Daily Tech Digest - February 26, 2023

Skills-based hiring continues to rise as degree requirements fade

Hard skills, such as cybersecurity and software development, are still in peak demand, but organizations are finding soft skills can be just as importanr, according to Jamie Kohn, research director in the Gartner Research’s human resources practice. Soft skills, which are often innate, include adaptability, leadership, communications, creativity, problem solving or critical thinking, good interpersonal skills and the ability to collaborate with others. “Also, people don’t learn all their [hard] skills at college,” Kohn said. “They haven’t for some time, but there’s definitely a surge in self-taught skills or taking online courses. You may have a history major who’s a great programmer. That’s not at all unusual anymore. Companies that don’t consider that are missing out by requiring specific degrees.” ... Much of the recent shift to skills-based hiring is due to the dearth of tech talent created by the Great Resignation and a growin number of digital transformation projects. While the US unemployment rate hovers around 3.5%, in technology fields, it’s less than half that (1.5%).

Do digital IDs work? The nation with one card for everything

No system is foolproof: a potential security flaw uncovered in 2017 required the temporary suspension of 800,000 cards. Users occasionally receive notifications that some data may have been compromised. Nor does it eliminate fraud. According to official figures, Estonians were scammed out of €5 million (£4.4 million) last year, through a familiar mixture of fraudulent calls, phishing messages and fake websites in which they were tricked into handing over passwords. But in two decades no one has decrypted the technology itself. Indeed, the system has become so embedded in Estonian life it is hard to find anyone who knocks it. Its few critics are mostly to be found among the ranks of the populist right-wing Conservative People’s Party of Estonia (Ekre), which is expected to take third place in the election. The party has expressed scepticism about the security of online voting — and its supporters are less likely to use it than supporters of mainstream parties. But although it spent two years in a coalition government from 2019, Ekre did nothing to dismantle the system.

Microsoft trains ChatGPT to control robots

The team plans to leverage the platform's ability to develop coherent and grammatically correct responses to various prompts and questions and see if ChatGPT can think beyond the text and reason about the physical world to help with robotics tasks. "We want to help people interact with robots more easily, without needing to learn complex programming languages or details about robotic systems." The key obstacle in the way for a language model based on AI is to solve problems considering the laws of physics, the context of the operating environment, and how the robot’s physical actions can change the state of the world. Even though ChatGPT can do a lot alone, it still needs some help. Microsoft has released a series of design principles, including unique prompting structures, high-level APIs, and human feedback via text. These models can be used to guide language models toward solving robotics tasks. The firm is also introducing PromptCraft, an open-source platform where anyone can "share examples of prompting strategies for different robotics categories."

Job Interview Advice for Junior Developers

Remember the audience you are talking to. Human resources personnel are very different to the dev guy sitting in the interview with them. You won’t be working with anyone in HR, but they are the gatekeepers. In smaller outfits, there will probably be a manager type and a dev guy. It doesn’t hurt to empathize with how their views differ. Make sure you are comfortable with all the parts of the agile development cycle, not just the bits your team happened to pick up in your last project. I have never used pull requests, but they are de rigueur in may places. Similarly code reviews. Retrospectives might seem pointless to you, but how else do you improve a process? Don’t assume that what your team called DevOps or Kanban is exactly the same as what everyone else does. One of the biggest snags in an interview — I think the most common — is when the interviewee shows little enthusiasm for an aspect of development the interviewer happens to thinks is important. Your negative hot take on a mainstream process, especially without experience weighing in behind you, may well be seen as a sign of rigidity.

Cyberattacks hit data centers to steal information from global companies

Resecurity identified several actors on the dark web, potentially originating from Asia, who during the course of the campaign managed to access customer records and exfiltrate them from one or multiple databases related to specific applications and systems used by several data center organizations. In at least one of the cases, initial access was likely gained via a vulnerable helpdesk or ticket management module that was integrated with other applications and systems, which allowed the threat actor to perform a lateral movement. The threat actor was able to extract a list of CCTV cameras with associated video stream identifiers used to monitor data center environments, as well as credential information related to data center IT staff and customers, Resecurity said. Once the credentials were collected, the actor performed active probing to collect information about representatives of the enterprise customers who manage operations at the data center, lists of purchased services, and deployed equipment.

