Connecticut ranks in top 10 in tech development

Connecticut continues to be a national leader in technological innovation. The Milken Institute think tank ranked the state ninth in its latest State Tech and Science Index, a biennial evaluation of all 50 states according to their tech-driven economic development. It is the sixth straight edition in which Connecticut has been inside the top 10. The state received an average score of 65.5 out of 100.

In Connecticut's case, the high marks are a result of a steady influx of capital and a focus on research by both private and public organizations. Of the five indices that make up the average, the highest ranking was in human capital investment, where Connecticut was third nationally with a score of 75.9, followed by a tenth-place ranking in research and development inputs.

Not all the results are positive, however, as Connecticut fell in four of the five indices, and dropped out of the top 20 altogether in technology concentration and dynamism. This data should drive state leaders to continue investing heavily to ensure that the Nutmeg State remains in the top tier two years from now.

Connecticut has been ranked in the top 10 in every edition of Milken's index.

Unsurprisingly, the Northeast region has a strong presence at the top of the list, with Massachusetts, the overall leader for the fifth straight edition of the index, and New Hampshire both joining Connecticut in the top 10. New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont are all ranked between 11 and 18.

Managed IT services software developers can help local companies thrive and keep Connecticut in its rightful place as a national leader in technology development.

White House recognizes Connecticut tech education efforts

Administrations at the federal, state and local levels are stressing the value of implementing technological solutions in schools, and the White House on Wednesday recognized Connecticut as a leader in this area. Ed Drapp, the superintendent of Connecticut's sixth school district, was one of the invitees to a summit on technology in the classroom, which Representative Elizabeth Esty (D-Conn.) also attended.

The summit was part of the private-public ConnectED Initiative to bring broadband internet to all schools. The Federal Communications Commission has invested $2 billion to that end, and 10 companies have matched that total. Attendees took part in panel discussions about the benefits and challenges of implementing technology in education centers, and success stories, including Connecticut's, were highlighted.

In the state's sixth district, Wamogo Regional High School in Litchfield has created a so-called "makerspace" where students can experiment with technology, including a 3D printer. Esty, for her part, is a member of the United States House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, and stressed the importance of students learning to use technology that will be essential once they enter the job market.

"Administrations are stressing the value of implementing technological solutions in schools."

"One of the things that we also need to do is to yank our schools into the 21st century when it comes to technology, and providing the tools and training that teachers need to use that technology to prepare all of our students for the competition that they're going to face globally," said President Barack Obama at the meeting.

Public officials nationwide are stressing the importance of providing students with the necessary tools to develop the STEM fields and keep the U.S. at the forefront of the technology world.

New York driving nationwide tech growth

The United States saw a 4 percent increase in the number of startups applying for funding in the third quarter over Q2, according to investment platform Gust. Interestingly, the gap between the East and West coasts is shrinking, and much of that is due to the growth of New York's tech sector: in the Empire State, the quarterly increase was a remarkable 13 percent.

The state's IT industry has been growing for years, but 2014 has seen the launch of a number of public initiatives that are boosting the sector even more. Governor Andrew Cuomo, who was recently re-elected to a new four-year term, launched the online platform Start-Up NY to provide major tax breaks and access to college resources, along with networking opportunities to new companies.

At the local level, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio introduced a portal, Digital.NYC, with extensive databases of startups, investors, job listings, conferences and networking events. That followed the 43North initiative in Buffalo, which recently announced the 11 winners of a total of $5 million in funding.

New York has become a major player in the U.S. tech industry.

New York is now the second most active state in startup applications for funding, behind California, whose rate decreased by 6 percent in Q3. Rounding out the top five are Florida, Texas and Washington state. Software developing companies are at the forefront of the global startup growth, with a 52 percent quarterly increase worldwide.

Gust's data shows development in both traditional IT hotbeds and emerging markets: the top countries by startup activity are the United States, India, Canada, France and Brazil. It's an exciting time for startups everywhere, and the opportunities for expansion have never been greater.

How mobile apps can increase enterprise productivity

The use of mobile apps in the business world is on the rise — nearly 5 billion enterprise apps will be downloaded by the end of this year, according to one estimate. The trend is not only expected to continue, it could see a massive increase as major IT players enter the market. The highest-profile announcement for the industry has been the partnership between Apple, Inc. and IBM, which will work together to develop about 100 B2B apps, and others could follow suit.

