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99X Technology’s two project teams with the awards

Setting an indelible mark on Sri Lanka’s rapidly developing ICT industry, software product engineering specialist 99X Technology swept up two awards at the recently concluded National Best Quality ICT Awards (NBQSA) 2013 in its initial year of participation in the competition. The company picked up a bronze award for ‘WAG – Web Accessibility Guide’ in the R&D category and a merit for the iPad app ‘ALMUR’ in the Tools and Infrastructure Applications category.

“Research and development is fundamental to our strategy, keeping in line with our aim to constantly innovate. Hence, the award signifies our commitment towards reaching this goal,” stated 99X Technology Co-Founder and CEO Mano Sekaram when commenting on these achievements.

The app ALMUR is a product suite that enables binary decision-making based on approximate logic, capable of making decisions for cases expressed in vague human terms. A typical question asked from ALMUR would be: ‘If the student’s Math grade is high, English grade is low and Geography grade is somewhat high, should we pass the student?’ ALMUR deals with problems like this using a theory known as ‘fuzzy logic’.

ALMUR libraries are also currently being used in two iOS navigation apps, ‘Norge-serien’ and ‘Boating Norway’, and their popularity has proved that the use of a fuzzy logic rule base is far better than any other logic based solution that was available.

2 The bronze award for ‘WAG – Web Accessibility Guide’ in the R&D category and the merit for the ‘ALMUR’ app in the Tools and Infrastructure Applications category

Interestingly enough, this app was built by a project team that consisted mostly of interns from a couple of higher education institutes and universities in the country, brought in through 99X Technology’s university relationship programme, who worked side-by-side with experienced in-house staff, which speaks volumes about the abilities of the up and coming talent in the country.

The Web Accessibility Guide (WAG) addresses a challenging requirement for websites today – to be accessible to millions of visually impaired users. WAG is a toolset that makes the internet friendlier to visually handicapped people and packages four products with its toolset, namely WAG DevKit, WAG Report, WAG Assistant and WAG Community.

Three kinds of visual impairments are considered in WAG – total blindness, low vision and colour blindness. It assists developers and reviewers to identify accessibility flaws on websites and applications, while also enabling visually impaired people to apply accessibility corrections automatically on websites they access. The team that built WAG has also provided a user-friendly interface in order to encourage volunteers and developers to enrich the software by testing it and submitting new rules.

Organised by the BCS The Chartered Institute for IT Sri Lanka (BCSSL) Section, NBQSA is an annual event open to 16 categories of software ranging from applications and infrastructure tools software to media and entertainment applications software. The objectives of the awards are threefold – to provide recognition to outstanding achievements of individuals and organisations in Sri Lanka that have contributed to the development of ICT, to create a window to gain international recognition for locally developed ICT products and to improve standards and the quality of local ICT products and services to be able to compete in the international marketplace.

99X Technology, since its inception over a decade ago, has rapidly built itself up to become a leading player in Sri Lanka’s IT/BPO industry. Headquartered in Colombo with offices in Oslo, Norway, the company specialises in delivering high-end software products to independent software vendors (ISVs) worldwide and has, to date, delivered over 100 high quality commercial software products. As a testament to its best practices and attention towards the development of its workforce, it was placed among the 15 Great Places To Work For in Sri Lanka this year and cinched an award for talent management at the fourth Asia’s Best Employer Brand Awards 2013 in Singapore, amongst many other accolades.

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Margaret Bullen, who helped wire up the original Colossus at Bletchley Park during World War II, attended the opening of the Heroines of Computing gallery.

 

The National Museum of Computing has opened a gallery celebrating the role of women in computer history.

Sponsored by Google, it documents the important role women have played in building and programming pioneering computers.

The idea for the gallery arose when the Museum found that only 10% of students on its educational courses were women.

It is hoped that the gallery will help to inspire more young women and girls to take up a job in the computer world.

“Girls must take advantage of the revival of computing in schools and recognise and grab the opportunities that our wonderful sector offers,” said Dame Stephanie Shirley at the opening ceremony for the gallery.

The Museum is sited in the grounds of Bletchley Park, the wartime code-cracking centre.

