Alexa gets smarter with AI and how is AI paying off for Microsoft? According to one report AI was mentioned 175 times in a recent Microsoft analyst briefing – does that give you any hints? And could you determine that a breach is material and get a report out to authorities in four days? You might have to.
These are the top tech news stories on today’s Hashtag Trending.
I’m your host Jim Love, CIO of IT World Canada and Tech News Day in the US.
Alexa – smarten up. You know you’ve said it. And you know what she says.
Amazon is gearing up to breathe new life into its Alexa voice assistant by integrating generative AI, a move that could redefine the role of over half a billion Alexa-enabled devices worldwide. The tech giant sees this as an opportunity to transform these devices into delivery channels for a voice-enabled AI similar to ChatGPT.
Amazon has been relatively quiet about offering AI services directly to consumers, but that’s about to change. The first signs of this shift are expected to be unveiled at an event at Amazon’s HQ2 offices in Arlington, Virginia, on September 20. However, more comprehensive integrations will take some time, possibly extending into next year and beyond.
Amazon believes that Alexa’s widespread presence in homes, coupled with its connectivity to a variety of devices, gives it a competitive edge. Many of Amazon’s devices are equipped with additional sensors like cameras and microphones that can provide context to generative AI queries. This could potentially enable Alexa to not only answer questions but also perform actions based on user instructions.
However, this potential advantage also presents challenges related to security and privacy. Alexa must ensure that these AI systems, which are known to “hallucinate” or make things up, do not perform actions they shouldn’t, such as opening doors or starting cars. There are also technical hurdles to overcome, such as the increased time and computing resources required for generative AI to respond to queries.
This move is part of Amazon’s broader interest in generative AI, as indicated by Amazon CEO Andy Jassy. Other tech giants like Microsoft, Google, Meta, and Apple are also exploring or integrating generative AI in their product lines.
Sources include: Axios
A recent survey by Ivanti, a security and service management software company, reveals that a quarter of tech workers in the UK are contemplating leaving their jobs within the next six months. The study, which surveyed 1,800 IT professionals and senior managers, found that IT professionals are 1.4 times more likely to “quiet quit,” or subtly disengage from their current job while seeking other employment opportunities, compared to individuals in other professions.
The potential exodus of IT workers could cost UK employers more than £19 billion ($24.5 billion dollars US). The study also highlighted that 73 per cent of IT and computer security workers reported increasing workloads, leading to burnout for one in four respondents.
The study also explored the impact of remote work. While 84 per cent of respondents expressed a desire to continue working remotely at least part of the time, 23 per cent reported feeling a loss of connection to colleagues. Tech workers were also found to be 2.5 times more likely to work longer hours when away from their main office.
Despite global economic uncertainties and fears of a recession, optimism about job changes reflects a buoyant job market. After a period that saw 150,000 job cuts across the tech sector, companies are still finding it challenging to recruit IT staff.
Another recent story reported that a chip fabrication plant under-construction in Arizona had to postpone production until 2025 because it couldn’t find enough skilled workers to complete the new facility.
All across the tech industry there are reports that there are real shortfalls in the number of trained tech staff.
Jeff Abbott, Ivanti’s CEO, suggests organizations should embrace automation to help reduce IT workloads and retain talent, as the struggle to keep IT professionals continues to impact productivity and the bottom line.
Sources include: The Register
Microsoft’s quarterly sales and earnings have surpassed Wall Street expectations, thanks to the continued growth of its cloud business and strong demand for generative AI features. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella stated that organizations are keen to apply the next generation of AI to address their most significant opportunities and challenges, both safely and responsibly.
The company reported revenue of $56.2 billion for the three months ending June 30, an 8 per cent increase from the previous year and higher than the average analysts’ estimate of $55.5 billion. Net income rose by 20 per cent to $20.1 billion, and per-share earnings were $2.69, a 21 per cent increase and ahead of Wall Street expectations of around $2.55.
Microsoft has been integrating generative AI across its product line, including its Bing search engine, Edge browser, and major software franchises like Windows and Office. The company recently announced a $30 per person per month charge for businesses wishing to use AI-powered “Copilots” for Office apps such as Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.
So AI is paying off for Microsoft in a big way, but it may not be the only factor. Earnings in big tech appear to be rebounding. Meta hit revenues above its quarterly estimates and eBay is forecasting third quarter revenue above estimates. No doubt some areas like hardware may have challenges, but software seems to be on track for a good year.
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has adopted new rules requiring public companies to disclose all cybersecurity breaches that could impact their financial performance within (wait for it) four days. Exceptions will be made if immediate disclosure poses significant national security or public safety risks.
The rules, passed by a 3-2 vote, also mandate that publicly traded companies disclose information annually about their cybersecurity risk management and executive expertise in the field, with the aim of protecting investors.
The new rules are designed to bring more transparency to an otherwise opaque but growing risk and may encourage improvements in cyber defenses. However, they could pose a bigger challenge for smaller companies with limited resources. The clock on the four-day window for reporting doesn’t start ticking until companies have determined a breach is material but what’s material and how quickly can you assess that during a cyber emergency.
The rules were first proposed in March 2022, when the SEC determined that breaches of corporate networks posed an escalating risk as their digitization of operations and remote work increased, and the cost to investors from cybersecurity incidents rose.
If you want to know more about this, I’m being interviewed by Howard Solomon on his Saturday Cybersecurity Today Week in Review podcast. You can find it where you find us.
These are the top tech news stories for today. Hashtag Trending goes to air 5 days a week with a special weekend interview show called “the Weekend Edition.”
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I’m your host, Jim Love. Have a Thrilling Thursday!