Is Business Headed for a Cognitive-First Future?

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As the world generates more and more data — at a clip of 2.5 quintillion bytes each day — it simultaneously struggles to manage it. With humans unable to manually process such large amounts of data and analyze its implications, the business world has to turn to machines to take on some of the load.

Smart machines can transform data points into patterns and insights; imbuing these machines with human knowledge and allowing them to “learn” from the additional information they gather can speed up the computations needed by businesses. Cognitive machines aren’t just reactive, however. With enough data, they can anticipate problems, suggest solutions, and carry them out without human intervention.

Cognitive predictive maintenance for the Industrial Internet of Things, an arena in which machines detect failures in other machines, is poised to influence whole industries. Empowering machines to perform unsupervised (or partially supervised) techniques to identify equipment failures quickly and accurately will save money for businesses. From preventing downtime to freeing up employee time for higher-level issues, cognitive predictive maintenance will revolutionize how enterprises handle asset management.

Thy Machine’s Will Be Done

Cognitive predictive maintenance uses sensors and artificial intelligence to monitor operations of complex systems, giving early warning in the form of anomaly detection. This early detection can help address minor issues before they turn into more serious problems.

Deep reinforcement learning, a component of many cognitive predictive maintenance systems, uses algorithms to determine which pieces of information — gathered from resources such as manuals and operator notes or through real-time happenings — are relevant. Combining these with feedback received from a company’s techs, these autonomous solutions will create a library of knowledge without human input — beyond the manual feedback, of course.

“The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is unlocking new possibilities for asset-intensive industries. … Sadly, almost 85 percent of these industries let this data sourced from trillions of data points go unused,” explain the experts at DataRPM, a Progress company, considered a cognitive disruptor in the IIoT maintenance space. “Only the remaining 15 percent possess the capabilities to derive insights from the limited data sourced from a select few sensors. This leads to building generalized models that encompass only a few assets, which are then extrapolated to the entire asset population.”

And that’s a big deal: DataRPM has calculated that a 1 percent improvement in productivity across the manufacturing industry can result in $ 500 million in annual savings. Predicting anomalies can result in a 70 percent elimination of breakdowns, the firm says. With McKinsey predicting the IoT industry will have an economic impact of approximately $ 11 trillion by 2025, that’s a lot of potential money left on the table without cognitive-first processes.

Which Industries Will Benefit?

The saying that “data is the new oil” has gained momentum in recent years, and even the oil industry should feel that way. It’s one of a handful of industries that stand to quickly benefit from cognitive predictive maintenance.

Oil and gas. With decades-old pipelines, old technology, and dangerous terrain, the oil and gas industry is ripe for machine intervention. Its outsized impact on the environment underscores the importance of predicting failures before they happen. Updated sensors and data analysis can result in not only avoided tragedies, but also 10 percent cost savings through enhanced performance.

Manufacturing. Factories are constantly on the lookout for ways to improve their analytics and equipment effectiveness. Cognitive predictive maintenance can help with both these areas, as well as with conducting cognitive visual inspections. Deloitte’s findings suggest that cognitive predictive maintenance helps manufacturing equipment achieve more than 90 percent effectiveness.

Automotive. Just like other manufacturing arenas, automotive companies are searching for ways to increase the uptime of their assembly lines and decrease malfunctions and subsequent recalls. Although only 8 percent of automotive manufacturers currently use cognitive predictive maintenance, these companies could save more than $ 1 million per day by issuing recalls sooner.

Aviation. Unsurprisingly, nearly every transportation and logistics industry can benefit from cognitive-first solutions, and aviation’s tight regulations, safety concerns, and replacement schedules make cognitive predictive maintenance a perfect fit. With an aircraft like the A350-900 costing nearly $ 305 million, it’s clear that downtime for any part of an airline’s fleet can be devastating. Cognitive predictive maintenance can help airlines take care of problems before they need to ground flights.

