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  • Women: The Biggest Change in UK Trade Unionism

    Trade Unions (TU) are potentially moving into a transformative phase in the UK, especially due to Jeremy Corbyn’s pro-union stance, that appears to be aimed at reviving the TU movement.  Not only as the overall number of employees enrolled in TUs increased to 6.35 million in 2018, a two-year consecutive annual increase, but also, the proportion of employees who were members increased from 23.3% in 2017 to 23.4% in 2018. However, the biggest gains were for the female TU membership, female employees being members of TUs increased to 26.2% reaching 3.52 million in 2018 from 3.39 million members in 2017.  The reasons cited for this trend are diverse. They include the fact that there has been a steady rise in female employment, and steady but low decline in female membership of TUs. This is in contrast to male membership which has declined significantly over the past decade.  Inclusion of larger number of women in TUs can be expected to lead to some very interesting outcomes, both in the ways, the TUs operate, and the issues that take the centre stage for TUs.  It can be seen as a pivotal starting point for women-focused issues like development of female-supportive work environments. It is interesting to note, that the basic profile of an average TU member still remains the same, other than the fact that a large number of them are now women. Most TU members are still 35 years or over, and from public sector organisations, indicating that the biggest gains in TUs will be expected in the public sector. However, the employment trends in the public sector indicate a steady reduction of jobs, with 1 million further jobs likely to be cut in the coming years. It will be interesting to follow how the growth in TUs’ strength  may influence this trend For the majority of their history, TUs have largely ignored female participation. The underlying reason being that women were seen as passive participants, reluctant to participate in industrial action and prioritising their families over unionism. This approach to women has led TUs to ignore the typical issues that women may be facing at their workplaces. More often than not, gender discrimination issues taken up by TUs have been confined to those related to sexual harassment, rather than aimed at levelling the playing field for women. TU activities in the past have not truly supported female employees. For example, teaching Assistants in Derby and Dunham schools, mostly women, were left to fight against pay cuts of up to 25% on their own, as their TUs did not provide the needed support. Also, though women may not have led much of TU activism, a lot of TU activity has been propelled by female workers’ rising against workplace discrimination. Several examples from the past indicate that women in TUs can make a powerful and sustainable impact on governmental policy-making. The recent changes are poised to make a major shift in the internal culture of trade unions and to probably make them more open and women-friendly. With more female members in the unions, it is a possibility that the unions would actively work toward reducing the gender pay gap which still stands at 18% less pay for women, though the issue is more marked in the private sector where union numbers are low.   Also, internal organisational restructuring of trade unions may be called for, with the inclusion of more women as members. Conceptually,  TUs may have women cells to deal with female issues or set aside quotas for women to be placed in decision-making positions, but, due to low representation earlier, such prescriptive approaches have not achieved much. Now, with growth in female leadership, it can be expected that female leadership will emerge in the TUs. Until recently, most TUs were led by males, with Francis O’Grady being an exception as the first female General Secretary of the TUC. This, too, is likely to change with the surge in female membership and more active participation of younger women in trade unions. With more women in decision-making and leadership capacity in the unions, some areas that can be explored by trade unions with the change in their internal structuring could include issues that have been glaringly neglected earlier, like gender-based ageism and violence against women. Another area that may be up for debate and support from unions could be convincing male members to take on family caring responsibilities equally with female members, so as to challenge workplace discrimination more effectively. TUs can be expected to grow and re-orient themselves to deal with more “women-focussed” issues. Not only overt or explicit barriers to female workplace participation and compensation may be addressed but more intricate and institutional and structural barriers may be seen as targets for union’s focus in the coming years.  
  • Role of Modern HR Technology in Finding Great Employees

    Hiring highly capable people and retaining them is a challenging task. According to the 2017 McKinsey research on Attracting and Retaining the Right Talent, 82 % of the business leaders think their companies are not hiring the right candidates, while only 7% believe that they can retain their highly-skilled employees. Do you also think it is hard to find great employees? Do countless resumes stress you out?  Here is how modern HR technology can help! 

