Tag Archives: recently

IT spending now expected to decline 5.1% in face of pandemic

IDC recently further revised its worldwide IT spending forecast for 2020, from an earlier projection of a 2.7% decrease in constant currency to a 5.1% decrease due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In February, IDC had predicted a 5% increase in worldwide IT spending.

Despite the drop to a projected $2.25 trillion in spending, IT infrastructure spending is still expected to rise by almost 4%. Analysts see other reasons to be optimistic.

“In the long term, this won’t disrupt the general trend toward digital transformation — in fact, it might just accelerate it,” said Stephen Minton, program vice president of customer insights and analysis at IDC. “The crisis will likely provide us with proof points which show that companies that were further along the road with things like cloud adoption and digital transformation in general were best positioned to withstand this kind of event.”

Businesses also have to be careful about their business continuity plans and how they proceed with making cuts and how they look at this unique situation in a long-term lens.

“[Businesses] have to get a handle on [their spending and budgeting]. They need to know where they are and they also need to know, assess and come up with scenarios for where the potential for growth is, vs. contraction,” said Howard Dresner, founder and chief research officer at Dresner Advisory Services. “You know where you should be investing, because if you can do across-the-board cuts, you’re cutting your growth business, too.”

Double-digit decrease in device spending

Devices will be hardest hit, with companies spending 12.4% less on PCs and mobile devices in 2020. Companies were planning to reduce spending on PCs due to last year’s commercial refresh cycle, but mobile devices were expected to see a boost with the impending launches of 5G service and products.

Minton said there is a chance that companies may spend more on devices, however, given the rise in work-from-home initiatives due to shelter-in-place orders.

Businesses have to evaluate which technologies can help them to not only keep operating during the period of social distancing, but also to come out of the crisis at something like full speed.
Stephen MintonProgram vice president, IDC

“There could be some cuts in spending on mobile devices and apps, for example, because people are not currently very mobile,” Minton said. “On the other hand, there’s a lot of crossover between mobile and working from home, so it’s not a simple equation. Businesses have to evaluate which technologies can help them to not only keep operating during the period of social distancing, but also to come out of the crisis at something like full speed, so cutting too much can be just as damaging as not cutting enough in some cases.”

IT infrastructure spending to rise

Although overall IT spending will decrease, infrastructure spending is expected to increase 5.3% this year, mainly due to enterprise spending on infrastructure-as-a-service projects.

“The most long-term impact is probably going to be that this will be a tipping point for cloud, which sees a lot of the laggards finally embrace off-premise public and hybrid cloud services, and begin to scale back or even close down their own data centers and server rooms,” Minton said.

This comes after a strong fourth quarter in 2019 that brought in $14.9 billion in spending for cloud infrastructure, after two consecutive quarters of steady decrease.

IT conferences and events affecting spending

Although technology conferences worldwide have either been canceled out of precaution for attendees, been postponed or gone digital, Minton said they won’t directly affect projected IT spending. The results of the upended conference calendar may be seen down the line, however.

“It impacts the launch of new products and the general process of evaluating and comparing new technologies,” Minton said. “The lack of face-to-face contact in general will have a chilling effect on things like new projects and buying decisions.”

A recent Gartner report, “Addressing Disruptions to Tradeshow and Event Marketing Plans Due to Coronavirus (COVID-19),” contingency plans can help minimize the effects that COVID-19 has had on tech events and conferences. The report found that 11% of their marketing budget is pushed on third-party tradeshows and Gartner recommends companies reallocate their budgets in case of these cancellations.

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Intel CSME flaw deemed ‘unfixable’ by Positive Technologies

An underlying flaw in Intel chipsets, which was originally disclosed in May of 2019, was recently discovered by Positive Technologies to be far worse than previously reported.

Researchers from the vulnerability management vendor discovered a bug in the read-only memory of the Intel Converged Security and Management Engine (CSME) could allow threat actors to compromise platform encryption keys and steal sensitive information. The Intel CSME vulnerability, known as CVE-2019-0090, is present in both the hardware and the firmware of the boot ROM and affects all chips other than Intel’s 10th-generation “Ice Point” processors.

