Podcast: Hackers beat AI, Robots for SMEs, and Putin out big claims

Matt Hatton of Transforma Insights tells the Tech Trends Pod host, Jeremy Cowan about 7 ways to harness ArtificiaI Intelligence, IoT and other disruptive technologies for your competitive advantage. Journalist Nick Booth reports that academics are forecasting chipsets made for the edge will overtake AI chipsets for the cloud in 5 years’ time. While Jeremy’s still wondering why Russia’s COVID vaccine wasn’t good enough for its President. Just Putin that out there.

Hi, and welcome to the latest Tech Trends Podcast brought to you by IoT Now, VanillaPlus, and The Evolving Enterprise. I’m Jeremy Cowan, and I’m really glad you could join us for today’s sometimes serious, sometimes light-hearted look at digital transformation for enterprises.

In a moment, we’ve got one of my favourite tech journalists, Nick Booth, and a leading business analyst Matt Hatton, both sharing the serious news that’s interested them lately. Then Matt’s going to let us into his firm’s secret; that’s the 7 ways to harness artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things (let’s just call them AI and IoT) and other disruptive technologies for competitive advantage. I’m hoping it’s going to be a fast track to lavish foreign holidays in the land of milk and honey, so no pressure Matt. And finally, in What The Tech we’ll share what’s made each of us smile or curse lately.

Our first guest is familiar to the pod’s regulars. It’s Matt Hatton from Transforma Insights. Matt, a warm welcome.

(Matt Hatton  1:11)
Hello, Jeremy, delighted to be here.

(Jeremy Cowan  1:13 )
Good to have you. And our next guest is journalist Nick Booth. Nick, welcome to the pod.

(Nick Booth  1:17 )
Thank you very much. I’m very flattered that you favourited me.

(Jeremy Cowan  1:23 )
It’s great to have you. Let’s start with the headlines. Matt, I’m coming to you first. What have you spotted in the news?

(Matt Hatton  1:30 )
Well, it’s quiet times at the moment really for news, but I did spot one interesting story about a tie-up between T-Systems and KUKA. So T-Systems being the systems integration arm of Deutsche Telekom and KUKA. Being a robot manufacturer, a lot of those robotic arms that you see, they make them if it’s not a familiar name to you. I think it’s particularly interesting because it’s squarely focused on manufacturing and specifically manufacturing for small and medium-sized businesses. So, to me, it’s indicating that this idea of factory automation is becoming more and more the norm. And we see this is one of the really interesting sectors that are set to take off.

And COVID, I think, has probably had quite an impact on encouraging people to get more evolved in adopting automation within factories, having not been able to put the people into the factories over the last few months. I’ve also got this theory about separating hardware and software layers. It’s a bit of a macro theory about technology, and how that tends to trigger an explosion of innovation. And this robotics world is starting to see a lot of that at the moment. Things like those companies that used to make arms used to provide all the software, and actually you’re starting to get a separate set of software robotics companies, or robotics software companies rather. And I think this is potentially quite an interesting trigger for a lot of innovation in the space. So certainly a good one to watch.

(Jeremy Cowan  3:05)
Interesting. Thanks, Matt. So, Nick, which tech story has caught your eye?

(Nick Booth  3:12)
Well, I’ve seen a number of reports into various types of change, and they call it digital transformation in one report from the University of London, as a report on The Evolving Enterprise. Professor Feng Li has identified the three paths to digital transformation. However, I’m a bit wary of that phrase digital transformation, having sought one myself and ended up having my fingers broken. (Laughter.) So instead, I’m going to concentrate on a report, which is by ABI Research, where they’re looking at chipsets and the demand for chipsets, which they say reflect the changing nature of the infrastructure. Basically, more manufacturers are going to be needing AI chipsets for the edge than they will need for the AI chipsets for the cloud. They predict that there’s a whole new surge in demand for AI chipsets, computational chipsets, which are purely catering for localised computing at the edge.