Energy and utilities. With the environment and climate changing rapidly, extreme weather power outages doubled between 2003 and 2012; extreme weather is considered the culprit behind 80 percent of outages. In a society becoming further chained to the internet and machines on a daily basis, energy and utility companies would do well to adopt cognitive predictive maintenance, which can help them predict and manage blackouts and brownouts before they happen.

Producing enormous amounts of data means we also need to build systems that can absorb and use that data. Industries that need to process such data before major problems occur likely have a cognitive-first future ahead of them, led by machines smart enough to fix what isn’t yet broken.

The post Is Business Headed for a Cognitive-First Future? appeared first on ReadWrite.


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TheSkimm is raising $12 million from Google and other investors to build its subscription business

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TheSkimm co-founders Danielle Weisberg (on the right) and Carly Zakin

The startup has a newsletter with seven million subscribers, but it wants more revenue sources.

TheSkimm started out as a newsletter aimed at millennial women, but its founders have always said they wanted to expand into other product lines.

Now co-founders Carly Zakin and Danielle Weisberg have more money to make that happen: They have raised a $ 12 million round led by Google Ventures, along with Spanx founder Sara Blakely. Earlier investors, including 21st Century Fox, RRE and Homebrew, are in this round as well. The company has raised $ 28 million since 2012.

Investors the company talked to said Zakin and Weisberg were looking for a $ 100 million valuation; their last round, in September 2016, valued the company at around $ 55 million. The company declined to comment on its current valuation or whether it had sold secondary shares as part of this round.

TheSkimm’s core product is a daily newsletter that boils down world events into breezy, bite-sized chunks — today’s edition, on the U.K. expelling Russian nationals following the assassination of a former spy: “The Kremlin’s prob not stressing about all this.” The company says it now has seven million readers who open the letter at least once a month, with a 30 percent daily open rate.

But theSkimm has always positioned itself as a media brand with aspirations for multiple revenue streams. It has been building some of them in the last few years and now boasts podcasts, an e-commerce business and a subscription calendar app.

The company says it will use some of the money from its new round to build more subscription services — a very 2018 idea in mediaworld — and that it hopes Google Ventures and its Google connections can help it with some of its product plans.

Or, in the words of the company: “We have revolutionized the delivery of news and information to the most coveted demographic and, as we look to grow our membership by expanding our products and services, GV’s expertise and data-driven mindset makes them the ideal partner to aid in our expansion.”

Weisberg and Zakin appeared at Code Media last month, along with Brit + Co CEO Brit Morin, where they talked about building their brands and businesses. Here’s the video from that session:

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What Happens When you Ignore Basic Business Practices?

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The unfortunate reality is that the majority of claim dollars lost to medical practices are from “self-inflicted injuries”.  While it may feel good to blame the insurance carrier or health plan and their bureaucratic, Byzantine rules, the fact is that physicians and their staff must come to grips with the reality that most of the dollars lost are through a lack of establishing proper management of their own revenue cycle, and most often, because of a decision to disregard basic business practices and payer rules.

Do you want to complain about the rules and not get paid?

Or have the money in your pocket and then complain?

Most claims dollars are lost due to:

  • Failure to identify the patient’s economic obligation before service is rendered to collect payment or guarantee payment before care is rendered.
  • Failure to submit claims in a timely manner
  • Failure to monitor the explanation of payments to identify denials or payment errors
  • Failure to resubmit initially denied claims in a timely manner with the correct information
  • Failure to appeal errors or denials in a timely manner

In reality, the failure is the physician’s, a failure to manage the revenue cycle of their practice.  It is a failure that costs big.

