The last months I reserved some time to study for the so-called PMP exam. PMP stands for Project Manager Professional, which is an official certification delivered by the Project Management Institute (PMI).
And I succeeded. Last Friday, May 4, I passed the exam successfully, and I am feeling very proud.
The Project Management Institute (PMI) offers a professional credential for project managers, known as the Project Management Professional (PMP)®.
The Project Management Professional (PMP)® is the most important industry-recognized certification for project managers. You can find PMPs leading projects in nearly every country and, unlike other certifications that focus on a particular geography or domain, the PMP® is truly global.
The core of the study is based on the Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) version 6, validated since end 2017. This book has over 700 pages of text, formulas and images, describing the various processes and knowledge areas of projects.
The exam rules of the PMP are outlined in the PMP Examination Content Outline, of which the main knowledge areas are:
Monitoring and Controlling
The official exam has 200 questions, of which 175 are taken into the score. The time available for the 200 questions is 4 hours. My results overall were ‘above target’, which, as said above, makes me very proud.
As you may have noticed, I started developing a new business, called ‘CFO meets CIO’. This new business is focused on helping CFO’s and CIO’s to realise their goals by connecting them together and to give them pro-active and dedicated support.
To make this happen, I had to design and develop a various number of elements such as creating my website, creating my first e-book, making stunning e-mails, and getting noticed by my target customers (CFO’s and CIO’s).
This post might be helpful for everyone who wants to start a business or activity.
And I followed specific training to become even more dynamic.
This article shows some main insights how this was done. If you wish to have more information on these tools, please contact me on email@example.com so I can give further advice.
Wix is in the basis a powerful technology to create a professional and functional web presence. Wix is an established player since many years and has been developed from a basic website creator to a full-fledged professional CMS (Content Management System).
You can use Wix in 2 flavours: one way is to create a standard template based website with quite good functionalities. The other option, which I used, is to create the website from ‘scratch’ to be able to add all kinds of functionalities for both mobile and web formats.
As with other modern website creation platforms, you can add news, blogs, events and e-mails, which I all incorporated into my new website. Since end of 2017, Wix has also introduced programming code you can add to websites for better control.
What I found good with Wix:
Many options available with professional look and feel
Easy to use for mobile and browser options
Easy to link to my created domain
What could be improved by Wix:
Slow: As the website is stored at Wix, I think the website could respond faster.
Publish button is too ‘dangerous’ to the save button.
Still some errors on mobile after saving the website.
I pay less than 100 USD a year for Wix (next to the costs to manage my new domain). Not a lot of money, but I spent some days to build it …
Apple’s iBooks Author
The Apple iBooks Author solution is in the basis a Mac and iOS based tool. It is targeted to be used to create modern e-book’s, but it also saves to PDF. I found the learning curve quite steep, as I wanted to know all functions.
To write an e-book, this is a much better tool than Word combined with PowerPoint, and it is free (always good for a Dutch guy). There are professional tools (from Adobe for example) which are probably better, but more expensive.
What I found good with Apple’s iBooks Author:
Many options available with professional look and feel
Automatic updates of texts and menus
Easy to make PDF
What could be improved by Apple:
PDF generation does not allow clicking on the menu management
Templates are not freely changeable. If you choose for portrait, you can not change back …
Limited functionalities overall compared to other tools.
Apple’s iBooks Author is free (included with a Mac). New announcements on the tool were made last week by Apple, so we may expect new features soon.
MailChimp is a large marketing automation platform. You can build lists and events with automatic e-mails. Those of you who downloaded my free e-book have seen how this works: after it is made, I have no work at all, and e-mail addresses are coming in.
I use here also the free version with limited functionalities of course. I mainly used until now their signup form functionalities.
What I found good with MailChimp:
And it works well !
What I found not so good on MailChimp:
Not all templates could be modified as much as I wished.
The buttons can not be placed yet centrally in the forms.
Other tools and training
To promote further my new business activities as part of designing my communication plan for my e-book, I use the following solutions:
FaceBook: I added a company page for CFO meets CIO (see link here).
Twitter: I created a specific profile for CFO Meets CIO (see link here).
