Reimagining Customer Value with Artificial Intelligence

Reimagining Customer Value with Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) can glean and utilize material insights from the data flowing across Cisco networks. As such, how should we think about AI in the context of company transformation?

Security enhancements and more for enterprise Chrome browser customers

Security enhancements and more for enterprise Chrome browser customers

When it comes to Chrome, security is one of our most important considerations—and that’s especially true when it comes to our enterprise users. We’re always looking for ways to further protect enterprises from potential dangers like ransomware, malware, and other vulnerabilities. 

Chrome browser has been validated by third parties as a frontrunner in enterprise browser security, and we’re committed to constantly introducing more safeguards. That’s why the latest release of Chrome browser introduces a variety of new security enhancements for enterprises. From new ways to better isolate processes, to broader support for more advanced security standards, to the introduction of new policies, IT admins now have more options to protect their users and businesses from potential threats. Here’s a quick overview of the security updates this latest release of Chrome will offer, plus an update on a few upcoming changes in 2018.

Site Isolation: For enterprises with the highest security needs

Starting with today’s release, Site Isolation is now available. With Site Isolation enabled, Chrome renders content for each open website in a separate process, isolated from other websites. This can mean even stronger security boundaries between websites than Chrome’s existing sandboxing technology. Admins can read more to determine if this capability makes sense for their organization—and start implementing it immediately.

Making it easier to restrict extensions based on required permissions

Although admins have been able to whitelist and blacklist specific extensions in Chrome, we’ve heard feedback that it can be difficult to scale. Beginning today, IT admins can configure a new policy that restricts access to extensions based on the permissions required. For example, through policy, IT can now block all extensions that require the use of a webcam or microphone, or those that require access to reading or changing data on the websites visited. This policy is available now, and will help IT teams enforce necessary controls, without overly restricting users.  

Chrome updates for enterprises

Version 1.3 of Transport Layer Security (TLS) and policy

Secure communication on the Internet is made possible through a protocol called Transport Layer Security (TLS). To support the latest security standards, we’re enabling TLS 1.3 for Gmail in today’s release of Chrome browser. The previous version, TLS 1.2, was standardized in 2008 and, although it can be secure when configured correctly, it’s in need of an overhaul. The improvements in TLS 1.3 make it faster and more secure, and we’ll be expanding TLS 1.3 support to the broader web in 2018.

Chrome browser users should not be impacted by this change. IT admins that are aware of any systems that are not interoperable with TLS 1.3 should post feedback in the admin forum. As admins prepare for the wider use of TLS 1.3, they can configure this policy for network software or hardware that will not transit TLS 1.3 connections. More details are available on this page.

Broader platform support for the NTLMv2 authentication protocol

Last week we shared on our admin forum that Chrome 64, coming in early 2018, will include support for the NTLMv2 authentication protocol, including Extended Protection for Authentication (EPA) on Mac, Android, Linux and Chrome OS. This allows all platforms to perform NTLM authentication with the same level of security that was previously available only in Chrome on Windows.

IT admins can enable this feature today by visiting chrome://flags/#enable-ntlm-v2. In Chrome 65, NTLMv2 will become the default NTLM protocol as it already is on Windows. More details are available on this page. With this update, Chrome will become the only browser to support NTLMv2 with EPA on non-Windows platforms.

Reducing Chrome crashes caused by third-party software

Last week we announced we’ll be implementing changes in Chrome to improve stability and reduce the number of browser crashes. Starting with the release of Chrome 68 in July 2018, we’ll begin blocking third-party software from injecting code into Chrome on Windows.

Code injection has historically been used by products such as anti-virus software. But it’s an outdated process, and we encourage vendors of such software to take advantage of the newer, more effective options available.

In the meantime, we understand sometimes businesses need to rely on such software, and we want to make sure they’re covered. We’ll be introducing a new policy in the coming months that will offer admins extended support for critical apps that require code injection to function.

