Archive for Cloud

Large Rises in Amazon’s Web Services (AWS) Revenues, Fuelled By Public Cloud Demand

A massive 45% growth in the revenue of Amazon’s Web Services (AWS) in the fourth quarter has been fuelled by big profits in Amazon’s public cloud arm.

Beats Microsoft & Google In Cloud Infrastructure

The $7.4 billion cloud revenue, which is a jump 45% compared to the previous year, means that AWS is beating competitors Microsoft and Google in the market for cloud infrastructure.  These are the services that businesses and organisations use to outsource their computing and data storage needs.

To give some idea of the scale of the jump in revenue for AWS, these figures mean that it generated more operating income during 2018 than its North American retail operations, and that AWS generated the revenue through $25.65bn in sales (compared with the $141.3bn from North American retail operations).

Central To Success

The operating income for AWS in the quarter was $2.18 billion, accounted for 58% of Amazon’s overall operating income, although there was a slight decrease in AWS’s operating margin.

This means that the cloud business has become central to Amazon’s success in terms of revenue and profits.

More Cloud Regions

Amazon purchased two more new cloud computing regions online in 2018, and it says that it plans to open four new regions and 12 new availability zones within those regions by the first half of 2020.

The company widened its base of cloud customers last year, including some big-name sign-ups such as Santander, Korean Air and Amgen.

Not Fastest Growing

Even though AWS has seen significant growth in revenue, Microsoft’s cloud business is growing even faster.  For example, Azure cloud revenue grew by 76% in the latest quarter.

It is, however, perhaps to be expected that the revenue growth rate of a fast-growing company drops off as their revenue base swells e.g. AWS’s has dropped from 78% in 2015 to 42% during the third quarter of 2017.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

Amazon is clearly a company that has grown very quickly and has diversified (far) beyond its online roots into many areas, including bricks-and-mortar stores (groceries and books), self-service stores in the US, and healthcare, as well as experimenting with innovative new ways to gain an edge in its core business e.g. drone and robot parcel deliveries.  Amazon’s Alexa virtual personal assistant technology and Echo voice-controlled devices have also proven to be very popular in the marketplace.

It hasn’t all been plain sailing though, with the company’s business practices coming under more scrutiny from UK, US, and EU regulators, as well the UK government.

In the business cloud market, AWS is showing strong growth in what is a highly profitable sector as more businesses look to outsource to the cloud, but many market analysts now predict slowing growth and higher spending for Amazon as it tries to compete and fight competitor challenges on many diverse fronts.

Windows 7 Activation Errors A Coincidence Says Microsoft

Just after the January update on 8th January, Windows 7 users began to experience activation errors, but Microsoft put the issues down to coincidence, despite admitting that it had reverted changes made to activation servers in the update in order to fix the problem.

What Is An Activation Error?

Windows Activation Technologies are used by Microsoft to help confirm that the copy of Windows 7 that is a user is running on their computer is genuine.  For example, the activation key is a 25-character code that is located on the Certificate of Authenticity label or on the proof of license label, and validation feature of Activation Technologies is the online process where users must verify that the copy of Windows 7 they’re running on their computer is activated correctly and is genuine.

An activation error, therefore, is when a user’s system wrongly notifies them that their copy of Windows is not genuine.

Which Update?

On 8th January, there was a monthly ‘Rollup’ security update for Windows 7 Service Pack 1, and Windows Server 2008 R2 Service Pack 1.  The update was designed to improve and fix certain issues with Windows 7 e.g. fixing a vulnerability known as ‘Speculative Store Bypass’, and adding security updates to Windows Kernel, Windows Storage and Filesystems, Windows Wireless Networking, and the Microsoft JET Database Engine.

Coincidence?

According to Microsoft, the fact that users received “Windows is not genuine”, and “Your computer might be running a counterfeit copy of Windows” notification at the same time as the January updates (KB4480960 and KB4480970) were introduced was simply a coincidence. Despite describing it as such, the problems were listed a table of “known issues in this update” on Microsoft’s support pages.

Reverted The Change

Microsoft announced on 9th January that it has fixed the issue by reverting the change that was made to Microsoft Activation and Validation servers.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

For many Windows 7 users, the change meant a day of disruption on the Tuesday of the first full week back after the Christmas and New Year break.  For many of these users however, this appears to be one more in a long line of incidents, nudges and pointers that look like they’re designed to encourage them to finally make the switch over to Microsoft’s Windows 10 and its SaaS model. Microsoft ended its mainstream support for Windows 7 on January 13th, 2015, and the extended support will only continue until January 14th, 2020, after which time Microsoft says on its website that users can “keep the good times rolling by moving to Windows 10”.

