Author: ICE Business Times

BY MAIMUN MUSTAFA

Long gone are the days of simple binary operations as quantum computing is pushing the boundaries of technology as we know it. Contrary to what we have maybe seen in some Ant-man and Avenger Movies, progress in quantum computing by Google has ushered a brave new world as we head into the 4th industrial revolution.

Quantum Quotient
The basic principle of quantum computation is that quantum properties can be used to represent and structure data and that quantum mechanisms can be devised and built to perform operations with this data. While classical computers are based on bits whereas, a quantum computer is based on quantum bits which are better known as qubits. These qubits are physically derived from small quantum objects on an atomic level such as electrons or photons, where a pure quantum mechanical state such as the spin indicates the ones and zeros, which is how processing is done in traditional computers. As a result, the impact of the processing power has gone up multifold.

Contemporary Quantum Computing
A quantum computer is any device for computation that makes direct use of distinctively quantum mechanical phenomena, such as superposition and entanglement, to perform operations on data. Although quantum computing is still in its infancy, experiments have been carried out in which quantum computational operations were executed on a very small number of qubits. Research in both theoretical and applied areas continues at a fast pace, and this attracts funding from the national government and military agencies to support quantum computing research. This technology has developed quantum computers for both civilian and national security purposes, such as cryptanalysis. Large-scale quantum computers may be able to solve certain problems exponentially faster than any of our classical computers.

Bringing in the Edge
Quantum computers are different from other computers such as DNA computers and traditional computers based on transistors. Some computing architectures such as optical computers may use classical superposition of electromagnetic waves, but without some specifically quantum mechanical resources such as entanglement, they have less potential for computational speed-up than quantum computers.

Quantum Threats to Cyber Security
The faster approach of a quantum computer would allow it to break many of the cryptographic systems in use today. In particular, most of the popular public-key cyphers are based on the difficulty of factoring integers, including forms of RSA.

These are used to protect secure web pages, encrypted email, and many other types of data. Breaking these would have significant ramifications for electronic privacy and security. The only way to increase the security of an algorithm like RSA would be to increase the key size and hope that an adversary does not have the resources to build and use a powerful enough quantum computer. It seems plausible that it will always be possible to build classical computers that have more bits than the number of qubits in the largest quantum computer.

The Google Quantum Effort
Google AI has recently launched a research effort that aims to build quantum processors and develop novel quantum algorithms to dramatically accelerate computational tasks for machine learning and, by doing so, just took a quantum leap in computer science. Using the company’s state-of-the-art quantum computer, called Sycamore, Google has claimed a form of “quantum supremacy” over the most powerful supercomputers in the world by solving a problem considered virtually impossible for normal machines. Google’s new machine completed the complex computation in 200 seconds which would have would be taken even the most powerful supercomputers approximately 10,000 years to finish the calculation.

The team of researchers, led by John Martinis, an experimental physicist at the University of California, Santa Barbara, wrote in their published research, “It is likely that the classical simulation time, currently estimated at 10,000 years, will be reduced by improved classical hardware and algorithms,” Brooks Foxen, a graduate student researcher in Martinis’ lab, said in a statement. “But since we are currently 1.5 trillion times faster, we feel comfortable laying claim to this achievement,” he added, referring to the supremacy of quantum computers. Quantum computers can take advantage of the whacky physics of quantum mechanics to solve problems that would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, for classical, semiconductor-based computers to solve. The calculation that Google chose to conquer is the quantum equivalent of generating a very long list of random numbers and checking their values a million times over. The result is a solution not particularly useful outside of the world of quantum mechanics, but it has big implications for the processing power of a device. Ordinary computers perform calculations using “bits” of information, which, like on-and-off switches, can exist in only two states: either 1 or 0. Quantum computers use quantum bits, or “qubits,” which can exist as both 1 and 0 simultaneously. Google’s quantum computer consists of microscopic circuits of superconducting metal that entangle 53 qubits in a complex superposition state. The entangled qubits generate a random number between zero and 253, but due to quantum interference, some random numbers show up more than others. When the computer measures these random numbers millions of times, a pattern arises from their uneven distribution. “For classical computers, it is much more difficult to compute the outcome of these operations, because it requires computing the probability of being in any one of the 253 possible states, where the 53 comes from the number of qubits — the exponential scaling [of states] is why people are interested in quantum computing, to begin with,” Foxen said. Taking advantage of the strange properties of quantum entanglement and superposition, Martinis’ lab-produced this distribution pattern using the Sycamore chip in 200 seconds. On paper, it’s easy to show why a quantum computer could outperform traditional computers. Demonstrating the task in the real world is another story. Whereas classical computers can stack millions of operating bits in their processors, quantum computers struggle to scale the number of qubits they can operate with. Entangled qubits become untangled after short periods and are susceptible to noise and errors. Although this Google achievement is certainly a feat in the world of quantum computing, the field is still in its infancy and practical quantum computers remain far on the horizon, the researchers said.

