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  • Thursday, May 07, 2020 8:34 AM | Alex Allen (Administrator)

    The SWFL Tech Partnership and Unlock Academy are joining together to support those impacted by COVID-19 Pandemic.


    Anyone impacted by layoffs or furloughs can sign up to participate in the free Code Camp and take advantage of the follow-on benefits.

    At the completion of the course all SWFL residents will receive:

    •  A certificate of completion, to be shared on Linkedin and listed on resumes to show continuous improvement efforts.
    •  Discounted access to continue Unlock Academy courses
    •  Free 6-month membership to SWFL Tech Partnership, who will be working diligently to make you aware of any employment opportunities in the region.
    •  The opportunity to have contact information shared through the SWFL Tech newsletter and website announcing your completion of the program and availability for opportunities.

    Click here to Register for the program

    Learn More about Unlock Academy @ https://unlock.academy

    Learn more about SWFRTP @ https://www.swfrtp.org

  • Wednesday, January 29, 2020 2:43 PM | Randy Mitchelson

     The board of directors of the Southwest Florida Regional Technology Partnership (SWFRTP)  has elected new officers. Alex Allen, president, Two39 Work is president; Wendi Fowler, director of marketing and communications, ITVantage, is vice president; Peg Elmore, business services director, CareerSource Southwest Florida is treasurer; and Terry Dirr, director of information technology, Shaw Development is secretary. Immediate past president is John LaFreniere, CIO, Verge Information Technology. Additional board members include Warren Baucom, director of partnerships and entrepreneurial activities, Economic Development Office of Lee County, Colleen Jorgensen, regional sales manager, Rite Technology, Dr. Robert Totterdale, associate professor, Florida Gulf Coast University, Linda Lyding, retired global vice president of network services, IBM, Tracey Lanham, Associate Dean of the Fisher School of Technology at Hodges University, and board advisor, Randy Mitchelson. Nicole Kampmann, information technology project manager, Hertz, is the administrator. The board of directors is comprised of professional technology advocates who are dedicated to growing Southwest Florida‘s technology sector through the mission of Inspire, Innovate and Inform. More organization details and upcoming professional development event information is at www.swfrtp.org.



  • Monday, November 18, 2019 10:54 AM | Randy Mitchelson

    Media Contact:  Randy Mitchelson, APR

    Vice President, iPartnerMedia, Inc.
    Co-Founder, Regional Technology Partnership

    (239) 851-6738   randy@ipartnermedia.com


     
    Southwest Florida Regional Technology Partnership Appoints Two Directors to Board


    Bonita Springs, Fla. (November 18, 2019) - The Southwest Florida Regional Technology Partnership (SWFRTP) has appointed two new directors to its board, Terry Dirr, Director of Information Technology, Shaw Development LLC and Colleen Jorgensen, Southwest Florida Sales Manager for Rite Technology.

    Dirr is a technology and business leader who leverages technology and processes to build value, drive growth and enhance an environment of continuous improvement. She formulates and executes strategies to deliver on customer commitments, drive out waste, and improve organizational productivity. Dirr has a Bachelor of Science in Management Information Systems from the University of Dayton and earned an MBA from Xavier University.  She is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP), has a Master’s Certificate in Project Management, is a Six Sigma Green Belt, a Certified Leader’s Coach, and a Certified Business Consultant.

    Jorgensen built a 15 year career in sales training and since going back to school for a degree in network administration she has been working in the technology sector leading and training sales teams. Rite Technology provided a consultative approach to copy, print and document management services beginning with a complete needs analysis followed by ongoing support and training. In addition to her career and new leadership role with the SWFRTP, Jorgensen also volunteers for the SWFL Dress for Success program as a mentor and internet job search educator.



  • Friday, October 11, 2019 10:04 AM | Randy Mitchelson

    The following article is a compilation of comments from a Cybersecurity panel presentation by Evan Lutz, network security engineer at Cigent, Mark Nieds, attorney at Henderson, Franklin, Starnes & Holt, P.A., Scott Gregory, vice president and business insurance agent at McGriff Insurance and moderated by SWFRTP board member Wendi Fowler, Director of Marketing and Sales at ITVantage, Inc. The presentation was part of the Greater Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce Business Summit, September 20, 2019.


    One half of cybersecurity attacks are on small businesses and many attacks go unreported. 

    Every 14 seconds there is a ransomware attack somewhere in the world.

    Hacking is big business with low barriers to entry.  It is easy to get hacking tools. Also it’s easy to join teams of hackers.  

    CLICK VIDEO TO WATCH EXCERPT 


    In Southwest Florida there have been several examples of hacking including NCH, City of Naples, Collier County Mosquito Control, Radiology Regional and 21st Century Oncology.