Bitcoin and Other Crypto-Currencies Hit New Lows

After losing 74% of its value so far this year, Bitcoin’s value, and that of other crypto-currencies have continued to fall this month as a sell-off takes place in what some see as the natural course for the market, and as another opportunity to buy crypto-currencies at a low price.

What’s Been Happening?

According to currency commentators, the massive 12% fall in the Bitcoin crypto-currency on Monday, follows a nose-dive that’s been part of downward trajectory for the crypto-currency which recently hit a 14-month low. Many in-the-know believe that the possible reasons for the longer-term fall and the sharp 12% drop in value are likely to be caused by:

  • The extra regulation in the US.
  • A long wait for the January 2019 launch of bitcoin futures by Bakkt, Intercontinental Exchange’s crypto platform. With Bitcoin Futures, investors and sellers make a contract to buy and sell at the agreed-upon price, irrespective of the actual market price at the time the contract is made. This may reduce risk and balance out price fluctuations on investments in portfolios.
  • Investors steering clear of bitcoin because of the price swings, concerns over a lack of regulation, and concerns over the uncharted waters of a new and undeveloped market infrastructure.
  • Investigations by the Securities and Exchange Commission of initial coin offerings and crypto exchanges.
  • Fear caused by hacks and thefts at crypto exchanges.
  • The overconsumption of bitcoin in the first place, which has now led to a market cycle back in the opposite direction as things naturally even out.

Trouble For Other Crypto-Currencies

Bitcoin is certainly not the only crypto-currency that’s been under pressure in recent times. Ethereum’s ‘eher’ has just fallen 7% in value to $106.69, and the value of Ripple’s XRP has fallen 5.6% to only 34 U.S. cents.

Also, in the light of the U.S. SEC ordering civil penalties against Airfox and Paragon Coin over their alleged selling of digital tokens as securities in initial coin offerings, both companies have found themselves having to agree to the return of funds to harmed investors, as well as registering tokens as securities, filing periodic reports with the Commission, and paying penalties.

It has also been reported that crypto-currency Tether is being investigated by the U.S. Department of Justice over possible manipulation of bitcoin prices at the end of 2017.

God Time To Buy While Prices Are Low?

Some investors, however, see the steep fall in values of crypto-currencies as an opportunity to get into viable crypto-currency projects at discounted prices.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

The rapid rise of bitcoin value and the many problems that it experienced with regulations and restrictions in some countries (e.g. China), hacks, its volatility, a negative image from its use by international criminals and from its use in scams, a lack of knowledge about how to use it, and the fact that the high price of just one bitcoin made it (even more) niche, meant that it became a commodity and a fast-buck opportunity rather than an actual, useful currency.

Now that the huge wave of bitcoin over-consumption and over-inflated value of bitcoin has burst, many market analysts can still see a future for crypto-currencies as a part of a wider ecosystem, and that the fall in the value of bitcoin is simply a natural cycle of things finding their real level again after the boom.

Many would say that the best thing to come out of bitcoin, so far, is the underlying ‘blockchain’ technology.  Blockchain has found multiple useful commercial applications and, as tech companies are now in a race to provide the best ‘blockchain-as-a-service’ offering, businesses will be able to find opportunities to put the technology to good use in innovative ways, creating value and competitive advantages that could start shaking up many markets.

Business Concerns Over ‘Secondary Data’

A study by data protection and management company ‘Cohesity’ has shown that most companies store up to 10 copies of their ‘secondary data’ in different locations and must use multiple products to manage it.

The Problem With Secondary Data

Secondary data (not production data) e.g. all the data that a company collects from other sources such as reports, stats, information from trade / industry publications etc tends to be stored by businesses over time in the hope that it has / will have value to the business, could help the business to avoid problems, and could reveal more business opportunities with analysis. One main problem with the storing of secondary data, which has long been known about, is that it is often fragmented and / or trapped e.g. it is stored across many clouds, remote offices / edge locations, and / or is trapped inside a siloed infrastructure. This can result in problems such as the cost, complication and confusion of duplicated copies stored in different places and using resources to maintain and store data that may not be serving the current needs of the digital business, or adding value because of how it is stored.

