Quadra

Connecting Technology and Business.

Isn't AI a part of your investment today? You might be left behind!

"Harley-Davidson Uses Artificial Intelligence to Increase New York Sales Leads by 2,930%", reads an article in HBR this May. Today’s leading organizations are using machine learning–based tools to automate decision processes, and they’re starting to experiment with more-advanced uses of artificial intelligence (AI) for digital transformation. AI is already transforming web search, advertising, e-commerce, finance, logistics, media, and more.

 

Here was the status of what AI currently could do (as of November 2016) as per a founding Lead of the Google Brain team: 


Input

Response

Application

Picture

Are there human faces?

Photo tagging

Loan Application

Will they repay the loan?

Loan approvals

Ad plus user information

Will user click an ad?

Targeted online ads

Audio clip

Transcript of audio clip

Speech recognition

English sentence

French sentence

Language translation

Sensor from hard disk, plane engine

Is it about to fail?

Preventive maintenance

Car camera and other sensors

Position of other cars

Self-driving cars


Corporate investment in artificial intelligence is predicted to triple in 2017, becoming a $100 billion market by 2025. Last year alone saw $5 billion in machine learning venture investment. In a recent survey, 30% of respondents predicted that AI will be the biggest disruptor to their industry in the next five years. This will no doubt have profound effects on the workplace.


Machine learning is enabling companies to expand their top-line growth and optimize processes while improving employee engagement and increasing customer satisfaction.


Here are some possible applications of AI to Businesses today:


Personalizing customer service. The potential to improve customer service while lowering costs makes this one of the most exciting areas of opportunity. By combining historical customer service data, natural language processing, and algorithms that continuously learn from interactions, customers can ask questions and get high-quality answers. In fact, 44% of U.S. consumers already prefer chatbots to humans for customer relations. Customer service representatives can step in to handle exceptions, with the algorithms looking over their shoulders to learn what to do next time around.


Improving customer loyalty and retention. Companies can mine customer actions, transactions, and social sentiment data to identify customers who are at high risk of leaving. Combined with profitability data, this allows organizations to optimize “next best action” strategies and personalize the end-to-end customer experience. For example, young adults coming off of their parents’ mobile phone plans often move to other carriers. Telcos can use machine learning to anticipate this behavior and make customized offers, based on the individual’s usage patterns, before they defect to competitors.


Hiring the right people. Corporate job openings pull in about 250 résumés apiece, and over half of surveyed recruiters say shortlisting qualified candidates is the most difficult part of their job. Software quickly sifts through thousands of job applications and shortlists candidates who have the credentials that are most likely to achieve success at the company. Care must be taken not to reinforce any human biases implicit in prior hiring. But software can also combat human bias by automatically flagging biased language in job descriptions, detecting highly qualified candidates who might have been overlooked because they didn’t fit traditional expectations.


Automating finance. AI can expedite “exception handling” in many financial processes. For example, when a payment is received without an order number, a person must sort out which order the payment corresponds to, and determine what to do with any excess or shortfall. By monitoring existing processes and learning to recognize different situations, AI significantly increases the number of invoices that can be matched automatically. This lets organizations reduce the amount of work outsourced to service centers and frees up finance staff to focus on strategic tasks.


Measuring brand exposure. Automated programs can recognize products, people, logos, and more. For example, advanced image recognition can be used to track the position of brand logos that appear in video footage of a sporting event, such as a basketball game. Corporate sponsors get to see the return on investment of their sponsorship investment with detailed analyses, including the quantity, duration, and placement of corporate logos.


Detecting fraud. The typical organization loses 5% of revenues each year to fraud. By building models based on historical transactions, social network information, and other external sources of data, machine learning algorithms can use pattern recognition to spot anomalies, exceptions, and outliers. This helps detect and prevent fraudulent transactions in real time, even for previously unknown types of fraud. For example, banks can use historical transaction data to build algorithms that recognize fraudulent behaviour. They can also discover suspicious patterns of payments and transfers between networks of individuals with overlapping corporate connections. This type of “algorithmic security” is applicable to a wide range of situations, such as cybersecurity and tax evasion.


Predictive maintenance. Machine learning makes it possible to detect anomalies in the temperature of a train axel that indicate that it will freeze up in the next few hours. Instead of hundreds of passengers being stranded in the countryside, waiting for an expensive repair, the train can be diverted to maintenance before it fails, and passengers transferred to a different train.


Smoother supply chains. Machine learning enables contextual analysis of logistics data to predict and mitigate supply chain risks. Algorithms can sift through public social data and news feeds in multiple languages to detect, for example, a fire in a remote factory that supplies vital ball bearings that are used in a car transmission.


Other areas where machine intelligence could soon be commonly used include:


Career planning. Recommendations could help employees choose career paths that lead to high performance, satisfaction, and retention. If a person with an engineering degree wishes to run the division someday, what additional education and work experience should they obtain, and in what order?


