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

    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 (Administrator)

    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 (Administrator)



    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 | Tina LaFreniere (Administrator)

    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 (Administrator)

    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 | Tina LaFreniere (Administrator)

    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 (Administrator)

         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.



  • Monday, January 14, 2019 10:15 AM | Tina LaFreniere (Administrator)
     SWFRTP  Members as Judges


    Edisonian Bots

    Seven SWFRTP Members donated their time to judge a FIRST Lego League Robotics Tournament at Cypress Lake Middle School on Saturday, January 12.  FIRST is an acronym for For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology. FIRST Robotics, as it is known, was started 30 years ago and promotes STEM Education around the world.

    SWFRTP members donating their time for the event were Jon Boynton, Barbara Ramos, Esmeralda Gonzalez, Grace LaFreniere, Felipe Velosa, John LaFreniere (SWFRTP President) and Tina LaFreniere (SWFRTP Executive Administrator). Most of these members also donated their time to the pre-qualification event held in December, also at Cypress Lake.  At that tournament, SWFRTP Vice President, Linda Lyding, donated her time and talents as well. Each judge went through several hours of training prior to the events. 

    The event was covered by the Ft. Myers News-Press paper.https://www.news-press.com/story/news/local/2019/01/12/lego-robotics-competition-fuels-kids-passions-cypress-lake-middle-school/2528823002/

    All participants, students, judges and volunteers, are encouraged to dress in crazy hats or costumes. This enhances the fun of the tournament and puts students more at ease while in judging sessions. 

     The tournament was for teams of up to ten students ranging in age from nine to fourteen.  Each year teams compete in the areas of Core Values, Robot Game and Research Project with a changing theme each year.  This year's theme is Into Orbit, which is about humans living long term in space. 

    The SWFRTP sponsors local FIRST teams at multiple levels from elementary to high school.  One of the teams we sponsor, The Edisonian Bots, competed at this tournament and performed very well.  They will be advancing to the Regional Championship to be held at Hillsboro Community College in Plant City, Florida, on February 23. 

  • Thursday, January 10, 2019 2:43 PM | Randy Mitchelson (Administrator)

    Once again, out of the hundreds of thousands of Microsoft competitors for the State of Florida, Dunbar High School continues its dominance and has two more students ready to compete for a national title.

    Dunbar now has its 11th and 12th Florida State Champions.


    Dunbar High School, Fort Myers, FL – January 9, 2019
    (Pictured: Mark Dunaway, Kevin Dimaculangan, Carson Mulvey, and Jason Perretta)

    Dunbar High School and Certiport (www.certiport.com), a Pearson VUE business, announced the following studentswho have been named Florida’s Microsoft Office Specialist Champions for the Fall Qualifying Round in their categories. The students have been invited to compete at the 2019 Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) U.S. National Championship at the Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista in Orlando, Florida, June 17-19, 2019.

    • Jason Perretta’s freshman student, Carson Mulvey: Florida State Champion Microsoft Word 2016.
    • Mark Dunaway’s sophomore studentKevin Dimaculangan: Florida State Champion Microsoft PowerPoint 2016.

    *Dunbar also had Mr. Jason Perretta’s freshman student, Jada Buntonas the 3rd Place Florida State winner - Microsoft Word 2016. Although this placement will not take her to the nationals, there is a Spring 2019 qualifying round. She will have an opportunity to try for one of those 1st place spots and hopefully get to attend the national competition as well.


    Read full story

  • Monday, January 07, 2019 6:24 PM | Tina LaFreniere (Administrator)

    Technology Gap Report Published

    The Southwest Florida Regional Technology Partnership would like to thank everyone who participated in our Technology Gap Survey.  The data collected proved valuable in seeing what certifications are most desired by employers in Charlotte, Collier, Glades, Hendry and Lee Counties. 

    The SWFRTP has compiled a comprehensive report from the data collected and you may access the PDF report in this blog.  A briefing on the report will also be delivered at the January 10, 2019, TechTalk event to be held at Endeavor work spaces - register for the event on our Events Page. A limited number of hard copies will be made available. 


    SWFRTP Technology Gap Survey Report.pdf

    We hope this report, and the data it provides, proves valuable to all government agencies and businesses reading the report. 

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