Google’s Eavesdropping Home Mini: Who’s Watching the Watchers?

B. Shimmin

B. Shimmin

Summary Bullets:

  • Digital home assistants like Google Home Mini and Amazon Echo owe users much more than privacy; if they are to be truly trusted, they must also explain how they think and how they make decisions.
  • Fortunately, regulations such as General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will begin asking such questions. The only problem is that artificial intelligence (AI) may not be able to provide any answers.

Google was quick to lay blame for its recent eavesdropping Home Mini fiasco on a ‘hardware bug,’ rolling out a quick update that purportedly prevents devices from inadvertently recording and reporting on overheard conversations should their owners accidentally press the wrong button. From now on, Google Home Mini will only record what you say after you capture its attention via “Hey Google” or “Okay Google.”

In other words, it was a simple case of user error and a misunderstanding of how one intelligent home device in particular works. No more button, no more problem, right? Not even close. Read more of this post

Without People, There Would Be No Artificial Intelligence

B. Shimmin

B. Shimmin

Summary Bullets:

  • Machine learning (ML) algorithms are incredibly powerful, and companies like Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and Salesforce.com realize that – hence their intense interest in operationalizing ML and DL tooling.
  • But, those algorithms alone are no guarantee of value. Whether you’re predicting the weather or optimizing a delivery route, AI lives or dies according to the humans within whose care it finds itself.

Can we truly know whether or not we’re living out our lives as a part of a simulated, holographic model of the universe as proposed by mega-entrepreneur Elon Musk? Should we even care about such things? If you’re at all concerned about the weather – about the expected path a hurricane will take, let’s say – then the answer is a resounding ‘yes.’ I would argue in fact that we are living out our lives based upon countless simulations. Read more of this post

A New API from Tableau Suggests a More Active Role for Analytics Within Business

Brad Shimmin – Research Director, Business Technology and Software

Summary Bullets:

• At its 10th annual user conference, modern BI leader Tableau unveiled a means by which customers can embed business processes within the Tableau interface, effectively upending commonly accepted ideas about the role of analytics in business.

• With Tableau’s new Extensions API, companies can start to think about analytics, not as a passive, informational adjunct to business processes, but instead as an active participant in the business itself.

These days APIs are a dime a dozen. Every vendor has one (or two), supporting basic routines like software automation or enabling more elaborate objectives like application embedding. The driving factor powering the proliferation of APIs is simple. They grant both interoperability and extensibility, two traits that are crucial to success – particularly within the enterprise data and analytics marketplace where heterogeneity reigns supreme.

Read more of this post

Huawei Aims for Public Cloud Market Domination in the Nicest Possible Way

B. Shimmin

B. Shimmin

Summary Bullets:

  • At its annual Connect conference, Huawei set down its plan to become one of the five dominant public cloud platform providers, opposite IBM, Google, Microsoft, and Amazon.
  • Huawei’s cloud ambitions, however, aim not to dominate but to create an open, independent platform that augments and works with other clouds while maximizing differentiated Huawei functionality and expertise.

What is a computer? Is the cloud a computer and vice versa? In many ways, yes. Both a computer and the cloud represent a programmable resource, for example. Both dole out capabilities in the form of services. And both are finite in their scale and bound to the purpose of those who program them. Sure, the cloud can be seen as a never-ending cluster of computers slung together. But both, at the end of the day, return zeros and ones in exactly the same way. Read more of this post

Variety Is the Spice of Life for AI, Particularly in Humanizing HR

B. Shimmin

B. Shimmin

Summary Bullets:

  • Digital assistants like Microsoft Cortana are a lot like people in that they are the most interesting when they specialize, and when they become experts in a given field.
  • This is the case with human resources (HR), where there are many AI-driven chatbots available, each able to answer specific problems (like employee feedback) or support specific constituencies (like millennial employees).

If there’s one lesson to be learned from this week’s announcement that Microsoft Cortana will be able to converse freely with Amazon Alexa, it’s that AI-driven personal assistants – like people – do well to specialize. Cortana is quite adept at setting appointments and Alexa is pretty good at turning lights off and on. But don’t ask Cortana to turn down the heat or Alexa to set up an Outlook meeting. Like people, AI platforms grow up under very different circumstances, each with its own unique philosophy, friends, and culture (in the world of IT, ‘philosophy’ means AI algorithms, ‘friends’ equals data sources, and ‘culture’ means domain of expertise). Read more of this post

How Design Thinking Can Save Digital Transformation and the Tour de France

B. Shimmin

B. Shimmin

Summary Bullets:

  • Technology companies like IBM and SAP are turning to the 50-year-old design and ideation methodology, ‘design thinking,’ in order to innovate more rapidly and better respond to customer needs.
  • Why is a process rooted in sticky notes and whiteboard doodles suddenly relevant for both technology providers and enterprise buyers? The reason is simple: with it, software developers can find and then answer the right questions.