    Talent Acquisition Software

    Whether your company is a single enterprise or has several branches in different cities or countries, talent acquisition software enables you to reach the best and most talented candidates. It cuts the hiring costs and reduces the administrative burden associated with recruitment. It does so by automatically analysing the resume, screening the candidates, and may also schedule an interview.  You can apply filters to shortlist qualified candidates that fit best to the vacancy. Adapting it will help you to eliminate the financial risks involved in the recruitment process and also helps to find new talent.  RecruiterFlow, Yello, Workable and ICIMS are some of the top talent acquisition software that can help you in streamlining and automating your recruitment process.

    Social Media

    Various social mediums like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. have now become necessary tools for HR departments. These mediums are helpful when posting new jobs and they may help firms reach out to fresh talent in the industry. According to the study by Aberdeen Group published by Forbes, 73% of the job hunters have found their job from social media platform. So, adopting these channels will serve your hiring purpose in no time. 

    Human Resource Management System

    Unlike other technology, HRM software is designed to manage the complex tasks of HR. More often, it is one software which connects all or most parts of the HR function. From recruitment and training to performance analysis, timesheet and payroll, the software handles all aspects and lets you focus on the other important and strategic elements.  HRMSs can be useful for ‘internal recruitment’ activities. They may help in identifying potential leaders or areas requiring improvement. These in-turn may assist companies so they may more appropriately support candidates and greatly aid the succession planning process. They are a marked improvement on the subjective 9-box grid method still widely used for succession planning. Firms such as Ceridan, an HR capabilities platform, are demonstrating that it is possible.   Apart from simplifying and aiding various complex processes, the software also reduces manual errors that arise during the completion of forms for storing information or documents electronically. Moreover, it also prevents data breaches. Data security and privacy are always critical factors for HR. Usage of multiple mobile devices and various applications at work leads to continuous interchangeability of personal and company devices. This results in data mixing hence increasing security challenges. Verizon’s 2019 data breach investigation report has reported 2,013 data breaches across 86 countries. To ensure data security, you can hide confidential information, save your precious time, and improve the productivity of the recruitment process by using this tool.  

    Big Data

    Big data is a massive collection of structured and unstructured data. When it is used in the recruiting process, it helps to access, analyze, and find the ideal employee for your organization. Not only it screens resumes based on specific keywords but also lets you know the candidate before the individual arrives for the interview Though you can obtain the information from various other sources as well, big data gives you an analytical approach to predict the success of candidate for a specific role.  Companies are increasingly using Big Data for transforming human resources. The usage of big data has helped Xerox in the hiring process. It helped them save their time and money and enables them to focus on customer satisfaction and efficiency.  So ease your tasks by reducing the time-consuming process and find excellent employees quickly for your organization by using modern technology tools.  
  • China’s own Bitcoin?

    A senior official at the People’s Bank of China (PBoC) recently confirmed that the state was “close to” releasing an official cryptocurrency, after five years of rigorous research. While no timelines have yet been confirmed, speculations include that the currency may be revealed in time for “Singles Day”, China’s busiest shopping day of the year. This news came soon after the release of Facebook’s whitepaper regarding Libra, a new cryptocurrency expected to surpass the bitcoin in popularity and use. In the past, the PBoC has strongly opposed bitcoin and financial institutions have been prohibited from holding the cryptocurrency since 2013. Regarding Libra, a senior official at China’s State Administration of Foreign Exchange, explained that “Facebook’s Libra could have a major impact on China’s foreign exchange management and cross-border capital flows, as well as affecting the RMB’s internationalization.” In contrast to a typical cryptocurrency however, China’s state backed digital currency will be supported by a two-tiered system, with PBoC at the first tier and commercial banks at the second. Commercial banks will be required to deposit 100 per cent reserve to the central bank, ensuring there is no over representation of the currency and the PBoC retains complete control over the supply of money. These commercial banks will then be responsible for distribution to individuals and businesses. The digital currency is expected to help improve financial inclusion, with users being able to download digital wallets to their smartphones, and exchange yuan for the digital currency. This will help increase access to a wider audience, with half of China’s population owning smartphones. While anonymity will be maintained at the user level, it is expected that the state bank will have complete visibility of transaction data, allowing the flow of money to be tracked by identity. This can help the state bank measure the velocity of currency and improve its monetary policy, along with increased surveillance of businesses and individuals; ultimately helping to prevent money laundering, fraud, and tax evasion. State backed digital currencies have recently gained serious traction in the international markets. Referring to the same, Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of IMF, recently stated, “The case is based on new and evolving requirements for money, as well as essential public policy objectives. My message is that while the case for digital currency is not universal, we should investigate it further, seriously, carefully, and creatively.” Currently, a number of other countries have already initiated their own state backed digital currencies or have finalized the details and are close to release. These include the Marshall Islands’ “SOV”, Senegal’s “eCFA”, and Tunisia’s “eDinar” amongst others. Canada, Thailand, Uruguay and Israel are among some of the countries currently in the research phase, and are seriously considering some form of state backed digital tender. There are still others, including Germany, Switzerland, Japan, and the United Kingdom that have already rejected the possibility of a centralized digital currency due to the high level of risk involved. Rather than making bitcoin an accepted legal tender, most countries seem to prefer launching their own digital currency that can replace paper-based currency and remain in the state bank’s control State backed digital currencies, while may not be able to replace bitcoin, are a huge step forward in the evolution of money. While many questions regarding the actual mechanics behind these currencies and how successful they will be are yet to be answered, improved financial inclusion, internationalization of currency, and greater control over money supply are among the key benefits expected.   
  • FinTech Cities: Sau Paulo

