Tag Archives: exploring

Airtel CIO targets cutting-edge tech

A major part of every digital transformation is exploring how cutting-edge tech can facilitate the journey. Some companies, like Indian telecom giant Bharti Airtel Ltd., are more capable than others of experimenting with new technologies, affording them a wealth of opportunities for innovation.

In this video from the recent MIT Sloan CIO Symposium, Harmeen Mehta, global CIO and head of digital at Airtel, discusses some of the cutting-edge tech she’s employing at her company — everything from advanced mapping techniques and network digitization to voice computing technology and AI-driven customer offerings.

Editor’s note: This transcript has been edited for clarity and length.

What kind of cutting-edge tech are you using to speed up your company’s digital transformation process?

Harmeen Mehta: Lots of pieces. I think one of the biggest challenges that we have is mapping the intricacies and the inner lanes in India and doing far more than what even Google does. For Google, the streets are of prime importance [when it comes to mapping]. For us, the address of every single house and whether it’s a high-rise building or it’s a flat is very important as we bring different services into these homes. So, we’ve been working on finding very innovative ways to take Google’s [mapping] as a base and make it better for us to be able to map India to that level of accuracy of addresses, houses and floor plans.

Another problem that I can think of where a lot of cutting-edge tech is being used is in creating a very customized contextual experience for the consumer so that every consumer has a unique experience on any of our digital properties. The kind of offers that the company brings to them are really tailored and suited to them rather than it being a general, mass offering. There’s a lot of machine learning and artificial intelligence that’s going into that.

Another one is we’re digitizing a large part of our network. In fact, we’re collaborating with SK Telecom, who we think is one of the most innovative telcos out there, in order to do that. We’re using, again, a lot of machine learning and artificial intelligence there as well, as we bring about an entire digitization of our network and are able to optimize the networks and our investments much better.

Then, of course, I’m loving the new stream that we are creating, which is all around exploring voice as a technology. The voice assistants are getting more intelligent. It gives us a very unique opportunity to actually reach out and bring the digital transformation to a lot of Indians who aren’t as literate — to those whom the reading and the writing part doesn’t come to them as naturally as speaking does. It’s opening up a whole lot of new doors and we’re really finding that a very interesting space to work in and we’re exploring a lot in that arena at the moment.

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Mixed Reality @ Microsoft – June 2018 Update – Windows Experience Blog

Recent Microsoft-Harvard Business Review survey shows 87 percent of respondents are currently exploring, piloting, or deploying mixed reality in their company.

Hey everyone — I hope this month’s blog post finds you well!

Today, we are welcoming the solstice in the U.S., and I am very much looking forward to summer in Seattle. In addition to some planned vacation time, I will also be working with our team and partners on some exciting product development efforts for mixed-reality business applications. I can’t wait to share more about that in the coming months!

But before we look too far ahead, June has already been filled with some cool mixed-reality moments.

Earlier this month my colleagues Dio Gonzalez and Katie Kelly presented at the sixth annual Augmented World Expo (AWE) in Santa Clara, California. I was encouraged but not at all surprised to hear from them about the tremendous growth of the conference, with many more incredible and varied AR solutions than ever before. This mirrors the signals we’ve long observed at Microsoft and aligns with the level of activity we continue to see in this space: Mixed-reality technology is increasingly providing demonstrable value across a wide range of workplace scenarios, which is fueling further interest from developers and businesses alike. AWE is a great conference, and I hope to be able to join again next year.

Supporting this observation, Microsoft recently partnered with Harvard Business Review Analytic Services to conduct a survey investigating the unique role and importance of mixed reality within the context of the modern workplace. This research surveyed 394 executives of companies with more than 250 employees each and spanning several industries, from manufacturing, engineering, and construction to retail, defense, and education.

The results—which you can read here—were released today, and the findings are fascinating: Among a great many observations, we learned that 87 percent of respondents are currently exploring, piloting, or deploying mixed reality in their company work flows. Similarly, 68 percent of respondents believe that mixed reality will play an important role in helping to achieve their companies’ strategic goals over the next 18 months.

The survey results identified several exciting areas of opportunity in the growing mixed-reality space.