A few weeks ago, a colleague passed me a link to an interesting live data dashboard for the Tour de France. Built by Dimension Data, this interactive, live view into the yearly bicycle jaunt about the French countryside was for me both fascinating and frustrating. As an IoT problem in action, the live tracking and comparative bar charts for various cycling groups (breakaway pack vs. Peloton, for example) provided an absorbing array of data points to ponder. Yet, I found myself looking for and failing to find answers to my own questions, like where are the current outliers and how does today’s stage compare with those in the past? Nitpicking, I know. But as an enthusiast of both data and cycling, I would have jumped at the chance to work with the team designing this app. Read more of this post

Cisco’s Intuitive Network Demands Much More than App and Infrastructure Unification

Brad Shimmin – Research Director, Business Technology and Software

Summary Bullets:

• Cisco’s recent marketing campaign around “The Network Intuitive” calls for a radical rethink of the network where programmability, artificial intelligence (AI), and transparency point toward a self-aware infrastructure driven by business outcomes.

• But for that to work, for Cisco to help companies at last bridge the seemingly intractable rift that exists between IT and business concerns, the company will need to help its customers reimagine how apps are built.

It doesn’t matter if you run your enterprise app in the cloud or on premises, whether those apps are containerized, or if they adhere to a modern development paradigm (agile, RAD, et al.). Inevitably, each and every one will reveal what is perhaps the industry’s longest standing challenge — unifying IT and business. The app will go down; a database error will occur, client software will slow, or worse still the app may fall prey to a security breach or attack. And that’s when the finger pointing starts between development, IT, service provider, integrator or VAR, et al. Eventually the root cause of the problem will present itself, but in the meantime, reputations are sullied and money is lost. Read more of this post

Is the Promise of IoT Getting Lost in “Good Enough” Analytics?

Brad Shimmin – Research Director, Business Technology and Software

Summary Bullets:

• In studying buyer expectations and experiences from more than 1,000 IoT practitioners, GlobalData found that the majority of users rely upon basic reporting mechanisms as found in business intelligence (BI) systems when analyzing IoT data.

• This points to a significant mismatch between opportunity and expectation with enterprises setting the bar far too low when it comes to using IoT as a means of moving beyond basic operational efficiencies and into the realm of intuitive, self-governing business systems.
Read more of this post

The Three Pillars of IoT Success

B. Shimmin

B. Shimmin

Summary Bullets:

  • How can technology vendors guard enterprise IoT buyers against the dangers of cost and complexity?
  • They should endeavor to solve specific IoT problems through readily consumable, outcome-based IoT services.

As my compatriot Kitty Weldon pointed out in a blog post earlier this week, the success or failure of an IoT project isn’t something you stumble on a year or two after rolling out a solution. A recent Global Data Technology IoT Enterprise Survey of more than 1,000 IoT buyers showed that failure happens very early on during the investigation phase of a given deployment and more often than not centers on the cost and complexity of the project at hand. Read more of this post

Genesys Jumps on the AI Bandwagon, Invites Others Along for the Ride

B. Shimmin

B. Shimmin

Summary Bullets:

  • At its annual user conference, customer experience management player Genesys introduced Kate, a personified artificial intelligence (AI) platform tailored to augment and automate multimodal customer interactions.
  • Genesys Kate, however, is not meant to compete with AI platforms such as IBM Watson or Salesforce.com Einstein. Instead Kate seeks to blend its own capabilities with those offerings, serving as an open platform.

Personified AI platforms – suddenly every technology vendor seems to have an AI persona that’s eager to strike up a one-on-one conversation. There’s of course IBM Watson, Amazon Alexa, Apple Siri, Google Assistant, Salesforce.com Einstein, and Adobe Sensei, but that somewhat lengthy list doesn’t even scratch the surface of what’s available when you bring AI bots like Mitsuku, Poncho, Melody, Rose, and my personal favorite, Dr. AI. And now we have Kate, a personified AI platform introduced by customer experience manager Genesys this week during its annual user conference. Read more of this post