Category Archives: Cloud Computing

Is FBI set to open encrypted iPhone: Report

Is FBI set to open encrypted iPhone: Report

Israel’s Cellebrite, a provider of mobile forensic software, is helping the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation’s attempt to unlock an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino, California shooters, the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper reported on Wednesday.

If Cellebrite succeeds, then the FBI will no longer need the help of Apple Inc, the Israeli daily said, citing unnamed industry sources.

Cellebrite officials declined to comment on the matter.

Apple is engaged in a legal battle with the U.S. Justice Department over a judge’s order that it write new software to disable passcode protection on the iPhone used by the shooter.

The two sides were set to face off in court on Tuesday, but on Monday a federal judge agreed to the government’s request to postpone the hearing after U.S. prosecutors said a “third party” had presented a possible method for opening an encrypted iPhone.

The development could bring an abrupt end to the high-stakes legal showdown which has become a lightning rod for a broader debate on data privacy in the United States…

Full Article Source: Reuters

Montreal – A Burgeoning International Startup Hub

Montreal – A Burgeoning International Startup Hub

Montreal Startup Industry 

Montreal, ranked at number 20 in Compass’ 2015 Global Startup Ecosystem Ranking and home of our own CloudTweaks, is, verified by our firsthand observation, a burgeoning startup city. A liberal and fun capital, the low-cost but high-quality education system attracts much talent, as does the low cost of living. In January, the first Startup Weekend Montreal – Sustainable City event, powered by Google for Entrepreneurs, kicked off at Le Salon 1861, one of many Montreal affairs targeting innovators, investors and business leaders alike aimed at the development of functional startups and successful collaboration.

The Economics of Montreal

Though Silicon Valley still tops the global startup charts, the cost of living is high, and since start-ups traditionally are investing almost everything they have into product development, finding an accommodating but inexpensive home for your startup could be the make or break factor. According to Numbeo’s cost of living comparison, Montreal easily defeats San Jose providing a value for money, startup-centric hub, with Montreal offering lower transportation, utility and general consumer prices than Silicon Valley (San Jose), and rental prices a whopping 70% cheaper. In fact, Expatistan’s index suggests an overall 32% reduction in the cost of living for those choosing Montreal over San Jose.

montreal-cost-of-living

Providing the Amenities

But Montreal isn’t merely good for the startup’s budget; it also provides an ideal setting for startup initiation and activation with its low-priced talent pool, sound infrastructure, and bright cultural background. Says Carl Mercier, co-founder and CEO of Montreal startup VerageSale Inc., “There’s a vibrant startup scene [in Montreal]. It’s not a big startup scene but it’s a vibrant one. There is lots of activity, a lot of events, a lot of early-stage capital. Startups can get off the ground cheaply and quickly.”

Investment Prospects

Some of the world’s tech giants are already taking notice of Montreal’s many positive features, and Amazon has just announced that it will be open its first Canadian data center in Montreal. Not only the first in Canada, this data center for AWS cloud services will be the first such data center situated outside of the US, and the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal has welcomed this news as proof that Montreal’s IT sector is a top worldwide competitor. Notes Michel Leblanc, president of the Board, “The arrival of such a company in Montreal will have very positive impacts on innovation and generate creative projects.

Closer to home, Telus, a Canadian national telecommunications company, is investing $2 billion in IoT, cloud services, and infosec in the next five years, with infrastructure and technology investments to advance services across networking infrastructures, business facilities, and health and community amenities.

Montreal Startups

For more about some of the flourishing Montreal startups, have a look at Built in MTL’s line up which includes Hexoskin (wearable body metrics for human health and performance), DoBundle (powering commerce across the visual web), E14N (infrastructure for social software), and many other innovators. And for an unforgettable and unconventional startup event, be sure to check out Montreal’s Startupfest, a global gathering of the world’s best founders, entrepreneurs, investors, and mentors taking place in July.

By Jennifer Klostermann

Weighing in on Recurring Revenues to Tip Your Business’ Scale

Weighing in on Recurring Revenues to Tip Your Business’ Scale

Tip Your Business’ Scale

CEOs, investors, analysts, and business advisors have fallen in love with the recurring revenue business model. In fact, when comparing like software companies, Wall Street gives 2x higher valuations for businesses with successful recurring revenue models in place. It’s no wonder that research indicates 50% of US businesses have already adopted or are considering to adopt a recurring revenue business model.

And why not? Recurring revenue is more predictable than one‐time sales.