“We started researching the Intel CSME IOMMU [input-output memory management unit] in 2018,” Mark Ermolov, lead specialist of OS and hardware security at Positive Technologies, said via email. “We’ve been interested in that topic especially because we’ve known that Intel CSME shares its static operative memory with the host (main CPU) on some platforms. Studying the IOMMU mechanisms, we were very surprised that two main mechanisms of CSME and IOMMU are turned off by default. Next, we started researching Intel CSME boot ROM’s firmware to ascertain when CSME turns on the IOMMU mechanists and we found that there is a very big bug: the IOMMU is activated too late after x86 paging structures were created and initialized, a problem we found in October.”

The bug, which Positive calls “unfixable,” can be found in most Intel chipsets released in the last five years, according to Positive Technologies. 

“Intel CSME is responsible for initial authentication of Intel-based systems by loading and verifying all other firmware for modern problems,” Ermolov said. “It is the cryptographic basis for hardware security technologies developed by Intel and used everywhere, such as DRM, fTPM [firmware Trusted Platform Module] and Intel Identity protection. The main concern is that, because this vulnerability allows a compromise at the hardware level, it destroys the chain of trust for the platform as a whole.”

Although Intel has issued patches and mitigations that complicate the attack, Positive Technologies said fully patching the flaw is impossible because firmware updates can’t fully address all of the vectors.

“In the CVE-2019-0090 patch, Intel blocked ISH [Integrated Sensors Hub], so now it can’t issue DMA transactions to CSME. But we’re convinced there are other exploitation vectors and they will be found soon. To exploit a system that has not patched for CVE-2019-0090, an attacker doesn’t need to be very sophisticated,” Ermolov said.

In addition, Positive Technologies said extracting the chipset key is impossible to detect.

“The chipset key being leaked can’t be detected by CSME or by the main OS,” Ermolov said. “You’re already in danger, but you don’t know it. The attack (by DMA) also doesn’t leave any footprint. When an attacker uses the key to compromise the machine’s identity, this might be detected by you and you only, but only after it’s happened when it is too late.”

Once they’ve breached the system, threat actors can exploit this vulnerability in several ways, according to Positive Technologies.

“With the chipset key, attackers can pass off an attacker computer as the victims’ computer. They can gain remote certification into companies to access digital content usually under license (such as videos or films from companies like Netflix),” the company said via email. “They can steal temporary passwords to embezzle money. They can pose as a legitimate point-of-sale payment terminal to charge funds to their own accounts. Abusing this vulnerability, criminals can even spy on companies for industrial espionage or steal sensitive data from customers.”

Positive Technologies recommended disabling Intel CSME-based encryption or completely replacing CPUs with the latest generation of Intel chips.

This is the second vulnerability disclosed regarding Intel chips since January, when computer science researchers discovered a speculative execution attack that leaks data from an assortment of Intel processors released before the fourth quarter of 2018.

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For Sale – Various Dell Optiplex Computers Inc Dell 3060, 7020, 3020, 390

So I have a number of computers for sale that I’ve got from work, they’ve recently upgraded so these were surplus. I’ve gone through them, cleaned them up and installed Windows 10 Pro, all are licensed using the original license keys.

All prices also include shipping.

The following are available,

3 x Dell 7020 SFF Hard Drive

They are in full working order and again will show signs of general use.

Specs

Intel core i5 4590
8GB DDR3 Ram
500GB Hard Drive
Gigabit ethernet
4 x USB 3.0 ports
6 x USB 2.0 ports
VGA
2 x Displayport
Dvd drive

Looking for £90 each.

10 x Dell 390 SFF

In full working order and will show signs of use.

Specs

Intel Core i3 2120 3.3GHz
4GB DDR3 Ram
500GB Hard Drive
Ethernet
8 x USB 2.0 Ports
VGA
HDMI
DVD writer drive

Looking for £50 each.

Dell 3060 SFF

It’s in full working order and had very little use.