Drone- and satellite-based asset management. Drones equipped with cameras can perform regular external inspections of commercial structures, like bridges or airplanes, with the images automatically analysed to detect any new cracks or changes to surfaces.


Retail shelf analysis. A sports drink company could use machine intelligence, coupled with machine vision, to see whether its in-store displays are at the promised location, the shelves are properly stocked with products, and the product labels are facing outward.

 

Machine learning enables a company to reimagine end-to-end business processes with digital intelligence. The potential is enormous. That’s why software vendors are investing heavily in adding AI to their existing applications and in creating net-new solutions.


- gleaned from the pages of HBR

Cooking up a storm with the cloud!

A cloud kitchen or a digital restaurant is a fast growing trend that has quickly established itself as a formidable restaurant format. Internet-first restaurants are stepping on the gas and companies such as Zomato, Swiggy and Fresh Menu have already started grabbing a slice of this fast-growing sector.

So what is cloud kitchen a.k.a Internet-first restaurant?

A cloud kitchen is basically a restaurant kitchen that accepts incoming orders only through online ordering systems and offers no dine-in facility. They just have a central kitchen that delivers food at customer’s doorsteps.

 

The primary source of revenue for these internet restaurants is through the various food ordering platforms, such as Swiggy, Food Panda, Zomato, etc. Critical to their business model is a Point of Sales software that accepts orders from multiple sources. 

Food, at the click of a button

Digital technologies are reshaping our daily experiences as consumers and businesses, and these cloud kitchens are no exception. They have the potential to redefine the contours of the restaurant business. For example, take Swiggy, the trending food delivery app that has its roots in Bengaluru. It was the first among the crowd in the cut throat market to venture cloud kitchen in India. Swiggy has set up ‘The Bowl Company’ in Bengaluru joining hands with the popular restaurateurs to offer a wide selection where the restaurant need not have a physical presence.

 

Following this, Zomato has opened its first cloud kitchen in the suburb of Delhi, Dwarka as a pilot for its new project, Zomato Infrastructure Services, in which they provide their partner restaurateurs with 300 square feet of space and kitchen equipment. So, an aspiring chef has to just walk in and cook on gas while Zomato takes care of the rest. This could be a great opportunity for budding chefs and entrepreneurs.

The secret sauce!

Inexpensive access to pervasive computing power via cloud and mobile technologies is the secret sauce. Market reports indicate that Swiggy’s technology stack comprises of Amazon (EC2, RDS, Cloudfront and Route53) while Zomato’s technology stack also includes Amazon Route53.  With cloud and mobile technology facilitating online ordering, cloud kitchens suddenly seem like the only rational thing to do to manage the high rentals and poor margins in the F&B industry.

Why is this restaurant stuff important for my business?

Just as cloud and mobile technologies are redefining a traditional industry, the ramifications are just as huge for any other business. It’s no longer about “technology has no role to play in my business”. Chances are, if you don’t know how technology can impact your business, your competitor already does.

 

With a plethora of services provided by cloud, every business can benefit - from SMBs to large enterprises; from education to hospitality.  The cloud is like this huge switchboard where anyone can plug in and use it when they want to but they don’t have to carry the switchboard, they just use the “service”. Gone are the days of expensive, complex IT infrastructure which deterred many businesses from taking advantage of technology.


The cloud allows you to focus on what you do best - run your business. You can move from being a reactive business to a proactive business that offers transformational products and services. The cloud is also highly resilient, especially during these trying times.

 

For instance, during an unprecedented natural disaster like Cyclone Vardha, which shut down many businesses, or even during a watershed day like Flipkart’s Big Billion Day, the cloud has played knight in shining armor through its various features like instant scalability, disaster recovery, backup & restore and many more. A survey says 60% of SMBs pull the plug after a disaster but with the advent of cloud technology, they could surely turn the tables and cope up equally with large businesses in this uphill battle.

Your technology GPS

At Quadra, we can help you plan and prioritize your cloud journey by helping you formulate well defined business objectives, along with a business and risk analysis that considers multiple dimensions such as long term cost savings; data criticality, security and privacy concerns; audit and assurance; and regulatory norms, right down to service provider agreement review.

 

Our job is simple – we put the cloud to work for your business, and free you from the complexity of choosing and managing multiple vendors. We aim to let you do what you do best – run your business!

Now OneDrive for Business in under better control of the Admin

Control provisioning of OneDrive

OneDrive for a user is created when they click on OneDrive tile or access the service first time. Their ability to create OneDrive site is governed by the create personal site permission in SharePoint Online. By default, the permission is assigned to all users.

If your Organization is looking for a phased rollout then you can create specific user groups and assign the create personal site permission to them.

Enable Sync client restrictions

SharePoint Online administrator can use PowerShell cmdlets to enable the OneDrive for Business sync client from only the domains present in the safe recipients list. After that, if the version of sync client on a user’s PC is earlier than 15.0.4693.1000, sync client is considered outdated and user will not be able to sync documents.

