Daily Tech Digest - January 04, 2024

Beyond transactions: Reimagining banking with superior digital customer journeys

In their journey toward digitalization, many banks have concentrated on streamlining customer journeys, often through targeted solutions like automation or AI to address specific problem areas. However, true digital success goes beyond these piecemeal enhancements. For banks to truly excel in the digital arena, a shift in mindset is required. It’s about adopting a platform-first approach that offers a more integrated, holistic solution rather than completely overhauling existing systems. This approach isn’t just about fine-tuning isolated components; it’s about seamlessly connecting these components through a unified platform that enhances the overall efficiency and effectiveness of the banking ecosystem. ... Many banks streamline, but the real leaders in digital banking are those who reimagine the entire customer journey. They take their ‘hands off the wheel,’ designing systems that amplify human potential while supporting touchless operations. They weave AI into the fabric of banking to deliver seamless service that’s not just efficient but also intuitive and connected. 

5 Microservices Design Patterns Every DevOps Team Should Know

The API gateway serves as a single entry point for all client requests. It routes requests to the appropriate microservice and subsequently aggregates the responses. It also handles cross-cutting concerns like authentication, monitoring and rate limiting. Furthermore, it provides a unified API that is easier to consume by the client, shielding them from the complexity of the microservices architecture. However, the API Gateway pattern is not without its challenges. It can become a bottleneck if not properly designed and scaled. Also, it’s a single point of failure unless highly available. Despite these challenges, with careful design choices and good operational practices, the API Gateway pattern can greatly simplify client interaction with microservices. ... The Circuit Breaker pattern aims to prevent this scenario. With the Circuit Breaker pattern, you can prevent a network or service failure from cascading to other services. When a failure is detected, the circuit breaker trips and prevents further calls to the failing service. It then periodically attempts to call the service, and if successful, it closes the circuit and lets the calls go through.

6 warning signs CIOs should look out for in 2024

2023 saw a massive boom in AI, and governments are starting to catch up. In the US, President Biden rolled out an executive order on the safe and secure uses of AI, while in the European Union, lawmakers in December agreed on the details of the AI Act — one of the first bills in the world to establish comprehensive rules for AI. So CIOs will have to follow the debate closely as the year progresses. “Staying updated with new regulations, especially regarding AI ethics, data usage, and copyright concerns, is crucial,” says Bilyk. “Ignoring these changes can lead to legal complications and a loss of public trust.” Companies should make sure they have enough compliance experts, while startups need to hire them early on because they have to understand if and how regulations apply to them. Also, it helps if CIOs know exactly which AI-powered tools their company uses and how their in-house tools are developed. Not knowing this is a serious red flag. “A lot of times, leadership, or the legal side, doesn’t even know what developers are building,” Joseph Thacker, security researcher at AppOmni, told CSO. “I think for small and medium enterprises, it’s going to be pretty tough.”

A Look at Microsoft's Secure Future Initiative

My main gripes with the SFI, and the way it's presented, are twofold. First, Satya is nowhere to be seen. This is not the CEO having a moment of deep realization that the current path is dangerous and the ship needs to steer clear of the icebergs ahead. It's security leaders talking about incremental security improvements. Second, it's marketing word salad (mostly, see more below). It talks in generalities about improvements but not enough about concrete, measurable and transparent details that we can see and use to start rebuilding our trust in Microsoft's security culture. ... In an ever-increasing "speed of feature release" competition with AWS in the IaaS and PaaS cloud spaces, and ditto in SaaS with Google (I think this is a mistake, Google Workspace is no longer a serious competitor to Microsoft 365 except in very small businesses) and to a lesser extent Salesforce and others, will program managers at Microsoft be incentivized to say "No, we can't release this feature now, even though the competition is, because we'll need to spend another two months ironing out the security issues."

Want to Identify Good Generative AI Use Cases? Don’t Be Boring!

When we talk about impact, we should always be thinking about acceleration. Code generation, for instance, is a great example of generative AI’s ability to take complex inputs and produce complex outputs. Writing code, even for master coders, can be a complex and time-consuming task. Great code is also invaluable to organizations and their solutions. With generative AI, an expert coder could prompt a model with something like, “Generate some code that sorts this array here in descending order” and receive a working output almost instantaneously. Sure, they could write that code themselves, but generative AI accelerates their job multiple times over. This is a capability that, until now, was only a dream. Conversational analytics is also another “golden zone” use case because of its accelerative potential. Within business intelligence (BI) and other advanced organizational data/AI tools, you could ask a model something like: “What have our sales been for each of our product groups, and are there any trends?” To do this in code would take a person, team, or department a long time. 