To eliminate the barriers that keep you from promptly receiving your hard earned money, you must make a commitment to learning how to win, and accept the responsibility for continual vigilance.  By doing so you can hold payers accountable for their performance, and in the process, achieve the funds you have legitimately earned. The reporting and other rules that have intrinsically been linked to EHR systems have been a major hindrance for small practices. Time is a precious resource, and physicians can’t always find time to fill out new reports

Payers set their own claim rules and timely filing deadlines.  They do so under their participation contract with you.  The rules are generally not spelled out in the contract, but in the payer’s “Provider Manual”, or in updates to that manual. Your contract with the payer generally includes a provision that gives them the right to issue new rules and policies and obligates you to their acceptance. Keeping up with the updates is necessary, as opportunities are missed for increased reimbursement, and plan specific rules not learned, cause an increase in denials. EHR platforms come with online scheduling, automatic bill pay and a number of other helpful tools that are beneficial to both physicians and patients.

Nearly all payers now have websites with the payer’s policies posted.  A posting is considered “notice” and the change is binding upon you.

Administrators and office managers benefiting from EHR adoption. Building schedules are simplified which reduces the number of missed appointments. Similarly, working with patients to address unpaid or outstanding bills is also more effective.

Even if you never received a provider manual, you cannot escape its obligations.  There is generally a little clause in your contract obligating you to its provisions.   If you can’t find the player’s manual, or if you are not getting the payer updates, call the plan and get a copy of the manual and get on their policy changes distribution list NOW.

Many plans now provide email alerts as to policy changes, which will automatically send you an email about payer policy changes. When combined with better clinical capacities and improved daily workflows, the benefits of EHR adoption create a portfolio of ways to improve a small practice.

Similarly, the payer’s posting of a new policy on a payer’s web site or publishing in their policy guide a policy change is binding upon you, and it could cost you.  You will need to have staff review the payer’s website on a regular basis to watch for new postings that impact your practice.

Regardless of the unreasonableness of the rules health plans create; they bind you under “contract law”.  Contract law legalizes the obligations accepted by two or more parties in a voluntary agreement.  Since the health plan wrote the contract, do you really think those terms and conditions are for your benefit or protection?  Unless the provisions of the contract conflict with state, Federal or local law or policy, you are bound to them, and the payer can enforce its contract terms.  You voluntarily entered into the agreement with the payer.  Whether or not you believe you had a choice, given the size of the payer’s market share, or what employers they insure, there is no law that obligates you to participate with any payer, therefore the relationship is voluntary. Fighting contract provisions is generally a costly and losing proposition.

So strong is the power of contract law, that the regulators have stated that they are not prepared to sit in judgment on the adequacy of documentation as to timely filing, stating “This gives rise to a question of fact which is beyond the jurisdiction of this administrative agency to resolve.  Questions of fact can only be decided in a court of law.”

More importantly, do you want to fight, or do you want to get your money?

Time is money is the old, overused adage, and in the case of claims, it’s your money.  This is where falling for the inbred excuses within the provider community comes back to haunt you.  It’s too confusing, they deny whatever they want, you can’t fight them, it’s not worth the time. Your practice needs to work its claims and receivables without allowing any time lags in getting your claim out the door, tracking its payment, appealing denials, and verifying the correctness of payment.

Vigilance is a responsibility that must be accepted by the physician and the staff.  For only by asserting your rights and knowledge of the rules, can an office protect its income and its money?  This requires an understanding of explanation of benefits/explanation of payments (EOB/EOP), as well as watching for notices of policies and changes that relate to claims.

Managing your revenue cycle means making sure that your claims process follows a process designed for your benefit, not just what is allowable by the payer.  One that always puts you in the position to press the payer for payment, using your state’s regulations as a club. That is if your state requires the payer to pay within 30 days of an electronic submission, hold them to that requirement.  Get your claims, electronically daily, and every day identify with the payer’s website any claims not paid on day 35.  If not listed, then re-submit, if listed, check where it is in the process.  If not set to be paid to you, file a complaint with your regulator of the payer.  If you have the process tight, you will have improved your cash flow, and ended the leakage of your dollars.

The blame game has no place in the operation of a medical practice, a medical business.  Blame is an easy way to dodge responsibility for an issue, a problem.