Configure restricted Domain sharing

At a tenant level, administrators can configure external sharing by using either the Allow List or Deny List feature. Administrators can limit sharing invitations to a limited number of email domains by listing them in the Allow List or opt to use the Deny List, listing email domains to which users are prohibited to extend invitations.
 
Additional parameters have been added to the PowerShell, to allow configuration of restricted domains using PowerShell.

All external sharing invitation emails will blind copied to set mailboxes using available parameters.

Discourage Org-wide sharing

To discourage users from sharing files from their OneDrive with everyone in the Organization, hide “Everyone”, “All Users” and “Everyone except External Users” groups in the people picker.

Restrict Sync based on file types

When required, block syncing of certain file types using the new sync client. For e.g. sync of .pst and .mp4 can be blocked as all emails should be in EXO mailbox and videos should be in O365 Videos service or, just to conserve bandwidth consumption.

Monitor User activities

Office 365 Audit log search and Management Activity APIs enable monitoring of user activities on OneDrive and also integrate them with existing SIEM tool in your Organization. Refer to the Audit log search section later in this document.

Configure usage or anomaly based alerts

Office 365 Advanced Security Management enables you to set up anomaly detection policies, so you can be alerted to potential breaches of your network. For example, you can be alerted to impossible travel scenarios, such as if a user signs in to the service to check their mail from New York and then two minutes later is downloading a document from OneDrive in Tokyo.

Advanced Security Management also lets you set up that can track specific activities. With out-of-the-box templates like Mass download by a single user, IT can easily create policies that flag when someone is downloading an unusually large amount of data. Alerts can also be for multiple failed sign-in attempts or signs in from a risky IP address.

Configure Mobile App Management (MAM) for mobiles

Intune MAM, part of Enterprise Mobility + Security (EMS) suite, provides ability to manage OneDrive mobile app and disable user’s ability to copy-paste corporate content from their OneDrive to a non-managed/consumer app.

Configure Conditional Access

Azure AD Premium, part of Enterprise Mobility + Security (EMS) suite, provides Risk-based conditional access through an intelligent assessment of granting or blocking access to OneDrive. For e.g. access to OneDrive can be blocked is the user is using non-managed device.

Additional Administrative settings for the sync client

A variety of OneDrive and OneDrive for Business settings can be centrally administered through group policy. The group policy objects are available as part of the OneDrive Deployment Package.

The following User Configuration group policies are available:
• Coauthoring and in-app sharing for Office files
• Configure OneDrive.exe to receive updates after consumer production
• Prevent users from changing the location of their OneDrive folder
• Prevent users from configuring personal OneDrive accounts
• Set the default location for the OneDrive folder
• Users can choose how to handle Office files in conflict
The following Computer Configuration group policies are available:
• Prevent users from using the remote file fetch feature to access files on the computer
• Set the maximum percentage of upload bandwidth that OneDrive.exe uses

- Office 365: Everything You Wanted to Know - Jan 2017 - Microsoft

Secure Your Cloud Users with these Advanced Management Features

The cloud offers many security benefits to organizations, but also raises new security considerations. It can also add to existing ones such as shadow IT, the use of software that is not formally sanctioned by the organization. Office 365 Advanced Security Management, a new set of capabilities powered by Microsoft Cloud App Security gives you greater visibility and control over your Office 365 environment.

Advanced Security Management includes:

  • Threat detection - Helps you identify high-risk and abnormal usage, and security incidents.

  • Enhanced control - Shapes your Office 365 environment leveraging granular controls and security policies.

  • Discovery and insights - Get enhanced visibility into your Office 365 usage and shadow IT without installing an end point agent.

Threat Detection

Advanced Security Management enables you to set up anomaly detection policies, so you can be alerted to potential breaches of your network. Anomaly detection works by scanning user activities and evaluating their risk against over 70 different indicators, including sign-in failures, administrator activity and inactive accounts. For example, you can be alerted to impossible travel scenarios, such as if a user signs in to the service to check their mail from New York and then two minutes later is downloading a document from SharePoint Online in Tokyo.



Advanced Security Management also leverages behavioral analytics as part of its anomaly detection to assess potentially risky user behavior. It does this by understanding how users typically interact with Office 365, spotting anomalies and giving the anomalous activity a risk score to help IT decide whether to take further action.

Enhanced Control

Advanced Security Management lets you set up activity policies that can track specific activities. With out-of-the-box templates, IT can easily create policies that flag when someone is downloading an unusually large amount of data, has multiple failed sign-in attempts or signs in from a risky IP address. Policies can also be customized to your environment. Using activity filters, IT can look for the location of a user, device type, IP address or if someone is granted admin rights. Alerts can be created to notify an IT lead immediately via email or text message.



Default activity policy templates that are included:

  • Administrative activity from a non-administrative IP address Alert when an admin user performs an administrative activity from an IP address that is not included in a specific IP range category.

  • User logon from a non-categorized IP address Alert when a user logs on from an IP address that is not included in a specific IP range category.