So that proves how the nature of the intelligent network is changing. More and more of its intelligence is devolving to the, to the edges to the suburbs, if you like, as another sort of form of growth like a town devolving. You’ve got three, a trinity of drivers – there’s always a rule of three in these things. There’s a huge demand for privacy, cybersecurity, and latency. And there’s three vehicles for this AI training and whatnot, which will be gateways, devices and sensors, which are gonna be finding their way to all points remote on the network, all these localised areas. So yeah, it just shows how, if this analyst is right, he reckons that AI at the edge, well the chipsets made for the edge will overtake AI chipsets for the cloud in about five years’ time.

(Jeremy Cowan  )

(Nick Booth  )
Yeah, it’s a very tight race actually, because it’s almost like a photo finish with the edge fund finishing on $10.5 billion. And the cloud chipset on 10.25. So I’m amazed at his perspicacity to be able to predict to that degree of accuracy, chipset sales in five years. But you know, fair play to him.

(Jeremy Cowan  5:46 )
It’s possible that he’s hoping we won’t come back and ask him to justify his explanations and his figures in five years’ time. It is always interesting to see how these figures are arrived at, and it’s a story I noticed as you did. It’s one that’s well worth looking up on.

(Nick Booth  6:04  )
Now we maybe we should assign a robot to follow him around for five years. That’s one thing for artificial intelligence, to follow people up on their predictions.

(Jeremy Cowan  6:15  )
Yeah, I’m sure there’s a solution. We just haven’t found it yet. Yeah. Thanks very much, Nick.

There was a technology story I noticed on The Evolving Enterprise website headlined, “Blend ingenuity and AI-based security to protect from hackers”. And I think it was the word hackers that caught my attention. It seems there’s a new report from Bugcrowd, a company I hadn’t come across before, a crowdsourced security company, called Inside the Mind of a Hacker. That’s the name of the report. And it says that human ingenuity supported by actionable intelligence – obviously from their platform, of course – are critical factors in creating a resilient infrastructure. And to put some numbers on that, they say that 78% of almost 3,500 hackers that they surveyed (these are the white hat hackers, by the way, the goodies) anyway, 78% of them said that just using AI-powered cyber security solutions will not be enough to outmanoeuvre cyber attacks over the next decade. And nearly nine out of 10 of the hackers added that scanners alone can’t find as many critical or unknown assets as humans can.

I’m tempted to say they would say that, wouldn’t they? But it is interesting all the same, because the report quotes one top-ranked hacker called Jasmine Landry, who commented that hackers will always be one step ahead of AI when it comes to cyber security, because humans are not confined by logical limitations of machine intelligence. And I guess there’s something in that.

(Matt Hatton  7:55  )
Yeah, I think there is, it’s probably bad news for Darktrace, who will tell you that you can more or less tackle any kind of hacking with AI. But I did some work on looking at the impact that AI has had on trying to tackle COVID. And the scorecard isn’t particularly good. Because it’s something new there’s not a lot of training data to work with. And AI doesn’t work very well with novel things that are constantly changing and the virus was adapting and so on. So it tends to get a pretty bad score on that. So I don’t see any reason why it will be any different with hacking and with security and related issues in the IT sphere as well.

(Nick Booth  8:40  )
Hackers are endlessly creative aren’t they. It’s a shame we can’t harness them.

(Matt Hatton  8:45  )
Literally or metaphorically harnessing? (Laughter)

(Nick Booth  8:48   )
Yeah, literally I meant.

(Jeremy Cowan  8:51  )
I was also intrigued by another aspect of the same report that shared some interesting demographics on hackers themselves. It’s a profession that you may well know it’s well paid, and you probably won’t be surprised to hear that 53% of them are under the age of 24. Not a huge surprise there. 6% of them apparently experience ADHD, attention deficit / hyperactivity disorder. And they thrive when faced with rapid change, such as security research, where creativity and original thinking are pretty well rewarded, I guess.

And what else did I learn from the report on The Evolving Enterprise? Apparently, Bugcrowd reported an 83% increase in hackers living in India. Nearly three out of four speak two or more languages. It’s a profile of a hacker that is sort of sometimes stereotypical, it seems, and sometimes a little bit surprising.

