SAN FRANCISCO — The key to operationalizing technology isn’t the complexity of the technology itself. It’s finding people with skills that are sufficient to the challenge, CIO Journal’s Angus Loten reports. Those concerns were captured Tuesday in a snap poll at the WSJ CIO Network meeting on Tuesday, where more than half of respondents agreed that they are “secretly worried that their firms don’t have the IT talent they will need to compete.”
Hard to catch up. Companies that fall behind competitors in AI, big data and machine learning will find it increasingly hard to catch up later, said Vijay Gurbaxani, professor of business and computer science and the director of the Center of Digital Transformation at the University of California, Irvine’s Paul Merage School of Business. “The chief competitive resource that we all have today is know-how,” said Mr. Gurbaxani. It’s about getting the right people who understand AI and machine learning, and getting them now, he added.
Understanding where the market is headed. Ben Fried, CIO of Google Inc. agreed, saying “there is an enormous gap” between the available capabilities and the skills required to make them work. As IT leaders, CIOs have to be aware of where the technology market is heading, in order to anticipate the talent they will need to compete, Mr. Fried added.
The diversity and talent link. Diverse teams in which all members are able to be heard tend to produce higher levels of performance, MIT’s Sandy Pentland told the CIO Network back in 2014. Joelle Emerson, founder and chief executive of Paradigm, said Tuesday that building a diverse pipeline of talent can guard against hiring pressures when a job opens and needs to be filled quickly, whether or not diverse candidates are available.
- Andrej Sokolow/DPA/Zuma Press
Broadcom pledges $1.5 billion U.S. investment. Broadcom Ltd. said it was committed to making the U.S. a leader in 5G technology and plans to invest $1.5 billion in training American engineers, in a move aimed at easing regulatory concerns following the U.S. Treasury Department’s letter scrutinizing the Singapore-based company’s hostile takeover bid for Qualcomm Inc. The Journal’s Imani Moise has the story.
How cellphone chips became a national-security concern. Telecommunications-industry leaders tell the Journal’s Stu Woo and Drew FitzGerald that such fears are justified—but question whether the government’s extraordinary intervention in a corporate takeover battle that doesn’t even involve a Chinese company will make a difference.
Russian influence campaign extracted Americans’ personal data. Russian operators, using social media including Facebook Inc., asked for and got personal information from ordinary Americans as part of their political influence campaign. The WSJ’s Shelby Holliday and Rob Barry have the story.
Trolls engaged in anti-Romney effort. Weeks after Donald Trump was elected president, Russia-backed online “trolls” flooded social media to try to block Mitt Romney from securing the secretary of state position in the administration, the WSJ reports.
Google takes step in explainable AI. The company Tuesday released a study aiming to understand how neural networks make decisions. The research analyzed how various mathematical operations go into recognizing objects in photos. Naturally, the researchers chose a photo that included a cat: “For instance, by combining feature visualization (what is a neuron looking for?) with attribution (how does it affect the output?), we can explore how the network decides between labels like Labrador retriever and tiger cat.”
SAP finds signs of misconduct. The German software maker an internal probe of its South African unit found “indications of misconduct” as well as more payments to companies tied to a family at the center of a political corruption scandal, the Journal’s Gabriele Steinhauser reports. SAP said in October it had reported itself to the U.S. Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission over payments made to entities related to the Guptas, close friends of former President Jacob Zuma.
Hyperscale data centers transforms community. Prineville, Ore. is home to an Apple Inc. data center and four Facebook data centers, with another two massive buildings in the works. The New York Times reports that energy demands have fueled the construction of solar stations, changing the region’s electrical market, and helping transition central Oregon “into a dynamic region of demographic and economic transition.”
Charities raise money for cyber. The FT reports on the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation’s $132 million effort to improve cybersecurity over the long term. So far the initiative, which began in 2014, has led to the establishment of cyber centers at Stanford University, University of California at Berkeley and Massachusetts Institute of Technology aimed at bringing together policy and tech people. Says Billy Hewlett, grandson of Hewlett Packard co-founder William Hewlett and an AI expert at cyber company Palo Alto Networks: “The question for cyber [security] is: can we do something that’s going to have an impact in 10 or 20 years? That’s very different from what I do in my day job of detecting malware and creating machine learning.”
Snap Inc. plans another round of layoffs. Social media company Snap Inc., which has struggled with slowing growth, plans to layoff about 10% of its engineers, the Journal’s Georgia Wells reports. The reductions would mark the third and largest round of job cuts since the company, which currently employs about 3,000 people, went public in 2017.
Laugh bot. Amazon.com Inc. says it has deployed a software update to fix a problem that caused some Alexa devices to engage in creepy bouts of unprompted laughter, Bloomberg reports. The company blamed the incidents on devices mistakenly hearing the phrase “Alexa, laugh.”
Ad-tech firms blacklist Newsweek Sites. Some advertising-technology companies have cut ties with Newsweek Media Group over concerns about allegedly fake website traffic. The WSJ’s Lara O’Reilly and Lukas I. Alpert report that the moves threaten to exacerbate the company’s financial difficulties as it contends with a wider fraud investigation. NMG issued a statement Tuesday saying it had removed the codes from its website. Like most publishers, the company works with a range of vendors to sell ad inventory across its sites using automated software.
GE Power, in need of a lift, chases Tesla and Siemens in batteries. General Electric Co., which has struggled in the growing business of large-scale electricity storage, is trying again with a new battery platform as it tries to catch up to rivals such as Tesla Inc. and Siemens AG. The giant platform called GE Reservoir is expected to store electricity generated by wind and solar panels for later use. The WSJ’s Erin Ailworth has the story.
Former Uber CEO sets up venture fund. Ousted as chief executive of Uber Technologies Inc. last year, Travis Kalanick is becoming a venture capitalist, TechCrunch reports. His new venture fund called 10100 will invest in e-commerce, real estate and companies in China and India.
Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund invests $400 million in Magic Leap. The secretive augmented reality startup has yet to release a product since its 2010 debut. But it has raised $2.3 billion, the FT reports.
Japan suspends trading on cryptocurrency exchanges. The WSJ’s Steven Russolillo and Kosaku Narioka report that Japan’s financial regulator punished several cryptocurrency exchanges on Thursday, including suspending operations at two of them for a month, part of new restrictions following an apparent $530 million heist at one of its larger crypto platforms, Coincheck Inc.
EVERYTHING ELSE YOU NEED TO KNOW
President Donald Trump’s planned tariffs on steel and aluminum threaten a world-trading regime already battered by mounting protectionism and its struggle to tame China’s state-driven capitalism. (WSJ)
Health insurer Cigna plans to buy Express Scripts in a cash-and-stock deal worth $52 billion. (WSJ)
Japan, Canada, Mexico and eight other Pacific nations are set to sign a new version of the Trans-Pacific Partnership that aims to put pressure on China’s economy and leave the door open for the U.S. to eventually rejoin. (WSJ)
Attorney General Jeff Sessions and California Gov. Jerry Brown traded barbs over a new Justice Department lawsuit that seeks to strike down the state’s immigration laws. (WSJ)
The Morning Download is edited by Tom Loftus and cues up the most important news in business technology every weekday morning. Kimberly Johnson contributed to today’s newsletter. You can get The Morning Download emailed to you each weekday morning by clicking http://wsj.com/TheMorningDownload.