Turbotodd

Ruminations on IT, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

The Easy System

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The Staples’ “Easy button” is getting an upgrade with IBM Watson.

In a piece by The Wall Street Journal’s Sara Castellanos, she outlines how Staples and IBM are partnering to make Staples’ iconic red “easy” button act as “an artificially-intelligent assistant for all office business needs.”

Castellanos writes that the company will later this month launch a pilot program where office assistants at 100 medium and large undisclosed businesses will test the AI-powered Easy System to order office supplies by voice and text.

The Easy System, which includes the physical easy button as well as a mobile app, email and text message capability, has been in development since last year. It’s powered by International Business Machine Corp.’s Watson artificial intelligence system. The cognitive computing scheme behind Watson lets Staples’ algorithms learn the habits of individual customers.
– via WSJ

Staples uses APIS to connect its inventory and ordering systems to Watson via IBM Cloud technology, explains Castellanos.

Staple’s CTO, Faisal Masud, on the new system:

“Our goal would be to make their lives more efficient and be able to serve them beyond just office supplies,” said Mr. Masud, who became the company’s CTO in December 2016 in a promotion that combined e-commerce with his previous chief information officer responsibilities. “We want to be able to solve any request that our customers have.”
– via WSJ

Written by turbotodd

May 9, 2017 at 10:44 am

How Apped Is That?

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App Annie is once again out with its “Spotlight on Consumer App Usage” report, and once again app usage growth looks like a hockey stick, up and to the right.

But wait a minute, you say, as you hit pause on that Facebook Live stream of a skateboarding bulldog. I thought everybody, including me, loaded all those apps on their iPhone or Android and then never opened them again.

To an extent, that may be true. You may not be using many apps, but the ones you…and the collective “We”…are using, boy are we using them.

“We,” in fact, used apps for nearly 1 trillion hours in 2016. I don’t know how much lost productivity 1 trillion garners, but I suspect it’s a lot, and I suspect there’s even an app to help us figure it out.

App Annie indicates the fast uptick in 2016 only continues to accelerate in the first few months of 2017, and concludes simply that “Mobile apps have become vital to our day-to-day lives.”

So let’s get into some of App Annie’s actual numbers.

The average smartphone user used over 30 apps per month, in recent months, and on average, between one-third and one-half of the apps on users’ phones were used each month.

So yes, there are still a lot of app orphans out there in the world, but it’s unquestionable that consumers increasingly manage their lives through apps.

App Annie also indicates in its report that in all the countries it examined, smartphone users used an average of at least nine apps per day, with iPhone users using slightly more per day than Androids.

A quick glance around the globe reveals that smartphone users in Brazil, India and China used the most number of apps per day, and despite WeChat’s dominant position in China, even in the Middle Kingdom users still use 11 apps per day on average!

If we look the categories of usage, utilities and tools are the most used (Think Safari on iOS and Google on Android), but beyond that, other top boxes include Social Networking, Communication, and Social.

This data suggests the continued relevance and importance of social categories to marketing efforts for all types of apps (especially if you’re concerned about the concurrent rise in the use of ad blockers).

Android users used over 30 percent more games than iPhone users, and yet iOS still leads in gaming revenue, thanks to much higher average revenue per user.

Average usage per day varies by country, with the U.S. averaging two hours and 15 minutes per day (which adds up to about one month per year…One month!). South Korea, Brazil, Mexico and Japan averaged around three hours per day.

If you break down usage across categories by sessions, Dating and Productivity apps saw the highest average sessions per day with around four. But Finance and Productivity users spent less than one minute per session.

So, to net that out, people are spending nearly six minutes per day looking for dates, juxtaposed with spending four minutes per day on Productivity. Or put more simply, for every three dates they find, they knock off two things on their To Do lists!

For advertisers, the good news is that the variation between categories in time and sessions per day means there is no one-size-fits-all apps strategy, and App Annie suggests marketers should define their KPIs in the context of their apps’ specific use case.

It’s an App world, and we’re just living in it…more now, than ever.

