Harnessing science, technology to increase productivity

The Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), the apex continental organisation responsible for coordinating and advocating for agricultural research for development (AR4D) held its Eighth General Assembly. It was done online. The spearpoint was deploying science and technology to boost productivity, DANIEL ESSIET reports.

 

The General Assembly of the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) is a statutory triennial event held to refocus investment in agricultural research, technology and innovation to ensure food and nutrition security on the continent. FARA is the continental apex organisation for agricultural research and innovation in Africa.

At the 8th General Assembly of FARA held   online in Ghana, speakers canvassed support for continental agricultural research to  solve food production problems. They postulated that increased deployment of technology would help to revolutionise and  improve the performance of African agriculture.

In his keynote presentation to the General Assembly, the  President, African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr

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Amazon is launching new industrial AI tools to help companies monitor productivity and worker safety



diagram: An Amazon logistics center in Lauwin-Planque, France. Pascal Rossignol/Reuters


© Pascal Rossignol/Reuters
An Amazon logistics center in Lauwin-Planque, France. Pascal Rossignol/Reuters

  • Amazon AWS is launching a series of industrial monitoring tools that use AI to help companies identify potential equipment failures, productivity bottlenecks, and worker safety violations.
  • The new tools, previously reported by Business Insider, signal Amazon’s growing ambitions in the industrial cloud space.
  • One of the tools uses artificial intelligence to analyze video footage and look for “anomalies” in industrial processes, raising concerns given reports of Amazon’s history of spying on workers and using racially and gender biased AI. 
  • An Amazon spokesperson told Business Insider the tool doesn’t currently have “pre-packaged facial recognition capabilities,” and that AWS “thoroughly tests and audits” its algorithms and uses diverse training data.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Amazon AWS is launching a series of industrial machine learning tools aimed at helping companies use artificial intelligence to monitor factory workers and

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Microsoft will remove user names from ‘Productivity Score’ feature after privacy backlash

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Microsoft says it will make changes in its new Productivity Score feature, including removing the ability for companies to see data about individual users, to address concerns from privacy experts that the tech giant had effectively rolled out a new tool for snooping on workers.

“Going forward, the communications, meetings, content collaboration, teamwork, and mobility measures in Productivity Score will only aggregate data at the organization level—providing a clear measure of organization-level adoption of key features,” wrote Jared Spataro, Microsoft 365 corporate vice president, in a post this morning. “No one in the organization will be able to use Productivity Score to access data about how an individual user is using apps and services in Microsoft 365.”

The company rolled out its new “Productivity Score” feature as part of Microsoft 365 in late October. It gives companies data to understand how workers are using and adopting different forms

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7 Apps That Will Help You Rapidly Increase Your Productivity


6 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


As a businessperson and entrepreneur, you know that building workplace productivity is essential. A more productive work environment means that more work gets done and more money gets made. 

So many leaders fail at building productivity because they’re not technologically savvy. How about you? Are you familiar with smartphones and mobile applications? If so, then you’re already on your way to becoming a better leader. All you need to do now is choose the right apps and use them to your workplace advantage. Mobile apps can help you do the following:

  • Accelerate communication with clients and employees
  • Simplify repetitive tasks
  • Manage time more efficiently
  • Share documents
  • And so much more

I’ve compiled a list of the top seven apps to install on your phone to help increase productivity in your business. Each app is available for

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Microsoft Announced a ‘Productivity’ Feature That Lets Managers Keep Track of Everything You Do. It Didn’t Go Over Well

One of the most challenging things about the shift over the last eight months to working remotely is how we all measure productivity. In the past, managers could often see exactly what an employee was working on since they often worked in close proximity to each other. That’s not the case when we’re all working remotely.

Actually, calling it a shift is probably not entirely accurate. It was more of a sudden–and, in many cases–painful reaction to a world that had changed almost literally overnight, as companies were forced to send their employees to work from home. It’s also not likely to change any time soon.

Figuring out how to stay productive under those circumstances has been a challenge, to say the least. In many cases, people are simply trying to figure out the best way to balance work, life, and everything else that comes with keeping your family safe

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Microsoft ‘Productivity Score’ monitors employees email, camera usage

  • Microsoft this month launched an analytics tool for employers called “Productivity Score.”
  • The tool collects detailed data about how employees are using Microsoft’s tools, including how much they use email and whether they turn their camera on during meetings.
  • Privacy experts have voiced concerns that the Microsoft tool is a serious invasion of privacy, as employers are able to view employees’ activity individually.
  • Data privacy researcher Wolfie Christl said it “turns Microsoft 365 into an full-fledged workplace surveillance tool.”
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Microsoft has a new tool that lets companies break down how much time employees are spending on work tools like email, Microsoft Teams, and Word — and privacy experts say it amounts to “workplace surveillance.”

