On Tuesday the 14th of April, my fellow DCU Business School students and I had the great pleasure of attending our fourth and final mini-conference which was once again held in the Helix’s Mahony Hall. The conference we attended was the free mini-conference “Get Digital- National Conference on Cloud Computing & Commerce” which featured presentations from a number of experts in the cloud computing field, including Mary Moloney from Coder Dojo Global, Richard Garsthagen, EMEA Director for Cloud Business Development, Shay Garvey from Frontline Ventures and finally John Massey, EMEA Business Development Lead for SAP Ireland. DCU Business School with the DCU Techspectations Initiative held the conference which ran from 16:00 till 18:00.
The first speaker of the conference was Seán Baker, chair of the IC4 steering board-The Irish Centre of Cloud Computing & Commerce. Seán started the conference by giving us a brief description of what Cloud Computing is and how we can get involved with IC4 by attending seminars, workshops and clinics (all the info can be located on the IC4 website), by helping to choose projects while attending workshops and maybe even proposing a project yourself, or by sponsoring a chosen project which won’t cost you anything but your time as you help direct work and see the results first hand. These are only some of the options Seán mentioned that are available to begin working with IC4. He also informed us that if we would like to join the Steering Board in the future that we should let him know and he would give us all of the relative information.
The first official speaker of conference was Mary Moloney, the Global CEO of CoderDojo. Mary began her presentation with informing us what CoderDojo are and where the whole idea of CoderDojo originated.
Mary described CoderDojo as a global volunteer-led community of free programming clubs for young people between 7 and 17. She went on to tell us that CoderDojo was founded in July 2011 by James Whelton & Bill Liao and the first Dojo took place in Cork, Ireland on the 23rd of July. James and Bill were self-taught programmers and wanted to create a space where young people could learn code in a social environment. Today there are currently more than 650 Dojos spread across 58 countries, and more are being set up every week.
Mary spoke of CoderDojo as a space for young people where they can focus on creative learning as they’re not restricted to a specific curriculum, allowing them to choose from a variety of projects like creating apps, websites, learning how to code etc. She also informed us that the young people develop their peer learning, monitoring and self-learning skills by the CodorDojo method of “ask 3 before me” which is basically that the young people should hesitate from asking for help straight away and should ask themselves if they really need assistance, if they can find the answer online by googling it or does some other young person in the program know the answer.
Mary also informed us that CoderDojo only has one rule “Be Cool” which basically means behave be cool and be nice and Mary told us that a child has never had to be disciplined while at CoderDojo, she believes its because they’re given so much responsibility they don’t want to disappoint the mentors at the programme. Mary then brought up the concern people may have about young people sitting in front of computer screens and ensured us that as long as screen time is productive and challenging that its not time wasted.
Mary then spoke of how CoderDojo run both mixed and separate gender courses, because at the pre-teenager stage young people feel awkward asking for advise on topics with peers and might not use their full potential. Which I believe is a great idea for young people who are a little more shy around the opposite sex at this awkward in-between stage and gives them a chance to develop their skills before being mixed together again in older groups.
Mary also told us CoderDojo is a free programme that gives equal opportunities for young people to learn and even supplies technology like laptops, 3D printers and various other IT equipment for them to use while at CoderDojo. She also shared various achievements and experiences of their ninjas (the name they use for their young coders). She spoke of many ninja’s, however two in particular stood out for me, firstly the story of Kathleen, the 12 year old itinerant child who was being bullied and came up with the idea of creating an anti bullying quiz, which informed children what to do if they are being bullied and secondly the dyslexic games built by the Curran brothers who wanted to assists young people with dyslexia to learn programming. These two stories summed up the difference children can make when they’re given the proper facilities and knowledge which I believe is extremely powerful and uplifting. CoderDojo is also aiding the monumental shortage of programmers by exposing young people to ICT at a young age, because as it is there are predictions that within the EU alone there will be a shortage of 1 million technical workers by 2015 alone.
The next speaker to take to the stage was Richard Garsthagen, EMEA director for Cloud Business Development. He began his presentation with informing us with five reasons to love the cloud:
- It simplifies IT
- It Re-Engineers the economics of IT spending
- It accelerates and optimizes your business processes
- It drives innovation
- It allows world-class security and compliance
Then Richard went on to ask the question “what is the Cloud?” and informed us that its nothing to do with the place you store it, but rather a service that is transforming the way in how we use technology and how it is enabling businesses to deliver and consume it as a service, also supporting the transformation of the digital age.