The Fast Track

Global 5,000 public companies are quickly moving to transform via recurring revenue models. Here’s why: suppose you run a $100 million company and 90 percent of that is recurring revenue. When the next year starts, you can count on $90 million in repeat revenue and only need to book $10 million in new sales to reach last year’s level. If you run a $100 million non‐recurring revenue business, you start at zero every year and need to book the entire $100 million each time.

Significant competitive advantages exist with recurring revenue models that can adjust to meet changing market demands. Compare the fates of two movie rental companies: subscription‐based goliath Netflix and once‐mighty Blockbuster, a company that relied on one‐time transactions.

netflix-subscription

(Image Source: Statista)

As customer demands and preferences shifted towards new technological advancements, Netflix soared and Blockbuster headed for bankruptcy. Customers clearly preferred the convenience of Netflix’s distribution methods and the cost advantages of a recurring revenue model, which enabled the company to develop a rapidly expanding and predictable business.

Beyond Basic Billing

Recurring revenue models offer advantages that go beyond predictable streams:

  • Capability to scale revenues with costs
  • Lower cost of sales
  • Added bundling potential
  • Higher customer lifetime value
  • Exponential growth and valuation

Who doesn’t want that?

Yet, with the added flexibility and increased benefits of recurring revenue models also comes added complexity that can trickle down into every aspect of managing customers and products. Keep in mind that while the model is compelling, failing to manage its hidden complexities can negate the benefits.

business-meet

Many mistakenly view recurring revenue as just basic subscription billing, like paying for a time-honored magazine subscription. But recurring revenues come in many flavors: basic subscriptions, usage-based, tiered, and hybrid models to name a few. As a result, recurring revenue management may be one of the most misunderstood concepts in the business world. Many managers think of recurring revenue management as repeat customer orders handled by the billing department, with printers spewing out invoice after invoice, while the accounts receivables manager sends out an occasional collection email. If it were only that simple.

Smart businesses, on the other hand, realize that taking advantage of recurring revenue setups require technology that not only handles the bill, but also monetizes their products and services over time.

Go All in: Manage Every Revenue Moment

Bill handling is just the start. To maximize recurring revenue, companies need to manage the complete customer relationship rather than the discrete transaction. The goal is to engage with the customer over the course of years or even decades. To effectively manage the relationship you must manage every customer interaction or “revenue moment”. Since every interaction has the potential to add profits or lose customers, management is critical.

The good news is recurring revenue businesses have ample opportunities to manage these moments. Here are some revenue moments that should be managed and accompanying actions that could be taken:

  • Customer acquisitions – introduce attractive bundles or offers
  • Product and service delivery – add the option for support packages
  • Management and rating of usage – give the opportunity to upgrade plans when usage nears its threshold
  • Financial interactions – alert customers of expiring credit cards to avoid service disruptions
  • Data interactions – offer new features or services based on data usage with upsells and cross-sells

By focusing on the relationship versus the transaction, you can proactively guide a positive customer experience into a loyal, long-term partnership.

A Paradigm Shift in the Back Office

When embarking on a recurring revenue model, you should rethink how you currently price, package, and manage revenue. To build a successful recurring revenue management system, “normal” communications and billing systems must also change. What’s traditionally relegated to back office operations should move into the front office, driven by the focus on the customer relationship.

Hop aboard. The recurring revenue implementation journey may be windy, but the end destination is worth its weight in gold.

By Tom Dibble

FBI Hiring A “Third Party” To Hack Open San Bernardino iPhone?

FBI Hiring A “Third Party” To Hack Open San Bernardino iPhone?

“Third Party” iPhone Hack

Here comes a new twist in the ongoing Apple vs. FBI saga over the iPhone used by one of the shooters in last year’s San Bernardino terror attack. While nothing is confirmed yet, it seems like the FBI may have found a solution to unlock the device without any assistance from Apple engineers, which the company had repeatedly refused to provide in any case.

The US prosecutors on Monday submitted before the court that a “third party”, of which little is known at this point, had offered to help the federal agency with a possible method to hack open the encrypted iPhone used by the San Bernardino terrorist.

On Sunday, March 20, 2016, an outside party demonstrated to the FBI a possible method for unlocking Farook’s iPhone,” the Justice Department’s lawyers briefed the court. “Testing is required to determine whether it is a viable method that will not compromise data on Farook’s iPhone. If the method is viable, it should eliminate the need for the assistance from Apple…set forth in the All Writs Act Order in this case.”

