Technobabble: 5 notable voices from Interop ITX 2017

Technobabble is our look at the more colorful aspects of technology and the tech industry. Be sure to check out last week's edition about a net neutrality’s war in the comment section.

Ah, Las Vegas. The land of bright lights and splashy shows and, er, tech conferences? I've spent the last week in Vegas learning about the state of enterprise technology, focusing on emerging technologies and methodologies that are taking hold of businesses cross sectors. 

At conferences, you get to be up close and personal with the world of tech, however nuggets of information gleaned in keynote addresses and seminars don't always make it into articles. 

Here are five notable quotes gleaned from the conference, featuring expert musings on everything from the perception of data scientists to the decision making strategy most companies employ.  

Susie Wee, VP and CTO of DevNet Innovations at Cisco

"111 billion is the number of lines of new code that are going to be written in 2017. 111 billion. That's huge. Think of all the blood sweat and tears that are going into those 111 billion lines of code, all of the investment going into those 111 billion lines of code, all of the innovation and business value being generated in those 111 billion lines of code. 

And those 111 billion lines of code are being run on your infrastructure ... Are you going to just treat it the way you treat applications today? Or, are we going to provide more value? And I hope the answer is the [latter]."

Alejandro Salinas, senior manager of global network operations at Groupon

On who is helped and hurt by the rise of automation: "The line that defines winners and losers is the line of criteria and the culture. If you choose incorrectly, if you choose the wrong building blocks, if you try to go too big, if you have a bad problem statement you might be solving the wrong problem ... I think if you go step by step, anyone can win."


Coco Krumme, head of data science at Haven Inc.

"We tend to think of data scientists — and I don't mind this as a data scientist myself as a unicorn. We think that if we hire a set of unicorns we can solve any problems that an organization has.

Oftentimes in organizations, the talent to solve the problems lies in the domain expertise that already exists. When you bring in a data scientist or a herd of data scientists, instead of a unicorn, you have a bull in a china shop.

You don't have the right infrastructure to leverage the tools of data science and you may not even know the problems you're intending to solve."

Kevin Mandia, CEO of FireEye Inc.

On the balance of power, or lack there of, in cyberspace: "We still have a whole bunch of emerging nations developing capabilities. We still have our nation trying to iron out its rules of engagement ... I can tell you, we're at that time right now where nobody's really sure what the rules of engagement are internationally. It's kind of fun to see.

What makes it interesting, it's so asymmetrical in cyberspace, you see developing nations going to cyber. You don't typically think of Vietnam as a power with espionage and military, however we just released a report this week, we've responded to a dozen or so breaches we attribute to state-sponsored out of the nation state of Vietnam." 

Andrew McAfee, principal research scientist at MIT

"Where are the roadblocks, where are the stumbling blocks as we try to become more technology-centric, more evidence driven, as we try to make better and better decisions ... what could possibly get in the way?

My answer to that is pretty straightforward. My answer to that is the HiPPOs ... Highest Paid Person's Opinion. It's honestly how most companies make most of their decisions most of the time. Everyone thinks they're very analytic and very data driven. Not really."

One macro thing

Native digital assistants — the Alexa’s, Siri’s and Cortana’s of the world — are projected to be installed on more than 7.5 billion active devices by 2021, Ovum reports.

To put that number in perspective, the U.S. Census Bureau estimates there are about 7.4 billion people in the world right now. That means, the number of digital assistants on devices in the world could exceed the number of humans.

Of those assistants, Google dominates the market, followed by Samsung’s Bixby and Apple’s Siri.

Ovum predicts that digital assistants will find homes beyond the smartphone. In the future, artificial intelligence-enabled digital assistants will likely be found on wearables, smart homes and TVs.

Digital assistant installed base by brand, 2015–2021

One micro thing

WannaCry ransomware victims have slowed down their ransom payments, Quartz reports, after more than 300,000 targets were impacted by the rash of ransomware. By Wednesday afternoon, just eight payments were registered to bitcoin wallets associated with the attackers.

As of Wednesday just $75,600 was paid to the accounts, a relatively low return on investment for the attackers considering the global scope of the attack and the reaction by the security community.

One last thing

In 1944, the U.S. Office of Strategic Services put out a document called the "Simple Sabotage Field Manual," illustrating a surefire way to incite and execute "simple sabotage." 

But the guide also serves as a concise instruction manual for employees who aren’t cooperative and could negatively impact the direction of a project, as Janine Gianfredi, former chief marketing officer of the U.S. Digital Service at the White House, highlighted on a keynote panel at Interop ITX.

Aside from the physical techniques "citizen saboteurs" can do, such as using a fuse to start a fire after hours (that’s real), the handy guide also outlines ways people could interfere with organizational processes.

More amusing than anything, the guide also showcases behavior that could spell doom for projects as it relates to personnel. For example, to generally interfere with projects, saboteurs can "advocate 'caution.' Be 'reasonable' and urge your fellow-conferees to be 'reasonable' and avoid haste which might result in embarrassments or difficulties later on."

Really, the guide recommends going as slow as possible on projects to ensure they don’t reach their end goal. So this begs the question, do you have a "citizen saboteur" on your team?

Oh, and in case you were curious, here is another gem:

Excerpt from the Simple Sabotage Field Manual.
Central Intelligence Agency

Follow on Twitter

Filed Under: IT Strategy Security Leadership & Careers