AI in marketing: How to find the right data sources

September 16, 2019 | 53 views

Valuable marketing insights are hard to find in the mountains of data many marketers are now faced with – resurfacing them requires more sophistication than manual methods can deliver. Machine learning and AI has come to the fore in this regard. So much so that 92% of companies have increased their investment in AI and big data this year. But things are rarely simple when it comes to data analytics. Even early adopters admit that they are yet to become fully ‘data-driven’.

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Ultima Business Solutions

"Ultima: Trusted IT Solutions Partner For businesses that need to increase productivity by doing more with less, or want to support business growth, we provide business IT services that make technology a positive asset for your organisation. Unlike many traditional resellers, we make IT work harder by better aligning it with the overall goals of your business. As an end-to-end IT service and solution provider, we have existing relationships with hundreds of vendors and can act as your single point of contact. Through our Strategy and Planning Services, our highly skilled technical consultants will design and implement a flexible, tailored solution, which our Technical Support Centre will manage and keep optimised."

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Natural Language Processing: An Advanced Implementation of AI

Article | May 4, 2022

Natural Language Processing, also known as computational linguistics or NLP, is a branch of Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), and linguistics. It is a subfield of AI that enables computers or machines to understand, manipulate, and interpret human language. Simply put, natural language is the natural method by which humans communicate with one another. We have now trained computers to interpret natural language. Communicating with computers has become simpler with voice queries such as "Alexa, what's the news today?" or "Ok Google, play my favorite songs." Similarly, when you ask Siri, Apple's voice assistant, "What is the cheapest flight to New York later today?" It instantly searches airline and travel websites for flights from the user's location to New York. It also compares the prices and lists the one with the lowest fare first. So, even without specifying a date or the "lowest fare", Siri understands the inquiry and returns accurate results. This is the result of NLP in action. Natural Language Processing: Business Applications Natural language processing has a variety of applications, some of them are listed below. Summarize text blocks to extract the most relevant and core concepts while excluding unnecessary information. Develop a chatbot that makes use of Point-of-Speech tagging to enhance customer support. Chatbots are AI systems that use NLP to engage with people through text or voice. Determine the type of extracted entity, such as a person, location, or organization. Sentiment Analysis can be used to recognize the sentiment or emotions of a text string, ranging from highly negative to neutral to very positive. HR teams can utilize NLP-based solutions to scan resumes based on keyword synonyms and swiftly shortlist candidates from a pile of resumes. Extracting Text data from the data storage allows in extracting specific information from text. Text can be broken down into tokens, or words can be reduced to their root or stem. Topic categorization helps users organize unstructured text. It's a great way for businesses to obtain insights from customer feedback. How Can Businesses Prepare for the NLP-Powered Future? NLP has evolved tremendously, and has benefited both companies and consumers. NLP technologies are assisting businesses to better understand how consumers perceive them through channels such as emails, product reviews, social media postings, surveys, and more. AI technologies can be used not just to analyze online interactions and how people speak about companies but also to automate tedious and time-consuming operations, enhance productivity, and free up staff to concentrate on more meaningful duties. When it comes to NLP the sky is the limit. As NLP technology is becoming more prevalent and greater advancements in ability are explored, the future will witness enormous shifts. Here are some of the ways in which businesses can prepare for the future of NLP. Analyze your company's text data assets and evaluate how the most recent techniques can be used to add value. Understand how you can use AI-powered language technology to make wiser decisions or rearrange your skilled labor. Start implementing new language-based AI tools for a range of jobs in order to better understand their potential. Prepare now to capitalize on transformative AI and to make sure that advanced AI contributes to society fairly. Closing Note Thanks to natural language processing technology, conversational commands and everything related to conversational AI in businesses have become faster and better. Natural language processing helps large businesses make flexible choices by revealing consumer moods and market movements. Smart companies now make decisions based not only on data but also on the intelligence derived from NLP-powered system data.

