Category Archives: Business Developement

Gear VR

The VR Experience

By Hernan Senki, Front-End Developer at Santex

These past few days, I’ve been busy visiting the Egyptian pyramids, exploring the depths of the oceans, jumping out of parachutes, shooting off rockets into space, and driving in car races. I’ve been immersed in all these experiences and more, all without leaving my desk, thanks to the Samsung Gear VR powered by Oculus virtual reality headset that Santex lent to try out.

Gear VREven though research for virtual reality, or “VR”, has been going on since the ‘90’s, it’s only in recent years that the mass production of devices has allowed us to experience VR in our households. Companies like Oculus (recently acquired by Facebook), HTC, Sony, and other tech giants are investing large amounts of resources into development because it is, undoubtedly, ‘the wave of the future.’

After updating the Galaxy S7, I put it in the Gear VR, put on my headphones, and was ready to give it a try. I was expecting something like an alpha version experience with lots of errors, but what I got was rather surprising. From Oculus Home, I chose to visit the Egyptian pyramids. Later, I went by the Sydney Opera House and to tell the truth, these videos, images, and experiences feel 100% real. There’s even sound involved that allows you to really travel and feel the experience without leaving your seat.

Tired from traveling, I thought I’d try launching a rocket. In contrast from the earlier experiences, this was neither video nor photo, but rather a very realistic animation which gave the sensation of being immersed in a videogame, minus the aspect of interaction. After sitting behind the controls of the rocket, I then transitioned into being stuck in a bed which appeared to be in a kid’s bedroom – dark and illuminated only lightning bolts entering through the window, creating a terrifying setting where everything was transformed into a nightmare-like experience that I couldn’t escape. The surprises around every turn were shocking and enough to make one jump or scream! I would not recommend it to users with cardiac problems or those who are scared easily.

One of the most highly anticipated experiences for the average user is the virtual reality videogames, which, unfortunately, I didn’t get to try because it required an Oculus control that doesn’t come with the Gear VR package. It allows you to move around, shoot, point, and have greater interaction with the stories. I was always skeptical of these VR videogames, thinking that nothing is more comfortable than a traditional Joystick and a comfy couch, but after trying these other VR experiences, I could probably be persuaded to give it a shot. I would like to try something like Battlefield or Call of Duty and feel fully immersed in the game.

Other Uses

Virtual reality isn’t just fun and games – it can also be applied to different industries like:

Education: It’s a valuable instructive tool. Imagine if instead of reading about places and looking through photos, you could be transported to those places and actually feel surrounded by them. Those are the advances that VR is making possible.Gear VR

Training: VR is currently being used to train a variety of professionals including doctors, automobile drivers, pilots, soldiers and troops, and more. The application of VR in these fields allows trainees to gain valuable hours of practice time while reducing physical risks and costs.

Health: The medical field has not only been using VR to train doctors and surgeons by simulating the operating room, but also to train psychologists and psychiatrists who have reported success cases in treating phobias for patients, such as fear of heights, social phobias, and more.

What Can Be Expected

Virtual Reality is the future, and that future is getting closer and closer. What we are currently witnessing are the first steps. There’s still a lot of room for improvement with both the hardware and software. The applications for VR are currently rather limited in amount and variety, creating an important space for software development companies and audiovisual content generators to work. Without a doubt, the entertainment industry will soon be the tipping point for VR and 360. Soon people won’t be buying from the web, we’ll be going places virtually to select the products we want. E-commerce will become VR-commerce, and it will be the same with concerts, conventions, gatherings, trainings, and more.

It’s a technology that shouldn’t be ignored. It will allow us to travel wherever we want, to live unique experiences that weren’t ever possible without VR. We can interact with family and friends as if they were right in front of us – all in 360º.

Describing what VR is and how it feels is difficult because everyone thinks and reacts differently. The best I can do is to recommend trying the experience and arriving at your own conclusions.