WordPress : I also update regularly my personal blog ‘Doing nothing? Not my style‘ (see link here).
I also follow regular training on communication, video’s, websites, networking made by the Business Boost Event team: Greet Bunnens and Karina Urbina. A fantastic support by these 2 ladies for all kind of topics when developing and designing your business. They organise regular events with entrepreneurs, especially in Belgium.
Since using the above tools, I got a much better feeling for designing and developing my new (or any) business. If you need more information on this, or on the CFO meets CIO initiative, just contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This blogpost describes a list of Digital subjects which I think will become important and visible in 2018. It contains an overview of various IT and Digital related trends I see coming to the surface in 2018 and which will for sure change our life in the coming years.
The below list is based on elements I read, discovered and discussed over the last weeks and months with impacts on private people and businesses. It is no way a full list – I highlight some of the most obvious.
Becoming “Digital” is not an option anymore: it is there and it is mandatory. To get there, and to involve everyone, that’s a different story. That is why I do not use the words ‘Digital Transformation’, ‘Digital Revolution’ etcetera, as they indicate to me the path to get to be more Digital. Not always easy, I know, but it is not a target in itself.
So what are the elements which may come to your eyes these days, and where will you see this? It has become a longer list than I originally thought, but Ok, let’s start. By the way, I refer often to Wikipedia explanations and hyperlinks are included for further reading.
Augmented reality (AR) is a live direct or indirect view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are “augmented” by computer-generated perceptual information. You will use it to add or delete real things and replace them by digital representations of your choice.
The list of possible applications is long: think of architecture, design, medical, military or tourism. Several hundreds of “apps” are available already.
Latest examples are Ikea (showing your furniture) and some very exciting games.
Many exciting things to come in 2018/2019.
Artificial intelligence (AI), is intelligence displayed by machines, in contrast with the natural intelligence (NI) displayed by humans (or animals). Intelligence can be described here as a device that perceives its environment and takes actions that maximise its chance of success at some goals.
In fact, machines are learning based on their actions and tasks, so often we also speak in this matter on ‘Machine Learning’.
AI is not new, but it becomes more and more visible: the latest examples could be seen in January 2018 at the yearly Computer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, with more and more autonomous driving cars.
Further elements can be expected in HealthCare, Finance or in your House (intelligent fridges for example).
Machine learningis a field of computer science that gives computers the ability to learn without being explicitly programmed. This is closely linked to AI.
The latest example I saw this month is that Google is opening its Google Cloud Machine Learning Engine. Companies and Business can use Google Power to create models for analysing and predicting all sorts of data, such as predicting weather, credit scores, or other.
A blockchain is a digital ledger in which transactions made in bitcoin or another cryptocurrency are recorded chronologically. It is in fact a continuously growing list of records, called blocks, which are linked and secured using cryptography.
Blockchains are secure by design and are examples of distributed computing systems with high Byzantine fault tolerance. Decentralised consensus has therefore been achieved with a blockchain.
One of the most known is off course the Bitcoin, the first cryptocurrency (a cryptocurrency is a digital asset designed to work as a medium of exchange that uses cryptography to secure its transactions).
Another well know cryptocurrency is Ether, with its own blockchain called Ethereum. Ethereum was proposed in late 2013, and the Ethereum ‘language’ is now being included in several other software solutions.
Various courses to train you into BitCoin or Ethereum exist. I followed a first introduction lately given by Sebastien Arbogast from ChainSkills, and distributed online via their Udemy Online Courses.
The blockchain is first of all a technical solution to deliver to everyone the same view, ensuring that nothing could be modified, without a 3rd part acting as a trusted partner. As an example: today we all use notaries to ensure that he property of our house is well noted, and that someone can not sell his/her house twice. With blockchain, everyone can check the technical validity of such transactions.
Blockchain technology is much more complicated than that, so please have a look to other websites for details, such as smart contracts. Banks, consulting firms, insurances and governments are all looking into this technology. Real world higher visibility, outside bitcoin, can be expected in 2018 and 2019.