It’s had a fresh install of Windows Pro which is fully activated using the motherboards license key.

It has an NVME 256GB SSD Hard drive installed on the motherboard but also has space for a 3.5 inch hard drive.

Specs

Intel core i5 8500 3.00GHz cpu
8GB DDR4 Ram
256GB NVME SSD Hard Drive
Intel UHD Graphics 630
Gigabit ethernet
4 x USB 3.0 Ports
4 x USB 2.0 Ports
HDMI
Displayport
VGA
DVD Writer Drive

Looking for £320.

Dell XPS 8300

It has been well looked after but does have some marks and scratches, nothing that affects the usage of it.

Specs

Intel Quad Core i7-2600 3.40GHz CPU
16GB DDR3 RAM
Brand new 240GB SSD
1TB additial hard drive storage
GT 545 1GB GDDR5 Graphics card
Blu-ray rom drive
Soundblaster X-FI soundcard
Gigabit ethernet
Integrated multi SD card reader
8 x USB ports
2 x DVI outputs
1 x mini HDMI output
Windows 10 Pro

Looking for £280.

2 x Dell Optiplex 3020

I have a Dell 3020 SFF computer for sale.

It’s in full working order but will show signs of general use.

A fresh Windows 10 Pro install has been put on which is fully activated.

Specs

Intel core i5 4590 3.30GHz CPU
8GB DDR3 Ram
500GB Hard drive
Gigabit ethernet
2 x USB 3.0 ports
6 x USB 2.0 ports
VGA
Displayport

Looking for £85.

I have a few more to list over the next few days.

SOLD

Dell 3020 Micro 8GB RAM 500GB SSD – funkydamo

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How Genesys is personalizing the customer experience with Engage, Azure and AI | Transform

Microsoft and Genesys, a global provider of contact center software, recently announced a partnership to enable enterprises to run Genesys’ omnichannel customer experience solution, Genesys Engage, on Microsoft Azure. According to the two companies, this combination will provide a secure cloud environment to help companies more easily leverage AI to address customer needs on any channel.

Headquartered in Daly City, California, Genesys has more than 5,000 employees in nearly 60 offices worldwide. Every year, the company supports more than 70 billion customer experiences for organizations like Coca-Cola Business Services North America, eBay, Heineken, Lenovo, PayPal, BOSCH, Quicken and more.

Transform spoke with Barry O’Sullivan, executive vice president and general manager of Multicloud Solutions for Genesys, to explore how technology is reinventing the customer service experience.

TRANSFORM: How are technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and cloud transforming the customer service sector?

O’SULLIVAN: It’s broader than customer service. It’s the entire customer experience, which encompasses any point at which businesses engage with consumers, whether it’s in a marketing, sales or service context. What cloud, AI and machine learning enable is the ability to make every experience unique to each individual. Every consumer wants to feel like they’re the only customer that matters during each interaction with a brand. These technologies allow organizations to understand what customers are doing, predict what they will need next and then deliver it in real time.

Traditionally, companies haven’t been able to do that well, because it’s hard to get a fix on a consumer as they move between channels. Maybe they come to a physical store one day, then call the next day or engage via web chat. These technologies allow brands to stitch together every customer interaction, and then use the resulting data to personalize the experience.

TRANSFORM: Can you talk a little bit more about that customer journey and what customers will experience going forward?

O’SULLIVAN: Let’s use contacting the cable company to get internet service as an example. You check out their website, but maybe you get stuck and use web chat to interact with a customer service representative. Today’s technologies allow businesses to connect the dots to better understand the customer.

Before these technologies were available, interactions were disconnected, and important customer details and context didn’t move from one department or agent to the next. We all know what that’s like – just think about a customer service experience when you had to repeat your name and birthdate every time you were passed to a new agent.

Today’s technology can tie together a customer’s details, like their favored communication channel, past purchases, prior service requests and more, so the business really knows them. Then, using AI, it can match that customer with the contact center agent who has the best chance of successfully resolving the issue and achieving a specific business outcome, such as making a related sale.