(Nick Booth  9:52  )
I was wondering, do most criminals find it very difficult not to boast about their achievements? There must be some way of enticing them out of the woodwork by flattering their egos or …

(Matt Hatton  10:04 )
Seemingly, they’re happy enough to complete surveys.  (Laughter)

(Nick Booth  10:07  )
Yeah, that’s true.

(Jeremy Cowan  10:10  )
And before lockdown, they were quite regularly attending one or two key shows in Las Vegas, if I remember rightly. But, yeah, it seems to be an interesting profile. Anyway, you can find out more on how to protect yourself using white hats, if you want to, by checking out the report at www.TheEE.ai and just search for the word “blend”.

Matt, I wanted to talk about your initiative. Your latest work at Transforma has a very bold ring to it. Your latest webinar I think was called “Seven ways to harness AI, IoT and other disruptive technologies for competitive advantage”. So, tell us what what are the other five technologies you’ve zeroed in on after AI and IoT?

(Matt Hatton  11:00  )
Ah, well. Let me correct you on something. The seven are not seven technologies. But they’re seven strategies that organisations might use in order to best take advantage of all the various different technology, some of which might be relevant to them, and some of which might not – depending on who they are and what they do. I’ll tell you a little bit about the germination of this.

We did some work back in January, we published a forecast of digital transformation investment. And we found that the expectation was there’d be $5 trillion of investment between now and 2030. In what we can term digital transformation, new technology, new disruptive technology. Problem is that most companies aren’t spectacularly good at implementing new technologies. So, another part of the research that we’ve been doing is looking at real world deployments of all of these various different technologies; Product Lifecycle Management, Robotic Process Automation, AI, IoT, Distributed Ledger, and so forth. And looking at the various deployment parameters – like time-to-deploy and the complexity, and vendor choice and even down to some of the specific technology parameters, like the types of algorithms used in AI – we’d use that data to feed back to the companies who are deploying to say, Okay, well, what’s best practice in this space, and allow them to learn from the experiences of others. Now, you can use these case studies individually, or you can use them in aggregate, analysing things at a macro level. And that was the basis of the webinar we ran. So two aspects to it really. One was, we delved into some of the high-level views, and part of it was we delved down into some of the specific use cases to illustrate some of these seven ways, seven strategies you can use to make sure that you’ve got the right technology approach. And it’s things like having a thorough and systematic approach to horizon scanning. Having a prioritised list of projects, which you’re constantly updating. It’s about matching your project team to the project that you’ve got in hand. It’s about flexibility of implementation, and having the right approach to picking the blockage and addressing the blockage rather than necessarily just thinking in terms of what technology can I adopt? Okay, so it’s, it’s those kinds of things. They formed the seven strategies and seven pieces of advice that we had for enterprise adopters.

(Jeremy Cowan  13:4)
That makes a lot of sense. So, is it too soon from that process to identify either the industries or even the enterprises that are likely to feel the biggest impact if they do get it right?

(Matt Hatton  13:55)
Well, no, it’s not too early. You always have lighthouse examples of deployments that have happened in just about every technology imaginable. The future is already here, it’s just not very evenly distributed, as William Gibson said.

(Nick Booth  14:15
(Laughter.) Yeah.

(Matt Hatton  14:17  )
But the interesting thing is those areas where it’s been very widely adopted. I mentioned about manufacturing and getting down into the SMB space with the announcement with T-Systems and KUKA. And manufacturing is certainly one we’re watching with great interest, because there are a number of announcements coming out and quite a large amount of adoption. But really, the one that’s probably the most mature is robotic process automation, taking a set of manual IT-based processes, and automating them. And the thing is, the maturity of that technology means that it’s relatively easy to adopt and gives a good return on investment. But it tends to be focused more on certain vertical sectors. Financial Services is a very good example. You’ll get it for insurers or mortgage lenders just to automate a whole load of what used to be paper pushing and became electronic document pushing. It becomes something that’s automated. So where you’ve got that more mature technology, which we still have under our umbrella of digital transformation, you get very rapid adoption in that sector. There’s others where it’s, I think it’s been forced upon them, shall we say? Retail. I think we’ll see a lot more innovation in retail in the coming few years because of COVID-19. But there’s a few others that are a little more slow on the uptake, shall we say? Healthcare, it’s quite difficult to get things moving in healthcare because of all the regulations that sit behind it.

