IBM had a briefing this week on how its Watson AI product was used at the U.S. Open  and something jumped out at me that could help overtaxed workers get more work done.I’m hearing a lot of complaints about people having to jump into back-to-back virtual meetings – and getting less done as a result. With fires up and down the west coast, the ongoing pandemic, weird weather and – in the U.S. – an election, folks are getting overwhelmed. What struck me this week is that Watson could serve as the basis for a virtual assistant to attend meetings (particularly those that are overlapping), take notes, and help us focus on the items to which we need to pay attention. To read this article in full, please click here
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In early March, IBM's leaders, like many others, faced a difficult question: How do you keep an office open during a pandemic?  IBM decided to use its Yorktown Heights, New York, location as a prototype for reopening its other offices. Bob Wisnieff, chief technology officer of quantum computing at IBM, helped oversee the effort to reimagine the workplace.  In addition to facility changes, the company has developed an app, Watson Works, that only allows a certain number of workers into the building at one time.  Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. As companies begin considering reopening their offices during the coronavirus pandemic, they are faced with a difficult question — how do you bring employees back to work while also ensuring their safety?  IBM has been dealing with this challenge since early March. The tech giant has about 350,000 employees worldwide, some of whom are considered essential workers. Bob Wisnieff, chief technology officer of quantum computing at IBM, who oversees some of the company's most expensive equipment, (equipment that needs daily check-ins and tunings) was tapped to help keep IBM's headquarters in Yorktown Heights, New York, up and running. Wisnieff devised a plan for the headquarters that other leaders could copy and apply to other global locations.  "Our main question was: How can we make sure that the people on sight are going to be working as safely as possible?" Wisnieff told Business Insider. "We retooled many many aspects of our site." Winsieff worked with state officials, an internal crisis response team, and the building's managers, to keep the office up and running for essential workers — like those who oversee IBM's top tech hardware devices. The office has since granted access to 10-15% of IBMs normal Yorktown Heights personnel who may need occasional entry to the technology and space.  IBM gave Business Insider a virtual tour of what it's like to work in an office that has been prepped to keep employees safe from coronavirus. SEE ALSO: How tech companies from Google to Salesforce are planning to reopen offices Bob Wisnieff, chief technology officer of quantum computing at IBM, had to figure out how to keep IBM's workers safe during the pandemic. Before COVID-19, about 1,300 people would be in the company's Yorktown Heights, New York, location on a given day. But when the pandemic hit, the company could only keep essential workers, about 200-300 people in the office. A group of AI experts at IBM developed Watson Works, a system to make sure there weren't too many people coming in at the same time, and that no one coming in had any symptoms. Before being allowed on site, workers have to take their temperature at home, report it, and answer a series of questions about any symptoms. If you don't complete the self check-in, you're not permitted to enter the building. Workers report which rooms and labs they plan on using, and during which times. That way the cleaning staff is notified when to clean certain areas of the building throughout the day. About 10 to 15% of IBM's workforce has been given permission to use the office. Only workers who need to use IBM's high-tech equipment, servers, or labs to run experiments, or who check in on some of the company's most expensive equipment are allowed in the office. There are mask dispensers, hand sanitizer stations, and disinfecting wipes throughout the building. There are signs, as well as stickers on the floor, to remind people to social distance in communal areas, such as inside bathrooms. Maika Takita is a research scientist in IBM's quantum computing lab. She comes into the office about two times a week to use equipment. Takita began coming into the office mid-July to use the quantum computing lab. She says the process of reporting her temperature and getting approved to enter the building is seamless. IBM leaders completely redesigned and restructured the cafeteria to encourage social distancing. They removed seating and added technology like a food ordering system to reduce human contact. Workers order their food ahead of time from their phones. When it's ready, a text message is sent. This ensures there aren't long lines during lunchtime. Food workers prepare options ahead of time in containers, making ordering faster. "The people working behind the counter are all wearing masks and gloves and the way it's set up, I feel safe. I also go to the cafe to grab coffee, where people are socially distanced and I rarely see more than one or two people on line," she said. IBM's Yorktown Heights location is a prototype for other offices around the world, some of which will be adopting similar changes. Wisnieff said the company will continue to adapt as the pandemic continues.