The federal judge hearing the case agreed to the government’s plea to postpone Tuesday’s hearing so as to allow the FBI just enough time to evaluate the new method. The Justice Department will update the court on April 5, as reported by Reuters.

Why This Sudden Change In The Government’s Stand?

Until now, the US government had maintained that it was practically impossible for them to hack open the device in question without any assistance from the Apple engineers who had designed and developed the encryption system in the iPhone.

security-cloud

Apple, however, refused to comply with the FBI’s demands saying that it was an overreach by the government that could lead to disastrous consequences to consumers’ online safety and privacy. In fact, there were reports that Apple encryption engineers were ready to offer mass resignation if the government tried to force them to give into its demands.

Meanwhile, Apple lawyers seemed to have been taken aback by this sudden shift in the government’s stand on the issue. Apparently, they were oblivious to the fact that the government had been exploring other avenues to hack into the phone without Apple’s assistance, the Wired reports.

Interestingly, this has led many to believe that the government was somewhat uncertain about its chances in the legal battle. Meanwhile, there are also those who believe that this could be a part of the government’s larger ambitions of having an encryption backdoor.

Apple won’t be hurt by a ‘third party’ hack

If the government indeed pulls off the much speculated ‘third party’ stint with absolute success,it is still unlikely to hurt Apple’s public image, according to analysts monitoring the development in the Apple vs. FBA case. It will be a matter of serious concern for users’ right to privacy, though, they point out.

However, it won’t be all hunky dory for the fruit themed company either. A third party hack of its encryption system will inevitably shatter the idea that Apple creates ‘unhackable’ software.

By Brent Anderson

Global Startup Ecosystem Rankings

Global Startup Ecosystem Rankings

Global Startup Ecosystem Rankings

Compass, formerly the startup Genome, released their 2015 Global Startup Ecosystem Ranking with a revamped component index using five major components: Performance, funding, talent, market reach, and startup experience. Unsurprisingly, Silicon Valley tops the list, and in fact, the US dominates the top ten rankings. But many regions globally are fighting for their own places on the list, as Canada positions itself firmly in the late teens, Australia makes a show with Sydney at 16, and the European continent boasts several hubs including London at 6, Berlin at 9, and Paris at 11. It should be noted, Compass’ index does not include startup ecosystems from China, Taiwan, Japan, or South Korea due to challenges in acquiring survey participants and complete data.

SER_2015_ranking_table_Final

(Survey Source: Compass.co)

Socioeconomic Impact of Startup Ecosystems

The Compass research points to a global phenomenon of tech entrepreneurship with startup ecosystems emerging rapidly worldwide. Today’s tech entrepreneurs have all of the necessary tools and resources at their fingertips, as well as the market conditions to scale companies to billion dollar enterprises faster than ever before. States Compass, “Given technology startups’ critical role in the information economy, the importance of healthy startup ecosystems only stands to increase in the future.

Key Findings

Five key findings have been identified by Compass:

  • Ecosystems have become more interconnected, and startup teams have become more international. 37% of all of the funding rounds of the top 20 ecosystems included at least one investor from an external ecosystem.
  • Exit growth is rising. Across the top 20 ecosystems, exit growth rose 81% annually from 2013 to 2014.
  • Venture capital (VC) trends in startup ecosystems appear to be on the increase as from 2013 to 2014 a VC investment growth of 95% could be seen across the top 20 ecosystems.
  • The ecosystem rankings have changed dramatically since 2012. New York, Austin, Bangalore, Singapore, Berlin and Chicago made the greatest leaps, while Vancouver, Toronto, Sydney, and Seattle slid down the ranks.
  • Though gender equality is missing across all startup ecosystems, the trend for female entrepreneurship is up, and the number of female founders in the global startup ecosystem grew by 80% over the last three years.

Noteworthy Omissions

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(Image Source: Stefan Holm / Shutterstock)

Though The Telegraph calls Sweden the startup capital of Europe, submitting that Stockholm is second only to Silicon Valley as a tech hub on a per capita basis, this Nordic city tends to be overlooked in many global startup rankings. Says Skype creator Niklas Zennström, “Stockholm is becoming a world leader in technology.” Thanks to a small population of 9.8 million people, just a little more than London, Sweden’s tech scene has thrived due to its global outlook, and Zennström believes the success of Stockholm’s startups is owing to the realization that their domestic market is not big enough. With the average 1.4 years required for international company expansion from small countries and substantial government investment in Sweden’s tech infrastructure, it’s no wonder Stockholm’s tech scene is booming. Stockholm’s exclusion from this (and other) list should be a reminder that statistics aren’t able to account for everything, and the startup environment is one which lives by its own rules.

