New Addition: Indiana Technology & Innovation Council

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Technology companies are relocating to and growing in portions of Indiana. The mission of the Indiana Chamber’s new Indiana Technology & Innovation Council is to support and expand those efforts.

The Chamber will utilize its policy, political affairs, event planning, research, communications and financial resources in collaboration with tech company leaders and organizations. The Indiana Technology & Innovation Council opens the door statewide to those wanting to join Chamber members, who will receive these expanded benefits as part of their current Chamber dues investment.

Chamber members can participate in upcoming open discussions on policy and programming priorities. Two committees – Tech Policy, and Program and Trends – comprised of representatives of member companies will develop a specific policy agenda and programming that supports existing efforts.

Full details are available in this press release. Mark Lawrance (mlawrance@indianachamber.com), who recently returned to the Chamber as Vice President of Engagement and Innovation Policy, will be the lead staff person.

“We’re excited to partner with tech companies and their leaders,” states Lawrance, “while offering a statewide platform to expand Indiana’s growing tech success story.”

Elon Musk: We Are Most Definitely Living a Simulation Exercise

Elon Musk had an interesting answer when asked if we are living in someone else’s simulation: “The odds are one in billions that we are in base reality.” Sooooooo, yeah.

Here’s the full interview with the always-intriguing Musk at the 2016 Code Conference in California this week (click “PLAY ALL” in the image):

Telemedicine a Potentially Healthy Benefit of Broadband Access

Virtual doctor measures blood pressure

For the upcoming July/August edition of BizVoice, I spoke with Smithville Fiber Executive Vice President Cullen McCarty about developments in broadband — both in Indiana and around the globe.

One aspect he mentioned was the significant impact on health broadband access could play for Americans living in rural areas as telemedicine capabilities increase.

“The importance is having the ability to stay at home and talk with your doctor from there, whether it’s through FaceTime or some type of interactive technology,” McCarty says. “You can have a doctor’s visit without a stethoscope. You can take blood pressure over a device and have that information shot back to the doctor.”

Fitbits and Apple Watches may also be able to transfer diagnostics to doctors as well, he adds, noting aging Hoosiers will need to take advantage of all avenues to increase medical efficiency.

“In Southern Indiana, a lot of hospitals and clinics are a far drive for some in rural areas, like Orange and Greene Counties,” McCarty offers. “It takes a lot of gas and money, so I think that’s where telemedicine will take off. Plus, you have specialists who read X-rays. An example we were given several years ago is that there are people in other parts of the country and the world who read X-rays, and they send it back to the doctor.”

He relays an example of someone getting an X-ray in Bloomington and having it sent to a radiologist who lives on a golf course in Texas.

“There are many different applications for telemedicine,” McCarty points out. “I think it’s a big driver in getting broadband into people’s homes who don’t see the value yet.”

Take Part in the Innovation Showcase: Deadline to Enter is May 30

innovator picParticipate in the 8th Annual Innovation Showcase, where each entrepreneur will have the opportunity to pitch to an investor panel for a chance to win cash and tangible services. (Note: Applications are due May 30!)

Featuring three competitive tracks:

  • University
  • Start-Up
  • and Scale-Up

Exhibiting companies will also get exposure to more than 30 venture capital funds from around the country, and be selected by them for one-on-one meetings. See what representatives from the 2015 winner, Pi Labs Inc. (aka Edwin the Duck), are saying about the importance of the showcase in this video.

Other key dates:

  • First round pitch and selection: June 24
  • Final pitch competition and winners announced: July 14

Calling All Hackers

19114293Hacking is coming to the Indiana Statehouse – and that’s a good thing.

Developers, coders and designers are invited to participate in #INCapitolHack, the first installment in the 2016 Indiana Hack Series, on February 26-27. State government agencies are welcoming experts to “hack for the greater good.”

A full timeline, additional information and registration are available online.

Need Some Money to Grow Your Business? Comcast Can Help

comcast inInnovative Indiana start-ups and entrepreneurs are encouraged to check out the third annual Innovations 4 Entrepreneurs competition sponsored by Comcast Business.

Current and aspiring business owners can enter the competition for a chance to win up to $30,000 and participate in a day of mentoring with teams of business experts that will provide advice on how to implement their plan.

Based on a 250-word essay submission, applicants will answer the question: How could your business use technology to help enhance your business?

Rusty Dewitt, Indiana’s director of business services, says, “I get to work with our small business customers, and see the impact they have on the Hoosier economy. Hoosiers are innovators, hard workers, and incredibly industrious. That’s exactly what is taken into account when we decide which entrepreneurs get this award.”

Entries will be judged and two winners will be selected in each of the 15 Comcast Business regions: one winner for start-up companies (in business two years or less) and one winner for entrepreneurs (in business for more than two years). The 30 regional winners will each earn $10,000 in cash.

From the regional winners, six grand prize winners will be selected – three start-ups and three entrepreneurs – who will earn an additional $20,000 in cash, plus a trip to Philadelphia to spend a day attending group sessions with industry experts.

Visit Comcast Business Community for full program details. Entries are due by March 12.

Five Cyber Risks That Can Sink Your Business

19114293What’s as commonplace as your mobile habit and bankrupts businesses every day of the week?

Cyber threats.

Once confined to sci-fi movie plots, cyber crime is now an everyday occurrence, crippling businesses of every size and industry.

How big is the problem? Huge.

