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CIO.com - Opinion
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Updated: 1 hour 8 min ago

Amazon Echo Dot gets more portable and better sound from Vaux

April 29, 2017 - 10:05pm

Amazon’s second-generation Echo Dot ($50) is essentially an Echo minus the larger device’s rich-sounding speaker. Now, a company called Ninety7 is giving Echo Dot the speaker that Amazon didn’t provide.

Vaux is an attractive, $50 battery-powered speaker/docking station specifically for Echo Dot. Drop your Alexa-enabled Echo Dot into the top of the speaker, connect the two using Vaux’s built-in microUSB and 3.5mm aux input cables, and away you go.

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Categories: Opinion

How the Amazon Echo Look improves privacy

April 29, 2017 - 12:00pm

Look! A new Amazon Echo!

The Amazon Echo Look is like the original Echo, plus a camera.

The $200 device delivers the Alexa virtual assistant. But the camera is optimized for helping you choose clothing to look your best when you get dressed.

The Echo Look is a camera for your bedroom. As such, it's being widely slammed as a massive invasion of privacy.

But this view is wrong and based on a provably false assumption.

I'll tell you exactly how the Echo Look actually improves privacy. But first, let's take a closer look at the Look.

Alexa as fashion consultant

The Echo Look is shaped like a oversized pill — a cylinder with rounded ends that appears to be about half the size of the original Echo. It sits on a stand or mounts to a wall.

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Categories: Opinion

IDG Contributor Network: What happens when ‘Net Neutrality’ becomes ‘Pay-To-Play’?

April 28, 2017 - 10:23pm

Net neutrality is like a public park that anyone can use. ‘Pay-To-Play’ is a private club that only rich members use.

What happens to the internet when access isn't equal? (Or to paraphrase George Orwell in Animal Farm, "We're all equal, but some are more equal than others"). 

How could this impact consumers, businesses and non-profits?

“Ajit Pai, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission outlined a sweeping plan to loosen the government’s oversight of high-speed internet providers, a rebuke of a landmark policy approved two years ago to ensure that all online content is treated the same by the companies that deliver broadband service to Americans”, reports the NYT.

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Categories: Opinion

IDG Contributor Network: Can Google take on Amazon in the cloud computing battle?

April 28, 2017 - 10:16pm

Diane Greene, senior vice president of Google Cloud, recently announced that Google will pull ahead of Amazon as the leader in cloud technology by 2022.

Her statement has stirred the proverbial pot. Traditionally, the cloud market has been cornered by Amazon, Microsoft and IBM with Google trailing in market share despite product strength in analytics and machine learning.

"I actually think we have a huge advantage in our data centers, in our infrastructure, availability, security and how we automate things. We just haven't packaged it up perfectly yet,” says Greene.

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Categories: Opinion

What the Fox News Bill O’Reilly fiasco teaches businesses

April 28, 2017 - 3:49pm

Fox News screwed up when it fired Bill O’Reilly. The guy was a money machine, worth billions to the company and they actually had to pay him millions to leave. It should have never gotten to the point where they had to fire the guy as there were very clear and expensive indications that he had a problem long before they parted ways.

In the process of failing, O’Reilly also caused a number of highly productive women to leave or grow disenchanted with Fox News. This not only increased the total potential lost income to Fox, but it highlighted morale issues inside the company, and all of this could have been avoided.

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Categories: Opinion

Fitbit Blaze best wearable for wellness programs

April 28, 2017 - 2:46pm

Among 21 wearables tested, Fitbit’s fitness watch Blaze is the best device for workplace wellness programs, according to a new study from Sprinbuk, a health analytics provider for employers.

Out of a possible 100 score, Blaze earned a 94, the highest in the survey. “The Fitbit Blaze is at the top of Fitbit’s lineup,” according to the report, available as a free PDF download. “As a sleek and stylish watch that also functions as a robust fitness tracker, the Blaze is an impressive product. From step counting and GPS to heart rate monitoring, this device is ready to handle your workout. The style of the watch fits into everyday life and never feels out of place. It’s easy to see why this is Fitbit’s top product.”

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Categories: Opinion

IDG Contributor Network: Why swarm intelligence enhances business and Bitcoin

April 28, 2017 - 2:00pm

Fish school. Birds flock. Bees swarm. A combination of real-time, biological systems blends knowledge, wisdom, opinions and intuition to unify intelligence. There’s no central control unit. These simple agents interact locally, within their environment, and new behaviors emerge.

Swarm intelligence is the self-organization of systems for collective decentralized behavior. Swarm intelligence enables groups to converge and create an independent organism that can do things that individuals can’t do on their own.

Why can’t humans swarm? Fish detect ripples in the water. Birds use motion detected through the flock. Ants leverage chemical traces. Until recently, there’s been little research conducted on “human swarming.” If nature can work together, why can’t humans use similar decision spaces to arrive at a preferred solution? Will the next generation of breakthrough innovation stem from the wisdom of the crowd — swarm intelligence?

