Black Friday 2018 has come and gone, and the results are in - more and more consumers are placing their holiday gift orders through mobile devices. According to Adobe Analytics, nearly half of this year's holiday browsing (not always resulting in a purchase) was placed on smartphones - while millions of dollars worth of orders were placed on devices.
Another darling of the holiday shopping season - Cyber Monday - saw 47% of its traffic and 36% of sales by way of smartphones. Total phone-based sales topped $2.2 billion, a full $800 million more than in 2017. Amazon reported that Cyber Monday 2018 was the best sales day in its history. Its top items? The new Echo Dot, Fire TV Stick 4K with Alexa voice remote, Fire 7 tablet, Amazon Smart Plug, Instant Pot and 23andMe DNA test.
Why the increase in sales? Convenience, namely. More and more retailers are optimizing their sites for smartphones, which in turn means easier sales (especially when a consumer cannot find a desired item locally). Payment systems like Apple Pay and Google Pay also make transactions easier. Previously, small screens and poor navigation made it worth the hassle for consumers to complete their purchases on computers, but now smartphones have near-tablet sized screens.
Phones as a shopping tool have become more and more ubiquitous in recent years, and those numbers continue to rise. However, it's not yet known if it'll overtake desktops in total orders, but it's certainly on its way. For 2018 alone, Adobe predicted that smartphones would account for 27% of revenue, a solid 12% more than last year. Desktop's 63% of sales is still a lofty target, but with mobile, anything can happen.
This article was based on a November 27, 2018 CNet.com article by Ben Fox Rubin.
Users of Microsoft services such as Outlook, Office 365, OneDrive, Skype, and Xbox Live will now get to enjoy the benefits of not having to remember their passwords. Now, with physical hardware keys using the FIDO2 technology, access to a Microsoft account is as simple as plugging into a USB port or using Bluetooth or NFC to pair a phone to the key.
Initially, the keys were used as part of a two-factor authentication policy, but new browser technology has enabled the elimination of the password requirement. Now, Microsoft's no-password log on process offers three options:
After a generation of having to remember your passwords, switching to (and maintaining) physical keys may seem like a big change. However, time and time again passwords are swiped in data breaches and are especially vulnerable since many of us reuse passwords across platforms. Two-step authentication is a step in the right direction to protect accounts, but the confirmation codes sent in the two step authentication process can be intercepted.
Google has had remarkable data security success by switching its employees to physical keys, and now offers a physical key for its users. And, it isn't alone; Dropbox, Twitter, Facebook, Github, LastPass, 1Password, and Dashlane all offer hardware-augmented login features.
This article was based on a November 20, 2018 CNet article by Stephen Shankland
Five researchers recently announced that they'd developed a way to use AI to mimic human fingerprints - which has recently become a popular security format. Philip Bontrager of the New York University engineering school led the team and the group ultimately named their project DeepMasterPrints.
DeepMasterPrints is a utility that generates fingerprints intended to fool security systems, and it looks to be able to replicate more than one in five actual fingerprints in a biometric security system. This is because biometric security systems don't analyze the entire fingerprint - only a few key points and the relationships between them. As it turns out, fingerprints may be more similar than we previously thought.
The system was developed by feeding actual fingerprints into an AI process that then created unique fingerprints, but kept certain areas more consistent.
In a similar way to how a script could run a "dictionary attack" and run millions of passwords through a system to see what sticks, DeepMasterPrints runs millions of generated fingerprints through a system to see what works. Fortunately, unless the system was optimized for a cell phone it's not likely to work. So, for now, your pictures and texts are still safe behind your phone's fingerprint sensor.
The point of Bontrager's exercise was to encourage development of more secure biometric security systems. His suggestion is that developers come up with ways to confirm that a human is present when granting access to confirm that the system isn't being compromised.
This article was based on a November 15, 2018 Gizmodo article by Jennings Brown.
Samsung, the popular electronics manufacturer, has announced headway into their work to develop technologies that allow televisions to be controlled with brain waves alone. This technology is being developed with the disabled in mind - such as quadriplegics or people with other conditions that affect the use of their hands. Samsung's goal is to create the ability for these people to change channels and adjust sound volume with their mind.