(Jeremy Cowan  15:57  )
And also the complex business models. They seldom seem to be the same in two different countries.

(Matt Hatton  16:03  )
Yes, absolutely. And the financing is often the problem in healthcare, a different organisation is paying for the care versus the one that has to pay if you fall ill, or paying for the devices. So sometimes there’s just not the economics to stack up to invest in it.

(Jeremy Cowan  16:19)
Yeah, I remember one of the first questions that was asked back at me when I was interviewing somebody about IoT in healthcare. He wanted to know who I thought the customer was. Was it the patient? Was it the primary carer? Was it the tertiary carer? Was it insurer? Was it government? You know, and it was a pretty fair question. One to which I did not have the answer, I would add.

(Matt Hatton  16:41  )
No, no, quite and neither should you have. There are many different ways in which it can work. I think typically, where we see the most innovation is where there’s somebody who’s got money at stake in supporting the customer to be making use of some of these pre-emptive measures. So in the States, where it’s heavily insurance-based, there is a big incentive for the insurance to make sure that their customers are making use of a lot of these services, so sleep apnoea devices or heartrate monitors or whatever. But if you remove that financial issue, then it slows things down somewhat. So, you know, much as we might love the NHS, there is less incentive for individuals to adopt because they don’t have to pay anyway. So if the NHS says, get a sleep apnoea device, well, there isn’t a cost benefit associated with that to the end user because they’re going to get treated, whether they use one or not.

(Jeremy Cowan  17:46  )
For our international listeners, the NHS – we’re speaking from the UK – it’s the National Health Service, which is a state-run organisation where healthcare is paid out of taxation. So Matt, what do you think will differentiate the winners and the losers in digital transformation for enterprises? Is it possible to identify trends at this time?

(Matt Hatton  18:12  )
Yes, absolutely. And I think, well, anybody who takes the advice that we gave on the webinar, I’m honour bound to mention that. But I think there are a number of interesting points that it raises about really thinking through your strategy, and being prepared to make change within your organisation to take advantage of it. Because a lot of these technologies will have significant implications for all manner of things that the organisation does. So for the sales process, maybe if you’re shifting from selling a product to providing a service that also has a knock on effect on finance. All of your systems will need to change or at least the way that certain processes integrate with your systems. The people, the skills needed are almost certainly going to be different as every company transitions to being, to some extent, an IT company. So it’s really, it comes back almost to a Darwinian type thing. The most adaptable will survive, whereas those that aren’t, won’t.

(Jeremy Cowan  19:22 )
The last thing I wanted to ask at this stage, Matt was your webinar was talking about, “radical change being fraught with challenges”. And when I see the words fraught and challenges, I tend to think that we’re talking about 24-carat, do-or-die game changes, particularly looking back at failures like Kodak failing to adapt to digital photography or Blockbuster, failing to see that streaming was coming down the tracks. So, if you can do it without scaring us all too much, tell us what the risks are.

(Matt Hatton  19:54)
Mostly it’s about missed opportunity, if I’m perfectly honest, but missed opportunity also has its own significant downside, because if you don’t do it, somebody else will. So it’s generally about opportunity cost. I’ve had an interesting conversation with a few people this week about this concept of start of think big, start small and move fast. Now, I’m a little bit skeptical about this. I think if you make your decisions based on picking projects, which are deliberately small, because that’s your parameters that you’ve defined for how you pick your projects, then you are bound to run into some problems, you should pick the projects that are the most appropriate. If your house was on fire, you wouldn’t start small in trying to put it out! You’d start on the house, you wouldn’t start on the dog’s kennel, right. The same thing’s true here. Now it might not appear to be quite as immediate. But there are always competitive pressures coming, and there will always be new competitive pressures coming – largely from Amazon, it seems in this day and age, but it could be from any number of different organisations. So you have to be on the ball, you have to be aware of what’s happening, and have a plan for implementing based on a set of parameters which are specific to your organisation, rather than just saying we’ll do something small because that seems to be the phrase that everybody’s alighted on.