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SOFTWARE

Augmented Reality: A Dynamic Change to Enhance Your Business

Article | June 1, 2022

Meta Description: Evaluating the impact of augmented reality in business ROI, while also understanding how CMOs leverage AR effectively in their marketing mix. While several technological advancements have been aiding in improving lifestyle, they have also been making drastic impacts on the business front. Over several years now, the world has seen various exposure to augmented reality. The usage of Augmented Reality for business has effectively transformed the technology from an entertainment concept to a crucial enterprise tool. According to Statista, 23 million jobs across the globe could be directly affected by AR and VR by 2030, and over 824,000 of those jobs are currently using these technologies in their workplace. Impact of Augmented Reality on Business In simple terms, Augmented Reality (AR) is a computer-generated enhancement that is placed over the existing reality we see with our human eyes. It offers the option to add dimension, sound and other experiences to any two-dimensional picture or video. Even when this might seem like something complex to be implemented in business, it isn't as challenging as it looks. With each passing year, AR has effectively been penetrating deeper into businesses, making a drastic impact on various functioning. Marketers have effectively been integrating the use of AR into their marketing strategies, and it has grown overall in the mainstream business functioning by being readily available for users to leverage. Industries That Should Leverage Augmented Reality Technology Uses of Augmented Reality is a prospect that business owners across multiple industries leverage to their advantage. While the core idea is to use the technology to aid and improve human performance, the industries that effectively utilize this resource are: Healthcare Education Travel and Tourism Manufacturing Defense Automotive Industry Retail How Seamless Integration of AR Can Impact Your ROI? Facebook said in March 2021 that it had allocated a complete 20% of its personnel to AR and VR development. That is a really massive investment by a corporation that has built a reputation for wisely investing in monetization and focused on creating bottom-line results. Augmented reality is on the path to becoming the next most significant development in an array of industries, ranging from medical to consumer retail. With the nature of augmented reality technology being highly dynamic, it is essential to have a successful strategy that ensures the integration of AR solutions that provide accurate and tangible results that align with the audience. Additionally, uses of augmented reality in business have also been capable of creating more meaningful engagement with customers. For the first time, new forms have made interaction real and measurable. As a result, brands may see precisely how many people engage with their collateral, how many times and where, for how long, and which direct actions they took: purchase, discount coupon, or social shares, for example, by leveraging IR/AR to turbo-charge paid media. "I do think that a significant portion of the population of developed countries, and eventually all countries, will have AR experiences every day, almost like eating three meals a day, it will become that much a part of you." Tim Cook, Chief Executive Officer of Apple Future of Your Business with AR Integration While augmented reality in business is becoming a crucial component for businesses these days and will revolutionize the future of business. According to Global Market Insights, the global market for AR goods will rise by 80% to £165 billion by 2024. The rise of the AR industry is closely tied to increased attention and investments from leading technology firms such as Facebook. Overall, the augmented reality technology market will develop at the fastest rate by 2023, primarily to the growing usage of smartphones, tablets, and other devices in consumer, commercial, and business settings to adopt AR technology. Furthermore, with the rising need for augmented reality in healthcare and retail, there are a plethora of new prospects and rising demand for augmented reality in architecture and the corporate sector. How Are CMOs Leveraging AR for Their Marketing Mix? Several top executives and leading CMOs are leveraging the benefits of augmented reality to expand the engagement, awareness and value around their services and products. In addition, numerous organizations from different industries and of various sizes in the B2C and B2B space are now using augmented reality technology to differentiate their product and services by effectively implementing AR strategies in their marketing mix. With a game-changing armor in their arsenal in the form of augmented reality, marketing executives trying to promote and sell more successfully can hence perform better, with purchasing experience becoming the new focal point. Conclusion Augmented reality in business is a prospect that offers a massive opportunity to engage with millions of users effectively. AR offers executives to ideally establish an immediate and sensory-driven connection of the brand with consumers by forging an emotional interaction. Repetitive engagement is a successful advertising approach for companies since it only requires AR app development expenditures, and additional benefits may be gained via repeated exposure. In the ever-dynamic state of our current existence, leveraging the benefits of augmented reality can come handy in elevating your business to the next level. FAQs How Can Customers and Businesses Benefit from AR? AR effectively increases engagement and interaction and helps provide a richer user experience. Several research has shown that AR increases the value of products and brands. Implementing AR activities is ideal and conveys innovation and responsiveness from forward-thinking brands. How Does AR Help Organizations Gain a Competitive Advantage? Augmented reality allows the organization to create a unique customer experience while also eliminating cognitive overload. It also ensures that user engagement heightens along with competitive differentiation. AR, after all, is a technology that enables a pure blending of physical and digital reality. How Will the Use of AR Technology Impact the Future of Business Functioning? Augmented reality is constantly evolving to become an emerging marketing and sales strategy trend. AR technologies allow organizations to provide their customers a unique experience with convenience by tapping into their smartphone devices.

