Tag Archives: opportunities

Focus, scope and spotting opportunity are key to role of CDO

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — In the age of big data, the opportunities to change organizations by using data are many. For a newly minted chief data officer, the opportunities may actually be too vast, making focus the most essential element in the role of CDO.

“It’s about scope,” said Charles Thomas, chief data and analytics officer at General Motors. “You struggle if you do too many things.”

As chief data officer at auto giant GM, Thomas is focusing on opportunities to repackage and monetize data. He called it “whale hunting,” meaning he is looking for the biggest opportunities.

Thomas spoke as part of a panel on the role of CDO this week at the MIT Chief Data Officer and Information Quality Symposium.

At GM, he said, the emphasis is on taking the trove of vehicle data available from today’s highly digitized, instrumented and connected cars. Thomas said he sees monetary opportunities in which GM can “anonymize data and sell it.”

The role of CDO is important, if not critical, Thomas emphasized in an interview at the event.

The nurturing CDO

“Companies generate more data than they use, so someone has to approach it from an innovative perspective — not just for internal innovation, but also to be externally driving new income,” he said. “Someone has to [be] accountable for that. It has to be their only job.”

“A lot of industries are interested in how people move around cities. It’s an opportunity to sell [data] to B2B clients,” Thomas added.

Focus is also important in Christina Clark’s view of the role of CDO. But nurturing data capabilities across the organization is the initial prime area for attention, said Clark, who is CDO at industrial conglomerate General Electric’s GE Power subsidiary and was also on hand as an MIT symposium panelist.

Every company should get good at aggregating, analyzing and monetizing data, Clark said.

“You then look at where you want to focus,” she said. The role of CDO, she added, is likely to evolve according to the data maturity of any given organization.

Focusing on data areas in which an organization needs rounding out was also important to symposium panelist Jeff McMillan, chief analytics and data officer at Morgan Stanley’s wealth management unit, based in New York.

The chief data officer role evolution
As the role of CDO changes, it’s becoming more strategic.

It’s about the analytics

“Organizations say, ‘We need a CDO,’ and then bring them in, but they don’t provide the resources they need to be successful,” he said. “A lot of people define the CDO role before they define the problem.”

It’s unwise to suggest a CDO can fix all the data problems of an organization, McMillan said. The way to succeed with data is to drive an understanding of data’s value as deeply into the organization as possible.

“That is really hard, by the way,” he added. At Morgan Stanley, McMillan said, his focus in the role of chief data officer has been around enabling wider use of analytics in advising clients on portfolio moves.

All things data and CDO

Tom Davenport, BabsonTom Davenport

Since widely materializing in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, the role of CDO has been seen largely as seeking consensus.

Compliance and regulation tasks have often blended in a broad job description that has come to include big data innovation initiatives. But individual executives’ refinements to chief data officer approaches may be the next step for the role of CDO, longtime industry observer and Babson College business professor Tom Davenport said in an interview.

“Having someone responsible for all things data is not a workable task. So, you really need to focus,” Davenport said. “If you want to focus on monetization, that’s fine. If you want to focus on internal enablement or analytics, that’s fine.”

The advice to the would-be CDO is not unlike that for most any other position. “What you do must be focused; you can’t be all things to all people,” Davenport said.

Cloud computing technology for 2018: Transform or die

Cloud computing technology is creating business opportunities so radically new and different that they can be built only if we junk much of what we know, how we operate and even how we think — everywhere in the enterprise, not just within IT. In other words, transform or die.

That was the emphatic, no-nonsense message delivered by Ashish Mohindroo, vice president of Oracle Cloud, and Bill Taylor, co-founder and founding editor of Fast Company magazine. They spoke at the Boston stop of the 2017-2018 Oracle Cloud Day roadshow in November.

Legacy data centers won’t help, said Mohindroo. Neither will recreating on-premises complexity in the cloud. It’s time to think in new ways, as is typified by Uber and Lyft redefining transportation and Airbnb transforming the hospitality industry.

Bill Taylor at Oracle Cloud Day

During a time of disruption, don’t let what you know limit what you can imagine, warned Taylor, giving a combination of scared-straight and do-it-now-or-else advice to an audience of about 400 IT professionals.

Generational shift

IT is currently in the midst of a once-every-20-years tectonic shift, according to Mohindroo. The most recent, the 1990s shift from client/server computing to the internet, is now being supplanted by the transition to cloud computing. The upheaval is far-reaching and impossible to avoid.