On show at the gallery are contributions from Joyce Wheeler, one of the first academics to use the Edsac computer; Mary Coombs, the first female programmer for the Lyons Electronic Office and Kathleen Booth, an academic who wrote the first book about programming in Assembly language.

 

Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-24036723

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MillenniumIT, a leading technology solutions provider, has become the first Silver Certified Partner in Sri Lanka of Cisco Systems, the worldwide leader in networking, transforming how people connect, communicate and collaborate.
The Silver Certification recognises partners for their broad technical skills and is a reward for loyalty to Cisco, for capabilities in providing value-added services, and for a commitment to customer success.
Gladwyn Georgez, Head of Networking Business at MillenniumIT said: “As the only company in Sri Lanka to be a Silver Certified partner of Cisco Systems, based on local expertise, our new partner status is a great achievement for MillenniumIT. The award of this partnership level demonstrates our engineering expertise and our experience in providing our customers with the best solutions.
“It is also recognition of our commitment, dedication and investment in developing those skills by the worldwide leader in networking. As a Silver Certified partner of Cisco, our customers can now benefit from even greater returns on investments for product and service offerings from MillenniumIT.”
B. Raghavendran, Director, Partner Organisation, Cisco India and SAARC stated: “Partners are an intrinsic part of Cisco’s DNA, and the certification process substantiates the excellence that they demonstrate to truly become an extension of Cisco. We are extremely pleased to have MillenniumIT as our first Silver Partner in Sri Lanka.
With specialisations in Silver Partner, MillenniumIT has made an investment in delivering an integrated and customised technology solutions that today’s customers demand. This certification will differentiate them from competition, help them tap new businesses, enable them to evolve their business model and make them more relevant to their customers.”

Source: DailyFT

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LG, global leader in electronic technology, and the first to produce innovative new products, is set to introduce the world’s first smartphone with embedded fingerprint scanner for online security at your fingertips.
Passwords are easy to crack and difficult to remember. Just think how easy it would be to scan a fingerprint, for example, to check your Gmail account or authorise an online payment? This, thanks to LG, will be a reality very soon, probably as early as next month.
Meanwhile, a group of 24 internet companies, dubbed the Fast Identity Online (Fido) Alliance, is pushing for doing away with passwords to counter rising global e-commerce fraud. These global scams cost companies in North America alone more than US$ 3.5 billion last year.
Fido, which PayPal and Google are part of, believes that fingerprinting of biometrics is an effective solution to the global problem. Formed only last July, it is intent on paving the way for consumers to use their fingerprints, instead of passwords, to access online shopping, banking or payment portals.
In fingerprint scanning, the embedded scanner in smartphones is activated and users are prompted for their fingerprints when they go online to make purchases or change personal details. Fingerprints cannot be forged, and therefore, this system would present absolute online security.
Since LG introduced their Optimus L-Series, a range of innovative stellar smartphone handsets, and the mind-blowing Optimus 4X HD – the pride and joy of LG, the company has had record sales which have boosted them to be one of the first three largest smartphone manufacturers in the world. Smartphones are essentially mini computers.
You can watch the latest movies, watch TV shows, listen to your favourite music, browse the internet with a touch of your finger, and even if you don’t understand how to use a computer, you can swipe down important notes from a business phone call, take gorgeous lifelike pictures and record high definition videos.
Abans, the agent for LG in Sri Lanka, say that they hope to launch the new LG smartphone with fingerprint scanning in the third quarter of this year.

Source : DailyFT

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Southeast Asia’s premier and focused event for Human Resources and Human Capital Management: HR Technology Showcase 2013 was held at Putra World Trade Centre, Kuala Lumpur from 2 to 3 July. This year’s HR Technology Showcase brought the HR and IT fraternity of diverse industries on to one platform, covering the complete spectrum of HR solutions. Microimage along with its partner Formis Network Services Sdn Bhd in Malaysia featured its HCM solutions and other cutting-edge technologies at this showcase. Microimage Head of HCM Business Suren Rupasinghe represented the company along with Formis.

