« Volvo Trucks unveils new powertrains featuring increased power and 2.2 to 6.5% better fuel efficiency | Main | Sadoway and MIT team demonstrate calcium-metal-based liquid metal battery » Volkswagen Group IT uses agile workstyles and intensive cooperation with universities, technology partners and Volkswagen Group departments to develop digital solutions. At the new Volkswagen Digital:Lab in Berlin, the Group is working on this in a strategic partnership with software developer Pivotal. IT experts from Volkswagen and Pivotal are jointly developing innovative software and mobility solutions for networked customers together with specialists from Technical Development and Sales. “In our Digital:Lab we are working on a digital ecosystem that offers our customers a new user experience, new mobility services and a raft of networked vehicle services”, Volkswagen Group CIO Dr. Martin Hofmann said. “We are creating completely new products for our customers, and are therefore turning Volkswagen from a car manufacturer into a mobility provider.” Hofmann commented that at the same time Volkswagen was establishing new workstyles which are being further developed. Our IT experts in our labs in Berlin and Munich work the Silicon Valley way, we have brought the Valley to Volkswagen. Pivotal is supporting our experts with over 20 experts from San Francisco and Boulder, Colorado, and is training them in new software development methods. Our aim is to firmly anchor these skills and workstyles in the Group and in Germany. In the medium term, there will be more than 600 programmers, data scientists, design thinking experts and cloud architects working in our labs in Berlin, Munich and San Francisco. Volkswagen and Pivotal are focusing on innovative workstyles for software development. These are based on agile programming techniques such as extreme programming. Extreme programming stresses customer satisfaction, enabling software developers to developers to respond to changing customer requirements, even late in the life cycle. Extreme Programming improves a software project in five essential ways; communication, simplicity, feedback, respect, and courage. Extreme Programmers constantly communicate with their customers and fellow programmers. They keep their design simple and clean. They get feedback by testing their software starting on day one. They deliver the system to the customers as early as possible and implement changes as suggested. Every small success deepens their respect for the unique contributions of each and every team member. With this foundation Extreme Programmers are able to courageously respond to changing requirements and technology. For example, software developers work systematically in changing pairs with daily stand-up meetings, regular weekly training sessions and continuous in-team optimization. This partnership fosters exchange and creativity within the teams, reduces the error rate, shortens development processes and allows swifter adjustment in the event of short-term changes in customer wishes. The Digital:Lab in Berlin is the Volkswagen Group’s advanced software developer. The lab supports projects that go beyond the boundaries of Volkswagen’s existing core business and are designed to open up new business opportunities. The Digital:Lab is developing a digital mobility platform where external partners can dock on to jointly develop software solutions. The lab is also working on a new vehicle control center which collects data on weather, surroundings and traffic from networked vehicles and uses this data to generate early hazard warnings. The Digital:Lab’s first software projects include digital sales support for dealers and a data hub for digital products.
News Article | March 3, 2016
Tidal, Jay Z's struggling streaming music service, has fired two more top executives. The move comes as rumors swirl about a possible acquisition by smartphone maker Samsung, and controversy plagues two recent high-profile exclusive releases by pop stars Kanye West and Rihanna. The two executives, the company's COO Nils Juell (Chief Operating Officer) and CFO Chris Hart (Chief Financial Officer) were let go through an ever-revolving door at the company that has seen various executives leave or get let go during Jay Z's short time span at the helm. First, CEO Andy Chen was fired, and then, after only three months, his replacement CEO, Peter Tonstad, resigned. Vania Schlogel, the CIO who had acted as the public face of the company since its launch last March, resigned in November. Former SoundCloud exec Jeff Toig was hired as CEO in December, the third person to assume the position in an eight-month period. While Toig remains with the company, Juell and Hart are now gone. Tidal released a statement attempting to chalk up the move to consolidation of its office locations. "Tidal has terminated CFO Chris Hart and COO Nils Juell," the company said. "As Tidal has grown into a global operation serving 46 countries we have moved our accounting and operations team to New York while our technology team and key support staff remain in Oslo." The truth of the matter may be different however, as the news was originally reported by the Norwegian newspaper Dagens Næringsliv and Swedish website Breakit, which cited a disagreement as to the reporting methodology for sharing streaming data as the reason for Hart's dismissal. The news comes just as Tidal has been making some progress in regard to subscriber count on the heels of its exclusive launch of Kanye West's The Life of Pablo album as well as Rihanna's new Anti disc. Neither release has been terribly smooth, though. The company accidentally leaked Rihanna's collection early, and controversy has ensued regarding the Kanye disc not appearing anywhere on the Billboard charts due to Tidal's refusal to report its streaming information to Nielsen. Meanwhile, rumors continue to surface that Samsung is in talks to buy the company.
