Month: November 2021

How hospitality sector is leveraging technology to revitalize business

The hospitality industry is getting back on its feet. One survey by TripAdvisor early this year found that 47% of respondents planned to travel internationally, and 74% planned to take at least one overnight domestic leisure trip in 2021. Forecasts suggest the trend will continue with the hospitality market growing to $5,297.78B in 2025, a level substantially higher than what it was in 2020 ($3,486.77B). Meanwhile, hotel chains are busy re-imagining their future with new products, and re-bundling old ones, to woo customers in the new normal. They are creating gourmet products delivered home, contactless payments, and using digitization to help move from physical touchpoints to virtual. They are revisiting customer journeys driven by the demand for greener options, staycations, safety, and hygiene concerns, and innovative payment models. Plus, they are being forced to go asset-light and reduce operational costs. The hospitality industry is susceptible to calamities, but it always bounces back. Enabling the epoch-making “bounce back” is technology.

To make a rapid bounce back, the industry needs to create a high-impact strategy that will allow it to ride the coming upswing in hospitality. It must leverage technology to transform the customer experience, lower costs and create change on the product side. Antiquated Property Management Systems (PMS), Point of Sale (POS), and loyalty management systems that are decades old must be replaced with new products and platforms. One obvious example of the change that is becoming visible is the introduction of mobile keys for rooms in some large hotel chains. This change is a clear demonstration of how technology must be used to reshape the guest experience.

Central to the idea of infusing new technology into hotel systems is to ensure that IT can drive value and become an engine for revenue. Some of the guaranteed paths to doing this successfully are through:

  • Focusing on moving from a CapEx model to an OPEX model (which leads to the use of cloud and delivers scale)
  • Examining intelligent automation technology to optimize processes and reduce cost
  • Enabling new customer journeys, starting with the pre-booking phase, booking, pre-check-in, check out, billing, and post-checkout

The number of operational areas that need an immediate boost from technology can become overwhelming. It is impossible to address every need. Therefore leaders in the industry are ruthlessly prioritizing projects: They are starting with interventions that change F&B ordering systems, creating new ways to personalize content and manage interactions with guests, providing local language support, etc. These are intended to create fresh ways that prompt guests into buying more from the business. For example, if the guest is arriving after a long flight, the business can pre-suggest a massage. It can even personalize the message by digging into guest history and suggesting the type of massage or the oils to use. Looked at one way, the hotel is using data and analytics to acquire a next-level understanding of the guest to put more options before them, so the business can move from selling rooms to successfully selling ancillaries also.

The industry is coming out of a difficult time and therefore these goals can appear to be ambitious. But the key is to make astute use of technology that improves guest experience and reduces costs—without getting into projects that take years to mature and deliver ROI.

Sandeep Kumar

Sr. Vice President & Head Global Consulting

ITC Infotech

Why Is an IT Architect Needed On a Project?

Let’s imagine that a company launched a test version of software. The product began gaining momentum, but then the system simply stopped. One of the reasons why can be poorly designed IT architecture. In order to resolve the issue and make sure such things don’t happen again, you need an IT Architect. Let’s figure out what IT Architects are responsible for and if there are cases when a project can get by without one. 

What solution IT architecture is

IT architecture is a broad term that includes:

  • enterprise architecture describing a company’s IT system from the business goal perspective, and uniting people, processes, and technologies;
  • infrastructure architecture representing the entire structure of IT solutions to organize work (data centers, servers, network, custom applications, and so on);
  • solution architecture applied to develop new software for a particular task.

For comprehensive IT architecture planning, a crucial aspect is the planning of a foundation – platforms (hardware or cloud providers), external infrastructure (servers, network), and internal infrastructure (delivery of software solutions, their placement, and establishment of communication and interaction). 

For example, a company creates a service allowing travelers to book flights, hotels, and taxis. An IT Architect’s task is to analyze what tools to choose (programming languages, platforms, APIs, etc.), how long the development will take, and how the audience will use the product (what devices and platforms they can access it from). 

