Enterprise hits and misses – AI woos cybersecurity, McDonald’s goes digital


This week: Can AI give companies the edge over cybercriminals? Will McDonald’s become as digital savvy as Starbucks? Your whiffs include a blockchain post on a no-elbow-grease diet.

Cheerful Chubby ManLead story – Applying AI to cyber security is a force multiplier attracting big investors and customersby Kurt Marko

I’m always a bit wary when “force multiplier” gets play, but Kurt isn’t one to use buzzwords indiscriminately. Kurt’s a bit like you  and me – weary of the AI deluge, scouring for real world examples.

Turns out cybersecurity is a good one: “The same strength in pattern matching that enables algorithms to ‘see’ a potential tumor or identify latent customer preferences, makes AI a powerful tool in cyber security.”

Attackers are more sophisticated. Stands to reason companies need more weapons in their arsenal. Kurt walks us through upstarts tackling everything from device security to risk assessment to fraud detection. Big companies are in the game too, with Cisco’s network security suite bolstered by machine learning and AI acquisitions all over the place.

Kurt acknowledges it’s unclear whether AI will tip the scales in favor of security defenses – I’d argue not, given how attackers push tech envelopes. But as for customer advisory, Kurt’s view rings true: “Anyone shopping for security software and services should press prospective vendors on their AI roadmap, and bypass those without a legitimate, compelling answer.”

Happy children eating appleDiginomica picks – my top four stories on diginomica this week

Vendor analysis, diginomica style. Here’s my two top choices from our vendor coverage:

A couple more vendor picks, without the quips:

Jon’s grab bag –  Stuart risks a migraine of service stress from years past to bring us the story of Barclays – where a £1.6 billion quarterly loss is a sign of transformation progress (p.s. I wish I had a couple billion in “corporate baggage to shed” lying around). Jerry asks, Can Facebook and Harvard save U.S. elections with Defending Digital Democracy? My short answer to Jerry: no. But – cool idea and good piece.

Sad to have to weigh in on retrograde moves, but Stuart sums up the diginomica view well in Tech leaders step up to challenge Trump ban on transgender military personnel. No fence sitting in times like these. Finally, Derek’s New Brexit report points to unknown risks for new customs IT system has a definite pre-whiff aroma. Does this strike you as a tad risky? “The UK is building a new IT customs system, but it doesn’t yet know how customs will change post-Brexit.

Best of the rest

Waiter suggesting a bottle of wine to a customer Lead story – AI is stuck (for now) – and it’s not that smart either – pieces by Gary Marcus and Ron Miller

myPOV: Two strong pieces on AI, neither quite as skeptical as my title implies. One is by a former classmate of mine, Gary Marcus, who evidently got some real work done while I was goofing off (Artificial Intelligence Is Stuck. Here’s How to Move It Forward). Marcus is looking for AI to take on the challenge of human-like intelligence, and “deep learning” isn’t cutting it: “Computers that can educate themselves — a mark of true intelligence — remain a dream.” Marcus is worried that AI research isn’t structured to achieve breakthroughs either:

Corporate labs like those of Google and Facebook have the resources to tackle big questions, but in a world of quarterly reports and bottom lines, they tend to concentrate on narrow problems like optimizing advertisement placement or automatically screening videos for offensive content. There is nothing wrong with such research, but it is unlikely to lead to major breakthroughs.

Ron Miller found a few more AI myths to debunk in Artificial intelligence is not as smart as you (or Elon Musk) think. Miller’s isn’t throwing AI out as a seasonal fancy though. He quotes the CEO of Toyota Institute:

The deep learning systems we have, which is what sort of spurred all this stuff, are remarkable in how well we do given the particular tasks that we give them, but they are actually quite narrow and brittle in their scope.

Not as sexy as the Elon Musk “machines are an existential threat” storyline, but an accurate view of AI in the enterprise at least. Caveat alert – check the whiffs section for more. See you next time.

Honorable mention


Overworked businessmanSo on your list of drone concerns, did you have “they can be used to airdrop tools to allow prison inmates to escape?” I didn’t either. Hank Barnes has been doing some special summer editions of Friday Fails over on LinkedIn – here’s the latest  – another blind squirrel looking for an email nut crossed Barnes’ path.

It was widely believed that Elon Musk (AI alarmist) lost the debate with Mark Zuckerberg (AI advocate), though both were arguably taking brand-selfish positions. However, the news that Facebook researchers shut down their AI system after they discovered it had developed its own (rudimentary) machine-to-machine language was creepy interesting, and, in my view, a modest feather in Musk’s concern cap – however mild it appears today.

Finally, a bunch of folks in my network thought it was a good idea to share Blockchain adoption on the rise but obstacles remain, survey finds. I hope they enjoyed tweeting it; I found it to as light as tissue paper. How’s this for a bold stance: “The survey suggests that blockchain could be moving beyond the early-adopter phase.” Is “potent insights” trademarked?

To add insult to trivia, starting this piece I got the premature email pop-up which boasted, “extract the signal from the noise.” Ahh, but there’s nothing to extract when you linger on the surface. Man, I should have gone into the greeting cards business. See you next time.

This is a truncated “Jon feels the road burn” version of hits and misses, which by definition excludes some worthy content – from diginomica and beyond. If you read an #ensw piece that qualifies, let me know in the comments as Clive always does.

Most Enterprise hits and misses articles are selected from my curated @jonerpnewsfeed. ‘myPOV’ is borrowed with reluctant permission from the ubiquitous Ray Wang.

Image credit - Cheerful Chubby Man © RA Studio, Happy Children © Anna Omelchenko, Waiter Suggesting Bottle © Minerva Studiom, Overworked Businessman © Bloomua, Man © Dudarev Mikhail - all from Fotolia.com.

Disclosure - SAP, Oracle, Workday, ServiceNow and Salesforce are diginomica premier partners as of this writing.

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