In a recent Mobile Helix survey, more than half of respondents estimated that their organizations' productivity could grow by about 40 percent if their existing apps were mobile. Mobile apps help improve operations by boosting collaboration among teams and workers in different locations, sales and marketing by providing real-time information, and training by delivering in-context guidance.

"The enterprise world provides countless new opportunities"

In an article in the Harvard Business Review, Joe Panepinto, vice president of branding agency Jack Morton Worldwide, gives his "four C's" to define the ways mobile apps help businesses:

  • Consistency: Virtually all mobile apps operate on either Android or iOS, which makes life easier for IT teams and users.
  • Control: Mobile solutions ensure that all employees are working with the same information, regardless of their physical location.
  • Creativity: Mobile devices have unique functionality that is constantly evolving, providing plenty of opportunities for developers to experiment.
  • Credibility: People use mobile devices all the time, and companies that adopt them for their business project an image of modernity.

For software developing companies, the enterprise world provides countless new opportunities to expand their operations, fulfilling the needs of businesses across all industries.

New Zealand vintners streamline operations with FileMaker

The number of countries and industries benefiting from FileMaker software continues to grow as more companies learn to adapt the database tool to their specific needs. Vinepower Limited, a contracting firm for the viticulture sector based in Blenheim, New Zealand, is furnishing its employees with iPads to keep better track of its operations.

Vinepower provides vineyards with workers for year-round tasks such as pruning and thinning and employs up to 250 during peak season in the Marlborough Region, a well-known producer of Sauvignon blanc wine. The company used FileMaker to build a database they affectionately call “Vinny.”

For field work, supervisors carry iPads where they enter information on vine rows and workers, and later sync all the data in the Vinny database. This work used to be done manually in a much more time-consuming and tedious process. The new solution has had both operational and financial benefits.

“We’ve got better knowledge of our production and how workers are performing,” said Vinepower director Jono Bushell to The New Zealand Herald. “It’s also allowed us to do invoicing before we even do payroll, which improves our cash flow.”

FileMaker helps supervisors track their workers’ progress at the vineyards.

GE Capital says that the use of custom solutions is on the rise worldwide among mid-market companies. Software like FileMaker is more available than ever to businesses that don’t have large IT departments or budgets at their disposal.

FileMaker developers can help companies by creating and customizing databases to fit their specific needs. Training is also available for employees, even those without extensive IT knowledge, to learn how to update and manage their own systems.

Health workers use FileMaker to improve care in developing countries

The ease with which FileMaker can be used and customized is allowing health care workers to develop apps that make their jobs easier both in the United States and in underdeveloped countries. mHealthNews has the story of three such physicians that have used the software to build game-changing databases.

Patrick Singley, a dentist from Columbus, Mississippi, who regularly does work in developing countries, built an electronic health record system to gather data about patients in poor areas where no such records are kept. After coming up with the idea, he spoke to several programmers but ultimately decided to do it himself using FileMaker.

The app is currently being used in Haiti, and next year it will be deployed in a Kenyan orphanage and made available to non-profits. While this is one of the most remarkable cases, it's far from the only one.

"You have a lot of very smart people out there in healthcare whose time is valuable, who are increasingly tech-savvy, and who have specific needs," said FileMaker vice president Ryan Rosenberg. "Clearly, there are a lot of scenarios where mobility is incredibly important."

"The app will be made available to non-profits."

A doctor at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis designed an app that lets residents chart bedside ultrasounds on their iPhones rather than on paper. And an eye bank in Birmingham, Alabama, has developed a relational database to easily track available organs and patients waiting for a corneal transplant in order to easily find matches.

Users in a wide range of business areas can benefit from implementing FileMaker in their operations. Certified partners can assist with FileMaker development, customization and training to help companies make the most of this software.

Study: Custom apps on the rise in the business world

Mobile technology is increasingly adapting to the business world as smartphones and tablets become more powerful and are able to handle enterprise needs. Mobile device management provider Good Technology has published its latest quarterly Mobility Report, which clearly shows this trend.

According to the report, adoption of custom mobile apps by companies grew 107 percent in the third quarter alone, and is up 731 percent over the last year. Custom apps are now the most activated among businesses, ahead of document editing and access software and secure browsing and instant messaging services.

"The rapid rise in custom app development illustrates that organizations are seeing mobility as a real opportunity for competitive advantage and security as a critical requirement in enabling trusted mobility," said Good Technology CEO Christy Wyatt. "We continue to see the rapid growth of both internally developed and commercial applications in the Good Dynamics ecosystem."

