Author: Elena Moreland

Emerging Technology

The Age of AI: Will Robots Take Over? Part…

Living in the Age of Artificial Intelligence
In the previous installment of this two-part series I discussed the amazing transformation and evolution made possible by automation and technology advancements of the 20th century. Today’s technology transformations such as robotics, artificial intelligence, biotechnologies, and the Internet-of-Things will have a great impact on society, disrupting every industry and improving many aspects of our personal and work lives. They also create problems for governments around the world that must now figure out how to regulate this new environment and respond to socio-economic concerns such as displacement of workers by automation, or inequality.
Of all big tech companies using AI to enhance their products or services, Amazon is clearly leading the pack with home automation products like Alexa, its version of a personal assistant. Facebook has recently sunset “M,” which hoped to take current personal assistants to the next level where the trained AI machine would have had the same knowledge as the user and do more things than regurgitating various scenarios scripted by app developers. However, the race to lead in AI as a service is on.

Read more “The Age of AI: Will Robots Take Over? Part II”

Emerging Technology

The Age of AI: Will Robots Take Over? Part…

The Benefits of Automation
The Technological Revolution, including automation in manufacturing and the automotive industry is synonymous with great innovations and rapid developments taking place during the Second Industrial Revolution in the late 19th century through the early 1900s. Advancements like the assembly line and automated machines, which replaced work that used to be performed manually, led to positive outcomes, including efficiency and mass production of manufactured goods at significantly higher rates.
It’s a known fact that in a manufacturing setting, robotics and automated machines improve productivity and reduce labor costs. And yes, they replace workers. So, it is not surprising that businesses will always embrace automation. To business, automated machines are like the perfect worker who works seven days a week, never takes breaks, never asks for a raise, and never gets sick. Sounds like a deal you simply cannot resist, doesn’t it? Ask the same question of a blue-collar worker displaced due to automation and expect a different answer.

Read more “The Age of AI: Will Robots Take Over? Part I”

Contract Management

Through the Vendor’s Eyes: Procurement and Contract Management

NASPO recently held the REACH (Regional Education and Connection Hub) Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana. 270 state members representing 47 states and the District of Columbia came together to participate in the first “super regional” conference in NASPO’s history, bringing together the Southern, Eastern, Midwestern, and Western Regions. The event was filled with educational and professional growth opportunities that expanded NASPO members’ support network into all four regions. In this series of blogs, NASPO staff will share key takeaways and highlights from REACH’s expansive programs agenda. 
“How many people have experienced frustration with a vendor?” Valerie Bollinger, State Purchasing Manager for the State of Idaho asked participants at a recent NASPO REACH conference. The room quickly filled with laughter as many state procurement professionals attending the breakout session titled Procurement and Contract Management Through the Vendor’s Eyes realized they can relate. Public procurement professionals and vendors alike are occasionally frustrated with each other and feel like it’s “them vs. us” when doing business together. The group exercise, led by Valerie, was an introspection and challenge to participants to put themselves in the vendor’s shoes and think through solutions that could inform better processes and relationships during the contract management phase, which is an important piece of the complex state procurement process.

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Effective Sourcing Strategies

Effective Sourcing Strategies: How Innovative is Your State Government?

Public procurement professionals often need to ask themselves, “Should we innovate, or can we use our traditional sourcing methods more effectively?” Many state central procurement offices have answered “Both!” to this question with much success.
Innovation continues to be a buzzword. We often hear calls for government innovation and rethinking public procurement, especially due to budget constraints or to keep up with the fast pace of innovation in technology.
Innovation can mean implementing new or better solutions. These could include changes as simple as a facelift to a traditional procurement method, adopting a new approach such as modular procurement, simplified multi-step bidding, communications with the supplier community prior to issuing a procurement opportunity, or allowing the state to test new technologies before procuring them. Sometimes, the most innovative ideas come from procurement professionals in the trenches who work closely with stakeholders and can offer helpful feedback.
Earlier this year, I had the privilege of hosting a webinar highlighting innovative and effective ways of procuring goods and services in state government. Read more “Effective Sourcing Strategies: How Innovative is Your State Government?”
News

Do We Need Net Neutrality?

Have you ever been frustrated at the slow internet speed, or experienced buffering while streaming a live ball game, or your favorite TV, Netflix, or Hulu show? We’ve all been there. In many cases, the slow speed is not intentional, but due to poor server configuration or high traffic providers are experiencing at a particular time. Now, imagine this has become the norm, because of government deregulation that now allows Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to dictate which customers get faster or slower traffic depending on how much customers pay for their services. Welcome to the network (net) neutrality debate!
To some, net neutrality may seem like just another new buzzword, but it is not a new concept. Back in the 1960s, AT&T had a monopoly of the phone industry, and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) had to step in so that market competition was fostered to give consumer more options, as well as lower prices.
Those in favor of net neutrality believe that ISPs and network providers should treat their customers (a.k.a. “traffic”) equally as they navigate to and from any web site, application, or device. Being “net-neutral” refers to ISPs not artificially slowing down, speeding up, throttling, or setting data limits for any resources the customer is trying to access through the ISP’s connection. Keep in mind, a “customer” in this context can refer to a consumer in their home, a business, or a government agency. In other words, proponents of net neutrality argue that ISPs should not be allowed to play favorites and allow online content providers (or content owned by the ISP’s parent company) preferential treatment over another, especially if one provider pays more than another for traffic. What does this all mean? Large private businesses with deep pockets could get faster internet while the rest of us watch the buffering icon spin.
Read more “Do We Need Net Neutrality?”