One day of Singularity University at The Tech Pub

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This month at Santex, we had the pleasure of hosting Peter Wicher, Director of Strategic Relations at Singularity University. Over his extensive career, Peter has held executive positions in Silicon Valley in the industries of consumer electronics, semiconductors, education, and integrated systems.

We asked our Director of Operations, Eduardo Coll, to tell us a bit about the experience.

SANTEX: Tell us a bit about what Singularity University is and what it stands for.

Eduardo Coll: We had the pleasure of having Peter Wicher from Singularity University (SU) visit our Tech Pub. SU is a university created and founded by Peter Diamandis and has sponsorship from Google, NASA, and Autodesk, among other large companies.

Its vision is to create technology solutions that can make a positive impact on a billion people. There are 7 billion people in the world, and SU is trying to impact 1 billion. The university has unique programs for both individuals and organizations. They also have an incubator where they work on projects across verticals, which are selected because they aim to resolve some of the great problems facing humanity today – like renewable energy and access to drinking water. One of the concepts that they promote in SU, which Peter Wicher explained to us during his visit, is the concept of “exponentiality” – exponential technology and exponential growth.

SANTEX: Elaborate more on this concept. Where does this exponential growth in technology go?

EC: For humans by nature, it’s easier to understand linear growth. We grow older lineally; we don’t pass from 2 to 50 years old without turning 3, 4, etc. We physically grow in the same way, as we gain weight in successive numbers, and therefore we tend to forget that there can also be exponential growth in certain things. SU strives to leave its students with the ideology that exponential growth can be applied to our daily lives and that we don’t have to act within a linear mindset. This enables people to more rapidly achieve their visions, and helps the university reach its goal of impacting 1 billion people.

The motto at SU is “don’t make something better by 10%, make it 10x better!” When you think about changing or creating something, you don’t have to make something new that’s 10% better than what already exists. You should strive to make it 10 times better! When you do this, your business or your technology or idea will grow exponentially. Some familiar examples that they point out are: Uber generated a revolution in the transportation industry using technology that was already over 10 years old – cell phones, GPS, web services. They simply made it into an app and the number of trips, drivers, and passengers increased exponentially. They created an exponentially better transportation system.

SU also mentions Airbnb, who also revolutionized the hospitality system with the idea of renting homes and individual rooms for a lesser cost than staying in a hotel or vacation house. These technologies and systems are disruptive, and obviously have their flaws. They have problems that occasionally  need to be fixed that need to be observed in their entirety, but we’ll save that for another article.

SANTEX: How do some of concepts learned during SU’s visit pertain to Santex currently?

EC: Peter brought us some lessons that really dazzled us, lessons that we should apply to our lives daily both as an organization and individually. With existing technology and new technologies to come, the objectives that SU presented to us will be made simple.

At Santex, we are beginning to understand and work with the concept of exponential growth and the use of technology to solve some of humanity’s biggest problems. As a company, we want to support our clients with the knowledge needed to help them grow, which in turn will help us grow as well. We’ve set the goals of improving 10x more for every new project that we take on, and striving to solve problems that help not only our clients, but us as an organization and the community we’re involved in.

About Singularity University (SU)

SU is an academic institution in Silicon Valley whose focus is to bring together, educate, and inspire leaders about the exponential power of technology to solve some of the greatest challenges facing mankind.

How Agile methodologies mitigate cognitive biases that lead projects to failure

By Walter Abrigo, Managing Director at Santex

I want to emphasize in this article how the existence of two cognitive biases (which are almost always present in our daily lives) position agile methodology practices  as one of the most adaptable frameworks for project monitoring and management in general. This is especially true when the context of the given project development is complex, has changing requirements that are poorly defined, and where innovation, competitiveness, flexibility, and productivity all combined are critical to achieving the desired results.  

Cognitive biases

  1. The emotional aspect of our decisions and choices.

  2. The fallacy of planning.

By reviewing each of these biases, we can see how people’s behavior fits better and more consistently with the structure of Agile methodologies.