Quantum Computing and Neven’s Law
In December 2018, scientists at Google AI ran a calculation on Google’s best quantum processor. They were able to reproduce the computation using a regular laptop. Then in January, they ran the same test on an improved version of the quantum chip. This time they had to use a powerful desktop computer to simulate the result. By February, there were no longer any classical computers in the building that could simulate their quantum counterparts. The researchers had to request time on Google’s enormous server network to do that. “Somewhere in February I had to make calls to say, ‘Hey, we need more quota,’” said Hartmut Neven, the director of the Quantum Artificial Intelligence Lab. “We were running jobs comprised of a million processors.” That rapid improvement has led to what’s being called “Neven’s law,” a new kind of rule to describe how quickly quantum computers are gaining on classical ones. The rule began as an in-house observation before Neven mentioned it in May at the Google Quantum Spring Symposium. There, he said that quantum computers are gaining computational power relative to classical ones at a “double exponential” rate—a staggeringly fast clip.
With double exponential growth, “it looks like nothing is happening, nothing is happening, and then whoops, suddenly you’re in a different world,” Neven said. “That’s what we’re experiencing here.” Even exponential growth is pretty fast. It means that some quantity grows by powers of 2: The first few increases might not be that noticeable, but subsequent jumps are massive. Moore’s law, the famous guideline stating (roughly) that computing power doubles every two years, is exponential. Doubly exponential growth is far more dramatic. Instead of increasing by powers of 2, quantities grow by powers of 2: Doubly exponential growth featured in the recent Quanta story “Computer Scientists Expand the Frontiers of Verifiable Knowledge,” where it described the extreme rate at which certain computational problems increase in complexity. Doubly exponential growth is so singular that it’s hard to find examples of it in the real world. The rate of progress in quantum computing may be the first.
The doubly exponential rate at which, according to Neven, quantum computers are gaining on classical ones is a result of two exponential factors combined with each other. The first is that quantum computers have an intrinsic exponential advantage over classical ones: If a quantum circuit has four quantum bits, for example, it takes a classical circuit with 16 ordinary bits to achieve equivalent computational power. This would be true even if quantum technology never improved. The second exponential factor comes from the rapid improvement of quantum processors. Neven says that Google’s best quantum chips have recently been improving at an exponential rate. (This rapid improvement has been driven by a reduction in the error rate in the quantum circuits. Reducing the error rate has allowed the engineers to build larger quantum processors, Neven said.) If classical computers require exponentially more computational power to simulate quantum processors, and those quantum processors are growing exponentially more powerful with time, you end up with this doubly exponential relationship between quantum and classical machines. Not everyone is convinced by this. For one thing, classical computers are not standing still. Ordinary computer chips continue to improve, even if Moore’s law may be ending. In addition, computer scientists constantly devise more efficient algorithms that help classical computers keep pace. “When looking at all the moving parts, including improvements on the classical and quantum sides, it’s hard for me to say it’s doubly exponential,” said Andrew Childs, the co-director of the Joint Center for Quantum Information and Computer Science at the University of Maryland. While the exact rate at which quantum computers are closing in on classical ones might be debatable, there’s no doubt quantum technology is improving, and fast.

“I think the undeniable reality of this progress puts the ball firmly in the court of those who believe scalable quantum computing can’t work,” wrote Scott Aaronson, a computer scientist at the University of Texas, Austin, in an email. “They’re the ones who need to articulate where and why the progress will stop.”

A paramount goal in the field of quantum computing is to perform an efficient quantum calculation that cannot be simulated in any reasonable amount of time on even the most powerful classical computer (currently the Summit supercomputer at Oak Ridge National Laboratory). Among the different research groups developing quantum computers, Google has been particularly vocal about its pursuit of this milestone, known as “quantum supremacy.” So far, quantum supremacy has proved elusive—sometimes seemingly around the corner, but never yet at hand. But if Neven’s law holds, it can’t be far away. Neven wouldn’t say exactly when he anticipates the Google team will achieve quantum supremacy, but he allowed that it could happen soon. “We often say we think we will achieve it in 2019,” Neven said. “The writing is on the wall.” Reprinted with permission from Quanta Magazine, an editorially independent publication of the Simons Foundation whose mission is to enhance public understanding of science by covering research developments and trends in mathematics and the physical and life sciences. (Hartnett, A New “Law” Suggests Quantum Supremacy Could Happen This Year, 2019)

Quantum Leap Forward
Predicting the future is always difficult, but it can be attempted when the product of interest is an insight into current devices that do not span too many orders of magnitude. However, to create a quantum computer that can run complex program like Shor’s algorithm and find the private key in a 1024-bit RSA encrypted message requires building a machine that is more than five orders of magnitude larger and has error rates that are about two orders of magnitude better than current machines in addition to developing the software development environment to support this machine.
The progress required to bridge this gap makes it impossible to project the time frame for a large error-corrected quantum computer, and while significant progress in these areas is commendable, there is no guarantee that all of these challenges will be overcome. The process of bridging this gap might expose unanticipated challenges, require techniques that are not yet invented, or shift owing to new results of foundational scientific research that change our understanding of the quantum world.

Given the unique characteristics and challenges of quantum computers, they are unlikely to be useful as a direct replacement of traditional computers. In fact, they require a number of classical computers to control their operations and carry out computations needed to implement quantum error correction. Thus, they are currently being designed as special-purpose devices operating in a complementary fashion with classical processors, analogous to a co-processor or an accelerator.

