Assorted links – September 2018

Elon Musk agrees to resign as Tesla chairman in settlement with SEC

Folli Follie Says Probe Found Asia Sales Overstated by 90%

The Dawn of Eurasia: On the Trail of the New World Order

Google Play Just Changed EVERYTHING

Apple acquires Shazam, offering more ways to discover and enjoy music

10 δωρεάν εφαρμογές που κάθε φοιτητής πρέπει να έχει στο κινητό του

A decade after the global financial crisis: What has (and hasn’t) changed?

Alibaba Puts the Brakes on U.S. Cloud Expansion

Best free Android apps of 2018: 100 you must download

Greece was never bailed out – it remains locked in an EU debtor’s prison

THE RISE OF THE COMPUTER-GENERATED CELEBRITY

IMF Damns Greece’s Post-Bailout Growth Plan With Faint Praise

Americans Own Less Stuff, and That’s Reason to Be Nervous

 

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Assorted links – March 2018

Hello friends, here’s some of the online articles around IT, business, technology, finance, media, economics, politics, and other interesting stories I have been reading lately. Let’s launch your new web project together. Enjoy!

WhatsApp co-founder who made billions from Facebook now says to delete it

Automated trading platform AlgoTrader raises €1.1 million

Game Theory Scowls at Trump-North Korea Talks

Forget $100,000 bitcoin, says Kenneth Rogoff — try $100 instead

Time is FAST – Capture the MOMENT

Moovit raises another $50M led by Intel for its urban transit app, plans Mobileye collaboration

Trump Embarks on a Gigantic Fiscal Experiment: Debate

Stathis Kassios

Assorted links – January 2018

Google CEO: AI is ‘more profound than electricity or fire’

Argentina’s gamble on economic gradualism is working, so far

WhatsApp officially launches its app for businesses in select markets

Here’re 15 ideas to save your time on writing essay on future technologies

Ending Bitcoin support

Ikea Wants You to Pee on This Ad. If You’re Pregnant, It Will Give You a Discount on a Crib

Moovit: Big data for big cities

Thoughts about Morocco

-Stathis Kassios

www.stathiskassios.blogspot.com

My personal predictions for 2018 – tech & business trends in a globally connected world

It is this time of the year again to share my personal thoughts & predictions for how the world will change more in the new year with all the tech, business & economic developments taking place around the globe. Do you feel the world is a smaller place with all the direct global communications and consumption of media content? As we are bombarded daily with massive information through social media platforms, subconscious confusion is lurking in our rational thinking and we crush in perception walls of not understanding the events or the international forces that affect and shape our lives as economic entities & citizens. These global powers are aggressively shaping urbanization and the future which is now.

What a year for Bitcoin. There will be more excitement for cryptocurrencies as some financial institutions are starting to see opportunities where other bankers or governments see a growing threat for traditional currencies, trade and exchanges. History teaches us that when regulatory agencies tried to limit a new technology embraced by millions, they ended up strengthening these movements instead of stoping their activity. Just check the global news on Bitcoin to see that it is here to stay.

Bitcoin technology is hard to attack because of its decentralization core features making it less vulnerable to hackers and cyber attacks, in comparison to traditional online banking systems which are far more centralized as financial data stored or customer records can be broken (See Equifax). Cybersecurity therefore will be vital for customer trust and the IT infrastructure of banks needs to be updated, an opportunity for fintech startups. Goldman Sachs has decided to trade bitcoins which is a positive sign for potential investors of cryptocurrencies. The expected fluctuation of the Bitcoin price is normal because of its natural risk. Blockchain technologies supporting Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies will be an attractive field for investors willing to pour money in startups that develop blockchain to secure these systems from hacking or create new business models. Blockchain will make sure that data communications and financial exchanges will remain secure across the manufacturing, processing, distribution chain in various industries.

The banking and finance industry has started adopting mobile applications to serve their customers where a physical presence is not needed. In Asia, more and more people are using their smartphones for various payments, a trend grasped by local banks to offer payment methods through fintech applications. China is leading online payments as millions of people are skipping credit cards, cash, choosing mobile online payments (see Alipay).

Artificial Intelligence: Chatbots are gaining ground and although still in experimentation mode for advanced usage, virtual assistants will start replacing customer support jobs as bots will evolve to serving more complicated tasks and interacting with customers in real time. Bots will soon process our health records, financial records and consult us to optimize our diet or purchases when exceeding our card limits.

