Daily Tech Digest - January 13, 2021

Retrospective in Scrum & Agile: A Quick Start Guide for Managers

Speaking of Scrum, retrospective meetings play an important role in this agile framework for leading projects. Typically, retrospective reviews are held at the end of each sprint. Unlike other types of analytical meetings such as after-action reviews (AAR), project post-mortems, or agile sprint reviews (more on this in a moment), sprint retrospectives are organized with the team only (not managers or other stakeholders). It’s a ‘private’ ceremony, facilitated by a Scrum Master, where each person is asked to share their honest observations and feedback (without any blaming or shaming). A good Scrum Master can elicit answers to the following questions from the team: What went well during the sprint and what didn’t; Which areas are due for an improvement (across people-processes-tech).; and What should be added or removed from the current process? The purpose of such project retrospectives is to locate areas for improvement (similarly to what VSM does) and prompt the team to correct their behavior. But, unlike other types of ‘reflective meetings’, retrospectives are held at regular intervals during the project, not at its very end. ... In short, the difference between sprint review and sprint retrospective is the intention behind each meeting. The goal of a sprint review is to discuss the overall project progress including ‘done’ things, future project backlog, any bottlenecks, goals, plans, and timing.

6 Reasons to Start Managing Technical Debt in 2021

Technical debt is one of the reasons people leave - or asking themselves if they should leave. The Codeahoy survey found that 50% of developers surveyed are likely or 'very likely' to leave their jobs because of tech debt. Another 27% percent indicated that they think about it, but aren't sure. All in all, that's a sizable chunk of people who could be swayed by a compelling job offer from a competitor. Suppose your company is experiencing a high turnover of developers. Technical debt might be a factor, especially amongst those who are spending their time putting out fires in response to errors in legacy code at the expense of more exciting projects. ... Every minute spent on maintenance due to technical debt is a lost opportunity for innovation or value-adding work. Research by Accenture into Federal IT systems suggests that technical debt and resulting IT discontinuities impede Innovation and agility and engineering velocity suffers. 83% indicated that technical debt severely limits their ability to be innovative, and 79% report that it inhibits their responsiveness to change. Notably, only 38% of those surveyed were even estimating the cost of remediating technical debt.

Google: Our work to keep you safe and in control of your privacy

In 2020 we continued to invest in easy-to-use privacy and security settings, which are automatically built into every Google Account and Google products. How you use our products and services is a personal choice: When you sign up for Google products and services, we offer you settings that let you choose how to personalize your experience, and control what activity gets saved to your Google Account. And you can change these settings at any time. These privacy and security controls are available in your Google Account and the products you use every day across platforms and devices, including on iOS. For example, Your Data in Search, Maps and YouTube helps you easily understand how data makes these apps work for you and quickly access the right controls, directly in the apps. You can also just search for things like “Is my Google Account secure?” and a box only visible to you will show your privacy and security settings so you can easily review or adjust them. Google Pay, which was recently redesigned in the U.S., has strong privacy and security controls built-in that are easy to understand and simple to set up, access and manage.

How banks and financial services players will monetise open banking

“To provide real-time data sharing solutions through the pre- and post-transaction processing lifecycles allows automation and streamlining of operational processes as they [clients] do not have to rely on batch reports anymore, which are now perhaps legacy,” Vadakath says. Alongside this and fundamental to the success of the partnership between bank and corporate client, she explores how the purpose of APIs have been reinvented and today, they can be utilised as a client access channel and improves said access to various payment rails and a suite of treasury data solutions. In the custody space, as Wayne Hughes, head of data and digital for FI&C at BNP Paribas explores, there is no regulatory requirement for APIs, but the bank’s business goals are aligned with those at NatWest and BNY Mellon. Hughes explains that in addition to enhancing client experience with self-service, BNP Paribas are using APIs to optimise internal processes and build services that their customers will require in the future. “In providing our clients a new flexible means of interacting with their data, this will allow them to both directly extract their data into their platforms as they require and when they require, but also to allow us to implement new solutions and new packages,” such as a client facing chatbot that leverages natural language processing.

The CIO’s next key role: Change agent

As roles shift, Darren Ash, assistant CIO for the USDA Farm Production and Conservation Mission Area, says it’s critical for CIOs to act as an enabler and a partner with the business—not just to identify and deploy technologies to solve business problems, but to get everyone on board with new ways of working. Ash and his IT team do that through direct and sustained outreach to frontline workers in the various mission areas that comprise the USDA agency, including soliciting feedback from agency personnel and final customers to promote transformation. These efforts are designed to increase the stickiness of any digital initiative and to ensure everyone is onboard with the art of the possible when it comes to new implementations. “It’s our responsibility to better educate the business on technology and how it can be used,” Ash explains. “For us to drive change, we have to be better partners with the business, specifically the frontline employees across the mission areas and not just IT employees.” Ash and his CIO agency peers also make a point to have their teams capture the voice of the customer—in this case, farmers and ranchers dependent on agency services—to gauge what works or what can be done better and to foster organic support.

What Is A Time Series GAN?