One of the key opportunities is with Firstline Workers, who make up 80 percent of the workforce but often have limited access to relevant, contextual information due to the on-the-field nature of their jobs. These are the workers who are typically on the frontlines of any business workflow: behind the counters, in the clinics, traveling between customers for field service, or on the factory floors. Several of Microsoft’s commercial customers, for instance, are already empowering their Firstline Workers today with mixed-reality solutions that enable remote assistance, spatial planning, environmentally contextual data, and much more. Mixed reality allows these Firstline Workers to conduct their usual, day-to-day activities with the added benefit of heads-up, hands-free access to incredibly valuable, contextual information.

Lastly, a couple of days ago Alex Kipman spoke about mixed reality in the modern workplace at LiveWorx in Boston. LiveWorx brings together BDMs, engineers, and developers to learn about the tools available to help drive digital transformation in the workplace – such as IoT, mixed reality, and robotics.

Given our mission to help empower people and companies to achieve more, the conference was a great fit for our team. Alex hit on Microsoft’s strategy for mixed reality, in particular how it will serve to accelerate our ambition for an Intelligent Cloud and an Intelligent Edge. For those who have been with us on our mixed-reality journey, and for those who are just joining us, his fireside chat with Jon Fortt is a must-watch.

I am already looking forward to next month’s blog. In the meantime, as always, I’m available on Twitter (@lorrainebardeen) and eager to hear about what you’re doing with mixed reality.

Talk soon!

Lorraine

I heart MR on a blue and white background

Mixed Reality @ Microsoft – June 2018 Update – Windows Experience Blog

Recent Microsoft-Harvard Business Review survey shows 87 percent of respondents are currently exploring, piloting, or deploying mixed reality in their company.

Hey everyone — I hope this month’s blog post finds you well!

Today, we are welcoming the solstice in the U.S., and I am very much looking forward to summer in Seattle. In addition to some planned vacation time, I will also be working with our team and partners on some exciting product development efforts for mixed-reality business applications. I can’t wait to share more about that in the coming months!

But before we look too far ahead, June has already been filled with some cool mixed-reality moments.

Earlier this month my colleagues Dio Gonzalez and Katie Kelly presented at the sixth annual Augmented World Expo (AWE) in Santa Clara, California. I was encouraged but not at all surprised to hear from them about the tremendous growth of the conference, with many more incredible and varied AR solutions than ever before. This mirrors the signals we’ve long observed at Microsoft and aligns with the level of activity we continue to see in this space: Mixed-reality technology is increasingly providing demonstrable value across a wide range of workplace scenarios, which is fueling further interest from developers and businesses alike. AWE is a great conference, and I hope to be able to join again next year.

Supporting this observation, Microsoft recently partnered with Harvard Business Review Analytic Services to conduct a survey investigating the unique role and importance of mixed reality within the context of the modern workplace. This research surveyed 394 executives of companies with more than 250 employees each and spanning several industries, from manufacturing, engineering, and construction to retail, defense, and education.

The results—which you can read here—were released today, and the findings are fascinating: Among a great many observations, we learned that 87 percent of respondents are currently exploring, piloting, or deploying mixed reality in their company work flows. Similarly, 68 percent of respondents believe that mixed reality will play an important role in helping to achieve their companies’ strategic goals over the next 18 months.

The survey results identified several exciting areas of opportunity in the growing mixed-reality space.

One of the key opportunities is with Firstline Workers, who make up 80 percent of the workforce but often have limited access to relevant, contextual information due to the on-the-field nature of their jobs. These are the workers who are typically on the frontlines of any business workflow: behind the counters, in the clinics, traveling between customers for field service, or on the factory floors. Several of Microsoft’s commercial customers, for instance, are already empowering their Firstline Workers today with mixed-reality solutions that enable remote assistance, spatial planning, environmentally contextual data, and much more. Mixed reality allows these Firstline Workers to conduct their usual, day-to-day activities with the added benefit of heads-up, hands-free access to incredibly valuable, contextual information.

Lastly, a couple of days ago Alex Kipman spoke about mixed reality in the modern workplace at LiveWorx in Boston. LiveWorx brings together BDMs, engineers, and developers to learn about the tools available to help drive digital transformation in the workplace – such as IoT, mixed reality, and robotics.

Given our mission to help empower people and companies to achieve more, the conference was a great fit for our team. Alex hit on Microsoft’s strategy for mixed reality, in particular how it will serve to accelerate our ambition for an Intelligent Cloud and an Intelligent Edge. For those who have been with us on our mixed-reality journey, and for those who are just joining us, his fireside chat with Jon Fortt is a must-watch.

