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For an industry that invests trillions of dollars in assets every year, the reluctance of global alternative asset management professionals to work with modern tech tools can seem ironic to the uninitiated. First, consider the size of the industry – McKinsey recently pegged the global private investments industry – consisting of private equity (which includes venture capital), private debt and real estate among other alternative asset classes – to be bigger than India’s economy. In 2023, a record-breaking $3.5 Trillion were deployed into various asset classes, while total assets under management (AUM) grew to an all-time high of $9.8 Trillion.

There are several reasons why fund or asset managers insist on sticking to the bare minimum use of tech in their day-to-day work. First, private investment management remains a highly relationship-driven industry and the prospect of quality ‘deal flow’, which in industry parlance refers to the rate of incoming investment opportunities, depends almost entirely upon the personal contacts of the investors, and is typically kept a secret from peers.

This is why a significant majority of professionals have a strong reluctance to upload and share data, which invariably includes personal identifiable information (PII), on a common software platform where it can be seen and copied by their peers.

Additionally, unlike in other industries where digitalization or digital transformation is frequently a top-down decision taken by the senior leadership, the latter’s peers at majority of private investment funds take a lot of pride in their ability to find and swing deals completely at a personal level. Naturally, they have little time and patience for software that they need to learn before they can use it, when the conventional way of working is working ‘just fine’.

The reluctance of employees or end-users to learn new ways of doing the same work, especially when the existing way is not seen as broken, is a common phenomenon that most businesses encounter when executing their digitalization strategies. It can be a challenge to convince end-users that investing time and effort in learning new software will be rewarding in the long run not only for them, but for the organization as well.

There are some concerns on the technology end as well. A majority of software promising asset or deal flow management address only one or two aspects of the entire deal process, which unfortunately has the side effect of making it more cumbersome to use them as data needs to flow both in and out. Additionally, several of these software tools are designed with little understanding of how the investment industry actually works, creating further barriers in their wider adoption. Contrast this with comprehensive and workflow management platforms available for most other industries that seamlessly integrate all processes end-to-end.

To overcome these limitations, several large VC or PE funds have invested millions of dollars in developing their own deal-flow management platforms. However, under the larger umbrella of the global private investment industry, a vast majority of firms in PE, real estate and other segments are still far from embracing modern tech tools.

Fortunately, a handful of technology startups have in recent years started paying heed to the unique and specific needs of the private investments or alternative asset management industry to create and offer tools purpose made to overcome the cultural and other barriers we have noted above. Companies like Equipped AI are in fact borne out of the alternative asset management industry and are thus able to design and develop software that is much more intuitive and yet powerful than available from other tech companies.

By using a data-driven approach for managing assets and taking decisions on them, asset managers can not only identify relevant deals or opportunities early on, but also ensure that no time is wasted on ill-fit opportunities and when an investment is made, any and all red-flags are squared off beforehand.

Finally, digitization has the potential to increase the closing probability of difficult deals by a huge margin. Access to actionable insights into all available deals in the market helps investors make strong offers and can have the effect of reducing the time taken to close a deal from several weeks to days.


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The Importance Of Critical Thinking In Project Management

Critical thinking is one of the most important skills for project managers to possess. It involves analyzing information and making decisions based on evidence rather than intuition or opinion. Project managers need to be able to assess a situation, evaluate possible solutions, and then make an informed decision about how best to move forward.

Critical thinking helps project managers identify potential risks and opportunities within their projects, as well as identify areas that need improvement or additional resources.

Additionally, it allows them to think critically about ways to handle conflicts in order to reach successful outcomes more quickly and efficiently. In short, critical thinking enables project managers to make better decisions which can lead to improved results for their projects.

Importance of Critical Thinking in Project Management Critical thinking as a problem-solving tool

By using critical thinking, project managers can identify and analyze potential problems or risks before they occur, anticipate customer needs, and develop creative solutions to ensure the success of the project. It also helps them to stay focused on the big picture while managing individual tasks along the way.

With critical thinking skills, a project manager can assess different scenarios and come up with better strategies for achieving desired outcomes than simply following a standard plan. Additionally, it allows project managers to think strategically about how resources are allocated in order to get maximum results from limited resources.

Finally, by being aware of any potential issues that could arise during a project’s implementation phase, critical thinkers will be able to react quickly when necessary and take corrective action where needed.

