Teach kids how to code

Let children learn how to code. Teach them computer programming, the new literacy.

To encourage more people to create our digital future, Europe Code Week is gathering events to celebrate coding between November 25 – 30, 2013.

Coding is not just about building the next big mobile app. Computer programming is a fun, creative way of making ideas happen. Being able to talk to computers and understanding modern technology is becoming a competitive advantage. Which is why Europe Code Week is looking for events and initiatives that will encourage all Europeans, regardless of age, gender and profession, to learn more about the art and science of coding in the last week of November.

Technology startups, a future pillar of European economy, are facing a talent shortage, which is limiting their growth potential. In that context, it is worrying that most of the youngest Europeans still don’t have access to coding classes that teach creative thinking, provide tools for creation and encourage them to start dreaming of the next big Facebook or Google.

The project Europe Code Week welcomes any activities that aim to promote coding. The end goal is to improve the visibility of coding on a European scale, motivate people to start learning to code, and connect individuals, groups, organizations, and companies who are willing to share good practices and help more people experience the joy and relevance of coding.

Europe Code Week was launched by Neelie Kroes’ Young Advisors with the support from DG Connect at the European Commission. Follow this great initiative, Europe Code Week, on http://codeweek.eu

The importance of ICT in sustainable cities

Stockholm ranks top overall in the Networked Society City Index 2013, Ericsson reports. The capital of Sweden is followed by London, Singapore and Paris.

The Ericsson Networked Society City Index 2013 underlines that sustainable urban development has a direct relationship with ICT maturity. In the report sustainability is measured in economic, social and environmental dimensions and the level of ICT infrastructure, affordability and usage.

When summing up all of this for 31 cities worldwide Stockholm remains in a leading position. That is no surprise. Sweden has for long been a mature nation regarding to ICT and not only Stockholm but also other cities in the country stands out as role models.

There is, as an example, the region of Malmö with a really hot startup milieu. And there is Umeå, the European Capital of Culture 2014, which was measured by Akamai a couple of years ago as the fastest broadband city in the western world. In the city UmeNet delivers broadband at neck braking 1000 Mbit/s. Only some Asian cities had an overall faster broadband.

The Networked Society City Index stresses the importance of ICT as a ground pillar for sustainable cities. Today cities are the home of more than half of the world’s population, by 2050 it will be two-third.

To make these growing cities sustainable ICT will be of tremendous need. Health and education has to relay on ICT. Innovation to connect ideas, people and investments depends on ICT. Solutions based on technology and ICT will be the foundation that environmental dimensions are built on.

Therefore the report is of great significance. When building our cities ICT has to be a foundation.

The need of analysts when your smartphone becomes smarter than you

Smartphones will soon be able to predict a consumer’s next move, their next purchase or interpret actions based on what it knows, according to a press release by Gartner. This insight will be a result of the growing knowledge systems that can filter out information from data stored in the growing personal clouds on internet.

Gartner is examining the future of smart devices at Gartner Symposium/ITxpo 2013, which is taking place in Barcelona through 14 November.

“Smartphones are becoming smarter, and will be smarter than you by 2017,” said Carolina Milanesi, research vice president at Gartner. “If there is heavy traffic, it will wake you up early for a meeting with your boss, or simply send an apology if it is a meeting with your colleague. The smartphone will gather contextual information from its calendar, its sensors, the user’s location and personal data.”

The new smart phones are making a call for the new role of analysts. That was also an issue at the conference SIME in Stockholm this week in several talks concerning how the digital media market is transforming.

It is also a growing role in the financial sector. Among companies developing systems for trading, clearing houses and financial markets all this is a well known trend. Jonas Engman, CEO of Cinnober North, says in an interview I did with him last week that Gordon Gekko-style is replaced by mathematicians and analysts.

Back to Garner and the smartphone predictions. What smartphones can do through apps has improved and broadened thanks to the personal cloud.

“We assume that apps will acquire knowledge over time and get better with improved predictions of what users need and want, with data collection and response happening in real-time,” said Ms Milanesi in the press release from Gartner.