  • Mass download by a single user Alert when a single user performs more than 30 downloads within 5 minutes.

  • Multiple failed user log on attempts to an app Alert when a single user attempts to log on to a single app, and fails more than 10 times within 5 minutes.

  • Logon from a risky IP address Alert when a user logs on from a risky IP address to your sanctioned services. The Risky IP category contains, by default, anonymous proxies and TOR exits point.

After reviewing an alert and investigating a user’s activities, IT may deem that the behavior is risky and want to stop the user from doing anything else. This can be done directly from the alert. Some activities may be deemed so risky that IT may want to immediately suspend the account. To help with this, IT can configure the activity policy so that an account is automatically suspended if that risky activity takes place.

Advanced Security Management also shows which apps are connected to Office 365 in their environment, who is using them and the permissions they have. For example, if a user grants a scheduling application access to their Office 365 calendar data, IT will be able to see the details of the connection and revoke that application’s permissions with one click if they deem it a security risk.

Discovery and Insights

Advanced Security Management also provides an app discovery dashboard that allows IT Pros to visualize your organization’s usage of Office 365 and other productivity cloud services, so you can maximize investments in IT-approved solutions. With the ability to discover about 1,000 applications in categories like collaboration, cloud storage, webmail and others, IT can better determine the extent to which shadow IT is occurring in your organization. Advanced Security Management will also give you details about the top apps in each category. For example, you can see how much data is being sent to OneDrive for Business, Box, Dropbox and other cloud storage providers.



You can do all this without installing anything on device end points. To load the data into the dashboard, all you have to do is take the logs from your network devices and upload them via an easy-to-use interface.

Many organizations allow users to connect apps to Office 365 without IT intervention to help them be more productive. The challenge is that it reduces the visibility and control that IT has over what apps are doing with the data. App Permissions as part of Office 365 Advanced Security Management can help mitigate that risk.

App Permissions provides information to IT about which applications in their network have access to Office 365 data, what permissions they have and which users granted these apps access to their Office 365 accounts.



Based on this information, IT admins can choose to approve the app or revoke its access to Office 365. If they choose to revoke permissions to the app, it will no longer be able to access the information for any of the users in the Office 365 tenant. App Permissions also makes it easy for IT admins to notify users who have installed the application that is going to be banned.

- Office 365: Everything You Wanted to Know - Jan 2017 - Microsoft




Share File Links – Not Attachments – in Mails

When you attach a file in a cloud location such as OneDrive or SharePoint, Outlook will send your recipients a link to the file. Permission to access the file is granted automatically to every recipient. This makes collaboration easy because you don't have to worry about attachments being dropped, and you can be sure that everyone is collaborating on the same (and most up-to-date) version of the file.

  1. In Outlook, create a message.

Note: For an existing message, click Reply, Reply All, or Forward.

  1. On the ribbon, click Attach File, and choose Browse Web Locations.
  2. Choose OneDrive, the file you want to attach, and then choose Insert.
  3. In your email message, choose the down arrow for the attachment.
  4. Choose Change Permissions, and then choose one of the following:
    • Recipients can Edit if you want recipients to be able to modify the file.
    • Recipients can View, the default option, if you want recipients to be able to read, but not modify, the file.

Change Permission options include Recipients can edit and Recipients can view

 - Microsoft Support

 


Workplace Analytics for the Productivity Pros

Microsoft has announced an update to the Office 365 people profile experience under Delve, which consolidates the profile and activity pages to make it easier for you to discover relevant content, connect with colleagues and find experts inside an organization.

Learn more about your colleagues

The new profile page gives users a place to learn more about their colleagues, providing their contact information, a photo, who they work for and a summary of their experience and expertise, as well as discover their recent activity and a quick glimpse of what they are working on. The profile is actionable, too. Users can start a Skype chat, call or email to a colleague right from their profile page. Remember, Delve only shows content that the user already has permission to see.

The whole experience is responsive and looks great on any device.


Customize User profile and quickly find documents

Users can give their Delve profile a personal touch—upload a favorite profile photo, choose a unique background or edit your expertise. Up-to-date profiles make it easier for others to find out about the user and help the user when the user is looking for information. From the user’s profile, users can also quickly and easily get back to their documents, as well as see documents their most frequent contacts are working on.


Delve is more useful and intuitive than ever thanks to the new profile page. By connecting the users with the content and the contacts who are relevant to them, Delve helps break down silos and keeps the user in the know.

The new profile experience will roll out to First Release Office 365 tenants over the next several weeks, and Microsoft expects it to roll out to all eligible Office 365 customers by the second quarter of 2016.

Delve is included in the Office 365 Enterprise E1–E5 subscription plans (including the corresponding A2–A4 and G1–G4 plans for Academic and Government customers, respectively). Delve is also included in the Office 365 Business Essentials and Business Premium plans.

Delve never changes any permissions and only shows the users content that they already have permission to view. Only they can see their private documents in Delve, and other people can’t see their private activities—such as what documents they’ve read, what emails they’ve sent and received or which Skype for Business conversations they have participated in. Other people can see that they’ve modified a document, but only if they have access to the same document.