Emotional Cyberrisk Management Decisions

There are certain aspects of managing cyberrisk in which emotion can play an important role. However, far too often, emotion is treated as the default tool in risk management, rather than the specialty tool it is meant to be. Cognitive biases and heuristics have an outsized influence on cyberrisk management. They are hard-wired into our brains and, if managed poorly, can make it difficult to ascertain reality. One of the more common sources of bias is confirmation bias, which is the tendency to search for, interpret, and recall information in a way that confirms one’s preexisting beliefs or hypotheses. Confirmation bias may lead someone to disregard evidence that contradicts their existing beliefs. Overconfidence bias is also common. This leads individuals to overestimate their abilities, such as the effectiveness of their cybersecurity controls. Lastly, the anchoring effect happens when someone relies too heavily on the first piece of information ingested (i.e., the anchor) when making decisions, such as an initial risk assessment that may be outdated.

Why Data Quality Will Rise to the Top of Enterprise Priorities in 2024

Data quality is essential. Even if you have found the data sets that will be appropriate for training an AI model or digging for insights, your results will be poor if the quality of your data is poor. Ownership of data and data quality are core to business success but are still too often ignored or overlooked by the executives and board of directors of most organizations. We can see this in the disconnects between perception and reality. Over 80% of executives that HFS surveyed think they trust their data, but the reality is that there are still many people doing a lot of work to get data quality to a level where the data can be consumed and relied upon. As data quality takes on greater importance, it will escalate to an executive-level conversation. Enterprises will need to start collecting and documenting data, metadata, processes, and business rules as they pursue data quality. Without these basic elements, AI models won’t be able to produce insightful and exact results. If you haven’t yet, you’ll need to invest in initiatives to improve your data quality so you can build a strong foundation for AI use.

The Rise of Linux in Edge Computing and IoT

Edge devices often operate with limited resources. While Linux’s scalability is essentially an asset, striking a balance between functionality and resource usage is important. Careful optimization is essential to ensure efficient utilization of limited resources. ... There is a vast array of edge devices, ranging from sensors and actuators to gateways and edge servers. The diversity can present a challenge in terms of maintenance and optimization. Addressing various architectures and hardware configurations is a time-intensive process that requires continuous effort. ... Decentralization is a common feature of edge computing systems, with a multitude of devices each having unique vulnerabilities. Regularly patching and updating these devices can be challenging, as well as difficult to track. Organizations must be vigilant about maintaining the security integrity of edge computing systems. ... Integrating various devices into a cohesive system poses complex challenges. Developers must navigate the intricacies to ensure interoperability among devices running Linux and other operating systems.

Ransomware Group Steals Australian Courts' Video Recordings

Louise Anderson, chief executive officer of the court, did not reveal the nature of the attack but said the department had been able to isolate the affected network and could confirm that the unauthorized access had been restricted to recordings stored on the network. "We understand this will be unsettling for those who have been part of a hearing. We recognize and apologize for the distress that this may cause people," Anderson said. "Maintaining security for court users is our highest priority. Our current efforts are focused on ensuring our systems are safe and making sure we notify people in hearings where recordings may have been accessed." Anderson did not share the court's efforts to regain access to the compromised recordings but said changes are being made to hearing arrangements and will be announced shortly. Anderson said the hackers had breached a single computer system that manages only audiovisual recordings for all court jurisdictions. "The system holds recordings for around 28 days, so the primary investigation period is Nov. 1 to Dec. 21, which is when we identified the problem and isolated and disabled the affected network," she said.

Align IT With the Business

For most CIOs, redefining IT as a strategic discipline and getting the rest of the organization to recognize this isn’t an overnight process. This is also an area where the CIO has to take the lead. Taking the lead means changing perceptions of IT by altering IT practices so IT better aligns with the business. ... Those CIOs regularly visit with these managers to understand business goals and pain points, and then strategize on how IT solutions can help the managers (and the business) succeed. As part of this process, more CIOs are placing IT personnel such as business analysts directly into business units, or they’re teaming their own IT analysts with citizen developers in user departments. This creates inter-departmental cooperation, and it is a natural onramp for relationship building with other business managers. ... Being transformative in your company can be risky and isn’t for the faint of heart, but there are CIOs who have understood their companies’ businesses and have come up with transformative solutions that have grown out of IT. These breakthroughs have reinvented their companies. I

Quote for the day:

"Make heroes out of the employees who personify what you want to see in the organization." -- Anita Roddick

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