The first services that will be performed ”automatically” will generally help with menial tasks — and significantly time consuming or time wasting tasks — such as time-bound events (calendaring) such as booking a car for its yearly service, creating a weekly to-do list, sending birthday greetings, or responding to mundane email messages. Gradually, as confidence in the outsourcing of more menial tasks to the smartphone increases, consumers are expected to become accustomed to allowing a greater array of apps and services to take control of other aspects of their lives – this will be the era of cognizant computing.

Read the whole press release from Gartner.

A bright digital future?

futuriumWhat about the future? How will technology,  3D printing, nano robots, Big Data and ICT effect everyday life, citizenship, business, health and education?

Now you have the opportunity to cast your vote on eleven emerging themes for future policies. On the site Futurium the Digital Agenda For Europe are asking you for feedback and a vote on the relevance and timing of each theme. (Futurium is the online platform launched by the Directorate General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology of the European Commission to facilitate a broad reflection on future European policies.)

This is your chance if you are interested in policy-making. Have a say on the future.

Beneath a short summary of the elven themes you may vote on.

Trans-humanistic era
Future cyborgs and soft robots? Anew form of human or maybe trans-human? ICTs and bio-medicine fundamentally improving the human condition and greatly enhance human intellectual, physical, and psychological capacities?

Super-centenarian societies
Celebrating 100 years of age? No problem in the future? Will organs be re-generated in vitro and implanted with 100% success rate? Similar to plugging new devices into 20th century computers?

Hyper-connected human
Living in a world of nano sensors, virtual spaces and 3D social networks? Always connected?

Cradle-to-grave, work and play
Will the idea of the steady, permanent job become a relic of the 20th century? Will technology continue to transform the very nature of work and the dynamics of organisations and labour markets?

Brain-to-machine or even brain-to-brain interfaces? Will New forms of learning emerge, for instance using virtual spaces and enhanced classrooms for experimentation and full immersion in learning settings not achievable otherwise, including powerful simulations, intelligent conversational agents?

New actors, new polarities
Empowering people as active players in the global scene.? Will people be more empowered than ever to share knowledge, become aware of their environment, and take informed and responsible decisions?

Re-inventing media
Will social media replace traditional editorial media as the dominant media arena?

Art, sciences, humanities
Will Big Data from various sources of evidence (smart grids, mobility data, sensor data, socio-economic data) enable scientists to perceive and observe processes in the real world in new ways?

Cities, villages and communities
Will megacities with all their elements of the city be connected to a higher supra-network, the future Internet, on which a whole new service-economy will thrive?

New economic models
Will the world’s economy change significantly, driven by the advent of new technological and societal innovations? Will 3D printing, advanced robotics, automation, and manufacturing bring most of today’s production back to a local sustainable dimension?

Pursuing Global Peace
Will we have a society where only a few decide for all? Or a society with neither classes nor hierarchies, characterised by participatory leadership?

Eleven themes for the future and now it is your turn to cast your vote. How will the future be?

The urgent need for skilled ICT people

By 2015 there will be 900.000 digital jobs waiting to be filled in Europe. Many companies will be struggling to recruit the IT specialists they need. This is already a fact today for several businesses.

The lack of IT-skilled people was one of the main topics discussed when the European Council met 24-25 October 2013. As a remark President José Manuel Barroso said after the first session: “… let’s be frank, Europe has lost ground to key competitors. We are simply not using the full opportunities offered by the digital economy”.

Picture above from the presentation Innovating in the digital era: putting Europe ack on track by J. M. Barroso at the European Council 24-25 October 2013.

During the session it was stated that Eorope has a great need for more skilled people in the ICT industry. That is one of the most urgent actions for Europe today. The European Council therefor decided that more structural funds will go to digital training and education: “part of the European Structural and Investment Funds (2014-2020) should be used for ICT education, support for retraining, and vocational education and training in ICT”.

The statement from the European Council on the digital economy is important. However, many initiatives can also be taken at a local level. In Sweden, the city of Umeå, which will be the European Capital of Culture 2014, the ICT companies and the University has made several concrete efforts to manage the obstacles of an upcoming lack of skilled people.

One example is the engineering program in Computing Science at Umeå University that will conduct a pilot project with group mentoring. The students will have mentors from the ICT industry during virtually the entire period of their education that is for five years.

