November 29, 2017

ROI3 and Entreprov to Join ITU's Focus Group on Machine Learning for Future Networks Including 5G

In a post on this blog dated Feb. 27, 2016, I write how 5G is a new wave of mobile technology that will bring drastic change. The flow of high volume of data with low latency will bring changes industrialized and developing countries alike will see in various sectors including connected devices (IoT), autonomous vehicles, virtual reality, artificial intelligence and machine learning. While the business model for some of these emerging technologies are still being crafted and tested, the research and development is happening now and I am regularly exploring opportunities to learn more about these technologies. Therefore, I am proud to announce that ROI3 has joined the International Telecommunication Union's Focus Group on Machine Learning for Future Networks including 5G.

In a press release, the Geneva, Switzerland-based ITU says the purpose of the focus group, which goes by FG-ML5G, is to "establish a basis for ITU standardization to assist machine learning in bringing more automation and intelligence to ICT network design and management." FG-ML5G "will lead an intensive one-year investigation into where technical standardization could support emerging applications of machine learning in fields such as big data analytics, network management and orchestration, and security and data protection."

In addition, FG-ML5G will draft technical reports and specifications for machine learning for future networks, including interfaces, network architectures, protocols, algorithms and data formats. The ITU's announcement further says,
The Focus Group will consider machine-learning methods' compatibility with a wide variety of fixed and mobile communication stacks, encouraging the development of methods attuned to the operational requirements of the networking industry.

Interoperability is high on the agenda. The Focus Group will propose means to train, adapt, compress and exchange machine-learning algorithms. This work will promote the emergence of an ecosystem able to support the interaction of multiple machine-learning algorithms.

Machine-learning algorithms are helping operators to make smarter use of network-generated data. These algorithms enable ICT networks and their components to adapt their behavior autonomously in the interests of efficiency, security and optimal user experience.
My colleagues and I at ROI3 will collaborate with Alex Brooks of AE Brooks, LLC (d/b/a Entreprov) in our participation of FG-ML5G. Entreprov is a Seattle, Wash.-based company that helps small and medium-sized businesses increase their customer base and extend lifetime value of current customers through machine learning and business strategy. In his blog post about joining FG-ML5G, Mr. Brooks said, with Entreprov and ROI3 joining forces we have the opportunity to provide a unique perspective on how Machine Learning can impact 5G technology.

ROI3 previously participated on ITU's focus group to identify the network standardization requirements for the 5G development of International Mobile Telecommunications (IMT) for 2020 and beyond. The Focus Group on network aspects of IMT-2020 was established in May 2015 to analyze how emerging 5G technologies will interact in future networks as a preliminary study into the networking innovations required to support the development of 5G systems. The group took an ecosystem view of 5G research of development and published the analysis in a report to its parent group, ITU-T Study Group 13, in December 2016.

I am excited to have the opportunity to learn more about machine learning. In collaborating with Mr. Brooks on FG-ML5G, it is my hope to better understand the role of machine learning in fields such as big data analytics, network management and orchestration, and security and data protection on global scale.

Aaron Rose is an advisor to talented entrepreneurs and co-founder of great companies. He also serves as the editor of Solutions for a Sustainable World.

November 20, 2017

Report on How Blockchain Will Reshape the Financial Services Industry

"Blockchain is a young technology, first conceptualized in 2008," says a report written by The Economist Intelligence Unit (The EIU) for the UK Department of International Trade. "The financial industry has been among the first industries to seize upon the efficiency savings that its distributed ledger technology could deliver, and for good reason: Using distributed-ledger technology could help financial services providers lower the worldwide cost of cross-border payments, securities trading and compliance by $15-20 billion per year by 2022, according to Spanish banking giant Santander." The EIU's report, From concept to reality: How blockchains will reshape the financial services industry, "assesses blockchain's impact on processes and functions in the global financial services industry, as well as on the industry's structure. It also details some of the key changes to products and services that retail and business clients can expect in the years ahead."

Before I discuss some of the report's highlights and conclusions, it is important to provide a brief explanation of the bitcoin and blockchain. The report succinctly says,
Bitcoin is a digital cryptocurrency (a currency in which encryption regulates the generation and transfer of funds) that can be exchanged for goods and services via peer-topeer networks. A significant feature of bitcoins is that they are not issued by central banks, nor backed by them. The technology that supports bitcoin is blockchain. Also known as distributed ledger technology, a blockchain records the generation of bitcoins through a process of electronic ‘mining’, and stores the data on transactions in sequence, on a network of linked computers simultaneously. The blockchain data structure provides a verifiable history that only can be added to, not deleted or amended.
While I am certainly not an expert in blockchain, I am familiar enough with the technology to agree with the report that its real-life use still limited. "Its current use is mostly to be seen in the bitcoins— virtual currency created with blockchain technology—that cross borders with negligible regulation"

Moreover, "Incumbent banks, asset managers, insurers and technology firms are keen to experiment with the new technology. Their initial trials focus on niche areas of trade finance, payment settlements and reconciliation. While interest in applying the technology is growing, widespread implementation may take years. An all-encompassing financial blockchain is unlikely to emerge from current projects."

The report, however, notes that "the financial industry already has a consistent view of what needs to be done to put private specialist blockchains to good use." Some of the likely main features of the future use of blockchain in the global financial services industry include:

  • Closed systems: Collaborative blockchain networks will be closed to outsiders, to ensure that information does not land in the wrong hands and to prevent hackers from disrupting financial stability.
  • Back office first: The first objective for introducing blockchain technology will be to save costs. Blockchain will cut the cost of the daily checking and rechecking of ownership and transactions.
  • Regulatory overhaul: Financial industry rules may need a worldwide update, along with reforms to broader data protection regulation. Regulators want to encourage innovation but without upsetting stability.
  • Emergency markets: The first widespread changes to retail financial services involving blockchain may take place in emerging markets, where banking, investment and insurance penetration rates are low.
  • Less reliance on cash: Widespread use of blockchain technology, together with updates to compliance regulations, will enable central banks to substitute their own regulated, blockchain-based digital currencies for notes and coins. Some central banks, such as the Bank of England and the central bank of Norway, are already discussing discontinuing use of notes and coins entirely.
  • Smarter financies: Within 10 to 20 years, embedded smart contracts could transform how bank accounts work and how insurance pays out.
  • SME boost: Blockchain could help open up cheaper, non-bank financing to small and midsized firms, which provide two thirds of all jobs in Europe.
I also agree that "there will be no 'big bang' heralding the arrival of blockchain technology in the financial services industry. However, the revolution has already started." The report further asserts, "The first live implementations of financial applications of the technology are expected within two years. Mainstream adoption will take a decade or two."