Written by turbotodd

May 5, 2017 at 3:51 pm

Posted in 2017, android, apps, iOS, mobile, research

Apple Earnings And AirPods

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Apple announced its latest earnings report, and while the company doesn’t typically break out sales of its Apple Watch, Cook did note that the revenue in the last year from Apple’s wearables business was “the size of a Fortune 500 company.”

As The Verge pointed out, the smallest Fortune 500 company “pulled in $5.1 billion in revenue last year.”

The Apple announced its latest earnings report, and while the company doesn’t typically break out sales of its Apple Watch, Cook did note that the revenue in the last year from Apple’s wearables business was “the size of a Fortune 500 company.” wearables business consists of the Apple Watch, the Beats headphones, and the company’s newest entrant, AirPods (more on those in a moment).

As The Verge pointed out, the smallest Fortune 500 company “pulled in $5.1 billion in revenue last year.”

The Apples wearables business consists of the Apple Watch, the Beats headphones, and the company’s newest entrant, AirPods (more on those in a moment).

CNBC reported that Apple iPhone unit shipments were off the mark, selling 50.8M against a 52M expectation. And while 451 Research highlights that smartphone buying intent has fallen to a nine-year low, Wall Street projections suggest some 300M iPhones could be set for an upgrade this fall.

It could be needed, as Mac growth was tepid at 4 percent YOY, iPad units fell 13 percent YOY, and Apple’s China sales fell 12 percent YOY.

On the upside, the App Store was up 40 percent and Apple’s developer community grew by over 20 percent, according to Cook.

Now back to those AirPods.

They seem to be a sleeper hit. You can’t find them anywhere, save for maybe Craig’s List, and I’ve been told there’s at least a six week wait.

So while Apple may have missed on their AirPods demand forecast, those folks who *do* have them in hand (or, in ear, as it were) seem to love them madly.

Tech.pinion’s Ben Bajarin partnered with Experian to track down 942 people willing to take a quick AirPods user survey. Customer sat with the AirPods is at 98%! — that’s 82 percent “Very Satisfied” and 16% “Satisfied.”

That’s a record for customer sat for a new product from Apple, according to Bajarin. He points out that the iPhone had a 92 percent customer sat level when it was released in 2007, and the Apple Watch came close at 97 percent in 2015.

The Net Promoter Score for AirPods is also off the charts at 75 (the iPhone’s NPS is 72).

Writes Bajarin: Product and NPS specialists will tell you anything above 50 is excellent and anything above 70 is world class.

So what gives? Bajarin suggests it’s partially the fact that AirPods users are most likely early adopters, so they’re going to be inclined to love the product.

But I also have to think the fact that these are the first wireless ear buds from Apple, ones which automagically synch up with Apple devices (Macs, iPhones, iPads, etc.), and have good sound and battery life are big contributors to their speedy success.

And, based on some of the survey verbatims, they just seem to work better than prior Bluetooth headphones.

Imagine that. A new product that just works.

CNBC reported that Apple iPhone unit shipments were off the mark, selling 50.8M against a 52M expectation. And while 451 Research highlights that smartphone buying intent has fallen to a nine-year low, Wall Street projections suggest some 300M iPhones could be set for an upgrade this fall.

It could be needed, as Mac growth was tepid at 4 percent YOY, iPad units fell 13 percent YOY, and Apple’s China sales fell 12 percent YOY.

On the upside, the App Store was up 40 percent and Apple’s developer community grew by over 20 percent, according to Cook.

Now back to those AirPods.

They seem to be a sleeper hit. You can’t find them anywhere, save for maybe Craig’s List, and I’ve been told there’s at least a six week wait.

So while Apple may have missed on their AirPods demand forecast, those folks who *do* have them in hand (or, in ear, as it were) seem to love them madly.

Tech.pinion’s Ben Bajarin partnered with Experian to track down 942 people willing to take a quick AirPods user survey. Customer sat with the AirPods is at 98%! — that’s 82 percent “Very Satisfied” and 16% “Satisfied.”