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Categories: Opinion

Apple’s confusing method of device authorization and association

April 28, 2017 - 12:00pm

The iTunes Store was launched 14 years ago today, and has morphed from its initial music-only offering to embrace all forms of digital media. It’s now just another digital purveyor among many, though still the leading seller of digital music in the world.

While music files were protected with digital rights management (DRM) in the early years, it’s now been eight years since this was removed. But other types of content sold on the iTunes Store still have DRM: movies, TV shows, apps, audiobooks, ebooks, and ringtones. For these types of media with DRM, there are restrictions as to how many devices you can use.

It gets complicated, though, because there are two types of restrictions. The first is for computers that are authorized to sync and play content from the iTunes Store, and the second is for devices that are allowed to download and play iTunes Store purchases.

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Categories: Opinion

IDG Contributor Network: ATSC 3.0: Broadcast's last addressable stand

April 28, 2017 - 12:00pm

The history of TV innovation has largely encompassed more quantity and greater quality. The latter in particular has been a hallmark of the Advanced Television Systems Committee, which brought the U.S. digitally transmitted high-definition broadcast television about a decade ago. It kicked off the analog shutoff and the rapid rise and fall in sales of converter boxes for analog tube TVs.

Now the ATSC is back with ATSC 3.0. (ATSC 2.0, like Windows 9, has been relegated into that land of product versions not pursued in anticipation of an even greater leap.). ATSC continues the quality improvement tradition with support for 4K Ultra High Def broadcasts and High Dynamic Range imaging that will allow for higher contrast and more accurate colors.

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Categories: Opinion

IDG Contributor Network: Digital success: 3 areas where you need to broaden your horizons

April 28, 2017 - 11:45am

Allianz innovation executive Christian Locher, speaking at the Transform With the Best conference on digital business transformation, shared how his organization transformed itself through a digital initiative. There's something Allianz and other successful organizations do. They all look far beyond the boundaries of traditional tech projects. In fact, they have broadened their horizons in three specific areas:

  1. Strategic themes
  2. Reservoir
  3. Technologies

Here's a closer look at each.

Strategic themes

Derived from corporate strategy, there may be strategic themes that your organization wants to pursue. Today, strategic themes are not limited to things like "just in time" and "relationship management." Today, a strategic theme could be "a delightful customer experience," which would involve customer engagements with tech and nontech elements and may include internal processes. A strategic theme could be much bigger and more impactful like "customer-centricity," which would typically include new customer value delivery through new or better products and services.

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Categories: Opinion

IDG Contributor Network: Corporate culture will always matter

April 28, 2017 - 11:30am

Like just about everything else we touch, Western civilization appropriates, abuses and then discards words and phrases with alarming regularity. But “corporate culture” is one buzzworthy phrase that might never die — it’s always going to matter.

Requiem for the traditional workplace?

Paul Michelman, editor in chief of the MIT Sloan Management Review, recently had some strong words to say on the subject of corporate culture — and it’s hard not to sympathize with his view.

Michelman argues that technology has delivered us unto a future where the traditional workplace is a thing of the past, or soon will be. The era of centralized office buildings, cubicles and desk clumps, he says, is over — and telecommuting killed it.

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Categories: Opinion

IDG Contributor Network: ITSM's MVP

April 27, 2017 - 10:01pm

A minimum viable product (MVP) is, according to the Wikipedia, “a product with just enough features to gather validated learning about the product and its continued development.” No doubt you have seen a meme about this in social media where this is depicted as a series of transportation methods that starts with a skateboard, then a scooter and so on as opposed to just providing the customer with pieces of the car.

I started thinking about this and how it relates to IT service management (ITSM) and I thought that, although you don’t necessarily make the association between something that is “hip” and “cool” and building an MVP for the practices and capabilities that support IT services, there is one way that we can approach this to at least build something that ensures “enough features to gather validated learning about the product and its continued development.” That way is the ISO/IEC 20000 standard. 

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Categories: Opinion

IDG Contributor Network: Is there a misalignment between healthcare enterprises and the tech community?

April 27, 2017 - 9:08pm

Diabetes should have been vanquished by now.

In my work with healthcare tech companies, I hear excitement about the opportunities for slaying dragons like the dreaded diabetes with big data analytics, patient engagement apps, internet of things (IoT) solutions and other tools, as healthcare transitions from a fee-for-service (FFS) to a value-based care (VBC) model. I am also struck by how similar many of the offerings sound, and how they all seem to solve for similar problems.

Diabetes is a case in point. As a high-profile chronic condition, it has attracted the attention of big technology firms such as Google (glucose-in-tear-drop sensing contact lenses) and IBM Watson Health/Medtronic (SugarIQ) to any number of Silicon Valley VC-funded startups. Some of these startups focus on a single aspect of treating and managing diabetes (such as remote monitoring), others have developed mobile apps that aim to improve patient engagement and compliance with treatment protocols to keep their diabetic condition in check. Yet others offer entire technology stacks and frameworks that can take data and provide algorithmic insights (give us any data on any condition, we will give you back insights correspondingly to manage the disease at a patient and population level).