The report provides the following conclusion:
Mainstream deployment of the technology in the composition of retail financial products will take longer. Even if parts of the financial system adopt blockchain technology relatively early, other changes—such as merging e-currencies into blockchain networks, and integrating the growing number of internet-connected devices—will take decades.
For widespread adoption of blockchain technology in financial services to take place, two things need to happen. Financial institutions need to change how they interact. Today's centralized system encourages each player to assume others could be at fault. Blockchain will only work if companies learn to share and cooperate, and see themselves as part of a blockchain network rather than solo actors.
More importantly, the consensus approach will require a reworking of current financial regulation. If blockchain is to truly deliver on its promise, then revision of rules that now require the use of various counterparties and clearinghouses will be needed. This reform process is a sensitive task: Regulators are keen to encourage innovation—but not at the cost of promoting instability in the financial system.
Do you agree with report's findings? What is your prediction on how blockchain will be used in the global financial services industry?

Aaron Rose is an advisor to talented entrepreneurs and co-founder of great companies. He also serves as the editor of Solutions for a Sustainable World.

November 19, 2017

GSMA Report Examines the Transformative Opportunities Presented by Mobile-Enabled Digital Services in Ghana

A report produced by the GSMA in partnership with the UK's Department for International Development (DFID) correctly notes, "Ghana has played a proactive role in the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which aim to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity." Furthermore, "Mobile – as a technology and as an industry – is uniquely placed to support the SDGs and development outcomes through the multiplier effect that comes from providing connectivity. In the 25 years since mobile was established in Ghana, the industry has connected 67% of the population, which amounts to 19 million individuals. To date, it has connected nearly half the population to the internet through their mobile phone." The report examines the transformative opportunities presented by mobile-enabled digital services in Ghana.

During my trips to Africa, I witness the development of innovative products and localized services as a result of an expanding mobile infrastructure. Therefore, I read with great interest that "beyond core connectivity to a network, mobile operators in Ghana have also created the means for citizens to access other core services, including the following:
  • "Providing financial services via a mobile platform, particularly mobile money, which is relevant to 11 of the SDGs. Mobile money is one of the most dynamic innovations in the industry and has provided significant social and economic benefits for users. At the end of 2016, there were more than 8 million active mobile money accounts in Ghana.
  • Facilitating the provision of digital forms of identity. The ability to prove identity is critical to accessing a wide range of services such as healthcare, education, employment, financial services and voting. In Ghana, birth registration is approaching 70%, having risen somewhat since the introduction of Tigo’s mBirth program in May 2016.
  • Improving productivity for farmers. Mobile platforms provide farmers and agricultural firms with up-to-date information on market prices, production techniques and weather forecasts through services such as the Vodafone Farmers' Club.
  • Expanding healthcare access. Programs such as the Mobile Technology for Community Health (MOTECH) have helped demonstrate the potential of mobile to increase demand for and access to health information and services among rural communities, while also providing data on health service delivery and outcomes to the Ghana Health Service.
  • Increasing water and energy efficiency through the Internet of Things (IoT) and machine-to-machine (M2M) solutions. M2M and IoT solutions have the potential to impact many of the SDGs: for example, by monitoring air quality, climate change and water & energy efficiency; by improving the productivity of manufacturing and industrial processes; and by monitoring marine, coastal and forest ecosystems."
Despite the progress made," however, "significant challenges remain to realizing the potential of mobile to support socio-economic development. Many of these require collaboration between the public and private sectors." The report highlights several areas (i.e., closing infrastructure gaps, increasing financial inclusion, and closing the mobile gender gap) that would benefit from such interaction between mobile operators and government departments.

On the topic of supporting start-ups and entrepreneurship, I support the assertion that "for a healthy start-up ecosystem to develop in the digital era, it is crucial that start-ups can incorporate mobile services such as SMS or mobile money into their products. Without access to mobile solutions such as inclusive payment mechanisms, start-ups serving the masses struggle to scale." The report lists the following key action areas for mobile operators to consider:

OPEN UP Depending on their in-house capabilities and market coverage, operators have three main options for their API go-to-market and sales approach:
  1. In-house API program
  2. Partnerships with a third-party API management software provider such as Apigee or WSO2
  3. Wholesale models with an API aggregator (local/regional, such as Africa's Talking, or global such as Twilio). This last option is probably more relevant for operators with smaller market shares and limited in-house resources to drive an API program.
HARMONIZE The heterogeneity of APIs remains a key pain-point for start-ups and developers. Mobile operators can harmonize at a group or industry level by adopting a common platform or standards for specific APIs (e.g. mobile money).

COLLABORATE APIs should not be seen as end products but as enablers of innovation. The competitive differentiation between mobile operators should not be the APIs themselves, but rather their efforts to engage with start-ups and support them.

OUTREACH TO DEVELOPERS This is crucial to a successful API program: developers will only use APIs if they know they are there and they are willing and able to use them.

Lastly, regarding the acceleration of digital identity, the report says,
Mobile is a powerful tool in enhancing people's lives by enabling them to access personalized, value-added services. As the Ghanaian government expands its National Identity rollout program, an increasing number of people will be able to register their mobile SIM cards in their own names. This will also enable mobile operators to offer robust, digital identities that unlock several life-enhancing services while at the same complying with mandatory SIM registration requirements. Tigo's mBirth program in Ghana is an example of a mobile-enabled digital identity service that highlights the potential benefits of the mobile industry and government collaborating to address the challenge of unlocking access to basic services for a significant number of Ghanaians. 
This blog contains a number of posts about Ghana, which the West African nation has demonstrated democratic rule and peaceful transition of power. I remain optimistic that mobile operators and government departments will provide the support necessary for Ghanaian entrepreneurs to develop mobile products and localized services, which will impact many of the SDGs.