By Jennifer Klostermann

The Rise of Fintech and the End of Traditional Banking

The Rise of Fintech and the End of Traditional Banking

The Rise of Fintech

Developments in financial technology, or fintech, are changing the way we make payments, with new products gradually transforming how personal and commercial transactions are processed. The pace of these developments has opened up a whole range of opportunities for fintech start-ups and new players; but the arrival of cutting-edge technology has also presented challenges to traditional banks and the retail sector, which have had to adjust their strategies accordingly. For customers, however, there are two key areas where we can see the impact of fintech – namely, security and the arrival of the “mobile wallet”. In this post, I want to take an in-depth look at these areas and weigh up the challenges and opportunities for retailers.

From the customer’s point of view, fintech has the potential to deliver increased security and improved flexibility. Indeed, the consumer and retail sector has led the early adoption of new payment methods, with digital growth encouraging and facilitating the move towards a “post cash” economy. According to a report published last year, mobile payments grew from an estimated $5bn in 2013 to as much as $16bn in 2015. As customer expectations change and consumers grow used to mobile payments, it is becoming more and more important for retailers to provide an optimized, secure and convenient payment system.

shutterstock_394354936

(Image Source: Shutterstock)

The smartphone is of course one of the main factors behind this innovation. Consumers can now easily make in-store payments and transfer money to friends using their phone. Last month’s launch of Apple Pay in China is a reminder of the scale of the opportunities – even if the company must first overcome resistance from big banks and retailers. This is important because the system requires a digitized version of a credit or debit card to be stored in the “mobile wallet”. At present, transactions are secured using “digital secure remote payment”, with authentication with Apple TouchID authorizing a transaction up to limited amount.

But Apple is just one entrant in a market that is moving rapidly and in different directions, and shifts in consumer expectations are as much an indicator as a driver of change. Pivotal here is the role being played by cloud-based technology, new security measures and the analysis of big data. Cloud- based solutions, for example, have allowed organizations to develop scalable and cost-effective services, with APIs allowing for more intelligent and efficient data management. Providers of online payment systems such as Stripe and PayPal have been working hard to expand and develop their services, as well as competing to get their products embedded into social media channels.

GPS Developments

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(Image Source: dennizn / Shutterstock)

This new technology has prompted some to voice concerns about privacy and information security. In response, traditional banks and start-ups have been investing large sums in the development of new security technology, with biometric security – fingerprints, facial recognition and even iris scanning – now widely available. This is combined with the development of increasingly sophisticated algorithms based on individuals’ spending history. One significant development is the possibility of using GPS to confirm an individual’s location: if an alert is raised by a potentially fraudulent payment, the bank can use the account holder’s smartphone to verify their location. Some customers, however, may still have doubts about the possible implications for privacy.

Big data is another area of real opportunity for banks and for start-ups looking to disrupt the market. Indeed, a bank’s capacity to leverage the possibilities opened up by big data is becoming an increasingly important factor in the competition for customers and clients. This is the reason why banks, and venture capitalists, have started to invest such huge sums in the analysis of financial data. Those banks that can effectively analyze and interpret the vast quantities of financial information will be better able to develop new, client-friendly products that today’s tech-savvy customers want and, perhaps more importantly, deliver a more reliable and cost-effective service. With person-to- person (P2P) mobile payments, for instance, customers can now make payments directly into other accounts with their smartphone.

In light of these developments in fintech, traditional retailers and online businesses need to do several things. To begin with, we need to come up with strategies and payment solutions that account for changing customer expectations by delivering fast, secure and convenient payment across multiple devices. But, perhaps more importantly, we need to find ways of leveraging new technologies and payments infrastructure to remain competitive and ultimately deliver better products and services to our customers.

By George Foot

Startups To Have Reached $1 Billion Valuation In Record Time

Startups To Have Reached $1 Billion Valuation In Record Time

Startups $1 Billion Valuation

Not a lot of startups are resilient enough to vanquish the initial challenges and reach $1 billion valuation, also known as the “unicorn” status. But some of them eventually manage to get there a lot faster than others. A couple of years ago Dan Price wrote about how Venture Capitalists are using big data analytics to spot potential investment plays.

For those who are regularly involved with SMEs, venture capital, and company valuations, it is common knowledge that start-ups that exit for more than $1 billion dollars are extremely rare – often termed ‘unicorn’ companies.