The Research

Not surprisingly, the research by Cohesity, a company that offers platforms where all secondary data can be stored, appears to back up the fact that companies have a problem with secondary data fragmentation.  For example, the results of the survey, which drew upon responses from 250 UK IT decision-makers as part of a wider study involving 650 IT decision-makers in the US, France, Germany, Australia and Japan, found that most UK organisations store up to 10 copies of the same secondary data, use four or five different products to manage it, and keep it in up to four locations. These locations may include two or three different public cloud storage providers.

The research showed that the average number of copies of the same datasets of secondary data held by UK respondents is five, and that around 30% of IT teams’ time is spent managing secondary data.

Why?

The research findings indicated that 92.5% of UK respondents store multiple copies of production data in separate locations because their disaster recovery (DR) policies say they must, but when it comes to the reasons for storing so much secondary data, the findings are less clear.

The research findings do, however, show that there has been a big increase in secondary storage data volumes e.g. in 2016 to 2017 the UK average is was 38.5% rise.  This trend is also predicted to continue.

Redundant Copies In The Cloud

The research findings show that 41% of UK organisations replicate redundant copies of data held in one public cloud to another public cloud.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

Many UK businesses appear to be storing increasing amounts of secondary data in a fragmented way with no clear plan on the horizon about what to do with it all.  Instead of being able to organise the data and use it to generate value and competitive advantages, many businesses are wasting money and resources in keeping often duplicated data stored in limbo across disparate locations.

Businesses may be able to save themselves money and turn the secondary data burden into a value-generating asset by switching to a secure, paid-for consolidated platform solution.  This could help solve the current fragmentation problems, free-up resources, could help businesses to start using the data productively, and help businesses to find an effective way of managing what looks likely to be an increasing amount of secondary data going forward.

Blockchain To Stop Counterfeit Disk-Drive Products

Data storage solutions company Seagate Technology (Seagate), and IBM are reported to be working together and using blockchain and advanced cryptographic product identification technology to reduce disk-drive product counterfeiting.

What’s The Problem?

The problem for Seagate and other manufacturers, integrators, and business partners is the problem of counterfeit hard disk drives (HDDs) being made available for sale online.  For example, these are usually sub-standard counterfeit drives, or old drives that have been re-labelled with false claims of higher speed and greater capacity.

The scale of the counterfeiting problem faced by electronics companies is illustrated by International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition figures which show that global trade in counterfeit and pirated electronic products is now worth more than US $1.7 Trillion!

What Is Blockchain and How Can It Help?

Blockchain, the open-source, free technology behind crypto-currencies like Bitcoin, is an incorruptible peer-to-peer network (a kind of ledger) that allows multiple parties to transfer value in a secure and transparent way. Blockchain’s Co-Founder Nic Carey describes blockchain as being like “a big spreadsheet in the cloud that anyone can use, but no one can erase or modify”.

IBM has considerable blockchain expertise and powered by the Linux Foundation’s Hyperledger Fabric distributed ledger framework, IBM’s Blockchain Platform on the IBM Cloud enables network participants to append and view blockchain data.

The collaboration with IBM means that whenever Seagate manufactures a hard drive, it will update the IBM blockchain platform with product authentication data which will include each Seagate Secure Electronic ID (eID).  This is a kind of electronic fingerprint that can verify the identity of a hard drive at any time during its product life cycle.  Also, Seagate will use cryptographic erasure technology (Certified Erase) to electronically sign the drive using Seagate Secure public key infrastructure (PKI), and this data will also be added to IBM’s blockchain platform.

With all this unique product-identifying data stored in secure and incorruptible blockchain on IBM’s cloud, technology vendors, service providers and end users will (depending on the permission they have) be able to check a disk-drive product’s provenance on the blockchain.

The Results

The hope is, of course, that by being able to provide an indisputable record of events, from manufacturing through to end-of-life for Seagate’s products, this should reduce data loss, cut warranty costs, go some way towards tackling the counterfeiting problem, and improve customer confidence.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

This is another example of how businesses are only just beginning to realise the potential of blockchain and what it can offer.  Blockchain has so far proven itself to be particularly useful in applications where authentication, provenance, and proof of different aspects of a supply chain are needed.  For example, an IBM-based blockchain ledger has been used to record data about wine certification, ownership and storage history, and blockchain has been used to record the temperature of sensitive medicines being transported from manufacturers to hospitals in hot climates.  It makes sense, therefore, that blockchain could be an ideal solution in the fight against counterfeiting of electrical and other products and items.