    Hackers tend to target organizations that are large enough to have value but small enough that they do not have budget allocated for cybersecurity. 


    There are steps that small businesses can take to not be such an easy target.


    Evan Lutz, network security engineer at Cigent advised that you need protection at both ends of the network.  First you need to protect end user devices. For this, Windows Defender is better than any protection that is available for free. You also need to protect where your Internet Service Provider (ISP) stops and your organization’s network begins. 


    Mark Nieds, attorney at Henderson, Franklin, Starnes & Holt, P.A. advised that organizations need a documented cyber-breach preparedness plan. 


    The most common mistake by small businesses when it comes to cybersecurity is a lack of awareness of what’s in the environment (ex. active exploit attempts).


    Scott Gregory, vice president and business insurance agent at McGriff Insurance explained that cyber-insurance endorsements can cost as little as $150 and up to $700 for a more robust policy. Most insurance carriers offer these options now.


    Organizations who choose to purchase insurance for cybersecurity must disclose specific information on their cyberinsurance application. For example there will be yes/no questions such as “are you encrypting data?”, “doing audits”, “doing backups” and others.  Organizations can lose their insurance coverage if they do not do what they say they are doing on their application. Some insurance contracts include support for managing a response to a breach.


    In the event of a breach, who do you call? According to Florida’s data breach law if more than 500 people are impacted an organization must report to the Attorney General. In turn, the Attorney General may ask for details including a police report and whether the FBI was notified.


    Reporting rules vary by state. If an organization has customers in multiple states then there will be multiple reporting requirements to follow. In addition, GDPR mandates reporting if any customers are from Europe. 


    The panel recommended that organizations conduct regularly scheduled independent security audits.  A technology network is only as strong as its weakest link. The cyber-insurance is the last line of defense. Cyber training and awareness for employees is the front line of defense. 


    Knowing where to invest budget in cybersecurity is challenging, especially for small businesses. The panel recommended that an appropriate budget for an organization of twenty or more employees should expect to spend $500-$1,500 per month.  For micro-businesses (such as 2-3 people), using an enterprise level antivirus solution is sufficient (combined with the aforementioned staff awareness training).



  • Wednesday, October 09, 2019 2:39 PM | Randy Mitchelson

    The following article is a compilation of comments from a TechTalk presentation by representatives of Stickboy Creative and Vectra Digital, Felix Lluberes, Reema Bhatia, Harrison Ambs, Josh Zachritz and Bryant Jackson In September 2019.


    Artificial intelligence (AI) is a machine learning algorithm that describes a system programmed to decide what to do with information on its own. It learns and gets smarter.  Anything the human mind can do, an AI system mimics it.


    AI technology has been evolving for a few decades.  An example of the first wave of artificial intelligence that most people are familiar with is the recommended products feature when shopping on Amazon. The AI system made recommendations based on your buying and browsing history compared to people like you. The goal of this protocol was for shoppers to spend more money.

     

    Other examples are YouTube and Netflix and the personalized recommendations for new videos and the autoplay feature. The system does not wait for your approval - it just starts playing.

     

    The second wave of AI evolution applied to more industries. AI technology integrated with sales platforms were able to more accurately pinpoint and recommend when to contact a client because they are most likely to buy.  


    The third wave of AI is characterized as unsupervised action. In other words the system “just does it.” The system makes its own choices.


    Artificial intelligence technology is able to evolve at an accelerated pace due to the convergence of three factors: 1)cheap cloud computing, 2) outcome model (finished result) and 3) cleanliness and consistency of the data being fed in.


    Large companies like Groupon and Zulily have experienced skyrocketed sales thanks in part to deployment of technology that uses artificial intelligence.  For example, an AI system can learn how to sell the maximum amount of product in the least time at the highest price. The AI system will consider all those data points via machine learning and continue improving the decisions based on what it learns.

    The system can consider multiple variables (geography, time of year, weather patterns, etc.)  that is practically impossible for humans to process in a reasonable amount of time. For instance, the answer to the question above may be different in 

    Ohio in January than in Florida.

     

    Simple tasks such as testing different button colors on a website or different background images are smart uses for AI.  The system efficiently tests every iteration. As it tests it slowly learns what gives you the best conversion. Importantly, an AI system does not require you to script the testing protocol.

     

    Mundane tasks such as monitoring daily logs and alerts can now rely on AI to identify trends which frees up human capacity to focus on higher value activities.

     

    One practical use of AI in the business environment is budget management of pay-per-click (ppc) digital advertising campaigns. Unlike a typical human 9 - 5 work schedule, an AI system is able to take action on weekends, holidays, 24x7.  

