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IBM/APPLE TIE-UP – A POTENTIAL GAME CHANGER

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By Charlie Mayes, Managing Director, DAV Management

Last month, Apple and IBM announced a deal that was widely acknowledged as a shrewd move by Apple to gain deeper traction in the enterprise space. The partnership is also a win for IBM as the tie-up will likely accelerate their capability in enterprise mobility at a faster rate than the organic pace of Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) growth.

IBM will sell the Apple devices loaded with applications for business users and Apple will handle telephone support with new AppleCare options that are specifically crafted for enterprises.  The tie-up was seen by analysts as a direct challenge for customers that use BlackBerry’s enterprise services, the current leaders in the enterprise mobility market. IBM is planning more than 100 apps targeting industries such as retail, healthcare, banking, travel, transportation and telecommunications, with a focus on security and mobile device management.

The astonishing thing in all of this is if you go back five years or more, you never would have thought of Apple and IBM as natural bedfellows. Consider Apple, its persona, culture and image and contrast that with IBM – the two couldn’t be more different. Yet when you look at how both organisations are currently positioned then there’s a lot of logic in the partnership – and a great deal of power.  You’ve got Apple, a really strong player in the consumer market and fantastically adept at reaching out to that sector of the marketplace with brilliantly well designed front end systems (and amazing promotional reach), coupled with IBM’s strength in enterprise level computing and powerful processes, infrastructure, data services and backend systems.

Above all, this is likely to be a genuine game changer; in spite of the Microsoft/Nokia tie-up, Android’s penetration of the corporate market and Blackberry’s dominance in this space, it would appear to be the first end-to-end enterprise offering that organisations will really relish – combining the end user’s choice of mobile technology with the CIO’s choice of enterprise platform. As such, this new partnership has the potential to revolutionise the way that enterprises operate.  Employees will no longer have to lug a company laptop around. Instead, they will bring their iPad or iPhone into meetings.  In fact, the true genius of the partnership is how it has the potential to transform millions of “BYOD” iOS devices into a viable platform for hosting apps within the enterprise.  Seemingly, the alliance is a marriage made in heaven – what could possibly go wrong?

Well, in the short-term, it will be a minefield for the CIO and the IT department, if they choose to go down this route. Many organisations will have to completely rethink their mobile strategy and how to replace the BYOD phenomenon that has caused the IT department considerable headaches already, but has been gaining traction.  CIOs across all organisations have been wrestling with the problem that everyone wants to use the device in their pocket to access company data, applications and processes. In spite of increasing BYOD adoption, up until now there hasn’t been an easy solution for secure, scalable and flexible mobile device usage within enterprises. And while the Apple-IBM strategic alliance certainly has the potential to deliver significant benefits for businesses, it will also drive significant change and upheaval.

The question is how will the CIO office facilitate that change?  What policy decisions will need to be made? Most enterprises operate in a Windows desktop and laptop world and running an Apple iOS platform alongside this will create new technical challenges.  Will such change derive additional value when the extra cost and time to move to a whole new mobile environment is taken into account?  These are just some of the considerations that the CIO will need to address.

Perhaps, most importantly, organisations should not underestimate the size and complexity of the task and the impact that will be felt by the business as a result. Given the ubiquity of Apple devices in the consumer market place it will be easy to expect a seamless and quick adoption with minimum disruption; such expectation should be viewed with scepticism. Over the years I’ve witnessed many technology change projects and programmes where the organisations involved have seriously underestimated their readiness to make the changes they have committed to.  Many organisations looking at the Apple-IBM alliance may not have even fully developed their current mobile strategy and under these circumstances it is highly unlikely that moving to the new platform will deliver the outcomes and benefits that were promised in the business case.

That said there certainly appears to be a lot of well documented reasons for an organisation to consider adopting an Apple-IBM solution, with many industry commentators claiming that the new partnership will indeed transform enterprise mobility. Whether this is true or not, we can be sure of one thing, this announcement is set to disrupt the market and it will be very interesting to see how this partnership between two of the world’s global technology giants evolves.

Irrespective of whether you believe the Apple-IBM alliance will be a game changer, the adoption of enterprise mobility solutions is starting to gain traction and the success or failure of new enterprise mobility initiatives will still depend on how well prepared the organisation is for change.  Mobile projects and programmes are no different to any other change initiative; they need careful planning, management and effective stakeholder communication in order to achieve the end goal and the business benefits. So whilst it might appear that there are many advantages to be gained, the CIO must ensure that the organisation has thought through its requirements, that the business is capable of moving to the new mobile platform, that there is a thorough understanding of cost and how long it might take, and that there is buy-in from all employees and major stakeholders around the business.   Otherwise, in spite of the industry hype and apparent strength of the combined offering, the delivery might fall short of expectation and not deliver the great ‘Apple-IBM’ promise that enterprises think they are buying.

