, we hope that these painless, safe and cheap non-invasive stimulation techniques will one-day be used in the clinic, classrooms and even home to help those who struggle with certain cognitive tasks. This could include anyone from a child falling behind in his/her maths class to an elderly patient suffering from neurodegenerative disease,' he says.
    TRNS has only emerged in the last few years, and how it influences the firing of individual neurons in the brain is still unclear. It is thought that TRNS may increase the synchronization in firing of neurons in the areas of the brain receiving the stimulation.
    Work so far has shown TRNS to be physically harmless, and it is part of a group of techniques called transcranial electrical stimulation (TES) that have been shown to positively influence a vast range of cognitive faculties. The safety of other, similar forms of TES has received much greater attention, and Dr Cohen Kadosh says the outlook is very positive.
    The Oxford group has previously shown that another form of brain stimulation called TDCS could make people better at learning and processing new numerical symbols. But they also have demonstrated as well as boosting these abilities, TDCS could have downsides in affecting other cognitive functions.
    In the current work, the researchers see no downsides from TRNS in other non-mathematical cognitive tasks. TRNS did not influence performance in these tasks, either positively or negatively. But they note it is not possible in a single study to evaluate all mental faculties that might have been influenced by stimulation.
    'It is very important that future work in this field makes an effort to identify any downsides of TES, and ensure that the boosting of one cognitive ability does not come at the expense of another,' concludes Dr Cohen Kadosh.


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    What Is One Piece Of Advice You Would Give First-Time Entrepreneurs?



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    Mira Zaslove, Sales and Strategy Consultant
    “A-Players Hire A-players, B-players Hire C-players.” -  Steve Jobs
    Surround yourself with the best talent you can, the top people you can find. They are worth the cost. Do everything you can to hire, retain, and motivate  them.
    Find partners who are experts in an area you aren’t, who possess the talents that you are lacking. As a first-time entrepreneur, your idea is going to change. The monetization strategy may pivot, consumer adoption may stall, and things could get dire. You will need a solid group around you to successfully build your idea and execute.
    Why is hiring A players critical?
    • Like attracts like. A top notch database designer is going to bring in a top notch web designer, who will attract the top sales and marketing team. A-players are attracted to working with a talented team that can execute. They will set the culture of excellence at your company early on. You want the A-players leading and setting the tone.
    • They aren’t threatened by people who know more than them. Instead, they want to work with people smarter than them. They are quick to admit what they don’t know, and learn from those who can teach them. They are working for long term growth, not short term ego boosts.
    • They aren’t afraid of sunk costs. As your idea, strategy, and goals change you are going to incur sunk costs. It is better to cut bait quickly and move on. Always make the best decision now. A-players are less prone to being swayed by decisions, time, or money they’ve already lost.
    You become like the people you surround yourself with, so set yourself up for success early on. In the Company of Giants, Rama Dev Jager and Rafael Ortiz spoke to Steve Jobs about starting a company. He told them, “When you’re in a startup, the first 10 people will determine whether the company succeeds or not.” Steve Jobs’s Tips for Hiring Your A-Team


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    David Wilcox: Social Entrepreneurship & Social Innovation - 

    Not the Same Thing


    By David Wilcox, ReachScale

    Social entrepreneurs arobsessed, 
    quirky, and disruptive – and that’s why they can be so effective in creating major change.

    At the UN Social Innovation Summit held at the end of May in New York City, a plenary panelist stated that social enterprises and social innovation are “really the same thing.” This conclusion was not questioned and appeared to be a point of view the conference leaders and speakers were eager to adopt.

    The summit was content rich and featured many of the best known nonprofits, but the absence of any Q&A prevented discussion of whether conjoining those terms makes sense. For many social entrepreneurs, including me, it is a topic worth examining more thoroughly.

    Like most organizations, nonprofits and social enterprises seek ways to innovate. And entrepreneurs, whether starting a for-profit venture or a nonprofit one, tend to be particularly innovation-centric. What’s more, many social entrepreneurs are now utilizing a hybrid business model that combines revenue, borrowing, and donations. 