     

    The AI system is also capable of composing and testing creative on a scale not practical for humans. This minimizes campaign ramp up time.accelerates attaining optimal campaign performance. Offloading these tasks to the AI system allows the human to focus on account management rather than wasting time getting hung up agonizing over ad copy, etc. 

     

    A national chain of pizza restaurants, Jet’s Pizza, leverages AI to manage more than 16,800 Google ads concurrently for over 400 locations.  Imagine the labor cost that would be required to have a team effectively handle this scale of campaign.

     

    As artificial intelligence evolves, it is expected that the fourth wave of this technology will involve the AI system defining and testing its own goals and protocols and reporting back to the business manager.

     

    Businesses can employ some best practices to be a better shopper of AI services from technology vendors. First, ask for documentation of what information is fed into the AI system.  Second, ask about how they grade results. Inspect a change log - it should be obvious a human didn't do it.

     

    Challenges with AI are not all about the technology.  For example, no matter how good the technology gets, the person or organization wanting to integrate AI must really understand the objectives of the challenge they are addressing and clearly define what they are trying to do. In addition, users must identify the data sources available to feed into an AI system. Then, this data must be captured and catalogued in a normalized fashion to help with consistency.  

     

    Another challenge for AI adoption is in breaking the mold of how things have been done historically.  Sometimes, without good data, the aesthetics of design trump functionality. For example, NASA is using AI for antennae design. The designs may look very different from what humans have traditionally drawn up. But with data, an AI system has Improved efficiency and enabled the structures to be made faster.

     

    Public opinion presents another hurdle for AI. For instance, the technology for driverless cars and trucks that use AI and deep learning is already developed. The biggest challenge for adoption of this technology is changing people's mindsets and overcoming their resistance. Public relations campaigns that education consumers may be needed to overcome this.

     

    Sometimes AI can go bad too.  In one experiment, an objective was established to build robots that run faster than living creatures.  The AI system accomplished this goal by building extremely tall robots that fell and reached their destination faster than living creatures. Mathematically it worked but was not a practical solution.

     

    To address these challenges, AI may be one voice in the boardroom.  It can help leadership teams take action on insights weaned from data and patterns found within data. But there are human factors in the ecosystem that must be factored in such as ethics, social and political impacts.  

     

    What does the future of artificial intelligence look like? It will require humans to coexist with a machine and be open minded to taking instructions. Humans will need to have understanding and tolerance that a machine knows better than them.  

     

    With so many mundane tasks offloaded to machines, AI will free people up to change the world. 



  • Monday, May 20, 2019 12:05 PM | Randy Mitchelson



    Winners announced for 11th Annual Technology Awards


    ESTERO, Fla. (May 20, 2019) –The Southwest Florida Regional Technology Partnership (SWFRTP) has announced the winners for the 11th annual Technology Awards. The awards event was held May 16 at the Club at Grandezza in Estero. A​nn E. Joyce, Chief Customer Officer and EVP, Technology, Supply Chain and Field Operations at Chico’s FAS served as keynote speaker and the emcee was Lindsey Sablan, News Anchor, WINK-TV.
    The winner of the Innovention Award given to a company that has invented or demonstrated an innovative and creative technology solution is Cigent Technologies. Vectra Digital and VeraData were also finalists.  

    The winner of the Transformation Award for a business highlighting the use of technology in government, nonprofit, or companies outside the technology sector to address a business or operational challenge is Chico’s FAS.  BMP Logic and NCH Healthcare System were also finalists.

    Reema Bhatia, Managing Partner, Stickboy Creative won the Woman in Technology Award which honors the accomplishments of a Southwest Florida woman in a technology role and her commitment to diversity in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.  Michelle Borders, Naples Network Services and Priya Janardhanan, Chico’s FAS were also finalists.

    The winners of the Technology Student Award recognizing a high school or college student pursuing higher education or a career in technology are Klaudia Fisheku, Florida Gulf Coast University; Elisabet Ortiz, Cape Coral High School; and Sophia Vellozzi, Gulf Coast High School.

    The Partnership Award, which honors a person who has made significant contribution to the SWFRTP, was won by Linda Lyding. Other finalists were Jon Boynton and Dr. Robert Totterdale.



    Photo: Transformation Award Winner - Chico’s FAS

    L to R: Cathy Devine, Holly Wilson and Ann E. Joyce of Chico’s FAS accept the 2019 Transformation Award

    Photo Credit: Gwen Greenglass


    Photo: Innovention Award Winner - Cigent Technologies

    L to R: John Kennedy, Rachel Busch and David Glass of Cigent Technologies accept the 2019 Innovention Award

    Photo Credit: Gwen Greenglass


    Photo: Woman in Technology Award Winner - Reema Bhatia

    L to R: Harrison Ambs and Bryant Jackson of Stickboy Creative accept the 2019 Woman in Technology Award on behalf of their colleague Reema Bhatia.