microimageHRM
Today, HR is considered a vital operation that propels organisations to the forefront by managing human capital efficiently. Modern HCM software providers demonstrate how HR professionals could drive performance in organisations through advanced HCM applications. Thus, HR professionals need to be conversant in the latest HCM technology to ensure they are making the best use of the latest technology.
Microimage, Sri Lanka’s leading HCM solution provider featured its comprehensive HCM solution to HR professionals in the region, demonstrating how organisations could benefit by applying the latest HCM technology to an even wider range of people management activities. At this year’s exhibition, Microimage showcased the enhancements made in its existing HCM suite. HR insights, the optimised version of HR analytics facilitates organisations to view key HR statistics of the organisation conveniently. Leveraging modifications of other applications, Microimage extended its existing Employee Self Service module as well. Windows 8 Metro App for Employee Self Service; enables employees to maintain a host of key HR self-service functions.

microimagehrm2013

Further Microimage focused on introducing its latest social performance management system: Workswiftly to the region. Workswiftly redefines performance management with complete social collaboration thus enabling companies to effectively align, motivate, and drive performance of people. It allows creating goals in line with corporate objectives, cascading through goal contribution coming from team members, instant feedback, giving employees the opportunity to share their milestone achievements with their internal groups to many other interesting features. The Workswiftly Beta version was unveiled to Sri Lankan HR professionals recently.  “Our new social performance system will become a flagship service to the entire HCM product portfolio. Apart from the new social service, our new analytics will help HR professionals to extract HR analytics in an accurate and timely fashion,” said Suren Rupasinghe. “With our presence at the HR Technology Showcase 2013, we are delighted to introduce our innovations to the region and we look forward to expanding our market share in South East Asia by securing deals with leading organisations,” Rupasinghe further stated.
Apart from the HR Tech show, Microimage participated in multiple events during the last few weeks. The topmost digital business event in Asia Pacific: CeBIT 2013 was held from 28 to 30 May at the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre in Darling Harbour, Australia where Microimage, along with its partner Peercore IT in Australia featured HCM and Workswiftly. A strong participation from IT corporations was seen at the exhibition to gather insights on Microimage’s latest innovation, Workswiftly. The Microimage HCM product also drew high attendance from a number of BPOs and service organisations across the region.

Peercore IT also featured Microimage HCM in the Food Service Australia Expo 2013 showcasing the HCM solution and Workswiftly at this event.
Back in Sri Lanka, Microimage showcased its innovations at the National HR conference organised by the Institute of Personnel Management. This two-day conference saw a number of delegates from leading companies in Sri Lanka, India and Bangladesh showing great interest towards the Microimage Workswiftly product.
“The key objective of organising this road show was to explore new opportunities for HCM and introduce Workswiftly to the region. We expect to strengthen our position in the region by penetrating the markets with our latest innovations. With this purpose we initiated the HCM and Workswiftly road show and Microimage gained significant brand recognition in Asia Pacific Region through this road show,” Rupasinghe stated.

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Mr. Kapila Chandrasena, CEO, Mobitel [extreme left] and Mr. S.M. Gotabaya Jayarathne, Secretary, Ministry of Education [extreme right] exchanging the agreements. Hon. Bandula Gunawardana, Minister of Education [2nd from left] and Hon. Mohan Lal Grero, Monitoring MP – Education, Ministry of Education [2nd from right] are also pictured here.

Thursday, 4th July 2013, Colombo: The National Mobile Service Provider, Sri Lanka Telecom Mobitel announced a partnership with the Ministry of Education in supporting the Mahindodaya Scholarship Programme.

Keep in line with His Excellency President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s vision to bridge the digital divide in the country, Mobitel as one of the leading communication service providers in the industry has always stood at the forefront of introducing cutting-edge technology to support this cause. The most recent introduction of the Vidunena eLearning curriculum where students and teachers can gain access to interactive educational video content is one of the most advanced programmes introduced to support the education system in Sri Lanka. The iCard project introduced recently is also one that works on the latest NFC technology and not only provides security to students, but also aids in a cashless payment methodology as well as towards efficient and productive administration of schools. In addition, the long term partnerships that have been maintained with the University of Colombo and the Univeristy of Kelaniya to spearhead projects such as internships, research laboratories, project management curriculums and the introduction of the Master of Business course via m-Learning further re-enforces Mobitel’s commitment towards uplifting the education sector in Sri Lanka through the use of ICT.