Avoiding vendor lock-in and the data gravity trap

Today, enterprises are adopting hybrid cloud and multicloud strategies to avoid vendor lock-in and the data gravity trap. In fact, many enterprises are choosing vendors who provide cloud-agnostic services that are also open source to benefit from the most freedom and to avoid vendor lock-in. In addition, working with vendors with large partner ecosystems can help reduce the risks of lock-in. Open standards are the antidote to proprietary technology. Open standards allow users to move freely between vendors—to mix and match or integrate—with competing vendors to create their own solution. They allow you to compose your service or system freely and liberate you from the proprietary interfaces of a vendor. Open standards came about from our prior experiences of vendor lock-in. If we forget that history, we are condemned to repeat it. ... While the general movement is toward the concept of “composable IT,” where software-defined infrastructure and application components interoperate seamlessly to make businesses nimble, there are times when vendor lock-in makes sense.

Boards tapping CIOs to drive strategy

“CIOs are playing a leading role in orchestrating transformation and are stepping up in response to the changing industry dynamics,” said Logicalis CEO Bob Bailkoksi, “yet they are faced with challenges to navigate, including a potential recession and talent shortages.” “In addition to this, they are experiencing increased pressure to deliver digital-based outcomes for their organisations, giving them more exposure to their boards and requiring a different way of operating.” In many companies, that “different way” seems to be that their traditional remit – implementing technology to support business strategy – has changed dramatically: 41 per cent reported having some level of responsibility for business strategy as well as the technology to deliver it, and 80 per cent said business strategy will become a bigger part of their role in the next two years. Innovation and digital transformation are two of four primary areas of focus for CIOs identified in the study – the others being strategy and the reimagination of service partnerships, which is expected to see three-quarters of CIOs spending more on IT outsource management this year than last.

How Companies Are Using Data to Optimize Manufacturing Operations

Real-time agility requires combining data from multiple sources to create new insights for use cases like machine learning. Manufacturers are familiar with streaming data today, but this is nowhere near the point of saturation. Everything from supply chain shortages to COVID-19 sick time and weather disruptions has made the simple task of getting shipments from point A to B complicated and uncertain. However, companies that consolidate data from asset-based sensors, predictive maintenance algorithms, and ordering and staffing systems (such as enterprise resource management, supply chain management and human resources software), can use it to respond much more quickly, and keep assets operating at maximum efficiency. Industrial asset management, especially in transportation, allows companies to showcase the value of real- or near-real-time data in a range of scenarios, from airlines to railroads. Large-scale assets deployed in the past few years generate a tremendous amount of streaming data. 

3 ways to retool your architecture to reduce costs

When you have one team developing and operating one application deployed on one server, it's not difficult to figure out the infrastructure, labor, and software costs of developing the application. However, when you have thousands of applications, it becomes a real mess to trace every penny flowing into your application's TCO. ... The reality is far more complicated. For platforms, especially hybrid cloud, some costs may go away immediately, while some will be redistributed to new application portfolios. The labor costs associated with the application will remain unless you actually eliminate that labor; otherwise, those costs will be redistributed across the other applications the team supports. In other words, labor costs will increase for those other applications. ... There are two views of measuring excess capacity. First, to decrease unused reservations by application owners, you must allocate total platform cost by total reservations. However, for platform owners to understand excess capacity compared to the total built capacity, you must allocate the total platform cost by the total built capacity.

4 steps to supercharge IT leaders

IT leaders understand well that it’s not just willpower that leads to success; it’s also “way power,” or the “how” of achieving your goals. Being able to find a pathway forward is just the starting point. Leaders today must be able to pivot in real time when a new opportunity, obstacle, or crisis surfaces. The more options you have, the more likely you are to achieve your goals. Consider the example of a complex digital initiative. Let’s say you’ve identified a way forward plus a backup plan for your top purposes. Implementation will almost certainly be nonlinear. What happens when you hit obstacles? ... Many things cloud or limit our vision or even blindside us. We are all affected by our personalities, beliefs, and assumptions. We are also affected by the data that we choose to rely on. How can you be more confident that what you’re seeing is real? Start by taking another look at your external priorities. You might be exaggerating or discounting the opportunities or threats that you see. ... How confident are you about timing for essential deliverables on your critical path? 

Quote for the day:

"The speed of the leader is the speed of the gang." -- Mary Kay Ash

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