Do you agree with the findings of the report?

Aaron Rose is an advisor to talented entrepreneurs and co-founder of great companies. He also serves as the editor of Solutions for a Sustainable World.

November 16, 2017

How Is Technology Changing Our Life and Work?

"Better life breakthroughs" is a content series produced by The Economist Intelligence Unit (The EIU) and sponsored by Standard Chartered Private Bank that aims to "analyse innovations that have the capacity to extend and enrich life, create new experiences and improve society in general." The EIU explains that "the first report in the series examined technology advances that are creating new investment opportunities for high net worth investors. The second report explores how the work environment may change under the combined impact of technology advances, shifts in workforce demographics and attitudes, and new thinking on workplace organisation and design." This post focuses on the second report, Labour pains: coming shifts in the world of work, which is available in both English and 简体中文.

Drawing on desk research and in-depth interviews with individuals whose job it is to think deeply about modes and places of work; namely, futurists, architects, technologists, entrepreneurs and corporate executives, The EIU report explores how the work environment may change under the combined impact of technology advances, shifts in workforce demographics and attitudes, and new thinking on workplace organisation and design.

The report's conclusions are listed below in its entirety:
  • Managing tomorrow's workforce will be a balancing act. Employers will go out of their way to accommodate the skilled talent – including on-demand workers – they need, for example by seeking to make the workplace a more pleasurable environment, as well as providing green spaces and other elements that contribute to employee health and well-being, all in the expectation of greater innovation and productivity. These may not result, however, if employers fail to address other challenges that are certain to arise, including that of strains developing between permanent and on-demand staff.
  • New tensions will need to be smoothed. To try and ensure that corporate culture doesn't suffer from the presence of a less-tethered category of talent, employers will look to equalize the treatment of both categories of worker to the greatest extent possible. Full-time employees, however, will worry about their longevity, particularly if their contract colleagues possess more advanced technology skills. The former are also likely to resent some of the flexibility enjoyed by on-demand workers, for example when it comes to remote working opportunities.
  • The work-leisure balance is likely to shift back again. Some experts also worry that too pleasurable a work environment will become detrimental to productivity, if protective bubbles form that lead to insularity from their customers. There will be a backlash against leisure and fun amongst some employers if productivity and innovation gains fail to materialize.
  • Some new technologies will be transformative, and also painful. Artificial intelligence (AI)-based automation, intelligent sensors and augmented reality, among other technologies, will give both employers and employees capabilities to operate in new ways. Productivity, creativity and safety should all benefit, but deft change management will be required, and employee worries about displacement by technology will be an ever-present source of workplace tension. New roles will open up for employees, some of which will emphasize their unique human abilities in communication, interaction and creative thinking.
  • Privacy will become a relic of the past. The future ubiquity of networked sensors and other emergent technologies means that privacy will be severely diminished in tomorrow's workplace. Sensors, for example, will enable much closer monitoring of employee performance. Even skilled, in-demand workers will recognize diminished privacy in the workplace as a necessary trade-off. Separately, tougher legal requirements for protecting individuals data will force companies to modernize the data practices used by all employees.
  • Work innovation will not be confined to technology companies. The technology sector is today the focus of most experimentation with new modes of working and workspace design. However, other sectors – notably financial services, healthcare, retail and logistics – are experimenting no less actively with technologies likely to shape work in the future, including artificial intelligence, networked sensors, augmented reality (AR) and others. As the boundaries between the technology and other sectors fade, the sources of work innovation in the future are likely to be more varied.
Asked to name the technologies that will do most to change work in the next decade, the experts interviewed all point to AI, networked sensors and augmented reality above others.

Artificial Intelligence 
  • AI capabilities will take machine translation to new levels, having conquered shortcomings in recognizing context and nuance in language. The advantages of multi-lingualism will not disappear but may recede in some support roles, such as customer service.
  • AI virtual agents will manage the IT service desk and will eventually become the principal interface between IT and technology end-users, using machine-learning capabilities to resolve issues on the spot. AI bots will also perform many more admin functions in HR, accounting and elsewhere in the back-office.
Networked sensors
  • Energy companies will monitor the health indicators of engineers working on hazardous sites with the help of sensors embedded in clothing, wireless devices, work tools and installed assets. Fleet managers will do the same for drivers via sensors embedded in these as well as vehicle seats and other components.
Augmented reality
  • Marketers and advertisers wearing AR-capable eyeglasses will be a common sight in offices as they visualize creative ads and other content they are designing for clients.
  • Mobile IT engineers will roam the floors wearing headsets enabling the visualization of networks schematics as they install new hardware or configure new systems.
  • Shop floor workers will follow instructions appearing in their eyewear about how to assemble or repair machinery, and the specific types and sizes of tools and parts to use.
Tactile internet
  • Surgeons will be able to perform surgery on patients, technicians to repair appliances for customers, and designers to manipulate models for clients, from distant locations thanks to advances in haptics, which create the sense of touch. The tactile internet will also leverage advances in AR and IoT sensors, as well as the advent of 5G mobile technology, which will enable the instantaneous response of remote machines to human movements.
In its conclusion, the reports says,
It is not difficult to envision scenarios in which companies in traditional industries become leaders in introducing new ways of working. After all, the tech industry may be the source of ground-breaking new technologies such as networked sensors and AI, but it is "old-world" industries that are taking the lead in deploying them. With the possible exception of driverless cars, the earliest pilots of AI have been taking place in the financial sector, especially investment management, and in healthcare. AI already has a home in the medical sector, where machine-learning software powers advanced diagnostics tools used by doctors, and self-learning robots are being piloted in supporting roles in the operating theater. Energy companies, consumer goods manufacturers, logistics firms and engineering firms are making widescale use of networked sensors today, some of them in combination with AI and AR.
Moreover, "Given the growing influence of smaller fintech, health-tech and energy-tech start-ups on their respective industries, we should expect to see experiments in workplace innovation expand well beyond the technology sector in the not-distant future."