Scandy is aiming to make it easier to print full-color 3D prints of photographs, from sources such as depth-aware cameras and technology like Google’s Project Tango. Scandy today announced it raised a $1 million angel/seed round from Callais Capital in an effort to bring the technology to a broader audience. If you’re shooting 360 photographs taken with the rapidly growing number of 360 cameras, Scandy can make you some really nifty spherical prints. The challenge with 360 photography is, of course, that (most) screens are flat. Using a VR headset is one way to solve that problem, and looking around a 360 world using a headset is undeniably appealing. However, as anyone who has ever stared at a map of the world in globe form knows, the only sensible way to look at these type of images in printed form is in three dimensions. Of course, showing a 2D photograph of a 3D object puts us right back on the same problem, so here’s a video that illustrates why this is nifty: Pretty cool, eh? Finally, a way for me to print those Ricoh Theta S pictures I’ve been capturing. It’s not just about spheres, however; Scandy has a whole gallery of prints showing off what they’re up to. If you don’t have a 3D camera laying about, the company also creates its own iOS software to enable you to take full-surround photos. “Scandy has an opportunity to define how users capture and consume 3D content. We are excited to be part of this tremendous growth opportunity,” said Hal Callais, Managing Director and CIO of Callais Capital Management. “By allowing a user to create 3D content, share it on social media, and order 3D prints from the same application, Scandy has made 3D easy for the average consumer.” The company’s iOS app is live already, and the Android app is coming “by the end of the month.”
News Article | January 6, 2016
Following a plunge in markets worldwide, Commonwealth Financial Network's CIO Brad McMillan says it's not time to panic?and explains the real reason behind the drop.
News Article | April 14, 2016
The economy and employment are big areas of concern, not just to campaign watchers and Fast Company readers, but to anyone with a job or who's looking for one. So far, the election cycle has been filled with plenty of bluster, so sometimes it's difficult to suss out the candidates' actual policy positions. So we've done some of the sussing for you. Here's a quick, if far from comprehensive, snapshot of the four leading candidates' major proposals on job creation, employment, and business—some of the items that would have the biggest impact on the world of work. What she has promised to do. In a plan called "Make It in America," Clinton proposes to invest $10 billion in "partnerships that link together all parts of the supply chain and build on the strength of a region in particular industries," according to her website. "It builds on President Obama’s National Network for Manufacturing Innovation and bipartisan legislation written and spearheaded by Senator Sherrod Brown." The plan would also force companies that outsource jobs to forfeit tax relief and would impose an "exit tax" on companies that move their headquarters abroad in order to lower their tax burdens. Clinton has proposed raising the minimum wage to $12 an hour and supports guaranteeing workers 12 weeks’ paid leave, "fully paid for by a combination of tax reforms impacting the most fortunate." In a debate in Miami in March, she advocated for equal pay for women and wider support for women- and minority-owned small businesses. Citing their negative impact on U.S. jobs, Clinton opposed the CAFTA and TPP trade agreements (after initially supporting the latter) yet supports other efforts to facilitate global commerce. "Trade has to be reciprocal," she said at a New Hampshire debate in February. "That's the way the global economy works. But we have failed to provide the basic safety-net support that American workers need." The praise and criticism for her proposals. Clinton’s plans, while more modest in scope and budget than Sanders’s, would likely face Republican resistance for both their spending and corporate tax components, and they’ve been challenged on the left for ceding too much ground to business interests. The Sanders campaign has called Clinton’s record on trade "abysmal," citing her initial support for TPP, NAFTA, and other trade agreements. When Clinton lost the Michigan primary in March, Sanders as well as some observers attributed it to her stance on free trade and its impact on Rust Belt workers. Still, Clinton enjoys considerable support from labor unions, including the National Education Association, the nation’s largest teachers' union, despite criticism that her positions on labor have been uneven. In 2009, the AFL-CIO, one of the oldest and largest unions in the country, gave Clinton a lifetime score of 94%, and according to the International Business Times, major labor unions have contributed some $6.3 million to super PACs and other organizations affiliated with Clinton’s campaign. What he has promised to do. Sanders has outlined a "Rebuild America Act" that would dwarf Clinton’s proposed job-creating expenditures, pouring $1 trillion into domestic infrastructure projects over a five-year period. "It would be paid for," his website says, "by closing loopholes that allow profitable corporations to avoid paying taxes by, among other things, shifting their profits to the Cayman Islands and other offshore tax havens." A separate initiative would earmark $5.5 billion to fund state and municipal youth job-training programs. As a senator, Sanders has also introduced legislation to make it easer for workers to form and join unions, and to lower other obstacles to collective bargaining. Sanders is categorical in his opposition to free trade, believing most such agreements to reflect the interests of large multinational corporations and their lobbyists as opposed to workers. Asked last October whether he’s been satisfied with any free trade agreements the U.S. has negotiated, Sanders replied no. He supports a nationwide $15 minimum wage and, like Clinton, ensuring 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave, but Sanders proposes to fund the latter through a $1.61 per employee weekly payroll tax—part of a bill that he and 18 Democrats have introduced in the Senate. The praise and criticism for his proposals. Sanders’s proposals have come under fire for being unworkable given their high levels of spending and the likelihood