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AI TECH

How Does IT Vendor Selection and Management Work?

Article | June 24, 2022

What Is the Importance of IT Vendor Selection and Management? Ideally, the IT vendor management process is an umbrella term for all the processes and systems organizations use to manage their IT suppliers. This is where an organization works with vendors to optimize its supplies and services. There could be several vendors an organization is associated with for unique services and offers. With proper vendor management, an organization can take appropriate measures to control costs, reduce potential risks, and ensure excellent service delivery. But the catch here is that it isn't as easy as it sounds. This includes researching the best available vendor, sourcing and obtaining pricing information, gauging the quality of work, managing relationships, and evaluating performance by setting organizational standards. Most Common Challenges in Vendor Management Even though there are many benefits, organizations face certain challenges during IT vendor selection and their management. Some of these most common challenges are mentioned below: High administrative costs Incomplete documentation Non-compliance Poor vendor relationships Security breaches Supply chain inefficiencies While there were some nuanced changes in the selections between various businesses, both large and small, the results indicate that organizations often face the same challenges no matter where they’re coming from. How Do IT Vendor Selection and Management Help an Organization? In contemporary times, with geographical and economic barriers constantly diminishing, organizations look for different types of vendors worldwide. Even if the organization is working with just one vendor, it is essential to have effective vendor management in place. With proper vendor management, an organization can experience the following benefits: Better Selection With the right vendor, your organization can benefit from a more extensive selection of vendors, resulting in more choices and better costs. Better Contract Management If there is multi-vendor management in place, your organization can benefit from a centralized view of the current status of all contracts and other useful information. This will enable your organization to achieve better decision-making capabilities. Better Performance Management Using a vendor management system, an organization can get an integrated view of the performance of all the vendors. This would give your organization a clear understanding of what is working and what is not. Better Vendor Relationship Managing multiple vendors at the same time can be a difficult task. By accumulating all vendor-related information in a single place, organizations benefit from getting all required information at once, and this can influence your decision-making process. Exploring the Ideal Process of IT Vendor Selection In a world where we are constantly progressing with increasing IT specialization, organizations must be able to rely on their partners. There are some specific steps that an organization can take up to make the whole IT vendor selection process more successful. The six-step process of ideal IT vendor selection: Kick-off and requirement definition Market research and first vendor filtering Request for proposal Evaluating responses Proof of concept Choosing the vendor There are also some common mistakes that organizations make while selecting their vendor. Some of these common errors are listed below: Not evaluating the vendor and only their offerings Communication indiscretion Not comparing vendors or similar stature Today, outsourcing is increasingly used by companies as an enabler for innovation. Technological advancements drive improvements in service delivery, which positively impact cost, enhance functionality, improve service quality, and reduce the importance of location on service delivery. Disruptive technologies like cloud computing enable solutions such as Salesforce.com or ServiceNow to accelerate speed to value and drive business growth. This leads to a change from the traditional IT organization to the next generation IT organization. The operating model needs more agility to respond faster and at different speeds to new service offerings. Outsourcing models have reached their third generation and involve a multi-vendor environment, requiring more transparency and integrated vendor management. Best Techniques to Improve Vendor Management The vendor management process is a crucial component for any organization, as it allows them to build a relationship with their suppliers and service providers that would help strengthen their business. Vendor management is not only about negotiating the price; the most essential aspect is coming to a conclusion that would mutually aid both organizations. Some effective techniques that can be utilized for effective IT vendor management are: Share information and priorities Balance commitment and competition Allow critical vendors to help you strategize Build partnerships that would last long term Try to understand your vendor's business process Negotiate and conclude with a win-win agreement Come together on value Conclusion Ideally speaking, vendor selection and managing that relationship can sometimes be challenging. Once you follow the process mentioned above to select the right vendor for your organization, the steps ahead will get a little easier. However, there is still the process of managing and building that relationship with the vendor. "The objective of vendor management is to fortify company success and overall marketplace performance." - Sean-Michael Callahan, Principal at The NiVACK Group. FAQ What Is Vendor Management in the IT Sector? The process that allows organizations to control costs, strengthen service, and reduce risks throughout the process of outsourcing to vendors while getting the most value from the investment is called vendor management in the IT sector. What Is a Vendor Selection Process? The vendor selection process is a subsidiary stage that allows for the clear stating, defining, and approval of those vendors who are eligible to meet the requirements of the procurement process. What Is the Role of Vendor Management? The vendor management process ideally facilitates and maintains relationships between your organization and vendors, negotiating contracts, creating standards for the vendors, and finding the best available vendors.