Chrome updates for enterprises 02

Admins can visit chrome://conflicts to check if software currently installed on a computer is injecting into Chrome.

We’re excited to bring new capabilities to IT admins that enhance Chrome’s security and stability. For more information about Chrome browser for enterprise, visit Chrome.com/enterprise, or to share feedback, visit our Chrome browser Enterprise Admin Forum.

Google Drive recognized as a leader by Forrester for File Sync and Share (EFSS) cloud solutions

Google Drive recognized as a leader by Forrester for File Sync and Share (EFSS) cloud solutions

Drive

We’re designing cloud-based solutions to help teams become more knowledgeable and more effective. Businesses like Whirlpool are turning to Google Drive because they need more secure, friction-free tools to help them house—and more importantly, share—collective company knowledge.

Our continued efforts to help businesses collaborate in the cloud have not gone unnoticed. Today, Drive has been recognized as a leader in The Forrester Wave™: Enterprise File Sync And Share Platforms–Cloud Solutions, Q4 2017 report, which ranks cloud-based file sharing and storage solutions for enterprise IT professionals. Earlier this year, Drive was also named a leader among content collaboration platforms by Gartner.

What does this mean for your business?

There are inherent benefits to working in the cloud, and businesses are starting to take advantage of them. Cloud-first tools like Drive gives companies a single place to store, access and share information, which can improve efficiencies.

Of course, you need to be confident that these new cloud solutions will work well with your existing IT investments. Over the past year, we’ve enhanced Drive with additional enterprise features to make migrating from on-prem fileshares and content management systems easier:

  • Team Drives, so you can work on collectively-owned files and feel confident that your work will stay put no matter who comes or goes on your team. 
  • AppBridge, so your enterprise can migrate all of its data more securely to the cloud with ease. 
  • Drive File Stream, to help you access all data quickly without using up a ton of disk space.  
  • Data Loss Prevention and Google Vault for Drive, to help you control how your teams share information and to help you keep sensitive data safe.
  • Quick Access in Drive, to help surface your data faster with artificial intelligence-powered technology.

To learn more, access the 2017 Forrester Wave EFSS Cloud Solutions report here. Or get in touch with us to learn more about how your business can benefit from moving to Google Cloud.

Teaming up with SocialWorks to bring computer science to Chicago Public Schools

Teaming up with SocialWorks to bring computer science to Chicago Public Schools

Today, 5th grade students at Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Academy in Chicago got a surprise. It was cool enough that they were doing a coding activity with Chicago Googlers as a part of Computer Science Education Week—but then another Chicago native joined the fun. When Chance The Rapper arrived, there were shouts of excitement and delight, and Chance even gave coding a try.

SocialWorks, a non profit co-founded by Chance, is on a mission to expose youth across the city to programming and to ensure they have the support necessary to reach their full potential—with access to arts, music, and coding as a means to express themselves.  

Today’s visit reinforced that computer science is a part of that mission. Shortly after Chance made his coding debut, Alphabet Senior Vice President of Corporate Development, David Drummond, announced that Google.org is donating $1.5 million to to bring computer science education to students in Chicago, with $500,000 going to Chicago Public Schools’ CS4All Initiative and $1 million to SocialWorks.

The grant will help teachers implement computer science and arts curriculum in their classrooms, and it builds on $40 million in Google.org grants that provide opportunities for students underrepresented in computer science to explore the field.

Justin Cunningham, Executive Director of SocialWorks, had this to say about today’s announcement: “Our grant with Google.org helps SocialWorks provide programming that sheds light on another pathway to success for young Chicagoans. While every student doesn’t need to become a computer scientist, understanding the basics empowers them to understand the world they live in. The opportunity to help kids code to share their music, artwork, and distinct point of view is at the core of our mission and an experience we look forward to providing in classrooms across the city.”  