The tool, called Productivity Score, was first announced by the company in October and launched on November 17. It allows employers to gather granular data about how their employees

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Are Mind-Altering Substances Hurting Your Employees’ Productivity? Here’s What the Science Says.


5 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to alter the organizational environment and blur the boundaries between work and life, many individuals have sought opportunities to disconnect and alleviate stress. In an attempt to find a source of therapeutic relief, some have turned to exercising, crafting, and even baking. Others, however, have resorted to alternative ways of coping, choosing not to bake, but to get baked.

Recent research suggests that since the start of the pandemic, substance use has been on the rise. One study conducted during the pandemic found that 1 in 4 American respondents reported using drugs or alcohol to cope with anxiety and stress. Likewise, in a survey of adults living in the U.K., nearly half (48%) indicated that they have consumed more alcohol, while 44% of cannabis users reported that they had consumed more

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ActivTrak raises $50 million to measure remote workers’ productivity

ActivTrak, an Austin, Texas-based cloud productivity monitoring software provider, today raised $50 million in a series B round from Sapphire Ventures. The fresh capital will be used to scale ActivTrak’s go-to-market activities across sales, marketing, and channels and expand the company’s capabilities using AI-driven analytics, according to CEO Rita Selvaggi.

The pandemic has forced a record number of employees to work remotely. A recent article by MIT professor Erik Brynjolfsson estimates that 31% of workers employed in early March had switched to working at home by the first week of April. In a PricewaterhouseCoopers survey of 1,200 U.S. office workers between May and June, executives expressed concern about what might be missed, even with more flexible work and a workforce largely ready to make the leap.

ActivTrak’s cloud-based product aims to allay those fears by delivering aggregated data and analytics that “quantify” productivity, as Axilrod put it. A client installs

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Scientists optimize productivity of pultrusion manufacturing process

Scientists optimize productivity of pultrusion manufacturing process
Credit: Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology

A group of scientists from the Skoltech Center for Design, Manufacturing and Materials (CDMM) and University of Salerno (Italy) focused on improving pultrusion process productivity by optimizing pulling speed and structural parameters. They discovered and analyzed the interconnection between pulling speed of pultrusion and severity of manufactured induced shape distortions, matrix cracking and delaminations, mechanical characteristics. The research results are recently published in the journal Composite Structures.


In recent years, fiber reinforced polymers (FRPs) have garnered considerable interest from the engineering community, resulting in the widespread adoption of composite structures. Among the many current composite manufacturing processes, pultrusion is the most efficient, combining high production rates with low material waste.

It is well known that the construction market is highly competitive. Therefore, every manufacturer is seeking for the possibility to increase productivity while still maintaining optimum structural characteristics of the produced elements.

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Singapore-based sales productivity platform Nektar raises $2.15 million seed round

Nektar co-founders Abhijeet Vijayvergiya and Aravind Ravi Sulekha
Nektar co-founders Abhijeet Vijayvergiya and Aravind Ravi Sulekha

Nektar co-founders Abhijeet Vijayvergiya and Aravind Ravi Sulekha

Singapore-based Nektar.ai, a productivity platform for sales teams, has raised $2.15 million in seed funding. Founded earlier this year, Nektar has been working in stealth mode with five companies, and has plans for an early adopter release before a public launch by the end of 2021. Its seed round was led by Nexus Venture Partners, with participation from Insignia Venture Partners, Arka Venture Labs, Better Capital and Vietnam Investments Group.

Individual investors also contributed to the funding, including Five9 executive vice president Anand Chandrasekaran; Airtel chief executive of enterprise business Ganesh Lakshminarayanan; Vinod Muthukrishnan, the chief growth officer of Cisco’s Contact Center Business Unit; Venkat Tadanki, who sold his former startup Daksh to IBM in 2004; and Capillary Technologies co-founder and CEO Aneesh Reddy.

Founded by CEO Abhijeet Vijayvergiya, former president and Asia-Pacific managing

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