“No industry is immune,” Mohindroo said, citing key cloud computing technology drivers that include artificial intelligence, machine learning, blockchain, autonomous software, the internet of things and advances in human interface design.

A potentially debilitating problem that businesses face today is that existing legacy IT infrastructures and strategies were not built to leverage new technologies, support new business models, offer adequate control and do it all quickly. Traditional data centers, Mohindroo said, were constructed in a siloed manner, built for maximum capacity and peak loads, but not designed to be elastic, integrated or flexible.

Complicating matters is that each siloed service doesn’t talk to others and may have been built to differing standards. Integrating them can be difficult when incompatible standards, including authentication, database design or communications protocols, get in the way.

Though Mohindroo’s presentation eventually led into a sales pitch for Oracle’s cloud computing technology platforms, the underlying message was vendor neutral and clear: For businesses to exist, they must undergo a cloud transformation consisting of essential foundational services: data as a service (DaaS), software as a service (SaaS), platform as a service (PaaS), and infrastructure as a service (IaaS). Those services, he said, need to be based on open technologies and standards, including SQL and NoSQL databases.

Six journey paths

Oracle defines six distinct pathways into the cloud. Each offers differing appeal depending on the age of the company, its compute workload and compliance mandates, among other factors. The six options include the following:

  • Optimize an existing on-premises data center with plans to migrate later.
  • Install a complete cloud infrastructure on premises behind the corporate firewall. The advantages of this are behind-the-firewall security and a pay-as-you-go model for usage.
  • Move existing workloads into a cloud infrastructure with minimal optimization, often referred to as lift and shift. Mohindroo said the key challenge with this popular scenario is dealing with less-than-optimal I/O bottlenecks.
  • Create all new, cloud-resident applications, developed using PaaS and IaaS technology, to fully replace outmoded legacy applications. DaaS replaces the legacy on-premises database. Advantages of this model include the availability of a wide variety of open source languages and services for application development, data management, analytics and integration, along with support for virtual machines, containerization for portability and Kubernetes for orchestration.

    “The whole concept behind this is to make it easy for you to run your business,” Mohindroo said.

    One way to utilize this option is through Oracle’s advanced AI and machine learning cloud technology. For example, Oracle offers an autonomous database that Mohindroo claims is self-running — managed, patched and tuned in real time without human intervention.

  • Replace the core legacy application base with subscription-based, third-party SaaS counterparts. Similar to option four, this model offers application development tools for customization, along with the same AI and machine learning technology.
  • Choose a born-in-the-cloud model, which would be the logical choice for new companies that have no legacy IT operation or applications, Mohindroo said.

Change the way you think

Mohindroo’s presentation was crafted to deliver a purely cloud computing technology message.

Taylor’s talk, which largely avoided tech speak, still targeted IT managers, application developers and operations personnel, saying their collective efforts can benefit from understanding the human side of the user experience. To do that, he said, requires becoming fully immersed in every nuance of what it means to be a customer.

Taylor suggested that IT employees expand their view beyond the technology.

Are you … learning as fast as the world is changing?
Bill Taylorcofounder and founding editor, Fast Company magazine

“Are you determined to make sure that what you know doesn’t limit what you can imagine going forward?” he said. “Are you … learning as fast as the world is changing?”

Taylor’s message can be taken two ways: Gain insight into the people who use the cloud applications you build or learn about each new cloud computing technology and programming language or risk being left behind.

Taylor cited San Antonio-based USAA, the financial services company that serves military families, as an example of a leader in technology-driven disruption that immerses every employee — even highly skilled application developers — in understanding the customer experience. USAA gives new employees a packet called a virtual overseas deployment. The idea is to spend a day role-playing as a member of the Army Reserve or National Guard suddenly called up to active duty.

“You’ve got four weeks to get your financial affairs together,” Taylor said.

The exercise forces the role-player to go through credit card statements, bank statements, life insurance and car payments — all to help USAA employees understand what their customers need.

“They’re not early adopters of technology because they love technology per se; it’s because they’re so committed to their identity in the sense of impacting customers in their marketplace,” Taylor said. 

Join educators from around the world as we Hack the Classroom – Saturday, Oct. 14th |

Educators face an entirely new set of challenges and opportunities in today’s constantly evolving technological landscape. Digital transformation can have a profound impact on the education experience, but it’s becoming harder than ever to keep up with, identify, and incorporate the best strategies and solutions for your classroom.