Despite their rarity, it should come as no surprise that venture capitalists are very keen to identify them at the earliest possible stage. The problem is that it is much easier said than done. Traditionally, locating, predicting and investing in unicorn companies has required a lot of time and effort; a good investment could reap huge rewards, whereas a poor investment could cause bankruptcy, yet a good VC that could maximise returns consistently was hard to find…

When the term “unicorn” was first coined around 2002-2003, only a few startups could qualify for that prestigious and rather enviable title. While finding the actual number of unicorns in existence today is a rather herculean task, there is no second opinion on the fact that those belonging to the tech variety have been increasing in number at a rather exponential rate.

Infographics below have been discovered via Visualcapitalist.

Unicorn Births Per Year

unicorns-getting-faster

The Fastest Startups

unicorns-time-to-1-billion

By Brent Anderson

How Collaboration Technology Is Shaping the Modern Workplace

How Collaboration Technology Is Shaping the Modern Workplace

Collaboration Technology

Thanks to the innovation and constant developments of the Cloud, organizations have a global reach both front of house with regards to customer access, service delivery, and product expansion, as well as in the backbone of their establishments via remotely located employees and offices. Statista forecasts the number of smartphone users to reach 2.08 billion in 2016, making it clear that now, more than ever before, we are a mobile world.

statista-mobile

(Image Source: Statista)

This increase in mobile connectivity has fostered a culture of real-time communication and instant gratification, and successful organizations take advantage of this immediacy of information.

Instant Information

Though business collaboration tools connecting divided employees have long been available, recent technology has made them practical, user-friendly, and immediate. Multisite offices communicate promptly with one another, and remote workers need never be out of the loop. Moreover, getting a team together for a meeting need not be a scheduling ordeal should collaboration tools that make it possible to connect via any device from anywhere be implemented.

Teamwork

Effective teamwork promotes organizational strength through unity and support, and a recent study from Dimension Data found that collaboration technology is essential to driving teamwork. Properly informed and connected teams are better able to work in harmony and thereby accomplish tasks quickly and deliver promptly. Furthermore, making relevant materials and information instantly accessible, with updates and revisions immediately implemented, can reduce duplication of effort, diminish time requirements, and improve employee satisfaction and working relationships.

Face-to-Face Interaction Surmounting Remote Challenges

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Though the telephone, and more recently email, make it possible to communicate quickly, these tools have never quite managed to achieve the level of communication that face-to-face engagements accomplish. Just as a picture paints a thousand words, so visual communication provides the necessary appreciation of emotion and nuance conveyed through body language. With better communication comes greater cooperation, enriched comprehension, and fruitful collaboration.

Collaboration Technology


BogdanCarstoiuToday’s collaboration technology is quickly advancing, and effective systems provide the tools for satisfying teamwork through instant information and superior interpersonal communication. Says Bogdan Carstoiu, CEO of Hubgets, “[People]
want instant communication because they have it everywhere outside the office and it’s a great way to stay in touch with everyone.” Hubgets delivers a user-friendly solution that breaks down distance barriers, keeps track of and organizes communications, and unites employees, whilst carefully guarding against intrusion through intuitive features designed from ground up to reduce interruptions and enable users to take charge of their time. “Our challenge,” explains Carstoiu, “was to build an application that doesn’t abuse people’s time and limits the number of interruptions. This is totally different to what most apps try – to capture the entire user attention.”

Successful businesses are no longer relying on email chains and second-hand telephone conversations that tend to lose track of core focuses with each forward or rendition, but instead are shaping their workplaces to be efficient, information-driven, and concentrated hubs that provide fulfilling and gratifying engagement through better collaboration technology. Hubgets is a browser-based collaboration solution that helps employees instantly share knowledge through chat, voice, and video, eliminating distractions and contrivances which interfere with productivity. The app solves the paradox of keeping employees connected and well informed while providing them with a collaborative environment that allows them to take hold of their time and focus on their work.

Designed to natively gather and centralize the information available in communication flows between employees and with people outside the company, Hubgets creates a valuable knowledge base that all employees benefit from. The advanced search engine at the core of the app enables employees to instantly find the information they need. Due to the instant access to the knowledge produced on projects and tasks, employees work more efficiently and deliver end-results much faster.

In Hubgets, communication flows converge into workflows that remain transparent at all times. Managers have full visibility over work progress and can track information flowing in and out the company. By working with that kind of transparency and having the tools to access, use, and reuse the company knowledge, employees and managers are much more likely to become more productive and achieve business goals.

By Jennifer Klostermann

CloudTweaks Comics
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