TRANSFORM: All of those kinds of experiences seem to be present in some form today. Is there a change coming that’s going to take the consumer experience to the next level?

O’SULLIVAN: Personalized service is not a new concept, but very few businesses get it right. Today, it’s about so much more than targeting personas or market segments.

It’s really about enabling organizations to link together their customers’ and employees’ experiences to deliver truly memorable, one-of-a-kind interactions. When it’s done right, organizations already know who the customer is, what he or she wants and the best way to deliver it.

That means understanding customers so well that businesses know the best times to contact them, on which channel and even the best days for an appointment. It’s no longer one-size-fits-all service – it’s tailor-made customer care for each consumer.

TRANSFORM: Are your own customers ready to adopt the technologies to enable this kind of new experience?

O’SULLIVAN: When it comes to cloud, it’s not a question of if, but when and how. And that’s one of the reasons the announcement between Genesys and Microsoft is so exciting. We have a lot of customers, especially large enterprises, who love Genesys and love Azure and really want to see that combination come together. So, giving them that option and that choice is really going to accelerate the migration to cloud.

In terms of adopting AI and machine learning, many companies are in the early phases, but recognize the enormous potential of the technology. What makes AI truly compelling in the customer experience market is its ability to unlock data. Increasingly, businesses use digital channels, like web chat and text, to communicate with consumers, which combined with traditional voice interactions has resulted in copious amounts of data being produced daily. The key for organizations is figuring out how to harness and leverage it to more fully understand customers, their experiences and behaviors, as well as the needs of human agents. That’s where Genesys comes in.

TRANSFORM: How would you describe your experience working with Microsoft?

O’SULLIVAN: It’s a great partnership because we’ve got a common view of the customer and a very aligned vision on cloud. It’s all about delivering agility and innovation quickly and reliably to our joint customers. So, it really helps when we’re both all in on the cloud, all in on customer experience.

Our customers are really excited about this combination of Genesys and Azure. They can simplify their maintenance, reduce costs and streamline the buying process. We believe in the advantages of moving to cloud, and obviously Azure is a leader there.

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Author: Microsoft News Center

SMBs grappling with digital transformation initiatives

Small and medium-sized businesses across the board have either recently launched or are in the process of launching digital transformation initiatives, but many are running up against obstacles.

The results of the inaugural Insight 2020 Technology Report: IT Trends for Midmarket and Small Business, a study based on input from more than 400 North American IT professionals at independent and emerging businesses, highlighted that dilemma. Insight Enterprises conducted the research.

Technology has become a corporate cornerstone, even for small businesses, according to the report. “Enterprises recognize that they need to embrace leading-edge technology in order to remain competitive,” said Joseph Clinton, central region sales director at Insight Enterprises.

Organizations expect that embracing digital transformation will positively impact their operations, the report said. The top three business areas that respondents said digital transformation initiatives would help improve are customer experience, cited by 43%; operational efficiency, 42%; and workforce productivity and collaboration, 42%.

Digital transformation challenges

Realizing the potential benefits of digital transformation has been vexing, however. Close to half of the study’s respondents, 49%, said integrating new technology with legacy systems is very or extremely challenging when dealing with IT service providers. “Many companies perform a lift and shift. They simply take their existing applications and port them to the cloud,” Clinton explained. “In those cases, they do not take advantage of any of the modernization features available in the new environment.”

Steps for digital transformation chart
Four essential steps to digital transformation

Funding also poses issues for these initiatives. The study found that 44% of respondents pointed to budget constraints as an inhibitor to embracing digital transformation.

Additionally, when attempting to equip their businesses with the latest technology, 45% of SMBs said understanding which new technologies to invest in is an area of concern. Many new systems are cloud-based, and cost is a key obstacle here, as well. Comparing cloud pricing to current expenditures is the most frequently cited barrier to migration, cited by 56% of SMB respondents.

Building a digital transformation framework

So, how can a company address its digital transformation challenges? “Businesses need a framework, a plan that aligns where they are today to where they want to be in the future,” Clinton said.