Apple became a $2 trillion company on Wednesday. But the iPhone-maker almost didn't make it this far — it struggled in the '90s until Steve Jobs returned as the company's CEO.  Apple has weathered hits and flops over the years, from the launch of the influential Apple II to the misguided Newton MessagePad.  But these days, Apple is on top of the consumer electronics market, thanks at first to devices like the iMac and the iPod, and later, to the iPhone.  Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. Apple just reached a $2 trillion market cap, a milestone made even more significant when you consider that Apple almost didn't get the chance to make it this far. When Steve Jobs took over as CEO of Apple in 1997, the company had been struggling to find its legs in a market increasingly dominated by Microsoft and its partners.  Indeed, Michael Dell himself once quipped that if he were in Jobs' shoes, he'd shut Apple down and return the money to the shareholders.  Here's a look into the history of Apple in photos, from its inception, through its hard times, to the triumphant return of Jobs. SEE ALSO: 'Amazon' wasn't the original name of Jeff Bezos' company, and 14 other little-known facts about the early days of Amazon Apple was cofounded on April 1, 1976, by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak in Los Altos, California. There was a third cofounder, too: Ronald Wayne. Jobs brought Wayne on board to provide business guidance for the two young cofounders. Wayne sketched the first Apple logo by hand. Source: Business Insider Wayne ended up leaving the company before it was even officially incorporated. He took an $800 check for his shares in the company. Source: Business Insider Apple's first "office" was the garage at Jobs' parents' house. Source: Business Insider The company's first product was the Apple I, which was just a motherboard with a processor and some memory, intended for hobbyists. Customers had to build their own case and add their own keyboard and monitor, as seen in the picture. It sold for $666.66 — seriously. The Apple I was invented by Wozniak, who also hand-built every kit. Source: CNET Meanwhile, Jobs handled the business end, mainly trying to convince would-be investors that the personal computer market was primed to explode. Eventually, Jobs would bring in Mike Markkula, who made a crucial $250,000 angel investment and came to work for Apple as employee No. 3, with a one-third share in the company. Source: The New York Times, CNBC Apple would officially incorporate in 1977, thanks to guidance from Markkula. A man named Michael Scott (no, not the one from "The Office") was brought in at Markkula's suggestion to serve as the company's first president and CEO. The thought was that Jobs was too young and undisciplined to serve as CEO. Source: Business Insider 1977 also saw the introduction of the Apple II, the personal computer designed by Wozniak that would go on to take the world by storm. Source: National Museum of American History The Apple II's killer app was VisiCalc, a groundbreaking spreadsheet software that propelled the computer ahead of market leaders Tandy and Commodore. With VisiCalc, Apple could sell the Apple II to the business customer. Source: National Museum of American History By 1978, Apple would actually have a real office, with employees and an Apple II production line. Source: Business Insider The Xerox PARC lab is world-famous for its technological accomplishments, which include the laser printer, mouse, and ethernet networking. In 1979, Apple engineers were allowed to visit the PARC campus for three days, in exchange for the option to buy 100,000 shares of Apple for $10 a share. Source: Newsweek In 1980, Apple released the Apple III, a business-focused computer that was supposed to compete with the growing threat of IBM and Microsoft. But the Apple III was only a stopgap, and Xerox PARC had gotten the young Jobs thinking in a different direction. Source: Byte Magazine, Newsweek Xerox PARC convinced Jobs that the future of computing was with a graphical user interface (GUI), like the kind we're used to today. Jobs spearheaded the effort to equip Apple's next-generation Lisa computer with a GUI, but was bumped from the project thanks to infighting. Lisa was released in 1983 to much fanfare, but disastrous sales — it was too expensive and didn't have enough software support. Source: Newsweek, CNBC Jobs ended up leading the second project, the Apple Macintosh, billed as the most user-friendly computer to date. It would go on to become popular with graphic-design professionals, who liked its visual chops (even though it was in black and white). It was still very expensive, however. Source: The Guardian Around the time of the launch of the first Macintosh in 1983, Apple got a new CEO: John Sculley. Sculley was serving as Pepsi's youngest-ever CEO, but Jobs managed to bring him to Apple with the now-legendary pitch: "Do you want to sell sugared water for the rest of your life? Or do you want to come with me and change the world?" Source: Forbes In 1984, Apple would release the TV commercial that would make it a household name. This ad, appropriately called "1984," was directed by Ridley Scott and cost the company $1.5 million. It aired during the third quarter of Super Bowl XVIII, and never again. Youtube Embed:http://www.youtube.com/embed/2zfqw8nhUwAWidth: 1280pxHeight: 720px Source: Business Insider This was also when tensions between Jobs