VMware recently joined Microsoft and other companies in offering a blockchain-as-a-service product to companies.

Facial Recognition For Border Control

It has been reported that the UK Home Office will soon be using biometric facial recognition technology in a smartphone app to match a user’s selfie against the image read from a user’s passport chip as a means of self-service identity verification for UK border control.

Dutch & UK Technology

The self-service identity verification ‘enrolment service’ system uses biometric facial recognition technology that was developed in partnership with WorldReach Software, and immigration and border management company, with support from (Dutch) contactless document firm ReadID.

Flashmark By iProov

Flashmark technology, which will be used provide the biometric matching of a user’s selfie against the image read from a user’s passport chip, was developed by a London-based firm called iProov.  The idea behind it is to be able to prove that the person presenting themselves at the border for verification is genuinely the owner of an ID credential and not a photo, screen image, recording or doctored video.

Flashmark works by using a sequence of colours to illuminate a person’s face and the reflected light is analysed to determine whether the real face matches the image being presented.

iProov is a big name in the biometric border-control technology world, having won the 2017 National Cyber Security Centre’s Cyber Den competition at CyberUK, and winning a contract from the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate’s Silicon Valley Innovation Program.  In fact, iProov was the first British and non-US company to be awarded a contract by the DHS to enable travellers to use self-service of document checks at border crossing points.

Smartphone App

The new smartphone-based digital identity verification app from iProov has been developed to help support applications for The EU Settlement Scheme.  This is the mechanism for resident EU citizens, their family members, and the family members of certain British citizens, to apply on a voluntary basis for the UK immigration status which they will need to remain in the UK beyond the end of the planned post-exit implementation period on 31 December 2020.

It is believed that the smartphone app will help the UK Home Office to deliver secure, easy-to-use interactions with individuals.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

Accurate and secure, automated biometric / facial recognition and identification / i.d. verification systems have many business applications and are becoming more popular.  For example, iProov’s technology is already used by banks (ING in the Netherlands) and governments around the world, and banks such Barclays already uses voice authentication for telephone banking customers.

Biometrics are already used by the UK government.  For example, in the biometric residence permit (BRP) system, those planning to stay longer than 6 months, or apply to settle in the UK need a biometric permit. This permit includes details such as name, date and place of birth, a scan of the applicant’s fingerprints and a digital photo of the applicant’s face (this is the biometric information), immigration status and conditions, and information about access public funds (benefits and health services).

Many people are already used to using some biometric element as security on their mobile device e.g. facial recognition, fingerprint, or even Samsung’s iris scanner on its Note ‘phablet’. Using a smartphone-based i.d. verification app for border purposes is therefore not such a huge step, and many of us are used to having our faces scanned and matched with our passports anyway as part UK border control’s move towards automation.

Smartphone apps have obvious cost and time savings as well as convenience benefits, plus biometrics provide a reliable and more secure verification system for services than passwords or paper documents. There are, of course, matters of privacy and security to consider, and as well as an obvious ‘big brother’ element, it is right that people should be concerned about where, and how securely their biometric details are stored.

Microsoft Launches ‘AccountGuard’ Email Service For Election Candidates

A new kind of pilot secure email service called ‘AccountGuard’ has been launched by Microsoft, specifically for use by election candidates, and as one answer to the kind of interference that took place during the last US presidential election campaign.

Ready For The Midterm Elections

The new, free email service (which people must useOffice 365 to register for) is an off-shoot of Microsoft’s ‘Defending Democracy’ Program. This program was launched in April with the aim of protecting campaigns from hacking, through increased cyber resilience measures, enhanced account monitoring and incident response capabilities.

The AccountGuard pilot has been launched in time for the US Midterm elections which are the general elections held in November every four years, around the midpoint of a president’s four-year term of office.

Who Can Use AccountGuard?

Microsoft says that its AccountGuard service can be used by all current candidates for federal, state and local office in the United States and their campaigns; the campaign organisations of all sitting members of Congress, national and state party committees, any technology vendors who primarily serve campaigns and committees, and some non-profit organisations and non-governmental organizations. Microsoft AccountGuard is offered free of charge and is full service, coming with free email and phone support.