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SOFTWARE

How SAAS Is Redefining Software Industry

Article | April 21, 2022

Software-as-a-Service (SAAS) has been a trending topic in the tech field in recent times. The success of the cloud has accelerated the demand for software delivery from on-premises to cloud-based. Start-ups are in a rush for SAAS transformation, delivering the very same solution over the internet. From Google Docs and Sheets to enterprise-level software, SAAS has established a foothold in every sector. With the oncoming of SAAS, the perception of computer software has changed. In this article, we will take a look at how SAAS is redefining and transforming the software industry. Better Accessibility Any software that is preferred to have better and centralized availability is preferred. Better availability is one of the factors that makes SAAS stand out. With centralized availability of both applications and data, users will have a hassle-free experience – with zero installation overheads and no commitments to carry in any device and data. SAAS is accessible from anywhere around the world on any device. There is a big advantage to SAAS over traditional software, which can only be used on a specific device. Ease of Upgrade To ensure continued security and access to new features, software releases are followed by updates and upgrades, which, once issued, become the sole responsibility of the user to install. A hassle-free upgrade makes SAAS the solution to be chosen. All updates and upgrades are performed on the server side, ensuring no downtime and minimal installation troubles. Moreover, most users do not take the updates and upgrades into account due to their delay in installation and trouble setting up. In this aspect, SAAS enables providers to better serve their users by ensuring they are using the latest releases and fixes. Zero Hardware Upgrades As time moves on, software demands higher resources for it to work smoothly. Zero hardware upgrades will bring a new and better user experience. All the hardware configurations will be managed at the cloud level, with no changes required on the client-side. A large increase in resources might have an influence on the subscription cost, but it is a better alternative to requesting end-users larger hardware. This will be a beneficial aspect for resource-heavy applications like graphics and design-related applications. Thus, a major part of configuration at the hardware and software levels (drivers) is abstracted from the users. Better Security and Protection from Piracy Traditional on-premise software is always vulnerable to cracking and piracy. With SAAS tools and software, there will be no piracy, and increasing security can be feasible. SAAS works on a subscription model where the purchase of the software is tied to a user account, and a fee is paid monthly or yearly to use the software. On-premise software is subject to reverse engineering, where the activation system is tampered with, and the software can be used for free. Similarly, data has better security in the cloud with continuous encryption and backup than on an on-premise system, wherein the data security and backup require user effort as well. Zero Compatibility Issues Software programs are subject to compatibility requirements where the OS or certain dependencies might not support a specific piece of software. With SAAS, there are no more compatibility-related conflicts since the OS and other dependencies and resources are managed by the provider itself. End-users need not comply with any compatibility requirements for the software to work. This aspect also provides users an advantage in terms of storage. The application and its dependencies usually take up a large amount of space. SAAS takes care of dependencies on the server end. Better Team Collaboration SAAS is an option that proves better for collaboration-based teams. Software delivery over the network comes with an account linked to it for sign-in and collaboration. Teams that work together can get better benefits when using SAAS tools since they enable sharing and collaboration on work items. Traditional software has limited or no collaboration capabilities, thus limiting productivity. SaaS can also keep data in sync on a number of devices, giving users a real-time experience.