In rapidly advancing fields, where there are many unknowns and hard problems, the rate of overall development is set by the ability of the whole community to take advantage of new approaches and insights. Fields where research results are kept secret or proprietary progress much more slowly. Fortunately, many quantum computing researchers have been open about sharing advances to date, and the field will benefit greatly by continuing with this philosophy.

It is also clear that a technology’s progress depends on the resources, both human and capital, devoted to it. Improved technology may generate exponentially increasing revenue, enabling reinvestment in research and development (R&D) and attracting new talent and industries to help innovate and scale the technology to the next level. As with silicon technology, sustained exponential growth for qubits requires an exponentially growing investment, sustaining this investment will likely require a similar virtuous cycle for quantum computers, where smaller machines are commercially successful enough to grow investment in the overall area. In the absence of intermediate success yielding commercial revenue, progress will depend on governmental agencies continuing to increase funding of this effort. Even in this scenario, successful completion of intermediate milestones is likely to be essential.

Going forward with the 4IR
Among the most immediate and profitable uses for quantum computers will be optimization. Ride-sharing apps, like Uber, will be able to locate the fastest route to pick up and drop off as many customers as possible whereas e-commerce giants, like Amazon, the most cost-effective way to deliver billions of packages during the holiday gift-buying rush can be found. These simple questions involve number crunching hundreds to thousands of variables at once, a feat that modern supercomputers just can’t handle. So for a world that is becoming increasingly reliant on data and artificial intelligence, quantum computing may be a Godsend. Similar to the point above, the reason why the weather channel sometimes gets it wrong is that there are too many environmental variables for their supercomputers to process (that and sometimes poor weather data collection). But with a quantum computer, weather scientists can not only forecast near-term weather patterns perfectly, but they can also create more accurate long-term climate assessments to predict the effects of climate change. Personalized medicine. Decoding the DNA and the unique microbiome is crucial for future doctors to prescribe drugs that are perfectly tailored to the body. While traditional supercomputers have made strides in decoding DNA cost-effectively, the microbiome is far beyond their reach—but not so for future quantum computers.

Quantum computers will also allow pharmaceutical companies to better predict how different molecules react with their drugs, thereby significantly speeding up pharmaceutical development and lowering prices. The space telescopes of today (and tomorrow) collect enormous amounts of astrological imagery data each day that tracks the movements of trillions of galaxies, stars, planets, and asteroids. Sadly, this is far too much data for today’s supercomputers to sift through to make meaningful discoveries on a regular basis. However, a mature quantum computer combined with machine-learning, all this data can finally be processed efficiently, opening the door to the discovery of hundreds to thousands of new planets daily by the early-2030s. Similar to the points above, the raw computing power these quantum computers enable will allow scientists and engineers to devise new chemicals and materials, as well as better functioning engines and of course, cooler Christmas toys. Using traditional computers, machine-learning algorithms need a giant amount of curated and labelled examples (big data) to learn new skills. With quantum computing, machine-learning software can begin to learn more like humans, whereby they can pick up new skills using less data, messier data, often with few instructions. This application is also a topic of excitement among researchers in the artificial intelligence (AI) field, as this improved natural learning capacity could accelerate progress in AI research by decades. More on this in our Future of Artificial Intelligence series. Sadly, this is the application that has most researchers and intelligence agencies nervous. All current encryption services depend on creating passwords that would take a modern supercomputer thousands of years to crack; quantum computers could theoretically rip through these encryption keys in under an hour. Banking, communication, national security services, the internet itself depends on reliable encryption to function. (Oh, and forget about the bitcoin as well, given its core dependence on encryption.) If these quantum computers work as advertised, all of these industries will be at risk, at worst endangering the entire world economy until we build quantum encryption to keep pace. Quantum computers will also enable near-perfect, real-time language translation between any two languages, either over a Skype chat or through the use of an audio wearable or implant in your ear. In 20 years, the language will no longer be a barrier to business and everyday interactions. For example, a person who only speaks English can more confidently enter into business relationships with partners in foreign countries where English brands would have otherwise failed to penetrate, and when visiting said foreign countries, this person may even fall in love with a certain somebody who only happens to speak Cantonese.

From time travel to romance, quantum computing surely holds much drama for the future of technology and the universe as we know. The next question to ask is, ‘Ok Google, what’s next for quantum computing’.

About the Quantum Realm

1965
Physicist Richard Feynman, who was involved deeply in the development of the first atomic bomb, proposed significant theories of quantum electrodynamics, a realm concerned with the way in which electrons interact with one another through the electromagnetic force propagated through the photon. Creating the Nobel-winning, simple visuals of the possible interactions between an electron and photon and other atomic interactions, Feynman also predicted that antiparticles (particles which possess a charge opposite to that of their mirror particle) are actually just normal particles which move backwards in time.

1980
Feynman, among others, began to investigate the generalization of conventional information science concepts to quantum physical processes, considering the representation of binary numbers in relation to the quantum states of two-state quantum systems: in simple words, by simulating quantum systems not with conventional computers but with other quantum systems constructed for this purpose.

1985
David Deutsch, of Oxford University, published a theoretical paper describing a universal quantum computer, proving that if a two-state system could be made to evolve by means of a set of simple operations, any such evolution could be produced, and made to simulate any physical system. These operations came to be called quantum ‘gates’, as they function similarly to binary logic gates in classical computers.