The Architect knows that the purpose of any product is to be user-friendly and accessible to the end-user. For illustration purposes, an architecture is drawn up in the form of diagrams showing the components and tools necessary for work. Architectural solutions are planned in such a way so as to allow all technologies to work together accurately and properly.

Core processes of solution architecture

Well-elaborated solution architecture allows IT specialists to develop a product on time, within the budget, and in line with business requirements. It helps them avoid such difficulties as incompatibility of the technologies used, or the impossibility to scale or modify the software. In situations like this, due to poorly elaborated IT architecture, companies have to redevelop programs and systems completely.

Well-designed architecture also makes it possible to more accurately plan the time required to develop and deliver the final product or its parts. It gives sufficient flexibility to development processes and the ability to parallelize these processes, reducing the complexity of understanding individual modules and services.

There are processes in IT architecture that need to be considered. They are:

  • Compliance of new software with the corporate environment.

When IT Architects start their work, they undertake a prior study of the systems within the corporate environment so that the new program syncs with it and the systems don’t come into conflict with each other. 

  • Selection of technologies for project development.

Specialists create IT architecture following on from software development technologies. They analyze what platforms, programming languages, ​​and tools are suitable for a given project. To do this, an IT Architect needs a technical background and programming experience. 

  • Meeting non-functional requirements.

Every product has non-functional requirements specifying software characteristics: security, performance, user-friendliness, scalability, and so on. The IT Architect is supposed to analyze these quality attributes and make sure that the project developed on the basis of the proposed architecture will correspond to them. Even if it is impossible to predict the need for scaling at the initial stage, a plan and strategy for the development of a sufficiently flexible infrastructure is created to automatically manage the expansion process.

Every program is based on the architecture that supports it. As a rule, there is no need to design and document architectural solutions for simple applications because software is often developed according to templates. However, when it comes to a unique complex program that needs to be implemented within a large organization’s corporate system, IT architecture must be well thought-out and accurately documented.

Is it possible to write code without considering the IT architecture? Of course it is. But if the development is not planned, the team is at risk of missing some crucial aspects. They will have to go back to redo parts of the program. This will lead to delays and unforeseen costs. Figuratively speaking, without IT architecture, the planned skyscraper risks becoming a two-story building. The IT architect approaches software design with all the expertise and foresight to make sure such things don’t happen. 

Responsibilities of an IT Architect

If IT architecture is a kind of a frame for an application, it follows that an IT Architect is a specialist who builds it. They work out the design of a program, its main parts and interfaces so that the software is interoperable with external systems.

Solution Architects start their work long before the development process begins, looking for technologies that fit the business. As mentioned above, Architects take care of the functional and non-functional peculiarities of the system in order to create a successful product. They assess the correctness and feasibility of the requirements and the possibility to meet them within a reasonable time and the allocated budget.  

IT Architects also analyze the technological environment and the сompany’s profile, document the requirements, and create a prototype of an architectural solution. These specialists share the architectural vision of the project with developers, monitor the process, and support employees at the stage of product development. They fix technical issues, if there are any, and take part in subsequent program updates.

When working on the program design, an IT Architect not only creates a solution for the implementation of the initial idea but also anticipates possible risks and restrictions associated with the non-functional product qualities. For example, if the application isn’t scalable, the money allocated for development is likely to be wasted. If requirements change and this may affect the original design, an Architect tries to prevent their negative impact on software performance, security, and other qualities.

To carry out this large-scale job, IT Architects need a wealth of experience in programming and business analysis, as well as knowledge of modern technologies and Agile methodologies. It can be said that the position of an IT Architect is the next step in the career ladder of a Tech Lead, a Team Lead, or an experienced developer.

What projects you need an IT Architect for

As a rule, the need for an IT Architect arises in large projects with several technical teams (Front-end developers, Back-end developers, and DevOps engineers). This specialist is also called on when complex non-typical software is being developed. Template development projects – an online store, for example – can do without an Architect.

