Monthly Archives: June 2017

Cloud Computing Industry Sees Massive Surge in Mergers and Acquisitions

cloud-computing-2153286_960_720It’s no secret that digital cloud solutions are becoming an increasingly popular option for all kinds of businesses. In fact, 80% of cloud adopters see improvements within six months of moving to the cloud. Now, cloud-hosting firm Contegix is reaping the benefits of cloud success and has purchased BlackMesh Inc., which is its third deal this year alone, according to the St. Louis Dispatch.

BlackMesh is based in Ashburn, Virginia and works with web content management platforms. The full terms of the deal have not been disclosed.

“Together, Contegix and BlackMesh will enhance both companies’ ability to serve clients in a secure, efficient, and scalable fashion,” BlackMesh co-founder Jason Ford, who will now serve as Contegix’s chief technology officer and chief information security officer. “We are very excited to join the Contegix team and to continue to provide high-touch service and support to our customers while expanding the services we offer.”

At the end of last year, Contegix purchased Admo.net Web Services, LLC, which is a managed services and cloud provider based in Kansas City, Missouri. The IRS automatically classifies an LLC as a partnership or “disregarded entity,” depending on if there is one or more than one owner, and before the acquisition, the company had just one owner — Adam Ward.

“We believe that this is a real win for Admo’s customers,” said Ward at the time of the acquisition. “With very little lead time, our clients will gain access to a much broader array of solutions with top-notch support.”

And if Contegix’s track record is any guide, this won’t be the last acquisition for the cloud-hosting firm.

However, these deals are just a few small data points in a much larger trend. For the last several years, tech companies of all sizes have been engaging in mergers and acquisitions. In fact, the pace of these major acquisitions has increased so quickly that last year CNN Tech described it as a “feeding frenzy.”

Last year investors were surprised at the unusually low number of tech IPOs; however, in that same time, mergers and acquisitions took off.

Per CNN Tech: “Mergers and acquisitions, on the other hand, are soaring. Deals to buy private tech companies have totaled $318 billion for the year so far, significantly outpacing the $250 billion spent on tech MandA through the first three full quarters of 2015, according to data from PitchBook.”

Major companies like Salesforce, Walmart, Apple, and Intel have all been aggressively snatching up smaller technology companies to expand their capabilities. In the cloud market, Google has also been working through a list of acquisition targets.

Managed Security Services Market Increasing In Demand, Experts Say

cyber-1654709_960_720In the technology age, digital security is absolutely essential. Hackers can infiltrate virtually any device and access virtually any information they want to. And according to Lisa Detwiler, President of SSD Technology Partners, the demand for managed security services have skyrocketed in recent years.

Part of the boost is to be expected: Current data shows that the managed security services market is projected to almost double by 2020, from $17.02 billion to $33.68 billion.

But Detwiler cites a number of additional reasons for the increased demand. First and foremost, there is a severe shortage of people applying for IT security jobs. About 41% of IT security jobs receive fewer than five applications, according to Detwiler’s article in the Delaware Business Times.

“As a result, IT security positions can take months to fill, and many aren’t filled at all. The law of supply and demand can also mean organizations who do land qualified talent will end up paying top dollar,” she wrote.

A trend towards outsourcing is also driving the market growth, as fewer companies can afford an in-house cybersecurity team. A company can generally save an average of 60% in operations costs with an outsourced individual, and most small businesses simply can’t afford full- or part-time IT workers.

“Many experts believe smaller organizations that lack the resources to purchase the latest tools and attract top IT security talent have the most to gain by partnering with an MSSP,” she wrote. “Outsourcing provides smaller organizations with access to the same level of expertise as major enterprises that spend millions to protect their data and assets. After all, small companies face the same challenges related to business disruption, regulatory compliance and brand reputation, albeit on a smaller scale.”

Ultimately, as long as cybersecurity threats remain prevalent, so will the market for managed security services. Not only that, but managed security services are just one part of the fast-growing cybersecurity industry.

Already 2017 has brought a number of high-profile cyberattacks, including the spring Ransomware attack that affected hospitals all over the world.