Built on generative adversarial networks (GANs), Time Series GAN or TadGAN has been trained with cycle consistency loss to allow for effective time-series data reconstruction. With a claim to outperform baseline methods in most cases, the researchers are planning to present this novel framework at the upcoming IEEE BigData conference. The research was done in collaboration with satellite company SES, looking to leverage a deep learning approach to analyse vast time-series data from communication satellites. ... According to the researchers, there are two types of anomalies in time series data — point anomaly and collective anomaly. To flag both anomalies in time series domain, the researchers relied on GAN architecture, often used for image analysis, to generate time series sequences and outperform state-of-the-art benchmarks. Using the generator and discriminator functioning of the unsupervised learning of GAN architecture, the proposed model was able to flag anomalous data points. The researchers implemented five of the most recent deep learning techniques and compared their performances with a baseline method from the 1970s, ARIMA. While some deep learning methods were able to beat ARIMA on 50% of the datasets, two failed to outperform it at all, because of its ability to fit anomalous data well.

IoT 2020 in Review: The 10 Most Relevant IoT Developments of the Year

IoT played (and still plays) a crucial role in navigating the pandemic. A few IoT-centric use cases played (and continue to play) essential roles in helping the world navigate through the pandemic. The most notable ones include IoT-based contact tracing in workplaces, hospitals, and elsewhere (Example: Concept Reply Tracking & Location System) as well as product tracking and verification across the vaccine supply chain (Example: Controlant – see below).  Apart from those IoT 2020 use cases that support the “new reality”, a number of additional themes emerged, many of which have longer-lasting structural implications. IoT Analytics first published these observations in April 2020 in an analysis called “The impact of Covid-19 on the Internet of Things”.  A survey of 60 senior IT decision makers in manufacturing, transportation, and industrial companies, in October 2020 confirmed that nearly all of these 25 trends were perceived as having a longer-lasting effect on their organizations (The results were published in the “Industrial IT Outlook 2021” – available for download for corporate clients).

2021 Technology trend review, part 1: Blockchain, Cloud, Open Source

Open source is winning, in databases and beyond. Gartner predicts that by 2022, more than 70% of new in-house applications will be developed on an open source database, and 50% of existing proprietary relational database instances will have been converted or be in the process of converting. That was our opener for 2020, and if anything, it looks like the trend has accelerated. Open source use went up while the economy went down, and open source jobs are hotter than ever. Open source software is a boon for developers who use it, as it lowers the barrier to entry, and makes their skills transferable. But what about developers who create the software? They get the raw part of the deal, it would seem. The reality is that in the majority of open source software above a certain threshold of complexity, a core team of few people does most of the work. This empirical fact is backed up by analysis on Github data. We highlighted this theme in early 2020, following up on the New York Times article on the relationship between AWS and commercial open source vendors. Wired followed up with another article highlighting the ordeal of open source creators. Salvatore Sanfilippo, Redis' "benevolent dictator", stepping down from his role is another incident in a long chain of open source creators burnout.

How to prep for becoming an IoT leader

One area that will be important going forward is understanding how IoT and Industrial IoT (IIoT) will eventually merge. "There is a lot of existing infrastructure that is working well, but under-monitored and -utilized," Floyd says. It will be interesting to see how legacy industrial equipment will be adapted for greater efficiency and cost savings, he says. The growth of IoT and IIoT will likely lead to a "culture clash" between IT and operations/facilities, Floyd says, "and anyone who can traverse these two worlds, from either side, will find themselves indispensable." Overall, Floyd thinks gaining IoT skills and certifications has proven to be useful in advancing his career. "It provided a lens to view future technologies and their interconnectedness, as well as an avenue towards 'the next big thing' for a career," he says. "Understanding better how to guide a new technology [from] concept to approval and then through implementation and delivery are skills that can be applied to other enterprise technology projects." In addition, Floyd says acquiring these certificates demonstrates a dedication to advancing his career and displays a curiosity about future technologies. "When this topic does come up in my organization, people understand that I have some background, and I can advise if needed."

Productivity Life Hacks for Software Engineers (and All Knowledge Workers)

Why do we need sleep, anyway? Why shouldn't you routinely stay up late into the night coding? After all, time spent sleeping is time not spent getting work done. But, it turns out that sleep is crucial in retaining what you learn. It's during slow-wave sleep (SWS) and rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep that the information you've learned is consolidated and stored in long-term memory. We sleep in cycles, so a short amount of sleep or a restless night of sleep means less time spent in these phases. To that effect, it is counterproductive to consistently spend late nights working and studying without giving your brain adequate time to process and save all this new information. Lack of sleep can also lead to irritability, the inability to focus, and lower productivity, which hurts your work performance as well as your relationships with your coworkers. Exercise is also important, not just for your body, but for your mind. show that exercise is linked to reduced stress, higher work performance, and increased creativity. Conversely, sitting for long periods of time is correlated with lower work output and poorer mental health. So next time you're feeling an afternoon slump, rather than reach for the caffeine, try taking a short walk.

Quote for the day:

"The greatest thing is, at any moment, to be willing to give up who we are in order to become all that we can be." -- Max de Pree

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