Because we are at a critical point where we are closer to creating computer systems that will surpass human performance, marking the beginning of the Singularity era and a new industrial revolution, a wave of change will benefit the world and bring domestic & international problems at the same time. AI will be generating so much data that data analytics will become a new science already taught across universities of the world and through online seminars. Understanding big data means a competitive advantage in global sales, operations and growth for companies. Internet-of-services (IoT) will also produce vast amounts of data and information gathered through sensors applied in house devices connected to the web (See Amazon’s Alexa).

Back in the offline world, Brexit is still discussed and negotiated between UK and EU casting shadows for the unity of the eurozone in 2018. Catalonia is another example of separatist national voices supporting analysts fears for the possible long term collapse of the European Union. A neo-liberal EU where economic and monetary policies are mainly set by Germany and Brussels, find opposition from populist parties and far-right politics. Euro-skepticism and separatism is an important threat to Europe’s unity.

Greece is and will remain the weakest link across all member states of the eurozone with a striving economy and highly indebted. Presenting a budget surplus due to over-taxation and not through real growth prospects is clearly a negative sign for the future of its economy. If Angela Merkel’s coalition government weakens more, we might see a different picture in European politics.

According to the IMF, India will be the country with the highest growth in 2018 leaving even China behind. Asia is the hot bed for watchers of global economic growth. This is because China is focusing on consumer growth along with product innovation. Networking effects will take place as the fruits of China’s economy will positively boost the economies neighbor states. If the world does not face an armed conflict between NK and the West in 2018 (US, SK, Japan), analysts expect moderate economic expansion in Asia although more reforms will be needed to meet global trade policies. Geopolitical tensions of late 2017 in the Eastern world for Jerusalem led by Trump might not scare global markets but Syria is a field where powers will not easily withdraw. Climate change is already affecting our economies and cities, countries should collaborate to further reduce the carbon print.

Global firms, institutions, companies & people, need answers. The way to provide reasonable answers today for the immense changes shaping our lives is by leveraging the power of technology and especially big data generated by smart applications, AI, IoT, Blockchain, online payments, etc. Globalization expressed through technological progress, geopolitical tensions, and the free movement of capital also creates inequality in countries where governments are corrupted or unfriendly policies are imposed upon citizens and entrepreneurs. The global economy is a playfield of technological disruptions, geopolitical tensions and political fragmentation, which will become more intense in 2018. By working together and understanding domestic and international powers will fill us with hope for the future.

Happy New Year!

I dedicate this blog entry & analysis to my daughter, Jenny, who turned 2 in December 2017. 

-Stathis Kassios

Greece’s Dark Matter

Judging from the title of my new blog publication you will probably assume that you will further read about the universe’s mysteries, black holes, dark matter, etc. Far from that…the universe obeys to discovered and yet undiscovered laws of physics and the cosmos. Economies too are driven by the laws of economics which politicians do not consider as having the same weight and impact upon the markets and the lives of the people they govern.

Won’t keep you in anxiety more. The inspiration of this new blog entry title comes from recently reading an interesting interview by Ricardo Hausmann who has spent many years of his life researching & consulting on what went wrong with the economy of Venezuela.

Every country is different although the factors that help an economy grow or fade into recession follow similar patterns. Think for a moment about the current situation in Greece. I believe there is dark matter which works against all hopes of revival. First of all, Greece has not solidified a concrete and long term business plan on a national level that will drag its economy out of the recession and bring it back to normality. Current fiscal policies and overtaxation do not work in favor of accelerating the economy. They actually keep on destabilizing it while creating uncertainty for investments. Take the example of the following foreign companies that tried to do business in Greece and left because of bureaucratic struggles: China New Era, LKS Partners & Lockheed Martin, Las Vegas Sands, Vopak, Tesla, and many others (let’s see the outcome with Eldorado Gold).

Even if some parts of the government budget look positive for the markets, the ”dark matter” is there if you look more closely to the bitter economic indexes and statistical numbers.

Ricardo Hausmann observed that fiscal policies in Venezuela spurred contractions in the economy. Rings a bell? Yes, Greece’s governments have managed over time (lost) to adjust fiscal policies without realizing the policies were working against the economy’s real growth. Even the access for Greece to borrow money from the international markets took a long time and still investors are not feeling confident. Thus Greece is not reflecting confidence to borrow money at bad times.