Justin Steele, Google.org Principal who leads our work in local communities, also weighed in: “We’re honored to support SocialWorks’ mission to help underrepresented students in Chicago reach their full potential, as well as Chicago Public Schools’ efforts to turn computer science into a pathway for creative expression. There’s so much talent and creativity in the communities that these schools serve—and Chance The Rapper embodies what can happen when that creativity is unleashed. With exposure to computer science, students can use technology to turn their creative passions into something bigger.”

I’ve built my own career around computer science. At Google I helped create CS First, video-based lessons that introduce students to computer science and show them coding is a tool that, in the words of the SocialWorks mission, “lets you be you.” As a kid raised in the U.S. Virgin Islands, I didn’t know that I’d one day graduate with a computer science degree and end up at Google. All I knew was that I was fascinated by gadgets, which one day led to learning about the software that made them work on the inside. With the support of Google and SocialWorks, students in Chicago can also find out how their interests are connected to computer science, so that they can use those skills to build the future they imagine.

These kids will always remember the day they met Chance The Rapper. We hope they’ll remember it as the day they discovered an interest in coding, too.

Pivot to the cloud: intelligent features in Google Sheets help businesses uncover insights

Pivot to the cloud: intelligent features in Google Sheets help businesses uncover insights

When it comes to data in spreadsheets, deciphering meaningful insights can be a challenge whether you’re a spreadsheet guru or data analytics pro. But thanks to advances in the cloud and artificial intelligence, you can instantly uncover insights and empower everyone in your organization—not just those with technical or analytics backgrounds—to make more informed decisions.

We launched “Explore” in Sheets to help you decipher your data easily using the power of machine intelligence, and since then we’ve added even more ways for you to intelligently visualize and share your company data. Today, we’re announcing additional features to Google Sheets to help businesses make better use of their data, from pivot tables and formula suggestions powered by machine intelligence, to even more flexible ways to help you analyze your data.

Easier pivot tables, faster insights

Many teams rely on pivot tables to summarize massive data sets and find useful patterns, but creating them manually can be tricky. Now, if you have data organized in a spreadsheet, Sheets can intelligently suggest a pivot table for you.

In the Explore panel, you can also ask questions of your data using everyday language (via natural language processing) and have the answer returned as a pivot table. For example, type “what is the sum of revenue by salesperson?” or “how much revenue does each product category generate?” and Sheets can help you find the right pivot table analysis.

GIF

In addition, if you want to create a pivot table from scratch, Sheets can suggest a number of relevant tables in the pivot table editor to help you summarize your data faster.

Suggested formulas, quicker answers

We often use basic spreadsheet formulas like =SUM or =AVERAGE for data analysis, but it takes time to make sure all inputs are written correctly. Soon, you may notice suggestions pop up when you type “=” in a cell. Using machine intelligence, Sheets provides full formula suggestions to you based on contextual clues from your spreadsheet data. We designed this to help teams save time and get answers more intuitively.

Formula suggestions in Sheets

Even more Sheets features

We’re also adding more features to make Sheets even better for data analysis:

  • Check out a refreshed UI for pivot tables in Sheets, and new, customizable headings for rows and columns.
  • View your data differently with new pivot table features. When you create a pivot table, you can “show values as a % of totals” to see summarized values as a fraction of grand totals. Once you have a table, you can right-click on a cell to “view details” or even combine pivot table groups to aggregate data the way you need it. We’re also adding new format options, like repeated row labels, to give you more fine-tuned control of how to present your summarized data.
  • Create and edit waterfall charts. Waterfall charts are good for visualizing sequential changes in data, like if you want to see the incremental breakdown of last year’s revenue month-by-month. Select Insert > Chart > Chart type picker and then choose “waterfall.”
  • Quickly import or paste fixed-width formatted data files. Sheets will automatically split up the data into columns for you without needing a delimiter, like commas, between data.

These new Sheets features will roll out in the coming weeks—see specific details here. To learn more about how G Suite can help your business uncover valuable insights and speed up efficiencies, visit the G Suite website. Or check out these tips to help you get started with Sheets.