Our decisions and choices are emotional

The following cases demonstrate how in our everyday decision-making we often forget the Base Rates (or the true distribution of events). Additionally, we strive to make sense of representative stereotypes, we seek causes and explanations, and we have a natural aversion to losing whenever there is something at risk.

First Case: Forgetting the Base Rates (the true distribution of events)

Tom is extremely intelligent, although he lacks true creativity. He needs order and clarity, and prefers systematic organization. He has a strong competitive drive and seems to have little interest and sympathy for others. He does not enjoy dealing with other people. Although he’s self-centered, he has deep moral awareness.

Let’s order the following nine areas of expertise according to the probability that Tom would be a student in any of these fields. We’ll use 1 for the most likely and 9 for the least likely.

  • Business Administration

  • IT

  • Engineering

  • Humanities and Education

  • Law

  • Medicine

  • Physics and Biology

  • Social Sciences and social work

Most will agree that Tom fits well with the stereotypes of smaller groups of students, like IT and engineers, but would fit poorly into larger groups, like humanities and education, social sciences and social work. This is an example of how we substitute the probabilities of the Base Rates for representative stereotypes.  

Second Case: Prejudices based on stereotypes

Linda is thirty-one years old. She’s single, outspoken, and very bright. She majored in Philosophy and when she was a student, she was very concerned about the issues of discrimination and social injustice. She participated in several anti-nuclear protests. Given this information, which of the following scenarios fits best with Linda’s personality?

  1. Linda is a bank teller.

  2. Linda is a bank teller and activist for the feminism movement.

Most will agree that Linda is most suited to the role of “bank teller and feminist.” The stereotypical teller may not be a feminist, so including this detail adds more emphasis to the description. Nonetheless, both feminist tellers and regular tellers share the common fact that they coexist in the world of ‘tellers.’

P(teller)=P(feminist teller) + P(teller not feminist).

Third Case: Seeking causes

Take the gender of six children born one after the other in a hospital. The sequence of boys and girls is random. Each event (birth) is independent of the other, and the number of boys and girls born in the hospital in the last hour has no effect on the gender of the next child. Consider now three possible sequences (M = male, F = female):

  1. MMMFFF

  2. FFFFFF

  3. MFMMFM

Are these sequences equally probable? The intuitive answer is, “Of course not!” but that is false. Because each event is independent and the results M and F are both (approximately) equally likely, all possible sequences for the six births are as likely as any other. Now that we know that this conclusion is true, it seems counterintuitive because only the third sequence appears to be completely random. Our minds are built with associative machinery that continuously seeks causal relationships, and this tendency leads to serious error in our evaluation of sequences that are truly random.

We are hunters of patterns, believers in a coherent world in which regularities (like a sequence of six girls) are not accidentally produced, but rather the effect of a particular cause or someone’s intention.

Fourth Case:  We are willing to risk more when it comes to losses than gains.

Situation 1: Imagine a group of people where each one has $3,000 and you give them a choice between:

  1. Receiving another $1,000, or

  2. Flipping a coin and playing the $1,000 for double or nothing: if they win they’ll receive an additional $2,000, but if they lose they get nothing.

What would you choose?

Situation 2: Imagine a group of people where each one has $5,000 and you give them a choice between:

  1. Giving up $1,000, or

  2. Flipping a coin to play $1,000 for double or nothing:  If they lose, they give up $2,000, but if they win they don’t lose any money.

What would you choose?

Most of us in Situation 1 prefer option 1 and most of us in Situation 2 prefer option 2. The interesting thing here is that the odds of the four options are identical, but differ considerably in our minds. We are more willing to take a risk when it comes to LOSSES and are more reluctant to take a risk when it comes to benefits.

