Description: Helped by its fast-growing Amazon Web Services business, the company jumped to the most profitable quarter in its nearly 22-year history.
Date: April 28, 2016
Amazon often flip-flops between showing profits and losses, depending on how aggressively it decides to plow money into big new business bets. Investors have granted the company much wider leeway to do so than other technology companies of its size often receive, because of its history of delivering outsize growth.
For the first quarter, which ended March 31, Amazon reported net income of $513 million, or $1.07 a share, up from a loss of $57 million, or 12 cents a share, in the same period a year ago.
Revenue at the company rose to $29.13 billion from $22.72 billion a year ago.
Amazon’s share price jumped more than 12 percent in after-hours trading after the results were released. Investors were happy to see the company show profits after the disappointing run of reports from Apple, Google, Microsoft and Intel.
“The fact that they’re profitable is a big deal,” said Christian Magoon, chief executive of Amplify Investments, a fund manager that counts Amazon as a top holding. “It’s more of a big deal after some of the disappointing numbers from Apple and others.” Read Rest of Story
1. What is making Amazon more profitable now?
2. ” Amazon is the rare technology company of its size to still deliver double-digit revenue growth.” Do you feel that AWS can keep them profitable going into the future Why or Why Not?
Description: The Chicago Tribune published a great editorial this week about the rise of so-called “smart cities” and the promise and pitfalls of governments assembling ever-more detailed data spanning every moment of their citizens’ lives.
Date:May 14. 2016
As cities increasingly deploy automated license plate scanners and facial recognition systems tied to their police surveillance camera networks, they are amassing unprecedented documentaries of their citizens, mapping each individual person’s entire daily life from the moment they walk out their door in the morning until the moment they return that evening. Such data has breathtaking commercial value and companies across a myriad of industries would be willing to pay very large sums of money for access. Could a cash-strapped smart city decide that selling subscriptions to its surveillance data for marketing purposes would be a good way to generate revenue? READ REST OF STORY
1. Who should have access to the data that smart cities are collecting?
2. Should cities be able to sell the data that they collect for a profit? If yes, who should get the money?
Description: Imagine walking into a shopping mall on a mission to buy something very specific — the right tie for a job interview, the perfect handbag for a wedding — and knowing immediately where to look. Instead of endless hours wandering from store to store, combing the aisles for the right purchase, you know immediately which shops have exactly what you’re looking for and which has the best price.
Date: Dec 15, 2015
Products are becoming to become intelligent, too, as more items and packaging start to come with low-energy Bluetooth tags that will guide smartphone-equipped shoppers to the exact location of the item they’re looking for. Combine that with customers logging in to good-old fashioned Wi-Fi networks and the retail environment becomes a rich mine of data for retailers who choose to build the supporting infrastructure to capture, analyse and interact with it. Read the Rest of the Story
1. What is the promise of Cloud Computing for the Retail Industry?
2.. What do you see as the two biggest benefits of cloud computing in the retail industry ? Why?
Description: Algorithms make predictions more accurate—but they also create risks of their own, especially if we do not understand them.
Date: Jan 1, 2016
High-profile examples abound. When Netflix ran a million-dollar competition to develop an algorithm that could identify which movies a given user would like, teams of data scientists joined forces and produced a winner. But it was one that applied to DVDs—and as Netflix’s viewers transitioned to streaming movies, their preferences shifted in ways that didn’t match the algorithm’s predictions.
Another example comes from social media. Today many sites deploy algorithms to decide which ads and links to show users. When these algorithms focus too narrowly on maximizing user click-throughs, sites become choked with low-quality “click-bait. Read the Rest of the Story
1. Discuss the pros and cons of ALGORITHMS in managing a business.
2. List some examples of algorithm successes in business, education, or government.
Description: If you’re trying to use advanced analytics to improve your organization’s decisions, join the club. Most of the companies I talk to are embarked on just such a quest. But it’s a rocky one.
Date: Feb 25, 2015
The technological challenge is hard enough. You have to identify the right data and develop useful tools, such as predictive algorithms. But then comes an even tougher task: getting people to actually use the new tools.
Why is the people factor so important? It’s easy enough to automate routine decisions, such as identifying likely buyers for a product upgrade. But many decisions in today’s knowledge economy depend on expertise and experience. Think of bankers deciding on business loans, product developers determining tradeoffs between features and cost, or B2B sales reps figuring out which prospects to target. Analytics can help codify the logic of the best decision makers, but it can’t replace human judgment. Read the rest of the Story
Questions for discussion:
1. Why is the people factor so important in the use of data analytics? explain
2. Explain the following statement “Analytics can help codify the logic of the best decision makers” —- can you think any industries where this holds true?
Description: The White House recently released a report about the danger of big data in our lives. Its main focus was the same old topic of how it can hurt customer privacy.
Date: March 2, 2015
Federal government regulators must ask themselves: Should data that only one company owns, to the extent that it prevents others from entering the market, be considered a form of monopoly?
The search market is a perfect example of data as an unfair barrier-to-entry. Google revolutionized the search market in 1996 when it introduced a search-engine algorithm based on the concept of website importance — the famous PageRank algorithm. But search algorithms have significantly evolved since then, and today, most of the modern search engines are based on machine learning algorithms combining thousands of factors — only one of which is the PageRank of a website. Today, the most prominent factors are historical search query logs and their corresponding search result clicks. Studies show that the historical search improves search results up to 31%. In effect, today’s search engines cannot reach high-quality results without this historical user behavior. Read the rest of the Story
Questions for discussion:
1. Do monopolies in the information markets hurt competition? yes or no — explain.
2. Do you see a lot of new entries into this marketspace in the future? is that important? explain
Description: Jason McInerney and his wife, Melissa, recently tapped their lunch orders onto a touchscreen at the entrance to the Be Our Guest restaurant at Florida’s Walt Disney World Resort and were told to take any open seat. Moments later a food server appeared at their table with their croque-monsieur and carved turkey sandwiches. Asks McInerney, a once-a-year visitor to Disney theme parks: “How did they know where we were sitting?”
Date: March 7, 2014
Change is always tricky for Disney, especially at its parks, where introducing a new brand of coffee can spark a revolt by fans. Unhappy mouseketeers last year began a petition drive to keep Disneyland in January from pulling the Billy Hill and the Hillbillies show after 21 years (it didn’t work). Others marched on the park’s City Hall in 2004 after recalibrations made to the Mad Tea Party ride in the name of safety slowed it down.
MyMagic+ promises far more radical change. It’s a sweeping reservation and ride planning system that allows for bookings months in advance on a website or smartphone app. Bracelets called MagicBands, which link electronically to an encrypted database of visitor information, serve as admission tickets, hotel keys, and credit or debit cards; a tap against a sensor pays for food or trinkets. The bands have radio frequency identification (RFID) chips—which critics derisively call spychips because of their ability to monitor people and things. READ REST OF STORY
Questions for discussion:
1. Why is Disney investing in this RFID technology and why is it important?
2. What potential applications do you see for RFID technology and in what industries will this add the greatest value?
3. Comment on the statement “critics derisively call spychips because of their ability to monitor people and things.