The Internet of things (IoT) is the network of physical devices, vehicles, home appliances and other items embedded with electronics, software, sensors, actuators, and network connectivity which enables these objects to connect and exchange data.
This is not new. IoT is a buzzword for several years now, and it still has to kick off on a large scale for public usage.
For 2018, the most interesting thing I see happening is the rollout of SigFox. This is a French company founded in 2009 that builds wireless networks to connect low-energy objects such as electricity meters, smartwatches, and washing machines, which need to be continuously on and emitting small amounts of data. They partnered with many local an international companies (in Belgium with Engie for example) and covered already a large part of Europe and rolling out the US and other continents. I am confident that this will become a big thing in 2018 or 2019.
Companies and Business topics
DevOps (“development” and “operations”) is a software engineering culture and practice that aims at unifying software development (Dev) and software operation (Ops).
The main characteristic of the DevOps movement is to strongly advocate automation and monitoring at all steps of software construction, from integration, testing, releasing to deployment and infrastructure management.
DevOps aims at shorter development cycles, increased deployment frequency, more dependable releases, in close alignment with business objectives. Cooperation “Business-IT” is key. This is particularly important in the current world with regularly updated “Apps”.
IBM has created an interesting document “DevOps for dummies“. You must register to download the e-book.
Continuous delivery (CD) is an increasing visible software engineering approach in which teams produce software in short cycles, ensuring that the software can be reliably released at any time.
This is often related to a structured DevOps organisation, but DevOps is much broader.
Continuous delivery is different than continuous deployment. Continuous deployment means that every change is automatically deployed to production. Continuous delivery means that the team ensures every change can be deployed to production but may choose not to do it, usually due to business reasons.
Specific tools (such as IBM) are on the market to support this operational mode.
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) (Regulation (EU) 2016/679) is a regulation by which the European Parliament, the Council of the European Union and the European Commission intend to strengthen and unify data protection for all individuals within the European Union (EU).
GDPR is the most important change in data privacy regulation in 20 years. The starting date for GDPR is May 25, 2018.
From this date onward, every institution must be able to confirm to any person how and why his personal data is processed. Ane every institution means here any organisation, from a profit-seeking company to a charity or government.
Especially in the world of increased digitalisation where data is stored everywhere and becomes the source of all information, this new rule is highly important to implement.
The Payment Services Directive (PSD, 2007/64/EC) is an EU Directive, administered by the European Commission (Directorate General Internal Market) to regulate payment services and payment service providers throughout the European Union (EU) and European Economic Area (EEA).
On October 8, 2015, the European Parliament adopted the European Commission proposal to create safer and more innovative European payments (PSD2). The new rules aim to better protect consumers when they pay online, promote the development and use of innovative online and mobile payments such as through open banking, and make cross-border European payment services safer.
PSD2 will break down the banks monopoly on their user’s data. It will allow ‘merchants’, businesses like Amazon, to retrieve your account data from your bank – with your permission. That means when you buy something they can make a payment for you, without having to redirect you to another service (like PayPal or Visa).
For consumers who hold more than one bank account, the changes would also allow businesses, known in the legislation as Account Information Service Providers, to display all their account information in one place for them. Attention however to data ownership (see also GDPR).
Banks are currently still struggling to find the business model. I expect to see a lot happening from mid 2018 onwards, and impacting many customers in the way that manage their digital bank relationships.
For some of us
Smart speakers and personal assistants are coming to us in full speed. Next to the existing Google Home and Amazon Echo products (both companies showed further products at the CES), also Apple will launch its own new product, called Apple HomePod, in a few days (Feb 9 in some countries).
At Apple, it starts with Music and the Siri assistant, but this will grow to further integration in your home in the coming future. Important in 2018 !
Prices vary from 50 EUR at Amazon to 350 EUR at Apple, depending on size, functionalities and quality.
What3words is a geocoding system for the communication of locations with a resolution of three metres. What3words encodes geographic coordinates into three dictionary words. For example, the torch of the Statue of Liberty is located at “toned.melt.ship”. This differs from most other location encoding systems in that it displays three words rather than long strings of numbers or letters.
It is developed by What3Words, and an announcement was made last week that Mercedes Benz is not just integrating this into their cars, but also invest in this company.
