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AI Investment Up, ROI Remains Iffy

By George Leopold

Real-world applications for artificial intelligence are emerging in areas such as boosting the productivity of dispersed workforces. However, early adopters are still struggling to determine the return on initial AI investments, according to a pair of new vendor reports.

Red Hat released research this week indicating that AI deployments have yielded some tangible results in areas such as transportation and utilities that rely heavily on field workers. A separate forecast released Wednesday (Jan.17) by Narrative Science found growing enterprise adoption of AI technologies but little in the way of investment returns.

Chicago-based Narrative Science, which sells natural language generation technology, found that 61 percent of those companies it surveyed deployed AI technologies in 2017. Early deployments focused on business intelligence, finance and product management. “In 2018, the focus will be on ensuring enterprises get value from their AI investments,” company CEO Stuart Frankel noted in releasing the survey.

Early adopters are also encountering many of the hurdles associated with a “first mover” advantage. “More and more organizations are deploying AI-powered technologies, with goals such as improving worker productivity and enhancing the customer experience that are not only laudable, but achievable,” Narrative Science concluded. “A focus on realistic deployment timeframes and accurately measuring the effectiveness and [return on investment] of AI is critical to keeping the current momentum around the technology moving forward.”

Meanwhile, the Red Hat (NYSE: RHT) survey also found an uptick in AI deployments, with 30 percent of respondents planning to implement AI for “field service workers” this year. Other applications include predictive analytics, machine learning and robotics.

While issues such as securing data access and a lack of standards persist, Red Hat found that field workers are “now at the forefront of digital transformation where artificial intelligence, smart mobile devices, the Internet of Things (IoT) and business process management technologies have created new opportunities to better streamline and transform traditional workflows and workforce management practices.”

A predicted 25 percent increase in AI investment through November 2018 is seen transforming field service operations, Red Hat noted in a blog posted on Thursday (Jan. 18). Early movers cited increase field worker productivity (46 percent), streamlining field operations (40 percent) and improving customer service (37 percent) as the top business factors for investing in AI.

Along with a lack of standards, respondents said deployment challenges include keeping pace with technological change and integrating AI deployments with legacy systems. The survey notes that industry groups are focusing on standards and interoperability among IoT devices along with data security while improving integration technologies.

Earlier vendor surveys also have identified barriers to implementation ranging from a lack of IT infrastructure suited to AI applications to a lack AI expertise. For instance, a survey released last fall by data analytics vendor Teradata Corp. (NYSE: TDC) found that 30 percent of those it polled said greater investments would be required to expand AI deployments.

Despite the promise and pitfalls of AI—ranging from freeing workers from drudgery to displacing those same workers—early AI deployments appear to underscore the reality that the technology remains a solution in search of a problem.

Recent items:

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BlackBerry launches new cybersecurity services to safeguard people, privacy and assets

By Zenobia Hedge

BlackBerry Ltd has introduced new cybersecurity consulting services aimed at enabling enterprise GDPR compliance and mitigating security risks in connected automobiles that threaten personal and public safety.

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

Set to go into effect May 2018, and applicable to any enterprise controlling or processing Personally Identifiable Information (PII) of European Union residents, GDPR demands major changes to the ways organisations may collect, use, and store PII about customers and employees.

BlackBerry Cybersecurity Consulting will guide organisations through the process of understanding how to manage company data, how GDPR applies to the organisation, and how to achieve a competitive readiness posture.

“Having been engaged with the EU Justice Directorate-General since 2012, we understand the GDPR requirements and have developed expertise to help address the full range of GDPR implications for enterprises, from situational assessment to offering DPO (Data Protection Officer) -as-a-service,” said Carl Wiese, global head of sales, BlackBerry. “In addition to consulting services, we provide many necessary software solutions, making BlackBerry a one-stop shop for GDPR compliance.”

Article 37 of the GDPR requires organisations to have a dedicated DPO to oversee the company’s data protection strategy. The IAPP estimates over 27,000 DPOs will be needed to address that requirement.

Information about BlackBerry’s new GDPR consulting services is available here.