Critical thinking as a decision-making tool

Critical thinking has the ability to assess and analyze a situation from multiple perspectives, allowing project managers to identify possible solutions that may have previously been overlooked. It also increases the chances of making informed decisions that are in line with stakeholders’ expectations and objectives.

Project managers who use critical thinking skills can make more efficient decisions by considering all aspects of a problem before choosing a course of action. This helps them avoid costly mistakes, as well as maximize the value they bring to their organizations through successful projects.

Furthermore, critical thinking enables project managers to be proactive rather than reactive when dealing with issues; this allows them to anticipate potential problems and take appropriate steps ahead of time instead of reacting after it is too late.

Critical thinking as a risk management tool

Critical thinking helps minimize errors by providing more insight into how specific tasks may be completed in the most efficient manner possible. By encouraging creativity and looking at problems from different perspectives, project managers can identify opportunities for improvement before they become major issues.

Overall, leveraging critical thinking as part of any risk management strategy increases the chances of successful completion while minimizing costs and avoiding unnecessary delays.

Examples of Critical Thinking in Project Management Identifying and defining project goals

A key element of successful project management is to identify and clearly define the desired outcome of the project. This includes setting realistic goals, including cost estimations for completion, and establishing a timeline for completion.

Once these goals are established, it is important to monitor progress against those milestones in order to ensure that the project remains on track and within budget.

Additionally, breaking down a large task into smaller pieces or steps allows you to focus your critical thinking skills on addressing each individual piece with an eye toward identifying potential risks or challenges that may arise along the way. With this kind of clear vision of where you want your project to go, you can make sound decisions about how best to proceed in order to achieve success!

Analyzing data and making informed decisions

Critical thinking helps project managers to weigh their options when making decisions and ensure that the chosen path is the most efficient one for all stakeholders involved. Project managers must use critical thinking to assess current resources, identify potential risks, and consider alternative solutions in order to make the best decision for a successful outcome.

The ability to think critically can be invaluable when setting up timelines, cost projections, and other details of a project as well as minimizing any possible errors or oversights during its execution.

Additionally, being able to evaluate data efficiently can help project managers determine where they should invest their time and energy in order to maximize results while maintaining quality throughout the process.

Strategies for Developing Critical Thinking Skills in Project Management Asking questions

Asking questions is one of the most important strategies for developing critical thinking skills in project management. Asking questions allows you to further understand the subject and obtain a better understanding of it by exploring different angles and perspectives.

Additionally, asking questions encourages dialogue between team members which can help foster collaboration and creative solutions to difficult problems.

Seeking diverse perspectives

Another strategy for developing critical thinking skills in project management is Gathering Information from Multiple Sources. This involves researching information from multiple sources such as books, websites, news articles, industry experts, etc. so that a more comprehensive viewpoint on an issue can be developed before acting upon it.

By gathering information from multiple sources, project managers are able to consider all data points when making decisions rather than relying solely on their own opinion or experiences which could lead to biased judgment calls and inadequate problem-solving methods down the road.

Challenging assumptions

Project managers must challenge the assumptions they make in order to seek creative solutions that may not be immediately obvious. By questioning why something is done a certain way, project managers can identify opportunities for improvement or uncover potential risks and challenges that need to be addressed before moving forward with any plans.

Another strategy for developing critical thinking skills in project management is brainstorming. Brainstorming sessions are effective tools for exploring all of the possible options available to address a problem or situation, as well as encouraging team members to think outside the box and come up with unique ideas.

Developing a culture of critical thinking

This involves fostering a mindset of asking questions, brainstorming with team members, challenging assumptions, and considering alternative solutions. It’s also important to create an environment that encourages critical thinking by providing feedback on project performance.

Additionally, it is beneficial for managers to encourage team members to take initiative and think outside the box when it comes to project tasks or assignments.

Finally, regularly scheduled meetings that allow for discussion on how projects can be improved are an excellent way to stimulate creative thought processes while simultaneously motivating employees.


The importance of critical thinking in project management is undeniable. It allows project managers to think through various problems and solutions, as well as effectively communicate their thoughts and ideas to stakeholders.

Critical thinking helps ensure that projects are completed on time and within budget while also helping create innovative solutions that meet the needs of all involved parties.