Cyber crime now ranks as the number one security threat in the U.S., ahead of terrorism and stockpiled nuclear arms, according to a report by the U.S. Director of National Intelligence. From a financial standpoint, a recent study by the Ponemon Institute revealed data breaches cost businesses an average of $154 per lost or stolen record containing confidential info. Leak 650 of those records, and you could be looking at a six-figure price tag.

And while 83% of IT leaders view cyber attacks as one of the top three threats looming over their organization today, only 38% are prepared to deal with one, as reported by the Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA).

Recently, the U.S. Senate approved a bill that would lead to the adoption of the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA), designed to encourage businesses and government agencies to share information about cyber attacks. As expected, CISA has its share of both supporters and opponents. Yet, the general consensus among security experts is that organizations aren’t moving at a pace that will keep them ahead of attackers.

Meanwhile, multiple studies confirm what we already know: most IT leaders are uneasy about cybersecurity risks and the potential destruction that follows, but feel unequipped to deal with a major data breach scenario.

To that end, experts and government officials urge businesses to address five common oversights that open the door to data breaches:

  1. Allowing contractors and third parties to bypass security processes.
  2. Moving too slowly to develop a mobile security plan.
  3. Failing to regularly assess cyber threats.
  4. Neglecting to develop strong security measures to minimize risks internally (stemming from employees, whether intentional or accidental).
  5. Inadequate employee training on good cybersecurity processes.

With hackers aggressively targeting businesses and employees unwittingly putting data at risk, it’s important to be aggressive in countering those threats, says FBI Director James Comey. “The bad guys are moving at [incredible] speed,” he cautioned in an interview with CBS News. “We have to get better.”

For more information about the current state of cybersecurity and predictions for the coming months and years, we invite you to access “The State of Cybersecurity in 2015” infographic online .

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Rich Banta is managing member at Lifeline Data Centers in Indianapolis.

Mobile Power to Continue in New Year

Three Businesswomen Texting

The number of U.S. consumers using their phones to pay for goods and services at the point of sale will continue to climb steadily, with 2016 being a year of significant growth for the technology. According to the latest proximity mobile payments forecast from eMarketer, the total value of mobile payment transactions in the U.S. will grow 210% in 2016.

Specifically, eMarketer defines proximity mobile payments as point-of-sale transactions that use mobile phones as a payment method, via tapping, waving and similar functionality.

“Several factors will drive substantial mobile payments growth in the U.S. Mobile wallets like Apple Pay, Android Pay and Samsung Pay will become a standard feature on new smartphones,” said eMarketer analyst Bryan Yeager. “Also, more merchants will adopt point-of-sale systems that can accept mobile payments, and incentives like promotions and loyalty programs will be integrated to attract new users.”

Also driving growth are changes in the types of purchases made using mobile payments. eMarketer expects that consumers will move beyond primarily buying low-priced goods, below $20, with mobile payments to a wider array of price points. Medium-priced purchases, ranging from $20 to $100, will comprise 45.5% of all mobile payments in 2015, growing to 63.9% by 2018.

Picture This: Catching Up on Cyber Monday Sales

Three Businesswomen Texting

Cyber Monday.

It’s a catchy phrase to describe a day dedicated to fingers furiously pounding keyboards or mobile devices to grab the best deals on a plethora of holiday gifts.

PFSweb, a leading global provider of comprehensive eCommerce solutions, posted a cool infographic of 2015 Cyber Monday activity and how it compares to 2014.

Who did the spending and did it come from their digital devices or desktops? See for yourself.

But first, a couple highlights:

  • Average order value: $123.43 (down 78 cents)
  • Digital sales: $3.19 billion (up from $2.59 billion)
  • Desktop sales: $2.28 billion (up from $2.04 billion)
  • Mobile sales: $838 million (up from $548 million) – a 53% jump!

Try This On for Size

iStock_000062439902_Large - Copy“Mirror, mirror on the wall. This lighting doesn’t work for me at all.”

My amusing poem is a fitting way to describe how shoppers are using “smart mirrors” to enhance their experiences.

Where have you been all of my life?

Let’s take a look at how the technology, which can be found in dressing rooms at places such as Ralph Lauren’s flagship store, works:

Equipped with radio-frequency identification technology that tracks items via their tags, the room identifies every item that enters and reflects it back on the mirror that doubles as a touchscreen. Shoppers can interact with the mirror, which functions like a giant tablet, to control the lighting, request alternate items or style advice from a sales associate.

“There’s this narrative that ecommerce collects better data – but online, it’s black and white. The physical world contains all these shades of grey that are truly interesting,” says Healey Cypher, who has built his career around twin concepts, namely that brick-and-mortar shopping isn’t going anywhere and the experience is in desperate need of a technological upgrade.

He’s working on it. Cypher is the CEO and co-founder of Oak Labs Interactive, the company behind the interactive mirrors, which just announced it has raised $4.1 million in a seed round led by Wing Venture Capital to bring refine the technology and bring it to more retailers. …

For retailers, the key draw is the wealth of collected data. By tracking each item that enters a dressing room, Ralph Lauren can determine how shoppers are interacting with its clothes. Is a jacket frequently being tried on, but isn’t selling? This likely indicates the look is popular, but the fit isn’t. Equally valuable: how customers interact with the touchscreen. Are they buying recommended items? How are they interacting with sales associates? Oak Labs analyzes the data and distills it into digestible and actionable insights.

This idea isn’t a new one – Nordstrom has experimented with interactive mirrors in its fitting rooms, and designer Rebecca Minkoff’s flagship store in New York City has employed nearly identical technology for about a year, to huge results. Since its installation, the store reportedly tripled its clothing sales.

Read the full Entrepreneur story.