The fallacy of planning

The fallacy of planning in one manifestation of an omnipresent optimistic bias. Almost all humans see the world as less harmful than it really is, our skills better than what they really are, and our goals easier to achieve than they really are. We also tend to exaggerate our ability to predict the future, which exudes optimistic overconfidence.

When we complete a successful project, we assume that it was due to our accurate and detailed planning of controlled variables. We forget the random variables that impacted us positively. We assume the cause of success was within the plan, and we are the performers.  

When we finished a project and it was unsuccessful, we assume that this was due to the presence of external uncontrollable variables, not foreseen from the beginning which affected us negatively. The cause of failure is out of our hands, and we are not the performers.   

Agile methodologies mitigate these biases

Having raised the existence of these two cognitive biases (the emotional side of our decision-making and the fallacy in our planning), we see two aspects of Agile methodologies that make them in the most effective way to mitigate the biases: valuing people and response to change.

By realizing that our decisions are more emotional than they are rational, we place more value on individuals and their interactions than we do tools and processes. This allows us to communicate more empathetically and understand the emotion behind our choices.

Regarding the fallacy of planning, by putting more value on response to change, rather than following a plan, we can better detect the random variables that may arise and impact the results.

In this way, we can realize the importance and value that Agile methodologies have in reducing the noise and deviations that may occur during the development of a project.

Sources

KAHNEMAN, D. (2011) Thinking, Fast and Slow. Debate Editorial.

About the Author Walter Abrigo is a Managing Director at Santex. In addition to his large academic career, he possess market expertise in several organizational processes such as management control, change and strategy, recruiting and staffing as well as performance and engagement.

You can read the spanish version of this article published in “Pulso Social”.

Three steps to making communication more effective

Do you feel you aren’t heard or that people don’t respond the way that you expect?

Here are three areas that I have tried to focus on even more so since the beginning of 2015 and I hope it will make me more successful in both personal and professional situations.

confused_sign_post.jpgCommunication can always have glitches and we need to always be mindful of ways to improve.  Improvement is incremental and continuous. (Step by step we can always do better.)  Whether the communication is in the same office or a long distance, making sure that you consider these points should help in making communication more effective. In the case of Santex we have both company offices and customers who are a long distance apart.  So getting this right is important all the way around.

I think of these three incremental steps as questions that I ask when I am actively communicating.  

Am I providing context or a framework to the messages that I send to people?  

Providing context doesn’t mean using more words to explain something. To the opposite, it is providing a simple, understandable framework so that the person receiving the message understands why you are communicating the message and what your expectation is regarding your response.  If this is done in a consistent way, your audience can anticipate what they will get for a message and be better prepared.  

Context also means what is the context in which the message is received?  Timing can be extremely important. Sending a message in the middle of the night and asking people to respond within the next day may not be reasonable for people who plan ahead. It may make you appear disorganized and demanding even if your intent is to show energy and enthusiasm.

Do I have their attention?   People have so much stimulation of all senses that a message whether audible or visual can be missed because they just weren’t paying attention. Don’t assume that because you sent something that the person has received the message and they understand the significance of the message.  Trust is ok but still verify.

Is there a feedback loop for both the listener and the speaker to use and is it working? It really isn’t enough that you know that someone received the message. What’s the response to your message and does it have the consequence of having received this message?  Making sure that you understand the consequence makes the message more effective.  It’s also easier to reinforce positive behavior.

We all have room for improvement and I’m always looking to improve myself.  I hope this will help you.

About the Author – Doug Lewis is a Manager of Inside Sales and Business Development for Santex.  Throughout his career, Doug has developed high value sales and business relationships for companies seeking international markets.

Expectations of an American businessman– How to sell in the US Market

by Doug Lewis

Who am I?

I am an American businessman with over 30 years of experience selling and buying products in Asia, Australia, Europe and the U.S and Canada.  I have worked for technology companies in software and processing and in economic development in International Trade and entrepreneurism.

Where do I come from?