All the data you need to cover 500 local elections

All the data you need to cover 500 local elections

Next year, nearly 500 local elections for Senate and House seats are taking place across the United States. As part of our mission to help journalists report on the stories that matter, we  worked with ProPublica to build the Election Databot: a tool that provides data about all of those elections, from campaign spending to Google Search Trends for candidates.

We launched the Databot for the 2016 general election, but this new version shows complete information for all the House and Senate races through November 8, 2018. It also includes this year’s special election on December 12 between Republican Roy Moore and Democrat Doug Jones, who are vying for one of Alabama’s Senate seats.

z

The new version of the Databot includes key data for national and local reporters writing about the hundreds of local races taking place across America, including:

  • Google Search Trends for each candidate and incumbent with real-time search data
  • YouTube videos from candidates and incumbents
  • Candidate spending data from the FEC
  • Voting records and Congressional data
  • Articles from Google News, including local news sources about each candidate
  • Press statements from each incumbent candidate
  • Cook report race ratings for each election
  • Deleted Tweets from Politwoops

You can explore either national or local data, and can set up notifications for a particular race. 2018 will be a big year for politics, and the Databot can help journalists report on election stories in new and exciting ways.

METRO AG, Viessmann and BOTfriends move onto Google Cloud

METRO AG, Viessmann and BOTfriends move onto Google Cloud

Google Cloud Summit took place in Munich today—the biggest cloud event in the Germany-Austria-Switzerland region. There, we announced collaborations with three well-known German companies of different sizes, from different industries and each facing different challenges.

metro

With more than 150,000 employees in 25 countries and sales of more than 36 billion euros, METRO Group is one of the largest companies in the food industry. In order to be prepared for digital challenges, METRO is migrating its e-commerce platform to Google Cloud, which it believes has advantages in terms of performance and scalability.

For us, Google Cloud’s reliability and its leading technology—not to mention its pricing—were decisive. With Google machine learning and artificial intelligence, we’ve found the perfect partner for the future.

Timo Salzsieder

CIO and CSO of METRO AG

viessman-logo

The Viessmann Group, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of heating, industrial and cooling systems, is also counting on Google Cloud. The company has grown rapidly in recent years, especially internationally. In order to improve internal collaboration between employees, Viessmann Group will use G Suite. In just six months, Viessmann was able to migrate almost all its data and applications into Google Cloud and make them available to all employees worldwide.

G Suite enables us to manage tasks better and work cooperatively on documents. Even though our employees often work in different countries and time zones, we have moved closer together as a team.

Alexander Poellman

Smart Office & Collaboration Manager at Viessmann

botfriends-logo

The start-up BOTfriends is a leader in the development of chatbot applications, which can make initial customer contact more effective and help staff answer questions faster. BOTfriends uses machine learning from Google Cloud for its chatbots, resulting in more natural communication and an improved user experience.

Our chatbots would not have been possible without Google Cloud. Thanks to machine learning, we are improving the effectiveness of customer support and recruitment teams.

Michelle Skodowski

Co-founder of BOTfriends

We’re excited to bring the power of Google Cloud technologies customers in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. To learn more about our cloud solutions, visit our Google Cloud Platform website.

Improving Search and discovery on Google

Improving Search and discovery on Google

Search is not just about answering your questions—it’s also about discovery. We search to explore new topics of interest, to find new angles to ideas or things we think we already know, or even to uncover information that we didn’t even think to ask about.

Over the years, we’ve developed many features to help you discover more on your journeys through the web, starting with related searches almost 10 years ago, to more recent additions such as related questions (Related questions are labeled “People also ask” in search results). In the last few weeks, we’ve made three new additions to help you explore further, including expanded Featured Snippets, improved functionality of Knowledge Panels, and suggested content as you search for a particular topic.