(Jeremy Cowan  21:25  )
Yeah. So Matt, where can anyone find out more about your work on this?

(Matt Hatton  21:30  )
There’s a link to the webinar on our website, which is TransformaInsights.com, which is Transformer with an A. And if you go to the blog, there is a blog post from about a week ago, which has a link to the replay of the webinar so you can find it there.

(Jeremy Cowan  21:48  )
Brilliant. Okay, we’ve reached the section of the podcast called What The Tech where we share something tech-based that either made us smile or maybe just made us mad. Matt, while I’ve got you, what’s amused you?

(Matt Hatton  22:01  )
I mentioned earlier it was silly season, shall we say. So there’s less of the proper news and more silly stories. But there was a couple of things that I saw. One was, and I’m going to paraphrase it a little because I didn’t make a note of what the exact wording was in the tweet that I saw, but it was some wag making a point that on the 1st of August 2020, by 3pm, in the afternoon, the final company completed its digital transformation. So, we’re all done now. Which kind of made me laugh, because it does point to the fact that the terminology that we use is perhaps not the greatest. Transformation implies you start, you finish and then it’s done. And actually, all of this is much more ongoing. It’s a series of repeated or not necessarily repeated, but ongoing process of evolution and development that doesn’t have a beginning, middle and end. Well, maybe it has an end.

The other one, if I can just throw this in as well, there is a wonderful video on Youtube, I believe, where Andy Stanford Clark of IBM is explaining quantum computing to Mirko Ross in two minutes. Anybody who’s deep within the IoT world will know both of those people. It’s a wonderful thing, I recommend you check it out. Worth two minutes of anyone’s time.

(Jeremy Cowan  23:33  )
Excellent. Well, we’ll try and get a link to that in our publicity around this. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G69iAvmvj5c )
I love the idea that digital transformation is done. It just sounds so much like Francis Fukuyama in his book, The End of History.

(Matt Hatton  23:45  )
Actually, what Francis Fukuyama was talking about was the end as in the objective of history, rather than the end being the finish of history. He made that point in a few places. I think people misunderstood that one. But that maybe is a conversation for another day.

(Jeremy Cowan  24:02     )
Well, I was obviously one that misunderstood it. So I’m very glad you’ve corrected me.

(Matt Hatton  24:04  )
As did almost everybody, Jeremy. (Laughter)

(Nick Booth  24:07  )
It’s quite reassuring that it’s done, though. (Laughter)

(Jeremy Cowan  24:11)
Yes, I’m glad it’s all over.

(Matt Hatton  24:13 )
I don’t know. I’m not sure what we’re all gonna do now.

(Jeremy Cowan  24:20 )
No, we’ll have to find something else.
Nick, what’s made you smile lately?

(Nick Booth  24:22  )
I saw another report in The Evolving Enterprise about this character who comes up a lot. He’s called Dr. Cary Cooper. (https://www.theee.ai/2020/08/07/4275-bad-audio-is-impacting-our-emotional-wellbeing/) I don’t know if you’ve ever seen him. Professor of Organizational Psychology, and he’s quoted in a report by EPOS, they make audio and video solutions. Because they say that there’s this terrible problem of stress in the workforce. And funnily enough, it’s caused by audio setbacks. And by a remarkable coincidence, they make the solution to these audio setbacks. I love these reports where, you know, independent research has dovetailed perfectly with their marketing strategy. But yes, maybe there is a problem with remote working. They say remote working adds up to a global threat because of the stressful noises that affect our brains. And, apparently they have a terrible audio sensory overload that hits the brain and releases the stress hormone cortisol, which costs the economy £29 billion apparently. I don’t know how they add that up. But do you think there’s something in this? A bad audio experience is really ruining our productivity?

(Jeremy Cowan  25:42)
I think if we all spent all day on Zoom or Teams or whatever, then possibly, yes. But then that’s perhaps a failure of bad management. I do think you’re right, though, that there is a frustration level that builds when you spend too long on these things, and I don’t blame the technology. Honestly, I blame the work regime.

