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AI-powered construction project platform OpenSpace nabs $55M




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OpenSpace, a platform that helps construction companies track building projects through AI-powered analytics and 360-degree photo documentation, has raised $55 million in a series C round of funding led by Alkeon Capital Management.

The raise comes amid a cross-industry digital transformation boom, spurred in large part by the pandemic. Construction has often lagged behind other sectors in terms of efficiency, but technology such as robotics, artificial intelligence (AI), and remote collaboration tools have played a sizable role in getting the $11 trillion industry back on track.


Founded out of San Francisco in 2017, OpenSpace leans on AI to create 360-degree photos of construction sites, which are captured by builders or site managers who traverse an area with cameras strapped to their hats. All the imagery is sent to the cloud, where computer vision and machine intelligence tools arrange, stitch, and map the capture visuals to the associated project plans. It’s all about documenting activities on each site so stakeholders can check in on progress from afar or resolve conflicts that arise by checking back on a visual history of the project’s evolution.

OpenSpace: Site comparisons

Above: OpenSpace: site comparisons

OpenSpace also offers AI-powered analytics, including “progress tracking,” which uses computer vision to analyze site images and automatically figure out how much of the scheduled work has been completed. Elsewhere, “object search” enables site managers to select an object from a scene and find similar objects elsewhere on the site.

OpenSpace: Object search

Above: OpenSpace: object search

Other notable players in the space include SiteAware and Buildots, both of which have raised sizable VC investments over the past nine months, highlighting the growing demand for digital technologies in the construction space.

Prior to now, OpenSpace had raised around $34 million, including a $15.9 million series B last July. With its latest cash injection, the company is well-financed to capitalize on its rapid growth over the past year, which it said has seen its revenue triple and customer count grow by 150%. With another $55 million in the bank, OpenSpace said it will double down on its suite of analytics products and expand them into areas such as safety management and quality control.


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Data Science is Where to Find the Most AI Jobs and Highest Salaries




AI is a hot job market and the hottest jobs in AI are in data science. And data science jobs also pay the highest salaries. (Credit: Getty Images)

By John P. Desmond, AI Trends Editor

Jobs in data science grew nearly 46% in 2020, with salaries in the range of $100,000 to $130,000 annually, according to a recent account in TechRepublic based on information from LinkedIn and LHH, formerly Lee Hecht Harrison, a global provider of talent and leadership development.

Related job titles include data science specialist and data management analyst. Companies hiring were called out in the TechRepublic account, including:

Paul Anderson, CEO, Novacoast

Novacoast, which helps organizations build a cybersecurity posture through engineering, development, and managed services. Founded in 1996 in Santa Barbara, the company has many remote employees and a presence in the UK, Canada, Mexico, and Guatemala.

The company offers a security operations center (SOC) cloud offering called novaSOC, that analyzes emerging challenges. “We work to have an answer ready before we’ve been asked,” stated CEO Paul Anderson in a press release issued on the company’s inclusion on a list of the top 250 Managed Service Providers from MSSP Alert. novaSOC automatically collects endpoint data and correlates it with threat intelligence sources, adding in analysis and reporting to make a responsive security monitoring service. Novacoast is planning to hire 60 employees to open a new SOC in Wichita, Kansas.

Pendo is an information technology services company that provides step-by-step guides to help workers master new software packages. The software aims to boost employee proficiency through personalized training and automated support. Founded in 2013 in Raleigh, N.C., the company has raised $209.5 million to date, according to Crunchbase. Demand for the company’s services soared in 2020 as schools shifted to online teaching and many companies permitted employees to work from home.

“More people are using digital products. Many had planned to go digital but they could not afford to wait. That created opportunities for us,” stated Todd Olson, cofounder and CEO, in an account in Newsweek. The company now has about 2,000 customers, including Verizon, RE/MAX, Health AB, John Wiley & Sons, LabCorp, Mercury Insurance, OpenTable, Okta, Salesforce and Zendesk. The company plans to hire 400 more employees this year to fuel its growth as it invests in its presence overseas in an effort to win more large customers. The company recently had 169 open positions.

Ravi Kumar, President, Infosys

Infosys is a multinational IT services company headquartered in India that is expanding its workforce in North America. The company recently announced it would be hiring 500 people in Calgary, Alberta, Canada over the next three years, which would double its Canadian workforce to 4,000 employees. “Calgary is a natural next step of our Canadian expansion. The city is home to a thriving talent pool. We will tap into this talent and offer skills and opportunities that will build on the city’s economic strengths,” stated Ravi Kumar, President of Infosys, in a press release.