Lastly, The EIU produced a video where Jeanne Meister, founding partner of Future Workplace and Ray Yuen, principal and Asia workplace design leader of Woods Bagot, respond to an important question: how will the workforce and workplace change in the coming years?

How is technology changing your life and work?

Aaron Rose is an advisor to talented entrepreneurs and co-founder of great companies. He also serves as the editor of Solutions for a Sustainable World.

November 14, 2017

Rising 4G and Smartphone Adoption Growing Latin America's Mobile Economy

Being familiar with the Latin American and Caribbean region, I see opportunities to support the development of products and localized services in cloud computing, financial technology (fintech), connected devices, artificial intelligence, medical technology (medtech) and mobile applications (particularly in health and education). Therefore, I read with great anticipation a report by GSMA Intelligence, the research arm for London, England-based GSMA, which says, "Across Latin America and the Caribbean, smartphone adoption has accelerated to reach 59% of total connections by the first half of 2017." The report adds that "in the largest markets, adoption has grown particularly quickly: since the beginning of 2016, almost 85 million new smartphones are in use in the region, with Brazil adding more than 20 million and Mexico 18 million."

The Mobile Economy Latin America and the Caribbean 2017 claims, "By 2020 the region will have an adoption rate of 71%, ahead of the global average of 66%. This translates into an additional 171 million new smartphone users across the region by the end of the decade."

With respect to 5th generation mobile networks (5G), the report explains that "although the focus for both operators and consumers is currently 4G, 5G coverage will begin to expand rapidly by the middle of the next decade to reach just under 50% by 2025. Total 5G connections will exceed 50 million by 2025, nearly 5% of the global total. Adoption will expand once coverage reaches critical mass in key markets, led by Argentina and Mexico."

The report encouragingly says the mobile ecosystem is a major contributor to the regional economy. "In 2016, mobile technologies and services generated 5% of GDP in Latin America, a contribution that amounted to $260 billion of economic value added. In the period to 2020, this will increase to $320 billion (5.6% of GDP), as the region experiences strong growth in productivity brought about by continued adoption of mobile internet."

Furthermore, "The mobile ecosystem supported 1.7 million jobs in 2016. This includes workers directly employed by mobile operators and the ecosystem, and jobs that are indirectly supported in the rest of the economy by the activity generated by the sector. The sector also makes an important contribution to the funding of the public sector, with almost $35 billion raised in 2016 – mainly in the form of general taxation, including VAT, corporate taxes and employment taxes."

Based on my experiences of working in the region, the report correctly notes, "Latin America boasts some of the most advanced mobile internet users globally. ... Combined with Latin America's rising smartphone adoption and 4G usage, the mobile ecosystem provides a large, scalable platform for entrepreneurs and innovators." What is more, "With nearly 350 million mobile internet subscribers currently, and 420 million by 2020, the Latin American market is larger than the US and in 2020 will rival the EU in size."

Chapter 2.7 addresses the fact that the local startup environment is flourishing. "Venture capital and private equity funding has been especially strong in 2017, with more transactions (453) in the first half of 2017 than in all of 2016, which itself was a record year. Moreover, the number of deals has been rising strongly each year since 2014." The report, however, adds that "most deals are for small dollar amounts – and the amounts are often not disclosed – the number of deals is a better indicator of the health and momentum of the startup environment."

With respect to mobile's role in addressing social challenges, the report disappointingly explains,
Despite progress made to date, still too many people across Latin America and the Caribbean are digitally excluded. By 2020, nearly 250 million will remain excluded; these are predominantly in rural areas, in lower income classes and more likely to be women. The mobile ecosystem must address challenges and perceptions around safety and security if it is to connect these people, as well as tackle a lack of digital skills and affordability challenges.
On the topic of regulatory reform, the report accurately says, "The converging digital ecosystem is highly dynamic, fast-paced and modular. Rising consumer demand for data requires new technologies and significant investment. At the same time, the industry is moving forward to connect the unconnected and serve the nascent Internet of Things (IoT) sector. This all poses regulatory and policy challenges for both the current and future digital ecosystem. With that in mind, policymakers must seek to support and enable the digital ecosystem."

Infographic: GSMA Intelligence
What opportunities do you see for developing products and localized services for the Latin American and Caribbean market?

Aaron Rose is an advisor to talented entrepreneurs and co-founder of great companies. He also serves as the editor of Solutions for a Sustainable World.

November 13, 2017

Reflecting on Yeeko's First Year of Operations

While most Americans (and perhaps people worldwide) pondered on the first year of Donald Trump's presidency on Nov. 7, 2017, I took the day to reflect on the first year of Yeeko, Inc.'s business operations. Incorporated on Nov. 7, 2016 in the State of Washington, Yeeko is the publisher of Yeeko Magazine, a periodical that produces content on culture and literature for Chinese readers worldwide.

From Idea to Product to Revenue

"I do not have any experience in the media sector" is a reply I give when asked about my past work with media companies. My interest in co-founding Yeeko began when my colleagues from ROI3, Jingyan Zhang and Lei "Niki" Tao approached me in Oct. 2016 about their desire to launch a business focused on publishing a periodical. Jingyan, Niki, and a group of their friends from China attending the University of Washington in Seattle knew that a formal business had to be formed, but did not posses the experience of doing so. Committing myself as a co-founder of Yeeko simply resided in supporting a group of young, ambitious young adults with a clearly-defined vision.

After identifying the co-founders, a company needs to determine the number of members who will serve on the company's board of directors. The seven founding shareholders of Yeeko appointed five individuals to serve on the initial board of directors including me serving as its chairman and treasurer. While each corporation may prescribe a set of specific responsibilities for its chairman, my view is the chairman's primary role is to serve as the corporation's principal advisor. More succinctly, as chairman, I counsel Yeeko's executive management on establishing the company's strategic direction and achieving its long-term goals.