    The largest gathering of social entrepreneurs is the Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship held every spring in Oxford. At the 2012 event, one of the most popular tweets was this: "To be a social entrepreneur, you have to be misunderstood for at least 10 years."

    “Really the same thing “ and the above statement do not jive. In the words of one impact investor speaking to newly minted MBAs at the recent Harvard Business School Social Enterprise conference:

    “You really would not want to go out for beers with most social entrepreneurs. They are stubborn, opinionated, obsessional and basically difficult people.”

    To further the distinction, when the nearly 400 UN Summit attendees were surveyed, only five checked the category of social entrepreneur while over 100 claimed they were nonprofit leaders “doing social innovation.”

    4 Differences Between Social Entrepreneurs & Social Innovators

    Here are four reasons why social entrepreneurs are significantly different than nonprofit social innovators:

    1. Two Worlds

    Most foundations and many nonprofits came into existence through a significant donor or donation. The people who shepherd the outcomes for those donors must be attentive and accommodating.  Quite simply, donors drive much of the nonprofit world’s activities.

    Most social entrepreneurs start with their very personal obsession to improve lives by solving a challenge or inequality, prefer to spend as little time as possible fund raising, and often bring innovations to the table that decades of nonprofit work have not uncovered.

    Social enterprises typically begin with a small loan, such as the $46 that funded Professor Yunus and the invention of microfinance. As Yunus points out in every speech he gives, “When I saw a problem, I started a business to solve it.”

    2. The Against Position

    In branding, claiming the against position means using a competitor’s dominant spend and mindshare to carve out an anti-space—the Un-cola for example.

    Social entrepreneurs are quintessential against positioners. At the New York Forum on Africa held in Gabon, Professor Yunus stated it clearly:  “I looked at how traditional banks do business and we did the exact opposite.”

    In very practical terms, these stubborn, opinionated entrepreneurs frequently show up after the aid and development models have failed or at least failed to become sustainable. Their arrival on the scene is less a Kumbaya moment and more a “disruptive innovation” one.

    3. Core Competencies

    Successful nonprofits are either great at fundraising or great at measuring impact. The superstars are good at both. These critical capabilities assemble billions of dollars to accomplish good works and they represent an important innovation source for the world.

    Social entrepreneurs fundraise too, but they hate it. Seldom do they surface innovations in fundraising. A primary goal for most social entrepreneurs is to demonstrate that appropriate capacity building enables their innovation model to solve problems profitably and reduce dependence on fundraising altogether.

    4. Buying Impact/Measuring Success

    Jason Saul of Mission Measurement exhorts funders to stop thinking about giving to charities and to shift to buying impact. As valuable as this change to the donor frame would be, the repercussions would also result in significant reductions in the total charity population.

    Funds should flow to the organizations making and reporting measurable progress actually solving key challenges. But impact buying reinforces the prevalent tendency in the nonprofit world to spend significant dollars on measurement. Funding those added “measurement investments” makes solutions more expensive and less sustainable.

    Successful social entrepreneurs create business models where measurement is integral to the normal course of solving a challenge. This one innovation actually can make the difference between a profitable and a non-profitable model. Healthpoint Services in the Punjab is the first to couple the delivery of clean water and healthcare. This disruptive innovation touches villagers each day: when they pick up their water they are also exposed to an urban quality healthcare clinic offering services at a much lower cost.

    So what does Healthpoint management measure? Here’s one: At what monthly water subscription price do half the villagers become customers in 90 days? For Healthpoint, measurement is not a separate expense, it is a core business activity.

    Social Entrepreneurs Use Unique Strategies

    When combined, these four differing frames demonstrate that social entrepreneurs are using a disruptively unique set of strategies and business models that are not just incremental “social innovation”.

    Social entrepreneurs often work on bigger problems that require capacity building to reach the scale at which profits become possible. The ultimate impact buying opportunity is actually to strategically partner with unique social entrepreneurs whose models are globally scalable and can solve global challenges sustainably.


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