Three Core Offerings

AccountGuard has three core offerings. These are:

  1. Unified threat detection and notification across accounts. This means providing notification about any cyber threats in a unified way across both email systems run by organisations and the personal accounts of these organizations’ leaders and staff who opt in. This part of the service will only be available only for Microsoft services including Office 365, Outlook.com and Hotmail to begin with, and Microsoft says it will draw on the expertise of the Microsoft Threat Intelligence Center (MSTIC / MSTIC).
  2. Security guidance and ongoing education. Registering for Microsoft AccountGuard gives organisations best practice guidance and materials. These are in the form of off-the-shelf materials and in-depth live sessions.
  3. Early adopter opportunities. This means access to private previews of the kind of security features that are usually offered by Microsoft to large corporate and government account customers.

Similar To Google

Some commentators have highlighted similarities between the AccountGuard idea and Google’s Advanced Protection Program (APP), also launched this year, although APP is open to anyone, requires log in with hardware authentication keys, and locks out third-party app access.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

When you think about it, what Microsoft appears to be admitting is that its everyday email programs are simply not secure enough to counter many of the threats that now look likely to come from other states when elections are underway. Microsoft’s other, non-political business customers who are also at risk from common cyber attacks e.g. phishing, may feel a little left out that they are apparently not being offered the same level of security.

Also, protecting democracy sounds like quite a grand aim for a service provider offering an email service. Microsoft does, however, accept that it can’t solve the threat to US democracy on its own and that it believes this will require technology companies, government, civil society, the academic community and researchers working together. Microsoft also acknowledges that AccountGuard is limited to protecting those using enterprise and consumer services, and that attacks can actually reach campaigns through a variety of other ways. Microsoft also appears to be hinting that it may be thinking of expanding AccountGuard to industry as well as government depending on how the pilot works.

90% Of Businesses Blindly Renew Software

A report by Clear Licensing (CCL) has highlighted the fact that most organisations simply renew software maintenance contracts without assessing whether those contracts deliver value.

1 In 10 Companies Check

The CCL report (which is based upon research conducted in and May this year), took into account the responses of 100 global participants, and was designed to understand current trends and identify best practices for the software maintenance market.

The key statistic that the research uncovered was that only 1 in 10 organisations involve the IT asset management function in the decision to renew software maintenance agreements. The inference from this is that software maintenance renewals appear to be blindly renewed without sufficient information to make an informed decision, and without any real assessment of the value they deliver.

In fact, the CCL report found that most software contracts are renewed by system owners or those in finance, and that typical survey respondents had no idea of support volumes, support quality or the strategic value of software maintenance renewals.

Big Spend

Organisations typically spend a large proportion of their annual IT budget on paying for existing software support and maintenance contracts in a market that is estimated to be worth $250 Billion. For example, IT buyers often pay around 20% of the licence fee per year in support and maintenance, thereby meaning that organisations will have paid for their software twice after a five-year term.

Lack of Clarity

Although a software support and maintenance contract typically involves things like bug fixes, security updates, technical assistance and access to upgrades, the CCL report notes that organisations are often confused about what they are actually entitled to and what they are actually getting for their money. For example, maintenance contracts are often perceived as insurance contracts when they are not, and organisations are often afraid and confused about whether they are legally allowed to access to security patches if they don’t have a support contract, and whether they can terminate a software maintenance contract and continue support at a later date.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

Businesses are worried about a number of things when it comes to deciding about software maintenance and support contract renewals, such as security, stakeholder perception, and the fear of penalties and back-maintenance problems. The CCL report has also highlighted the fact that a lack of clarity about the contracts, not enough scrutiny, the wrong departments making the renewal decisions, and a lack of alternatives at renewal time are just some of the reasons why the path of least resistance is being taken and contracts that may lack value are being blindly renewed.

According to the CCL report, some ways that businesses can avoid this happening include:

  • IT Asset Managers starting with a default position of “no” when it comes to software support renewals.
  • Using ITAM tools / SAM technology providers to help validate the business value of a support contract.
  • Performing a cost / benefit analysis of a contract to help decide about renewal.
  • Applying the 80 / 20 rule. IT Asset Managers can make a big impact on freeing up annual budgets by scrutinising spend on a few well chosen contracts.
  • Getting IT Asset Managers to create decision trees to empower smart decision -making.
  • Collaboration with legal professionals to clarify legal rights around contracts.

Apple Apps Taken Down For Spying

The Mac App Store has taken down a number of well known security apps for the Apple Mac after it was discovered that they are being used to spy on the browsing habits of their users.

Which Apps?

It has been reported that Dr Unarchiver, Dr Cleaner, Adware Medic, Adware Doctor and App Uninstall have all been removed from the Apple-curated Mac App Store on the grounds of spying on users.