Automotive cybersecurity consulting services

Cybersecurity is top of mind for automakers as new technology and more connectivity is introduced to modern cars. According to Automotive Cybersecurity and Connected Car Report from IHS Automotive, there are nearly 112 million vehicles now connected around the world and the global market for automotive cybersecurity is expected to grow to $759 million (€644.45 million) in 2023.

Carl Wiese

BlackBerry will now offer new services directly and through a new partner program aimed at helping to eliminate security vulnerabilities within connected and autonomous vehicles.

“When it comes to connected cars, there is no safety without security,” continued Weise. “BlackBerry’s cybersecurity consulting practice builds on decades of experience in information security, data protection and cyber-resilience to support our clients in protecting their most valuable assets. As hacking evolves and new threats arise, our new cybersecurity consulting services will help play a critical role in the development of secure connected and autonomous vehicles.”

Spring Cloud, a supplier of autonomous driving AI platforms in South Korea, will be the first partner to work with BlackBerry to provide the new cybersecurity consulting services to a range of automotive technology providers.

BlackBerry has provided cybersecurity solutions to clients in government and banking since the mid-90s. With the acquisition of QNX in 2010, the company’s expertise expanded into safety-critical systems in automotive, healthcare, energy and manufacturing. Today, BlackBerry Cybersecurity Consulting provides a holistic cybersecurity approach to help all enterprises manage complex security structures and mission-critical systems around the world.

For more information on BlackBerry Cybersecurity Consulting and the company’s services, please click here.

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Analytics Remains Top Data Tech, Survey Says

By George Leopold

Artificial intelligence is all the rage, but as companies continue to struggle with data complexity characterized by a variety and number of data sources, analytics remains the most important technology for squeezing value from far-flung data.

Analytics was cited by an overwhelming majority (96 percent) of respondents to a recent poll sponsored by SAP when asked to name the most important technology for a data-driven enterprise. AI and machine learning were cited by 81 percent, while 85 percent picked the Internet of Things.

IoT was ranked as the most important data source, followed by machine learning and AI, in that order.

Issues related to data complexity and the growing requirements for data management stem in part from the shift to data in the cloud. Nearly half of respondents to the SAP (NYSE: SAP) survey identified public and private clouds as the “most challenging data sources” followed by data warehouses, management and data visualization tools and data lakes. Hadoop databases were seen as least challenging, cited by only 26 percent of those polled.

In an attempt to reduce data complexity, 37 percent said data is stored on premises while 26 percent rely on private or public cloud storage. While enterprise data infrastructure remains siloed, adding to complexity, “enterprises are taking the necessary first steps to improve data discovery and governance,” the survey notes.

With analytics remaining a key technology for most businesses, the SAP survey echoes the need for more data scientists. Even as tools emerge designed to make data more accessible across organizations, the study found that 79 percent believe data scientists remain important, and an equal number worry about a data skills shortage.

“Big data has been coined the new gold, and companies believe that it’s time to make data scientists the new gold miners,” survey authors asserted.

As enterprises turn inward to squeeze value from the growing number of data sources, a majority of survey respondents said data scientists should focus on “data inside the enterprise” while only 38 percent said their focus should be on external data.

Moreover, IT operations are seen as the mostly likely enterprise user of data analytics, thereby making them the “key data stakeholders,” SAP reported.

SAP’s “State of Big Data” survey was conducted in August 2017.

The findings illustrate “a data management landscape ripe with opportunity,” the company further asserted. Among those opportunities are emerging data management approaches that go beyond relational database. Citing MongoDB’s (Nasdaq: MDB) stock offering on Thursday (Oct. 19), Datastax CEO Billy Bosworth noted in a statement: “There is a critical need for a new era of operational data management.”

Declining cloud storage and processing costs coupled with the growing data gravity of the cloud means companies are moving more operational and analytical workloads to the cloud.