1994
Shor’s Algorithm
Peter Shor, working for AT&T, proposed a method using entanglement of qubits and superposition to find the prime factors of an integer, a rather valuable process as many encryption systems exploit the difficulty in finding factors of large numbers. In principle, his algorithm would far surpass the efficiency of any known computer when executed on a quantum computer. Shor’s discovery proved vital in stimulating research by physicists and computer scientists on the issue.

1995
The National Institute of Standards and Technology and the California Institute of Technology jointly contemplated the problem of shielding a quantum system from environmental influences and performed experiments with magnetic fields, which allow particles (ions) to be trapped and cooled to a quantum state. This method, however, allowed only devices of a few bits to be created, ones which lose coherence rapidly.

1996
A team of researchers from the University of California at Berkeley, MIT, Harvard University, and IBM pursued a similar technique but using nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), a technology that seemed to manipulate quantum information in liquids. They attempted to ameliorate the threat of DE coherence by working with a vast number of quantum computers, allowing each qubit to be represented by many molecules, thus decreasing the effect of external forces. By varying the electromagnetic field used, certain oscillations are found which allow certain spins to flip between these states. Also, the constant motion of molecules in liquids create interactions allowing the construction of logic gates through NMR The team develops a 2-bit quantum computer made from a thimble of chloroform; input consists of radiofrequency pulses into the liquid containing. The algorithm runs through the quantum computer is one devised by Lov Grover of Bell Laboratories. Grover’s quantum algorithm is O (N1/2). With the quantum computer developed, a list of four items was subjected to this algorithm, which proved to be able to find the desired item in a single step.

1998
In 1998, the feasibility of quantum teleportation is proposed by an international team of researchers, who based their conclusions on a theorem of quantum mechanics called the Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen effect. The group theorizes that two entangled, “transporter” particles introduced to a third, “message” particle might transfer properties from one to the other. The idea is put into practice six years later, by researchers at the University of Innsbruck in Austria. Two pairs of entangled photons were exposed to each other, and it is revealed that the polarization state of one may be transferred to the other. The discovery has implications for data transfer and networking among quantum particles in quantum computing.

*The writer is a serial entrepreneur in the fields of innovative technology, business facilitation and communication. He can be reached at maimun.m@gmail.com

The Bone Identity

What are the risks pertaining to conducting Spine Surgery? How can we minimize the risks?
Today patients are coming in after already taking an MRI test; more so, pondering and worrying about the results of the MRI. It’s integral to understand that patients first need to come in and state their problems – is there pain? Where do they feel the pain is originating from? How long have they been suffering from this issue? Once we know the complaint, we can correlate with the investigation. The key to success in surgery is the clinical symptoms, investigation and the following treatment designed for the stated problem. Hence, the surgery today is of Safe Spine surgery.

What are the prevailing Spinal problems present in the 21st century?
One of the common problems is back pain. See, back pain itself is not a disease but can be the result of a more serious complication such as a disc prolapse, degenerative disk, arthritis, inflammatory problems, spine structure problems such as stiffness, bending, weakening and so on. Additionally, with age there can osteoporosis issues where the bones are not of their normal quality, soft or squishy; thus, they can easily break.

Can you give us a brief account of cervical spine pathologies? What are the three types of scoliosis?
Cervical problems most common would be spondylitis. Without compressing the nerve, it can just be as neck pain. It can get compressed because of the disc or general wear and tear. Even at a young age, a patient can suffer from a disk collapse or infections such as TB, which can be seen to be prevailing in Asian countries. The TB of lungs is the most spoken about, however, TB of the bones is the next commonest prevailing disease and equally, if not more, deadly. The three types of scoliosis are the conjunctival, adolescent idiopathic scoliosis and traumatic.

Give us an account of your experience in Key-hole spine surgery?
Key-hole spine surgery is a big boon. It’s not because of the small incision required by this procedure, rather the boon is from the tissue which is preserved which is vital for spine functions. Tissue preserved is a function preserved. Hence, the key-hole spine surgery brings down the overall discomfort and need for medications at post-op and risk during the pre-op planning and execution.

What are some key pain management techniques for the spine? How far does the techniques/physiotherapy come in pain alleviation?
Usually, it’s a multi-pronged approach. Giving one shot of painkiller alone or substituting with just medication alone may not be as effective. Combined simultaneously, with physiotherapy and modification activities will better help them in their own pain management and also their need for further pain medication for pain alleviation.

The key to success in surgery is the clinical symptoms, investigation and the following treatment designed for the stated problem.

How has the field evolved in the past 20 years? (Innovations, patents, etc.)
It has developed tremendously. One of them would be the preliminary investigation as we are now better at understanding what the problem is and thus have a stronger understanding of the subsequent treatment plan. The clarity in diagnosis has grown massively, we know what the problem is and its origin accurately; no need to keep searching. Before we would operate in search of the problem. Nowadays, we don’t rely on one single modality, rather adopt multiple modalities. For instance, general practice is to go forward with the treatment using MRI. However, it needs to be substituted with X-rays and CT scans. The reason being, MRI is a static picture but we also require dynamic results. The patients have been seen to state no pain at rest but pain in movement; this knowledge is provided by dynamic tests. X-rays and CT scans can be investigated for these and thus cannot be discarded because you have an MRI.