and Bill Gates started to run high. Originally, Microsoft was working hard at making software for the Macintosh. But those plans were scuttled in 1983 when Microsoft revealed that it, too, was working on a graphical user interface called Windows. Source: Business Insider The Macintosh had strong sales, but not enough to break IBM's dominance. This led to a lot of friction between Jobs — the head of the Macintosh group who liked doing things his own way — and Sculley, who wanted stricter oversight on future products in light of the Lisa disaster and disappointment of the Macintosh. It got to the point that Apple's board specifically instructed Sculley to "contain" Jobs. Source: Business Insider, Fortune Things came to a head in 1985 when Jobs tried to stage a coup and oust Sculley — but Apple's board of directors took Sculley's side and removed Jobs from his managerial duties. A furious Jobs quit and went on to found NeXT, a computer company making advanced workstations where he had total control. Source: Fortune, Business Insider Wozniak left around the same time in 1985, saying that the company was going in the wrong direction. He sold most of his shares. Source: CNN With Jobs gone, Sculley had a free hand at Apple. At first, things seemed great, and Apple introduced its PowerBook laptop and System 7 operating system in 1991. System 7 introduced color to the Macintosh operating system, and would stick around (with updates) until OS X was released in 2001. Source: Engadget, Cult of Mac The 1990s would see Apple get into lots of new markets, none of which really worked out. Possibly the most famous Apple flop of the '90s was 1993's Newton MessagePad, which was Sculley's own brainchild. It literally created the market for "personal digital assistants," but it was $700 and did little more than take notes and keep track of your contacts. Source: Baltimore Sun, Time, MacWorld But Sculley's longest-lasting mistake was in spending lots of time and lots of Apple's cash on bringing System 7 to the brand-new IBM/Motorola PowerPC microprocessor instead of the dominant Intel processor architecture. Most software was written for Intel processors, plus they got cheaper and cheaper over the years. Source: Cult of Mac At the same time, Microsoft's influence was on the rise. Macs offered an excellent, but limited, library of software on expensive computers. Meanwhile, Microsoft was selling Windows 3.0 on cheap, commodity computers. Source: Microsoft Between the high-profile flops and the costly decision to move to PowerPC, Apple's board had had enough. After Apple missed on its first quarter earnings in 1993, Sculley stepped down and was replaced as CEO by Michael Spindler, a German expatriate who had been with Apple since 1980. Source: Washington Post, Los Angeles Times Spindler had the unfortunate job of following through with Sculley's big PowerPC mistake. In 1994, the first Macintosh running on a PowerPC was released. But Apple's fortunes continued to sag as Windows took off. After acquisition talks with IBM, Sun MicroSystems, and Philips all fell through, Apple's board replaced Spindler with Gil Amelio in 1996. Source: The New York Times Amelio's tenure was equally troubled. Under his reign, Apple stock hit a 12-year low (largely because Steve Jobs himself sold 1.5 million Apple shares in a single transaction). Amelio decided to just purchase Jobs' NeXT Computer for $429 million in February 1997 to bring him back to Apple. Source: CNET, CNET On the July 4 weekend that same year, Jobs would stage a boardroom coup and convince Apple's board to install him as interim CEO. Amelio resigned a week later. Source: The New York Times 1997 would also see the introduction of Apple's famous "Think Different" ad campaign, celebrating famous artists, scientists, and musicians. Source: Cult of Mac Under the new era of Jobs' leadership, the company would make nice with Microsoft, which invested $150 million in Apple circa 1997. Source: CNBC It was a new era for hardware and software, too. Jobs had Jony Ive spearhead the design of the iMac, an all-in-one computer released in 1998. In 2000, Jobs introduced Mac OS X, based on the operating system from NeXT Computers, finally replacing System 7. And in 2006, Apple finally moved to an Intel-based system architecture. Source: CNET, Apple, Apple Apple had two massively influential product releases in the 2000s, beginning with the iPod in 2001. It blew other MP3 players out of the water and radically altered the way we listen to music. The iPod also launched Apple's white earbuds as a status symbol. Source: Business Insider But the single biggest victory for Apple — and arguably the world of technology as a whole — was 2007's introduction of the iPhone. When it went on sale, customers lined up outside stores in the US to get their hands on one. Source: Cult of Mac Since then, Apple has gone on to release 17 more models and, under CEO Tim Cook — who took over after Jobs' death in 2011 — Apple has introduced new hardware product lines, including the Apple Watch and AirPods. Source: CNBC The company has also expanded into services, which has helped fuel Apple's growth as iPhone sales have lagged. Apple now offers its own music- and video-streaming services, its own payments system and credit card, and other subscription offerings in news and gaming. Source: Business Insider In August 2020, Apple hit a new milestone: It became a $2 trillion company, just 24 months after reaching the $1 trillion threshold. Source: Business Insider
