Is This the Year of Augmented Reality?

Kathryn Weldon – Research Director, Business Network and IT Services – Americas

Summary Bullets:

• At PTC LiveWorks 2019, augmented reality (AR) in the business segment (especially the manufacturing vertical) was a big theme, supported by customers on panels, and featured with compelling demos, in partner exhibits.

• While the outlook is optimistic, there are some limitations to uptake, including price of devices, corporate cultures that appreciate old-fashioned in-person training, and lack of manufacturers that are ready for digital transformation.

At PTC’s annual LiveWorks show, held from June 10th through 13th in Boston, the use of AR by businesses was a major theme. The technology is positioned by PTC as a way to bridge the physical and digital worlds. AR can digitally replicate an object such as a machine used in a manufacturing environment, or a complicated subsystem used in a complex field environment such as an oil rig. It essentially makes either a 3D model that can be viewed with a HoloLens or other smart glasses technology (easy to do with PTC’s CAD system, CREO) or a digital twin – essentially 3D in two dimensions – for viewing on a phone or tablet, which accurately represents all components of the machine, with all of its parts easy to discern. The model can have annotations added, including step-by-step training instructions, or ways to identify a part through colors or other effects. The AR model can provide simulations for operations such as seeing both the inside and outside of a machine or any component, or simulating operations such as refilling a fuel tank, or opening and closing a valve, etc. In 2015 PTC acquired Vuforia, which was a leading provider of AR software, picking up solutions to create content with 3D overlays, author and publish content quickly as needed, allow developers to create branded solutions, and mark-up views to highlight details or guide multi-step solutions. Continue reading “Is This the Year of Augmented Reality?”

ZTE NMVP: Enabling Providers to Optimize Their NB-IoT Networks

A. Amir

Summary Bullets:

• ZTE’s NB-IoT Massive-connection and multi-service Virtual-verification Platform (NMVP) evaluates network performance and provides optimization suggestions to the network.

• While ZTE claimed the platform to be the first in the industry, competitors can build a similar solution and match the capabilities in no time.

Growing NB-IoT Adoption
Since NB-IoT was finalized in 2016, carriers have been enabling the technology in their networks for IoT deployments. To date, there are around 100 commercial NB-IoT networks available across the world. However, with only over 100 supported devices and about 20 chipsets available, the adoption is still relatively low compared to other wireless technologies. GlobalData shows that only 1.5% of the total IoT deployments today are based on NB-IoT while cellular technologies (e.g., 2G, 3G, and 4G) and wireline are still largely used (~75% of the total connections). Most NB-IoT networks today are still underutilized. However ZTE’s home market of China is the global NB-IoT leader, and is a natural fit to debut this type of platform. As the ecosystem grows, more devices will be available in the market and connected in the network, driving the overall traffic in NB-IoT network. Carriers will eventually face network congestions in the network which may cause disruptions to IoT applications. Continue reading “ZTE NMVP: Enabling Providers to Optimize Their NB-IoT Networks”

Salesforce Is Tackling Blockchain from a Frontend and Backend Perspective

C. Dunlap

Summary Bullets:

  • Salesforce Lightning Platform’s low-code app development technology is the cornerstone of its blockchain strategy.
  • MuleSoft will eventually add compelling backend integration capabilities to customers’ blockchain projects.

Salesforce used its annual developer conference to announce its entrance into the blockchain platform space last week, a compelling prospect considering its strengths in frontend app development via its low-code expertise and, more recently, backend integration capabilities through its newly acquired MuleSoft. Continue reading “Salesforce Is Tackling Blockchain from a Frontend and Backend Perspective”

Salesforce.com Asks AI-Curious Customers to First Invest in an Ethical Groundwork

B. Shimmin

Summary Bullets:

• There has been a significant rush among technology providers to make artificial intelligence (AI) a self-service endeavor, to make it available to the broadest possible swath of business users.

• But in so doing, companies are creating unanticipated legal exposure for AI practitioners unprepared to protect AI from human bias.

Salesforce.com has added a new AI learning module to its Trailhead developer education platform with an interesting twist. Rather than teach developers how to build AI outcomes most efficiently, the company’s newest educational module asks that practitioners slow down and focus on creating ethically informed AI solutions.

The new Trailhead educational module entitled, “Responsible Creation of Artificial Intelligence,” calls attention to an often overlooked threat from AI, namely unwitting human biases and intentional human prejudices.

Within these new training materials, Salesforce.com calls on Salesforce.com Einstein developers to adopt its own set of core values of “trust, customer success, innovation, and equality.” The company goes so far as to suggest that developers who fail to adhere to these standards in creating AI algorithms may find themselves in breach of its acceptable use policy.

Why is Salesforce.com referencing an acceptable use policy in conjunction with the ethical use of AI? Surely companies not engaged in outright nefarious endeavors would steer clear of anything overtly illegal in building AI outcomes. Certainly legislative controls such as GDPR and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) are very clear about what constitutes an unlawful use of consumer data. Companies need only adhere to such policies to avoid potential litigation or censure, right?

Not necessarily, because human biases and prejudices can find their way into any AI-informed solution without detection. Throughout the lifecycle of a given AI solution, from data collection to ongoing maintenance, subtle but hugely impactful notions of partiality can find their way in, thereafter altering the decisions made by both humans and AI automated routines.
Continue reading “Salesforce.com Asks AI-Curious Customers to First Invest in an Ethical Groundwork”

Telecom Assets for Sale, Telecom Assets for Sale

S. Soh

Summary Bullets:

• Telecom operators need cash. FTTP, 5G and multi-play is expensive. Voice/data is not able to pay the bills. Operators are offloading assets that are no longer seen as core to their business.