Greece is also in a position that cannot handle its public debt which the IMF is repeatedly positioning as non-sustainable. According to Hausmann, emerging economies are not able to handle their surmounting debt and often lead their economy to fails. Greece is not an emerging economy (maybe pragmatically returning slowly to this phase) but is going through a state at which the country is not able to monitor its public debt and hopes the IMF will align their policy with EU’s bureaucrats and offer debt forgiveness by cutting it down.

Greece needs a collective effort to attract scientists, entrepreneurs, or people that can offer productive knowledge which can bring added value to new products & services. Otherwise, the dark matter lurking will be driving the economy to repeated failures while politicians will be looking to outside factors to explain the economic hurdles, same as the notorious dark matter in the universe is observed by its effect on its surrounding stars.

Stathis Kassios
Web Entrepreneur & Business Consultant

My predictions for 2017. Trends in a globally connect world.

A man using a laptop on the rooftop of a skyscraper

The globally connected world is moving fast. Technology is everywhere, shaping our lives online and offline. The following trends are just the natural continuation of what has been happening in the world of tech the past few years. We can definitely spot an acceleration, market penetration and customer acceptance of new technologies. Some political and economic trends will also be discussed further down below.

Smart homes using IoT (internet-of-things) have started being advertised on TV. Controlling your house through applications and interconnecting all devices will be the house of future, maybe closer than we think. What needs to be solved first is the protocol harmonization for the devices by various manufacturers. A standard protocol is needed so your house devices run smoothly when cooperating with each other thus securing the IoT system against external threats for example.

AR (augmented reality) and VR (virtual reality) have already started going viral. Think Pokemon Go (AR) which went global with millions of downloads. Similarly with IoT, AR+VR applications will need more market testing and acceptance by users not only for entertainment but also business purposes. VR can revolutionize the way companies do business as they will be able to showcase their products & services in a completely innovative way which will alter customer experience. Note that the VR market based on forecasts, will be a 30$ billion market around 2020. We will see many tech players and manufacturers launching their own VR hardware and gadgets. Fierce competition will rise to grasp the market pie & profits.

AI (artificial intelligence) through machine learning. The world of big data is feeding more and more data into machines and the latter developing complex algorithms are actually making the machines smarter. With the constant development of natural language processing, machines learn fast (imagine a small child developing its core knowledge center in the environment of the adults). Machine learning can generate AI systems that threat to replace thousands of jobs in various fields. See here.

Smartphones and mobile tech spreading to more isolated parts of the developing world. Applications will be developed for these uncharted markets for local populations counting the factor of Internet penetration, 3G & 4G telco networks. The distribution of global information to local places will help people develop skills, educate themselves, sell their products & services in other markets and develop their domestic economy.

The rise of Uber – everything: Giving power to the individual to offer services and generate profit. Shared car rides, bed and breakfast companies like Airbnb. Who knows what company will come next? Think Schumpeterian technological distruption with thousands of self driving cars taking over existing jobs causing upheaval and national court cases as labor markets will be earthshaked. Taxi & professional drivers currently use the cars by giant manufacturers but the latter strategically plan to keep producing these cars but also focus on producing driverless too. The Uber and Airbnb economy will enforce political decisions and civilian engagement. Autonomous cars will be a test & market field not only for traditional auto-makers but also tech companies. Tesla is leading the experiments with Google following, Uber, etc.

Drones: amazon is pushing US law makers to license drone fleets which will fly and deliver orders to customers. Until this will happen, we see drones massively advertised which carry HQ cameras transcending film production into new levels of experience. Retail players like UPS and Wallmart have their own plans to launch drones as well. To increase speed in delivery, this will immensely alter the current job market as more drones might mean less delivery services. How many orders a drone will execute in a single day compared to a delivery vehicle? Do the math to grasp the frightening truth.

All the aforementioned trends and possible developments will walk in line with economic factors like increased or decreased labor productivity and productivity of ideas. In a globally connected world, some economies will benefit from these technological breakthroughs while others -not prepared- will suffer.

With EU’s future at risk because of the rise of populist parties, indebted banks & public sectors, Brexit, there is no question that the dollar will rise against the euro. These factors create also a fragile environment for the Greek crisis. Business development in EU will stay behind USA and fast developing economies in Asia. IMF’s forecast predicts that the world economic growth will increase compared to 2016 although the ongoing geopolitical tensions in Syria, Middle-East, threaten the global stability of the financial markets. Due to lack of official information from China, economic analysts are not sure what to predict for its economy and how it will affect their global export & import trading partners. Governments around the world put too much focus on public spending while people as rational consumers care for wage growth (without increasing inflation). The global economy will remain fragile not only because of geopolitical tensions (the recent military coup in Turkey) but also because governments usually impose wrong economic policies that create wealth disparities and overall inequality.Welcome to add your thoughts and comments! Happy New 2017!

