Enterprise hits and misses – the rise of the cybercrime bots and the toning down of AI expectations


This week: the rise of the cybercrime bots as businesses shore up their defenses. Plus: why you need to tone down your AI expectations. Netflix turns content ROI assumptions on its head, and whiffs-a-plenty.

Cheerful Chubby Man

Lead story – Machine learning, the dark web and cybercrime – an unholy trinity by Martin Banks

Martin outlines the next threat to enterprise security – bots with a dark purpose:

It goes without saying that it was only a matter of time before the bad guys picked up on the possibilities of AI and machine learning to move cyber criminality to a new level, and so it will probably become inevitable that the same technologies will be used to defend business systems. And one of the key ways this will have to happen is in using them to learn how to stop humans being humans when it comes to using IT systems.

The catchphrases are annoying cool, like “Hivenets” and “Swarmbots,” but the implications are not cool at all: peeps with bad intentions using bots to systematically identify and exploit flaws in software – and the humans that are suckers for clicking the wrong link.

I almost fell prey to a sophisticated email hack, which involved a contact sending me an odd link. I asked him if this was really from him. He responded – “Yes – this is from me.” I almost clicked on the link, but held off. I later found out the whole thing was bot driven – even the humanlike response. I think that’s what Martin is getting at here.

Martin does see one upside: these same tactics can be used to defend business systems. And, with some savvy design, perhaps even protect us from our own flawed in-the-moment judgements.

Happy children eating appleDiginomica picksretail blowout with Stuart and Phil. Leading up to the NRF “Big Show” in January, we’ve got a slew of retail content for your perusal:

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

A few more vendor picks, without the quotables:

Jon’s grab bag – Stuart filed a couple UK-inspired AI pieces with implications far beyond borders in Embrace an android – it’s not after your job after all! (Parsing a meaty/upbeat new robots-and-humans jobs report). Also see: Why the AI revolution needs its own government overseer.

Finally, our “all-Stuart grab bag” wraps with How content became the crowning digital disruptor achievement for Netflix. What stands out? How original content can boost subscribers and retention, forever changing the content ROI equation (think the enterprise could learn from that?). The amazing thing to me: by and large, Netflix’s original content is pedestrian overrated adequate at best, paling in comparison to HBO’s archives (I’m slogging my way through the second season of the historically accurate Netflix’s aimless melodrama The Frontier currently). But hey, Netflix is winning so…

Best of the rest

Waiter suggesting a bottle of wine to a customer Lead story – Tone down your AI expectations – by Vinnie Mirchandani

myPOV: Tone Riffing on a Dreamforce interview with Marc Benioff and IBM CEO Ginni Rometty, Mirchandani writes:

Of course, many companies are being deluded by the promises of AI (and broader automation). J.P. Gownder, a Forrester analyst says if you don’t have realistic expectations “You’ll be inclined to automate too many roles — at the expense of both customer and employee experience.  You won’t hire the right mix of new roles— or any new people at all.”  In other words besides seeing poor payback from your AI projects, you may hurt other critical parts of your business.

That’s as good a summary of AI’s current limitations as you’ll get. I take Stephen Hawking’s warnings about AI’s darker potentials a lot more seriously than Mirchandani, but that’s an argument for another time. As for toning done my AI expectations, well, Alexa helps me with that everyday.

Honorable mention


Overworked businessmanSo Uber charged a rider $18K for 5-mile ride – and if this report is true, the callous idiots that run this company Uber management wasn’t intending to refund the surge pricing mega-snafu until the issue went viral.

I guess technically, we don’t know 100 percent if this is a whiff just yet, but hits/misses reader Frank Scavo is right:

Oh, and:

I always hated Facebook’s el creepo ticker of your friends’ activity in real-time, but isn’t it tedious this company is so powerful they can cancel a major feature of the site without any explanation except their algorithmic shoulder shrug?

Speaking of arrogant companies: Apple’s widened ban on templated apps is wiping small businesses from the App Store (Granted, templated apps usually stink, but Congress isn’t amused, and I can see why).

Fun week for Microsoft: a couple over-inflated headlines that were nonetheless far from flattering. First: Report: Microsoft Systematically Discriminates Against Women In Pay And Advancement (let’s see where the lawsuit goes). Then, Microsoft leaks TLS private key for cloud ERP product – and takes their sweet-@ss time correcting the mistake. The issue has since been corrected, but the blog post isn’t going anywhere…

Regarding Bosses seed Silicon Valley Christmas parties with models who impersonate fellow employees, after briefing them with back-stories, I wanted to make the Spinal Tap “What’s wrong with being sexy?” reference here, but it seems like a bad time to do so. Remind me to tell you sometime about my failed client acquisition attempt that involved me thinking that a hired corporate model worked for the company. Next week: my hits/misses year end awards edition. See you then…

If you find an #ensw piece that qualifies for hits and misses – in a good or bad way – let me know in the comments as Clive (almost) 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, Snowboarder Crashing © dismagwi - Fotolia.com - all from Fotolia.com.

Disclosure - SAP, Oracle, Workday, Unit4, Infor and Salesforce are diginomica premier partners as of this writing.

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    1. greg misiorek says:

      Hi Jon,

      for all the hoopla surrounding bitcoin futures debut this week, i think it has a stabilizing effect on its, admittedly very elevated, price: https://finance.google.com/finance?q=btc . Chicago Options Exchange is a serious institution and you would need to able to deliver 5BTC or about $80K at today’s prices to the counterparty when the option expires, so it’s serious funds if you asked me and not something to bet your IRA or home on. i think it will help stabilizing prices and make it more boring in the long run.

      1. Greg groks KYC (Know Your Cryptocurrency)…

    2. In other words, Splunk uses data science to apply risk ratings to potential security events and consider supporting evidence in order to bump the most serious of them up the SOC’s To Do list.