The PowerBI Desktop

With Power BI now generally available, many new features and capabilities of Power BI Desktop (known as Power BI Designer in the Preview) are ready to experience. These include major updates to open source visuals, the Power BI Android app, and authoring enhancements.

sign up for 
free

PowerBI Desktop is a powerful new visual data exploration and interactive reporting tool available at PowerBI.com. It provides a free-form canvas for drag-and-drop exploration of your data and an extensive library of interactive visualizations, while streamlining report creation and publishing to the Power BI service. The Power BI Desktop has been enhanced to include:

  • New visualizations including matrix, area, waterfall, and donut charts.
  • New visualization formatting such as color setting, titles, labels, and legends.
  • New data source support has also been extended to include Zendesk, Intuit Quickbooks Online, AppFigures, GitHub, Twilio, and SweetIQ.
  • Direct connection to SQL Server Analysis Services tabular models for data exploration.

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Other features

The full list of updates Microsoft has rolled out since preview includes:

  • Globally available and localized to 44 languages
  • New visuals – Tree Map, Combo Chart, Funnel, Gauges, Area Map, Waterfall, Donut, Area Chart, Matrix and others.
  • Significantly enhanced Power BI Desktop (renamed from Designer)
  • Native touch optimized mobile apps for iOS, Android and Windows
  • Rich control over visual coloring, including conditional formatting in Reports
  • Visual formatting and customization  in Reports (Title, Background Color, Legend, Data Labels, and X/Y axis for Cartesian charts)
  • Support for Hyperlinks in Reports and report tables
  • Report publishing directly from Power BI Desktop to the PowerBI.com service
  • New styling, look and feel
  • Simple and categorized Get Data Experience
  • A dozen ISVs delivered content packs for Power BI, providing rich, out-of-the-box reports and dashboards for a variety of popular business services (Acumatica, appFigures, Google Analytics, MailChimp, Microsoft Dynamics Marketing, QuickBooks Online, SQL Server Database Auditing, SweetIQ, Twilio, UserVoice, Visual Studio Online)
  • Four direct query sources enabling users to build Power BI reports and dashboards without the need to move data (Azure SQL Database, Azure SQL Data Warehouse, SQL Server Analysis Services, Spark on Azure HDInsight)
  • Easy import of CSV files
  • Support for connecting and refreshing from on-Premises data sources
  • Enhanced data modeling in Power BI Desktop (Calculated Columns, Data Categorization, Smart DAX Formula Editor, 12 new DAX functions)
  • Enhanced data transformation and mashup capabilities in Power BI Desktop with ten new transformation functions
  • Direct report exploration over Analysis Services tabular model from Power BI Desktop
  • Building and publishing Organizational content packs
  • Power BI Groups to enable collaboration on a jointly owned set of datasets, reports and dashboards
  • Browser rendered Excel reports in Power BI
  • Power BI REST API
  • Support for real time dashboards over massive data streams through Azure Stream Analytics
  • Open source Power BI visualization stack to enable Developers to starting building custom visuals
  • Developer samples and test bed for getting started quickly using the REST API
  • New community forum site at community.powerbi.com

Continuum and Window 10 Phones

Microsoft has a lofty vision for Windows 10 - one operating system core for all devices called OneCore. One of the keys to making that vision a reality for smartphones is a software feature called Continuum. With Continuum for phones, Microsoft believes any phone can be your PC. Microsoft aims to turn Windows 10 phones into full-blown PCs when they’re connected to PCs. Also, with Windows 10 phones, the devices will perform similarly to a traditional PC when they’re connected to an external monitor, along with a Bluetooth mouse and keyboard.

Continuum is a software tool that will aid Windows 10 in detecting what type of device a user is on and help the operating system configure itself accordingly. It is integral for Surface and other convertible tablets that double as laptops. For instance, Continuum will be able to know when you're using Windows 10 with a mouse and keyboard attachment and when you've switched to a touch interface with finger- and pen-based inputs.

Microsoft’s universal apps use the same basic code base across devices and scale to fit the screen they’re being used on. Continuum is Microsoft's solution for shifting among various form factors.

When a Windows Phone is plugged into a PC monitor, a PowerPoint app is treated like a PC app because it is in fact the same code that one would see for PowerPoint on a PC. When numerous tablet apps are opened, Continuum would switch them to PC-style apps when the device is docked. Even desktop-centric stuff will work just fine. Seamless copying and pasting between mobile-centric apps, and yes, even the legendary ALT-TAB are available now. Continuum for Phones changes the interface on the screen it's connected to and gives you extra tools on the handset as well. Microsoft calls it a "PC-like experience".


Windows 10's Mail app running on a Windows Phone connected to an external monitor, using Continuum.