I am pretty sure we will see much more of this company and solution in 2018.
I trust you better understand that many things are happening around “Digital” and you are slightly more knowledgeable now.
If you are young or old, a simple handcrafting company or a highly industrialised company, or whatever you are or do on planet Earth, you must step into the Digital World now. It is our future.
As you may know, my interest for new, interesting and useful technology is large. I had the chance to get a further look into the technology (‘tech’) future the last 2 weeks. As part of my work, I was able to meet earlier this month the future of tech companies in France (via Station F) and a get a glimpse of what is actually happening in Silicon Valley and San Francisco.
As you may know, start-up companies are hot since many years. Several of this companies made it into the top players of their sector, and every day new players enter into this ‘world’.
Station F in Paris
In France, the initiative was taken by Xavier Niel (one of the richest people in France, and the big boss of Free – a large French telecom provider) to launch the biggest startup campus in the world, called Station F. Station F occupies a building designed by French engineer Eugène Freyssinet, originally opened in 1929 as a rail depot, located in Paris 13th district.
The building contains 3,000 desk spaces, private meeting facilities, a 370-seat auditorium and dining facilities open to the public. Big companies, such as MicroSoft and FaceBook, are also having office here to make connections with startup companies easily possible.
Even L’Oreal, a large French cosmetics group, will be present to link real customers with the digital world, such as new apps and Augmented Reality (a hot topic for the coming years), thus opening new opportunities and new markets.
BNP Paribas, a large French Bank, is also strongly present via their partnership with Plug and Play, a global innovation platform supporting startups around the world. BNP Paribas, as a reliable partner to startups, with its own strong innovation culture, will lend its banking expertise to the InsurTechs and FinTech companies.
As part of an innovate project within the BNP Paribas Group, I had the chance to spend this month some time in this vibrating world with many enthusiastic people, from various international startups and BNP Paribas teams, delivering new solutions (such as artificial intelligence or machine learning) for the Bank’s private and corporate customers. I found it difficult not to get excited when walking around in the building and ‘to sense the future‘.
Around the world, several incubation and innovation centres exist. Almost every country has its own centre, while the largest countries do have several or multiple accelerator centres. In almost every case, these centres bring together small companies, offer them ways to meet other companies, and to get funding for growth.
San Francisco and Silicon Valley
These incubation centres exist even more in Silicon Valley, with examples like Y-Combinator, Matter or 500 startups. But there are much more solutions, often founded by people coming themselves from startups with money gained from their previous companies (existing, or sold for a good price).
Last week, I had the chance to spend a few days in Silicon Valley and in San Francisco to see and sense the latest evolutions in the tech world, on both startups and the big companies. I noted down some of my observations.
San Francisco: a lot has been written on this town. Of course, everybody knows the many touristic elements of the city, such as the Golden Gate bridge, or the well-known cable cars. But San Francisco is also housing many important big companies in the CRM, Health, Search, Financial and Solutions world, and takes part in many tech evolutions.
When taking a coffee in the morning in one of the many StarBucks around town, in my eyes San Francisco is still very hot (as the coffee).
As an example, on an early Sunday morning, at a table next to me, in one of these Starbucks, a young person was explaining in detail his technical solution and business plans to a business angel (a private investor). Interesting conversation (even when I tried very much not to listen :-)).
Even with the competition on startups around the world, the city is still highly involved in the traditional business (Banking as an example) and New Businesses (especially the Tech Industries, both hardware and software). Also for example Automattic, the maker of WordPress in which this blog is written in, is located in San Francisco.
San Francisco is also very expensive, especially due to many expats, and due to many people who made fortune in Silicon Valley.
At 1 hour by car or train from San Francisco, Palo Alto, Mountainview or Cupertino are well-known cities. Even when Silicon Valley is already ‘old’, opportunities and ideas are still everywhere, from the university campuses (Stanford for example) to the campuses of the big companies like Google, Facebook or Apple.
The mentioned cities were home to many IT companies, such as Hewlett-Packard and Apple for example. Also Borland, the creator of my so much used Delphi program, was located here. Also Stripe, a very promising and high growing payment solution provider, founded by 2 Irish brothers, is located here.