Featured Snippets are algorithmically generated highlights of what’s available on the web that provide quick, relevant answers for your queries. Today, we’ve added more images and related searches inside select Featured Snippets to help you learn even more about your topic, or to discover new things related to your interest.

richer featured snippets

We’ve also updated Knowledge Panels in Search to show related content. For example, while looking at the Knowledge Panel about skiing, you’ll see related searches for sports such as snowboarding directly inside the result.

alpine_ski.gif

Lastly, now while you’re researching a particular topic on Google—like soccer players for next year’s World Cup—and you search for Neymar followed by a search for Messi, you’ll see suggestions for related topics in the same vein at the top of the search results page so you can continue to discover other athletes during your search session.

search session neymar and messi

We hope these three changes will have a big impact on helping you discover more from the web. You never know what surprising, new interests await.

Welcoming Android 8.1 Oreo and Android Oreo (Go edition)

Welcoming Android 8.1 Oreo and Android Oreo (Go edition)

Posted by Dave Burke, VP of Engineering

At Google
for India
this Monday, we announced the final release of Android 8.1 Oreo.
Android 8.1 Oreo is another exciting step toward bringing to life our vision of
an AI-first mobile platform, for everyone, everywhere.

Android 8.1 introduces support for our new Android Oreo (Go edition) software experience for entry-level
devices. Android Oreo (Go edition) brings the best of Android to the rapidly
growing market for low-memory devices around the world, including your apps and
games.

Android 8.1 also introduces the Neural
Networks API
, a hardware accelerated machine learning runtime to
support ML capabilities in your apps. On supported devices, the Neural Networks
API enables fast and efficient inference for a range of key use cases, starting
with vision-based object classification.

You can get started with Android 8.1 Oreo (API level 27) today. We’re pushing
sources to Android Open Source Project
now, and rolling out the update to supported Pixel and Nexus devices over the
next week. We’re also working with our device maker partners to bring Android
8.1 to more devices, including Android Oreo (Go edition) devices, in the months
ahead.

Android Oreo (Go edition)

As announced at
Google I/O 2017, the “Android Go” project is our initiative to optimize the
Android experience for billions of people coming online around the world.
Starting with Android 8.1, we’re making Android a great platform for entry-level
devices in the Android Oreo (Go edition) configuration:

  • Memory optimizations — Improved memory usage across the
    platform to ensure that apps can run efficiently on devices with 1GB or less
    RAM.
  • Flexible targeting options — New hardware
    feature constants
    to let you target the distribution of your apps to normal
    or low-RAM devices through Google Play.
  • Optimized Google apps: Rebuilt and optimized versions of
    Google apps, using less memory, storage space, and mobile data.
  • Google Play: While all apps will be available on Android
    Oreo (Go edition) devices, Google Play will give visibility to apps specifically
    optimized by developers to provide a great experience for billions of people
    with the building
    for billions guidelines
    .

We’ve updated the building for billions guidelines with
additional guidance on how
to optimize your app for Android Oreo (Go edition) devices
. For most
developers, optimizing your existing APK or using Google Play’s Multiple
APK feature
to target a version of your APK to low-RAM devices is the best
way to prepare for Android Oreo (Go edition) devices. Remember that making
your app lighter
and more efficient benefits your whole audience, regardless
of device.

Neural Networks API

The Neural
Networks API
provides accelerated computation and inference for on-device
machine learning frameworks like TensorFlow Lite — Google’s
cross-platform ML library for mobile — as well as Caffe2 and others. TensorFlow
Lite is now
available to developers
, so visit the TensorFlow
Lite open source repo
for downloads and docs. TensorFlow Lite works with the
Neural Networks API to run models like MobileNets,
Inception v3, and Smart
Reply
efficiently on your mobile device.

Autofill enhancements and more

Android 8.1 includes select new
features and developer APIs
(API level 27), along with the latest
optimizations, bug fixes, and security patches. Extend your app with Autofill
enhancements, a SharedMemory
API, and more. You can also add established Android Oreo features as well, see
the Android
Oreo site
for details.