Richard then went on to discuss the deployment choice that the cloud offers and that no matter whether you want to deploy your application in an on premise private cloud, or in a oracle cloud you have a choice because with oracle technologies you can transparently move workloads, between on premise and oracle cloud. He then explained that if you decide to develop in oracle cloud and later decide to deploy to a private cloud, know that you are sharing the same technology with the same standards using the same oracle products that you are already familiar with which will save you time, effort and money…
- Self-service provisioning of Oracle Fusion Middleware & Database on Virtual, Clustered or Engineered Systems
- Programmatic access with APIs & CLI
- On-demand delivery of resources with policy-based elasticity
- Load Balancer configuration for HA & throughput
- Automated Backup, Recovery, Patching & Upgrades
- Comprehensive dashboards & reports with rich self-service
- Instant access to full functionality of Oracle Fusion Middleware, Database, Compute, Storage & Network
- Only Public Cloud offering Fully Managed PaaS with Full VM Access & Control
- Automated Backup, Recovery, Patching & Upgrades
- Comprehensive dashboards & reports with Rich self-service
Richard then spoke of “Digital Disruption” which is basically the change that occurs when new digital technologies, or business models, affect the value proposition of existing goods and services. New companies built on these new business models are not just challenging other companies they are threatening even the most entrenched industries, and that the companies that don’t change will soon disintegrate from the market. Richard spoke of Netflix, UBER and Amazon being perfect examples of exponential companies that have put totally disruptive new ways of doing business into practice. I believe Netflix in particular totally achieved a disruptive competitive advantage when they used service-oriented cloud architecture coupled with their own data to serve their customers better. While competing companies like Blockbuster failed in the market as a result of them resisting change and not taking advantage of new digital technologies. Richard opened my eyes up to the importance of always being technology aware, when it comes to business and that we should “drop the old-school IT thinking” to drive digital business disruption.
The next speaker to take to the stage was Shay Garvey from Frontline Ventures. Shay’s talk was based on the cloud and its implications for raising and investing venture capital – and for society. He began his talk be stating that, In the last 10 years there was a dramatic productivity gain in the technology ecosystem. Shay then went on to give us some general tips in presenting to venture capitalists which I believe are extremely interesting-
- Make initial contact early. “Ask for advice, get money. Ask for money, get advice”
- In the first 3 mins of the meeting outline the Situation, Problem, Opportunity
- The Content: Answer the following questions
- What is your unfair advantage?
- What size company do you want to build (realistically)
- Can you easily demonstrate market size/opportunity?
Shay then went on to talk about “A Cambrian Moment”, which is basically a period where digital start-ups are bubbling up in society, and are ultimately changing them by exploding corporations.
- Finance Departments being replaced by venture capital firms,
- legal ones by law firms,
- research by universities,
- communications by PR Agencies and so on
Shay is basically explaining how the above support network for start-ups are no longer housed under development teams but are loosely knitted.
Shay also spoke of the changes that are occurring and used a quote from Shervin Pishever– who is a serial entrepreneur, leading venture capitalist, and angel investor to perfectly define how the future of IT in business will no longer come from individuals within organisations but from the youth of today.
“The signal for what the future will look like won’t come from the established platforms of today. They will echo out of the dorms of today and tomorrow.”
He went on to discuss the types of jobs that are at risk/disappearing and stated that routine jobs were more at risk than variable ones with jobs like telemarketers, accountants/auditors and retail salespersons being the most likely to be replaced by computers in the next two decades.
Shay then ended his talk by presenting us with some polices to antidote/counterbalance the “winner takes all” – earnings driven by relative performance economic inequality concern by:
- A Grand bargain: Higher teacher salaries and teach the children well
- Supporting scientists/creative artists
- Upgrading infrastructure
- Welcoming the world’s talent
- Since we must tax, tax wisely. Use measurements to generate data that can allow a tax on economic or human activity that have recognisably bad side effects/consequences. Example is Congestion pricing/pollution pricing. (Pigovian Taxes)
- We should reward employment instead of taxing it. Revisit the basic income. Better than basic income, the negative income tax “Work saves a man from three great evils: boredom, vice and need.” Voltaire
- Tax economic rents. e.g taxing land will not reduce its supply. Tax oil and gas leases. Also high earnings of superstars are also rents
- Promote collaborative consumption/barter economy
The final speaker of the Get Digital- National Conference on Cloud Computing & Commerce was John Massey, Business Development Director EMEA for SAP Ireland. SAP’s Dublin organisation focuses on the provision of global support, research and development, inside sales, and IT shared services and its mission is to make every business a best-run business.
John based his talk on the impact the cloud has on businesses- day to day and how businesses are now challenged with the difficulty of “how to stand out in a Cloud”. John spoke of how the cloud has enabled businesses to have instant response time compared to responses days late and that transition to the cloud can’t happen overnight, that business must provide adequate training to their employees to ensure the cloud can be used to its full potential. John also spoke of how important it is to transform your business and keep it relevant like LinkedIn for example, in how so that opportunity to join up with an academic/skills development organisation so that if or when their members want to better their skill sets they have the option to do so without having to research it themselves, which I believe was a fantastic idea as 50% of recruitment nowadays is done through LinkedIn.
From the “Get Digital- National Conference on Cloud Computing & Commerce” conference I have learnt that there is a major shortage of IT experts in Europe at the minute however organisations like CoderDojo are trying to aid the scarcity. I also learnt that the Cloud is more than just a storage space but but rather a service that is transforming the way in which we use technology and how it is enabling businesses to deliver and consume it as a service and support the transformation to the digital age, coupled with this I learnt that the Cloud has many advantages i.e. it simplifies IT, it re-engineers the economics of IT spending, it accelerates and optimizes your business processes, it drives innovation and it also allows world-class security and compliance. I also discovered that the Cloud is a factor in digital-disruption and how businesses need to keep up-to-date with technologies to ensure new companies don’t enter the market wiping them out. I also discovered that jobs like telemarketing, accountancy and sale realism may be completely replaced by computers in the next two decades which is a mind baffling thought.