When you first connect your phone to a keyboard and screen using the new Connect button in the Action Center (which Microsoft also refers to as 'docking'), a notification at the top of your phone screen asks if you want to use the phone as a trackpad to control the cursor on the other screen - that's an app that gives you an experience very like controlling an Xbox with the SmartGlass app on your phone. (It helps to turn the phone sideways, so it looks like a trackpad, and to put it down in front of the keyboard). Or you can keep using the handset with the usual phone interface. Apps you launch by touching the phone screen stay on the phone screen - so you could project PowerPoint for a presentation but keep your email and personal text messages off the big screen. There will be a gesture to move an app from the phone screen to the big screen and back.

If what you're running is a web application from the Windows Store, it will give you a different interface if it uses responsive design. But if it's an Android app packaged for Windows 10 for Phones (or an iOS app that the developer hasn't added extra features to), you'll just get the standard phone app interface, only bigger.

Soon, one can rely solely on a smartphone for their computing needs.

Microsoft says that Windows 10 would launch late July in 190 countries and 111 languages. Windows 10 is showcased as a simpler, more modern OS that seamlessly ties together desktops, laptops and smartphones. Microsoft calls it not just another release of Windows "but a new generation of Windows built for an era for more personal computing, from Raspberry Pi to the holographic computer, where the mobility of the experience is what matters, not the mobility of the device."

Increased spending on new IT

A Microsoft Asia Pacific survey of 291 IT decision makers of medium to large enterprises across 10 markets in Asia Pacific showed that IT leaders in the region are leading the charge to harness disruptive technologies enabling their transformation to a mobile-first and cloud-first world. More than half of CIOs (53%) polled allocated 11% to 30% of their budget towards using new technologies and another 27% of respondents allocated more than 30%.

In addition, majority of respondents no longer see the cloud as being new and disruptive. In fact, 71% expect to increase use of the cloud in the next three years, making it a necessary part of their IT strategy.

The survey also saw 62% of respondents highlighting the likelihood of increased IT spending on new technologies next year, indicating that IT leaders in the region are indeed pushing the envelope with new technologies to drive business transformation.

 “Technology is changing every aspect of our lives and it impacts the way businesses are interacting with their customers. Organizations today have to change how they operate to serve their customers at a whole new level. CIOs today have a critical role to play in this transformation,” said Alvaro Celis, Vice President, Microsoft Asia Pacific.

Prioritizing IT Needs in Asia Pacific

 The CIOs in Asia are grappling with new demands from customers, employees and business stakeholders. Microsoft asked them how they were prioritizing in the following areas as part of their transformation. Interestingly, respondents placed equal importance on:

•Enhancing customer experiences;

•Transforming into a digital business; and

•Becoming a more responsive organization

Current IT priorities include managing a myriad of new devices, applications and services hosted on the cloud. The Microsoft survey showed that device management is the number one issue which IT leaders are addressing currently. 92% of respondents polled said that they have either implemented or are planning to implement device and management initiatives within their organization as a way to manage the growing number of laptops, tablets and smartphones which access company resources. The number two and three current initiatives are: putting in place a hybrid IT infrastructure (90%) and collaboration projects (86%).

CIOs today know that they have a unique opportunity with disruptive technologies. According to the survey, respondents ranked mobility (52%), IoT (44%), big data (41%) and social (38%) as the top four technology disruptors to the organization.

However, in the next three years, CIOs in Asia are prioritising the Cloud (71%), mobility (65%) and big data (61%) as the most important technologies for them to harness to drive their business goals.

Barriers to New Technology Adoption

 While CIOs are planning to play a big role in business transformation, they do face challenges in being able to execute on their bold vision with new and disruptive technologies. The top 3 challenges are:

•Budget – 81% ranked lacked of budget as a barrier to adopting new technologies.

•Trust – 79% said that security, privacy, compliance and transparency of cloud-related solutions continue to be a concern

•Influence – 72% of CIOs felt that they are having to deal with more stakeholders with budget and decision making power, slowing down decision making

Jeff Bullwinkel, Associate General Counsel and Director of Legal and Corporate Affairs for Microsoft Asia Pacific & Japan, said: “Microsoft sees security, privacy, compliance and transparency as essential elements in building trust between a technology provider and its customers. Microsoft has continued to invest in building its trust with customers by further strengthening encryption to protect customer data, continuously designing and maintaining services that meet government and industry compliance standards, and increasing protection against government snooping.”

Influence and the Changing role of CIOs

 IT investment decisions no longer sit within the IT department. Of the key business stakeholders who are more influential today than three years ago, respondents polled said that the CEO is the most influential stakeholder in driving new technology trends (60%) in Asia Pacific, followed by the CFO (57%), the COO (55%) and CMO (38%).

When asked how they wish their roles to be perceived within the organization, it is clear that CIOs and IT leaders in Asia Pacific want to be viewed as innovators (69%) and growth enablers (62%). Respondents also hoped to be perceived as playing a key role in empowering the productivity of the next-generation of workers (64%).

Asia Pacific CIOs believe they are where they want to be, with more than two thirds of respondents saying that they are already viewed as key drivers of business innovation and growth and as enablers of new work styles by internal stakeholders.