Too often practices fall into the trap of blaming the payers for everything, and in the process, ignore what should be their own responsibility and hide that responsibility from the physician.

The post What Happens When you Ignore Basic Business Practices? appeared first on ReadWrite.


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France Will Fine Apple and Google for ‘Abusive Business Practices’

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France is preparing to slap American tech giants Apple and Google with hefty fines as a result of “abusive business practices” according to reports. On Wednesday, the French Government confirmed that it is drawing up plans to take the two American tech firms to court for allegedly violating European commercial and trade laws. In an […]
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Microsoft Pix can scan business cards to your contacts, find people on LinkedIn

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LinkedIn used to have its own business card scanning app, CardMunch, which served a useful purpose in a world where paper cards simply refuse to die. But that app was shut down back in 2014, with LinkedIn suggesting users move to Evernote instead. Today, Microsoft is bringing back business card scanning – but this time, not with a dedicated card scanner app, but with its multipurpose, A.I.-powered camera app, Microsoft Pix.

Since its launch in 2016 as an iOS app that helps you take better pictures, Microsoft has increasingly found more productivity-related uses for Pix. In September, for example, the app was updated to include a way to snap better photos of documents, post-its, whiteboards, and yes, business cards.

But with today’s update, Pix’s business cards smarts are being upgraded – this time with a LinkedIn integration. In the latest version of the iOS app, Pix includes a new business card feature that will add new contacts both to your iPhone’s address book, as well as to your LinkedIn account.

To take advantage of this option, you just launch the app and point it at the business card. Pix then automatically detects what it’s seeing, and asks you if you want to “Add Contact” or “Find on LinkedIn.”

When you tap to add the contact, Pix captures and organizes the contact information – like name, phone, address, and URL – into the correct fields, and adds the newly created contact to your iPhone’s Contacts app. If you opt for LinkedIn, you’re able to view the person’s profile in the LinkedIn app on your iPhone, and optionally add them to your list of connections.

The business card scanning feature, like others in Pix, leverages A.I. technology under the hood to enhance and improve the image. In the case of business cards, Pix is able to detect the edges of the cards, sharpen focus, and tweak the angle of the photo to render the image in a straight-on perspective so it can extract the information from the card.

The Pix update is just one of several ways Microsoft has integrated with LinkedIn since acquiring the company for $ 26.2 billion in 2016. It has also tied LinkedIn into its other products, including Office 365,, Dynamics 365, Word, and Windows 10.

The updated version of Microsoft Pix is rolling out today. You may not have it yet, as it has to propagate across the App Store, so keep your eyes peeled.

Mobile – TechCrunch

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Alexa for Business: Amazon calling the shots in enterprise, it claims

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The retail and Web services giant is conquering the enterprise with its smart assistant, it says.

With Alexa for Business, Amazon looked set to bring its digital assistant into the enterprise technology space. It nows claims to have scored some early successes.

Announced on Internet of Business in December, the company has since been working with a number of companies to refine its Alexa for Business offering for use in the corporate environment.

Until recently, Amazon has pitched Alexa firmly at the consumer space, with skills that are mostly designed to control smart home devices, play music, or find the latest news and weather.

But according to a new blog post by Amazon’s chief technology officer, Werner Vogels, Amazon’s business customers have already built hundreds of private Alexa skills that are designed to help employees perform a range of tasks, “from getting internal news briefings to asking what time their help desk closes.”

The company now believes that the next generation of corporate systems and applications will be built using conversational interfaces.

Happy API talk

To prepare Alexa for deeper adoption in the workplace, Amazon has added a management layer and a set of APIs to integrate with more enterprise apps and infrastructures.

Alexa can already interact with a range of enterprise applications, including Salesforce, Microsoft Exchange and RingCentral, SAP Concur and SuccessFactors, and workflow tool ServiceNow.