Once the governance structure was put in place, managers needed to be identified for the purpose of building the operational team. Jingyan took on the position of Yeeko's president and publisher of the magazine. Boya "Shirley" Ouyang, a co-founder and director, served as the magazine's editor-in-chief. Niki took on the role as the company's initial director of human resources and Jiang "Carl" Wu, a co-founder and director, provided input on the company's sales and marketing strategy.

Cover of Issue #1 of
Yeeko Magazine
As chairman, I have to strike a balance of letting my colleagues make small mistakes with the intent they will learn from those mistakes versus intervening in the company's operations to prevent large mistakes from occurring. Observing how other Chinese students attending American colleges form their respective student clubs or for-profit businesses over the past several years, I witnessed a common mistake where those leaders create a team unnecessarily large for the entity's initial operations. Yeeko was no different as the initial operational team consisted of approximately 13 individuals and subsequently grew to over 20 within just a few months.

Cover of issue #2 of
Yeeko Magazine
Irrespective of my concern for the team's size, Jingyan and her colleagues were able to produce the first issue of Yeeko Magazine within two month of the business' incorporation. Funded entirely by its co-founders, 1,000 copies were published through a company in Beijing with 100 copies to remain in China and 900 shipped to Seattle for distribution to restaurants, retailers and other distribution points throughout the state of Washington. With a plan to publish on a quarterly basis, the magazine's business model is to offer it for no cost to the our readers with revenue deriving from advertisements.

The second issue of Yeeko Magazine was distributed in March 2017, which is the first issue to contain paid advertisements. The third and most recent issue to date contains enough advertising revenue that covered the printing and shipping costs, which represents the dedicated work by Yeeko's sales team. Reflecting on the three issues of Yeeko Magazine, I am impressed with the high-quality work produced by Shirley and her talented editorial team.

Plan for the Long-Term, but Prepare to Pivot on a Moment's Notice

Cover of issue #3 of
Yeeko Magazine
As a result of my penchant for corporate structure, I lead each meeting of the board of directors with a formal agenda and adhere to the parliamentary procedure set forth in Robert's Rules of Order. At a minimum, I call for a meeting of the board of directors on a quarterly basis to review the material activities that occurred during the preceding quarter, a presentation of the company's financial report (profit & loss statement and balance sheet), and provide the company's president an opportunity to present a guidance of what to expect in the next 6-12 months of the company's operations. Governing in this manner provides transparency and accountability necessary for a company to succeed. In other words, it is best to avoid any hidden surprises that may distract a company from its core mission.

Yeeko held its first annual meeting of shareholders on May 20, 2017 at the corporation's headquarters in Seattle, Wash. The purpose of this meeting was to elect individuals to serve on the board of directors until the next annual meeting of shareholders and for Jingyan, as the company's president, to present her vision for the coming year. While the attendance of shareholder meetings are generally limited to current shareholders of record, I felt individuals of the Yeeko team, whether or not they own shares of the company, should be invited to attend the portion of the shareholders meeting when Jingyan presented her report. A few individuals attended and had the opportunity to question Jingyan's vision.

To my surprise, however, I learned a few days after the first meeting of shareholders that a small group of Yeeko's team members wanted to make a strategic change to Yeeko's corporate structure. This small group proposed that Yeeko Inc. be dissolved and reformed as a student organization. While I disagreed with the proposal, I felt that it should be given its fair consideration out of respect for the proposal's supporters. Therefore, I called an emergency meeting of the board of directors and shareholders to entertain a motion to dissolve the corporation pursuant to Title 23B of the Revised Code of Washington (also known as the Washington Business Corporation Act). The shareholders voted against the motion to dissolve the corporation, which, in effect, allowed for the continuation of supporting Jingyan's vision.

Lessons Learned and Moving Forward

Those who supported to dissolve Yeeko Inc. decided to leave the company altogether. This, unfortunately, caused a halt in the production of our magazine. It does, however, present us with an opportunity to pivot our corporate strategy to focus on the creation of a digital platform via WeChat, a Chinese social media mobile application software developed by Tencent.

Mistakes were made during our first year of operations. This is normal for any company, but particularly so for a company like Yeeko where its operational team is comprised by a group of people in early 20s with very little business or management experience. I am confident lessons were learned that will lead to an improved management style as well as an effective execution of the business' operational strategy.

It was an exciting first year for Yeeko and I am optimistic about what our company will achieve in 2018 and beyond. For those of you who use WeChat, I invite you to follow Yeeko through our WeChat page by scanning the QR code below.

Lastly, I want to express my appreciation to my fellow members of the board of directors, Jingyan, Shirley, Carl, and Niki, for their time and commitment. I also appreciate all those who are or were part of the Yeeko team during our first year for producing an outstanding product of the highest quality. And to our readers and advertisers, a special "thank you" for your support.

Aaron Rose is a board member, corporate advisor, and co-founder of great companies. He also serves as the editor of Solutions for a Sustainable World.

November 12, 2017

5G to Account for a Third of Europe's Mobile Market by 2025

As Europe's economy has improved in the past couple of years, I have taken an interest in identifying opportunities in the region's mobile industry with respect to artificial intelligence, financial technology (fintech), medical technology (medtech) and mobile applications (particularly in health and education). Therefore, I found interest in reading a new report, The Mobile Economy Europe 2017, by GSMA Intelligence, the research arm of London, England-based GSMA, estimating that "Europe will reach 214 million 5G connections in 2025, just over 30% of total connections."

The report further says, "Taking account of the anticipated European rollout, 5G adoption in Europe is expected to initially outstrip the equivalent rate of adoption for 4G in the years following launch. By 2025, 5G coverage is expected to reach almost three-quarters of the population in Europe, with Germany, the UK and France expected to lead in terms of number of 5G connections."

While we are a few years from seeing the wide adoption of 5G, the report notes, "Europe is seeing rapid adoption of 4G services. At the end of 2016, there were 226 million 4G connections in Europe (up 46% year on year), accounting for more than a third of total connections (excluding M2M). 4G connections will overtake 3G connections in the region in 2017 and reach 61% of the total by 2020."