The ability to think critically can be a powerful tool when deciding how best to manage a project, so it’s important for project managers to hone their skills in this area. Doing so will lead to successful outcomes for everyone involved.

Is Water The Next Critical Smart Grid?

Oracle survey indicates the adoption of smart water meter technologies is key to conservation.

In light of periodic energy shortages and costs spikes, HP, Google, IBM and a host of other companies have pushed for the broad adoption of smart grid technology to measure usage, spot trends and help control energy costs. Now water may be the next major resource to get the smart grid treatment.

In a recent survey of more than 300 water utility managers conducted by database giant Oracle (NASDAQ: ORCL), 68 percent said they believe it is critical that water utilities adopt smart meter technologies. At least 36 states are projecting water shortages between now and 2013, according to a statement from Oracle.

Oracle also found most of the 1,200 U.S. consumers it surveyed felt water conservation was important to them. Specifically, 76 percent said they are concerned about the need to conserve water and said their behavior changes were motivated more by a desire to conserve than to reduce water bill costs. Seventy-one percent said having access to more detailed information about their water consumption would be a key factor in helping motivate their conservation.

IT analyst Charles King said he’s not surprised Oracle would promote smart meter adoption for the water industry. “Someone on the back end has to crunch all the data, and now that Oracle has Sun it can make the case they have a hardware/software solution. IBM (NYSE: IBM) has been promoting the same thing,” King, principal analyst with Pund-IT, told chúng tôi “Whether you’re talking about electricity or water or some other utility, it’s an enormously distributed, complex network of data.”

How about smart pricing?

“Water is priced so inexpensively, you can meter it all you want but without pricing intelligence there won’t be any conservation,” Wesoff added. That may explain why, in the Oracle survey, most consumers said cost-saving wasn’t a prime motivation for them.

Wesoff suggests residential water should have a baseline price; X amount for the first few hundred gallons a week, for example, and then priced higher for anything beyond that to encourage conservation. Detailed information on use, such as a smart meter, would be more effective if consumers are faced with specific pain points, such as higher costs, said Wesoff.

On the electricity savings side – a big issue for both consumers and IT – Google’s philanthropic arm, chúng tôi has developed a Web-based metering service called PowerMeter it hopes will be adopted by utilities and device manufacturers.

“Smart grid and smart metering has received a lot of buzz in recent months — with electric utilities receiving most of the spotlight. However, water utilities also face aging infrastructures, sustainability challenges and customer demand for better service,” said Stephan Scholl, senior vice president and general manager of Oracle Utilities in a statement.

“Oracle’s ‘Testing the Water’ report indicates that while water utilities realize that smart meter technologies can have a big impact on their business, there is a greater need to focus on consumer education and communication,” Scholl added.

Alisa Mann, customer services manager for the Las Vegas Valley Water District, said Oracle’s report shows the challenges and benefits of implementing smart meter technologies.

“…we have learned that providing consumers with useful information about conservation really does drive behavior change,” Mann said in a statement.

David Needle is the West Coast bureau chief at chúng tôi the news service of chúng tôi the network for technology professionals.

Is Effective Desktop Management Possible?

I have been in the technology business more years than I am willing to admit. However, I will say I do long for the good ol’ days when all one had to worry about were the 3270 green-screen terminals in the accounting department.

Up until a couple of years ago, I was able to dodge the bullet and steer clear of the desktop arena. Then came that fateful day in October when I was summoned into the corner office.

Seems that while I was relaxing on my fishing trip the week before, our Desktop Services Manager decided to go in search of bigger and better things… outside the company. My boss, being the good person that he is, decided it would be a good idea for yours truly to absorb the Desktop Services department. Needless to say I was ”ecstatic”.

Or maybe the proper term is ”in a state of panic”.

Assess the Situation

After I was back within the safe confines of my office and regained my composure, I began to review the real issues associated with desktop management. After carefully assessing the situation and spending time with my desktop support team, I determined there were five major categories I must tackle. These included Asset Management, Software Management, Operating System (OS) Management, Anti-Virus updates and break/fix or Desk Side support. These issues are not new and are not associated with any particular company. As a matter of fact these issues are common to almost every enterprise.

Quantify What You Must Manage

In regard to asset management, I needed the ability to track an asset from the time it arrived on my receiving dock until such time that it was to be retired. I also needed to be able to track software license compliance and be able to determine if end users were violating company policy by downloading or installing software on their own. The biggest challenge was to be able to quickly deploy OS and anti-virus updates.

