Things 3.4 brings URL linking scheme, powerful automation & handover from other apps

German developer Cultured Code today released Things 3 .4 for iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch and Mac, bringing several new productivity features to the popular to-do app, including an expansive new URL scheme for linking, powerful automation and handover from other apps…. Read the rest of this post here

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Automation will replace 9 percent of US jobs in 2018

Automation arms race to alter the global workforce

Automation will replace nine per cent of all US jobs this year, says Forrester Research. What changes should IT decision-makers and business leaders make to reap the benefits, rather than the whirlwind? Andrew Hobbs reports.

2018 will be the year of the automation arms race, according to a new Forrester report. The paper makes ten key predictions for the sector, and outlines how industry leaders can respond to the challenges that arise from them.

In recent years, companies have increasingly looked to automation to boost output, reduce inefficiencies, and cut labour costs. And as robotic systems and AI become faster, smarter, and more affordable, this trend can only grow.

While those who master automation may flourish, suggest the analysts, there will still be obstacles to overcome along the way.

Read more: South Korea most automated nation on earth, says report. The UK? Going nowhere

The evolving workforce

Perhaps the greatest of these is convincing the human workforce, and public, that automation will be a benefit.

Theoretically, robotics and AI will increasingly take on low-value, repetitive, replicable tasks, working alongside employees in administrative, sales, and service roles. However, with blue-collar positions likely to take a hit, HR and PR departments will have their work cut out to sell the benefits.

The report predicts that automation will replace nine percent of US jobs this year, offset slightly by a two percent growth in roles supporting the “automation economy”.

[This is supported by Internet of Business’ own research. When the US automotive sector purchased over 60,000 robots in 2016, it created 230,000 new human roles. As each robot can do the work of an estimated 15 people, this means that 230,000 new jobs were created as 900,000 roles were automated.]

The burden will be on business leaders to draw up strategic workforce plans that will accommodate the new roles that automation creates or requires – and those that it eliminates.

However, these staffing shifts won’t happen overnight; the analysts suggest a five-to-ten-year process. So it’s vital that companies map out a transition strategy, while allowing for flexibility as technology evolves. This will help to mitigate negative impacts on the workforce, says Forrester.

But the transition won’t always be smooth, warns the company. As automation becomes more overt, political backlashes will be inevitable.

In 2017, 65 percent of Americans believed that other industries would suffer because of automation, but that theirs would be unaffected. The reality is that nearly all sectors will see increased automation of one sort or another.

As this realisation dawns, the shift to automation may falter, suggests Forrester, but the broader economic arguments in favour of it will eventually win out. No government will want to be outdone by more productive and more innovative neighbours, says the report.

Infrastructure as code

Automation is also set to revamp the software side of the equation. RPA (robotic process automation) is the practice of using AI workers to carry out tasks that have traditionally been done by employees, across a range of legacy programs.

“In 2018, RPA-based digital workers will replace and/or augment 311,000 office and administrative positions, and 260,000 sales and related positions,” says the report. “As a result, the RPA software market will remain heated, and double to $ 1.06 billion by the end of 2018.”

The use of RPA, alongside robots, cobots, and collaboration tools, is also enabling faster ops decisions.

Infrastructure-as-code will find its way into the mainstream. Having matured to the point where it can handle critical functions, software-defined storage and compute processes are on the rise in 2018. This is thanks to the ease of managing software-defined infrastructures safely, reliably, and at scale.

Internet of Business says

The deployment of automated processes is accelerating as rapidly as the technology is advancing. Meanwhile AI – and increasingly software-based workflows – will enable even faster tech rollouts. However, as the race to automate begins anew, it’s important to consider the risks alongside the rewards, and to have a clear business strategy in place before looking for supportive technologies.

When drawing up technology roadmaps, it’s vital  to consider the defining principles of the enterprise and how any changes might affect its ethos. And while automation will play a central role in many organisations, employees define many of those enterprises, so it’s essential to manage internal changes well to avoid sabotaging the organisation’s own values.

Government policy will have to change to support both the rights of workers and citizens’ ability to remain economically active – without stunting the opportunities that come with automation. The often-lacklustre pace of reform in Westminster and Washington will be tested, even as companies champ at the bit of opportunity.

Similarly, the security risks that come with developing ever-more connected and software-based workflows are potentially huge. Significant investment is needed to support IT teams in implementing new processes.

Unfortunately, balance is something often lost in the hype cycle and the whirlwind of disruption, and it’s important to maintain a sense of realism in line with long-term strategic goals. That said, all organisations should be prepared to be bold. As Sean Culey says in his excellent, forward-looking report on PAL value chains and the IoT, if you don’t reinvent your business, someone else will.