According to Vogels, the voice assistant has been deployed in growing numbers of businesses to control office environments, give directions, book meeting rooms, report problems, or arrange transportation for employees.

“One of the biggest applications of voice in the enterprise is conference rooms, and we’ve built some special skills in this area to allow people to be more productive,” he said.

“With Alexa for Business, the administrator can configure conference rooms and integrate calendars with the devices. When you walk into a meeting, all you have to say is ‘Alexa, start my meeting’,” he added.

Vogels said that IT developers who want to take advantage of the voice interface can enable custom apps using the Alexa Skills Kit, and make their skills available solely for their organisations, if they wish.

“There are a number of agencies and systems integrators that can help with this, and there are code repositories with code examples for AWS,” he said.

Alexa in the office

Vogels shared the example of collaborative workspace provider, WeWork. The company has been using Alexa for Business in its everyday workflow for the past few months.

“They have built private skills for Alexa that employees can use to reserve conference rooms, file help tickets for their community management team, and get important information on the status of meeting rooms, ” said Vogels.

“Alexa for Business makes it easy for WeWork to configure and deploy Alexa-enabled devices – and the Alexa skills that they need to improve their employees’ productivity,” said Vogels.

Internet of Business says

IBM, Salesforce, Oracle, SAP, Microsoft, Apple, and Google are among the tech giants refocusing their businesses on cognitive services, AI, and machine learning. But – the earlier Siri aside – Alexa has swiftly become the byword for voice-enabled services, not to mention the stuff of a thousand memes.

Amazon has achieved this by focusing its Echo and Dot devices at the centre of people’s homes. If you can accept a technology in your living room, then you can accept in anywhere, perhaps.

However, while voice might be the most intuitive means for most human beings to communicate with each other, issue simple instructions to devices, or receive basic information, it is an inferior, serial, and time-consuming means of searching or scanning through large volumes of data.

For sighted people at least, screens, smart glasses, and graphical interfaces are likely to remain the quickest and most efficient means of interacting with business information and in-depth reports.

“Alexa, book me a ticket to New York” or “Alexa, show me the latest quarterly figures” are scenarios that work, while “Alexa, compare the past five years of financial results” isn’t, until the technology becomes capable of interpreting and summarising data.

That said, voice already accounts for over 20 percent of search traffic in the US, according to several recent reports.

Perhaps as mobiles force organisations to publish information in smaller and smaller chunks, and people’s attention spans get shorter and shorter as a result, voice interfaces’ influence will continue to grow and the business environment may get noisier.

Read more: Alexa beware! New smart home tests reveal serious privacy flaws

Read more: Kerching! Amazon pays $ 1 billion for a doorbell. Smart idea?

Read more: Amazon takes on UPS and FedEx – and catches Theresa May’s eye

The post Alexa for Business: Amazon calling the shots in enterprise, it claims appeared first on Internet of Business.

Internet of Business

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Stitch Fix made a big addition to its business that won’t show up in its Q2 financial results

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The new feature — called Extras — signals where the company is headed.

Stitch Fix posted another profitable quarter with revenue of $ 296 million that beat analyst expectations, but the most interesting company development received just a passing mention in the earnings announcement for the second quarter of its 2018 fiscal year.

That’s because the new Stitch Fix feature, called Extras, just launched three weeks ago so it hasn’t yet impacted the company’s financial performance. But its existence points toward the ambition the personal styling company has to grab more of the money its customers spend on clothing outside of their relationship with Stitch Fix.

Let’s back up for a second. Stitch Fix’s core offering uses a mix of personal stylists and algorithms to select five clothing and accessory items to ship to a customer at a time. Customers pay for and keep what they want, send back what they don’t. But they aren’t selecting what goes in their own box from the start.

The new Extras feature, however, allows customers to choose from an assortment of undergarments like bras and underwear to add to each box of five items their stylist has chosen for them. This might seem like a subtle addition, but it signals a big move by the company to supplement its main business built around discovery and serendipity with a more traditional retail shopping experience.