The easiest of the five categories, it turns out, was Desk Side Support as I had an outstanding technical team and a very good system, Clientele, to log and track support calls as well as service histories. At least I had something to start with.

Identify Automated Systems

To address the remainder of the issues, I needed a common management platform that would help my team tame this herd of cats I had just inherited. Also, the system must be easy to use and have the ability to communicate with other business systems using Application Program Interfaces (API).

Of course, there are a number of products in the marketplace that address each of these issues, however, there are not many that address them all. So rather than implement a number of systems and link them together, or worse, develop a in-house solution, I decided that the first criteria would be a tool that would handle all of my requirements, excluding a system to manage desk side support, which I already had in place.

There exist a number of systems including Altiris, Unicenter, and Marimba, all of which are great products, each with its particular strong points. At the end of the day, I decided on CA’s Unicenter product mainly because the product has been around a long time and has matured nicely. Equally important, Unicenter fit in quite well with our existing business processes.

Is Tiktok For Sale? New Oracle Deal Confirmed

TikTok is reported to not be for sale, neither to Microsoft or to Oracle. Chinese regulatory issues may block any sale that includes TikTok’s technology. Yet Oracle did confirm today that a deal is happening.

According to a press release:

“Oracle confirms Secretary Mnuchin’s statement that it is part of the proposal submitted by ByteDance to the Treasury Department over the weekend in which Oracle will serve as the trusted technology provider.  Oracle has a 40-year track record providing secure, highly performant technology solutions.”

The report on an Oracle deal is that Oracle will be in charge of TikTok’s U.S. data.

But another report from China says no outright sale is happening.

TikTok Will Not Sell

According to reports from the China Global Television Network, unnamed sources confirmed that TikTok will not be selling it’s United States business or it’s technology to any United States business.

The news comes literally a day before the September 15 TikTok ban deadline set by the White House executive order to begin identifying ways to ban “transactions” with ByteDance.

TikTok Acts to Remain Independent

Recent activities on the part of TikTok indicates that it may be proceeding with a strategy to not sell the United States operations.

TikTok Sues United States Government

TikTok is suing the United States government to keep things as they are.

According to TikTok, the United States government already knows that TikTok shields user privacy and information against the Chinese government.

TikTok passed national security scrutiny as part of its acquisition of

United States Government Previously Approved TikTok

The United States government gave TikTok approval for its privacy and data security.

“These actions were made known to the U.S. government during a recent U.S. national security review of ByteDance’s 2023 acquisition of a China-based company,

As part of that review, Plaintiffs provided voluminous documentation to the U.S. government documenting TikTok’s security practices and made commitments that were more than sufficient to address any conceivable U.S. government privacy or national security concerns…”

According to TikTok:

“”The executive order seeks to ban TikTok purportedly because of the speculative possibility that the application could be manipulated by the Chinese government.

But, as the U.S. government is well aware, Plaintiffs have taken extraordinary measures to protect the privacy and security of TikTok’s U.S. user data, including by having TikTok store such data outside of China (in the United States and Singapore) and by erecting software barriers that help ensure that TikTok stores its U.S. user data separately from the user data of other ByteDance products.”

The lawsuit is strong evidence that TikTok seeks to defeat any ban and to remain operating as it has in the past.

TikTok Transparency Hub

TikTok publishes a Transparency Hub that details everything TikTok does to ensure user safety and protect user privacy.

According to TikTok:

“Our virtual experience shows visitors how we store TikTok user data in the US and safeguard that data from hackers and other threats with encryption and the latest technology.

We also detail how we work with industry-leading third party experts – the same ones used by the federal government – to test and validate our security processes.”

Chinese Government Blocks TikTok Sale to United States

The Chinese government has stepped in to effectively block or at least slow down a sale to any United States business entity.

At the end of August, China’s Ministry of Commerce and the Ministry of Science and Technology issued prohibitions and regulations on sales of specific technologies.

New Chinese government prohibitions against the export of AI and push technology effectively slows down a sale of TikTok’s United States prohibitions.

In order to proceed, TikTok would first have to obtain a license from the Chinese government. Without that license, it may be impossible to proceed with any sale.