Businesses need a framework, a plan that aligns where they are today to where they want to be in the future.
Joseph ClintonCentral region sales director, Insight Enterprises

But in many cases, these organizations lack the technical depth to create the plan — a task that channel partners can help with. “There are a lot of potential pitfalls,” Clinton said. “Businesses need to get their applications and employees ready for the change. The bursting that cloud offers can be helpful, but it can also be expensive. In some cases, modern applications cost much more than legacy systems.”

As a result, corporations should not automatically assume the cloud offers them a better deployment model than legacy infrastructure. They need to create a methodology to see which workloads should move. Channel partners with deep cloud experience are in prime position to help them make the right call, Clinton said.

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For Sale – 2x Dell U2412M IPS Monitors

Hey guys,

I’m selling my dual Dell U2412M IPS monitors as I’ve recently bought a new monitor.

Looking for £100 for both monitors and will considering posting (collection ideally) if you’re happy to pay for the postage along with some bubble wrap!

Both in good working order with no known issues.

Please let me know if you have any questions or would like any additional images!

Matt

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For Sale – ideapad i3 8th, 2 x thinkpad i5 4th

hi

i have two laptops for sale. the thinkpads were recently fixed, i purchased them from ebay without ram and a dodgy hdd. changed hdds and added ram and works fine now.

1)
Lenovo ideapad 330s 15.6″
ryzen 5 2500u cpu – this was upgraded from the R3 it opriginallycame with, i didn;t do it, the person on ebay i got it from did.
4 gb of ddr4 ram
128 gb ssd drive
windows 10
small chip on screen caused by my missus! not really noticable in play, lovely overall laptop
£275.

2)
Thinkpad L440
core i5 4300M
8 GB of ddr3 ram
500 GB hdd’s
win 10
marks to casing from use, left vent plastic damage but good overall. £125 each.

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World Childhood Foundation marks 20 years with focus on AI and child safety online – Microsoft on the Issues

World Childhood Foundation, launched in 1999 by Queen Silvia of Sweden, recently marked 20 years of child protection with a roundtable on leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) to assist in tackling child sexual exploitation and abuse online.

The day-long event, held last month at the Royal Palace in Stockholm, brought together 60 AI experts, representatives from technology companies, child safety advocates, academics and others to explore new ways to combat the proliferation of child sexual exploitation and abuse imagery (CSEAI) online.

“How can we use AI as a catalyst for child safety online,” asked King Carl XVI Gustaf, who, along with Queen Silvia and other members of Sweden’s royal family, presided over the day’s discussions. “New approaches are needed, so we are bringing together some of the sharpest minds in AI and child protection to share knowledge and experiences.”

The event consisted of a series of presentations, panels and small-group discussions about raising awareness among the broader global population about the “epidemic” that is child sexual exploitation and abuse, as well as the misuse of technology to share illegal imagery and enable on-demand abuse of children tens of thousands of miles away. Experts shared experiences, ideas and data, including that reports of child sexual abuse videos to the U.S. National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) had risen 541% in 2018 compared to the prior year. Moreover, children of all ages and backgrounds are susceptible to sexual exploitation with more than 56% of the children in Interpol’s database identified as prepubescent. “Nothing surprises us anymore,” said one law enforcement official.

More, faster needed from all stakeholders

The roundtable concluded with a series of observations and recommendations from a variety of sectors, including law and public policy, technology, and victim advocacy, including that:

  • Governments need to take a more active role in addressing the issue. Indeed, no country or society is immune from child sexual abuse and the vile content that makes its way online. Experts acknowledged the work of some standouts governments like the U.K., Australia and others, but called for more globalization and harmonization
  • Children need to be acknowledged as rights-holders, including their right to privacy, and not just as “objects in need of protection”
  • Speed will continue to present a challenge with technological advancements moving at internet speed; academic research occupying a distant second position; and policy, law and regulation lagging significantly behind
  • Civil society needs to do more and, in particular, victims’ rights groups and other organizations must inject a sense of urgency into the dialogue, and
  • Hope must be offered by believing in the brilliance and power of the human and the machine working together to combat such deep-rooted societal ills