What is more, "4G technology was designed to evolve, and there is plenty of room for future growth as operators focus their investments on network performance improvements, driven by advances in technology (e.g. MIMO and carrier aggregation). With the potential for speeds to reach above 1 Gbps, further evolution of 4G will provide considerable benefits to consumers who are increasingly demanding higher-speed, always-on connectivity."

On the topic of the mobile industry contributing to jobs and economic growth, the report explains that "mobile technologies and services generated 3.4% of GDP in Europe, a contribution that amounted to around €540 billion of economic value added. In the period to 2020, this figure will increase to around €670 billion (3.9% of GDP), as the region experiences strong growth in productivity brought about by continued adoption of M2M technology and the increased digitization of industry and services."

Importantly, "the mobile ecosystem supported 2.6 million jobs in 2016. This includes workers directly employed by mobile operators and the ecosystem, and jobs that are indirectly supported in the rest of the economy by the activity generated by the sector. The sector also makes an important contribution to the funding of the public sector, with €100 billion raised in 2016 mainly in the form of general taxation, including VAT, corporate taxes and employment taxes."

As for mobile driving engagement and innovation, "Europe continues to see innovation across all areas of the mobile ecosystem, spurred by the growth in new technologies, services and use cases. ... The application of artificial intelligence (AI) will also prove a fundamental enabler of the IoT ecosystem. While the AI industry continues to be dominated by established North American players in the internet ecosystem and enterprise space, European operators are now stepping up their efforts."

Having familiarity with Europe's mobile industry, I am encouraged to read the report's final chapter, "Looking to the Future of Mobile – Policies for a Digital Europe," which addresses the need for the European Commission to modernize its regulatory framework. The report accurately notes that Europe's "mobile industry continues to experience rapid change. The convergence of digital technologies is driving growth and innovation, enabling a steady flow of new services. Advanced applications and new ways of communicating are creating a truly connected society, radically impacting the way people use technology in daily life as well as how digital access is provisioned by network operators."

Moreover, I agree that "new thinking on telecoms sector regulation is required to achieve the vision of the 'Gigabit Society,' to encourage long-term growth and development, to create an environment that is conducive to investment and to ensure the expansion of next-generation digital networks and services. Only then will Europe be able to move quickly and capitalize on the tremendous opportunities a digitally vibrant economy can offer to its citizens and businesses."

Investment and business opportunities exist in Europe's mobile sector. What products or services are you developing for the European market?

Aaron Rose is an advisor to talented entrepreneurs and co-founder of great companies. He also serves as the editor of Solutions for a Sustainable World.

November 11, 2017

Using Blockchain to Verify a Candidate's Credentials and Fill Job Vacancies

Image: APPII
While researching articles for the previous post on this blog about Microsoft's Resume Assistant, which aims to help craft a compelling resume and see relevant job opportunities on LinkedIn, I read an article by Bernard Marr in Forbes who writes that "a new and potentially revolutionary application of blockchain technology could have wide-ranging implications for the way employers assess candidates and fill vacancies."

APPII Limited, Mr. Marr says, leverages blockchain’s function "as a 'trustless' system to give employers confidence that the candidate sitting in front of him is who he or she say they are." Based in London, England, APPII claimes to be "the world's first blockchain career verification platform."

"Blockchain," Mr. Marr notes, "is basically a method of recording information on a distributed and encrypted ledger – eliminating the need for trust, or middle-men in many applications. Today it is best known as the breakthrough technology behind virtual currency Bitcoin. But it has implications for any industry which relies on recording, storing and tracking transactions."

He further provides a thorough, yet simple explanation on how APPII's platform works:
APPII's platform allows candidates to create Intelligent Profiles – recording details of professional achievement or educational certification on the distributed ledger, where it can be verified and then permanently recorded.
It then allows organizations such as businesses or educational institutions to verify the "assertions" that candidates make during applications. By recording on a candidate’s profile that an assertion has been verified, there is no need for it to be checked again in the future.
It also uses facial recognition technology to verify the identity of candidates, by asking them to take a picture using the mobile app and comparing it to a photograph on official identification documents such as passports.
I share Mr. Marr's enthusiasm that "it's certainly very exciting to see blockchain starting to be put to use in some innovative ways, and making it possible for us to do things we just wouldn’t be able to do before. The concept of a distributed and encrypted ledger has obvious implications in finance - where many are speculating it can replace many of the traditional functions of a bank. But beyond that, I believe it can effectively and innovatively be put to use for just about any function which involves recording, verifying and tracking data."

In addition, I support APPII's assertion that "having the credentials of an individuals CV verified by educators or accreditors and former employers is of enormous benefit." The company further says,
Blockchain technology can be put to great use in the recruitment sector. The recruitment sector after all is a broker industry. The technology can assist in expediting commodity processes undertaken by intermediaries unlocking valuable capital to be put to better use by employers in growing or optimizing their businesses.
In APPIIs case, the broker role currently undertaken by 3rd party verification companies is superseded by the blockchain technology and network. The technology makes the process immeasurably faster and, at the same time, ultra-trustworthy.
The blockchain technology ensures that the verification activity only happens once and is stored securely and permanently for any person or organisation that wishes to view it. The technology also eradicates double handling and processing by multiple verification providers.
What do you think about using blockchain to verify an individual's curriculum vitae/resume or as a job recruitment tool?

Aaron Rose is an advisor to talented entrepreneurs and co-founder of great companies. He also serves as the editor of Solutions for a Sustainable World.

November 9, 2017

Microsoft's New Tool to Help Craft a Compelling Resume and See Relevant Job Opportunities on LinkedIn

Photo: Microsoft
In a post published on this blog on Oct. 27, 2017, I discussed my motivation for co-founding CareerLight, LLC; namely, to help international students in the United States prepare for a successful career. Another reason for my involvement with the Seattle, Wash.-based company is to learn about how technology is used in human resource management and job recruiting. Therefore, I found interest in reading a blog post by Kylan Nieh, senior product manager at LinkedIn, about the release of Resume Assistant, a tool that integrates with Microsoft Word, through the Office 365 productivity software-as-a-service platform, in crafting a "compelling resume" and "see relevant job opportunities on LinkedIn that are personalized for you."