The objective is having students and businesses to get to know each other so that the students may gain insight into the industry standard for coding, development and problem solving.

Student groups will meet mentors 3-4 times during a semester.  The mentors will act as a sounding board and guide the students to a professional attitude. The project is student initiated and will largely be managed by the students.

The mentor groups at Umeå University are one of many examples of initiatives to strengthen the digital economy. As it is declared in the document named Europe’s digital challenge: “The digital economy can help European industry to grow, provide infrastructures for tomorrow’s companies and boost growth of new start-ups”. (In Contribution from the Commission to the October 2013 European Council Debate on the digital economy.)

But without skilled people in the ICT industry the growth will be hard to achieve. So the example of Umeå is important as a role model for building a stronger digital industry in Europe.

The Calling For Mobile First

“Mobile first” is coming to YouTube. Today 40 per cent of YouTube traffic comes from mobile devices, Larry Page, CEO Google, said this week in his earnings call when Google presented the results of third quarter 2013.

The shift to mobile is tremendous. Compared to 40 per cent today it was just 6 per cent 2011, Larry Page declared.

This transformation from the PC’s into the world of mobile devices is changing the whole industry. It is a change for the consumers’ behavior. It is a change for the investors on the stock markets. It is a change for the developers. It is a change for the media. It is a change for those who are in charge of education at our universities and the departments of computing science has to consider in which way courses are effected of this industry call for mobile first.

Investors have already noticed the shift and they are closely following the new signs. One of the trends they are watching is how the revenues from advertisements are affected by mobile first.

jonerlichmanBloombergJon Erlichman, reporter on Bloomberg TV, says for example that Google has to move its advertisement business from the PC’s into the market of the mobile devices. They can’t ignore the shift of the YouTube traffic, a shift they can see that the whole Internet is going through.

Google has to catch up with this massive transformation, says Erlichman. And maybe the company is on the right way. The recent positive results for Google on the stock market could be a sign that the investors have a positive view on the company.

This week the Google shares has made a tremendous leap from about $880 a share up to as high as $1,007. It could be a sign that the traders on the stock market is understanding that the transformation to “mobile first“ have deep implication on business.

Those who follow trends has seen this change for a couple of years. The media is shifting to mobile first, even local papers as for example Västerbottens Kuriren in the north of Sweden, is transforming from paper print to tablets and mobile devices.

And when the department of Computing Science at Umeå University announces summer courses in app developing for iOS and Android mobile phones there is a huge pressure on student applications.

So “mobile first” is coming to town. And the one who wants to be a part of the IT industry has to step up in line for that call.

More on this subject:

Listen to Jon Erlichman: Google Clicks: A Window Into Google’s Mobile Money And Have Investors Left Google for Apple?

Read: Peter Kafka YouTube Is Going Mobile First, Too

Updated Oct 20, 2013

Kroes in clash with telecom

nk_portrait_2Quote of the week:

”i am in charge of European phone calls and I am determined to get rid of roaming and extra charges for calling another European country”,
(says Neelie Kroes, EU Commissioner and Vice President of the @EU_Commission leading @DigitalAgendaEU, in a chat on Your ideas for Europe).

“The days of roaming are over, they (telecom industry) need to accept that we live in a new digital era.”, says Kroes according to Financial Times.

The telecom operators are alarmed.

The Big Data of your life

age-of-contextDo we need privacy in the Age of Context? Or will we accept that the knowledge system behind our mobile devices know everything about us? And out of that can guide us through the day with personalized ads, with news that are selected for each and one of us, with suggestions on where to eat our favorite dish and whom to date according to our previous dates.

It is not the devices, not your tablet or your mobile phone, that know all things about you. They are quite dumb. But behind them lies knowledge systems that are really smart, that can filter Big Data that concerns you, go deep data mining and come up with a bleep or a poking on the screen to guide you to a comfortable life.

It is the Age of Context and that’s also the title of Robert Scoble’s and Shel Israel’s newly published book. Focus is on mobile, social media, sensors, data and location. And the knowledge systems in behind that gathers the entire context.

So what it is the context in this era? It’s your blood pressure when you’re doing this or that. It’s your pills and medicine list. It’s how you travel, where you work and live. It’s the ads you click on or the ads you avoid if you’re looking on channel TV. It’s what you chat and update. It’s what you did last Tuesday or Thursday or even what you didn’t do last Wednesday.