Seattle Man Uses Work Injury To Educate High Schoolers About Workplace Safety Importance

classroom-2093743_960_720According to KOMO News, one Seattle man is using his unfortunate workplace injury as a way to educate children about the importance of workplace safety.

Local man Matt Pomerinke lost his arm when he was just 21 at his first job in a paper mill. He cites lack of proper training as the cause of his disfiguring accident.

Now, he works with the Injured Young Workers Program to equip children with the essential knowledge regarding workplace safety.

It’s true that teenagers have a higher risk of getting hurt on the job than adults. In 2015, 4,836 workers were killed on the job, and there are about twice as many accidents involving teenagers as there are adults.

Pomerinke is using his experience as a young adult to help educate children at high schools all over the state, seeking out students who may be searching for summer jobs in particular.

“The main thing that I always ask kids to do is take training seriously, and ask questions, just put yourself out there,” he said. “I didn’t, I just rolled with it, and I ended up getting hurt out of it. The more questions you ask, the better you are at your job, the better likelihood you have to make it through without injury.”

However, lack of proper training isn’t the only cause of workplace accidents. In fact, close to 70% of warehouse injuries involved accidents by well-trained personnel.

Still, the program has been around for seven years, and Pomerinke is making connections with these kids by serving as a first hand example.

“A lot of kids are fearless, they don’t think an injury is ever going to happen to them,” he said. “I know I thought the same thing when I was younger, and it does happen, and I’m proof of that.”

Pomerinke says the reaction he gets from children is ‘incredible.’ He says he’s spent 15 minutes or more answering their myriad of questions after his presentation.

Although Pomerinke probably can’t take all the credit, workplace accidents in the United States are trending downwards overall. While 14,000 workers were dying on the job every year in the 1970s, only 5,000 fatalities are reported today.

Of course, the decline of manufacturing jobs plays a large role in that trend, but increased awareness and better safety equipment has also helped. And while overall workplace accidents are going down, fatalities are going up in one industry in particular — construction jobs.

That makes it more important than ever that programs like this teach young teens about the value of safety on the job, whether they’re working construction or flipping burgers over their summer vacation.
“My goal is to make sure no kid has the same accident I had,” Pomerinke said. “If I can keep even one kid from facing injury, it’s worth it.”

Pharmaceutical Companies Accused of Fueling Opioid Epidemic In State Of Ohio

medical-563427_960_720
According to the California Society of Addiction Medicine, methadone treatment has a 60-90% success rate in treating opiate addiction, whereas non-medical, abstinence-based treatments have a success rate of only 5-10%. Unfortunately, thousands of Ohio families are in desperate need of any treatment for heroin and opioid addiction.

And on Wednesday, May 31st, The State of Ohio filed a lawsuit against five pharmaceutical companies accused of sparking the state’s heroin epidemic. According to National Public Radio, the five pharmaceutical companies facing the lawsuit are: Purdue Pharma, Endo Health Solutions, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries and subsidiary Cephalon, Johnson and Johnson and subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals, and Allergan.

Ohio Attorney General, Mike DeWine, said in a news release that the pharmaceutical companies deliberately refrained from informing doctors and patients of the addictive nature of the drugs and the dangers of overdose.

“These drug manufacturers led prescribers to believe that opioids were not addictive, that addiction was an easy thing to overcome, or that addiction could actually be treated by taking even more opioids. They knew they were wrong, but they did it anyway — and they continue to do it. Despite all evidence to the contrary about the addictive nature of these pain medications, they are doing precious little to take responsibility for their actions and to tell the public the truth.”

Opiate addiction has become a national epidemic over the past decade as more and more doctors prescribed the drugs for months to years at a time. Opioids were meant to treat short-term pain because of their ability to block pain-receptors. However, because opioids release artificial endorphins in the brain, when patients take the drug over long periods of time, their brains become unable to naturally release endorphins without proper recovery. This results in a period known as “withdrawal,” which can cause depressive feelings, severe nausea, flu symptoms, extreme pain, and thoughts of suicide. This causes the patient to rely on the opioids to feel happy and relaxed, therefore causing the patient to become addicted to the drug.

And because opioid painkillers can be expensive on the black market, thousands of Americans have instead turned to the cheaper and more potent alternative: heroin.

