Reimagining Customer Value with Artificial Intelligence

Here are a few lesser-known data points about Cisco:

  • More than 600 billion emails originate on Cisco-based networks every day
  • About 2/3 of the world’s Internet traffic runs on Cisco
  • Over 20 billion security breaches are thwarted every day by Cisco

From this vast amount of data flowing across Cisco networks, material insights can be gleaned and utilized by artificial intelligence (AI). However, perhaps no other technology has created a greater dichotomy of views than AI. To put it mildly, AI is a source of great uncertainty and debate.

The view that AI could be a significant threat comes from a number of iconic Hollywood movies as well as from industry luminaries like Elon Musk, Stephen Hawking, Bill Gates, Ray Kurzweil and others. We should take their warnings seriously. However, we should not blindly retreat from AI and its potential to create value for organizations and people. This quote from Douglas Engelbart, a U.S. Computing Pioneer at Stanford in 1958, perfectly captures my point: “Technology should not aim to replace humans, but rather amplify human capabilities.”

AI is thriving. Today, nearly $30 billion, or half of all venture capital funding in Silicon Valley, is directed toward AI investments. AI is also firmly entrenched and growing across all industries. From a consumer perspective, millions of people already use and rely on AI in their daily lives with digital assistants from Amazon, Apple, Google, and Microsoft. In automotive, there will be 10 million autonomous cars that rely on AI technology on the roads by 2020.

How should we think about AI in the context of company transformation?

First, it’s important to realize that AI does not stand alone. It must be developed, deployed, and utilized in the context of other disruptive technologies, especially IoT and cybersecurity. For example, autonomous vehicles are a good representation of this co-dependence. The software code, self-learning capabilities, smart grid utilization, links to public Wi-Fi, and so on must work in concert to safely deliver people and goods to the right places at the right times, while dealing with a myriad of risks.

Additionally, think about the impact of AI on a theme I have covered in previous blogs: reimagining the value your company creates for its customers. From the book, Digital Vortex, which was co-written by members of my team in conjunction with IMD, we learn about three main forms of customer value on which disruptive competitors base their business models: cost value, experience value, and platform value.

AI holds enormous potential to create value like this for your customers—and disruptive competitors (and venture capitalists) know it. At Cisco, we see the possibility of AI every day. For example, we recently launched  Encrypted Traffic Analytics (ETA). This ground-breaking new AI-driven solution uses machine learning to solve the age-old privacy vs. security conundrum by analyzing encryptednetwork traffic to automatically identify and eliminate malware threats—without having to decrypt the packets of information.

We are using AI in Spark to enrich the user experience in collaboration. The new Spark Virtual Assistant leverages deep-domain conversational AI technology from our recent MindMeld acquisition to allow users to join and end meetings as well as start and stop recordings with natural voice-activated commands. In addition, MindMeld’s AI expertise is enabling Cisco to deliver groundbreaking enterprise experiences across its portfolio by making user interfaces even more natural, intuitive, and intelligent. AI-based products are enabling Cisco to create more and more value for customers, whether it is in greater productivity or increased IT security.

Like disruptive technologies before it, AI can make things worse, but also help to make things better. The outcome depends on all of us. How can AI help you reimagine the value your company delivers to customers?


Non-essential app blocking for corporate-managed phones comes to G Suite

Corporate data security is paramount—particularly in industries with regulations like HIPAA which include steep fines for negligently handled personal data. Accordingly, allowing employees access to that data on mobile devices is not without its share of risks, as the potential of malware or lost/stolen devices may result in expropriated data. Google has introduced an extra step for IT managers to ensure that devices are compliant with corporate-defined security policy. Device Policy will now restrict apps determined to be nonessential (like Chrome or Gmail) from running until a device is returned to compliance.

For example, a situation in which a phone could become noncompliant is a newly-implemented minimum length for passwords. If you move from a minimum of 6 characters to 8, previously acceptable 6 and 7 character passwords will need to be changed in order to continue using the full abilities of the phone. Other factors, like being rooted can result in noncompliance. In other words, you will need to make sure your phone is properly secured before you can get back to not doing real work, like watching random YouTube videos. Otherwise, apps will be locked.

This feature is only available for devices tied to an active G Apps subscription, so normal consumer devices are not affected. As usual, this is a staggered update, which will take 15 days to roll out.

Apple Shoppers Prefer Cheaper Models Over iPhone X, Analyst Says

Apple Inc. customers seem to be opting for cheaper models of the iPhone, according to Cowen and Co. analysis, suggesting that the company failed to cram enough new technologies into the iPhone X to justify the $999 price tag.

Waiting times to order the flagship smartphone have shortened to a few days from the five to six weeks that were typical immediately after it was released in November, Cowen analyst Karl Ackerman said in a note to clients.

“Some investors may conclude this relates to better sales momentum for the X, but we are increasingly concerned that demand has been below initial expectations as users appear to have gravitated toward the previous iPhone models,‘’ Ackerman wrote. Sales of the models released this year are “good, but not yet indicative of a ‘super cycle.’’’