Yours truly,
Stathis Kassios

Assorted links by Cyber Consultant – September 2016

Enjoy reading!

-Stathis Kassios (skassios@gmail.com)

 

Assorted links by Cyber Consultant

The Economist: What history might tell us about AI: https://soundcloud.com/theeconomist/babbage-what-history-might-tell-us-about-ai

EVOO Virgilliant @ Hellene.gr: http://hellene.gr/product/virgilliant/

Cloud Office for small business owners in Greece: https://sevdesk.gr/

The End of the Euro?: http://stathiskassios.blogspot.gr/2016/06/the-end-of-euro.html

A plan to revitalize Greece: https://hbr.org/2014/06/a-plan-to-revitalize-greece/

Web Design Studio Beautiful Pixels (use discount code ”BeautifulPixels2016”): http://www.beautifulpixels.gr/

moovit newsletter May 2016: http://us3.campaign-archive2.com/?u=c24727311fc31f651cff01770&id=949d7530a7

The story of Noowit: http://stathiskassios.blogspot.gr/2016/05/interview-with-nikolaos-nanas-co.html

ebay launched virtual reality department store in Australia: http://www.businessinsider.com/ebay-launches-virtual-reality-department-store-in-australia-2016-5?&platform=bi-androidapp

If Amazon reaches $3 trillion, remembers these 5 Jeff Bezos commandments: http://finance.yahoo.com/news/5-key-business-lessons-amazons-122837929.html

Apple’s Latest $1 Billion Bet Is on the Future of Cars: http://www.wsj.com/articles/apples-1-billion-didi-investment-revs-up-autonomous-car-push-1463154162#

13 ways HBO’s ‘Silicon Valley’ nailed the real tech industry: http://www.businessinsider.com/how-hbos-silicon-valley-gets-real-tech-industry-right-2016-5?&platform=bi-androidapp 

Euro Area to Debate Greece’s 321 Billion-Euro Problem: Chart http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-05-08/euro-area-to-debate-greece-s-321-billion-euro-problem-chart

YouTube will now let brands automatically buy ads on its hottest viral videos: http://www.businessinsider.com/google-preferred-breakout-videos-2016-5?&platform=bi-androidapp

 

Cloud revolution

cloud-computing

Some thoughts based on Cisco’s latest white paper: ”Cisco Cloud Intelligent Network: Prepare Your Network for the Cloud ”.

In our times, many companies serve their customers worldwide, 24/7. Constant travels require business people to share updates, emails, data, content, memos, with their peers back to the company’s headquarters.

Cloud economics have promised efficiency, innovative business models, reduced operating costs. Clouds are rapidly changing the way of scheduling & doing business. The ultimate challenge will be to unify remote locations & users, all applications and devices used, under a secure Cloud network. IT teams, will be responsible for serving the complicated needs of modern online business operations.

No matter where your firm’s offices are located, your clients, or your personnel, the Cloud will be connecting all your latest applications and services, breaking all geographical boundaries. Everything will be channeled & monitored through the enterprise network. In order for the latter to function properly, security will constitute a major factor for assuming that your company’s Cloud network is successful.

Nowadays, users demand high speeds, decreased latency, high bandwidth, to feel satisfied. Cisco offers a Cloud Intelligent Network: http://www.cisco.com/en/US/netsol/ns1172/networking_solutions_solution_category.html

Amazon provides users with the Amazon Web Services (AWS). Again, security and optimization, will be a major concern for success and for serving huge amounts of traffic. The enterprise network, has to be intelligently optimized before securing the flow of sensitive data between the company and the users, through various devices like their own mobiles, tablets, smartphones, etc.

This business paradigm shift, will spur massive public and private clouds. By 2014, around 50% of all the business workloads will be handled via Clouds. Business applications will be moving to the Cloud, thus the need to keep optimizing the availability to its users. All enterprise applications will be accessed & handled through the devices brought by the workers themselves. IT departments will have to adapt to security issues, data prioritization and control.

The rising Cloud ecosystem, will demand large amounts of data transfers for videos & virtual dektops. Overall, aiming for high quality when delivering services & applications, will play a key role in securing the Cloud from mis-management, resulting in low quality user experience.