Involving an Architect at the start of a small-scale project or startup is mistakenly considered to be not so important. As a result, after the MVP is completed, the product goes through a full beta testing phase, and new large-scale functional and non-functional requirements appear, it is often too expensive or even impossible to change the system. This occurs due to the complexity of modification (the presence of hard dependencies), poor testability (there is no possibility of testing individual parts of the product), poor monitoring (control of internal and external processes), and other factors.

In global terms, an IT Architect is necessary to design an efficient IT solution that meets business goals. Otherwise, the team risks developing a product that won’t be able to work for clients or scale to the full extent, and will have to be redone. In fact, these are double costs. An IT Architect will help avoid these unforeseen issues in a project.

The IT Architect considers rapidly changing technologies and the increasing complexity of systems and can work out strategically important points, find beneficial solutions, and present a general vision of a product to developers and customers. Thus, the customer knows what to expect, and programmers understand how to create the product.

As for large-scale and complex projects, especially with a little-known subject area, an Architect has an important additional objective – to define the most atomic parts of the project with a limited area of ​​responsibility. This gives specialists a clear understanding of all the processes of development, testing, and further support of the product and its individual modules.

The value of Solution Architects is that they lay the foundation for the future product. This allows the team to attain coherence between requirements and tech solutions. As companies strive to keep up with the emerging technologies and build reliable high-quality applications, they need specialists who are aware of how to transform technical know-how into concrete business results. With an IT Solution Architect, the project has a better chance of a successful launch.

Explainable AI is about to become mainstream: The AI audits are here – Impact of AI recruitment bias audit in New York city

A few weeks ago, I said that we will be increasingly faced with AI audits and that I hoped such regulation would be pragmatic.  (Could AI audits end up like GDPR).

That post proved prophetic

The New York city council has passed a new bill which requires mandatory yearly audits against bias on race or gender for users of automated AI based hiring tools

Candidates can ask for an explanation or a human review

‘AI’ includes all technologies – from decision trees to neural networks

The regulation is needed and already, there is discussion about adding ageism and disabilities to this audit

I am almost sure that the EU will follow in this direction also

Here are my takes on this for data scientists:

  1. I guess the first implication is: pure deep learning as it stands is impacted since it’s not explainable (without additional strategies / techniques)
  2. The requirements for disclosure will make the whole process transparent and could have a greater impact than the regulation of algorithms. In other words, I always think that its easy to ‘regulate’ AI – when the AI is actually a reflection of human values and biases at a point in time
  3. Major companies like Amazon who recognise the limitation of automated hiring tools had already abandoned such tools because the tools were based on data that reflected their current employee pool (automatically introducing bias).
  4. I expect that this will become mainstream – not just for recruitment
  5. We will see an increase in certification especially from Cloud vendors for people who develop on data for AI dealing with people

On a personal note, being on the autism spectrum, the legislation is well meaning and helpful towards people with limitations and disabilities – but I still believe that data driven algorithms reflect biases in society – and its easier to regulate AI than to look at our own biases

That’s one of the reasons I think the current data-driven strategy is not the future.

In my research and teaching, I have moved a lot towards Bayesian strategies and techniques to complement deep learning (because they are more explainable)

The full legislation is HERE

Image source pixabay

Has Business Intelligence and Data Visualization work dried up due to the pandemic?

Non-native English speaker here.

I was wondering, on a global level, has business intelligence and data visualization work that is available dried up due to the pandemic? I am referring to freelance gigs and remote jobs.

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7 Innovative Examples of XR Technologies in the Healthcare Industry

VR & AR technologies will transform health care in the future, given their rapid and relevant development. They make the clinical experience of patients more immersive.

Artificial intelligence has matured into a fundamental technology used in a variety of fields such as robotics, computer vision, and natural language processing. It is pretty obvious that this progress would interfere with the health care sector, which needs constant improvement. Consequently, the combination of AI and XR provides extensive biotechnology applications and enables digital interaction with the physical environment in a multi-dimensional way.