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‘Spooky’ AI tool brings dead relatives’ photos to life

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'Spooky' AI tool brings dead relatives' photos to life 1

By Umberto Bacchi

(Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Like the animated paintings that adorn the walls of Harry Potter’s school, a new online tool promises to bring portraits of dead relatives to life, stirring debate about the use of technology to impersonate people.

Genealogy company MyHeritage launched its “Deep Nostalgia” feature earlier this week, allowing users to turn stills into short videos showing the person in the photograph smiling, winking and nodding.

“Seeing our beloved ancestors’ faces come to life … lets us imagine how they might have been in reality, and provides a profound new way of connecting to our family history,” MyHeritage founder Gilad Japhet said in a statement.

Developed with Israeli computer vision firm D-ID, Deep Nostalgia uses deep learning algorithms to animate images with facial expressions that were based on those of MyHeritage employees.

Some of the company’s users took to Twitter on Friday to share the animated images of their deceased relatives, as well as moving depictions of historical figures, including Albert Einstein and Ancient Egypt’s lost Queen Nefertiti.

“Takes my breath away. This is my grandfather who died when I was eight. @MyHeritage brought him back to life. Absolutely crazy,” wrote Twitter user Jenny Hawran.

While most expressed amazement, others described the feature as “spooky” and said it raised ethical questions. “The photos are enough. The dead have no say in this,” tweeted user Erica Cervini.

From chatbots to virtual reality, the tool is the latest innovation seeking to bring the dead to life through technology.

Last year U.S. rapper Kanye West famously gifted his wife Kim Kardashian a hologram of her late father congratulating her on her birthday and on marrying “the most, most, most, most, most genius man in the whole world”.

‘ANIMATING THE PAST’

The trend has opened up all sorts of ethical and legal questions, particularly around consent and the opportunity to blur reality by recreating a virtual doppelganger of the living.

Elaine Kasket a psychology professor at the University of Wolverhampton in Britain who authored a book on the “digital afterlife”, said that while Deep Nostalgia was not necessarily “problematic”, it sat “at the top of a slippery slope”.

“When people start overwriting history or sort of animating the past … You wonder where that ends up,” she said.

MyHeritage acknowledges on its website that the technology can be “a bit uncanny” and its use “controversial”, but said steps have been taken to prevent abuses.

“The Deep Nostalgia feature includes hard-coded animations that are intentionally without any speech and therefore cannot be used to fake any content or deliver any message,” MyHeritage public relations director Rafi Mendelsohn said in a statement.

Yet, images alone can convey meaning, said Faheem Hussain, a clinical assistant professor at Arizona State University’s School for the Future of Innovation in Society.

“Imagine somebody took a picture of the Last Supper and Judas is now winking at Mary Magdalene – what kind of implications that can have,” Hussain told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone.

Similarly, Artificial Intelligence (AI) animations could be use to make someone appear as though they were doing things they might not be happy about, such as rolling their eyes or smiling at a funeral, he added.

Mendelsohn of MyHeritage said using photos of a living person without their consent was a breach of the company’s terms and conditions, adding that videos were clearly marked with AI symbols to differentiate them from authentic recordings.

“It is our ethical responsibility to mark such synthetic videos clearly and differentiate them from real videos,” he said.

(Reporting by Umberto Bacchi @UmbertoBacchi in Milan; Editing by Helen Popper. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly. Visit http://news.trust.org)

 

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Does your institution have operational resilience? Testing cyber resilience may be a good way to find out

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REMOTE WORKING STRATEGY REQUIRED TO STRENGTHEN CYBER RESILIENCE

By Callum Roxan, Head of Threat Intelligence, F-Secure

If ever 2020 had a lesson, it was that no organization can possibly prepare for every conceivable outcome. Yet building one particular skill will make any crisis easier to handle: operational resilience.

Many financial institutions have already devoted resources to building operational resilience. Unfortunately, this often takes what Miles Celic, Chief Executive Officer of TheCityUK, calls a “near death” experience for this conversion to occur. “Recent years have seen a number of cases of loss of reputation, reduced enterprise value and senior executive casualties from operational incidents that have been badly handled,” he wrote.

But it need not take a disaster to learn this vital lesson.

“Operational resilience means not only planning around specific, identified risks,” Charlotte Gerken, the executive director of the Bank of England, said in a 2017 speech on operational resilience. “We want firms to plan on the assumption that any part of their infrastructure could be impacted, whatever the reason.” Gerken noted that firms that had successfully achieved a level of resilience that survives a crisis had established the necessary mechanisms to bring the business together to respond where and when risks materialised, no matter why or how.

We’ll talk about the bit we know best here; by testing for cyber resilience, a company can do more than prepare for the worst sort of attacks it may face. This process can help any business get a clearer view of how it operates, and how well it is prepared for all kinds of surprises.