I’ve lived most of my life in the middle of the US but I have traveled throughout the US and in many other countries and I’ve lived in Japan and Sweden.  I understand quite a bit about international business but not a lot about doing business in South America and not a lot about Argentina.

Why is it worth selling to me?

Because I’m really not trying to sell to you.  I work for Santex.  Over 90% of our revenue comes from the US market.  I have nothing to sell you. I say this because unfortunately too many times the first connections between businesses who want to sell are people who are trying to sell to each other.  They are the people in international sales for each company or sometimes even the CEOs themselves. They just shouldn’t try to sell to each other.

So let’s suspend reality for a moment and assume in this case that I am buying from you.

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I’m buying and I’m buying services in an economy where services are close to 80% of the economy.  That economy is 17 trillion dollars according to the Worldbank.  Trillion is 1 with 12 zeros behind it.  That means people pay 13.6 Trillion dollars per year for services in the US.  I’m buying for many reasons but here are a couple of them.  I am buying because after dealing with the rest of the world for a long time, I’m concerned about places and countries closer to home. I’m concerned that bigger countries than the US will have even more influence that will affect the future of my kids and their kids.

And because I’m really tired of dealing with 12 to 15 hour time differences with Asia.  It always means that someone is working in the middle of the night.  I want to find sources closer to home but I am also accountable to my stakeholders and customers to get a good price or provide a good value for them.  Price is a factor especially if I can get it somewhere else easily.

Just a word about competition.  If you are in software development services like I am, Your competition is not in this room.  Your competition isn’t in Cordoba.  It really isn’t even on this continent.  It is any place on the planet.  Because the software code can be developed wherever any one has a portable computer and can delivered when and wherever it’s needed.  Competing on price alone will leave you starving.  You need to deliver value to your customer.

If I’m going to buy from you then you are probably asking “what do I expect from you?”

I expect solid and simple communication the way that I want it.  Please don’t take me on a walk through the forest.  I don’t want to sift through information to try to find what you are trying to tell me.  I really don’t know what I’m looking for.  Get yourself organized.  Group your products into categories and name them.  In other words, I need your information presented in a context and it needs to be complete.

Don’t expect me to ask questions about something that I don’t know.  You know your product and you need to be able to communicate with me in my language. So I need your help.

I do expect you to have any material that you present be in standard American English.  I don’t expect you to speak perfect English but I need to be able to understand you.  If you need a translator then you need to provide it.  I don’t think you want one of my employees who studied Spanish in school and drank rum or tequila drinks on a beach in the Caribbean to be your translator.

As an American, I expect information to flow freely to me.  When you hold something back or I find out something later that I thought I should have known. I feel one of two ways, I am suspicious of your motives or I think you don’t know what you’re doing.

I’ve done business in around 40 countries but I really don’t know much about Argentina and so you will need to explain a little bit about your country and I want to learn.  I know there are the positives of doing business with you and I want you to get that point across but there is one factor that is more important than anything else.  I only deal with honest people. It makes my buying decisions much easier.  You just won’t get another chance if you don’t deliver what you promise.

I’ve heard about the government and the economy but I’m a business man.  I’m willing to buy a good product for a fair price.

I will do my research on you before we meet so I will expect to find you on LinkedIn with a profile in proper English.  I will expect some information on your website.  If you only have a Spanish website, I’ll let the browser do the translation but you never know what I will get that way.  I can tell you that in Hong Kong, Singapore and many other countries I will not only have websites in English but a lot of information for me.

I know enough about international business and dealing with business people around the globe to know that cultures are different.  I know that things like jokes and stories don’t always translate well so I personally avoid them.  I don’t like to confuse matters by being misunderstood by a joke and I certainly don’t want to explain a joke fearing that I mistaken the lack of laughing for misunderstanding the punch line.