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Ultima Business Solutions

"Ultima: Trusted IT Solutions Partner For businesses that need to increase productivity by doing more with less, or want to support business growth, we provide business IT services that make technology a positive asset for your organisation. Unlike many traditional resellers, we make IT work harder by better aligning it with the overall goals of your business. As an end-to-end IT service and solution provider, we have existing relationships with hundreds of vendors and can act as your single point of contact. Through our Strategy and Planning Services, our highly skilled technical consultants will design and implement a flexible, tailored solution, which our Technical Support Centre will manage and keep optimised."

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NEC Selects DDN Storage for Japan's Largest Corporate AI Research Supercomputer

DDN | May 19, 2022

DDN®, the global leader in artificial intelligence (AI) and multicloud data management solutions, today announced that NEC Corporation (NEC) has selected DDN storage for its new supercomputer dedicated to AI research. With a raw compute performance of 580 PFLOPS, the new research supercomputer will provide data scientists at NEC with access to the largest AI-focused development environment in the industry in Japan and assist in the rapid development of advanced AI. The AI research supercomputer relies on the DDN EXAScaler® parallel file system, which has been used in HPC environments around the world for more than 20 years, and more recently to support emerging large-scale AI use cases. The storage environment consists of multiple DDN ES400NVX EXAScaler appliances with a total capacity of 16 PB, providing 400 GB/sec read and 320 GB/sec write IO performance, and around 24 million IOPS. The AI research supercomputer's hardware system is configured with NVIDIA's A100 80GB Tensor Core GPU for processing and NVIDIA Spectrum SN3700 switches for networking, which are tightly integrated with the DDN solutions. "NEC has been developing various advanced AI technologies such as biometric authentication, image recognition, video analysis, and data analytics. Therefore, we handle a wide variety of large-scale data, including images, video, audio, and text," said Mr. Takatoshi Kitano, senior AI platform architect, Digital Technology Development Laboratory, NEC Corporation. "After a year of technical verification and operation, we decided to adopt DDN's high-performance storage, which can handle a wide variety of I/O workloads. Another deciding factor in our decision was DDN Japan's excellent technical development and maintenance capabilities. We expect both companies to collaborate on the development of the AI supercomputer and take on the challenge of creating new social value in the future." In AI, the "data pre-processing" phase—from data ingestion to data transfer to training—is the most critical phase for a storage environment. DDN's EXAScaler appliances not only provide high-performance storage for a variety of workloads but also offer the security and management features that are essential for enterprises' AI workloads. DDN's EXAScaler storage system provides GPU Direct Storage integration, the CSI driver necessary for storage access through Kubernetes, and multi-tenancy—standard features that enable secure and simplified management without compromising on performance improvements when utilized in a leading-edge deep learning environment. "Data has become a strategic tool to address a wide variety of business opportunities. "We are excited by this opportunity to supply NEC with an efficient solution to help drive their data-centric AI initiatives." Robert Triendl, general manager of DDN Japan DDN's data storage solutions will fully support the new AI research supercomputer to realize NEC's objective of "AI research and development to accelerate the digital transformation of society." The NEC supercomputer for AI research has already entered production and is expected to reach its planned capacity in March 2023. About DDN DDN is the world's largest private data storage company and the leading provider of intelligent technology and infrastructure solutions for Enterprise At Scale, AI and analytics, HPC, government, and academia customers. Through its DDN and Tintri® divisions, the company delivers AI, Data Management software and hardware solutions, and unified analytics frameworks to solve complex business challenges for data-intensive, global organizations. DDN provides its enterprise customers with the most flexible, efficient and reliable data storage solutions for on-premises and multi-cloud environments at any scale. Over the last two decades, DDN has established itself as the data management provider of choice for over 11,000 enterprises, government, and public-sector customers, including many of the world's leading financial services firms, life science organizations, manufacturing and energy companies, research facilities, and web and cloud service providers.