This project was started in partnership with the Center of Neuroprosthetics of the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland. Their first task? Figure out what signals the brain puts off when it wants to control a TV. Once they determined those factors, researchers combined those with environmental factors and used machine learning to allow the user to select shows from a menu using eye movements and brainwaves. However, at this time the user must wear a headset that houses 64 sensors and enlist the use of an eye tracker. Samsung's goal is to move the technology a step further and do away with the eye tracker to make the system accessible to those who do not have reliable control over their eyes as well as making the system usable with fewer customizations for individual brains.
Samsung isn't alone in the software for your brain market - Elon Musk has dabbled in the tech with his Neuralink startup and scientists have long been working to create a digital interface for the brain. Should this technology ever come about it stands to replace touch screens and voice assistants.
The current barrier to the technology is that users must coat their head in a conductive gel to allow the sensors to pick up signals. It's not the most stylish thing.
Samsung will continue to work on its technology and refine it with the help of the disabled - only time will tell where the technology goes.
This article was based on a November 8, 2018 CNET article by Shara Tibken.
PaperFree partner OpenText recently announced the introduction of their OpenText Extended ECM Enabler for Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Customer Service. This solution combines OpenText's ECM portfolio with Dynamics 365 for Customer Service to improve customer service workflows and customer engagement - in short, it integrates content services into processes. This solution was developed in partnership with Contesto.
From the press release:
"A direct relationship between an organization and its customers is vital for a successful business," said Patricia E. Nagle, senior vice president, CMO, OpenText. "Extended ECM allows customer-facing employees to contribute and consume critical business content from directly within the Microsoft Dynamics 365 business applications. Armed with the right information, data and insight, employees can provide a more personalized experience to customers, helping the intelligent and connected enterprise to drive revenue, loyalty and success."
Nagle continued "With these new capabilities and integrations into Microsoft Dynamics 365, OpenText continues to define the future of work and digital business. This latest announcement is evidence of the strength of our ongoing relationship with Microsoft, including the availability of multiple certified OpenText products, and the ability to run all OpenText solutions on Microsoft Azure."
"As an OpenText partner, Contesto designs, builds and implements OpenText solutions to manage and deliver the right information, at the right time. We specialize in delivering content services to digital enterprises. Leveraging the rich capabilities of the OpenText Extended ECM Platform was a natural choice for us," said Christine Brandtzæg, CEO, Contesto AS. "We see a significant opportunity for organizations using Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Customer Service to benefit from information fueled business processes."
The solution improves business processes in sales and service scenarios, collaboration, and customer service from both structured and unstructured content. However, customer-facing roles continue to be supported by the Dynamics 365 application while the improved ECM database feeds the backend to provide enhanced access to information.
OpenText has additional products to connect the digital workplace - OpenText Content Server; Documentum Content Server; Media Management; Archive Center, Application Governance & Archiving for SharePoint; Extended ECM Platform, Web Site Management and Capture Center.
This article was based on an October 29, 2018 OpenText Press Release.
Earlier this week PaperFree partner OpenText announced the introduction of their new OpenText Qfiniti for Amazon Connect product, a "self-service, cloud-based contact center solution that enables any business to deliver better customer service at a lower cost."
OpenText Qfiniti targets companies utilizing Amazon Connect and offers a competitive workforce tool. It offers full call playback, advanced analytics, and quality monitoring resources, screen capture, and more to offer flexibility, efficiency, and adherence to regulations. It promises modular, easy to use interfaces, and more freedom for contact center operations due to the cloud-based nature of Amazon Connect. Plus, with its cloud platform it is less reliant on products from assorted vendors and their required updates and service contracts.
“For the intelligent and connected enterprise, delivering premium customer service is a powerful competitive differentiator. Customers, who are increasingly engaging contact centers on multiple channels, still expect to receive exceptional service,” said Mark J. Barrenechea, vice chair, CEO and CTO, OpenText. “The integration of Qfiniti with Amazon Connect signals a new standard in cloud-based customer support and workforce optimization and enables all organizations using Amazon Connect to deliver world-class customer support, while ensuring deep and meaningful insight into the data and information that these interactions produce.”