Test your apps on Android 8.1

If haven’t already, take a few moments today to test your apps and make sure
they offer the experience you want for users upgrading to Android 8.1 Oreo.

Just install your current app from Google Play onto a device or emulator
running Android Oreo and test the user flows. The app should run and look great,
and handle the Android Oreo behavior
changes
properly. In particular, pay attention to background
location limits
, notification
channels
, and changes in networking,
security,
and identifiers.

Speed your development with Android Studio

To build with Android 8.1, we recommend updating to Android
Studio 3.0
, which is now available from the stable
channel
. On top of the new app performance
profiling tools
, support for the Kotlin
programming language
, and Gradle build optimizations, Android Studio 3.0
makes it easier to develop for Android Oreo features like Instant
Apps
, XML
Fonts
, downloadable
fonts
, and adaptive
icons
.

With the final platform we’re updating the SDK and build tools in Android
Studio, as well as the API Level 27 emulator system images. We recommend
updating to the Android
Support Library 27.0.2
, which is available from Google’s
Maven repository
. See the version
notes
for details on what’s new.

As always, we’re providing downloadable factory and OTA images on the Nexus
Images
page to help you do final testing on your Pixel and Nexus devices.

Publish your updates to Google Play

When you’re ready, you can publish your APK updates targeting API level 27 in
your alpha, beta, or production channels. Make sure that your updated app runs
well on Android Oreo as well as older versions. We recommend using beta
testing
to get early feedback from a small group of users and a pre-launch
report
to help you identify any issues, then do a staged
rollout
. Head over to the Android Developers site to find more info on launch
best practices
. We’re looking forward to seeing your app updates!

What’s next for Android Oreo?

We’ll soon be closing the Developer Preview issue tracker, but please keep the
feedback coming! If you still see an issue that you filed in the preview
tracker, just file
a new issue
against Android 8.1 in the AOSP issue tracker. You can also
continue to give us feedback or ask questions in the developer
community
.

There’s no failure, just opportunity: a teacher’s journey to code

There’s no failure, just opportunity: a teacher’s journey to code

Computer Science Education Week is an annual event to get kids excited about the possibilities of coding. As a part of CSEdWeek this year, we unveiled a new coding activity that lets students create their own Google logo, using block-based coding and video tutorials. Abigail Ramirez, a middle school teacher from Pomona Unified School District, tried out the activity in her computer science classroom, and spoke to us about the activity, as well as the importance of computer science in her students’ lives.

Tell us about how you got started with coding.

When I was in the third grade, my dad bought an old computer (the kind that required giant floppy disks) and challenged my siblings and me to set it up. “Reader Rabbit”—a reading and spelling game that we liked—didn’t work properly, so we had to take out the manual, read the code, fix the code, then fix the game. We didn’t even know we were programming, we just wanted to play on the computer! Fast forward years later, my congregation needed support with our website, so I turned to YouTube and Udacity to learn more. And two months after that, I attended a week-long CS institute at Harvey Mudd College, which is where my CS education officially began.

And now you teach computer science—how did you end up doing that?

I’m probably the least likely CS teacher. I’m originally an English teacher, and have the privilege of teaching at the school that I attended, which happens to be 94 percent Title I (meaning the majority of the kids have free or reduced lunch). Most of my students have college and career dreams, and they’ll be the first in their family to go down that path. While attending the CS Institute at Harvey Mudd, I realized there was so much potential in computer science. It could help build a positive future for kids who can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, have untapped potential, or simply need access to 21st century skills.

I realized there was so much potential in computer science. It could help build a positive future for kids who can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Eventually, with the support of my administrator, I got the greenlight to pilot a couple of CS classes at my school. Now I teach a class called Middle Years Computer Science, which is where I tried out this year’s CSEdWeek coding activity.

How did the kids react to the coding activity?