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AI TECH

The HiPerGator AI supercomputer, ranked first in the world, lays the way for the University of Florida's expanding AI Initiative

UF | July 12, 2021

Following recent Top500 rankings, UF's HiPerGator artificial intelligence has been crowned the most powerful and energy efficient university-owned supercomputer in the United States. HiPerGator AI was ranked No. 2 in the world for energy efficiency, in addition to its national advancements. The rankings not only bode well for the AI Initiative, but they are also welcome news in UF's ambition of being a top five public university. According to Deumens, students and professors from all academic disciplines will be able to use AI to address real-world problems and undertake new research, which is a key criterion for admission to the top five national public institutions. HiPerGator AI has been significantly improved since its inception in 2013, thanks to a $80 million grant from UF graduate Chris Malachowsky and NVIDIA, a computer systems hardware business he co-founded. NVIDIA has been an invaluable partner to the institution, offering technologies to boost HiPerGator's computational capability. The supercomputer was made free of charge to student and staff researchers across the state university system in January. The institution expects that by creating students who are equipped for an AI workforce, it will be able to further position itself as a national leader in AI. “We believe we are the only university or college attempting to bring AI instruction to majors throughout the entire breadth of a college or university,” said assistant provost David Reed. “As a result, we're interacting extensively with other institutions and universities in order to entice them to join us.” Expanding opportunities for UF students to gain AI experience is another project at the forefront of enhancing student marketability after graduation, according to Reed. The introduction of a new nine-credit AI degree is a step toward that goal. The AI Fundamentals and Applications certificate is available through the department of engineering education and is open to students of various majors and levels of expertise. Students in the certificate programme will take an AI foundations course, an ethics course, and a college-specific course. “Our goal will be to increase the number of students and advertise the programme so that more students pursue this certificate.” “We would like to see a high proportion of all university students pursuing at least a portion of this certificate,” said Hans van Oostrom, chair of the department of engineering education. Another major priority has been involving academics and staff in the implementation of AI on campus. UF is accelerating its efforts to hire 100 more AI professionals across its 16 campuses and other UF entities by Spring 2022. The Florida Museum of Natural History is one of the AI recruiting cohort's recipients, with plans to use two new recruits to work with AI databases and educate K-12 students on how to use AI. Prior to the broader AI Initiative at UF, the Florida Museum of Natural History had been a leader in digitising US biological collections and creating interoperable data sets for the National Science Foundation for the past ten years, according to Douglas Jones, director of the Florida Museum of Natural History. Machine-learning algorithms are now capable of interpreting the digital data collections of over 40 million specimens and artefacts at the museum, which is still in its early phases. The museum also intends to expand its use of artificial intelligence to investigate how climate trends have influenced indigenous peoples' migration patterns in Florida. “Trying to figure out whether populations have migrated or creatures have gone extinct, it quickly becomes hard for a person to try to recognise these photographs and so on one by one by one,” Jones explained. “However, once the system has been trained, AI can do that fairly quickly, so we're enthusiastic about that possibility.” The AI hiring initiative will assist not only the Florida Museum of Natural History's objective to safeguard biodiversity, but also another section on campus dedicated to environmental preservation: the Center for Coastal Solutions. The CCS, a 2020 UF programme to prevent environmental, economic, and health problems in coastal areas, hired a cohort of five faculty members. According to Christine Angelini, head of the Center for Coastal Solutions, the new members' tasks vary from underwater robots to computer science. The centre will also use AI to combine satellite data regarding the location of toxic algal blooms in Florida's coastal waters as part of a new partnership with SAS Institute, a business analytics software company. The centre intends to use the AI-gathered data to assist coastal ecosystem rehabilitation operations. Different academic centres on campus aren't the only ones utilising AI; UF research teams have also gotten involved. One research team is utilising AI technology to make homes more energy robust during power outages caused by natural disasters. The research team, which includes engineering professors Prabil Barooah and Sean Meyn, UF alumni Naren Srivaths Raman, and graduate student Ninad Gaikwad, hopes to offer solar energy to households at a minimal cost by utilising an intelligent control system. Through AI algorithms, the intelligent control system prioritises how much electricity various household items receive during an outage. “I was able to gain the skills that I required, so that I can actually apply it and continue a career in this direction,” Raman explained. “The positive impact you can have on society — that's something that's really rewarding for me, so my objective is to keep going in that direction.”

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Wipro exec: 'Apple is primed for continued success in the enterprise'

jamf | July 24, 2020

A recent Wipro survey finds 59% of IT leaders would choose a Mac if given the choice, because doing so delivers recruitment, productivity and staff retention benefits. Given the apparent popularity of Apple-in-the-enterprise tech, I spoke with Wipro’s GM Apple Practice and Interactive Experience, Michael Vollmer. (His comments echoed those of Jamf CEO Dean Hager.)