Businesses have seen their mobile options grow exponentially in the past year.

The report also classified new mobile device activations by operating system. In the third quarter, 69 percent of all activations were iOS devices, well ahead of Android's 29 percent. Apple had been losing its lead in recent times, but recovered in Q3 thanks to the release of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. Eighty-five percent of all iOS activations in the period were one of the new smartphone models.

From Apple to Microsoft, IT giants have been focusing on making their products more business-friendly in recent times, and application development companies are following suit. This trend is expected to continue, and businesses across all industries should see their options grow even more in the coming months.

New York voters approve IT education investment

In addition to choosing their governor and several other elected officials, voters in New York had a question on their ballots last week regarding the approval of a major bond sale to invest in tech education and facilities. With 48.9 percent of voters casting Yes votes and 30.4 percent against, the Smart Schools Bond Act passed comfortably.

The state will sell $2 billion in bonds through 2019, which it will invest in upgrading technological equipment in schools. The first $1 billion will come in the next fiscal year, with $350 million each of the next two years and the final $300 million in fiscal year 2018-19. With the influx of capital, school districts will be able to pay for computer upgrades, wireless internet and high-tech physical security systems.

While opponents countered that New York has more pressing areas for investment, supporters say that the money will go a long way toward preparing the younger generations for the future employment landscape, where a knowledge of computer science will be an essential requirement. The state wants to ensure that it remains at the forefront of the global business landscape as the STEM fields develop.

"New York City will receive a total of $783 million."

The money will be allocated to each district by population. New York City will receive a total of $783 million, which the Department of Education will use to create new pre-kindergarten classrooms and reduce class sizes at other levels.

The Smart Schools Bond Act is part of a large push on the part of city and state authorities to ensure that New York holds the preeminent position in the tech world that it does in so many other business areas.

Students use FileMaker to learn technical skills

FileMaker has joined forces with Network Rail, the operator of most of Great Britain's railroads, to help students at UTC Reading in southern England develop their design and other skills. UTC Reading provides technical education to teenagers as an alternative to a traditional high school, and counts Network Rail among its business partners.

Experts from both companies will be training students to code, design, draw and manage finances over the course of 14 weeks. During that time, the students will be working on designing a theoretical railroad crossing. They will use FileMaker to gather information on maintenance, terrain and traffic flow, among others, which they will then analyze to determine the ideal location for the crossing. They will create a model with a 3D printer and the best projects will be presented to Network Rail.

Network Rail's manager of education programs and the school's principal highlighted the value of projects such as this one to develop the STEM fields in the United Kingdom. With high-level technical education at young ages, they can ensure that their nation remains an engineering leader on the global stage.

"Students will be working on designing a theoretical railroad crossing."

"We're seeing students from the ages of 14 to 18 taking on and providing the solutions to everyday problems we face in our business, managing projects and teams of people of varying age and ability," said Filemaker's Northern Europe director, Tony Speakman. "The skills we are working with them on, such as report writing, are things that they won't learn from an undergraduate course."

FileMaker consultants can provide direction to businesses that wish to take advantage of the many possibilities this software provides, training employees to gather data and customize and update their databases to fit their companies' needs.

Venture capitalist: New York is already a software hub

New York City is attracting a growing number of IT companies, and both public and private initiatives are in place to develop a vibrant tech scene in the city. While many have talked about the potential of one day turning New York into a hub that can compete with Silicon Valley, at least one influential investor believes that the Big Apple is already finding its own unique identity with a focus on software over hardware.

Eric Hippeau has served on the boards of directors of companies including The Huffington Post and Yahoo!, and is now a partner at a New York-based angel fund that specializes in IT investment. He recently spoke with Internet forum Big Think about the similarities and differences between the two coasts, and noted that New York, despite lagging behind California in major tech companies, still has the highest demand for consumer technology.

"The big difference is that New York focuses more on the software layer, on the application and the services layer so that we're really good at software in New York," he said. "We're good at platforms. We're good at consumer facing applications. We're good at enterprise software, software as a service. We're good at a variety of different domains."

"The big difference is that New York focuses more on the software layer"

Software developing companies can serve myriad other industries where New York is second to none. Although Hippeau believes that technology has evolved to the point that a company's physical location does not determine success, he notes that New York, because of its abundant and diverse population, is a natural target for venture capitalists.

New York may never match Silicon Valley in the hardware design sector, but its software potential is unlimited.