And furthermore, it’s also what your friends chat and update, or read, or buy, or whatever.

That’s the context. And the awareness of that context is the key point of the knowledge systems that filter and process the big data of your life.

Will we give away everything to these knowledge systems? Or is it important to keep some parts of our life in privacy?

That is the big question that Scoble’s and Israel’s book raises. Do you have your answer?

The new digital era is coming to town

It is the dawn of a new era: the Digital Industrial Economy, says Peter Sondergaard senior vice president at Gartner and global head of Research during Gartner Symposium/ITxpo 2013, October 6-10, in Orlando.

A press release from Gartner captures quite a few game changing words from Sondergaard about the future as Gartner sees it.

Let’s look at some of them:

Gartner predicts:  Every budget will be an IT budget.
That is: The Internet of Everything combines the physical world and the virtual. When you purchase a new toothbrush your action is stored in the cloud. But even more; your tooth brushing will in the future also be registered in the cloud so that you can have a flash note from your local store when the toothbrush needs to be replaced with a new one.
The store’s budget need to consider this and will have to pay attention to the IT systems. The budget for toothbrushes will have to be an IT budget.
Gartner predicts:  Every company will be a technology company.
That is: Any store that does not count with information systems when they are selling toothbrushes will not have a future. Even when you are selling toothbrushes you have to rely on tech solutions. This will force every company to be a tech company.

Gartner predicts:  Every business will become a digital leader.
That is: As digitalization is changing business every business will make way for new digital processes and models. In different ways business will take part in changing society into the digital era. Every business will then become a digital leader.

Gartner predicts:  Every person will become a technology company.
That is: All data that evolves from a person’s actions and everyday life may be used by that person in different way. To store it and use it for new actions. And furthermore; to sell it and make business of it. The data that comes with the person will make him or her into a technology company.

Gartner predicts:
“Many of the vendors who are on top today, such as Cisco, Oracle, and Microsoft, may not be leaders in the Digital Industrial Economy.”

The dinosaurs fell, so may also the biggest tech companies, states Gartner in their prediction of the future digital era. Technology-driven startup companies across the globe are leading the way in accelerating pace. And the big companies like Cisco, Oracle, and Microsoft, may be out concurred by new ones.

So be ready, the new digital era is coming to town.

Here comes the Chief Digital Officers and Chief Data Officers

Get used to new seats at the executive table. Now the Chief Digital Officer (CDO) and the Chief Data Officer (CDO) is claiming their own chairs alongside the Chief Information Officer and the Chief Technology Officer and all the other C-suites.

CDOs and CDOs? Yes, that’s right, the acronyms are the same but the D differs. We’re talking about two new trending roles in organizations as Chief Digital Officer and Chief Data Officer. Both take their seats at the table with a focus on the organizations business value together with all the other C-suites.

In a recent McKinsey-report C-suite of all kinds gives the answer that “they are stepping up their own involvement in shaping and driving digital strategies” and that they are optimistic about digital business. Digital technologies are more and more incorporated to engage with customers. Digital marketing has a high strategic priority.

With the vast growth of Big Data running through the business flow in bigger organizations and with demands on data mining the Chief Data Officer is knocking on the door with a solution in hand to make value of all these data sets. The key point is that data is a strategic tool for business; it is a driver of revenue. Therefore Chief Data Officer is the key strategic person who can handle all those data with a focus on how to extract them into business value.

The Chief Digital Officer has also business value in focus and is often responsible for adapting new technologies, new trending channels, mobile applications and social media.

Both of them are awaited.

The respondents in the McKinsey-report indicate that the digital transformation of their own organizations also comes with a calling for the new role of Chief Digital Officers. Thirty percent of the respondents say they already have a Chief Digital Officer among their C-suites on their companies’ executive teams.

This is even a higher quantity than a prediction last year by Gartner which stated that twenty-five percent of organizations will have a Chief Digital Officer by 2015.

The new Chief Digital Officers and the Chief Data Officers are an answer to the rapid change in how organizations are evolving their businesses.  Without digital technologies and without people in charge that understand this transformation you can’t run a business.