Can spinal injury lead to full/partial paralysis? What are the recovery techniques, if any?
There are situations where the spinal cord can be completely transected – the neural structures from one end to the other, loses its continuity. Thus, no nerve continuity and loss of function. Once they lose their function, it’s the early intervention; we cannot predict then what the future will hold for the patient. Therefore, we need to maintain the environment for the nerves to recover. Starting from maintaining the blood pressure, adequate pulse rate, oxygenation and remove any compression of the chords, if present. Once they have the injury, they should not discontinue their treatment on the idea of no recovery is happening. The main aim for these patients is rehabilitation, where we prevent issues of joint stiffness, contractures and so on. Nowadays, there are inventions emerging which allow us to externally control the joints through EMG movement. Hence, if you become stiff, the technology won’t work as well, making it more important to maintain joint health and thus the potential of being able to walk again through assistive external devices.

Please share your interests in the specialities of Stitchless Spine Surgery and Safe Spine Surgery?
Stitchless spine surgery, you have all the anatomy preserved, while the pathology (disease) is still targeted. This allows for the normal functioning again while the preservation of tissues, this is the beauty of this endoscopic stitchless spine surgery. I have about 20 years of experience with this and currently, this method is becoming more established.
Safe spine surgeries provide many things, the main aim being to not lose any nerve functions. For instance for Scoliosis surgery, we monitor the spine functions during the entire procedure to ensure its operational consistency.

What’s one piece of advice you would give to your patients?
Keep fit. The simplest thing to be aware of is that the best economic exercise for the spine is walking. Irrespective of pain, some form of functioning is imperative for bone health. You sit way too much, everything will start to go out of order. Sitting is the new smoking so keep moving.

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Leading the Tech Transition

Could you tell us a little bit about your background (family, education and life experiences).
I am extremely blessed and also humbled to come from an eminent and reputable family. Being privileged to be born into a Zamindari family around the early 18th century, one of my great-great-grandfathers was Syed Sarwarjan of Madhukhali and Baliakandi of Greater Faridpur and then Cuttack, in the eastern Indian state of Odisha and then Bamna of Barguna district. His son Syed Abi Mohammad Ahsan inherited his estates and then passed it on to my grandfather Syed Ziaul Ahsan who went on to become one of the youngest independent Members of the Provincial Assembly (MPA) of East Pakistan in 1954 and then the speaker of the House in 1958. My father was schooled in Residential Model, then spent his college life at Notre Dame and then completed his B.com and M.com from Dhaka University. He spent 32 years as a decorated and top rank officer in a private bank in Bangladesh. Coming from this lineage it was a lot to live up to. So my father gave me the chance to get one of the best English medium education possible in Maple Leaf International School. I then went to do get my B.Sc (Marketing) degree and MBA from the United Kingdom. Looking back to those memories of almost half a decade ago, my father had urged me to gain practical work experience and I learned front end sales by working in Nike, Zara, Sports Direct, and then later in a British real estate firm.
My mother has always been the solid rock to keep our household of 2 other siblings and my wife is also an entrepreneur who runs a successful e-commerce food business in the name of Baking Stories when she is not taking care of our three-year-old son. Business and commerce run in for the last two generations of our extended family and all of our cousins and parents coming together to form our diversified conglomerate seemed like the only logical choice. Nevertheless, we have been raised to be family-oriented so to us family always comes first and everything else comes later.

You were educated in England. What your main takeaways from years in the UK and how did it change your look when you eventually returned to Bangladesh?
The British Empire at its peak was the largest in human history having covered around 35 million sq km, which is almost one-fourth of the total land area on Earth. So naturally, there is a lot to learn from that culture and having lived in the UK for a considerable amount of time, its difficult to mention only a few takeaways but one of the most amazing things would be the respect they have for their citizens. It’s got one of the most diversified cultural mixes in the modern world but it’s always their people over any other nationalities. That is why, the love, care and respect the public has for their nation is astonishing. Then there is their discipline, their punctuality, their work ethic, their respect for law and order, their high regard for people’s privacy, their willingness to change for the better, etc are some of their other admirable traits. So after coming back to Bangladesh, I tried to hold onto these good characteristics and pass it on whenever possible. I understand it’s a small scene in the big picture but in the words of the great Chinese philosopher Lao Tze – “ A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”.

Why did you not directly join the family business?
I had learned about the best practices of the UK market but I did not know about the Bangladeshi RMG industry. After coming back from abroad, I joined Viyellatex group as a management trainee mainly because it was led by an extraordinary and an extremely visionary man, the group Chairman Mr David Hasanat, in a short space of time was promoted to the position of Business Assistant to the Chairman of the Group. I am happy that I did as I learned so much from working directly under the great man himself! I also wanted to observe the corporate life in Bangladesh from the other side of the table to be able to get some perspective into the mindset of employees, who I believe are the biggest assets of any organization. I wanted to be able to empathize with them before they may be trying to lead them. I was there for two years and then eventually joined the family business. Then I decided that we had to diversify into other business possibilities to keep our presence in the business sector in Bangladesh, long term and sustainable.

What your motivations for diversifying into conglomerate business sectors?
If I had to answer this question in one word it would be “Sustainability”. I think it is crucial for businesses to try to branch out into other sectors to thrive in the long run. It’s also important to be practical about the idea of the business. It gets a further boost if the business idea aligns with the country’s future plans and directions.