    Photo Credit: Gwen Greenglass


    Photo: Partnership Award Winner - Linda Lyding
    Linda Lyding, Vice President, SWFL Regional Technology Partnership

    Photo Credit: Gwen Greenglass


    Technology Student Award Winners
    L to R: Sophia Vellozzi, Gulf Coast High School; Elisabet Ortiz, Cape Coral High School; and Klaudia Fisheku, Florida Gulf Coast University.

    Photo Credit: Gwen Greenglass



  • Tuesday, May 14, 2019 4:22 PM | Anonymous

    Congratulations to SWFRTP Vice President, Linda Lyding, on Gulfshore Business Daily's Power Advice segment!

    https://issuu.com/gulfshorelife/docs/gb.0519/70?ff

    SWFRTP Vice President, Linda Lyding, was recently interviewed Gulfshore Business Daily's Beth Luberecki . In the article Linda offers great advice to many people at various stages in their career path.  Click on the above link to read the entire article. 

  • Friday, April 26, 2019 2:53 PM | Randy Mitchelson

    Finalists Announced for 11th Annual Technology Awards

    The Southwest Florida Regional Technology Partnership (SWFRTP) has announced the finalists for the 11th annual Technology Awards. D & A Strategic Enterprise Solutions is the Welcome Sponsor,  Bonita Print Shop is the Print Sponsor and ITVantage is the Dessert Sponsor.

    The finalists for the Innovention Award given to a company that has invented or demonstrated an innovative and creative technology solution are Cigent Technologies, Vectra Digital and VeraData.  

    The finalists for the Transformation Award for a business highlighting the use of technology in government, nonprofit, or companies outside the technology sector to address a business or operational challenge are BMP Logic, Chico’s FAS and NCH Healthcare System.

    The finalists for the Woman in Technology Award which honors the accomplishments of a Southwest Florida woman in a technology role and her commitment to diversity in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields are Reema Bhatia, Stickboy Creative; Michelle Borders, Naples Network Services; Priya Janardhanan, Chico’s FAS.

    The finalists for the Technology Student Award recognizing a high school or college student pursuing higher education or a career in technology are Klaudia Fisheku, Florida Gulf Coast University; Elisabet Ortiz, Cape Coral High School; Sophia Vellizzi, Gulf Coast high School.

    In addition, the Partnership Award, which honors a person who has made significant contribution to the SWFRTP will be presented at the dinner. The awards dinner is May 16, 2019 at 6:00 p.m. at the Club at Grandezza in Estero, FL. A​nn E. Joyce, Chief Customer Officer and EVP, Technology, Supply Chain and Field Operations at Chico’s FAS, will be the keynote speaker. The emcee of the event is Lindsey Sablan, News Anchor, WINK-TV. Tickets are available at www.swfrtp.org until May 12.



  • Thursday, March 07, 2019 10:24 AM | Anonymous

    The Southwest Florida Regional Technology Partnership is a proud supporter of FIRST Robotics teams in Southwest Florida.

    One of the teams we support is FIRST Tech Challenge team, Java the HUTTS.

     

    The team would like to thank the members of the SWFRTP for supporting them during their rookie season.  They have passed along this video clip to show you what they do and the amazing robot they built this season!

     DSC_1847.MOV

    These kids have a very bright future and make us all very proud!

  • Friday, January 18, 2019 4:07 PM | Randy Mitchelson

         The Southwest Florida Regional Technology Partnership  (RTP) presented “Experience & Engagement Throughout the Customer Lifecycle” featuring Alex Allen, founder of Two39 Work on January 10. Alex has spent his entire professional career focused on providing a world class customer experience through product design and execution and building ​amazing customer focused  teams​. The audience learned about the challenges that customer facing roles must address in a growing business and best practices for ensuring that the customer experience remains top of mind throughout their relationship with a company.
         The theme of the seminar centered around switching from a customer service model that is reactive to a customer success model that is proactive.  Alex shared cultural and tactical tips covering the hand over from sales to the customer relationship management teams, how to improve the post-sale service companies provide to increase revenue and identifying opportunities to reduce friction in the customer experience through journey mapping and customer profiles. In addition, Alex stressed the importance of engaging all departments in the customer journey, important KPIs to measure success and how to appropriately survey customers for optimal results.

         Alex is the founder of Two39 Work, a technology and entrepreneur focused co-working space in Bonita Springs that provides additional services such as mentorship to the community members. For more information visit www.two39work.com. To register for future events produced by the SWFL Regional Technology Partnership visit www.swfrtp.org.



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