Cisco's shares tumbled more than 11% on Thursday after the company posted a weaker-than-expected outlook and announced a plan to slash over $1 billion in costs amid a deepening crisis that has hurt key segments of the enterprise tech market. "The past six months have unquestionably reshaped our world," Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins told analysts on the company's quarterly earnings call on Wednesday. Wall Street analysts agreed Cisco's report pointed to more uncertainty ahead for the company and the enterprise-tech market as a whole. "Tone around enterprise was clearly more reserved than we would have liked," a Morgan Stanley analyst told clients in a note. Click here for more BI Prime stories. Cisco got an unexpected lift from the COVID-19 crisis, which triggered a sharp pivot to remote work that led to a spike in demand for the tech giant's networking and cybersecurity products. But that's turning out to be a short-term boost for the tech giant, which is now bracing itself for the longer-term impact of the pandemic. Cisco shares plunged more than 11% to about $42 apiece on Thursday after the company reported a weaker-than-expected outlook and announced plans to slash over $1 billion in costs. "The past six months have unquestionably reshaped our world," Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins told analysts on the company's quarterly earnings call on Wednesday. Cisco beat estimates for its fiscal fourth quarter, posting a profit of $2.6 billion, or $0.62 a share, compared with a profit of $2.2 billion, or $0.51 a share, for the year-ago period. Revenue slipped 9% over the same period to $12.2 billion. Adjusted income was $0.80 a share. Analysts were expecting a profit of $0.74 a share on revenue of $12.1 billion. But for the current quarter, Cisco said it expected a profit of $0.69 to $0.71 a share — a forecast coming in below Wall Street's consensus projection of $0.76 a share. "We saw some strength in the very high end of enterprise and then sort of as you go down in the marketplace, the weakness got a little bit worse as it just sort of went straight down," Robbins said. "As you would expect with small and medium-sized businesses and even smaller-sized enterprises." He said the plan to cut costs, which will be focused mainly on operating expenses, was part of Cisco's strategy for adapting to what has morphed into a deeper crisis. But Robbins also said Cisco would "accelerate" investments in key areas including cloud security and collaboration, and technologies geared toward key industries such as education and healthcare. Long-term influence The report quickly sparked a sell-off on Wall Street, though analysts offered mixed views on what it meant for the tech giant long term. "Tone around enterprise was clearly more reserved than we would have liked," Morgan Stanley analyst Meta Marshall told clients in a note. Cisco's report appeared to reinforce an increasingly downbeat view of the enterprise-tech market six months into the coronavirus crisis. Last month, IBM, another tech behemoth, opted to give a full-year financial guidance because of economic uncertainty caused by the pandemic. CEO Arvind Krishna told Wall Street analysts that "the economic recovery is looking to be longer and more protracted then we might have hoped for back in March." But Marshall called Cisco's "cost-savings efforts" encouraging as she affirmed her overweight, or buy, rating on Cisco, saying that the tech giant's "earnings resilience is being underestimated by the market." But William Blair analyst Jason Ader, who has a "market perform," or neutral, rating on Cisco, had a more downbeat view of the tech giant which, like other traditional enterprise-tech companies, has grappled with the rapid rise of the cloud. The fast-growing trend allows businesses to set up networks on web-based platforms, making it possible to scale down or even abandon private in-house data centers. This has hurt the business of traditional vendors that sell hardware and software used for private data centers. Like other tech giants, Cisco is pivoting to more cloud-focused products, even as it struggles to maintain its traditional businesses focused on private data centers. "Cisco is facing a crossroads moment in its business that was not caused by the pandemic but is being exacerbated by it," Ader told clients in a note. "The pandemic is spotlighting that despite some progress in recent years in transforming its business toward higher-growth software and cloud revenue, Cisco remains heavily dependent on hardware and on-premises revenue." Got a tip about Cisco or another tech company? Contact this reporter via email at [email protected], message him on Twitter @benpimentel, or send him a secure message through Signal at (510) 731-8429. You can also contact Business Insider securely via SecureDrop. Claim your 20% discount on an annual subscription to BI Prime by clicking here. SEE ALSO: Enterprise tech salaries revealed: How much Oracle, IBM, SAP, Cisco, Dell, VMware, ServiceNow and Workday pay engineers, developers, data scientists and others DON'T MISS: Tech sales and marketing salaries revealed: How much enterprise giants IBM, Oracle, Dell, Cisco, and VMware pay sales reps, managers, and consultants Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: We tested a machine that brews beer at the push of a button
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