The Stanford University was, and still is, home to many startup companies. The strong links between the university and the companies helps to create a vibrating environment. Many other universities, with examples like Harvard in the US, or Leuven in Belgium, create and maintain these links as this is a ‘win-win’ situation. Money flows in to study more, and the results of the studies flow back to the companies.
Getting around these days in the Valley is done either by driving with a Tesla, or just using Uber or Lyft. I personally used Uber last week to go the various HQ’s and campuses. I was again impressed by the ease of use of Uber: flexible and without any hassle of payments, so much simpler than renting a car.
Spending some time at Facebook HQ, it was impressive to see the number of young people discussing between them, using all kind of smartphones, tablets and portable PC’s to develop ideas. The number of people walking and driving around was incredible. So much activity.
At Google, it feels more Android than ever. However, as there are so many Google campuses around, it is almost impossible to see what is really going on. On the photo you see little bikes, because everyone was (really !) cycling around between the buildings. It is however difficult to get into the buildings: secrecy is key.
At Apple, I spent some time at their ‘old’ HQ at 1, Infinite Loop in Cupertino. Same feelings again as with Google and Facebook: busy, young people everywhere, vibrating. Many ideas, and high quality. And good marketing of course :-).
I also visited the special Apple Store ‘next door’, where I was given specialised support for my own little company (GPI). Service was really good, including App Store support, showing real interest in what the company was about, my views, and taking my picture :-).
I was just ‘too early’ to see a glimpse of the upcoming iPhone X, which will be commercialised in a few days. Would have been nice.
I also hoped to visit at the inside their new Apple Park: the incredibly newly designed Apple HQ in the form of a spaceship. The cost of the new HQ is more than 4 billion USD, however it creates an impressive message of sustainability, cooperation and continuous evolution. And that is also important.
I was able to see a glimpse of the new HQ outside, and even that was already impressive. Landscaping is still in progress, and finalisation of roads and pavements is ongoing. It will open probably still fully in 2017. Meetings in the new building were, to my regret, not yet possible.
Back in San Francisco later that week, tourists and business people continued to occupy together a large part of the city. On every corner though, I felt the vibes and the future of technology coming. With Tech HQ’s of Twitter, Uber and others in the same streets, combined with the Californian values such sea and surfing, and start-ups and new ideas everywhere, makes this city always feeling special.
Sensing the Tech future in Belgium
Back at home in Belgium, and after such strong impressions on sensing the Tech future the last 2 weeks, the difference between the status of start-ups, business innovations, incubators in Belgium compared to France and the US feels big.
The country, and especially Brussels, Leuven and Gent, do have some incubators, but not yet at sizes seen in the other countries. Banks, investors and Belgian government must be able to put their hands together to offer greater opportunities to our local start-ups.
Some universities have taken initiatives already, and a further innovative Belgian Tech Day is announced for this week in Antwerp. But so much more needs to happen if Belgium wants to be a real part of the Tech future. The environment is ready, and we do have some really good start-ups, so let’s go for it !
No, it is not ‘me too’, but ‘Mi 2’. I decided last week to jump into the fitness tracking world by buying myself a fitness tracker. And it is called the Mi 2 Band, from Xiaomi.
First of all: me doing fitness ? Ehh, yes, because we all get older, and sitting behind my desk writing emails, organise meetings, developing software and typing blogs does apparently not increase my fitness.
But going out for a walk, or biking around Brussels, without any compensation is quite difficult. So I bought myself a fitness tracker. I add my targets, and the first 4 days I managed to reach my goals. Except today, because I released Octyx and wrote this blog.
So what is this fitness tracking business about ? First of all, it is about health tracking. All big companies, Apple included, are jumping on this type of business, because they say, and think, they can predict my future health (and hopefully do not share my data with any pharmaceutical companies).
Already the iPhone today, and other Android phones as well, without you knowing it, measure your sleep and walking data while being in your pocket or next to your bed.