We must also be willing to learn, unlearn and relearn because what it is accepted and applicable today may not be useful tomorrow. That is why it is critical to developing a certain frame of mind that is willing to accept change and adapt to it. It’s a fast-moving world and we must be willing to welcome the inevitable changes. If capable then it is also advisable to travel whenever and wherever possible because it helps to expand the knowledge base. Being able to identify the right business at the right time is paramount.

Why is your vision behind starting Amzotech Solutions Limited and how do you plan to sustainably execute it?
Amzotech Solutions Limited is basically a 4IR technology company. We are currently partners of Dell EMC, Arista Networks and a few other Fortune 500 companies. Basically, we want to create an environment where disruptive technology and trends such as RPA, AI, VR, IoT, etc will significantly alter the way businesses, industries and consumers will operate, simply because it has attributes that are recognizably superior to the current and conventional systems, procedures and habits.

We are proud to offer the SIEM (Security Information and Event Management) solution of Dell RSA and also promoting Arista networking switches and routers. We are also focusing on intensively assisting banks on better KYC and RPA technologies to align with the regulatory guidelines of the central bank.

We want to be one of the leading augmenters of technologies in the nation and then abroad in the foreseeable future. Our vision aligns with that of Bangladesh which is going into digitization or virtualization, so it’s almost inevitable that ICT businesses will thrive provided that it ticks all the right boxes. This ICT industry will also be able to provide hundreds of thousands of jobs for the people of this nation. So it’s a win-win for the country, it’s people and the organization.

As far as the matter of a successful execution is concerned, there are no guarantees of success in any business but there are certain attributes, features that increase the chances of being prosperous. With that in mind, I would say one of the biggest strengths of Amzotech is that all of its shareholders/stakeholders are successful businessmen in their respective fields. We are running garment industries, IB schools, textile chemical companies, human resource firms, full-scale fitness centres, automobile imports, lubricant imports, etc. So I think the experience we have gathered all these years through establishing the business in several sectors is a key point in gaining the confidence to branch out into ICT and hopefully, be able to execute it through hard work, integrity, honesty, discipline, technical knowledge and with the right planning.

What is your corporate ethos when it comes to hiring new employees?
Most of the candidates who apply and are called for interviews are more or less of similar educational backgrounds. Very little, in terms of academic qualifications differ. In terms of experience, I am very open to hiring employees with little or no experience unless of course there is a need for it which is applicable to certain departments and positions. The things I look for the most, in potential candidates are not just Amzotech but all my other businesses are their desire or drive or hunger to shine. I want people with not just potential but the willingness to work hard to back it up, to be honest, to have integrity, to be disciplined and to be loyal.

What suggestion(s) would you provide to the next generation of aspiring young intrapreneurs and entrepreneurs in light of the 4th Industrial Revolutions.
I believe in one of the most simple theories of evolution when it comes to the corporate culture. It’s usually the survival of the fittest. I admit that it’s not always the case but it has a higher probability. So in a world that is getting more and more competitive every day, it’s essential to try to stay ahead of the game. And for that, I think the thirst for gathering knowledge is imperative and I don’t mean that just in terms of academic qualifications. There have been, there are and there may always be anomalies but exceptions aren’t always the best examples.

We must also be willing to learn, unlearn and relearn because what it is accepted and applicable today may not be useful tomorrow. That is why it is critical to developing a certain frame of mind that is willing to accept change and adapt to it. It’s a fast-moving world and we must be willing to welcome the inevitable changes. If capable then it is also advisable to travel whenever and wherever possible because it helps to expand the knowledge base. Being able to identify the right business at the right time is paramount. Once you do, work very hard, work smart but always remember your roots, your family, your friends, your colleagues and people who have helped you in your time of need. Be kind to people and most of all, always remember to be a good human being before everything else because, in the end, it’s crucial to leave a legacy for the next generation to look up to.

Paving the Path

Uttara Motors in the frontlines with a vision to revolutionise the automobile industry of the country.

As the sole distributor of Suzuki Japan, what do you think makes Suzuki the success story it has been so far?
SUZUKI is one of the globally renowned automobile companies known for its fuel-efficient automobile technology. The company is one of the largest automobile manufacturers in the entire world. From the beginning of the journey, SUZUKI has generated a very outstanding decision that sets them apart from others. When the market was fully stocked with heavy vehicles, Suzuki introduced a small car ‘Suzulight’ and the story began. SUZUKI has merged its business in several countries that helped a lot in achieving success more easily. SUZUKI has expanded its business in 23 countries, having distribution outlets in 133 countries. SUZUKI’s aim is “We will hand over what you need, as much as you need, when necessary,” Simultaneous technological advancement and new ideas helped them reach their vision. Some of the cars which have done well for the company are Alto, WagonR, Swift, Jimny, Ciaz and Ertiga.

In Bangladesh, we have secured a prestigious brand value for SUZUKI cars. Now almost every car user is aware of the presence of SUZUKI vehicles in the country. We have sold more than 25,000 units of SUZUKI here and have a good number of corporate and regular buyers. Today, SUZUKI has introduced a number of luxurious and stylish models in their lineup and we have also launched those models and offer our customer with attractive price and ensure countrywide after-sales services for our vehicles.