Recent items:

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New BlackBerry-commissioned research confirms cybersecurity is top concern in corporate IoT deployments

By Sheetal Kumbhar

BlackBerry Limited announced findings from a new global research whitepaper, which surveyed IT decision makers on corporate IoT deployments. Conducted by 451 Research, the whitepaper titled, “Securing the Enterprise of Things: Opportunity for securing IoT with a unified platform emerging as IoT popularity grows,” reveals that huge opportunities are balanced against significant cybersecurity concerns.

“The proliferation of IoT is being led by enterprises, and they continue to require a unified endpoint management strategy that is capable of scaling to handle billions of connected devices,” said Marty Beard, chief operating officer, BlackBerry. “We are focused on securing the EoT because for all its promise, the expanding adoption of connected things means that companies are only as secure as their most vulnerable endpoint.”

Marty Beard

Survey respondents represent a wide range of vertical industries, including financial services, government and healthcare. Below are some key themes from the research:

78% of respondents indicated interest in a solution that allows them to manage all their endpoints in one place.
63% noted that security is the “top” concern regarding digital technologies and processes. However, only a little over one-third (37%) actually have a formal digital transformation strategy in place.
Organisations are least prepared against external threats, with nearly two-thirds (61%) citing hackers and cyberwarfare as top concerns.
39% of respondents from very large organisations (more than 10,000 employees) revealed that a lack of collaboration among internal departments is a potential barrier to unified endpoint management, while 51% of mid-sized organisations felt the same way.

The new whitepaper is available for download.

For more information about BlackBerry’s EOT solutions, please click here.

Comment on this article below or via Twitter: @IoTNow_OR @jcIoTnow

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Flexera issues warning about cyberattacks like the Equifax Breach: they’re probably just the first known victim

By Sheetal Kumbhar

As 143 million Equifax consumers continue to pick up the pieces from stolen Social Security numbers, birth dates, drivers’ licenses, addresses and credit card numbers, Flexera has another warning – expect a long tail of incidents and breaches in the months and years to come.

Flexera, the company that’s reimaging how software is bought, sold, managed and secured, surveyed over 400 software suppliers, Internet of Things (IoT) manufacturers and in-house development teams to publish its Open Source Risk – Fact or Fiction? report. Though open source software (OSS) helps software suppliers be nimble and build products faster – today’s report reveals hidden software supply chain risks all software suppliers and IoT manufacturers should know about.

For instance, criminals who potentially gained access to the personal data of the Equifax customers exploited an Apache Struts CVE-2017-5638 vulnerability. Apache Struts is a widely used open source component – a framework for Web servers – used by companies in commercial and in-house systems to take in and serve up data. The use case of this open-source component makes it a prime target for cyberattacks.

Case in point? While as much as 50% of all code found in commercial and IoT software products is open source, according to the Flexera report:

No OSS Policy is Bad Policy: Only 37 % of respondents have an open source acquisition or usage policy. 63% say either their companies don’t have an open source acquisition or usage policy, or they don’t know if one exists.
No One’s in Charge of OSS: 39% of respondents said that either no one within their company is responsible for open source compliance – or that they don’t know who is.
OSS Contributors Aren’t Following Best Practices: 33% of respondents say their companies contribute to open source projects. But, of the 63% who say their companies don’t have an open source acquisition or usage policy, 43% said they contribute to open source projects.

“We can’t lose sight that open source is indeed a clear win. Ready-to-go code gets products out the door faster, which is important given the lightning pace of the software space,” said Jeff Luszcz, vice president of product management at Flexera. “However, most software engineers don’t track open source use, and most software executives don’t realise there’s a gap and a security/compliance risk.”

Report takeaway for software and IoT companies? Your processes for managing open source security and licensing haven’t kept pace with open source’s rapid adoption – and it’s putting you and your customers at risk.

“Open source processes protect products and brand reputation. But, most software and IoT vendors don’t realise there is a problem, so they’re not protecting themselves and their customers,” said Luszcz. “This endangers the entire software supply chain – for the vendors whose products are exposed to compliance and vulnerability risk. And also for their customers who most likely don’t even know they’re running open source and other third-party software, or that it may contain software vulnerabilities.”

Comment on this article below or via Twitter: @IoTNow_OR @jcIoTnow

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