Rumbled

A researcher in Germany, identified only by their @privacyis1st twitter identity is credited with alerting the Mac App Store to the fact that the Adware Doctor app attributed to a company called Yongming Zhang (the name of a well-known Chinese serial killer) and the Trend Micro apps were linked to the same suspect IP address in China.

It has also been reported that suspicions and concerns about the apps go back some years. For example, online reports about Adware Doctor from 2016 indicate that the app was using AppleScript to perform actions in violation of Apple’s App Store Guidelines. It has also been alleged that the glowing reviews of Adware Doctor and other applications by the same developer may have been faked.

How?

It has been reported that the suspect apps were able to spy by first tricking the user into giving them macOS home directory access with virus scanning and clear cache options. When this permission was granted, the apps were able to abuse access privileges by gathering browser-history data from Chrome, Firefox and Safari. This data was then sent back to suspected malicious operators.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

This is not the first time that there have been reports of dodgy apps lurking in legitimate stores. For example, back in January, 36 fake and malicious apps for Android that could harvest your data and track your location, masquerading as security tools were discovered in the trusted Google Play Store. All had reassuring names such as Security Defender and Security Keeper, and many performed some legitimate tasks on the surface, such as cleaning junk, saving battery, scanning, and CPU cooling, but all were found to be hiding malware, adware and tracking software.

Apple generally has a good brand reputation with regards to security so it will undoubtedly be very unhappy to have its name and the store that it curates associated in any way with any malicious apps.

This story is another reminder that, when it comes to apps, even though the obvious advice is to always check what you are downloading and the source of the download, the difference between fake apps and real apps can be subtle, and even Apple (in this case) didn’t immediately spot the hidden aspects of the apps. Also, we often don’t have the time to make checks on the apps that we download, and good reviews and the ‘halo effect’ of the good name of the store that they’re in are often enough of a recommendation for us to act.

The fact that many of us now store most of our personal lives on our smart phones makes reports such as these all the more alarming, and can undermine our confidence in (and cause costly damage to) the brands that are associated with such incidents.

To minimise the risk of falling victim to suspect apps, users should check the publisher of an app, check which permissions the app requests when you install it, delete apps from your phone that you no longer use, and contact your phone’s service provider or visit the High Street store if you think you’ve downloaded a malicious / suspect app.

The bad publicity from this story may also make Apple keen to review its systems and procedures for checking the apps that are offered in the store that it curates.

Microsoft Introduces AI Automated Audio and Video File Transcription

Microsoft’s new AI tool in OneDrive and SharePoint automatically transcribes the contents of video, audio, and image files, thereby making it much faster and easier to find specific topics and references made in those files.

No More Lengthy Transcribing

The growth of digital content, particularly in rich file types such as image, video, and audio files has made things particularly challenging when trying to search through them to find specific references, details, topics or quotes.

Up until now, it’s been a case of physically watching and listening, and transcribing the file into to text to get what you want.

Also, if you need to track down lost screenshots, snapshots and receipts, or if you have to categorise images by keywording them, or if you’re trying to search for images relating to a certain subject, this too has been a time-consuming challenge, up until now.

Search Through Audio or Video By What’s Said

The new AI-based automatic transcription system that’s been added to OneDrive and SharePoint means that users can now search through audio or video by what’s said in the file, and users can quickly find images by conducting searches using keywords based on the content.

How Does It Work?

According to a post on the Microsoft website by Omar Shahine, Partner Director of Program Management for OneDrive and SharePoint, AI can be used to extract the content from an audio or video file, and provide a full transcript which is shown in a viewer, which supports over 320 different file types.

Where automatic photo transcripts are concerned, native, secure AI is used to determine where photos were taken, recognize objects, and extract text in photos and images.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

With the web, email, text / comms and chat apps now being regularly used as part of businesses, and with digital files and rich format files being favoured, used / displayed, swapped / shared and stored, and with the rise of collaborative online working, this new feature could prove very useful to users of OneDrive and SharePoint.

The many benefits it could bring include saved costs and time in searching and having to physically transcribe, helping to leverage existing content and improve productivity, improving accessibility, and making make life a lot easier for anyone who regularly transcribes audio files e.g. content writers, journalists and anyone involved with archiving and categorising different media types. It’s only a matter of time until other technology will be bolted-on to features like this e.g. facial recognition.

Also, for Microsoft this is a feature that can help it to compete in the collaborative working platform market.