news-resized Google Teaches Microsoft a Lesson: Kids and Teachers Love Chromebooks and Free Software
 
Microsoft, a longtime leader in providing tech for schools, is hoping to recover some of the ground its lost to Google. The popularity of free Google software, coupled with the low cost of Chromebook laptops, has forced Microsoft to step up its game in the educational market.

“Microsoft remains a force in classrooms around the globe. But the company’s relevance in schools in the United States is in jeopardy after years of progress by Google, whose software dominates sales of new devices in schools," write Nick Wingfield and Natasha Singer in the New York Times. “Industry analysts said Microsoft’s initiative was the company’s first credible response to Google’s recent encroachment into education.”

In addition to competing for dollars, Microsoft wants to continue making good impressions on the youth market. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella is hoping the kids who use Microsoft products in today’s classrooms are more likely to buy them when they’re older.
 

Growth of Robotics Will Certainly Impact IT Leaders
 
Like it or not, robots are hot. Market caps for robotics companies have been soaring, thanks to a convergence of maturing technologies and a host of economic drivers.

“Robots have been with us for many years on production lines in factories, and now they are making strides in medicine and transportation. While personal R2-D2s and Optimus Primes are still far from upon us, robots now move stock around warehouses, deliver pizzas, and mix drinks at your local watering hole,” writes Michael Kahn in Barron’s.

Why should CIOs care about robots? From my perspective, it seems clear that robots will soon become part of the standard IT portfolio. And that means that at some point in the very near future, the CIO’s team will become responsible for making sure they’re up and running.

Kahn’s article is worth reading because it includes the names of the hottest robotics companies. As tech executives, it makes sense for us to start getting familiar with the players in this rapidly growing space.
 

Red Light Camera Formula Illustrates Problem with Older Technology
 
While we’re on the topic of automation, a Swedish electrical engineer living in Oregon says he’s caught an error in the math behind those pesky red light cameras.

Here’s the gist of his argument: The formula used by states and municipalities to determine whether someone should be ticketed when they’re caught going through a red light is based on work performed by GM scientists back in the 1960s. It’s time to retest the science, he contends, using modern techniques and methods.

The Institute for Transportation Engineers (ITE), the industry’s premier professional organization, still recommends their formula as a best practice,” writes Aarian Marshall of Wired. “It’s impossible to say how many places use the equation to time their lights—each state and locality sets its own rules—but it’s certainly used widely, not least because engineers are a risk-averse bunch who don’t like getting sued.”

I recommend reading this article because it highlights a problem that tech executives deal with frequently. Sometimes it’s easier to stick with technology that we know, instead of testing or evaluating new technology that might deliver better results.

Like the Swedish engineer from Oregon, sometimes we need to question whether the old technology is solving problems – or causing them.