The lawsuit filed by the State of Ohio charges the five pharmaceutical companies with violating the Ohio Consumer Sales Practices Act while additionally misleading doctors and patients of opioid risks. DeWine told NPR, “We believe that the evidence will show that these pharmaceutical companies purposely misled doctors about the dangers connected with pain meds that they produced, and that they did so for the purpose of increasing sales. And boy, did they increase sales.”

Nutrition At The Heart Of Armed Service’s New Training Methods

Half Face Army Girl Portrait

Since the early 1940s, Americans have been taking multivitamins and mineral supplements for various reasons. Today, virtually every drug store in the country sells vitamins for expectant mothers, children, exercise lovers, seniors, and more.

But now vitamins have been embraced by an unlikely organization — the nation’s armed forces. The U.S. military plans to boost the performance of female soldiers in the field by using vitamins and superior nutrition.

The military has started to accept women into more close special operations and ground combat jobs, and Army officials wanted to find a way to get the best possible performance out of the troops. This was needed to minimize injury and to boost success.

One of the most startling discoveries was that many women had a chronic iron deficiency that was holding them back. Women tend to be slightly more iron-deficient than men, but the impact of the problem was raising concerns among military officials.

“A quarter of the women who enter the Army training pipeline have an iron deficiency,” said Scott McConnell, who helps improve Army Training and Doctrine Command. “That figure can double.”

This issue was brought up at the quarterly meeting of the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services this June.

“That impacts your body’s ability to carry oxygen to the vital organs. And so iron deficiency can actually be reflected in poor aerobic fitness levels and physical performance,” said McConnell.

In February 2016 the Army decided to start providing iron-rich multivitamins to female soldiers, and McConnell noted a difference had been made quite quickly.

“The statistic we have is that the iron supplements can actually shave two minutes off the two-mile run time.”

This insight in how to prepare female soldiers to meet the harsh physical requirements of operations that had been traditionally designed for men has allowed the army to gain more insight as to how to help the service as a whole.

Other aids, such as the calcium-rich performance nutrition bar used as a bedtime supplement for recruits, have also begun to prove useful.

“We have found that when soldiers have food in their stomach, they are actually less susceptible to heat injuries,” McConnell said. “That’s actually one of the other aspects of this nutrition bar, and who would have thought, in the 21st century, that we’re kicking over that rock and understanding something that we did not understand.”

Nestle To Pull Out Of American Candy Markets?

nestle-social-media-logo-youtube

Rumor has it that candy producing giant Nestle might be selling its $900 million-a-year U.S. business, which includes household candy names like Butterfinger and BabyRuth. This is, apparently, to improve the health of their overall portfolio.

Analysts have been speculating about the decision since the company named healthcare veteran Mark Schneider as CEO. Over the past few years, the packaged food sector has battled a slowdown due to a generation of savvy consumers that are eating healthier and fresher foods.

As a result, the company has stated its new strategy is to become more health and nutrition-focused.

The review appears limited to the United States, where Nestle is number four behind Mars, Hershey, and Mondeles International in the candy market. The U.S. Market is just 10% of the total company sales.

RBC Capital Markets analyst James Jones notes that this could be a significant move by the company in the long run, despite the low sales loss.

“This might seem small stuff, but in our view, it could be a significant step by new-ish CEO Mark Schneider…towards a more deliberate and efficient capital allocation strategy,” Jones said.

Nestle stated that it remains “fully committed” to growing its international markets, particularly KitKat, which is made by Hershey in the United States. Globally, the company generated around $9.02 billion in sales last year.

So far there has been no talk of what will happen to Nestle’s assets in the United States used for their candy production, or what will become of the workers employed there. No figures have been estimated about the number of jobs that would be affected by the transition out of the U.S. market.

Of course, no decision has been announced yet, and selling a business as large as Nestle involves a lot of legal, regulatory, and financial wrangling. According to the 2017 IBBA Market Pulse survey, “cash at close” is the most important issue for business owners who are selling their company. Even so, “taking care of employees” was their second biggest concern.

Until Nestle confirms its decision to sell off its holdings in the U.S. candy market, investors will continue to speculate.