What differentiates Uttara Motors Ltd. as an automobile importer, assembler and manufacturer from its competitors?
Uttara Motors Ltd. is the front runner and carrying the crown of the most leading automobile company in Bangladesh. Embarking on its prestigious journey in 1972, we have become the most trusted name in Bangladesh for all automobile needs. We believe in long term relationship, good business ethics and brand loyalty. We are enormously committed to serving the best quality service through the experienced well-groomed service team, own equipped workshop and well-trained engineers all over the country. These are the significant strength that differentiates Uttara Motors to others.

We have a clear vision to revolutionize the automobile industry of the country. We lead the country’s economic growth by mobilizing the nation through providing all types of transportation starting from 2 wheelers to passenger car, all the way to commercial vehicles. We are the sole distributor for SUZUKI automobiles, ISUZU commercial and specialized vehicles, BAJAJ 2 and 3 wheelers and SML ISUZU trucks & buses. Hence, we are the house offering a complete range of automobiles in Bangladesh.

Uttara Motors has already established a 2 wheeler manufacturing plant with a production capacity of around 2.5 lac motorcycle. We also have truck & bus chassis assembling plant in Chittagong. Now we are in the process of establishing a passenger car assembling plant in the coming future.

The size of the market is increasing by 4 percent every year. Do you think the current growth rate of the new vehicle is sustainable in the long run?
The present growth rate is sustainable or not, actually depends on the market size of any products. You are aware that the brand new passenger car market is not a big number and I believe the present rate is actually lower than 4%. The only way growth can be sustainable is when there is government policy support in the sector. Structured duty policy, easy financing options and good service facilities are some of the other key ingredients for this to sustain.

The current market size of reconditioned cars and brand new cars is 25000 units, in which 5000 units are brand new. What do you think is the reason behind the inconsistency between the supply and demand? How can consumers be encouraged to invest in a car?
In our country, cars are still being considered as a luxury item while the rest of the world considers it an essential good. Our government also considers the same and impose higher customs duty. So there are some conflicts between income and buying capacities. A structured long term duty policy, easy financing options and good service facilities will encourage the customers to invest in a car.

The current state of the car industry is not very encouraging; what measures need to be taken to improve the situation?
A country’s development mostly depends on its transport facilities and one of the main components is road infrastructure. Our road facilities in urban areas are still not sufficient for a car to run smoothly. Users lose their valuable time on the road due to high traffic congestion. Also, the brand new car industry in our country is growing very sluggishly. The marketplace is completely captured by used vehicles.

Only local infrastructure development and long term automobile policy promoting local assembling of cars can improve the overall situation in the long run. In the short run, it is very much important, to educate the customers regarding the cost of ownership of buying a new car as opposed to the used car and how that significantly differs between the two.

We also think the government may consider several duty slabs intended to facilitate lower-income people as a car owner. We think the duty slab should be 800 – 1000cc, 1001 – 1300cc, 1301 – 1500cc etc. This will make smaller cc and environment-friendly cars affordable for the masses which will make people’s life easy and help in the country’s economic growth.

Can you elaborate on the sort of policy support the car industry could benefit from?
Our existing customs duty structure is not encouraging for the car industry. The recently introduced SRO for the automobile industry is a step in the right direction but the conditions in the SRO is not favourable for establishing a car industry. Our Honorable Prime Minister’s vision is to make Bangladesh into an industrialized nation. We feel a properly structured policy needs to be made in order to attract foreign direct and local investment so that the industry as a whole gets benefitted. Also importing of used cars have to be discouraged so that local automobile industry can flourish. Only then, cars made in Bangladesh can become a reality in the near future.

A critical concern is the lack of skilled and technical manpower. How can the public and private sector bridge this gap through investment?
Yes, one of the major barriers is the lack of skilled and technical manpower. Currently, the manpower is in an infant stage, so creating skilled and specialized manpower is now mandatory to develop the industry. Privately, local manpower can be skilled with the contiguity of overseas technical experts. The government can initiate a long term learning process through vocational education and training centres in partnership with foreign countries and institutes. Currently, some are taking place with NGOs and local entrepreneurs but it’s not sufficient. Private investments in this sector will only increase when there is support from the government in the form of long term structured policies for doing business in the automobile sector as a whole. Only then can this gap in skilled manpower be eventually bridged. This will also lead to huge employment generation and development of light industries in the country.

Is Uttara Motors Ltd doing anything to create mass awareness about traffic rules?
To aware and educate people, Uttara Motors is offering our customers an easy driving registration policy, so that customers can easily get their driving license. Concurrently, we are doing an awareness campaign digitally in all our social pages. We are also in the process of initiating a mass awareness campaign in partnership with BRTA in the ground levels. In this joint effort, we are going to organize seminars and BTL activities to make people aware of traffic rules in all divisions of the country.

The Islamic University of Technology Alumni Association (IUTAA) brought together more than 1500 audiences in Islamic University of Technology (IUT) campus along with their family and guests at the IUAA Reunion 2020 on 3rd January for a day of nostalgia and networking. Former students gathered from all around the world to attend the eventful day in a cheerful atmosphere.

Established in 1996, IUT has produced more than 3000 graduates in several engineering disciplines who have marched on to success in their careers afterwards. To offer them a break from the monotonous routine of life, IUTAA has successfully organized the Reunion with a simple goal – homecoming, as most graduates identify the campus as their second home.