Qfiniti is available now on AWS Marketplace.
This article was based on an October 23, 2018 OpenText press release.
PaperFree partner Dell EMC recently announced their new Dell EMC Cyber Recovery and Cyber Recovery Services products - both designed to serve as a "last line of data protection defense against ransomware and destructive cyber attacks." These software packages include automation, workflow, and security analytics tools to help isolate secure copies of critical data in a way that those copies are protected, but still available for use should a system recovery need to be made.
Cyber attacks have become all too common - crippling organizations for extended periods while they piece their data back together - and carry a high cost. Dell EMC Cyber Recovery integrates with Dell EMC Data Domain protection storage software and works by combining the benefits of data isolation and business continuity to help lesson the effects of a cyber attack, while easing the process of recovering from one. Dell EMC Cyber Recovery automates isolated storage of secure copies of critical data within a "Cyber Recovery Vault", thus removing the data from the attacked area of the network. Plus, it offers a helpful venue for security analytics work.
“Malicious insiders and sophisticated cyber attackers, especially those that employ ransomware, are known to deliberately target data protection and backup infrastructure,” said Beth Phalen, President, Data Protection, Dell EMC. “We take a layered approach to data protection within the portfolio and with our Dell EMC Cyber Recovery software and Services, helping ensure true data isolation and a last line of data protection defense for business-critical data from a variety cyber threats.”
Dell EMC Cyber Recovery Services is a complimentary product to Cyber Recovery that offers analysis, training, and advices on how to fine tune security needs of a customer's specific system. According to Dell EMC the process of the Cyber Recovery Services is as follows:
Workshop: During this one-day workshop, consultants share Dell EMC best practices for business resiliency with a strong focus on cyber recovery.
Advisory: The advisory service builds on the Workshop by adding development of a high level cyber recovery strategy. The customer’s current and desired state is analyzed to create a tailored strategy for cyber recovery preparedness.
Advisory & Roadmap: The advisory & roadmap builds on the advisory service with a deeper dive into customer’s cyber recovery strategy to recommend an optimized implementation roadmap. This includes developing a cyber recovery maturity model report, which benchmarks the customer’s current state against industry best practices. Also included is a critical materials workshop and information session to collect data on the customer’s applications to understand criticality to the business. These considerations will help drive recommendations of data and applications which should be protected by the Cyber Recovery Vault.
Deployment: New deployment services help maximize the capabilities of Dell EMC Cyber Recovery Solutions. They can be added to the ProDeploy Enterprise Suite or purchased separately and are available in two variations to fit customer needs.
Implementation: Dell EMC Services can also customize the implementation of the Cyber Recovery Solution to account for a variety of additional use cases. This can include hardening of additional Dell EMC technology, developing detailed operational procedures and implementing custom dashboards and reporting.
Del EMC Cyber Recovery and Cyber Recovery Services are available now.
This article was based on an October 17, 2018 Dell EMC press release.
AirAsia, a Malaysia-based low cost airline, recently revealed insight on how it's utilizing Google Cloud services and a "data-first" attitude to help passenger experiences be "more personal and less friction-filled" across their network. These insights were shared at the Google Cloud Next '18 conference in London by AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes.
The overall goal of this technological effort is to remove the "friction" in air travel. Friction comes about with flight delays, missed flights, passport control, and even paper waste in the form of luggage tags. Their effort involves installing IoT sensors on their aircraft fleet to anticipate maintenance needs so that downtime can be scheduled more effectively with less passenger interruption, and also more closely analyzing the physical spaces used at airports to see if passenger foot routes are causing problems. And, on the luggage tag front, AirAsia is investigating methods that allow for reusable tags that update based on a passenger's itinerary.
Advancements are also coming to passport and immigration controls at many major airports, such as facial recognition and automated passport checks.