    There are various reasons as to why Sau Paulo is often referred to as Brazil’s innovation powerhouse. First off, its home to around 15 million people of which there are almost half the country’s billions. It also accounts for around 18per cent of GDP of the country. Moreover, more than 60 percent of start-ups in the whole country are based in Sau Paulo alone! It has probably the biggest innovation ecosystem in Latin America and currently has over 2000 ventures working on tech products.

    Reasons for Scope of FinTech in Sau Paulo

    Sau Paulo is Latin America’s largest economy. And some of the staggering statistics which really make it perfect for FinTech expansion are given below. Another important factor is the high-interest rate charged to people claiming loans from local banks, which is around 50per cent, more or less. Furthermore, owning a credit or debit card is also not the same as in other countries; rather, it’s quite expensive and cannot be afforded by the poor.

    FinTech Companies and Their Ecosystem

    In the current update of Fintech Radar, there are 377 Fintech startups in Brazil leaving behind Mexico, which previously had the most FinTech startups, making Brazil the biggest FinTech ecosystem in the entire region. However, more recently, the faster-growing subsectors are Digital Banking, Wealth Management, and Markets & Trading. Of the entire FinTech industry in Brazil, 30 percent have already expanded worldwide; however, 81 percent of this has expanded within Latin America. The ecosystem of Sau Paulo is very useful for the industry as its already home to much of the headquarters based in South America. The incubator of Google and other major companies are situated in Sau Paulo, and the city allows the process of initiating a new company relatively fast, and it’s possible to open a new company in just over five days compared to 100 days as before. Let’s see what some of the big guns are when it comes to FinTech in Sau Paulo.
    a) Nubank
    Formed In 2014, this is undoubtedly the most promising FinTech startup Sau Paulo has delivered, with 16 million people currently having its credit card and estimated annual revenue of $170 million. It offers various digital services to its customers, including payment card operations, transactions between users, transfers to any bank, and much more. The important thing being all these services come totally free of cost. All you need to access the services is just a smartphone!
    b) Creditas
    As a consequence to people being charged high-interest rates in loans, Creditas came into existence and were formerly known as BankFacil. The main aim is providing collateralized loans by partnering up with a bank. It provided around $130 million worth of loans last year (2018), and it’s upon an uphill trajectory since its creation. The annual revenue, however, is estimated to be $1.5 million, which is comparatively low as compared to Nubank.
    c) GuiaBolso
    Launched in 2016, it’s a customer credit marketplace offering loans from local banks. The app is currently expanding its services to include investments and stuff.
    d) Ebanx
    The main goal is connecting the e-commerce merchants across Latin America like AliExpress and Spotify and is currently working on more projects as well. The main theme focused is on cross-border payment processing.  
  • Swiss Fintech Soars as Traditional Banks Decline