That’s a record for customer sat for a new product from Apple, according to Bajarin. He points out that the iPhone had a 92 percent customer sat level when it was released in 2007, and the Apple Watch came close at 97 percent in 2015.

The Net Promoter Score for AirPods is also off the charts at 75 (the iPhone’s NPS is 72).

Writes Bajarin: Product and NPS specialists will tell you anything above 50 is excellent and anything above 70 is world class.

So what gives? Bajarin suggests its partially the fact that AirPods users are most likely early adopters, so they’re going to be inclined to love the product.

But I also have to think the fact that these are the first wireless ear buds from Apple, ones which automagically synch up with Apple devices (Macs, iPhones, iPads, etc.), and have good sound and battery life are big contributors to their speedy success.

And, based on some of the survey verbatims, they just seem to work better than prior Bluetooth headphones.

Imagine that. A new product that just works.

Written by turbotodd

May 3, 2017 at 9:52 am

Cisco Acquires SD-WAN Provider Viptela

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TechCrunch reported yesterday that Cisco bought another company yesterday, cloud-based SD-WAN vnedor Viptela, for $610M U.S. in cash.

Viptela is based in San Jose, California, and provides a software-defined wide area network, a “software-based network that enables companies to connect the networks of geographically dispersed offices.

The value prop:

Viptela is supposed to simplify all of this, making it easier to deploy and manage a process that has been traditionally fraught with complexity. “Viptela’s technology is cloud-first, with a focus on simplicity and ease of deployment while simultaneously providing a rich set of capabilities and scale. These principles are what today’s customers demand,” Scott Harrell, senior vice president of product management for the Cisco Enterprise Networking Group said in a statement.
– via TechCrunch

While Cisco has been buying more pure cloud based companies of late (including AppDynamics for $3.7B and Jasper Technologies for $1.4B), Viptela seems to fit more squarely into Cisco’s plan to transition some of its existing hardware based tech into the software realm.

Written by turbotodd

May 2, 2017 at 10:34 am

Mark III Systems Launches Cognitive Call Center With Watson

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If you’re trying to keep up with all the AI and machine learning companies sprouting up on the landscape…yeah, well, you might need an algorithm to help you with that.

The next best thing might be Bloomberg Beta’s Shivon Zilis, who provides a very thorough rundown on “Machine Intelligence 3.0” here. There’s way too much AI meat on ‘dem bones for me to go into the details here, but Zilis summarizes it by explaining that “a one stop shop of the machine intelligence stack is coming into view.”

On the IBM AI front, IBM today announced that Texas-based IT solutions provider and IBM Business Partner Mark III Systems has built a platform using cognitive technologies on IBM Cloud to help call centers increase efficiency, improve employee productivity and make more informed decisions based on near real-time insights.

Most call centers record phone conversations as unstructured data, only searchable by manually entered “tags.” If a conversation is relevant to an audit, it must be transcribed manually, which means reports can take weeks, which can result in decreased productivity and potentially decreased customer satisfaction.

Mark III Systems’ Cognitive Call Center platform transforms the traditional call center model by using IBM Cloud and Watson to help agents identify, filter, analyze and take actions on inbound and outbound calls.

The platform uses IBM Cloud Object Storage to manage the unstructured data, and it uses Watson APIs, specifically Watson Speech to Text and Watson Tone Analyzer, to automate the transcription and tagging of audio, provide near real-time analytics and actions and enable deeper analytics for audit situations.

Mark III’s development unit, BlueChasm, leveraged virtually the entire IBM development to deployment stack to create the cloud-based platform with an open API. With its highly repeatable, flexible solution, Mark III is set to revolutionize the call center market by providing cognitive business insights in near real time to its clients.

IBM has also launched the Watson Build, a new challenge designed to support its channel partners as they bring a cognitive solution to market. The deadline to apply is May 15, 2017, and businesses can learn more here.

Written by turbotodd

May 2, 2017 at 9:13 am

IBM Named a Leader For Security Solution in Gartner Magic Quadrant

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IBM announced that Gartner, Inc. named the company as a leader in Application Security Testing (AST) in the recently published Gartner Magic Quadrant for Application Security Testing which analyzes vendors’ Static, Dynamic and Interactive Application Security Testing styles.

