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Microsoft’s Mesh Will Let Us Beam Ourselves to Work as Holograms

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A little over a year ago, millions of people wouldn’t have been able to fathom doing their jobs without going into their offices (for months on end, at that). Yet a year after much of the Western world shut down due to Covid-19, those same people—or, the ones who haven’t suffered the misfortune of losing their jobs—have been working from home, aided by tools like Zoom and Slack. We’re all really hoping this is the last pandemic we’ll ever see, but nonetheless, new tools for remote work—or, really, for any sort of human interaction that involves participants in different physical locations—will continue to come to market.

One of these is Microsoft’s Mesh, unveiled last week at the company’s Ignite conference. With the tag line “here can be anywhere,” the mixed reality platform promises to make remote interactions feel more lifelike than they ever have. A promotional video for the technology shows real-time holograms of people being beamed in to work alongside others, and 3D data popping up in midair. It is, in short, really cool.

The holograms are a vision for the future; for now, people can appear as virtual avatars, which they can create to their liking in AltspaceVR.

Users will get the most immersive experience using HoloLens 2, Microsoft’s mixed reality smart glasses released in 2019. Despite being described as “ergonomic,” they’re more of a bulky headset than a pair of glasses, and they don’t come cheap; HoloLens 2 is currently priced at $3,500. This will be one of the biggest barriers Microsoft faces in making Mesh widely adoptable, as even getting the price down to half or a third of where it’s at now would leave the hardware out of reach for most consumers.

But Mesh can also run on your average phone, tablet, PC, or virtual reality headset. It sits on Microsoft’s cloud computing platform Azure. The company will also likely integrate Mesh with Teams, its communication platform that offers workspace chat, videoconferencing, file storage, and application integration.

“This has been the dream for mixed reality, the idea from the very beginning,” Alex Kipman, Microsoft Technical Fellow and inventor of Kinect and HoloLens, told The Verge. “You can actually feel like you’re in the same place with someone sharing content or you can teleport from different mixed reality devices and be present with people even when you’re not physically together.” An emphasis on accurately replicating users’ eye contact, facial expressions, and gestures in real time should help make this happen.

In his keynote at Ignite, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella noted Mesh’s potential for bringing people together by comparing it to Xbox Live, an online multiplayer gaming and digital media delivery platform the company launched in 2002. “Think about what Xbox Live did for gaming. We went from single player to multiplayer, creating communities that helped people connect and achieve together,” he said. “Now just imagine if the same thing happened with mixed reality.”

Microsoft isn’t the only company planning to use holographic technology to enhance the future of work. A company called PORTL is working on a hologram box it calls Epic HoloPortl. It has high-resolution transparent LCD screens in its interior walls, and the person appearing as a hologram just needs to have a camera and be standing against a white background. But if the HoloLens 2 is bulky and expensive, the HoloPortl is much more so, being the size of a telephone booth and costing $60,000.

No technology, no matter how advanced, will ever be able to replace the experience of being in a room with someone. But if you think about how differently things would have played had Covid come along, say, 20 years ago instead of now, the comparison is striking. The economy would have fallen apart on a far more dramatic scale than it did in 2020; the existence of video calling and instant messaging, and the fact that we can all use these tools for no financial cost, were a substantial part of what kept the economy from completely crumbling.

This is all to say, while we undoubtedly prefer the notion of a future where newfangled remote-work tech won’t be needed and we can all go back to feeling like humans and interacting the way humans are meant to interact—in person—the truth is that these tools come in pretty handy. And they just may end up saving your job, and mine.

Image Credit: Microsoft

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Source: https://singularityhub.com/2021/03/10/microsoft-mesh-will-let-us-beam-ourselves-to-work-as-holograms/

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Onestream: Data analysis, AI tools usage increased in 2021

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Join Transform 2021 this July 12-16. Register for the AI event of the year.


CFOs and other finance executives are optimistic that economic recovery is on the horizon: three-quarters (73 percent) expect that they will return to normal growth by the end of 2021, according to the latest Enterprise Financial Decision-Making Report from OneStream, a provider of corporate performance management solutions for mid-sized and large enterprises. Companies have significantly increased their data analysis tool investments and usage over the past year, the report found.

Above: Over half of companies are using data analysis tools more than before the pandemic. Companies in the IT and finance industries, and those with over 1,000 employees, are using data analysis tools significantly more than others.