    In a recently published report by SwissBanking, it was indicated that the traditional financial institutions in Switzerland are stagnating as the FinTech industry keeps growing. The latest report from the Institute for Financial Services train known as “IFZ FinTech Study 2019” was made available on the 1st of April 2019.  The study carried out by the Lucerne University of Applied Studies was conducted with the objective to show the developments that took place in the FinTech sector in 2018; and to investigate the way the banks are setting up themselves in relation to the FinTech sector. According to the report, the FinTech industry in Switzerland displayed substantial growth in 2018. There were 356 functional companies by the year-end as the sector reportedly experienced 62 per cent growth. The industry is said to have recorded bigger venture capital transactions, though the market for cryptographic assets is due for a major correction.  Furthermore, the report indicated that the FinTech sector, when compared to the general financial industry, is developing continuously. Unlike the general financial sector that has seen a decline in the number of employees and companies, the FinTech sector’s growth showed no sign of abating. The reason being that FinTech firms implement and deploy new technologies more efficiently and faster than traditional financial services firms. Traditional financial institutions like banks will need to evolve significantly in order to maintain the same pace of growth. As stated in IFZ FinTech Study: “Swiss financial industry to the total income of the Swiss economy is a consequence of the steadily decreasing relevance of traditional financial institutions. Reasons for this development include new business models, that make some services provided by banks obsolete.” Another point of note in the report is the growth of crypto-related businesses and distributed ledger technology companies, which is due to the type of regulatory environment in Switzerland.  Ueli Maurer, President of the Swiss Confederation, emphasized in late March at the CV Crypto Valley Summit, the need to establish swift and clear regulations for the blockchain industry. When talking about distributed ledger technologies (DLT) and blockchain, Maurer noted that the Swiss authorities “look constantly for ways to keep two steps ahead” in a translated report on finews. Switzerland’s federal government (The Federal Council), deems DLT to have encouraging potentials for development in digitalization. As a result, it plans to bring further improvement to Swiss regulation, so as to grasp the opportunities it presents as well as securing the position of the country as a leader in the area of DLTs.   In the same month, the Federal Assembly (Swiss legislature) gave approval to a motion meant to direct the Federal government to adjust existing legislation for regulation on crypto. The legislation is put in place to determine the way to curb crypto-related risks, and if bodies handling cryptocurrency trading platforms needed to be linked with financial intermediaries, which will then subject them to financial market supervision.
  • 99 Problems… Jay-Z

    The internet is crying foul after Jigga-jigga man, Jay Z decided to proceed with a multi-million dollar deal to NFL. For those of you that are unaware, the NFL has faced a significant amount of backlash over the past few years for its treatment of a talented American football player, Colin Kapernick. During 2016 season, Kapernick began to protest the treatment of blacks and people of colour in the USA by refusing to stand during the national, and followed this up by kneeling.  Kapernick, stated “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way.” Then… things got uglier for him.  Since that season, having opted out of his contract for a better deal, Kapernick has failed to sign with another team. Over 900-days since he has worked. The reasons for this are believed to be because several of the teams have boycotted him as a result of his protest. The issue was hushed (slightly) when Kapernick signed an agreement with the NFL. That was until…  Jay-Z signed an agreement with the NFL announcing that his firm, Roc Nation, will, as the NFL’s “official Live Music Entertainment Strategists” will “advise on the selection of artists for NFL tentpole performances” including the SuperBowl — the most-watched sports event in the USA. A major part of the deal is that Roc Nation, through music and other endeavours will “nurture and strengthen community” through music’ and the NFL’s Inspire Change initiative. Jay-Z reiterated this saying he hoped this “partnership [would]… strengthen the fabric of communities across America.”  But, as my favourite Southern USA saying goes: somethin’ in the milk ain’t clean. There were early circulations that Jay-Z had allegedly strongly discouraged another musical titan, Jermaine Dupri, from signing a similar deal. Moreover, Jay-Z had been publicly critical of other artists working with the NFL and had penned songs about the protest. But, what irked most commentators was his failure to include Kapernick and other important parts of the protest. Essentially, he failed to give them a foot at the table working, suspiciously, behind their backs even as he continued to engage with Kapernick about his protest publicly. There are also rumours of the dealer acting as a precursor to Jay-Z’s ambitions of one day owning a sports team. The deal is a good example of how not to deal with a public relations disaster: by creating seemingly hollow gestures to improve your corporate image. The NFL cannot rewrite racial injustice in the wider USA environment, but its failure to root out its own poor treatment of Kapernick illustrated some discongruity. How can a firm which cares about nurturing a community fail to tackle its own internal injustices (?) The NFL could have looked toward Edelman Trust Barometer 2019 (which ironically uses a Kapernick advert for Nike in its report on corporate trust) to avoid the charge of what Edelman terms ‘trustwashing’ — using social issues as a marketing ploy — by admitting its failures and addressing them openly.    Moreover, though the use of influential figureheads to lead change is not new, the abundance and popularity of the term and business of influencers is a relatively new concept — primarily because of the growth of social media. It is now a much more mature and savvy arena. Jay-Z and Roc Nation are the influencers. But, their authenticity and influence is undone and easy to see-through as a result of the many disgruntled voices on social media. YouTube, Twitter and Facebook have been instrumental in allowing people to express their distrust of deal and Jay-Z’s true motives.  For me, it was Jay-Z cringeworthy explanation about people having to “move past kneeling” during the press conference which indicted his lack of authenticity. He rambled. He scrambled for words. He awkwardly pointed at the crowd repeatedly asking “do you know what the issue is?”. For a Rap artist, a man known for his words and someone working on a deal for over a year… it was arresting and not convincing. At that moment, Jay-Z could not be anymore far removed from those individuals suffering the injustices which this agreement is supposed to help. He is no less privileged than the NFL’s Commissioner, Roger Goodell.      Ultimately, everyone is waiting to see if this agreement does bring about the change promised. We do not have the specifics of the deal and there are still several moving parts. However, this deal is a great example of how careful firms and influencers need to be when handling social justice issues. Transparency, authenticity and bringing all parties to the table is always necessary.
  • Report Summary: Clients are Now Looking for Value More than Just Building Wealth (EY)