Assumptions and the mechanisms they should produce are the best way to prepare for the unknown. But, as the boxer Mike Tyson once said, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” The aim of cyber resilience is to build an effective security posture that survives that first punch, and the several that are likely to follow. So how can an institution be confident that they’ve achieved genuine operational resilience?

This requires an organization to honestly assess itself through the motto inscribed at the front of the Temple of Delphi: “Know thyself.” And when it comes to cyber security, there is a way for an organization to test just how thoroughly it comprehends its own strengths and weaknesses.

Callum Roxan

Callum Roxan

The Bank of England was the first central bank to help develop the framework for institutions to test the integrity of their systems. CBEST is made up of controlled, bespoke, intelligence-led cyber security tests that replicate behaviours of those threat actors, and often have unforeseen or secondary benefits. Gerken notes that the “firms that did best in the testing tended to be those that really understood their organisations. They understood their own needs, strengths and weaknesses, and reflected this in the way they built resilience.”

In short, testing cyber resilience can provide clear insight into an institution’s operational resilience in general.

Gaining that specific knowledge without a “near-death” experience is obviously a significant win for any establishment. And testing for operational resilience throughout the industry can provide some reminders of the steps every organization should take so that testing provides unique insists about their institution, and not just a checklist of cyber defence basics.

The IIF/McKinsey Cyber Resilience Survey of the financial services industry released in March lasy year provided six sets of immediate actions that institutions could take to improve their cyber security posture. The toplines of these recommendations were:

  1. Do the basics, patch your vulnerabilities.
  2. Review your cloud architecture and security capabilities.
  3. Reduce your supply chain risk.
  4. Practice your incident response and recovery capabilities.
  5. Set aside a specific cyber security budget and prioritise it
  6. Build a skilled talent pool and optimize resources through automation.

But let’s be honest: If simply reading a solid list of recommendations created cyber resilience, cyber criminals would be out of business. Unfortunately, cyber crime as a business is booming and threat actors targeting essential financial institutions through cyber attacks are likely earning billions in the trillion dollar industry of financial crime.A list can’t reveal an institution’s unique weaknesses, those security failings and chokepoints that could shudder operations, not just during a successful cyber attack but during various other crises that challenge their operations. And the failings that lead to flaws in an institution’s cyber defence likely reverberate throughout the organization as liabilities that other crises would likely expose.

The best way to get a sense of operational resilience will always be to simulate the worst that attackers can summon. That’s why the time to test yourself is now, before someone else does.

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Thomson Reuters to stress AI, machine learning in a post-pandemic world

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By Kenneth Li and Nick Zieminski

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Thomson Reuters Corp will streamline technology, close offices and rely more on machines to prepare for a post-pandemic world, the news and information group said on Tuesday, as it reported higher sales and operating profit.

The Toronto-headquartered company will spend $500 million to $600 million over two years to burnish its technology credentials, investing in AI and machine learning to get data faster to professional customers increasingly working from home during the coronavirus crisis.

It will transition from a content provider to a content-driven technology company, and from a holding company to an operational structure.

Thomson Reuters’ New York- and Toronto-listed shares each gained more than 8%.

It aims to cut annual operating expenses by $600 million through eliminating duplicate functions, modernizing and consolidating technology, as well as through attrition and shrinking its real estate footprint. Layoffs are not a focus of the cost cuts and there are no current plans to divest assets as part of this plan, the company said.

“We look at the changing behaviors as a result of COVID … on professionals working from home working remotely being much more reliant on 24-7, digital always-on, sort of real-time always available information, served through software and powered by AI and ML (machine learning),” Chief Executive Steve Hasker said in an interview.

Sales growth is forecast to accelerate in each of the next three years compared with 1.3% reported sales growth for 2020, the company said in its earnings release.

Thomson Reuters, which owns Reuters News, said revenues rose 2% to $1.62 billion, while its operating profit jumped more than 300% to $956 million, reflecting the sale of an investment and other items.

Its three main divisions, Legal Professionals, Tax & Accounting Professionals, and Corporates, all showed higher organic quarterly sales and adjusted profit. As part of the two-year change program, the corporate, legal and tax side will operate more as one customer-facing entity.

Adjusted earnings per share of 54 cents were ahead of the 46 cents expected, based on data from Refinitiv.

The company raised its annual dividend by 10 cents to $1.62 per share.

The Reuters News business showed lower revenue in the fourth quarter. In January, Stephen J. Adler, Reuters’ editor-in-chief for the past decade, said he would retire in April from the world’s largest international news provider.

Thomson Reuters also said its stake in The London Stock Exchange is now worth about $11.2 billion.

The LSE last month completed its $27-billion takeover of data and analytics business Refinitiv, 45%-owned by Thomson Reuters.

(Reporting by Ken Li, writing by Nick Zieminski in New York, editing by Louise Heavens and Jane Merriman)

 

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