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HomeKit Automation #002: How to properly group accessories

In the second entry to our HomeKit automation series, we take a look at the different grouping methods for accessories. This is especially helpful in lights or fixtures that utilize multiple bulbs…. Read the rest of this post here

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Huawei’s roadmap leads to IoT automation services

Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei is building out a total ecosystem and infrastructure play that brings AI-driven automation intelligence to every layer of the network fabric: from the core, to the communications pipe, to the cloud… and onward to every device’s chipset. Adrian Bridgwater was in London to hear its latest plans.

Arguably, Huawei (pronounced: wah-way) might find it tough to crack America in quite the same way that some other handset manufacturers have done, given the sensitivity of relations between China and the US, and the oft-cited security oversight of the company. (For example, the UK has a dedicated cyber security unit that monitors the company’s work as it expands its presence in the country – so far it has reported no national security concerns. – Ed.)

So Huawei probably has a much easier job on its hands when it comes to explaining how its technology roadmap and corporate development strategy is playing out, and why it is championing the use of automation and AI at every level of the network.

But above all, the company wants us to understand that it is not just a smartphone manufacturer.

Indeed, rotating Huawei CEO Guo Ping seemed to spend much of last year saying, “We’re so much more than a box seller.” (Huawei regularly changes its acting CEO to challenge the notion of a single person being in charge of a company.)

Whoever is in charge, the message has consistently been: Huawei is about cloud, networks, and services intelligence.

Significantly, the company has one of the largest R&D investment budgets on the planet. Huawei claims that it spends more than 10 per cent of revenues on R&D, and reports that 45 per cent of its employees work in researching and developing new products: that equates to 80,000 people worldwide.

Total ecosystem play

The ecosystem play for Huawei breaks down as a focus on: business partner alliances; its technology platform alliances (many of them open source); and the company’s infrastructure partnerships with various world governments.

But what Huawei wants to bring to the fore, in all its defined working zones, is a focus on automation efficiencies.

The this is not primarily automation in the sense of robots – although it is that too, in terms of home or industrial robot IoT applications; this is automation starting at the software layer. Huawei has been known to call it ‘digital operations’, but the technology application point is the same.

In other words, this is about automation brought about through applications being built more quickly, based on pre-defined reference architectures.

It is also about datasets that are more rapidly processed against policy-based rules.

And finally, it is about automation where data processing instructions have been replicated, based on templates drawn up from use cases within an industrial vertical or product group.

To put it simply, if one chunk of data management, analytics, processing, or even storage works well in one place, then it can be anonymised and used to build a similar structure elsewhere. This is software automation, and it has a massive application surface for the IoT.

Automated IoT use cases

Huawei’s Edward Fan, VP of carrier business group marketing, highlighted some real-world uses of this type of ‘automation blueprinting’ at a closed-door presentation in London this week. The meeting was designed as a preview of the company’s presence at the forthcoming Mobile World Congress in Barcelona in March.

Fan pointed to replicating IoT data use cases in specific smart-industrial and ‘smart life’ implementations. These include: smart street lighting; city sharing bicycles; livestock farming (to monitor milking and insemination); smart locks; and a range of other applications, including connected manhole covers, fire hydrants, intelligent post boxes, and aircon.

Many of these IoT products can now be activated by smart batteries to make make installation and configuration simpler.

Read more: Telia delivers smart mailboxes to Finnish postal service

Press and analysts at Huawei’s Mobile World Congress 2018 preview in London

Huawei will work with a particular focus on NB-IoT (NarrowBand IoT) deployments, and says that, globally, NB-IoT connections will reach 150 million this year. So far, the company has also undertaken a total of 1,000+ smart cities programmes worldwide, all of which employ some form of AI-driven automation.

Speaking at the same London event, Ryan Ding, Huawei executive director of the board, and president of the carrier business group, said that the carrier network itself needs to have AI controls and automation efficiencies engineered into its core – and into the services that run on it. This means that AI will exist at the cloud backend, as well as down the data pipe, and have a key role on the device itself.

Internet of business says

At the highest level, Huawei is simply capturing and defining best practices to compartmentalise service-based cloud automation opportunities: a key focus for much of the software industry. Yet in breakout Q&A press sessions at the event, more than one industry watcher tried to press Huawei on the technical mechanics of its approach to automation efficiency with little success. Does Huawei advocate empirical machine learning as the primary driver for AI on IoT machines, in post-production? Or does it believe that it is still too early to trust the machines – that we should really start from a policy-based control stance? Put another way, why is Huawei so tight lipped about what it thinks and believes? Perhaps the company is keeping more of its industry DNA to itself than it should. As ever with behemoths such as Huawei, its Western customers face a curious hybrid of free-market economics and Chinese organisational culture.

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Nest absorbed into Google to better battle HomeKit, Alexa for home automation supremacy

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Google is merging the Nest and the native Google Home hardware team to "supercharge" the goal of conquering the smarthome market.
AppleInsider – Frontpage News