Commenting on the partnership, Hon. Bandula Gunawardena, Minister of Education said, “The Mahindodaya Scholarship Fund is a concept of His Excellency the President Mahinda Rajapaksa to extend the highest quality in educational opportunities to rural and urban school children alike. We, at the Ministry of Education are pleased to partner with Mobitel to support this national endeavour. Mobitel being the National Mobile Service Provider has time and again proved its commitment towards the development of the country. This new alliance we have formed is yet another effort taken by them, and I applaud Mobitel for continuing to take such an active role in assisting the education sector of the country. The Mahindodaya Scholarship Fund which was launched recently was mooted on behalf of the education of children. Mobitel’s involvement towards this fund is certainly a welcome move and we look forward to more rich partnerships with them.

Explaining Mobitel’s commitment towards developing an education-rich Sri Lanka Mr. Kapila Chandrasena, CEO, Mobitel said, “As the National Mobile Service Provider, Mobitel continues to implement new initiatives in a bid to uplift the country’s ICT sector. We have worked closely with the Ministry of Education on several projects in the past and are happy to have joined in the Mahindodaya Scholarship Fund under the guidance of Hon. Minister of Education – Bandula Gunawardena. I must extend my gratitude towards Minister Gunawardena and his team for the support extended to us in realising this project.”

 

 

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The venture investor and former Facebook executive examines technologies he thinks will improve the quality of life and economic output—and explains why most executives undervalue technical proficiency.

“Technology will disrupt every facet of every job,” says Chamath Palihapitiya, the former Facebook executive turned venture investor. For executives, he argues, it isn’t enough just to understand the technologies, such as sensors and autonomous vehicles, that will have an outsized impact on improving the quality of life and economic output. New waves of technological disruption will probably blindside executives who don’t build technical proficiency into the way they manage their organizations. This interview was conducted by James Manyika, a director in McKinsey’s San Francisco office. What follows is an edited transcript of Palihapitiya’s remarks.

Interview transcript

Three technologies to watch

I’ll tell you the three things that I’m most excited by. The first is sensor networks. I’m extremely excited about that. The second is actually this push towards automated transportation. And the third is around a very specific application of big data.

So for the first example, what we’re seeing now is sensors everywhere. And before, sensors were when people thought, “Oh, is that an RFID1 chip?” No. It’s your phone, which has like 19 different things that it could be measuring at any given time. It’s clothing that you’re wearing, it’s a Nike FuelBand, a Fitbit, whatever. But the point is, the number of physical sensors are just exploding in scale. They’re in the roads, they’re in the air, they’re on your body, they’re in the phone, what have you.

And as that happens, what we’re going to see are extremely explicit ways of improving one’s quality of life, one’s economic output, in really tangible and simple ways. So I’ll give you a very simple example. There’s a great little company that’s built a sensor that sits on top of an asthma inhaler. So why is that important? Well, there’s like 30 or 40 million people that unfortunately have to deal with asthma. And when you think about the cost of asthma as a health-care problem within the United States alone, it’s $40 to $50 billion when you measure all the emergency-room visits, et cetera.

And why are people going to the emergency room? Well, it’s because they don’t have a fundamental understanding of when they should be using their inhaler proactively. So what does this sensor do? This sensor measures the time and the date of when you last used your inhaler, and then it measures all this environmental data. “Where are you? What’s the pollen count? Tell me what the weather looks like.”

And then it starts to build this heuristic model. And then it starts to paint it forward and say, “Oh my gosh, tomorrow is a bad day. Take a preventative dose. Do this more often; don’t do that.” What happens? You don’t have these massive attacks. The point is, these sensor networks will drive tremendous value and efficiency for people. And I think we’re not yet ready to really understand the totality of that impact, but it’s going to touch every facet of our lives. So that’s one area that I’m extremely excited by.

The second is really what Google is pioneering in the autonomous-vehicle space. It is probably the one thing that I’ve seen that could fundamentally have the high-order-bit2 effect on GDP. You can completely reenvision cities, transportation models, and commerce with all these autonomous vehicles, with the ability to ship goods.