Time is important to me.  I like to use it well and expect others to do so too.  I have a lot of people who make demands on my time.  Face to face meetings are so productive that I don’t want to have them be wasted.  I like a meeting agenda ahead of a meeting and I will come prepared and I expect that you will too.  I like to concentrate face to face meetings at places where I have meetings anyway.  International trade shows and conferences when I attend are places I can do this.

By the way, sometimes the easiest and most relaxed time to meet with me is at breakfast and it’s best before 8. I can take time with you not distracted by others in my com palm texting or calling me.  On occasion, I’ll have a business dinner but I coach my kids sports teams and have family activities after 6 so evenings are scheduled for me and I like to be in bed by 10.  Golf is good for those who play well but I don’t play.

Are you believable?

Will you really do what you say you will?  How would I know?  That’s why I expect that you have customer references. You are certified in quality standards and you belong to US and International industry and Professional groups.  It doesn’t matter where you are in the world; you only have one chance to make a good impression.  I may be dressed casual but I’m always impressed by someone who is dressed to sell.

How much do you really know about the US?

Do you know that there are at least 4 geographic markets in the US?  There are two that most people know and they still put them together.  There is the West Coast or Left Coast as we call it.  It’s fast paced but casual.  High tech but also Hollywood.  It’s where everyone from around the world takes their idea and their movie script to sell it.  Competition is fierce. Making a splash is nothing unusual.  It’s on a big ocean and people do it every day.  Money flows in and out easily until there isn’t anymore and then it crashes.

Then there’s the East Coast.  It’s traditional.  Money has been there a long time and they want to keep it that way.  They don’t give it up easily.  They are skeptical of everyone, even people they grew up with.  You can imagine how important it is to be credible.  There are more people squeezed into the land between Philadelphia and Boston than there are in Argentina.  That distance is 100 kilometers less than from Cordoba to Buenos Aires. And know your baseball teams.  Don’t wear that baseball cap you bought at Yankee stadium in Boston.

Moving along to the South.  They haven’t had money since the 1800’s.  There are pockets of wealth like Atlanta, Miami and Dallas.  Overall, it’s conservative but it’s changing.  People are moving in but people are still paid less and the infrastructure isn’t as good as other parts of the country.  People don’t part with money easily and especially not for products that don’t look like they are from home.  It’s the headquarters of Walmart, where  the company slogan is “Always the low price. Always.”

And then there’s the Midwest.  In the Midwest, there are two natural resources.  One is land and the other is people.  Both are becoming more scarce and therefore more valuable.  The land of 12 states is one fourth the size of Argentina and there 67 million people.  The largest city is Chicago.  It’s a world class city that considers itself in a league with Buenos Aires.  One hundred dollars will buy what 160 dollars buys in New York City.  The second largest city is 2 million people.  It’s Indianapolis and is a lot like Cordoba.

Energy production– wind, biofuels and oil and natural gas is the new industry in the Midwest.  Agriculture is changing from old to new to feed the world and manufacturing is finding its way in a new global market.  And what about the money?  The money is here.  It’s stable.  Midwesterners like to pay cash and they like to own what they buy, not borrow to pay for it.  They have experience taping into the east and west coast and once you are partners, they will take you with them.  You may just want to take a look.

So what’s the place where people are the wealthiest?  It’s in the Midwest.  It’s in fact Des Moines Iowa.

Here’s a video that makes that point.

So things are not always as they seem.  Sometimes unlikely places have more potential than at first glance.

For more information check out Doug Lewis’ presentation on Slideshare.

Doug Lewis is a Manager of Inside Sales and Business Development for Santex.  Throughout his career, Doug has developed high value sales and business relationships for companies seeking international markets.   Prior to joining Santex in 2012, Doug was with the Iowa Department of Economic Development  where he worked in the Innovation and Commercialization Division in entrepreneurial development. He was program Manager for the Iowa Demonstration fund which helps companies commercialize innovative products in three targeted industry sectors– Advanced Manufacturing, BioScience and Information Technology. Over 100 companies received close to $12 million in state funding to launch new, innovative products.