When they found out they could design and program their own Google logo, the excitement went through the roof. Both seasoned coders and those who were new to coding came away with a sense of community and purpose. They expressed that their simple logos had the possibility of changing someone’s day, putting some joy in someone’s heart, inspiring people to act, and creating awareness.

  • CSEW_1.JPG
  • CSEW_2.JPG
  • CSEW_3.JPG

What are some of the most creative approaches that the kids took to completing the activity?

Kids are imaginative and innovative by nature, and when they get access to a creative tool like programming, the sky’s the limit. The students created some really heartfelt logos featuring concepts celebrating foster care and adoption using broadcasting codes (this means that letters in the logo will move in some way, based on a command that you give another letter). Others created music videos, complete with Google-themed fidget spinners. Some daring students even created motion-sensor interactive games using their webcam, and experimented with food-shaped logos.

How did the students work together to problem-solve during the activity?

I encourage my students to think of themselves as “lead learners,” meaning each individual has a skill, expertise, or idea to share with their classmates—and when they talk through each other’s ideas, it usually leads to an even better result. Coding gives students the flexibility to see what others are doing and immediately apply it, yet expand on it to increase their own skill. Besides, this shared experience is too awesome to keep to oneself—collaboration is a natural outcome. When something didn’t work in a manner they intended, you could see that students were using persistence and critical thinking to debug the block errors. When they were stuck, they would seek each other out as expert help.

Did this activity change any perceptions of coding the kids had before doing the activity?

Coding can be scary. But if you eliminate the doubt, mix in lots of fun, and allow for collaboration, coding barriers can be debugged. From the start, we established that there is no failure in their code, just an opportunity to increase their coding and debugging abilities. In the end, the students felt a sense of accomplishment from creating a program that sprung from their imagination.

How do the kids envision using computer science in the future? Have you seen their skills progress over time?

A lot of students have decided that’s the field that they want to go into. I get to be their hypemaster—I help keep the momentum going, to inspire them to pursue computer science. I also try to show them how these skills would be used out in the real world. I start each class with a “CS moment,” which is a video clip of a company that uses computer science—video gaming, for example, shows the kids that they could apply CS to things they’re already doing.

How have you noticed that learning about CS has positively impacted your students?

I can see the joy radiate out of them when they’re learning and practicing. A student once said to me, “I can change the world right now, I just need to figure out the source code.” So for me, it’s all about getting them to the next step.

As an English teacher, I gave my kids a voice. As a computer science teacher, I help them create their future.

And they get to decide what it is, and where they’ll go.

Get ready for AI to help make your business more productive

Get ready for AI to help make your business more productive

Editor’s note: Companies are evaluating how to use artificial intelligence to transform how they work. Nicholas McQuire, analyst at CCS Insight, reflects on how businesses are using machine learning and assistive technologies to help employees be more productive. He also provides tangible takeaways on how enterprises can better prepare for the future of work.

Employees are drowning in a sea of data and sprawling digital tools, using an average of 6.1 mobile apps for work purposes today, according to a recent CCS Insight survey of IT decision-makers. Part of the reason we’ve seen a lag in macro productivity since the 2008 financial crisis is that we waste a lot of time doing mundane tasks, like searching for data, booking meetings and learning the ins and outs of complex software.

According to Harvard Business Review, wasted time and inefficient processes—what experts call “organizational drag”—cost the U.S. economy a staggering $3 trillion each year. Employees need more assistive and personalized technology to help them tackle organizational drag and work faster and smarter.

Over the next five years, artificial intelligence (AI) will change the way we work and, in the process, transform businesses.

The arrival of AI in the enterprise is quickening

I witnessed a number of proofs of concept in machine learning in 2017; many speech-and image-based cognitive applications are emerging in specific markets, like fraud detection in finance, low-level contract analysis in the legal sector and personalization in retail. There are also AI applications emerging in corporate functions such as IT support, human resources, sales and customer service.