Enter Hack the Classroom: It’s a live, online event designed to inspire educators, ignite new ideas, and showcase what’s possible in today‘s schools and classrooms. Broadcasting live on October 14th, Hack the Classroom will bring together the latest teaching methods, tools, and technologies to spark creativity and curiosity in students and educators alike. We’ll also share tips, tricks, and inspiring stories from educators all across the globe, unlocking new ways to empower the students of today to create the world of tomorrow.

Tune in live to the event on October 14, 2017, 8:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. PDT.

Our theme for this Hack the Classroom event is all about:

Sparking creativity and curiosity to empower the students of today to create the world of tomorrow.

Hack the Classroom will feature classroom hacks from educators, discussions from inspiring thought leaders, and resources to help you get started. The key is to start with just a few small steps.

By attending our live, online Hack the Classroom event, you can:

  • Hear from Alan November, live from Boston, MA. Alan’s approach is to support students in becoming “problem designers” as a critical step in tapping their imagination and curiosity.  Providing a framework for lines of inquiry and “messy” problems to be developed can be a stepping stone to helping students learn how to think through increasingly complex and creative conundrums.
  • Look into Tammy Dunbar’s tech-infused classroom in Manteca Unified School District to see how technology is engaging her students and empowering them to meet high standards.  Tammy will share the top five tools to support creativity and curiosity.
  • Learn how courses on the Microsoft Educator Community can prepare you to incorporate rich STEM lessons into your classroom, whether you are an elementary or a secondary teacher, and see the results in action with a school in the UK.
  • See how students at Renton Prep are using the new video features in the Photo App to share their learning creatively.
  • See innovative class hacks from MIE Experts around the world.
  • Participate in the live studio Q&A – come with questions!
  • Receive an HTC participant badge and receive 500 points on our Educator Community. Once you’ve earned 1,000 points, you become a certified Microsoft Innovative Educator.

Click here to register and save your spot.

Be sure to share the event with fellow teachers, connect with us on Twitter @MicrosoftEDU and tweet out your thoughts using #MicrosoftEDU and #HackTheClassroom.

For daily ideas on how to infuse technology into your classroom, check out our Educator Community and learn how to become a certified Microsoft Innovative Educator. Our Educator Community is the place to collaborate with educators around the world and the best location for resources on using technology in the classroom. Our content is designed by educators for educators, up-to-date and ever-growing to meet your teaching needs.

We look forward to seeing you at Hack the Classroom!

Learn the basics of PowerShell for Azure Functions

just for developers; several scripting languages open up new opportunities for admins and systems analysts as well.

Scripting options for Azure Functions

Azure Functions is a collection of event-driven application components that can interact with other Azure services. It’s useful for asynchronous tasks, such as data ingestion and processing, extract, transform and load processes or other data pipelines, as well as microservices or cloud service integration.

In general, functions are well-suited as integration and scripting tools for legacy enterprise applications due to their event-driven, lightweight and infrastructure-free nature. The ability to use familiar languages, such as PowerShell, Python and Node.js, makes that case even stronger. Since PowerShell is popular with Windows IT shops and Azure users, the best practices below focus on that particular scripting language but apply to others as well.

PowerShell for Azure Functions

The initial implementation of PowerShell for Azure Functions uses PowerShell version 4 and only supports scripts (PS1 files), not modules (PSM1 files), which makes it best for simpler tasks and rapid development. To use PowerShell modules in Azure Functions, users can update the PSModulepath environment variable to point to a folder that contains custom modules and connect to it through FTP.

When you use scripts, pass data to PowerShell functions through files or environment variables, because a function won’t store or cache the runtime environment. Incoming data to a function, via an event trigger or input binding, is passed using files that are accessed in PowerShell through environment variables. The same scheme works for data output. Since the input data is just a raw file, users must know what to expect and parse accordingly. Functions itself won’t format data but will support most formats, including:

  • string;
  • int;
  • bool;
  • object/JavaScript Object Notation;
  • binary/buffer;
  • stream; and
  • HTTP

PowerShell functions can be triggered by HTTP requests, an Azure service queue, such as when a message is added to a specified storage queue, or a timer (see Figure 1). Developers can create Azure Functions with the Azure portal, Visual Studio — C# functions only — or a local code editor and integrated development environment, although the portal is the easiest option.