Apple will probably sell about 79 million iPhones, across all models, in the three months through December, a modest increase on the 78 million units it sold a year earlier, Ackerman wrote. In the subsequent three months, he expects consumers to buy 56 million iPhones, more than last year but well below the 2015 peak of 61 million iPhones. That March quarter came after the introduction of the iPhone 6, a product that heralded the start of the last super cycle, a term investors use to describe a period of accelerated growth driven by a stellar new product.

The iPhone X was released in November, six weeks after the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, which is $300 cheaper and lacks the later model’s facial recognition unlocking system and larger screen. The iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, released last year, start at $549 and have almost exactly the same form factor as the iPhone 8.

Apple’s most expensive computer will cost you $13,348

iMac Pro keyboardApple’s iMac Pro comes with an exclusive black Apple keyboard and mouse. Kif Leswing

  • Apple started selling the iMac Pro on Thursday.
  • The desktop computer starts at $4,999 and can cost up to $13,348 if you choose all the upgrades.
  • If you buy an iMac Pro, the soonest you can get it is December 27. 

Apple’s iMac Pro, its most powerful and expensive computer, went on sale on Thursday.

The desktop, which is intended for professional users like photographers and developers, starts at $5000.

But what happens when you get absolutely every single bell and whistle — such as the most powerful processor available, 128GB of RAM, a 4TB SSD, the optional trackpad, and the graphics card upgrade?

You get a beast of a machine for which Apple charges $13,348. But for some users, getting a five-digit desktop can make sense, especially since parts like the RAM in the computer aren’t upgradable after you purchase it.

If you get the maxed-out iMac Pro, it won’t ship for 6 to 8 weeks, or sometime in February. But if you get a more common configuration, you can be using it as soon as December 27, or two days after Christmas.


Amazon is selling the Apple TV and Google Chromecast again

Both streaming devices return after a two-year absence

Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge will soon begin selling the Apple TV set-top box and Google Chromecast, two streaming devices that have been unavailable from the leading online retailer for over two years. Listings for both products have returned to the site, but Amazon isn’t accepting orders just yet. The company has directly confirmed to The Verge that it intends to do so in the near future. “I can confirm that we are assorting Apple TV and Chromecast,” a spokesperson said by email. The news was first reported by CNet.

Both the Apple TV and Chromecast were pulled from Amazon in late 2015. The company’s justification for the move was that consumers would be confused and frustrated if they purchased streaming devices that didn’t offer a direct, convenient way to view Amazon Prime Video content. In Apple’s case, that impasse lasted until earlier this month when Amazon finally released a Prime Video app for Apple TV. (The new software has been met with some unfavorable reviews.)

Things got pretty ugly. If you asked an Echo device to order a Chromecast, Amazon would automatically put a Fire Stick in your cart instead. In retaliation, Google recently pulled YouTube from the Echo Show and announced plans to remove the app from Fire TV streaming devices as of January 1st.

Amazon’s restoration of Chromecast sales can be seen as a way of easing the escalating tensions between two tech giants. Perhaps Google might rethink its decision as a result and allow Fire TV owners to keep YouTube after all. The companies would do well to work things out: earlier today, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai referenced the public spat between Amazon and Google in his remarks during the commission’s vote to kill net neutrality.

Here are the product listings for Apple TV and Chromecast:

Cisco, Apple release security connector app for iOS

The Security Connector app monitors network activity across traffic generated by users and applications to combat ransomware and malware on enterprise-managed iOS devices.

Two years after announcing their partnership in the enterprise space, Cisco and Apple are releasing a new security connector app that aims to give enterprises more visibility and control over network activity on iOS devices.

Cisco said Security Connector app monitors network activity across traffic generated by users and applications to combat ransomware and malware on enterprise-managed iOS devices. In customer trials, Cisco said the app also helped ensure compliance during incident investigations and blocked iOS users from accessing malicious sites without negatively impacting user experiences.

Apple and Cisco’s initial partnership was a move to give iOS apps a performance boost on enterprise networks. The effort resulted in a series of network and collaboration enhancements for iOS 10 that gave iPhone and iPad users a more efficient experience on Cisco applications.

In June, Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins highlighted deeper security integration as one of the key focus areas of the partnership. With iOS 11, the companies saw another opportunity to bake security and control features into their enterprise offerings.

Cisco said the two companies worked together closely on this latest app, with joint customers in mind.

Mike McGlynn, vice president of security solutions for WWT, said in a press release: “Our employees rely on their mobile devices to stay productive and to connect with customers. Unfortunately, every day mobile internet threats are growing more complex, and so do the technologies to combat them. The new Cisco’s Security Connector app effectively brought us the same visibility into iOS as a desktop. We were able to operationalize Cisco Umbrella data simply. This new mobile application offers us a way to stay head and address these challenges.”