This shows promise for the technology, particularly in the face of challenges like trust, complexity, security and training required for machine learning systems. But it also suggests that the arrival of AI in enterprises could be moving more quickly than we think.

According to the same study, 58 percent of respondents said they are either using, trialling or researching the technology in their business. Decision-makers also said that on average, 29 percent of their applications will be enhanced with AI within the next two years—a remarkably bullish view.

New opportunities for businesses to evolve productivity

In this context, new AI capabilities pose exciting opportunities to evolve productivity and collaboration.

  • Assistive software: In the past year, assistive, cognitive features have become more prevalent in productivity software, such as search, quicker access to documents, automated email replies and virtual assistants. These solutions help surface contextually relevant information for employees and can automate simple, time-consuming tasks, like scheduling meetings, creating help desk tickets, booking conference rooms or summarizing content. In the future, they might also help firms improve and manage employee engagement, a critical human resources and leadership challenge at the moment.
  • Natural language processing: It won’t be long before we also see the integration of voice or natural language processing in productivity apps. The rise of speech-controlled smart speakers such as Google Home, Amazon Echo or the recently-launched Alexa for Business show that creating and completing documents using speech dictation, or using natural language queries to parse data or control functions in spreadsheets, is no longer in the realm of science fiction.
  • Security: Perhaps one of the biggest uses of AI will be to protect company information. Companies are beginning to use AI to protect against spam, phishing and malware in email, as well as the alarming rise of data breaches across the globe; the use of AI to detect threats and improve incident response will likely rise exponentially. Cloud security vendors with access to higher volumes of signals to train AI models are well placed to help businesses leverage early detection of threats. Perhaps this is why, IT professionals listed cybersecurity as the most-likely adopted use of AI in their organizations.

One thing to note: it’s important that enterprises gradually introduce their employees to machine learning capabilities in productivity apps as not to undermine the familiarity of the user experience or turn employees off in fear of privacy violations. In this respect, the advent of AI into work activities resembles consumer apps like YouTube, Maps, Spotify or Amazon, where the technology is subtle to users who may not be aware of cognitive features. The fact that 54 percent of employees in our survey stated they don’t use AI in their personal life, despite the widespread use AI these successful apps, is an important illustration.

How your company can prepare for change

Businesses of all shapes and sizes need to prepare for one of the most important technology shifts of our generation. For those who have yet to get started, here are a few things to consider:

  1. Introduce your employees to AI in collaboration tools early. New, assistive AI features in collaboration software help employees get familiar with the technology and its benefits. Smart email, improved document access and search, chatbots and speech assistants will all be important and accessible technologies that can save employees time, improve workflows and enhance employee experiences.
  2. Take advantage of tools that use AI for data security. Rising data breaches and insider threats, coupled with the growing use of cloud and mobile applications, means the integrity of company data is consistently at risk. Security products that incorporate machine learning-based threat intelligence and anomaly detection should be a key priority.
  3. Don’t neglect change management. New collaboration tools that use AI have a high impact on organizational culture, but not all employees will be immediately supportive of this new way of working. While our surveys reveal employees are generally positive on AI, there is still much fear and confusion surrounding AI as a source of job displacement. Be mindful of the impact of change management, specifically the importance of good communication, training and, above all, employee engagement throughout the process.

AI will no doubt face some challenges over the next few years as it enters the workplace, but sentiment is changing away from doom-and-gloom scenarios towards understanding how the technology can be used more effectively to assist humans and enable smarter work. 

It will be fascinating to see how businesses and technology markets transform as AI matures in the coming years.

Building a sustainable campus in Silicon Valley

Building a sustainable campus in Silicon Valley

As we continue to grow and plan for the future, Microsoft is modernizing our workplaces in all regions where we do business. In Silicon Valley, we are creating our smartest, greenest office yet. Our new Silicon Valley Campus, a 643,000-square-foot modernization of our 32-acre Mountain View location, recently broke ground. This project represents a significant investment…

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