Daily Tech Digest - January 17, 2017

Turn Your Organization into an Idea Factory: Part I

If there is a perception that the employee suggestion box is a black hole and a waste of time, employees will quickly stop submitting new ideas. I say perception because sometimes ideas are being looked at and evaluated, but communication and transparency around this process is missing or takes too long. The interesting thing about feedback is that it does not need to be positive. It just has to exist. ... Even when a suggestion is turned down, the feedback is seen as positive if there is a proper explanation provided. Another important element of trust is the participation of leadership within the program. There is considerably more success with programs when leaders are active in commenting and responding to ideas, and reinforcing the usage of the program and celebrating success in communications.


Self-Service Business Intelligence is Big, but is it for Everyone?

While business users represent one pocket of parties interested in Self-Service Business Intelligence, another important user segment is the IT department itself. A survey of IT pros from real-time IT management vendor ManageEngine – which this past summer unveiled a self-service solution to help enterprise IT staff gain insights from the data generated by its network monitoring, applications monitoring, and customer support tools – shows that these experts want Self-Service Analytics tools as much as their business counterparts. Forty-two percent of respondents want to create reports on their own, a win for Self-Service Analytics over traditional reporting – and on-demand, with ad hoc reporting being key for more than one-third so that they can get answers to specific questions and analyze specific data.


McKinsey sees blockchain technology reaching full potential in 5 years

The McKinsey report’s time estimate for full blockchain adoption is about half that of similar estimates. The World Economic Forum released a report in October 2015 about the tipping point of disruptive technologies, and included predictions about blockchain in it. Governments, the report claimes, would reach their tipping point for using blockchain technology by 2023, and people would reach their tipping point for using “bitcoin and the blockchain” in 2027. ... However, over the next one to two years startups and standards for the space will rise, as well as “niche applications that will define new markets that do not exist today.” In another three to five years, they predict that the majority of large players will use blockchain technology. Global business consulting firm Accenture has a similar timeline, with a two year shorter timeframe.


Machine Learning – An idea whose time has come

The increasing availability of Big Data from ever-expanding sources, including IoT sensors, digitized documents and images, has made machine learning more relevant than ever before. The data is constantly being used to ‘train’ machines and enable them to make accurate predictions and recommendations. As data continues to proliferate, the ability of our computers to process and analyze that data will also increase. Not only that, computers will also increasingly learn from that data. ... The adoption of Machine Learning in organizations is bound to face some challenges. For instance, computation of data, sourcing talent in large numbers, and creating the requisite infrastructure are going to be major tasks that will need attention and resources. Besides, uncertainty, ethical issues, outcome metrics, logistics, budgeting computational resources, training and testing of data sets all pose challenges.


Data Science of Variable Selection: A Review

One of the biggest problems in predictive modeling is the conflation between classic hypothesis testing with careful model specification vis-a-vis pure data mining. The classically trained can get quite dogmatic about the need for "rigor" in model design and development. The fact is that when confronted with massive numbers of candidate predictors and multiple possible targets or dependent variables, the classic framework neither works, holds nor provides useful guidance – how does anyone develop a finite set of hypotheses with millions of predictors? Numerous recent papers delineate this dilemma from Chattopadhyay and Lipson's brilliant paper Data Smashing: Uncovering Lurking Order in Data who state, "The key bottleneck is that most data comparison algorithms today rely on a human expert to specify what ‘features’ of the data are relevant for comparison.


Online Or Offline, Ransomware Will Find You

Professional ransomware authors typically use online Command & Control centers for their campaigns as they provide multiple benefits, including the ability to track affiliate campaigns, use unique keys created for victims, and alter campaign specifics on the fly. The old "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" method has served them well for the longest time, but everything has to change eventually, and even malware makers have to adapt with the times. The reason for this shift in attack strategy is that not all computers are online, which represents a blip in the ability of bad actors to make as much money as humanly possible. If ransomware can't “phone home” when it's time to begin infecting the target, then no encryption can take place and their efforts are wasted. To get around this, it's becoming more common to see offline features built into more traditional packages.


Automate systems and server documentation tasks to boost IT efficiency

You don't need an outside tool, but writing and modifying scripts takes time and effort that can be better spent on other IT projects. Scripts are usually best for smaller organizations with limited IT deployments. When an IT environment includes too many diverse systems to document with a single or even a suite of related scripts, or you must include non-Windows systems in the server documentation process, invest in a third-party tool such as ManageEngine's Device Information tool or CENTREL Solutions' Network Documentation tool. These tools are designed for inventory/configuration discovery, recording and reporting. Implement an outside tool to provide better reporting and free IT staff from time-consuming script maintenance.


Data Theft Trends to Watch in 2017

Mishandling of data by (trusted) third parties will be a prime source of data leaks again in 2017, as it was in 2016. Third party breaches are among the most vexing because business partners and contractors – or even customers – often have access to our most sensitive IT assets and data, but are the hardest to police. We’ve noted the trend of third party breaches before. But expect it to get stronger in 2017 rather than weaker. The reason? More reliance on hybrid products and services that mingle on premises devices and clients with a wide range of cloud based services. Longer and more complex supply chains compound risk. Consider the recent news about wholesale transmission of mobile phone users’ text data and contacts by firmware from the Chinese firm ADUPS to company servers in China.


Five Google Assistant integrations we want to see

Smart conversations need smart partners. The Google Assistant can improve in the near-term very quickly with a larger team of buddies that specialize in different tasks. For example, currently I can ask Google for the score of the latest Golden State Warriors game or when they play next. Down the line, perhaps I’d be able to invoke an agent from ESPN or another sports provider who would be able to answer more detailed questions about a player’s performance, read out relevant news stories, or even participate in a trivia game. When developers get on board, the actions could look very much like this, according to Google: These type of interactions at a deeper level shouldn’t all be handled by Google’s algorithms. News providers and third-party apps and services can offer a larger bank of specialized knowledge for their areas of expertise.


Digital Transformation Forces Businesses To Rethink Cybersecurity

"The big change that's accelerating this trend is that shift to modern architectures," Downey adds. "Sixty-nine percent of executives were saying this digital transformation is creating fundamental changes to their security strategies." Bill Berutti, president of Security and Compliance at BMC, says that cybersecurity is now a critical initiative across the board. Companies, governments and society as a whole are facing increased cybersecurity threats including phishing, ransomware and known vulnerabilities. "Businesses need to tear down security and operations walls — or keep getting hacked," he said in a statement Wednesday. Allison Cramer says many BMC customers are responding by bringing together security professionals, operations professionals and developers into teams focused on particular mission-critical assets.



Quote for the day:


"If you care enough for a result, you will most certainly attain it." -- William James