Before buying my fitness tracker, I did some research. Which one would fit best? My first choice of course was to look to the Apple Watch, but, with a price over 350 EUR, in my opinion it is still too expensive for daily usage, even if it brings more than fitness measurements.
I also had a look to the FitBit Charge 2 tracker and similar solutions at Garmin and Misfit. Straightforward heart and fitness trackers, but mostly with prices above 100 Euro.
As I don’t know if such fitness tracking device will really help me moving around more, I found a solution at Xiaomi. As you may know, Xiaomi is sometimes called, the ‘Apple’ from China. Xiaomi is a large company, selling many devices, including smartphones, fitness trackers, and other solutions, sold under the brand name ‘Mi’. Have a look at their website here.
The product I found is called Mi Band 2. They use to sell the original MiBand for less than 15 Euro, and the latest MiBand 2 can be found on some websites in China for less than 20 Euro, but could I trust them? Several Amazon sites also sell them, but impossible to export to Belgium, where I live. So I decided to buy one in Prague at an Alza shop, as I am still regularly in Prague for my work.
The price was about 55 Euro, higher than on most mentioned websites, but at least I got one directly in my hands. At home, unboxed directly, I started first with charging the device. Easy. In the mean time, I downloaded the accompanying app called MiFit from the Apple AppStore (it exists off course also for Android).
Finding the band and syncing was a peace of cake. At its first usage, the Mi Band 2 installed its latest firmware automatically. Data from my Mi Band 2 are visible on the band itself, in the miFit app, and in Apple Health (if you authorise this). Finding the options took some time, as the app is not totally logic.
The miBand 2 tracks my daily steps, tracks my sleep times, and shows my heart rate (via the sensor, but only manual for the moment). And it shows all this in the apps, but also on its little screen. And it shows the time when I want to see it by lifting my hand.
The Mi Band 2 has also options to vibrate for alarms, sms messages, or several other notifications. It has an interesting notification called ‘idle alert’, with vibrates the band when I do not move for 1 hour during the day. I am trying to implement also notifications for my program Octyx and contacted Xiaomi already for this. I got a nice email reply from them, in Chinese language :-), so I am optimistic on the future.
Battery life is said to be several weeks: I use it since 5 days now, and it used 3% only, so it will probably be true.
And now, what do I do with this? I track my sleep (the data show light sleep and deep sleep), I track my heart rate (looks ok), and I walked a bit more than in the last weeks. Yes, indeed I did !
It gives indeed a boost to make me walk and do more. I am not ready yet to share this with friends (which is also an option), but my target is to loose some kilo’s and be even more in shape than before. And, as an IT guy, I will check out the Bluetooth connectivity, the quality of the various apps, and the Xiaomi Mi account which I created on their website.
After a few days, I must say I am quite positive for ‘me too’ for fitness, and on the Mi Band 2. I will keep you updated in the future on this topic.
Hello, this blog is part 5 of the series ‘The Octyx 2016 Story’. See for the overview (part 1), full background and a list all related blogs the link here.
This specific blog describes in more detail the languages I use in Octyx, and what is needed to build them.
Octyx is available in 11 languages: in English, French (Français), Dutch (Nederlands), German (Deutsch), Hungarian (Magyar), Polish (Polski), Czech (Český), Italian (Italiano), Spanish (Español), Portuguese (Português) and in Romanian (Românesc). Real-time change of the language is included in the package.
The languages are made with help of many people. You can see this below. I owe many thanks to all these people.
The Romanian language is new in Octyx 2016, and Simona Sandu from Romania helped me realising this new language. So what had to be done :
Adding all texts which are used in Octyx and Octyx Mobile : these are almost 3000 different records which had to be created
Next to these detailed texts, all help texts had to be created also. You have to think on more than 10 different pages, including the screen with new elements.
And finally, the Octyx system had to be prepared to be able to receive the 11th language. Due to the architecture, this was a quite straightforward task to change a screen, and to open the language to be available.
The user can define or change his language whenever needed. On the mobile version, the language used is the langage chosen in the Windows Octyx version.
The website is currently available in 3 languages: English, French and Dutch. Including all help texts.
Enjoy the Octyx blogs, and take care. Go back here to the overview. Octyx manages your life!