of a Republican-controlled House (if not Senate), a charge he’s countered by underscoring the need for a "political revolution" that could remake the composition of Congress. A University of Massachusetts–Amherst economist claimed earlier this year that Sanders’s plan would generate almost 26 million jobs and boost the median income by roughly $22,000, an analysis other economists sharply criticized, including prominent Obama Administration officials. Some of Sanders’s leading economic advocates, including Robert Reich, President Clinton’s labor secretary, seem to agree with the candidate’s critics that a broad electoral shift is the prerequisite to policy initiatives on this scale. They differ over the probability of that. Reich has written that "there’s a higher likelihood of kicking Republicans out if Bernie’s ‘political revolution’ continues to surge around America," a premise that the Clinton camp and independent analysts say doesn’t look likely. Still, Sanders’s free trade position clearly resonates with many primary voters, which is all the more noteworthy, as New York magazine points out, for breaking with Democratic Party orthodoxy dating back to Martin Van Buren. Sanders receives high marks from many of the leading U.S. labor unions, and last December scored an endorsement from the Communication Workers of America, a major force in the media sector. What he has promised to do. "I'm going to bring jobs back from China, Mexico, Japan, Vietnam," Trump said in a February debate in South Carolina. "They are taking our jobs. They are taking our wealth." While he has not offered specifics on how this might be accomplished, Trump has framed job growth in terms of tax and trade reforms. Like Clinton, Trump says he supports free trade as long as it’s fair. His website emphasizes a need to reset trade relations with China by, among other things, holding the country accountable for "currency manipulation." In addition, he supports "putting an end to China’s illegal export subsidies and lax labor and environmental standards," lowering the U.S. corporate tax rate, and "attacking our debt and deficit so China cannot use financial blackmail against us." In a debate in November 2015, Trump said he would not raise the minimum wage and has expressed skepticism of federally mandated paid leave. He has been an outspoken advocate of tighter immigration policies, including deporting nearly 11 million undocumented immigrants in a bid to preserve jobs for current U.S. citizens. Trump hasn’t taken an official stance on collective bargaining, but in February, the Washington Times reported, he struck a diplomatic note, telling New Hampshire voters, "I have tremendous support within unions, and I have tremendous support in areas where they don’t have unions . . . my support is really with those workers, those people." The praise and criticism for his proposals. Trump’s support, particularly among white, working-class voters, has survived intense criticism across the political spectrum on the feasibility of his plans to create and protect American jobs. Economists are doubtful as to Trump’s ability to reverse outsourcing. According to one Harvard economist who spoke with CNN Money in February, less than 5% of the roughly 20 million Americans who lose or change jobs involuntarily each year do so as a consequence of growing exports. In the same report, a University of Virginia economist puts it bluntly: "I can't imagine anything our government could actually do to return employment in the manufacturing sector to the level it was before." Trump’s plan to deport millions of undocumented immigrants and construct a wall along the Mexican border—likewise in the name of safeguarding domestic employment opportunities—has been ridiculed as unfeasible or inadvisable by his opponents in both parties, rejected by the Mexican government, and estimated to cost up to $600 billion if fully implemented. The Tax Policy Center estimates his tax plan to cost the federal government $9.5 trillion over the next 10 years. Trump’s claims to broad appeal among union workers appear largely true, judging from the intensifying efforts by labor leaders to defeat him. The AFL-CIO, for instance, has announced plans to ramp up its anti-Trump campaign earlier in the political cycle than the organization typically starts by making appeals to members. What he has promised to do. Like Trump's, Cruz’s jobs plan focuses on tax reform as a means of generating employment opportunities. He has proposed virtually abolishing the IRS and implementing a 16% flat tax on businesses in place of existing corporate income taxes, part of a plan that Cruz claims will boost the GDP by nearly 14% above current projections within the next decade and create nearly 4.9 million new jobs. He opposes raising the minimum wage on the grounds that it would eliminate jobs, particularly among Hispanics and African-Americans, and opposes paid leave and widening other employment benefits for the same reason. "Extending unemployment benefits does exacerbate the jobless situation," he told the AARP in 2012, "because it subsidizes unemployment and increases the tax burdens on those who are employed. Cruz supports a nationwide "right-to-work" law, similar to a measure adopted by Wisconsin under Governor Scott Walker last year, designed to limit the power of labor unions, which overwhelmingly oppose his candidacy as a result. The praise and criticism for his proposals. The bulk of Cruz’s proposals on job creation and employment focuses on tax reform and rolling back commercial regulations, but he’s come under fire for offering few details on which spending cuts would cover the lost revenues from reducing taxes. A nonpartisan tax policy group estimates the cost of Cruz’s tax plan at $8.6 trillion. Some observers argue that Cruz’s business tax constitutes a value-added tax (VAT) since it would charge companies over the course of production, making them likely to pass those costs onto consumers by raising prices—something that would almost certainly be politically unpopular. Cruz has underscored his support for small businesses, saying that his tax plans will benefit them the most. Last week he told ABC News, "My focus is very much on small businesses because economic opportunity, jobs, come from small businesses." Cruz’s critics argue that his vaunted support comes at the expense of workers, whose employment benefits Cruz would limit, and of labor unions, whose influence he’d seek to curb.