I agree with Mr. Nieh that "creating a resume that accurately represents who you are, what you've done and in a way that is tailored to the role you're aspiring to, is one of the biggest challenges for professionals." With the aim of overcoming this challenge, a user will select their desired role and industry and then the "Resume Assistant will pull LinkedIn insights from millions of member profiles so you can see diverse examples of how professionals in that role describe their work."

Photo: Microsoft
"Highlighting the right skills can help you get discovered by recruiters, but how do you choose which are the right ones to include on your resume?" Mr. Nieh asks. "Within Resume Assistant, you can see the skills other successful professionals in your desired role and industry have, so you can add them if applicable."

Resume Assistant will also provide users with the ability to"see relevant job listings from LinkedIn's 11 million+ active job openings to jump start" their search. Mr. Nieh notes that "along with job openings, you'll see details of what the job requires, helping you to tailor your resume to a specific role."

Moreover, "If you see something you like, you can go directly to the job opening on LinkedIn where you can learn more about the opportunity and apply. Within Resume Assistant you'll also see the option to turn on Open Candidates. This feature on LinkedIn quietly signals to recruiters that you’re open to new opportunities, and makes you twice as likely to hear from recruiters."

Bryan Goode, general manager for Office 365, notes: "The workplace is changing, impacting not only how people work, but also the frequency with which they change roles, introducing new challenges for job seekers. Nearly 70 percent of people say they have difficulty portraying their work experience effectively, and 50 percent struggle to tailor their resume to a specific job opportunity. Furthermore, job applications on LinkedIn have increased 40 percent year-over-year, signaling increased competition for jobs."

Mr. Goode asserts that "with over 80 percent of resumes updated in Word, Resume Assistant helps job seekers showcase accomplishments, be more easily discovered by recruiters, and find their ideal job."

Microsoft produced a short video about its Resume Assistant:

I am excited to see how other technologies including artificial intelligence (AI) will provide value to the arduous job search process.

Will you use the Resume Assistant tool? Do you have recommendations on how to create an outstanding resume?

Aaron Rose is an advisor to talented entrepreneurs and co-founder of great companies. He also serves as the editor of Solutions for a Sustainable World.

November 5, 2017

Mobile Contribution to North America's Economy Will Reach $1 Trillion by 2020

"North America will reach 300 million mobile subscribers in 2018, growing to 313 million or 84% penetration by 2020," according to a report published by the GSMA Intelligence, the research arm of London, England-based GSMA. The Mobile Economy North America 2017 continues to explain that "with many subscribers owning more than one connected device, and the cellular M2M market continuing to grow, the total number of connections will be higher, at 585 million by 2020."

Companies that are developing mobile hardware and services for the North American market should note that "US subscribers account for 90% of regional market, and the country is the largest market in the world in terms of mobile revenue. North America as a whole accounts for more than a fifth of total global mobile revenue at $250 billion in 2017."

With respect to 5G technology, "North America is expected to see the same rapid pace of adoption of 5G services as seen with 4G. The region will reach 100 million 5G connections in 2023, four years after launch, as it did for 4G." The report further says: "5G adoption will occur faster than in any other region – around half of connections will be on 5G networks by 2025, compared to around 30% in Europe and the leading Asian markets (China, Japan and South Korea in aggregate)." As represented in the infographic at the end of this post, by 2025, there will be 208 million 5G connections in North America representing 49% of all connections.

The mobile technology sector is becoming increasingly important to North America's economy as a whole. "In 2016, mobile technologies and services generated 3.9% of GDP in North America, a contribution that amounted to $790 billion of economic value added. By the end of the decade, this contribution will increase to just over $1 trillion (4.7% of GDP) as greater use of mobile technologies, including M2M and IoT solutions, drives improvements in productivity."

Furthermore, "The mobile ecosystem supported 2.5 million jobs in 2016. This includes workers directly employed by mobile operators and the wider mobile ecosystem, and jobs that are indirectly supported in the rest of the economy by the activity generated by the sector. The sector also makes an important contribution to the funding of the public sector, with $110 billion raised in 2016 in the form of general taxation, including sales taxes, corporate taxes and employment taxes."

As for investor financing to support technology developments and innovation in North America, "private equity companies, venture-capital firms and corporates have invested more than $0.5 trillion between 2012 and 2016 to finance tech start-ups and emerging companies across several sectors – TMT, energy/utilities, automotive/transportation, healthcare and banking/ finance." Importantly, "Digitization of industry is a fundamental catalyst for VC financing; it is expanding the value chain in many sectors and opening up new roles and opportunities."

The report correctly points out that AI "is the next frontier": "While the AI industry is currently dominated by six platform players – Google, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft and IBM – US mobile operators are increasingly focusing on AI through venture-capital (VC) investments, technology and business ventures (e.g. Verizon's Exponent) and R&D (e.g. AT&T's Lab), with widespread recognition that AI is key to business transformation and IoT developments."

Moreover, "AI creates opportunities for US and Canadian mobile operators to optimize their networks and CRM systems, and increase operational efficiencies. Greater learning of customer behavior and preferences will also enhance B2C/B2B services within and beyond core businesses. Meanwhile, new challenges are emerging, such as the rise of voice-driven, Wi-Fi connected AI-based devices (e.g. Amazon Echo, Google Home), which are increasingly becoming a control point for the connected home."

Infographic: GSMA Intelligence

Are you developing mobile hardware or software services for the North American market? If so, what are the challenges you are encountering?

Aaron Rose is an advisor to talented entrepreneurs and co-founder of great companies. He also serves as the editor of Solutions for a Sustainable World.

