Peter Sayer

About the Author Peter Sayer


SAP wants to embrace all your data stores with Data Hub

If data warehouses are for tidiness freaks (information packaged into neat inferences, sorted and stacked, the rest discarded) and data lakes are for hoarders (tip everything in, you never know what might be useful) then SAP’s new Data Hub may be for the rest of us.

It’s a new data management tool intended to process only the data you need — and to go looking for it where it’s created or stored, without requiring you to pull it all into one place. 

Data scientists will be able to use it to analyze data from multiple sources and systems.

“Data Hub is a strong data management umbrella layer that allows for data integration, data processing and data governance,” said Irfan Khan, global head of SAP database and data management sales.

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IFA: The ‘corporate’ electronics show

IFA: The corporate electronics show
ifa 2017 electronics show

Image by Peter Sayer/IDG

IFA, the consumer electronics show held in Berlin each September, has something for everyone — including the corporate buyer. True, its many halls are dominated by home entertainment equipment and white goods such as smart washing machines and connected refrigerators. But some of the products on show would be equally at home in the enterprise. Here’s a quick tour of 2017’s crop. 

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The AI fight is escalating: This is the IT giants’ next move

Artificial intelligence is where the competition is in IT, with Microsoft and Google both parading powerful, always-available AI tools for the enterprise at their respective developer conferences, Build and I/O, in May. 

It’s not just about work: AI software can now play chess, go, and some retro video games better than any human — and even drive a car better than many of us. These superhuman performances, albeit in narrow fields, are all possible thanks to the application of decades of AI research — research that is increasingly, as at Build and I/O, making it out of the lab and into the real world.

Meanwhile, the AI-powered voice technologies behind virtual assistants like Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana, Amazon.com’s Alexa and Samsung Electronics’ Bixby may offer less-than-superhuman performance, but they also require vastly less power than a supercomputer to run. Businesses can dabble on the edges of these, for example developing Alexa “skills” that allow Amazon Echo owners to interact with a company without having to dial its call center, or jump right in, using the various cloud-based speech recognition and text-to-speech “-as-a-service” offerings to develop full-fledged automated call centers of their own.

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The AI fight is escalating: This is the IT giants’ next move

Artificial intelligence is where the competition is in IT, with Microsoft and Google both parading powerful, always-available AI tools for the enterprise at their respective developer conferences, Build and I/O, in May. 

It’s not just about work: AI software can now play chess, go, and some retro video games better than any human — and even drive a car better than many of us. These superhuman performances, albeit in narrow fields, are all possible thanks to the application of decades of AI research — research that is increasingly, as at Build and I/O, making it out of the lab and into the real world.

Meanwhile, the AI-powered voice technologies behind virtual assistants like Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana, Amazon.com’s Alexa and Samsung Electronics’ Bixby may offer less-than-superhuman performance, but they also require vastly less power than a supercomputer to run. Businesses can dabble on the edges of these, for example developing Alexa “skills” that allow Amazon Echo owners to interact with a company without having to dial its call center, or jump right in, using the various cloud-based speech recognition and text-to-speech “-as-a-service” offerings to develop full-fledged automated call centers of their own.

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SAP wants enterprises to learn from their smart devices

SAP has added machine learning to its Leonardo IoT software suite to help businesses handle data gathered from smart devices more intelligently.

It unveiled the additions to Leonardo  — and a cloud of other news — at its customer conference, Sapphire Now, in Orlando on Tuesday.

Leonardo runs on SAP Cloud Platform and provides a number of services to process data from the internet of things, including streaming and predictive analytics. Now, those predictive capabilities will include machine-learning tools tuned to work with the rest of the Leonardo components.

“It’s about adding intelligence to existing business processes and integrating with the core systems of record. Leonardo’s capabilities can be infused into SAP applications,” said Mike Flannagan, SAP’s senior vice president for analytics. “We see Leonardo as something that will help customers transform processes.”

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Uber offers taxi service, not software as a service, says EU court official

Uber operates a transport service, not a software service, and so can be subject to taxi licensing regulations, the Advocate General of the Court of Justice of the European Union advised Thursday.

According to Advocate General Maciej Szpunar, Uber’s platform falls under EU regulations for transport, not information services, so can be required to obtain the necessary licences and authorizations under national law.

If Szpunar’s opinion is followed by the full court, which is now beginning its deliberations, then the ruling could cause trouble for Uber and companies like it across the European Union. 

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Using Salesforce to access SAP? Pour yourself a stiff drink

The week after a U.K. court favored SAP in a $70 million licensing dispute, the software developer took another brewery to arbitration in the U.S., this time seeking damages of more than $600 million.

The disputes—both are ongoing—bode ill for companies using platforms such as Salesforce.com to indirectly access data held in SAP systems subject to named-user licensing.

“SAP investors may welcome this litigation, but it’s yet one more reason why new customers are fleeing to the hills, choosing Amazon Web Services or Google, where they can, for their future software needs,” said Robin Fry, legal director at software licensing consultancy Cerno Professional Services. “Why choose SAP if, despite being a loyal customer and careful attempts at compliance, there’s a real risk that they might bring a gun at your head or force you to restate your earnings down the line?”

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