This Week’s technology news – 22nd November 2013

Slap on the risk
Interruptions caused by IT failures of major institutions like banks or 3rd party suppliers can have a substantial impact on a company’s ability to function. Eliminating software bugs and system weaknesses can be very expensive and is often a commercial balance between risk and reward. Banks and large institutions are predominantly old, with 20% of banks for instance, running on “out of life” technology. Cheap software can be prone to locking up or crashing, whilst a lack of thorough testing prior to rollout by people and process failure, often lies at the heart of problems. Strategic outsourcing of a project or pilot (though not washing hands of the responsibility), offers a chance for organisations to assess reliability and modernisation – and inform longer term decisions for their valuable IT estate.

When social media is infectious
A recent US survey has established the extent that employees are putting themselves and their companies at risk through the uninformed use of social media and a lack of understanding as to how information published on the internet gets used. Over 60% embraced the principle of individual responsibility to protect online privacy, but only 20% had ever having adjusted their own account settings. Companies meanwhile compounded matters with many activating the most open settings by default, leaving them vulnerable to attack. Firms should not make assumptions that employees understand how to be safe online personally, or when using company devices. Policies and firewalls should only be the first step to an educated and integrated HR approach to risk minimisation.

Musical chairs at Microsoft
Stephen Elop, former CEO of Nokia and shortlisted for the new Microsoft CEO position, has been considering killing off Bing and selling Xbox if he wins the big seat. The advantage would be a return to a business focus. This would be a high risk strategy, despite Bing not being profitable in itself, as it has now been deeply integrated into most of Microsoft’s products. Xbox on the other hand has become the entertainment brand, absorbing Zune music service as Xbox Music and Xbox Video, to compete with Apple offerings. Current CEO Steve Ballmer however, reiterated at a shareholder’s meeting this week that his vision includes Bing and Xbox! Will Elop’s ruthless attitude, which arguably saved Nokia, stop Elop getting the top job at Microsoft?

Apple buys PrimeSense, creators of the Kinect camera
Apple is reported to have acquired PrimeSense for $345 million. This is the company which created the 3D camera used by Microsoft’s Xbox console for ‘controller free’ motion control. The current technology is too bulky to go in an iPad or MacBook. Is Apple planning the next generation for Apple TV using virtual swiping gestures versus a traditional remote control? It would give Apple a new market in a new App Store for TV and offer developers the ability to create unique Apps powered by tracking people in 3D space. Mere speculation now, but it would not be the biggest surprise if it was announced in 2014.