November 2, 2017

Susan Rice Shares Her Insights on U.S.-China Relations at the 11th Annual CHINA Town Hall

The National Committee on U.S.-China Relations (NCUSCR), a New York, N.Y.-based 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization whose mission is to promote understanding and cooperation between the United States and Greater China in the belief that sound and productive Sino-American relations serve vital American and world interests. The NCUSCR also organizes the CHINA Town Hall, which serves as a national conversation about China that provides Americans across the U.S. and beyond the opportunity to discuss issues in the relationship with leading experts.

The eleventh annual CHINA Town Hall took place on October 24, 2017 at 86 venues across the U.S. and Greater China and featured Ambassador Susan E. Rice, former national security advisor and U.S. ambassador to the UN, as the national webcast speaker. I had the opportunity to attend the CHINA Town Hall hosted at the Seattle office of Dorsey & Whitney.

Answering questions from Stephen Orlins, president of the NCUSCR, as well as questions emailed and tweeted by the national audience, Amb. Rice's addressed a range critical issues in the U.S.-China relationship, from North Korea to the war on drugs. I agree with her recommendation that U.S. President Donald Trump and his administration should make their relationship with China a top priority. "The U.S.-China relationship works best when there is a high degree of communication and maximize mutual understanding at the highest levels," Amb. Rice explained.

Susan E. Rice
Noting U.S. President Donald Trump's upcoming trip to Asia including a state visit to China, Mr. Orlins asked: "What constitutes a success for a presidential visit [to China]?" Amb. Rice replied that "success is best judged by the quality of the outcomes." There are numerous issues that need to be addressed by the U.S. including the denuclearization of North Korea, resolving the territorial disputes in the South China Sea, and cybersecurity threats. In addition, Amb. Rice noted: "There are [economic] issues that are very frustrating to the U.S. side. We need to manage them and we need to play hardball, but we can't make empty threats that we may not be willing to back up."

Amb. Rice also discussed her op-ed, "It's Not Too Late on North Korea," published by The New York Times on Aug. 10, 2017. "North Korea's substantial nuclear arsenal and improving intercontinental ballistic missile capacity pose a growing threat to America’s security," Amb. Rice wrote. "But we need not face an immediate crisis if we play our hand carefully."

Regarding China's role in halting North Korea's nuclear aggression, the U.S. "must begin a dialogue with China about additional efforts and contingencies on the peninsula, and revive diplomacy to test potential negotiated agreements that could verifiably limit or eliminate North Korea’s arsenal."

During the CHINA Town Hall, Amb. Rice said President Trump's decision for the U.S. to withdraw from the Paris climate accord, an agreement within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change dealing with greenhouse gas emissions mitigation, adaptation and finance starting in the year 2020 was a mistake. She correctly noted the accord was the product of U.S.-China cooperation.

Having served as Assistant U.S. Secretary of State for African Affairs from 1997-2001, Amb. Rice talked about Africa in context of the U.S.-China relationship. "We actually worked with China on a number of issues related to African security rather effectively." These issues included conflict resolution in South Sudan or building healthcare infrastructure including combating outbreaks of the Ebola virus disease.

While the U.S. and China were able to collaborate on these important issues in Africa, the latter's "involvement in Africa economically is extractive [of natural resources without provision for their renewal] and not tied to values whether they be human rights and democracy or rule of law and anti-corruption. And its has the potential to only undermine the aspirations of civil society in these African countries, but they rarely employ sufficient African labor. They bring Chinese labor into Africa displacing local labor."

Responding to a question about what can American citizens do to encourage better Sino-American relations, Amb. Rice said American can educate ourselves about China, study the Chinese language, and travel and study in China in order to get to know the country "much more intimately than most Americans do."

The recorded webcast of Amb. Rice's remarks may be viewed in the embedded video below or through this link.

Following Amb. Rice's webcast, Graham Webster, a senior research scholar, lecturer, and senior fellow of the Paul Tsai China Center at Yale Law School, where he specializes in U.S.-China diplomatic, security, and economic relations through research and Track II dialogues, provided some comments to the audience gathered in Seattle. Based in Oakland, Calif., Mr. Webster is also a fellow for China and East Asia with the EastWest Institute.

While he led a good discussion on the overall trends in U.S.-China relations and China's cyberspace policy developments, I want to bring attention to an article, "Beyond the Worst-Case Assumptions on China's Cybersecurity Law," Mr. Webster co-authored with Samm Sacks and Paul Triolo on Oct. 13, 2017 about China's new Cybersecurity Law that went into effect on June 1, 2017:
Before and since there has been intense discussion in international business circles and governments about what that means in practice. In the United States especially, there has been a tendency toward reading the law and related documents in “worst case scenario,” fueling concerns that China’s emerging digital governance regime will systematically disadvantage outside firms and champion domestic tech giants. For example, a September 25 filing by the U.S. Government with a World Trade Organization body reflected a dire interpretation of some of China’s ambiguous language.
However, a close look at what Chinese officials are actually saying suggests healthy debate within the Chinese system. While business groups have been lobbying intensely on specific provisions, often responding to early drafts, the Chinese government is still in the process of developing and issuing the regulations, standards, measures, and guidelines that operationalize the new law’s requirements. Not only is that process subject to international pressure (U.S., European, and other international interests continue to seek delays or even the scrapping of some particularly controversial provisions), it is increasingly clear that there remains a keen debate among Chinese interests on these issues. An important government office said as much late last month. Following the U.S. filing at the WTO, China’s Ministry of Public Security (MPS) Third Research Institute, which researches cybersecurity technologies and policies, issued both a Chinese translation of the U.S. letter and a short response in a WeChat post.

This response should not be taken lightly. It sends a clear message that while some interests and voices in China's policy discussion favor uncompromising interpretations of China’s data protection measures that would significantly disadvantage global firms, other voices, especially those concerned with Chinese companies' global expansion plans, see downsides in heavy restrictions on cross-border data transfers. 
The article, published by New America, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank, continues to explore "some of the nuances of the ongoing discussion with particular reference to what Chinese policy makers and thinkers are saying about it."

What are your thoughts about Amb. Rice's remarks or the article Mr. Webster co-authored?

Aaron Rose is an advisor to talented entrepreneurs and co-founder of great companies. He also serves as the editor of Solutions for a Sustainable World.