Added Celis: “It is fascinating to see how cloud is everywhere today, and where mobility, IoT, social and big data are important technology disruptors for years to come. CIOs are indeed moving beyond keeping the lights on in IT to driving growth and business innovation. For Microsoft, it is an honour to be working with customers and partners to reimagine how business is done in the digital era.”

-Microsoft Asia Pacific News Center

Microsoft’s cybercrime fighters in Asia

In 2013, an army of five million zombie computers began taking marching orders from an Eastern European cybercriminal kingpin.

These computers weren’t in a dark warehouse or an abandoned strip mall, but in homes and offices across 90 countries. The infected PCs belonged to a vast array of unwitting users who detected nothing out of the ordinary. Meanwhile, when its malevolent creators issued the command, the zombie army lurched to life.

The zombies recorded keystrokes, capturing login passwords and Social Security numbers, spying on financial information, and logging people’s most sensitive and personal information.

Over the course of 18 months, this botnet, nicknamed Citadel, stole half a billion dollars from students, bankers, grandparents and businesses. It was only in June 2013 that a coalition led by Microsoft, together with FBI and partners in the technology and financial sectors, took down the botnet. Citadel is perhaps one of the most notorious botnets in recent history but it is certainly not the last we will see.

In Asia, it is estimated that there are over 5 million IP addresses connected to millions of infected devices observed in the region, including India and China. And among the top 25 infected countries globally, eight of them are from Asia. The Asian countries in the list are India, China, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Sri Lanka.

These are but just two of the latest findings shared by the team at Microsoft’s Digital Crimes Unit (DCU). In fact, according to the latest third-party studies and statistics, Asia Pacific is currently the most actively targeted region for cybercrime attacks. It therefore comes as no surprise that 79% of CIOs in Asia are concerned about security, privacy, transparency and compliance of cloud-related solutions in a recent survey by Microsoft.

A white paper published by the National University of Singapore and market research firm International Data Corporation estimates that consumers in Asia Pacific would spend about US$10.8 billion (more than 40% of world total) in identification, repair and recovering data, and dealing with identity theft from malware on pirated software in 2014. The same study, also projected that infected pirated software and lost data would cost enterprises in the region around US$229 billion (more than 45% of world total) for the same year. Looking at the economic impact on both consumers and businesses, consider that the 2013 GDP for Cambodia is US$14.04 billion while Vietnam’s GDP for the same year is US$171.22 billion.

These alarming numbers have prompted Microsoft to take a more proactive stance in Asia, as part of its global fight against cybercrime. With the opening of the Cybercrime Satellite Centre in Singapore on February 16, 2015, the company stepped up its efforts to fight malware, reduce digital risks and protect vulnerable populations, to create a safe digital world for consumers, governments and businesses in this region.

“Microsoft is committed to expand its cybercrime fighting work across the globe to protect computer users, customers, and governments through threat intelligence sharing partnerships and public-private collaboration. Our Singapore, Tokyo & Beijing Satellite Centers are examples of that expanded commitment to bring more awareness and capability around cybercrime and help reduce malware threats and digital risks in Asia,” says Keshav Dhakad, Regional Director of Intellectual Property & Digital Crimes Unit, Asia, Legal & Corporate Affairs, Microsoft.

Taking the global battle against cybercrime to Asia

The Cybercrime Satellite Centre in Singapore will serve as the Asia Pacific hub for Microsoft to drive customer, industry and law enforcement engagement on cybercrime threats in the region. At the same time, it will be used to leverage cyber threat intelligence and use big data cyber forensics analytics to help Microsoft’s customers and partners make informed decisions on cybersecurity vulnerabilities and its link with unsecure IT supply chain. Last but not least, it will act as a nodal point to drive strategic threat-intelligence sharing partnerships and collaboration with key stakeholders such as National Computer Emergency Response Teams (CERTs) & Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to foster a more secure and safer Internet ecosystem in Asia Pacific.

Singapore was the natural choice for Microsoft to set up its Cybercrime Satellite Centre, given its strategic location in Asia-Pacific, financial sector leadership, diverse and cutting edge business environment and a high-tech and mature IT ecosystem. In addition to being home to Microsoft’s Asia-Pacific headquarters and Microsoft Technology Center, the island state now also houses the newly set up Interpol Global Complex for Innovation (IGCI), which will be the epi-center for Interpol to investigate and fight digital crimes at a global level. This will facilitate closer cybercrime disruption collaboration between Interpol and Microsoft and will eventually benefit computer users, organizations and businesses in the region.

With one of the largest IT footprints in the world, Microsoft has been protecting and securing its platform, products and services for several decades, but what is unique about Microsoft is its ability to play ‘offence’ against cybercriminals. Keshav explains, “It is just not about defending our platforms from cyberattacks and building better security and anti-malware features into our products and services. What is distinct and unique is our innovation to proactively fight cybercrime, hand-in-hand with key industry and government stakeholders.”