So you can imagine a fleet of small electric cars that deliver all mail. A fleet of drones that drops off parcels from Amazon, Walmart, and Target, right to your doorstep. A fleet of trucks that doesn’t cause traffic and congestion. An entire fleet of city vehicles paid for and bought by a state or by a city that provides public transportation in a predictable way. All these things have massive impacts to commerce and the mobility of individuals. And I think it’s not well understood.

And then the last idea is that big data is kind of like this stupid buzz word—like “growth hacking,” frankly—where you’re really talking about just creating more noise and not enough signals. But in the specific case of genetics, I think we’re making an extremely important shift, which is shifting the burden away from biologists to computer scientists.

Because when you sequence an entire genome, what you’re really doing is spitting out a 4 GB to 5 GB flat file of codes, which can be interpreted, where you can build machine learning—supervised or not—to intuit things, to make connections, to find correlations, to hopefully find causality. And across a broad population of people, you have the ability to use computer science to solve some of the most intricate problems of biology and life.

And so I suspect in the next 10 to 15 years, you’re going to see these massive advances there, where it will literally be a group of computer scientists who basically say, “If you express the BRCA1 breast cancer gene, here’s the protocol that we’ve seen across a wide population of women that actually prevents the onset of breast cancer.” Amazing.

Managing disruption

The single most important thing, in my opinion, is the management, the rewards, and the development of human capital. Now, people say that all the time, though: “Oh, of course, it’s all about people.” But I think now the framework for what that means can be better understood.

If we think about all these things that we’ve talked about, there’s an arc of quantitative understanding that is lacking in a lot of companies. There’s an arc of technical proficiency that’s lacking in most companies. There’s an arc of rewards and recognition that tends to lag and tends to not feed the top 1 percent or 5 percent but tends to manage to the middle. Those are extremely inherent biases that have existed in companies for decades.

But when you see the few companies that get it right, what they’ve done is they’ve disrupted those three specific things. They’ll say, “OK, you know what? It’s all about the top 1 percent. Everyone else, tough luck. We celebrate the best, and everybody else can tag along. We cull the bottom, and we’re super aggressive. We have an extremely deep quantitative understanding of our business. We know how to optimize it, we know how to think long term about it, and we make long-term tradeoffs every day for the future long-term defensibility and success.

And everyone is rooted with a technical understanding, because technology will disrupt every facet of every job as expressed by all these people in my company. So unless they’re adept at seeing it before I am, by the time they filter it up to me as a CEO or president, it’s too late. Because what am I doing? I’m glad-handing with people, I’m having random meetings. Everyone’s telling me everything is great, until it’s not.”

Speaking JavaScript

I believe very strongly in the value of technology, its ability to sort of improve productivity. The problem with many of the productivity gains that we see in the economy today is they actually leave more people behind, in many ways, than they pull forward. So one way to think about that is that as more and more things become technological by definition—less mechanical and more technological—you actually need more technical people. And so the way to think about that is, for example, when you think about education. Education today teaches you social science, it teaches you philosophy, it teaches you English, it teaches you math. But we don’t view technological understanding, or the knowledge of a framework, as the equivalent of understanding any other language.

So if we thought it was really important for everyone in the United States to speak English, and hopefully for a large majority maybe to speak Spanish, why shouldn’t people understand how to “speak” JavaScript? I don’t know. And how do you think about now graduating or matriculating millions and millions of kids who “speak” technology as proficiently as they speak a verbal language?

And probably what you find is, if you actually had knowledge of a technical language, you would probably “speak” that language more in your daily life than the actual verbal language. I think coding is the blue-collar job of the 21st century. There’s nothing wrong with that. We are in a world right now where these abstractions are getting so good. What it meant to code 10 or 15 years ago when I was learning was actually a very difficult premise, in my opinion.

These are extremely low-level languages. You’re dealing with hardware in a way that you don’t have to, today. We’re so well abstracted that, in four or five years, my children will code by drawing things on a page and it will translate it into code. So what it means “to code” is becoming a simpler definition, which means by extension that more people should be able to do it.

So it is the type of thing that I think is universally translatable. Learn to code; everything else is secondary. College doesn’t matter that much. It is the most important job of the next hundred years.

About the authors

Chamath Palihapitiya is founder and managing partner of The Social+Capital Partnership. This interview was conducted by James Manyika, a director in McKinsey’s San Francisco office.

Source: McKinsey

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