I am already looking forward to next month’s blog. In the meantime, as always, I’m available on Twitter (@lorrainebardeen) and eager to hear about what you’re doing with mixed reality.

Talk soon!

Lorraine

I heart MR on a blue and white background

Drive Australia’s Open Roads in Native 4K with Forza Horizon 3 Xbox One X Enhanced

Since its release in 2016, millions of players have been exploring the world of Forza Horizon 3 on Xbox One and Windows 10 PCs, the highest-rated Xbox One exclusive. We are pleased to announce that, today, Xbox One X enhancements arrive for Forza Horizon 3, as a free download for players with an Xbox One X.

Forza Horizon 3 on Xbox One X is powered by the same state-of-the art ForzaTech engine at the heart of the Forza franchise, also used to develop Forza Motorsport 7 for Xbox One X which brought native 4K resolution racing to the new platform. Forza Horizon 3 enhancements let players experience the game in native 4K along with a host of additional visual updates, including improved car reflections and shadow resolutions, improved texture detail for road and terrain surfaces, and more. In addition, 4K resolution enhancements will be fully compatible with both Blizzard Mountain and Hot Wheels expansions for Forza Horizon 3. Whether you’re careening across the dunes of the Outback in your favorite off-roader or building up a legion of fans with death-defying stunt driving in the rainforest, the 4K-enhanced version of Forza Horizon 3 is a thrilling blend of fantastic gameplay and cutting-edge visuals.

Xbox One X Forza Horizon 3 Battlecard

As part of Xbox’s ongoing Inside Xbox One X Enhanced series, I chatted with Playground Games’ creative director and co-founder Ralph Fulton for insight into the studio’s work on the enhancements. Enjoy!

What specifically has your team done to enhance Forza Horizon 3 for Xbox One X?

First and foremost, this update enables Forza Horizon 3 to run in native 4K (3840×2160) on a console for the very first time. Forza Horizon 3 has always been a fantastic-looking game but the clarity and detail of native 4K resolution really brings the vast playground of Australia to life like never before. In addition, we’ve made a number of graphical improvements to the game, such as increased shadow resolution, improved visual effects and increased LOD and draw distances, which take advantage of the power of the Xbox One X.

How do these enhancements impact the gaming experience?

These enhancements are all about the visuals.  We know that our fans really value great image quality, so we’ve taken this opportunity to deliver that to them with this update on Xbox One X. On top of the obvious enhancement to native 4K, there are a number of other improvements we’ve made which really take advantage of the added definition 4K brings. Reflections are sharper and clearer, environment shadows are crisper and better defined, the quality of motion blur has been increased to make the driving experience significantly smoother, and better anisotropic filtering improves the detail visible in environment textures, particularly on the roads themselves. For me, the biggest improvement is in the combination of 4K and HDR though, especially in Forza Horizon 3‘s dynamic time-lapse skies. The sky is such a huge part of nearly every scene in the game that it affects the feel of the game a great deal, and the improvements we’ve made to reflections and shadows really complement it.

Why did your development team choose to focus on these enhancement areas?

We’ve been positively overwhelmed by the positive feedback we’ve had from the community over the last year about the quality of the gameplay in Forza Horizon 3 and the amount of fun they have with it, and we feel really proud that we’ve been able to keep that going with the high-quality Blizzard Mountain and Hot Wheels expansions, car packs and weekly Forzathon events. This was our opportunity to bring the game to native 4K on console for the first time and make a great-looking game look even better.

How do you expect Forza Horizon 3 fans will respond to seeing and playing it on Xbox One X with these enhancements?

I feel like we’re at the crest of a wave in the transition to 4K – more and more people are trading up to 4K TVs and want native 4K experiences to show what their new TV can do. That was exactly my experience when I upgraded recently and I’ve really enjoyed getting back into some of my favourite games, like the The Witcher 3 for example, as they’ve released their enhanced versions. I hope that will be the case for Forza Horizon 3 fans as well. When I’ve been playing with the update in the studio, I’ve been really blown away by the beauty of the world, like I’m seeing it for the first time and I hope Horizon fans feel the same way too. One of my favourite things about Forza is the incredible photography which comes out of the community.  I follow a bunch of Forza photography accounts on Twitter, where the creativity of Forza fans always blows me away, so I’m really looking forward to seeing the community photographs which come out of the enhanced version.