    EY recently surveyed 2,000 clients of wealth management firms across 26 countries to identify what they value the most in a provider. Results show that while wealth management continues to increase in demand, clients are looking for firms that will help them more than just saving money. Wealth management advice often focus on achieving specific goals and objectives: saving money for college, retirement, real estate, or business, to name a few.

    Fig. 1. Reasons why clients use wealth management advisory services

    However, these points represent only a part of the client’s financial life. What clients need is help with the management of their day-to-day finances and guidance in their aspiration to achieve a certain level of financial independence. Wealth management providers who understand how to enable these desired outcomes are able to develop a better relationship with their clients; those who don’t risk clients switching to another provider. Clients look for wealth management firms which can best provide value to their lives. Of these clients, millennials are the ones who are more likely to switch providers compared to boomers. Reasons for the switch in wealth management plans vary depending on the life event the client is undergoing.

    Fig. 2. Events that cause a client to switch providers

    Not everyone easily switches, though, even when they’re experiencing the situations mentioned. Those who belong to the wealthiest cohorts and those who have a better knowledge of their finances have lesser chances of moving their assets to another firm because they understand the value their providers are giving. They just open a new account with another provider when they have additional assets that need professional management. On that note, clients have been found to use an average of five different wealth management providers, seeing that a single provider cannot provide all the solutions they’re looking for. Clients who have a higher risk tolerance and more in-depth knowledge of finances are more open to trying a breadth of different products to achieve better returns. From having a savings and retirement account to a micro-investing account with a FinTech company, financially aware clients have assets diversified between five different providers on average. Although there’s a clear demand for wealth management firms to expand their range of products, most participants reveal that it’s more important to them is for providers to develop a personal understanding of their financial lives. Firms are expected to have a deeper engagement with clients in order to build a full picture of their life goals, and then shape offers into timely solutions that will meet their needs. Digital innovation has changed the way wealth management services are delivered. Clients now prefer the convenience of using mobile apps to manage their wealth and receive financial advice. While wealth management companies are able to provide this, delivering personalised solutions still remains to be a challenge.

    Fig. 3. Platform preference for interaction

    Many clients feel they’re being charged unfairly by their wealth management providers. Transparency on pricing and fees is one of the main factors clients consider in evaluating providers. Clients who are wealthier, younger, and more knowledgeable financially are the ones who often express dissatisfaction in the predictability and transparency of management fees and payment methods. The emergence of FinTech solutions, which prove to be more affordable alternatives, makes customers question traditional wealth management providers more on why they can’t do the same to their fee structures. But clients aren’t simply asking for lower fees. What they want is a justification of how fees are derived, coupled with tangible outcomes from being guided towards their budgeting or estate planning goals. Clients are also looking for a payment method that will offer better certainty and predictability like fixed-fee or per-hour charging models. Clients who desire this kind of payment model said that this will help them lock in costs and provide better objectivity in their financial decisions. The good news is that wealth management firms are hearing customer concerns and are working on solutions to provide a simpler, more convenient, more cost-effective, and more personalised offer to clients. Using mobile and automated technologies, wealth management providers are expected to be able to increase the value of their offers without raising costs.
  • VR, MR, AR & 360°: Experience the future, today!