“By forcing them to go to another retailer to buy socks, there’s a chance they can be lured to buy other things at that retailer,” Stitch Fix CEO Katrina Lake said by way of explaining part of the rationale of the offering to Recode on Monday.

Lake didn’t specifically call out Amazon as “another retailer,” but that e-commerce giant happens to be one of the online companies that has gotten very, very good at selling apparel basics like socks and underwear. And Amazon also has been showing off its ambition in fashion beyond basics by unveiling a wide variety of in-house brands hawking everything from denim to women’s workwear. They are a threat.

Lake cautioned that the “personalization and … the surprise” at the core of Stitch Fix’s offering won’t be going anywhere. But it’s clear the company is thinking hard about the right way to balance the model on which it built its success with the model that will allow it to grab as much market share as possible.

And for good reason. A study from the research firm SecondMeasure found that Stitch Fix customers actually spend more at other top fashion retailers like Macy’s and Nordstrom in the 12 months after they become a Stitch Fix customer than they did in the 12 months prior.

For the second quarter of its fiscal year, Stitch Fix net revenue grew 24 percent to $ 296 million, beating out analyst average estimates of $ 291 million. The company also beat estimates on adjusted Ebitda, but its net income came in below expectations thanks to a one-time tax hit related to the Trump tax plan as well as the re-measurement of preferred stock.

Stitch Fix also issued sales guidance for its full fiscal year of $ 1.19 billion to $ 1.22 billion in net revenue; analysts were expecting around $ 1.2 billion. It also said its full-year Ebitda would come in at $ 45 million to $ 55 million; analysts were estimating $ 51 million for the full year.

Stitch Fix went public at $ 15 a share in November; as of Monday morning, its stock price had risen 52 percent since its IPO.

Recode – All

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ThinkPad X1 Carbon review (2018): The best business laptop returns

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Lenovo's ThinkPad lineup has always been focused on balancing tradition with modernity. It carries the legacy of IBM's iconic laptop brand, but the company also has to make sure it keeps up with the competition. That's truer than ever with the new X1…
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Stay on top of your goals with business Kindle books from $1

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Today only, Amazon is offering a selection of top business Kindle books at great prices. Titles start at only $ 0.99. If you don’t have a Kindle, fear not; you can read these on your smartphone or computer using any one of Amazon’s free Kindle reading apps.

It never hurts to brush up on your business skills or gain a new perspective on things you think you already know. “Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear” promises to show you how to tackle what you most love, and how to face down what you most fear. It’s only $ 2.99 and normally sells for around $ 15.

Another fascinating read, “Algorithms to Live By“, is an exploration of how computer algorithms can be applied to our everyday lives. Today you’ll pay $ 3.99 instead of the normal $ 18 price.

Make sure to check out this entire sale before the deals expire at the end of the day.

See at Amazon

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Microsoft Pix app gets business card feature with LinkedIn integration

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Microsoft’s intelligent camera app, Pix has been updated with a new business card feature with LinkedIn integration that will make it easier than ever to manage your contacts. The new business card feature for iPhones add contacts, not just to your iPhone’s contacts but also to your LinkedIn account. To use the new Pixel business card feature, point your iPhone at a contact’s business card and Pix will automatically detect this and asks if you would like to add contacts to your LinkedIn account as well. Once you take the action, Pix will capture and organize numbers, email addresses, and URLs – and add this new contact into your iPhone’s Contacts app. It will add the accurate information in the correct fields within your address book. If you’re signed into LinkedIn on your iPhone, this allows you to store the business cards of people you meet directly to your account. You’ll be able to instantly see their profile, job title and work experience, which makes it easier to stay in touch with the required information. Microsoft’s Pix is capable of automatically detecting whiteboards and documents in real time and intelligently adjusts camera settings for these types of photos. You can download the Microsoft Pix app directly from the App …
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