Over the last two years, Infosys has created 2,000 jobs across Toronto, Vancouver, Ottawa, and Montreal. The Calgary expansion will enable Infosys to scale work with clients in Western Canada, Pacific Northwest, and the Central United States across various industries, including natural resources, energy, media, retail, and communications. The company will hire tech talent from fourteen educational institutions across the country, including the University of Calgary, University of Alberta, Southern Alberta Institute of Technology, University of British Columbia, University of Toronto, and Waterloo. Infosys also plans to hire 300 workers in Pennsylvania as part of its US hiring strategy, recruiting for a range of opportunities across technology and digital services, administration and operations.

AI is Where the Money Is

In an analysis of millions of job postings across the US, the labor market information provider Burning Glass wanted to see which professions had the highest percentage of job postings requesting AI skills, according to an account from Dice. Data science was requested by 22.4% of the postings, by far the highest. Next was data engineer at 5.5%, database architect at 4.6% and network engineer/architect at 3.1%.

Burning Glass sees machine learning as a “defining skill” among data scientists, needed for day-to-day work. Overall, jobs requiring AI skills are expected to grow 43.4% over the next decade. The current median salary for jobs heavily using AI skills is $105,000, good compared to many other professions.

Hiring managers will test for knowledge of fundamental concepts and ability to execute. A portfolio of AI-related projects can help a candidate’s prospects.

Burning Glass recently announced an expansion and update of its CyberSeek source of information on America’s cybersecurity workforce. “These updates are timely as the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE) Strategic Plan aims to promote the discovery of cybersecurity careers and multiple pathways to build and sustain a diverse and skilled workforce,” stated Rodney Petersen, Director of the NICE, in a Burning Glass press release

NICE is a partnership between government, academia, and the private sector focused on supporting the country’s ability to address current and future cybersecurity education and workforce challenges.

Trends for AI in 2021 in the beginning of the latter stages of the global pandemic were highlighted in a recent account in VentureBeat as:

  • Hyperautomation, the application of AI and machine learning to augment workers and automate processes to a higher degree;
  • Ethical AI, because consumers and employees expect companies to adopt AI in a responsible manner; companies will choose to do business with partners that commit to data ethics and data handling practices that reflect appropriate values;
  • And Workplace AI, to help with transitions to new models of work, especially with knowledge workers at home; AI will be used to augment customer services agents, to track employee health and for intelligent document extraction.

Read the source articles and information in TechRepublic, in a press release from Novacoast, in Newsweek, in a press release from Infosys, in an account from Dice, in a Burning Glass press release and in an account in VentureBeat.

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Artificial Intelligence

Benefits of Using AI for Facebook Retargeting In 2021




Artificial intelligence has really transformed the state of digital marketing. A growing number of marketers are using AI to connect with customers across various platforms. This includes Facebook.

There are a lot of great reasons to integrate AI technology into your Facebook marketing campaigns. One of the benefits is that you can use retargeting. AI algorithms have made it easier to reach customers that have already engaged with your website. These users might be a lot more likely to convert, which will help you grow your sales and improve your brand image.

AI Can Help Improve Your Facebook Marketing Dramatically with Retargeting

Untapped resources that come from engagement can lead to a better understanding of Facebook retargeting. SAAS SEO agency shared some recommendations that are solid, and a great starting point for any business. To understand Facebook retargeting with AI technology in-depth, take these tips to heart when organizing your resources.

What is Facebook Retargeting?

On average, each Facebook user clicks on ads at least eight times per month. These are considered to be high intent clicks from the biggest advertising platform in the world. Even the most successful marketing and advertising campaigns miss consumers on their first run.

Retargeting uses Facebook campaigns most essential tools to target specific people based on their most relevant data. This is one of the best ways to use data to improve your social media marketing strategies.

The data used is recycled from previous information attached to your old advertising. This includes information from apps, customer files, engagement and offline activity. Anything that has a metric attached to an individual can be used with Facebook retargeting.

How Can It Help Your Business?

There will always be missed opportunities before, during and after a marketing campaign. Reinvesting the data gained from the previous campaign prevents you from starting completely over. Instead of starting from scratch, you’ll gain a clear insight into what gets consumers to cross the finish line at checkout.  Retargeting is meant to be a powerful tool that thrives on previous data that would otherwise go unnoticed.

Retention comes into play, but doesn’t make up the entire story of retargeting on Facebook. You can run a retargeting campaign and only look into new consumers. It’s flexible, and meant to enhance your business based on your specific needs.

The Different Types of Retargeting

The two main types of Facebook retargeting are list-based and pixel-based. Each serves a purpose, with their own specific pros and cons.

Pixel-based retargeting uses JavaScript code to attach a cookie to each unique person that visits your website. After the visitor leaves, the cookie sends its data to your ad provider for a personalized experience. This is the most common type of retargeting used on Facebook, and is often used in other parts of the internet. Microsoft has shown favoritism to pixel-based retargeting by using their own modified version.