Flexible Financing For Veterans Interested In Vegas Luxury At The Ogden

the ogden web

Over 22 million veterans have achieved homownership through the VA Home Loan program, a special program run by the Department of Veteran Affairs for the United States armed forces. And quite a few of them seem to have taken up residence in Las Vegas.

More specifically, they’ve taken up residence in The Ogden, an iconic 21-story tall high-rise condominium tower, situated right in downtown Las Vegas. The building has sold over 65% of its properties so far, with more than 10% being owned by active or retired military personnel.

Thanks to the community’s flexible financing options, low maintenance requirements, great security, and spacious floor plans, it’s no wonder so many veterans flocked to the building.

Stephanie Reese, the Director of Sales for The Ogden, says that it’s thanks to their partnership with The Federal Savings Bank that they house so many former and current members of the armed forces.

“We partner with The Federal Savings Bank, one of the largest privately held, veteran-owned banks in the United States, to make home ownership a reality for many buyers who otherwise wouldn’t be in a position to finance a mortgage.”

Unlike a conventional loan in which buyers are required to provide anywhere from 3% to 5% on a down payment, a VA loan allows military personnel that are eligible to buy their homes with no down payment needed. And it offers a lower average interest rate than most other loans.

Marylou Soto, a retired the United States Air Force veteran, purchased her home at The Ogden because it offered a very short commute to her family-owned business. She’s had many positive things to say about her experience at the luxury tower.

“I now wonder what took me so long to convert to this lifestyle given how little maintenance is required to take care of my home. I was sold on The Ogden’s sense of security, its location in the heart of downtown Las Vegas where there is so much to do, see and experience, as well as the tower’s friendly staff and neighbors that truly make it feel like home.”

There are many other such stories from the residents at The Ogden, as veterans from all over the nation have made their way to the residence. Some have traveled even as far as from Wisconsin, leaving their previous suburban lives behind, to live closer to the downtown location.

The building is owned by DK Las Vegas, and since acquiring it in 2013, they have made a $2 million investment into renovating it — refreshing the lobby and adding new upgrades throughout all residences, including lighting, hardwood floors, granite countertops, and much more.

They’ve even added a rooftop pool.

The location itself serves as a prime spot for veterans young and old, with more than 150 restaurants right outside. These include some of Vegas’ most popular eateries, bars, and attractions, adding even more excitement to the ever-changing downtown Las Vegas.

For those interested, The Ogden offers flexible financing options, included VA and Fannie Mae-backed loans, making it easier for buyers to get their dream home. The homes in the tower range from a two-bedroom 1,180-square-foot residence at a mid $300,000 price, to a larger three-bedroom and den starting in the low $500,000.

The second option is around 2,044 square-foot per home.

The Ogden hopes to keep attracting veterans and other interested home buyers and to give a true downtown Las Vegas feel to everyone staying there.

Amazon’s New Patent Allows Retailers to Block Online Searches for Cheaper Products

amazon_logo_RGBAmazon has created a patent that isn’t going over well with their thousands of customers.

Recently, the massive e-retailer has been granted a patent that will stop a shopper from comparing prices of an item in-store to one online. Typically, when shopping online, 44% of consumers start their search with a search engine, which is a helpful way to read online reviews and comparison shop for cheaper items.

However, this patent won’t allow price comparisons with online retailers anymore. Instead, the patent will notice when online shoppers are in a store and look online for comparable, albeit cheaper, items and then intercept them as a way to entice the shopper to buy in person instead of online.

How it works is simple. The patent, known as Physical Store Online Shopping Control, is a mechanism where the retailer will intercept network requests that happen on its in-store Wi-Fi, and then each retailer will be able to handle these requests however they choose. For example, if someone is in an electronics store and searches online for a smartphone at a cheaper price, the electronic store’s Wi-Fi can intercept this request, then either offer the customer a coupon or block the search altogether in efforts to keep the customer in-store.

Additionally, Amazon’s patent will be able to locate exactly where the customer is in the store using a triangulated system based off of wireless access points. This is then helpful for the store clerks so they can go and speak to the customer in person in hopes of securing a sale.

According to Business Insider, Amazon believes that even though this patent can potentially take business away from their company, it’s an important way for retailers to stay afloat in a world that is becoming ever-reliant on online shopping.