AirAsia is looking to also use customer data to personalize their experience, such as seat preferences, food, and more. With some investment into technology, AirAsia stands to set their flight experiences apart from other low cost carriers in their market.
As part of this project, the airline has also migrated major operations onto Google Cloud as part of a major IT overhaul. Key Google Cloud resources they're utilizing include BigQuery data warehousing and Google Data Studio for business intelligence management. They've also found great success in promoting communication between departments with the G-Suite software as well.
AirAsia has already seen benefits from their IT efforts by way of customer satisfaction and employee morale, and hopes the trend continues.
This article was based on an October 11, 2018 ComputerWeekly article by Caroline Donnelly
Car crashes at intersections account for 20% of annual traffic deaths, and automakers Honda and Volkswagen are working to lower that number. Though the two companies aren't working together, they're approaching the problem in similar ways with the use of connected technology at smart intersections.
Honda has been working with city of Marysville, Ohio - a place best known for the Honda plant that produces the popular Accord and several Acura models - to develop and implement intersections that are compatible with future cars' onboard sensors. Using vehicle-to-x (V2X) communications and proprietary software, Honda aims to have intersections monitor the roadway for potential hazards and alert drivers in the area to be on the lookout. These hazards include cyclists, pedestrians, emergency vehicles, and others and they'll be watched over by a system of four cameras that continuously create a bird's eye view of the intersection. If the system detects something it deems worth an alert, a notification will be sent to vehicles in the area via short-range (1,500') communications network. Then, it's on drivers to heed that warning and exercise due caution. Currently, these warnings are received in the vehicle via a third party device, but Honda hopes to have the system integrated into vehicles as standard equipment one day.
Volkswagen's system is much the same, though they're working with the city of Wolfsburg (notable as Volkswagen has offered vehicles in a special "Wolfsburg Edition" trim in the past) and Siemens. They plan to make their entire fleet of new vehicles compatible with the system by 2019. However, Volkswagen wants to up the ante and have the system serve double duty as a traffic mitigation tool. By connecting vehicles to traffic signals, signals can more accurately adjust their timing and can even help cars catch a "green wave" of lights - reducing emissions, travel times, and stop and go traffic.
While most drivers do exercise caution and check for hazards, it's easy to get distracted or complacent, and unfortunately it's usually the pedestrian or cyclist that loses. Honda's and Volkswagen's systems will be a big help to remind drivers of actual dangers, and will hopefully return the result of safer roadways.
This article was based on an October 5, 2018 Roadshow by CNET article by Andrew Krok.
Apex Oil Company, a provider of wholesale distribution, storage and transportation of petroleum products across the United States recently enlisted the M-Files platform to streamline the user experience of their enterprise service management solution Cherwell and to improve document management company-wide. The Cherwell/M-Files integration was achieved through a custom connector developed by a M-Files partner.
M-Files' unique architecture of linking data based on relationships instead of directories proved to be especially useful for the Cherwell integration. With it, documents can be more quickly accessed and understood, and fewer pieces of information go missing. This, plus M-Files' Intelligent Metadata Layer sourcing data from other systems mean that Cherwell users have one point of access for all the information they need.
“We chose M-Files because it provides this great concept of organizing documents with metadata versus storing them in folders,” said Gary Fleming, director of information services at Apex Oil. “Instead of thinking about where to store a document, you simply define what it is, and then you’re able to easily find that document by searching for it using metadata or the content of the document itself. Or better, you don’t even have to search for it because it's directly related to the object you are working with in Cherwell. We knew from the beginning that integrating service and information management would be great, but when you actually see this working for the first time, with your documents in M-Files showing up right with your customers and incidents in Cherwell in a nice and structured way, you think, ‘Wow – this is really cool.’”
Apex Oil Company has seen other benefits from their M-Files integration - their security and compliance efforts have been improved with the addition of precise access rights to documents, a feature offered by M-Files to control who has access to what data.
Apex Oil Company is pleased with their M-Files solution and is reaping the benefits from it daily. PaperFree is a M-Files partner and is ready to show you how the solution can improve your business. Learn more about M-Files.
This article was based on a September 20, 2018 M-Files press release.