List-based retargeting is a limited but fascinating concept. It uses the data you already have on hand to create a specialized list that Facebook uses to show ads. This method works on many of the major social media platforms, but has shown significant advantages on Facebook. Since list-based targeting uses email lists as its base, companies are at the mercy of that particular resource. An outdated or inaccurate email list will lead to low quality retargeting efforts.

When relying on list-based retargeting, a larger email list is not always a guaranteed win for a company.

Upselling and Cross Selling

Even when the customer is happy, proving the value of an upsell is an ongoing process. This led to a rise in cross selling, but was only beneficial to companies that had the resources. As you reconnect with old and new customers, upselling or cross selling becomes part of the closing process.

Both methods are difficult, but become trivial once you have the data to back up your new campaign. Most companies see an increase in profits in a short amount of time. This makes Facebook retargeting a valuable way to test drive upselling and cross selling methods.

Brand Awareness

Brand awareness is the golden goose that all businesses constantly chase. Once you have a notable brand, it becomes the identity of your entire company. Protecting the brand is important, and sometimes entire marketing campaigns are launch to reinvigorate the company image. So, how does Facebook retargeting work its way into this?

Facebook lookalike audiences became a thing when companies wanted to reach new customers with similar interests and habits as their current best customers. Creating a lead that finds this new audience is possible when brand awareness reaches its peak. If you want to keep brand awareness high, then Facebook retargeting does all of the tough work while increasing your reach to new consumers.

Improve Conversions

Conversions are hard to pull off without a specific time investment. All of that goes to waste if you’re not positioning yourself to use previous data to convert customers. No matter how visitors arrive to your website, their presence is proof that there is an interest to purchase a product or service.

If they leave without making a purchase, it’s up to you to figure out why. A lost sale is not the same as losing a customer. Being able to convert that customer into an actual sale is a major strength of retargeting. And even if it’s unsuccessful, you’ll be able to use the additional data to convert another customer.

Influence Buying Decisions

When a consumer becomes firm in their buying decision, then your influence gains a significant bump. At this point your retargeting is directly influencing the buying decisions of individuals or groups. You’ll see a visual representation of this with online feedback and testimonials. All of the positive information provided comes from consumers that are satisfied with the entire sales experience.

Even the negative feedback plays a role, and can serve as the proof you need to reuse data to improve a weak point in your marketing. When a company puts effort into retargeting their ads, they gain monumental increases in customer conversions, ad recognition, clicks, sales and branded searches.

Remarketing Vs. Retargeting

Learn the difference between retargeting and remarketing. Retargeting gains the attention of interested customers that never purchased your products or services. Remarketing leans more towards gaining the attention of inactive or lost customers. Don’t make the mistake of running a retargeting campaign when remarketing would work better. The good news is that the data used from one is still essential for the other. An email list with decent accuracy can be a valuable asset for remarketing or retargeting.

Making the Right Choice

Facebook retargeting should be a priority with how you manage your data collection. Embracing its use will optimize the most important part of your business. Once you get the hang of things, your ROI will reach a whole new level.

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Big bank demand for AI talent outpaces supply




Demand for artificial intelligence (AI) experts at financial institutions continues to grow, with banks looking to leverage digital channels and incorporate data-driven analytics into their workflows as the U.S. economy moves toward reopening. American Express and Wells Fargo led the pack among financial services in AI-related job offerings posted in the past quarter, with the […]

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Pandemic Has Spurred CIOs to Crystallize the IT Strategy




The pandemic has spurred an accelerated digital transformation for many companies, challenging CIOs to crystallize AI strategies to achieve synergy. (Credit: Getty Images)

By AI Trends Staff

CIOs have tested many emerging strategies during the pandemic, including the Internet of Things sensors, low-orbit satellites, and augmented reality. Now the challenge is to get the technologies to work together to reach for big business goals.

Adriana Karaboutis, Group Chief Information and Digital Officer, National Grid

This was the message from Adriana Karaboutis, group chief information and digital officer at National Grid, speaking at the 2021 MIT CIO Symposium in a session on Accelerated Digital Transformation, held virtually recently.

The effects of the crisis made organizations “double down on that focus and crystallization for what we need to do,” she stated in an account in CIO Dive

To pursue IoT, standardization is a must, suggested Harmeen Mehta, chief digital and innovation officer at BT, the British multinational telecommunications firm. “If the world can consolidate a bit on standardization, it will help pick up speed,” stated Mehta. “What we’ve not done well as an industry is truly come together and make some hard choices” in converging around specific types of IoT technologies.