How has the process been to get the game up and running on Xbox One X?

It’s been incredibly straightforward. It took us less than a day from receiving our first Xbox One X kit to get Forza Horizon 3 up and running in 4K, and when we did we still had a lot of spare headroom on both the CPU and the GPU. The Xbox One Development Kit for the Xbox One X is by far the most developer-friendly and powerful dev kit we’ve ever worked with, which makes it a pleasure to develop for.

What enhancement were you most excited about to explore leveraging for Forza Horizon 3 on Xbox One X?

Our goal with this update was to bring Forza Horizon 3 in 4K to console for the first time, and that’s what we’ve delivered. As I mentioned earlier, as one of the first titles which featured HDR on the Xbox One S, we’ve been really excited by the visual combination of native and HDR technology – it is a real, evolutionary leap in graphics.

What does 4K and HDR mean for your game, games in the future and development at your studio?

We know our players value incredible visuals, effects and image quality, and we put a huge amount of effort into delivering them with every title. Native 4K resolution, especially when combined with HDR, is a huge step forward in visual fidelity and as mass adoption of 4K displays continues it will become the standard by which game visuals are judged. For us, as a studio, the power of the Xbox One X, as well as its ease of development and straightforward compatibility across the Xbox One family of devices, has made it the lead development platform for the new title we’re currently working on. This means a couple of things. First, it means we’re developing from the ground up to take advantage of the Xbox One X’s enormous graphical horsepower, an approach which will continue to yield massive advances in visual quality. Secondly, though, it also means you’ll see improvements on Xbox One and Xbox One S as a result – we find that there’s a trickle-down effect when you develop for the most powerful hardware which brings improvements even on the less powerful machines.

Make sure to join us on the official Forza Motorsport channel on Mixer to watch as we show off the Xbox One X version of the game, starting on January 16 at 1 p.m. PST. Stay tuned to ForzaMotorsport.net for updates.

The art of the cyber warranty and guaranteeing protection

There are no guarantees when it comes to infosec technology, but more companies today are exploring the concept of a cyber warranty for their products.

One such security vendor, SentinelOne Inc., has established itself as one of the pioneers in the burgeoning cyber warranty market. Last year, the company established a ransomware warranty on its Endpoint Protection Platform (EPP) worth up to $1 million. If a customer using EPP to defend against ransomware gets infected with WannaCry or another ransomware variant, SentinelOne cuts a very expensive check to the company.

Jeremiah Grossman, chief of security strategy at SentinelOne, talked with SearchSecurity at Black Hat 2017 about the company’s threat protection guarantee and where it stands today. He also talked about the challenges of developing a cyber warranty, as well as the benefits of having one, and how it compares to the growing cyberinsurance market. Here is part one of the conversation with Grossman.

How does EPP work, and why did you decide to develop a cyber warranty for it?

Jeremiah Grossman: SentinelOne, as Gartner classifies this space, is next-generation endpoint protection. The way we deploy it is we put an agent at all the endpoints. You control it via the cloud, and we stop malware from infecting you.

Our secret sauce is that we have machine learning and behavioral analysis; if something looks malicious, rather than being identified by known signatures as malicious, we can stop it.

I was brought into the company for two reasons. One was to focus on ransomware. I was looking at it three or four years ago because all the stars aligned for this to be the next billion-dollar cybercrime market.

There were four vendors that had a warranty [last year]; now, there are 18.
Jeremiah GrossmanSentinelOne

And second, when we enter in such a crowded space … you have to differentiate between 60 other players all saying their products work and the rest don’t. So we differentiated by designing a product warranty; our ransomware warranty is built around [SentinelOne EPP] because I have a special skill set having done that many times before.

So, at this time last year, I gave a presentation at Black Hat. There were four vendors that had a warranty; now, there are 18.

A cyber warranty must have been a hard sell at first. What was that conversation like?

Grossman: Everybody said I was crazy. Everybody said, ‘No one will ever do that.’ But when you work out the math and all of the objections, you can do it. I really do generally encourage every other vendor, including our competitors, to do it, and I’ll teach them how, if they like.

You need to do two things. You need to know statistically how well your product works. For example, our product, in terms of ransomware, has a less than 1% failure rate over a given year.