I had the privilege of attending and presenting details on the progress of the development of a new method to detect potential instances of child online grooming for sexual purposes. The technique is the result of a cross-industry hackathon that Microsoft hosted in November 2018. Engineers from Microsoft and three other companies continued to develop the process for 12 months following the hackathon, and we intend to make it freely available in 2020 to enable others to examine historical chat conversations for potential indicia of grooming. (Grooming for sexual purposes takes place when someone befriends a child with the intent of gaining the child’s trust for sexual abuse, sexual exploitation or trafficking.) For more about the technique being developed, see this post.

Queen Silvia builds on Vatican remarks

The week before the Stockholm roundtable, a number of attendees also participated in a conference in Rome, Promoting Digital Child Dignity: From Concept to Action. This event was sponsored by the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, the Child Dignity Alliance and the government of the United Arab Emirates.

Queen Silvia was a featured speaker at the Rome conference, noting that when she founded World Childhood Foundation, she hoped she could use her voice to highlight the global problem of child sexual exploitation and abuse. She imagined that the foundation would soon close because it would no longer be needed, as the global scourge that is child sexual abuse would have been eliminated. “To speak about the unspeakable, and to give children back their right to a childhood,” she said. “(Yet,) 20 years later, here we are, with an ever-increasing number of children at risk of abuse and exploitation online.”

Along with several speakers that followed her in Rome, the queen called on all stakeholders to come together and do more: policymakers, technology companies, civil society and faith-based groups. “For the child who has suffered abuse; for the child who is at risk; for the child who carries guilt and shame – for this child, we have to speak with one voice and to act collectively.” (The Queen’s Rome remarks were distributed to participants of the Stockholm roundtable.)

A third landmark event on combating CSEAI will be held later this month in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The African Union, the WePROTECT Global Alliance and the U.K. Government will sponsor the Global Summit to Tackle Online Child Sexual Exploitation on December 11 and 12.

Microsoft and the challenge of Online Child Sexual Exploitation  

This increased attention from several corners of the globe and from new and different stakeholder groups is both needed and encouraging. Additional strides will follow only when we embrace a whole-of-society approach and all stakeholders take part in this important fight.

Microsoft has been combating the spread of CSEAI online for nearly two decades. We first became aware of the magnitude of these online horrors in 2003 when a lead detective from the Toronto Police Department sent an email to our then CEO Bill Gates, asking for help using technology to track down purveyors of CSEAI and for assistance with the detective’s goal of rescuing child victims. Microsoft responded with a $1 million investment and the creation of a technology still in use today by some law enforcement agencies to share investigative information.

Our commitment to create technology to help fight CSEAI online continued with the invention of PhotoDNA, PhotoDNA Cloud Service and PhotoDNA for Video. Progress has been made over the last 20 years, but more needs to be done, including raising awareness, educating young people and the wider public, reporting illegal content to technology companies and hotlines, and continuing to create technologies and techniques to assist in online detection and reporting.

Learn more

To learn more about the World Childhood Foundation, visit the organization’s website. To learn what Microsoft is doing to tackle child sexual exploitation and abuse online, see this link, and to learn more about digital safety generally, go to www.microsoft.com/saferonline, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

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Author: Microsoft News Center

For Trade – or Sale: AMD build PC

*** Will trade for a Switch or Xbox One X Bundle ***

I’ve got a budget PC which I have recently chucked together. The case and keyboard/mouse are new and I still have the box for the case. I’m unsure about delivery at the moment due to the weight of the cpu cooler, maybe removal of that part for transport might work.

Spec:

Gamemax Expedition Case – Black
Gigabyte A320 M-ATX Motherboard
AMD Ryzen 5 3400G Processor
8GB DDR4 Generic Ram (think it’s standard Corsair)
128GB M.2 SSD WD
450w Power Supply
Ryzen Prism RGB CPU Cooler
Budget Gaming Keyboard and Mouse

Looking for £270 with local drop off or meet within the Northwest.

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