Technologies and data streams playing off each other can lead to new outcomes, in the experience of David Neitz, CIO at engineering and construction company CDM Smith. Using NVIDIA’s Jetson Nano device, for example, CDM Smith is able to train an AI computer vision model to detect wrong-way drivers, he stated. The technology use case combines capabilities of sensors with the computing power of AI.

“You have someone sitting in a command center trying to monitor 300 screens,” stated Neitz, speaking on the panel. “Why rely on a human to be observant and alert?” Instead, the company relies on a mix of sensors and algorithms to monitor and track when drivers are using lanes in an erratic way, or how traffic is behaving around a construction zone.

Another application finds CDM Smith combining IoT soil sensors, data analytics and weather information to predict when a potential landslide could impact a railroad track.

Pandemic Has Accelerated the Move to Cloud Computing

The pandemic seems to have accelerated the move to cloud computing. A recent survey of 750 cloud decision-makers found that 92% of represented enterprises have a multi-cloud strategy, and 90% have a hybrid cloud strategy. The results are contained in the 2021 State of the Cloud Report from Flexera, an IT asset management software company.

Jim Ryan, President and CEO, Flexera

“COVID-19 has accelerated the migration to cloud computing,” stated Jim Ryan, President and CEO of Flexera, in a press release. “Still, cloud isn’t magic or the land of milk and honey. Companies are moving fast, facing challenges, and trying to connect cloud computing to business outcomes. The appetite for digital transformation is high, but real-world challenges—such as managing security and optimizing cloud spend—still must be addressed.”

Cloud adoption among the respondents was as follows: AWS adoption grew to 77% (from 76% last year); Azure grew to 73% (from 63% last year); Google Cloud grew to 47% (from 35% last year); VMware Cloud on AWS grew to 24% (from 17% last year); Oracle Infrastructure Cloud grew to 29% (from 17% last year); IBM Public Cloud grew to 24% (from 13% last year); and Alibaba Cloud grew to 12% (from 7% last year).

The key considerations CIOs are advised to take into account as they gravitate more of their IT operations to the cloud touch on infrastructure, processes and culture, advised a recent account in Forbes. They include:

  • Putting Customers and Employees First. In the past year, organizations have transformed and served customers in new ways. Restaurants, for example, had to enable better ordering of food online to be picked up or delivered and paid for electronically. CIOs have transitioned from being “enablers” of digital transformation to being “drivers” of business change. The trend is seen as so produced that Gartner predicts that 25% of large-enterprise CIOs could become “COO by proxy” by 2024.
  • Developing ‘Enterprise Agility.’ Each company needs to determine its own path to competitive advantage, as in which approach to take for the digital and data journey, whether to emulate the infrastructure choices of digital native competitors or invent a new way as the company looks for a unique enterprise identity.

IT Shifts Within Scaled, Agile Organizations

Research from McKinsey & Co. on enterprise agility identifies five core IT shifts within scaled agile organizations. These include:

  • Speed. Information needs to be relevant, actionable & timely, whether for real-time scenarios such as fraud detection that triggers machine intervention, or monitoring that requires human judgment, “The notion of speed and pace is key,” stated the author of the Forbes account, Bruno Aziza, a technology entrepreneur who is the current Head of Data & Analytics for Google Cloud.
  • Scale. The world is predicted to store 200 zettabytes [a zettabyte is 10 to the power of 21] of data by 2025, and 50% of all data will be in the cloud. “The question is: are your teams building for a world where capacity could be limitless? Or are they living in a world where only some data deserves to be stored?” Aziza queried. He suggests that team members look at more data; they don’t know which data will become more valuable over time.
  • Security. The number one concern of companies of all sizes in the 2021 State of the Cloud Report, is security. The higher the company’s cloud maturity, the higher the concern. In a world where more data comes from a range of sources and is used by more people across more use cases, security and data governance needs to be taken into account on day one, the author suggested.
  • Human Intelligence. AI is important to digital transformation efforts; the AI Specialist is now one of the fastest growing jobs on LinkedIn’s 2020 Emerging Jobs Report. Many organizations are looking to infuse AI to optimize their technical infrastructure and focus on the adoption of machine learning as part of intelligent application initiatives. “But many struggle to marry human intelligence with machine intelligence,” the author states. The best guidance he has found so far on when humans are better equipped than machines, is from the book Only Humans Need Apply by Tom Davenport, released in 2016.

Aziza recommends working to identify the use cases where machine intelligence is most appropriate and the ones where humans do a better job “augmenting” the machine’s capabilities.

Read the source articles and information from sessions of the 2021 MIT CIO Symposium, in CIO Dive, in a press release from Flexera, in Forbes and from the book Only Humans Need Apply by Tom Davenport.

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