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AI TECH

NEC Selects DDN Storage for Japan's Largest Corporate AI Research Supercomputer

DDN | May 19, 2022

DDN®, the global leader in artificial intelligence (AI) and multicloud data management solutions, today announced that NEC Corporation (NEC) has selected DDN storage for its new supercomputer dedicated to AI research. With a raw compute performance of 580 PFLOPS, the new research supercomputer will provide data scientists at NEC with access to the largest AI-focused development environment in the industry in Japan and assist in the rapid development of advanced AI. The AI research supercomputer relies on the DDN EXAScaler® parallel file system, which has been used in HPC environments around the world for more than 20 years, and more recently to support emerging large-scale AI use cases. The storage environment consists of multiple DDN ES400NVX EXAScaler appliances with a total capacity of 16 PB, providing 400 GB/sec read and 320 GB/sec write IO performance, and around 24 million IOPS. The AI research supercomputer's hardware system is configured with NVIDIA's A100 80GB Tensor Core GPU for processing and NVIDIA Spectrum SN3700 switches for networking, which are tightly integrated with the DDN solutions. "NEC has been developing various advanced AI technologies such as biometric authentication, image recognition, video analysis, and data analytics. Therefore, we handle a wide variety of large-scale data, including images, video, audio, and text," said Mr. Takatoshi Kitano, senior AI platform architect, Digital Technology Development Laboratory, NEC Corporation. "After a year of technical verification and operation, we decided to adopt DDN's high-performance storage, which can handle a wide variety of I/O workloads. Another deciding factor in our decision was DDN Japan's excellent technical development and maintenance capabilities. We expect both companies to collaborate on the development of the AI supercomputer and take on the challenge of creating new social value in the future." In AI, the "data pre-processing" phase—from data ingestion to data transfer to training—is the most critical phase for a storage environment. DDN's EXAScaler appliances not only provide high-performance storage for a variety of workloads but also offer the security and management features that are essential for enterprises' AI workloads. DDN's EXAScaler storage system provides GPU Direct Storage integration, the CSI driver necessary for storage access through Kubernetes, and multi-tenancy—standard features that enable secure and simplified management without compromising on performance improvements when utilized in a leading-edge deep learning environment. "Data has become a strategic tool to address a wide variety of business opportunities. "We are excited by this opportunity to supply NEC with an efficient solution to help drive their data-centric AI initiatives." Robert Triendl, general manager of DDN Japan DDN's data storage solutions will fully support the new AI research supercomputer to realize NEC's objective of "AI research and development to accelerate the digital transformation of society." The NEC supercomputer for AI research has already entered production and is expected to reach its planned capacity in March 2023. About DDN DDN is the world's largest private data storage company and the leading provider of intelligent technology and infrastructure solutions for Enterprise At Scale, AI and analytics, HPC, government, and academia customers. Through its DDN and Tintri® divisions, the company delivers AI, Data Management software and hardware solutions, and unified analytics frameworks to solve complex business challenges for data-intensive, global organizations. DDN provides its enterprise customers with the most flexible, efficient and reliable data storage solutions for on-premises and multi-cloud environments at any scale. Over the last two decades, DDN has established itself as the data management provider of choice for over 11,000 enterprises, government, and public-sector customers, including many of the world's leading financial services firms, life science organizations, manufacturing and energy companies, research facilities, and web and cloud service providers.

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AI TECH

The HiPerGator AI supercomputer, ranked first in the world, lays the way for the University of Florida's expanding AI Initiative