IBM has been named a leader by Gartner in Application Security Testing in four consecutive reports.

According to Gartner, IBM Security was recognized for its completeness of vision and ability to execute. As part of its AST portfolio, IBM has also added innovative Static Application Security Testing functionality to improve accuracy with Intelligent Code Analytics (ICA) and Intelligent Finding Analytics (IFA), both of which are delivered via the cloud to on-premises and cloud clients.

IBM’s Application Security Management platform gives businesses a risk-centric unified reporting dashboard with a complementary framework to manage security risks in applications across business operations.

IBM Security’s Application Security Testing solutions including IBM Security AppScan and IBM Application Security on Cloud, provide preemptive protection for mobile and web-based applications.

According to Gartner, “Security testing is growing faster than any other security market, as AST solutions adapt to new development methodologies and increased application complexity. Security and risk management leaders must integrate AST into their application security programs.”

To download the full report, visit https://ibm.co/2o0mHsI.  

To learn more about IBM security offerings go here.

Written by turbotodd

May 1, 2017 at 3:03 pm

IBM X-Force: Financial Services Most Targeted By Cybercriminals Last Year

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IBM Security announced research from its IBM X-Force Research team which revealed the financial services industry was attacked more than any other industry in 2016 – 65 percent more than the average organization across all industries.

Or, as Willie Sutton famously asked why he robbed banks: “Because that’s where the money is!”

As a result of the increase, the number of financial services records breached skyrocketed 937 percent in 2016 to more than 200 million. While the financial services industry was targeted the most by cyberattacks in 2016, IBM X-Force Threat Intelligence Index data shows it ranked third by industry for the number of breached records – likely due to investments in enhanced security practices.

“Cybercriminals have always gone where there is money to be made. While financial services has been a highly targeted industry by cybercriminals, in previous years, their main focus shifted to other more lucrative industries like healthcare or retail,” said Nick Bradley, Practice Lead, IBM X-Force Threat Research. “However, in 2016 we saw a significant resurgence to financial services as criminals decided to go directly to the source money.” 

Insiders Pose Largest Threat to Financial Services

In looking at ways the financial services sector was attacked in 2016, the report found that the industry was more affected by insider attacks (58 percent) than outsider attacks (42 percent). This shows the genesis of many of the breaches were a result of malicious activity.

Malicious activity inside an organization can be a result of an inadvertent act (53 percent) such as an employee accidentally being tricked to download a malware-laden document through a phishing email which then gives attackers access to information. Many of these attacks occur without the user being aware of it.

Financial Malware Continues to Thrive

IBM X-Force found that some countries experienced a marked increase in financial cybercrime in 2016. Cybercriminals sharpened their focus on business bank accounts by using malware such as Dridex, Neverquest, GozNym and TrickBot to target business banking services.

Given the better defenses at large financial institutions, IBM X-Force researchers recently identified TrickBot malware campaigns targeting the less common brands in the industry, like private banks, wealth management,  and high value account types, indicating this ambitious malware gang plans on attacking in new territory.

Mitigating Risk

As cybercriminals continue to pivot and identify lucrative tactics to steal valuable information, IBM X-Force experts recommend the following tips to protect financial services organizations from attacks: 

  • Conduct Employee Awareness Training: Continuously train and test employees to teach them how to identify suspicious emails to avoid falling victim to phishing scams.
  • Reduce Exposure to Insider Threats: Combine data security and identity and access management solutions to protect sensitive data and govern the access of all legitimate users.
  • Apply a Cognitive Approach: Augment a security analyst’s ability to identify and understand sophisticated threats by tapping into unlimited amounts of unstructured data from blogs, websites, research papers and the like, and correlating it with relevant security incidents.
  • Develop and Implement an Incident Response Plan: Identify the data necessary to respond to an attack, understand how to mitigate an attacker’s access.

You can download a copy of the IBM X-Force Financial Services report here.

Written by turbotodd

April 27, 2017 at 11:44 am

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