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Categories: Opinion

IDG Contributor Network: Information governance for counties and municipalities

April 27, 2017 - 8:28pm

What’s your municipal organization’s most valuable asset?

The correct answer is information, but you wouldn’t know it by observing the casual, haphazard manner in which information is managed in many county and municipal operations. Information is often the least valued and least understood asset in local government organizations.

Tangible assets such as buildings and equipment are insured and can be replaced with relative ease. If your data vanishes, you may never be able to replace it. A breach of confidential information can never be made right and your organization’s reputation will be tarnished for years to come. Litigation that results from poor information management can cripple your organization, and the cost of discovery alone often forces organizations to settle.

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Categories: Opinion

Are poor communities “redlined” out of AT&T’s fiber-to-the-home service?

April 27, 2017 - 5:58pm

It’s long been said that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. But now it appears that the rich get faster and the poor get slower – at least when it comes to Internet connections.

A study by researchers at UC Berkeley’s Haas Institute found that AT&T’s deployment of ultra-faster fiber broadband in California is heavily concentrated in relatively wealthy neighborhoods, while residents of lower income communities are often left with speeds so slow they don’t even meet the FCC’s definition of broadband.

It’s not surprising that a major ISP is catering to richer communities, but given the increasing importance of broadband to daily life, and the sad reality that lower income neighborhoods in California tend to be heavily minority, the report’s findings are concerning.

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Categories: Opinion

Who's smartest — Alexa, Siri, Cortana, or Google Assistant?

April 27, 2017 - 5:35pm

When it comes to knowing stuff, Google Assistant on Google Home rules the virtual assistant world, according to results of a study conducted by Stone Temple Consulting earlier this year and released today.

Microsoft’s Cortana was the second smartest, and Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa brought up the rear.

Though Google ruled, “Cortana is pressing quite hard to close the gap, and has made great strides in the last three years” in terms of smartness, Stone Temple says. Unlike Google, “Alexa and Siri both face the limitation of not being able to leverage a full crawl of the web to supplement their knowledge bases. It will be interesting to see how they both address that challenge.”

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Categories: Opinion

IDG Contributor Network: How marketers are fighting back against Google's RankBrain and its disruption of the SEO industry

April 27, 2017 - 5:00pm

When I look at internal documentation on why projects typically fail, I often find a similar answer: “the project failed due to requirements always changing.” For a CIO, these words are excruciating to hear, since you spend significant budget to provide your team with technology to mitigate these factors.

Of course, a carefully chosen technology stack, paired with well-planned requirements, is supposed to result in a successful outcome. There are many professions that have to get it right the first time, with little to no margin for error, such as civil engineering. Such fields place a huge emphasis on the planning stage, so that the execution stage will be smooth sailing.

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Categories: Opinion

IDG Contributor Network: Why neural networks and deep learning hold the secret to your health

April 27, 2017 - 2:00pm

We’re supposed to eat less, work out more and use less salt. These goals rarely materialize into a productive pattern. Our behavior doesn’t change. Even with the incredible amount of information available, we choose not to change.

Artificial neural networks (ANN) have the ability to influence medical diagnoses and change our behavior. Change is more than what you should or shouldn’t do. How you connect data and squeeze out information also impacts our ability to change.

Artificial neural networks forecasting our health

Artificial neural networks have a wide range of uses in science and technology with applications across chemistry, physics and biology. The simulation of neural networks has been used to enhance group tactics for playing soccer, fighting crime, accelerating facial image processing and expanding nanotechnology.

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Categories: Opinion

IDG Contributor Network: The state of privacy and security in an ever-evolving world

April 27, 2017 - 1:30pm

Privacy and security have evolved. We are seeing various breaches that are devastating organizations across many industries. How can you secure your data in a world full of mobile devices, IoT,and the cloud? I attended the 2017 RSA Conference in San Francisco to dive into the problems organizations are currently facing in the information security world and to discover the latest industry innovations. Here’s a recap of some of the trends and discussions that took place:

Privacy and security - the more they change, the more they stay the same

One of the most salient takeaways revolved around the fact that when we look at the evolution of privacy and security over time, we see that the basic idea behind each concept has remained the same. It’s the way we approach them that’s changing.

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Categories: Opinion

IDG Contributor Network: Majority of C-level executives are hopeful about the future of technology

April 27, 2017 - 12:19pm

In spite of uncertain political and economic times, the vast majority - an astonishing 91.4 percent - of C-level executives are hopeful about the future of technology in their businesses.

This surprising finding was revealed by a recent survey of more than 500 C-level executives across Europe and the United States, conducted by GITNS.com for Christian Steven Software. The international survey described the priorities, concerns and expectations for technology that are driving business decisions across industries.

Despite the cautious optimism, nearly half of top executives still expressed concern about a disruptive company entering their industry and cutting into their market share. Even more interesting given recent concerns about data security from the retail industry to politics, over half of respondents (54.8 percent) rank data security as one of their top three priorities.

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Categories: Opinion

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