Amazon Robots

As Cyber Monday comes to a close, there is still an amazingly huge demand for online products. Amazon bought Kiva, a robot manufacturer, who has been aiding Amazon in their shipment process. It is said that a Kiva robot looks similar to a little ottoman on wheels and in essence, the robots scurry around lifting and moving racks of merchandise to humans who can then box items up. At the warehouses that they are currently present in, they are saving many of the employees from walking miles and miles a day by walking back and forth.  The Kiva robot are guided by tape markers on the floor and can scan individual racks to confirm they’re moving the right one. As of now, people are more efficient with the whole boxing process but it’s said that this is the next step for the robots.

I think it’s really cool to imagine a warehouse floor covered with little robots doing all the heavy lifting. Other than the initial purchase of the Kiva robots, it saves Amazon money because they don’t need as many employees on the ground floor. However, if I was one of those warehouse workers I’d be growing very concerned. Soon enough, the technology for these working robots will be advanced enough to take over the remaining folding/boxing/shipping tasks that they aren’t able to do yet. After that, those people better start looking for another job.

http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2014-12-01/these-are-the-amazon-robots-filling-your-holiday-shopping-orders

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Artificial Intelligence Startup, Sentient, Gains a Lot More Backing

           Sentient is a seven year old start up based out of San Francisco that focuses on helping large companies manage complex tasks such as financial trading. In the latest series C funding round, investors like Access Industries Holdings, Horizon Ventures, Tata Communications, and numerous private investors granted Sentient a whopping 103.5 million dollars. Cumulatively since their start, Sentient has received a grand total of 143 million dollars. Access Industries exclaims that companies need to have the ability to make sense of massive amounts of data as it is critical for consumer-facing digital companies. They plan on incorporating their new technology with Sentient into their other entertainment, media, and e-commerce companies, allowing them to have the means of pursuing a more innovative path. So far, Sentient’s artificial intelligence technology has been used in the financial and medical sector of business but with their newly found support (and the business experience their investors have), they will be able to expand their team, distribution, and broaden their direction to pursue grander opportunities.

           It’s amazing to think how much money Sentient has received which is a clear indication of how much their investors believe in the concept. With support like they are receiving, they have a chance to break down barriers and explore opportunities that other companies haven’t. In short, they might be on their way to revolutionizing the  functionality and  the way AI is incorporated into large scale companies in general. No pressure there!

http://www.bizjournals.com/sanfrancisco/blog/2014/11/sentient-technologies-artificial-intelligence-vc.html

IBM’s Struggle

IBM’s CEO, Ginni Rometty, is facing big problems as they were expected to show $20 in adjusted earnings per share by 2015. She was instructed to attain these results by following her predecessor’s game plan called “Roadmap 2015″ but this roadmap inhibited her ability to gear the company for the current era of cloud computing. They had to absorb a smaller tech company recently just to be able to provide certain services to customers that they wouldn’t have competently been able to do otherwise. The entrance of cheap cloud computing means that big corporations don’t require their big, expensive main frames. Even if they do catch up to companies like Amazon and Google, it’s hard to say if they’ll be able to compete and on top of that, meet the numbers that their investors are expecting.

One of the people mentioned in the article exclaimed that IBM should stop focusing so much on financials and start to innovate more through the cloud. I totally agree because at this point in the game, other companies are way ahead and have mastered their services through the cloud. IBM won’t be able to keep up or increase their market share by just duplicating what other companies have already done. They need to create something within the cloud that is their own and unique.

http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2014-10-20/ibm-is-in-even-worse-shape-than-it-seemed

Jawbone

Jawbone is a brand that designs wearable fitness technology. One of their most successful products is the UP wrist band which tracks steps, foot intake, and sleep patterns. They are debuting two new products this year that incorporate more advanced technology that allows the user to measure heart rate/respiration and body/room temperature as well. In order for them to do this, Jawbone had to buy out BodyMedia, a health monitoring startup, whose devices have been certified by the FDA.

The new software installed in each band will better allow them to one-up FitBit, their main competitor. The article goes on to compare the two, mostly pointing out the advantages to Jawbone’s new models. It seemed as though the writer of the article may have already been a fan of Jawbone or even an employee as it seemed a bit one sided. As an owner of an UP band already, I think it was huge for them to acquire BodyMedia in order to advance their product. They needed to go in the direction they did and in the process, also eliminated a potential threat to their company by buying them out and utilizing their resources.

http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2014-11-05/jawbone-up3-and-move-a-high-end-design-and-a-cheap-gateway

Shell Gasoline’s Latest Controversy

On paper Shell appears to be one of the most progressive gasoline corporations but in actuality, their actions do some serious contradicting. They recently joined many businesses urging European leaders to target a 40 percent cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. After that, they signed the Trillion Tonne Communique which urges governments globally to drastically cut their carbon emissions in an effort to slow global warming.

However, they haven’t cut ties with the group ALEC, which is a political organization that notoriously has denounced climate change and has been a naysayer in implementing any new initiatives to decrease carbon emission worldwide.

Under these circumstances, Shell comes off as phony and dishonest. I think it’s in their best interest to opt out of ALEC as soon as possible as their credibility is now being questioned by the masses. If you’re going to talk to talk, you better walk the walk.

http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2014-11-04/shell-oil-pressured-to-sever-ties-with-alec-over-climate-change-positions#r=nav-r-story

Rite Aid and CVS Stop Accepting Apple Pay

Upon Apple Pay’s debut recently, CVS and Rite Aid (both major pharmacy chains) announced that they would be disabling Apple Pay as a method to make transactions in their stores. Many people took to twitter to complain about their actions but there’s more to their business decision that meets the eye. Most assume that they aren’t accepting it because of possible security, reliability, or convenience issues that might arise but they actually have their sights on a bigger business move.

“Rite Aid, CVS, Walmart, Best Buy (BBY), and about 50 other retailers have been working on their own mobile payments system, called CurrentC.” Contrary to Apple Pay who works with Visa and Mastercard and then charges retailers roughly 2% per swipe, CurrentC is its’ own network and bypasses any fees by credit card companies.

I think this is a good move on the retailers end because they will be saving money by cutting out the middle man but on the other hand, I have to wonder how secure CurrentC will be. Apple Pay has been successful in partnering with retailers because it is seen as an extremely safe and secure network, so one has to wonder if CurrentC will be susceptible to hackers and other potential threats.

http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2014-10-27/why-rite-aid-and-cvs-stopped-taking-apple-pay#r=read