At the forefront of this battle is the state-of-the-art Cybercrime Center in Microsoft’s Global HQ at Redmond, US, a tangible example of Microsoft’s commitment to protect its customers from cybercrime. Keshav says proudly, “At the Center, our customers, partners and vendors can witness live global cyber threat intelligence, and learn a huge deal about malware and their threats as we research them. It’s a unique factor for us to stay ahead of the curve on cybersecurity, understand new threats, and build trusted applications, cloud services and products.”

The malware threat intelligence data from the Cybercrime Center databases, under the program called “Cyber-Threat Intelligence Program (C-TIP)” is provided free of cost to around 45+ National Computer Emergency Response Teams (CERTs) in geographies across the world. The C-TIP enables CERTs to not only understand live malware infection landscape in their respective geographies, but also undertake awareness & notification activities, including dissemination of anti-malware tools to get rid of infections. Several ISPs are also taking advantage of this free program, which has been customized for them to identify, notify and remediate any internal malware threats impacting their subscribers. Keshav further explains, “Today, we are proud about the fact that our cloud customers on Azure & Office 365 can take benefit of the CTIP program. It allows them to run live security reports to detect whether any of their IP Addresses have infected devices behind them and lets them take corrective measures in real time. With this Microsoft has now brought malware threat intelligence to the door-step of its customers”.

 

Once the Cybercrime Center in Redmond identifies new malware threats, malicious strains are investigated to understand their risks, origins and engineering, and how widespread is their botnet impact and victimization. The research can ultimately lead to a court-supported legal disruption action of the cybercriminal network. The DCU team collaborates with law enforcement, anti-virus companies, IP owners, academia, and industry partners to investigate, research and undertake effective disruptive actions. DCU’s actions against financial malware bots such “Zeus”, “Citadel”, “Game-Over-Zeus” or “Caphaw” were also made possible through strong collaboration with financial industry partners, such as the Financial Services Information Sharing and Analysis Center (FS-ISAC). In September, 2014, FS-ISAC signed a threat intelligence sharing agreement with Microsoft to fight cybercrime and protect the financial services industry. A similar agreement was also signed with FIS Global, the world’s largest global provider dedicated to banking and payments technologies serving more than 14,000 institutions in over 110 countries.

The Singapore Cybercrime Satellite Centre is one of five such Microsoft facilities in the world, with the others located in Washington (U.S.), Beijing (China), Berlin (Germany) and Tokyo (Japan), and these numbers will only grow with time. The Centre will support all major Southeast Asian countries, Korea, Australia, New Zealand and India.

Keshav points out, “As a productivity and platform company in a mobile-first, cloud-first world, we strongly believe in trusted applications, devices and Cloud services. We want to deliver the best experience to our customers and partners, but with a deep commitment to cybersecurity, privacy, compliance and transparency, ensuring that users of our technology and Cloud services have a clear sense of ‘trust’.”

Fighting cybercrime pro-actively is one such way Microsoft demonstrates ‘trust’. Out of 15 global botnet takedowns in the last six years, 12 actions were led by Microsoft.

“The number of malicious codes (malware) are rising exponentially. Cybercriminals will strike where there is an opportunity for them to exploit IT supply chain and usage vulnerabilities and steal private, financial and confidential data from computers and misuse or sell it. The greater the malware infections, the more cybercriminals are able to cause massive disruptions and losses. With rising sophistication, everyone is vulnerable and the question is not who, but when one would be attacked.” says Keshav, emphasizing the rising global nature of cybercrime today.

Crucially, the battle against cybercrime doesn’t end there. All the learnings from Microsoft’s cyber threat intelligence and investigations against cybercriminals, helps build better security features back into our product and services. “For us Cybersecurity is not just one other important thing that we focus on. It is an integral part of building an IT ecosystem where people feel safe when they use technology,” highlights Keshav.

Microsoft has used this hands-on knowledge to strengthen the Windows Operating System over the years. “Any device that runs Windows 8 or 8.1 is protected by the most advanced and breakthrough cybersecurity features, including groundbreaking malware resistance and authentication features. Our Cloud cybersecurity, privacy standards and governance models are unparalleled in the industry,” says Keshav proudly. Microsoft is expected to take this to the next level with Windows 10 which will address modern security threats with advancements to strengthen identity protection and access controls, information protection and threat resistance. This new Operating System will move away from the use of single-factor authentication options like passwords, and deliver options to help enterprises protect against common causes of malware on PCs.

He concludes, “With fighting malware and cybercrime, we also want cybercriminals to know that Microsoft platforms will always remain hostile to their nefarious activities, and we will continue to invest in innovative technology and tools that help us fight new threats to protect our customers. That’s where we’ve been successful in creating a secure, trusted and reliable environment-be it on-premise or on the Cloud.”

With economic losses as a result of malware and pirated software expected to hit the Asia Pacific region hardest, the global efforts to fight cybercrime to create a safer world are more relevant than ever before!

-Microsoft News Center