UF | July 12, 2021

Following recent Top500 rankings, UF's HiPerGator artificial intelligence has been crowned the most powerful and energy efficient university-owned supercomputer in the United States. HiPerGator AI was ranked No. 2 in the world for energy efficiency, in addition to its national advancements. The rankings not only bode well for the AI Initiative, but they are also welcome news in UF's ambition of being a top five public university. According to Deumens, students and professors from all academic disciplines will be able to use AI to address real-world problems and undertake new research, which is a key criterion for admission to the top five national public institutions. HiPerGator AI has been significantly improved since its inception in 2013, thanks to a $80 million grant from UF graduate Chris Malachowsky and NVIDIA, a computer systems hardware business he co-founded. NVIDIA has been an invaluable partner to the institution, offering technologies to boost HiPerGator's computational capability. The supercomputer was made free of charge to student and staff researchers across the state university system in January. The institution expects that by creating students who are equipped for an AI workforce, it will be able to further position itself as a national leader in AI. “We believe we are the only university or college attempting to bring AI instruction to majors throughout the entire breadth of a college or university,” said assistant provost David Reed. “As a result, we're interacting extensively with other institutions and universities in order to entice them to join us.” Expanding opportunities for UF students to gain AI experience is another project at the forefront of enhancing student marketability after graduation, according to Reed. The introduction of a new nine-credit AI degree is a step toward that goal. The AI Fundamentals and Applications certificate is available through the department of engineering education and is open to students of various majors and levels of expertise. Students in the certificate programme will take an AI foundations course, an ethics course, and a college-specific course. “Our goal will be to increase the number of students and advertise the programme so that more students pursue this certificate.” “We would like to see a high proportion of all university students pursuing at least a portion of this certificate,” said Hans van Oostrom, chair of the department of engineering education. Another major priority has been involving academics and staff in the implementation of AI on campus. UF is accelerating its efforts to hire 100 more AI professionals across its 16 campuses and other UF entities by Spring 2022. The Florida Museum of Natural History is one of the AI recruiting cohort's recipients, with plans to use two new recruits to work with AI databases and educate K-12 students on how to use AI. Prior to the broader AI Initiative at UF, the Florida Museum of Natural History had been a leader in digitising US biological collections and creating interoperable data sets for the National Science Foundation for the past ten years, according to Douglas Jones, director of the Florida Museum of Natural History. Machine-learning algorithms are now capable of interpreting the digital data collections of over 40 million specimens and artefacts at the museum, which is still in its early phases. The museum also intends to expand its use of artificial intelligence to investigate how climate trends have influenced indigenous peoples' migration patterns in Florida. “Trying to figure out whether populations have migrated or creatures have gone extinct, it quickly becomes hard for a person to try to recognise these photographs and so on one by one by one,” Jones explained. “However, once the system has been trained, AI can do that fairly quickly, so we're enthusiastic about that possibility.” The AI hiring initiative will assist not only the Florida Museum of Natural History's objective to safeguard biodiversity, but also another section on campus dedicated to environmental preservation: the Center for Coastal Solutions. The CCS, a 2020 UF programme to prevent environmental, economic, and health problems in coastal areas, hired a cohort of five faculty members. According to Christine Angelini, head of the Center for Coastal Solutions, the new members' tasks vary from underwater robots to computer science. The centre will also use AI to combine satellite data regarding the location of toxic algal blooms in Florida's coastal waters as part of a new partnership with SAS Institute, a business analytics software company. The centre intends to use the AI-gathered data to assist coastal ecosystem rehabilitation operations. Different academic centres on campus aren't the only ones utilising AI; UF research teams have also gotten involved. One research team is utilising AI technology to make homes more energy robust during power outages caused by natural disasters. The research team, which includes engineering professors Prabil Barooah and Sean Meyn, UF alumni Naren Srivaths Raman, and graduate student Ninad Gaikwad, hopes to offer solar energy to households at a minimal cost by utilising an intelligent control system. Through AI algorithms, the intelligent control system prioritises how much electricity various household items receive during an outage. “I was able to gain the skills that I required, so that I can actually apply it and continue a career in this direction,” Raman explained. “The positive impact you can have on society — that's something that's really rewarding for me, so my objective is to keep going in that direction.”

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Wipro exec: 'Apple is primed for continued success in the enterprise'

jamf | July 24, 2020

A recent Wipro survey finds 59% of IT leaders would choose a Mac if given the choice, because doing so delivers recruitment, productivity and staff retention benefits. Given the apparent popularity of Apple-in-the-enterprise tech, I spoke with Wipro’s GM Apple Practice and Interactive Experience, Michael Vollmer. (His comments echoed those of Jamf CEO Dean Hager.)

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