    While some still see Artificial Reality, Virtual Reality and 360° as technologies reserved only for hardcore gamers and digital marketing agencies, many other industries have noticed the transformational potential of these technologies in their everyday business. As the technology becomes more affordable and user-friendly, a number of start-ups have started developing new use cases far beyond gaming and marketing – applying the technologies to everything from sports, news and human resources to healthcare, space exploration and more. Augmented Reality (AR) uses artificial elements to a live view, typically using a smartphone’s camera. Unlike Pokemon Go which is a typical example of AR, Virtual Reality (VR) locks out the physical world completely by offering a fully virtual experience. A Mixed Reality (MR) experience combines the best of two worlds, physical and virtual, and makes them interact. Here are seven industries which the technologies have started to transform. And while the boundaries between virtual and physical world are becoming blurred, we also explore a set of completely new ethical challenges that these technologies bring such as issues of access, privacy, consent and more.

    News

    Soon after social media became a vital part of our everyday lives, fake news started spreading like wildfire and the credibility of the news industry soon became questionable, to say the least. More and more people started to double-check and question every link, every video and every news article they read. This questioning of news exploded when first examples of manipulated videos went viral. Now, the news industry is starting to use new technologies such as VR and 360° to regain their credibility by putting a feeling of participation in their viewer’s minds. Luckily, the media and news industry were always a front runner in the adoption of new technologies so it is safe to say there will be more and more AR and VR-powered news that we will be able to experience as in the first-person mode.

    Human resources

    As Generation Z has entered the workforce, it is becoming essential for HR departments to keep up with the latest technology trends. VR applications can be used to provide an initial screening process for hands-on positions by allowing job applicants to see their future workplace and experience the position they applied for. If they are a match, this will make them even more enthusiastic and if they are not, they will realize this early on saving time both for the company and for themselves. One such example is Lloyds Bank where a custom VR scenario is used during the interview process to assess on-the-job skills more thoroughly that it can be done through traditional interviews.

    Education

    AR and VR are quickly making their way into schools and colleges. Technologies such as these have already proven themselves to be a very powerful teaching tool for large groups of students with limited resources. Professors now have the ability to use Google Earth and Google Expeditions take their students practically anywhere without even leaving their classroom. Additionally, with the help of Android VR, social learning is spreading to classrooms all over the world and giving kids access to various interactive adventures.

    Space exploration

    Project OnSight which was presented last year at Kennedy Space Center, is a clear example of the advantages of collaborating in a virtual world. OnSight is virtual reconstruction of Mars in which scientists may collaborate together and set course for Mars Rover. Additionally, geologists were able to define distances and angles on the Mars surface much more precisely. With Project OnSight already implemented by NASA in their Jet Propulsion Laboratory, it is safe to assume that within the next five-years VR will be used to shed a light of space travel not only to astronomy and physics students but also to the general public.

    Travel and driving

    Although it will take a few more years before we see fully autonomous cars on our streets, car manufacturers are already using various AI technologies in their cars. For example, most major manufacturers are starting to implement voice assistants such as Alexa and Siri. Additionally, AR is also playing a major role in the automotive industry with Nvidia´s Drive AI platform. The platform is actually a dashboard display which shows camera footage around the car, including everything from dangerous situations to historical landmarks on the way. Furthermore, most car manufacturers are using powerful face tracking technologies for drowsiness detection. Similarly, travel companies are using AR and VR to create libraries of virtual travel media that show various locations from different angles making the user feel as they are already there. 

    Healthcare

    Just like the IoT, AR and VR have found their way into the healthcare industry. AR is now being used to redefine the way how surgeons perform their surgeries. With precision being the most important thing during every surgery, surgeons are now using AR and 3D visualization to look at organs from different angles in real-time. On the other hand, VR is helping patients with different phobias. One example is helping patients that have fear of flying where they are placed in a controlled virtual environment and slowly guided to face their fears. 