Near-Infrared Vein Finder

This vein visualizer allows nurses to look at the patient’s arm and identify veins’ paths using a phone camera and the necessary app, e.g., AccuVein. Some people have thick skin, so it becomes easier for specialists to inject something or take blood.

Virtual Relaxation

Guided meditation, yoga, and other types of breath, mind, and body relaxation are gaining momentum. Lots of people are stressed, and VR can take them into a different world ─ free from triggers, worries, and irritants. 

Medical Diagnosis

Augmented and virtual realities are now used to diagnose medical conditions. For instance, VR enables healthcare specialists to look for vision impairment. Additionally, it can diagnose certain mental health conditions.

Cancer Diagnosis

Powerful tools are being developed with the potential to redefine cancer detection, diagnosis, and treatment. Thus, detecting cancer through recognition can help doctors in patients’ diagnosis with real-time screening analysis. For example, an AR microscope with real-time AI integration for cancer diagnosis overlays AI-based information onto the current view of the sample in real-time.

Virtual Therapy

We can now use VR & AR for therapy as well. For example, there are specific ways now to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It happens by exposing patients to situations complicated to organize in a clinical setting. Thus, the doctor takes the patient into a specific environment and treats him. Another example is enhancing cognitive behavioral therapy.

Pre-Surgical Data

If there are some organs or bones to operate on, XR technology provides holographic visualization before the doctor makes any incisions. Besides, surgeons are widely using tiny cameras to operate with more accurate and careful penetration. 

Bionic Vision

Surgeons use this technology for more focused AR visualization and computer-assisted surgery use. It includes procedures like joint replacements, ACL reconstruction, and spinal fusion.

This big data company is filling a niche and creating a win-win for data companies and internet users (Reklaim $MYID.V $ MYIDF)

Looking to invest in a personal data company that isn’t evil?

Reklaim ( $MYID.V $ MYIDF ) is a personal data & app company that lets their app users see how many companies are buying and selling their internet data, how much their data is sold for annually.

But the best part of the ReKlaim app is that it compensates users for their data by offering them gift cards, crypto or an option to donate to charity.

$MYID’s app and the benefits that it gives to users make me feel that this company is a lot more altruistic/ethical than most other players in the big data space. But at this point, you might be thinking what’s in it for me? Why invest?

Here are some quick financial reasons why I think $MYID is a solid investment:

– 67.3M Outstanding shares with 45% insider ownership

– $0 debt

– Sold data to 65 brands in Q2

The reason why $MYID was able to have so many clients in Q2 is that they can provide data companies with sources of data that don’t rely on cookies. This is something that most big data companies are really looking for right now.

$MYID @ just $0.32/share

MC is 21.561M

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IC-84302-X3V7

The complainant has requested information from Hertfordshire Constabulary (“the Constabulary”) regarding injury awards pursuant to the Police (Injury Benefit) Regulations 2006. The Commissioner’s decision is that the Constabulary was entitled to apply section 12 of the FOIA – exceeds appropriate limit, and that it has complied with the requirement of section 16 of the FOIA – advice and assistance. The Commissioner does not require the public authority to take any further steps.

IC-137005-R2C1

The complainant requested documentary evidence forwarded to Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council (the Council) by a third party. By the date of this notice the Council had not issued a substantive response to this request. The Commissioner’s decision is that the Council has breached section 10(1) of the FOIA in that it failed to provide a valid response to the request within the statutory time frame of 20 working days. The Commissioner requires the Council to take the following step to ensure compliance with the legislation. • The Council must provide a substantive response to the request in accordance with its obligations under the FOIA. The Council must take this step within 35 calendar days of the date of this decision notice. Failure to comply may result in the Commissioner making written certification of this fact to the High Court pursuant to section 54 of the Act and may be dealt with as a contempt of court.
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