Triggers for PowerShell functions
Figure 1. PowerShell functions triggers

Recommendations

Azure Functions works the same whether the code is in C#, PowerShell or Python, which enables teams to use a language with which they have expertise or can easily master. The power of Functions stems from its integration with other Azure services and built-in runtime environments. Writing as a function is more efficient than creating a standalone app for simple tasks, such as triggering a webhook from an HTTP request.

While PowerShell is an attractive option for Windows teams, they need to proceed with caution since support for Azure Functions is still a work in progress. The implementation details will likely change, however, for the better.

You Asked, We Listened: Fans Can Now Opt into the Xbox Insider Program

The Xbox Insider Program is growing, and with that growth comes exciting new opportunities. Alongside our continual efforts to hear all feedback shared by the Xbox Insider community, we’re now simplifying entry into the Xbox One Update Preview rings and partnering with 1st and 3rd party studios to provide Xbox Insiders with early access to Alpha and closed Beta playtests of Xbox Live-enabled games on both Xbox One and Windows 10 PCs. This means Xbox gamers will now be able to easily opt into the Xbox Insider program and gain earlier access to the latest system updates and flighted games!

Xbox One Update Preview Flights

As the Xbox Insider Program has evolved to enable new and better experiences, so have the Xbox One Update Preview rings. We previously increased the number of rings and changed the names of the rings that provide Xbox Insider community members with a preview of updates. These changes help the development team by providing more in-depth, critical testing data, which they use to then update and refine features based on fan feedback, ensuring optimal user experiences when system updates reach general availability.

One of our key goals since creating the Xbox Insider Program has been ensuring interested Xbox users can provide valuable feedback on system updates before they are broadly released. We’ve enjoyed seeing that you, our community, share that same goal. Many of you – especially in Ring 3 and Ring 4 – have expressed interest in the opportunity to share feedback earlier in the preview process. As a result of this feedback, starting today we’re better recognizing your participation and dedication by activating user-selected ring shifts – available for those who have reached certain Xbox Insider XP and tenure milestones – for fans to enroll in previously “closed” rings.

To clarify these changes, we’re renaming preview Ring 3 and Ring 4. Here’s more information on these Insider ring changes:

Xbox Insiders Image

With these updates, many new Xbox Insiders – previously limited to Ring 3 or Ring 4 – will be able to join the Xbox One Update Preview Beta and Delta groups, thereby expanding the types of updates and features they’ll be able to test right away.

One important note for users who select enrollment in the Delta group to be aware of: a portion of Delta Insiders will receive preview builds earlier than others, based on a random lottery process. This means that while all users in the Delta ring will receive new console updates prior to their official release, some Delta Insiders will receive updates before others. This process gives developers a better understanding of how different sets of users experience new features, when introduced.

In addition to changing how Xbox One Preview Update rings function, we’re also providing Xbox Insiders with more flexibility in how they receive updates. As you gain access to deeper Insider rings, you’ll still retain access to lower rings, too. This means if you’re concerned with bandwidth usage or the frequency of updates, you can simply move to a lower ring whenever you’d like. What’s more, those who own multiple consoles can enroll those consoles individually into any of the Insider rings for which they’re eligible using the same gamertag across each.

Here’s some detail on the average number of monthly updates per ring, combined with the rough average monthly bandwidth usage per ring:

Xbox Insiders Image

Game & App Flights

As we said earlier, the Xbox Insider Team is working closely with multiple 1st party and 3rd party game studios to bring you playtests of unreleased games. Recently we partnered with our friends at Rare and already thousands of gamers are sailing the Sea of Thieves across both Xbox One and Windows 10 PCs.  This spring, Paladins was initially available to Xbox Insiders with an XP level of 10 or higher, then Xbox Insiders with XP > level 5, before being released to all Xbox Insiders a few weeks before the game was generally available.

Along with games, Xbox Insiders can also get early access to unreleased Xbox console apps and updates, so keep checking the Xbox Insider Hub to see if new content opportunities are available to you!

Thank You

In closing, we simply want to say thank you to our Xbox Insiders for working closely with Team Xbox to build and improve not only the gaming experience on Xbox One but also multiple games and apps across PC and console. Not yet an Xbox Insider and interested in joining the program? It’s easy to get started!  Simply navigate to the Store on Xbox One,  search for the “Xbox Insider Hub,” download the app and get started testing new console updates, games and apps.

-The Xbox Insider Team