You’ve got to model your losses. In the event that you fail, what’s the loss? And then you have to reinsure it. That’s the critical part.

Reinsurance on a security product warranty ends up being, in my experience, $20,000 to $25,000 or less per year, not per customer, for a lot of customers. When you get over all the excuses, you can do this. I wouldn’t have come to SentinelOne unless they gave me the opportunity to design a warranty, which is the first ever of its kind in this space.

Now, it’s all well and good to offer a warranty, but what happens when you [undergo] trial by fire? The bottom line is, this year, there were no claims and no payouts, even in context of WannaCry and NotPetya. We had two large-scale ransomware outbreaks that were viral in nature. In each one, I lost a week in my life, but imagine our incentives — we have millions in liability outstanding, and we have to get on this outbreak right now. Customers like that.

We had no reports of infection, no claims and no payouts in each case. When you have a product that works, you’ll be okay. You might suffer anxiety, but the customers will be good.

It sounds stressful, but at the same time, you must be thinking if you can get through these ransomware outbreaks, then that’s going to do wonders for the appeal of your cyber warranty.

Grossman: The appeal is cool from a dollars-and-cents standpoint. First, it gives the customer a sense of confidence that you’re not just selling them a line. We’re putting our money where our mouth is. The customers don’t want to get hacked and we really, really don’t want them to get hacked.

And the second thing is a $1 million warranty is a good token gesture, but when the average losses on a breach for the midscale are between $3 million and $7 million, then that warranty has to go up. It’s not like we drew this line at $1 million and we’re done now; we’re going to increase the things we trigger on — not just ransomware, the level of payouts and what we pay out on. So we’ll do v2 of our warranty.

How hard was it to figure out those thresholds and limits for what triggers the warranty?

Grossman: Those are really hard numbers to get. We do it like cyberinsurance does it. There are hard costs and there are soft costs. Hard costs will be downtime, incident response, fines, legal fees and things like that.

No one covers the soft costs, like reputation [damage]. Cyberinsurance doesn’t, and we don’t either. No one really knows how to measure soft costs.

That seems like something customers are going to ask for.

Grossman: They can ask all they want. I’ll give you two ends of that conversation. Let’s say Target had a breach, and their stock takes a momentary loss, and then they recover. Everybody’s stock recovers.

The other side of that is that there’s a term called indirect hard loss. Let’s use Target as an example again; even though the company has been made whole, you can take a statistical average of a customer that transacts, let’s say, $100 a year at Target. The customer that got hacked [at] Target isn’t going to go away, but maybe they transact $50 a year going forward instead of $100.

So that $50 is your indirect hard loss. That’s the one everybody has to calculate, but you can only calculate it internally if you know the numbers. And that’s going to be a hard cost to even equate to reputational damage. We don’t have those numbers in the industry right now.

And you haven’t had any claims and any payouts?

Grossman: None that I’m aware of. I helped design about half the warranties, so I’m familiar with them. And it’s kind of a biased sampling for two reasons.

One is only the companies that have really, really good products are going to offer a warranty. And two, the warranties have only been around a year or two, and sales haven’t fully ramped up yet, so the sample size is still relatively small.

Have you had customers try to wiggle out of the parameters of the warranty and say things like ‘Well, I didn’t get hit by ransomware, but I had this happen’?

Grossman: No. Maybe it will happen if we have double or triple the number of customers. But the terms are pretty specific. There’s not a lot of equivocation.

In cyberinsurance, they have that happen all the time. There was a case — I don’t remember the company name — where the victim had cyberinsurance. There was a spear phishing attack and [the threat actor] said, ‘I am the CFO, please wire money to this Chinese bank account.’

The money got sent, and the company wanted to make a cyberinsurance claim, but the carrier said, ‘No,’ on the basis that that wasn’t a hack. That’s social engineering. That’s not security. Those are the kinds of conversations that happen.

Phishing and social engineering attacks are pretty common. Do they present a loophole, then, for cyberinsurance?

Grossman: I don’t know if it’s a loophole. A lot of times, attackers use phishing to plant malware. But this case was just an attacker pretending to be somebody else. There was no malware.

If the policy said, ‘We’ll cover that kind of social engineering attack,’ then great, it’s covered. But, in this case, it didn’t. The policy was protecting against a breach.

Stay tuned for part two of the interview with Jeremiah Grossman of SentinelOne.