The event was ornamented with the presence of Dr. Omar Jah; acting Vice Chancellor of IUT as the chief guest, who appreciated the organization of the Reunion. The campus was filled with laughter and the whispers of lost memories as friends met after long breaks on IUT campus much like the ‘old-days’!

The reunion was segmented into several events including game shows, cultural functions, meals, snacks, awards concert featuring popular Bangladeshi artists (Warfaze, Avoid Rafa). Arrangements were also made for transportation, kids-zone, gaming zone to keep the child-guests entertained. IUT Alumni Association got Navana Limited as the title sponsor of the event. Tritech and Bondstein were Gold sponsors, and both companies were co-founded by IUT alumni. Petromax LPG, Sheba.xyz, Singulairty Interactive, Daraz and ArtLand were Silver sponsors for the event. Catalytic Interactive, Kernel Group of Companies, Walton, Gazi Communications, Scan Cement, Fashion optics, Chologhuri, Kids Time were Bronze sponsors for the event. GTV, Radio Foorti, Samakal, Sarabangla.net Dhaka Tribune and ICE Business Times were the media partners for the event. Their contributions made the event ostentatious at the very least.

As the closing drew closer, one could easily see the disappointment in faces who wanted the day to never end.

I’ve waited 9 years for this and seems like it’s been minutes since the day started and we are already closing in to the end of it” – Mohammad Mahmudur Rahman Mahmud, a student of the 1st BSc Engg batch offered by IUT.

Many feel that IUTAA deserves a pat on the back for this well-organized Reunion filled with laughter and emotions and graduates have shown their appreciation to the organizers in person and through social media posts.

The allocation of stalls has already been completed.

 

Five-day long REHAB Winter Fair 2019 is set to commence on December 24. Analogous to every year, companies across the country are very eager to showcase their projects in the exhibition. Therefore, the allocation of stalls has already been completed. This fair will entail 230 different stalls, which is the highest participation aggregate after 2013.

To be held at Bangabandhu International Conference Center, the fair will end on December 28. Besides the REHAB members, the fair will have stalls of reputed investment banks, financial corporations, and building material manufacturers. Patrons will be able to receive all the information regarding plot, housing loan, quality building materials and their prices under one roof. 

Like every year, the first prize for the winner of the raffle draw is a private car, and the second prize winner gets a motorcycle. 

 

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Jakson International Limited (JIL), the Bangladesh unit of Jakson Group and authorized country distributor of Cummins Inc. organized “Cummins Conference on Technological Trends in Power Generation” at Hotel Radisson Blu, Dhaka, Bangladesh on October 20, 2019. The function was graced by the Hon’ble US Ambassador to Bangladesh, Mr. Earl R. Miller as Chief Guest. Ambassador Miller opened the presentations with his remarks, stating, “It’s always a pleasure to celebrate US business success in Bangladesh, and Cummins is a true American business success story.” He continued, saying, “I am proud that US companies bring some of the best and most innovative technologies to this country,” adding that, “We want to ensure Bangladesh and other Indo-Pacific nations have the opportunity to take advantage of what great US companies, like Cummins, have to offer.” The event marked the formal launch of the new Cummins HSK78G Gas Generator series in Bangladesh. 

The HSK78 is the newest innovation from Cummins, representing a bold step into the gas arena for Cummins, showcasing new technology in a new engine that pushes new levels of efficiency, transient performance and gas variation well beyond former natural gas generators. The event included presentations by senior executives from Cummins and Jakson Group on various products and services offered by JIL in Bangladesh, emphasizing that JIL Is the only source of genuine Cummins products in Bangladesh. The conference was attended by more than 180 customers from various industry segments of Bangladesh. 

The 2019 Messaging and SMS Global Awards, which took place 3 December in London, brought together key players in the messaging and mobile space to acknowledge some of the biggest achievements of the last 12 months.

“Thank you to all the companies that applied to the Messaging & SMS Global Awards 2019 and congratulations again to all the winners who have shown the most significant innovation in the Messaging and SMS industry,” said Pamela MacKay, Product Manager, Capacity Media.

One of the winners of the night was Pine Solutions who took home the Award for Best SMS/A2P Provider – APAC.

Pine Solutions has been responding to the demands of even its smallest customers by standardising their queries into their offering. This provider enables its users to reach its customers in over 100 counties and through 550 operators, in addition to real-time delivery reports, and in-depth analytics.

With more than 72 submissions received, Capacity Reporter and head judge for the Awards, Natalie Bannerman, thanked all the participants for their contribution to the event.

“It’s clear that the work being done in the mobile space is quickly becoming an area of investment and development for most telcos, particularly in the areas of RCS, fraud, and security. Many congratulations to all of this year’s winners, we look forward to seeing these projects develop in the year ahead.”
The 2019 Messaging and SMS Global Awards Judging Panel was comprised of:
Natalie Bannerman – Reporter,
Capacity Media João Marques Lima – Editor-in-Chief,
Data Economy Nick Lane – Chief Insight Analyst & Founder,
Mobilesquared Dr. Windsor Holden,
Freelance Consultant Nicolai Schättgen – Founder and CEO,
Match-Maker Ventures