(Nick Booth  26:04)
I find the silence of working at home, it’s the silence which is more oppressive it’s the noisiest silence. I don’t know. I was thinking as well, maybe there is a market in noises like canned laughter at home, you know, you’d have canned encouragement.

(Jeremy Cowan  26:22)
I’ve got three teenagers, Nick, so silence is an alien concept.

(Matt Hatton  26:28)
And for those of us who have worked from home for the last decade or more, it’s not really a big issue. But I did see a news article about people playing office background noise at home.

(Nick Booth  26:41  )
Oh, yeah.

(Matt Hatton  26:42  )
Putting it onto their Sonos or whatever. So there’s some background noise as if they were in the office, which I found bizarre. But then I haven’t worked in an office for, as I said, a decade so maybe it’s the kind of thing that people need.

(Nick Booth  26:55  )

Oh, I was thinking there was maybe a chance for an app where you could see what all your colleagues are doing. You don’t have to talk to them. You just can see them. I’d find that quite reassuring. When I used to work in an office I never used to talk much anyway. I just liked being around people, you know, just it’s the reassurance of seeing them there.

(Matt Hatton  27:14  )

I think a job in the NSA* beckons, doesn’t it for you? (Laughter)
(* National Security Agency)

(Jeremy Cowan  27:20  )
I just wanted to share with you a few words of caution. These were given by none other than Dr. Anthony Fauci, or the USA’s top infectious disease expert. And he’s spent a bit of time this year treading a particularly difficult line between reality and President Trump’s prescription of injected bleach as a cure for the coronavirus. Now the poor guy is getting media questions about another President, Vladimir Putin. I heard yesterday that he was asked about Vlad the Injector’s claim that a Russian-developed vaccine is leading the world. From everything I understand, it isn’t. There are obviously numerous projects that are more advanced. Dr. Fauci told ABC, “Having a vaccine and proving that a vaccine is safe and effective are two different things. We have half a dozen or more vaccines. I hope that the Russians have definitely proven that the vaccine is safe and effective. I seriously doubt that they’ve done that.”

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t want to belittle the work of Russia’s Gamelaya Research Institute, which is a respected organisation that has led the research and development. But being state-owned, you’ve got to say it does raise questions of timing, when even the Association of Clinical Trials Organizations has asked the Russian Health Ministry to postpone approval just until the final trial had been successfully completed. Because, never mind Phase Three testing with thousands of participants, apparently it hasn’t even completed Phase Two tests with 100 people.

The other thing I couldn’t help noticing was that Putin hasn’t taken the vaccine himself, even though he’s 67 years old, and is at higher risk of complications if he does contract COVID. Instead, it seems he told Russia that one of his daughters had taken the vaccine in trials. I’m not sure if it was his daughter Katerina, the acrobatic dancer, or Maria, the endocrinologist. I’ll leave you to fill in your own parental care joke here. I’m not going do all the heavy lifting for you.

(Nick Booth  29:33  )
His daughter, Petri dish. (Laughter)

(Jeremy Cowan  29:38  )
Okay, guys, time’s up. Let me finish by saying a big thank you. Firstly, to Matt Hatton of TransformaInsights.com.

(Matt Hatton  29:47  )
Thanks, Jeremy.

(Jeremy Cowan  29:48  )
And my thanks also to Nick Booth, whose byline you can find on pretty much all of our sites. He’s always worth reading. Nick, thank you.

(Nick Booth  29:55  )

Thank you very much. I’m sure you’ve endured it.

(Jeremy Cowan  29:59  )
And thank you too, ladies and gentlemen, for joining us around the world. Don’t forget to subscribe wherever you found this pod and be a total star and give us a Five Star rating and say something really nice. It makes such a difference when people are looking for something new to listen to. So, until the next time, keep safe. Keep checking IoT NowVanillaPlus, and The EE for tech news and features and join us again soon for a Tech Trends Podcast looking at enterprise digital transformation. Bye for now.

This article first appeared on: https://www.iot-now.com/2020/08/21/104285-podcast-4-hackers-beat-ai-robots-for-smes-and-putin-out-big-claims/ 

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