August 30, 2015

Will stock market instability incite IT strain?

"Even the deals that do come will be smaller," wrote Ray Hennessey, editorial director of "Private-company valuations generally follow public-company ones. … If tech companies on the Nasdaq suffer a Black Monday, it will be a Grey Tuesday for private companies seeking venture money." Another factor that may impact businesses in the wake of this week's stock market instability is that in times of market uncertainty, people tend to cut back their spending, according to Hennessey. The connection between those factors and IT budgets? If your company is in the midst of raising funds and has to pay more to borrow money, it ends up in a price war with competitors; if your customers start curbing spending, cuts to company spending could be made, and it might be your 2016 IT budget that's on the list.

Mirantis CEO Says OpenStack Is Getting Real

Increasingly, OpenStack is brought in for “onboarding a first software initiative or a particular business unit,” he said. “We see fewer and fewer people doing just experiments.” That’s not to say OpenStack has taken the world by storm. “Big rollouts require some serious spine from executives,” Ionel said, noting that OpenStack implementation is far from “frictionless.” The complexity of the framework is why Intel spearheaded the $100 million funding that Mirantis announced earlier this week — a follow-up to the other $100 million round announced last year. Intel wants to make OpenStack easier for the everyday enterprise to adopt, and it plans to collaborate with Mirantis on the necessary engineering.

Programming and prejudice: Computer scientists discover how to find bias in algorithms

Many companies have been using algorithms in software programs to help filter out job applicants in the hiring process, typically because it can be overwhelming to sort through the applications manually if many apply for the same job. A program can do that instead by scanning resumes and searching for keywords or numbers (such as school grade point averages) and then assigning an overall score to the applicant. These programs also can learn as they analyze more data. Known as machine-learning algorithms, they can change and adapt like humans so they can better predict outcomes. Amazon uses similar algorithms so they can learn the buying habits of customers or more accurately target ads, and Netflix uses them so they can learn the movie tastes of users when recommending new viewing choices.

Big Data and the Future of Business

The point of Big Data is that we can do novel things. One of the most promising ways the data is being put to use is in an area called “machine learning.” It is a branch of artificial intelligence, which is a branch of computer science—but with a healthy dose of math. The idea, simply, is to throw a lot of data at a computer and have it identify patterns that humans wouldn’t see, or make decisions based on probabilities at a scale that humans can do well but machines couldn’t until now, or perhaps someday at a scale that humans can never attain. It’s basically a way of getting a computer to do things not by explicitly teaching it what to do, but having the machine figure things out for itself based on massive quantities of information.

How to create a physical space for innovation

Every company embracing innovation does so in its own way. Johnson & Johnson, for instance, maintains several “innovation hubs” around the world, while Eli Lilly has endowed its own venture capital fund to fuel innovation efforts. The single quality these and other companies share is that they have created physical spaces in which to nurture new ideas. If innovation is the application of unorthodox thinking to business opportunities, the innovation lab is where that thinking evolves into new products, services, process efficiencies, partnerships, or business models. The hallmark of the innovation lab is that it is a space set apart—sometimes even isolated—from the rest of the company.

Stephen Hawking's answer to a 40-year-old paradox about black holes

Two fertile decades of debate followed, giving rise along the way to entirely new conceptions of how the universe is built (black holes, it seems, are pretty fundamental components of it). As a new branch of physics called string theory found its feet, it turned out to be good at explaining the rules of order and disorder within the event horizon. And a consensus emerged that while his "Hawking radiation" story of evaporating black holes was correct, Dr Hawking's supposition about the loss of information was not. By 2004, he was forced to concede a bet on the outcome (the winner was to receive an encyclopedia, "from which information can be retrieved at will"). Information was saved. But how? It is that question that has preoccupied theorists, not least Dr Hawking himself, since then.

Biometrics: The password you cannot change

Turner suggested that biometrics should only be used as an authentication for local devices, which he said makes Apple's Touch ID unique and the "perfect way" of using biometrics. He said when a person's fingerprints are checked by the cryptographic chip on the Apple device, the information becomes linked to a person's Apple ID, but that information stays only on that particular device. According to Turner, this means if a person loses their Apple device, no one else can use the saved credentials from a different device. Turner made this observation in a discussion paper titled Consumerisation of biometrics will result in obsolescence, highlighting that most biometric deployments will "not be well executed, and the failures of these systems will impact the feasibility of biometrics as a means of authentication".

'Experiment, incubate, pivot': Making the most of disruptive technology

"The risk of being disrupted has never been higher and the time it takes for disruption to happen is shorter than ever," says Cox. "Organisations, therefore, need to be proactively disrupting themselves; challenging their business models, developing technology-enabled enhancements and alternatives to their products and services." ... In fact, such is the power of disruption that Richard Norris, head of IT and business change at Reliance Mutual Insurance Society Limited, says all CIOs must help their businesses to identify opportunities for innovation-led change. Norris implemented a digital innovation group at Reliance about three months ago. Drawing people from across the business, the learning group analyses how digital disruption can affect how services are taken to market

9 NoSQL Pioneers Who Modernized Data Management

Instead of precision with defined schemas, NoSQL pioneers sought an ability to handle information at high volume and high speed. Instead of getting one transaction exactly right, they wanted to deal with a million users at once. NoSQL offered the sort of approach that a Twitter or Facebook might appreciate. And, in fact, those organizations quickly became big NoSQL users. Avinash Lakshman at Facebook was a pioneer involved in the formation of two NoSQL systems, DynamoDB during a prior stint at Amazon, and Cassandra at Facebook. For companies with robust public-facing Internet operations – such as social media, financial institutions, and retailers – customer service is a primary business driver for deploying NoSQL systems.

3 takeaways for CIOs from Facebook CIO Tim Campos

“At Facebook, culture is everything and it’s an incredible timesaver,” Campos said. Culture allows Facebook to cut through bureaucracy, he said. Among the ways Facebook emphasizes its culture is through its now well-known posters that say things like: "Fail harder;" "Move fast and break things;" and, "What would you do if you weren’t afraid?" Facebook also reinforces its culture through storytelling, like the “will you resign” email example he shared with the audience. “It was an incredibly powerful message,” Campos explained. “Everybody at the company read this email and had the exact same takeaway and perspective that I did, they all thought it was immediately addressed to them.

Quote for the day:

"Successful people are interdependent, not independent" -- RichardWeylman