According to the reports:

“”The newly-added article 21 over ‘personalized information push service technology based on data analysis’ and article 18 about ‘artificial intelligence interactive interface technology’ may have something to do with ByteDance,” Cui noted.

“If ByteDance plans to export related technologies, it should go through the approval procedures… it is recommended that ByteDance… carefully consider whether it is necessary to suspend the substantive negotiation of related transactions before performing the statutory declaration procedures…”

The Future of TikTok

Reviewing the actions taken by TikTok to remain in the United States plus the actions of the Chinese government to stop or at least slow down a sale, it appears that no sale was going to happen in the short term.

A sale to a United States entity may still occur.

But TikTok has previously passed security reviews during it’s acquisition of chúng tôi It remains to be seen if TikTok will be able to successfully litigate its way out of a banning or given a chance to prove that user privacy and information is shielded from Chinese government entities.

Given the well-documented security and privacy measures already in place, TikTok believes it may be able to punch its way out of the corner it’s been backed into by the governments in China and the United States.


Oracle Confirms a Deal with TikTok

Chinese Government Updates Technology Export Rules

TikTok Transparency Hub

White House Executive Order on TikTok

Pov: Iran Nuclear Accord Is A Good Deal

POV: Iran Nuclear Accord Is a Good Deal Critics of agreement miss the lessons of history

Strip away all the rhetoric, and the November 23 agreement with the Islamic Republic of Iran over its nuclear program emerges as an exercise in realism. It recognizes that three decades of enmity and distrust will not be erased overnight, nor can the knowledge of how to make a nuclear weapon be destroyed. This interim agreement represents a first step in verifiably ensuring that Iran’s nuclear program can be strictly limited to peaceful purposes. It is definitely a path worth pursuing.

The outlines of the agreement are simple: in return for a six-month halt to certain construction and enrichment activities, conversion and dilution of an existing 20 percent of enriched uranium stocks, and intrusive inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United States and other powers will offer limited relief from crippling sanctions on Iran’s economy. In essence, it deprives Iran of the opportunity to readily further enrich uranium to levels of purity necessary for nuclear weapons. Over the course of this six-month agreement, the sides will explore the possibility of a comprehensive pact that will ensure Iran’s nuclear program is limited to civilian purposes and that treats Iran as any other signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty. If, during the next six months, it becomes clear that the Iranians are cheating or trying to hide a military program, then the sanctions can be reimposed immediately and further steps considered. It is worth highlighting that the Iranians made this agreement not just with the United States and its European allies, but also with the Russians and the Chinese. The Iranians would have to weigh the costs of crossing its most sympathetic global powers by failing to live up to the agreement.

Far from being the “historic mistake” that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu contends, the accord is the first step toward a goal that we all claim to share: an Iran that does not pose a nuclear threat to our friends and allies. There are those, including in the US Congress, who argue that harsh sanctions have brought Iran to the bargaining table and that ratcheting up the pressure even further will bring Tehran to its knees. And therein lies the problem: if Iran concludes that the real aim of sanctions is not the nuclear program, but the destroying of the regime itself, then the incentives to develop the bomb regardless of the costs are quite compelling. The point of sanctions was to bring Iran to the table: that strategy has succeeded. Let’s see what we can accomplish with further negotiations, remembering that people (and governments) with their backs to the wall tend to lash out unpredictably.

The same arguments apply to the military option, with even more force. Those who argue for “surgical strikes” ignore the old military adage that the enemy has a vote in the outcome. They assume that the Iranians will play by our rules. Nothing in recent history suggests that will be the case, and the last 10 years should have taught us something about the costs and dangers of asymmetrical warfare. Unless military action completely destroys the Iranian nuclear infrastructure and wipes out its ruling class and scientists, the Iranians will come to the one logical conclusion available: getting the bomb is their only defense against future military action.

We cannot be blind to the nature of the Iranian regime. We have many issues with them besides the potential of nuclear weapons. But this is not about trusting or liking the Iranians. It is about seeing if we can negotiate a verifiable agreement to move Iran away from acquiring nuclear weapons. It is time to have trust in our abilities, and to remember the words of President Kennedy: “We will never negotiate from fear, but we will never fear to negotiate.”

Robert Loftis, a College of Arts & Sciences professor of international relations and a former US ambassador to Lesotho, can be reached at [email protected].

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