    Sports

    Being one step ahead of the competition is a crucial part of every sport and many are starting to turn to new technologies such as VR and AR to give them that competitive edge. What’s more, research conducted by Deloitte has shown that the sport industry is investing more and more resources in these technologies to give their fans the feeling of on-field action. And while VR applications are improving fans’ experience at home, AR applications are improving the experience for fans in stadiums by giving them real-time statistics about athletes on the field and telling them where their friends are sitting.

    Ethical challenges

    As these complex technologies start to become omnipresent, they disrupt established practices not only in different industries but in our society. New ethical challenges, from privacy and consent issues to future concerns that are yet to be discovered, need to be addressed.  Since the law is most often reactive especially when it comes to technological advances, the best approach to take now is to rely on our long-lasting principles in the physical world. For example, as harassment issues start to migrate from social media to virtual platforms, they should carry the same weight they have in real life.  From the privacy point of view, it is safe to expect that providers of various virtual platforms will try to extend their reach far beyond the traditional privacy boundaries. And although GDPR is a giant leap forward in terms of protecting our privacy, this is just the beginning. As we continue moving more and more from physical to virtual, we will come across many new ethical challenges for which we will need to develop practices and policies that will protect not only our privacy but our identity, as well.  
  • Caught up in the Conspiracy

    Last weekend I was caught up in a YouTube spiral watching video after video about Epstein. Most of these were considered ‘conspiracy’ theories because they exist outside the mainstream thought and… are often just batty.  But, you can’t deny the many questions which, connected by awful facts, exist within this story. The stories probed into the origin and dubious nature of his wealth and profession as a financier, transhumanist ideas and worrying connections to the elite scientific community. Together, me on my tiny screen, we dissected the deals which he made. We traced along the lines of his co-collaborators, assistants, royal friends, political strongmen, and celebrities from Alec Baldwin to Courtney Love (?!?)  During this visual gluttony, I listened to the words of well-known commentator and one of the pioneering investigators of the case. They spoke about the “women” involved. The “women” abused and the “women” in many ‘Jane Doe’ cases It’s easy to overlook their mistake: I did at that moment. But, these individuals weren’t women, they were “girls”. The glitterati and stained politicos involved in the story were supporting actors and distractors to history (and present) of a series of horrific events.  In chasing the story, I forgot about the main issue which was that a crime had been committed.  This sometimes happens within organisations, especially when focusing on a significantly emotional event/s. Though policies and procedures are a good means of keeping us on track or maintaining fairness, we should not forget that sometimes they forget the seriousness of the issues at hand It can be hard to realise that following a policy or procedure can at times lead to a worse or nonsensical result. In the Epstein case, we’ve seen how the policy was misused and ignored the emotional havoc that those women (once ‘girls’) had suffered.   As I’ve advanced in my career, I’ve realised that there must always be a fine balancing act between the formality of policies and procedures and the emotional side of working with people.
  • Blue, White& Pink: Men’s Uniform

    Public transport is a great place to people watch Walking down London’s famous shopping street, Oxford Street, you can see the frustration of the London natives. They shuffle side-to-side trying to pass leisurely tourists, that seem to dance around on the pavement.  Similarly, it’s great taking the bus at 03:30/ 04:00 and seeing a cross-section of the capital as they meet one another: you have the younger, drunker, bolder crowd coming back from a merry evening. They interrupt the often ‘invisible’ and sleepy workers — cleaners, guardsmen and transport staff — making their way to early shifts. Both are trying to catch some sleep before their stop.  The underground is a good slice of London’s city and professional classes. If you look closely you’ll notice a trend: Blue, White, and Pink. The three ‘acceptable’ shirt colours for men.  Of the men on the tube, nearly 95% of men seem to do one of these colours. They may be strippy,  dotty or plain, but they do show conformity, and the proper attire we need to wear to be considered professional.   This is just one of the many subtle ways in which we confirm to the needs of the group. I’m still unsure if there is anything inherently bad about this type of sameness. Yes, it’s unimaginative, but it’s a quick identity which we may adopt too.  At times it can be difficult to see this conformity when we are ourselves are a part of it. It’s comfortable to be like everyone else But we should strive to occasionally see beyond this and not be afraid to be like that ‘5% man’. The one that maintains his individuality. The one that wears an orange or purple shirt under his grey suit.

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