• REITs and private equity firms are buying infrastructure for sale, like data centers and now complete companies managing them as another utility for better returns.

Increasingly, telecommunications operators are facing pricing pressure resulting in limited revenue growth from fixed and mobile services. Meanwhile, they need to invest in faster access such as fiber and 5G (equipment and spectrum), which will require more capital. Some telecom operators are also looking at growth outside of the traditional voice and data services and they are building capabilities to offer IoT, enterprise services and entertainment services for consumers. These new areas require different types of investments including platforms, applications, and content. While shareholders want to see new revenue streams and growth, they also expect stable returns (e.g., dividends and share buyback) from these businesses and a healthy balance sheet. This makes it more challenging for telecom companies to raise capital to fund their growth ambitions without carrying too much debt. Continue reading “Telecom Assets for Sale, Telecom Assets for Sale”

NTT Recorded a Strong FY 2018 and Revealed Its 2019 Plan

A. Amir

Summary Bullets:

  • NTT Communications recorded strong top-line performance in FY 2018, with revenue and income growth of 4.4% and 11.5%, respectively.
  • In FY 2019, the provider will focus on brand integration across NTT Communications, Dimension Data and NTT Security, as well as a vertical strategy through its ‘Smart World’ initiatives.

Top-Line Performance

Earlier this month (May 10, 2019), NTT Communications released its FY 2018 results (ended in March 2019). The provider recorded strong top-line performance, with growth in revenue and income by 4.4% to 1,392 billion yen (~US$12.7 billion) and 11.5% to 132 billion yen (US$1.21 billion), respectively. This growth may not be so high in general, but it is impressive considering the slowdown in the telecom and ICT market. For example, compared with its regional peers, both Singtel and Telstra saw flat revenue in their latest financial year, with changes of only 0.6% and 0%, respectively. NTT Communications’ FY 2018 revenue also exceeded its target set a year prior, by 12 billion yen (US$110 million). The increase was mainly driven by the double-digit growth in cloud (12.0%), solution services (11.9%) and global business (11.2%). Continue reading “NTT Recorded a Strong FY 2018 and Revealed Its 2019 Plan”

New Research Reveals C-Level Execs Are Prime Targets for Cyber Attackers

A. DeCarlo
A. DeCarlo

Summary Bullets:

  • Due to their privileged access to high-value corporate assets, executives are in the crosshairs of cyber attackers, according to the latest Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report.
  • The Verizon report found that the combination of access and the need to make quick decisions made C-level executives more vulnerable to social engineering attacks.

Enterprising cyber attackers driven by a money motive are setting their sights on objects that will deliver the highest returns. Thanks to their access to high-value systems and data, C-level executives are a prime target for social engineering hacks. This year’s Verizon Data Breach Investigation Report (DBIR) found social attacks, including business e-mail compromises (BECs) against enterprise executives, are on the rise. Speculating that the combination of proximity to high-value assets and the intensive pressure of their roles, which limits executive time to scrutinize messages, makes them more vulnerable than most employees with less critical roles, the Verizon DBIR claimed that staffers in leadership are 12 times more likely to be the victims of credential theft or other social incidents, such as being tricked into transferring money to an adversary’s bank account. Continue reading “New Research Reveals C-Level Execs Are Prime Targets for Cyber Attackers”

Geopolitical Issues Roil IT Sector

S. Schuchart

Summary Bullets:

• Cost sharing between vendors/SPs and customers can strengthen relationships in a difficult time.

• Calm and deliberate planning by vendors/SPs and customers is key to minimizing impacts to business.

The new tariffs on imported goods in China and the U.S. will have a significant impact on pending and future deals, both for service providers, vendors, and customers. The technology industry has a complex and deeply international supply chain, with U.S. and Chinese companies both utilizing components and intellectual property. Component price increases will lead to sharp increases in product costs. These increases will slow or stall deals as customers may wait and see if the issues can be resolved in a short time frame.
Continue reading “Geopolitical Issues Roil IT Sector”

Can We Use Blockchain to Thwart Fake News?

J. Marcus

Summary Bullets:

  • Digital media faces a ‘fake news’ problem where sources may be biased or worse, and actual content may be manipulated.
  • Orange is behind Safe.press, a blockchain-based consortium for certifying news sources as legitimate – and not ‘fake.’

As investigative journalists and whistleblowers struggle to be heard in calling out the rampant abuse of social networks in propagating ‘fake news,’ one startup is trying to tackle the issue with new technology. Continue reading “Can We Use Blockchain to Thwart Fake News?”

Facial Recognition: A Lightning Rod for Societal Concerns in San Francisco

R. Bhattacharyya

Summary Bullets:

  • San Francisco’s ban on the use of facial recognition technology by municipal agencies is noteworthy given the city’s high-tech affiliation and AI’s potential applications in public safety.
  • The safety-enhancing benefits of facial recognition are not resonating; instead, the technology has become a lightning rod for societal concerns related to privacy and inequality.

San Francisco is set to become the first major U.S. city to ban the use the facial recognition technology by municipal agencies. On Tuesday, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted in favor of the ‘Stop Secret Surveillance Ordinance,’ outlawing the use of the AI-based technology by city departments. The move is particularly noteworthy because it originates in a part of the U.S. otherwise known for embracing high tech and because it restricts the use of artificial intelligence for public safety, widely considered a top use case for facial recognition technology. However, San Francisco isn’t the only city evaluating restrictions on facial recognition; the issue is top of mind among lawmakers in many regions. Continue reading “Facial Recognition: A Lightning Rod for Societal Concerns in San Francisco”