Amazon’s patent explains:

“[A] negative scenario may exist for a physical store retailer when a consumer evaluates items at the physical store, leverages physical store sales representatives, and then reviews pricing information online in order to purchase the same item from an online retailer.The physical store retailer pays for floor space, sales representative time, product inventory management, and other costs while not being able to complete a sales transaction.”

While the patent was filed in 2012, it was only recently approved. However, there is no word on when the patent will go live and be used nationwide.

How HR Technology Could Save Indian Corporations Millions

customer service woman smiling

Being a manager at a large company can be an exhausting experience, especially if one has to deal with employee and customer issues daily. The average workplace manager spends up to 40% of their time dealing with conflicts, whether that’s with customers or employees.

Handling these issues alone can create a frustrating work environment and even cost companies money in the long term as productivity is reduced.

According to studies done with corporations in India, it is estimated that Indian companies spend nearly $500 million towards managing full-time employees. These costs do not include the managing of part-time employees or any other open talent worker management.

These costs are projected to grow, said PeopleStrong, an HR outsourcing company, to journalist organization LiveMint. But they also believe that the influence of HR technologies to handle both employees and customers could be incredibly beneficial to the industry. PeopleStrong stated:

“With the movement of more people from unorganized to organized segment, the number of employees working in organized setup would double by 2021 and the cost of managing employees would rise to about $2 billion. By 2021, HR Technology can help companies save at least 30% of $2 billion annually, which would amount to $600 million approximately.”

Many industry veterans are in agreement that HR technologies could help companies cut management costs in the coming years, and IT industry veteran T.V. Mohandas Pai believes the annual cost reduction could be as much as 25% to 30%.

“Clearly there is a movement amongst startups,” he says. “Big enterprises are slower but there is movement. Startups have a clean slate…with no legacy, and look for the latest and cheapest technology on subscription basis.”

However, one of the biggest hurdles about HR technology has always been its adoption. HR technology is not new to the area, having been around as early as 1990.

At the moment, functions like talent acquisition, learning and development, and performance measurements are being done using HR technology. Research done by PeopleStrong shows that many traditional jobs in HR that focus around data collation, approvals, and other similar work have been replaced by technology.

It is believed that new HR jobs which focus on analytics, program management, vendor and productivity management, as well as employee experience, will replace existing roles.

VR Water Slides And Movie Star Pool Expansions – A Wild Start To The Summer

Boy at aqua park

This summer is turning out to be a waterslide heaven for the world, with many locations either opening up new water parks, creating new water slides, or celebrating the smoothest water slide exit some individuals have ever seen.

All across both the United States and some parts of Europe, there has been a rising prominence of both physical water slides and even virtual ones.

That’s right, a virtual water slide has been opened up in the United Kingdom, London specifically, and inside of a clothing store no less.

The slide works by having the customer hop into an inflatable of their choice and put on a virtual-reality headset. They then go down a real slide inside the store, albeit a much smaller one, but thanks to the headset they are simultaneously transported to a massive and more intense computer program.

“The slide begins with you teetering over the top of the Topshop Oxford Street building before looping across the iconic Oxford Street in a white knuckle ride that feels very real,” InStyle UK reported.

But outside of the virtual world and overseas news, there was also an opening of a new water slide for thrill seekers back here at home — the new Universal Orlando Resort Krakatau Aqua Coaster.

After boarding Krakatau’s four-seat canoes, passengers experience the water slide’s 125-foot drop and zoom throughout the expansive volcano. This experience comes with pulsates of water by day and hosts colorful lava effects at night. Its plentiful drops give the passengers serious airtime but it mimics the motion of a roller coaster on land with the way it propels them back upwards.

It offers a really intense zero-gravity experience.

Bringing the water slide to the home has also become an apparent trend for those with the money and space to do so, with Angelina Jolie recently obtaining a 100-foot water slide for her pool to help her children have more fun in the summer sun. This may be out of the budget for most people, but bringing the water slide fun home doesn’t have to be limited to movie stars.

After all, the largest inflatable water slide in the world was a record 1,975 feet long. The ones rentable from a local store might not be that big, but they’ll surely provide a fun time for any home or party.