Image Credit: Onestream Software

OneStream’s study targeted finance leaders across North America and identified the factors driving their priorities, budgets and technology adoption plans for 2021. The survey found that the COVID-19 pandemic created a heightened need for agile forecasting, predictive planning and digital transformation. The ability to quickly reforecast budgets and shift workflows has become essential.

The 2021 report found that finance executives have significantly increased their data analysis tool investments and usage. Companies commonly invested in artificial intelligence (59 percent) and increased their use of cloud-based planning and reporting solutions (65 percent). Most companies already use (69 percent) or plan to use (18 percent) low-code development platforms, which enable business users and citizen developers to take on new roles while circumventing complicated coding requirements. For return-to-office budgets, data privacy tools are the most common priority (18%), followed by hybrid cloud technologies.

Compare the results with OneStream’s 2020 Enterprise Financial Decision-Making Report where less than half (46 percent) of the finance executives reported using cloud-based solutions regularly, while less than a quarter used machine learning (21 percent) and artificial intelligence (20 percent) solutions.

Many finance executives are evaluating their workforce, technology and supply chain needs for a post-pandemic reality. However, the political and social landscape have also heavily impacted investment decisions, leading executives to prioritize sustainability and diversity initiatives as well.

The commissioned study, conducted by Hanover Research in April of 2021, sourced insights from 340 finance decision makers in the United States, Canada and Mexico. All individuals hold management position (C-level executive (CFO), VP, Director, Controller) in finance. Respondents work at companies across numerous industries and varying revenues, with 24 percent employed by companies with over $1 billion in annual revenue.

Read the full Onestream report Enterprise Financial Decision-Making Report 2021 — North America.

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Source: https://venturebeat.com/2021/05/11/onestream-data-analysis-ai-tools-usage-increased-in-2021/

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Onestream: Data analysis, AI tools usage increased in 2021

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Join Transform 2021 this July 12-16. Register for the AI event of the year.


CFOs and other finance executives are optimistic that economic recovery is on the horizon: three-quarters (73 percent) expect that they will return to normal growth by the end of 2021, according to the latest Enterprise Financial Decision-Making Report from OneStream, a provider of corporate performance management solutions for mid-sized and large enterprises. Companies have significantly increased their data analysis tool investments and usage over the past year, the report found.

Above: Over half of companies are using data analysis tools more than before the pandemic. Companies in the IT and finance industries, and those with over 1,000 employees, are using data analysis tools significantly more than others.

Image Credit: Onestream Software

OneStream’s study targeted finance leaders across North America and identified the factors driving their priorities, budgets and technology adoption plans for 2021. The survey found that the COVID-19 pandemic created a heightened need for agile forecasting, predictive planning and digital transformation. The ability to quickly reforecast budgets and shift workflows has become essential.

The 2021 report found that finance executives have significantly increased their data analysis tool investments and usage. Companies commonly invested in artificial intelligence (59 percent) and increased their use of cloud-based planning and reporting solutions (65 percent). Most companies already use (69 percent) or plan to use (18 percent) low-code development platforms, which enable business users and citizen developers to take on new roles while circumventing complicated coding requirements. For return-to-office budgets, data privacy tools are the most common priority (18%), followed by hybrid cloud technologies.

Compare the results with OneStream’s 2020 Enterprise Financial Decision-Making Report where less than half (46 percent) of the finance executives reported using cloud-based solutions regularly, while less than a quarter used machine learning (21 percent) and artificial intelligence (20 percent) solutions.

Many finance executives are evaluating their workforce, technology and supply chain needs for a post-pandemic reality. However, the political and social landscape have also heavily impacted investment decisions, leading executives to prioritize sustainability and diversity initiatives as well.

The commissioned study, conducted by Hanover Research in April of 2021, sourced insights from 340 finance decision makers in the United States, Canada and Mexico. All individuals hold management position (C-level executive (CFO), VP, Director, Controller) in finance. Respondents work at companies across numerous industries and varying revenues, with 24 percent employed by companies with over $1 billion in annual revenue.

Read the full Onestream report Enterprise Financial Decision-Making Report 2021 — North America.

VentureBeat

VentureBeat’s mission is to be a digital town square for technical decision-makers to gain knowledge about transformative technology and transact. Our site delivers essential information on data technologies and strategies to guide you as you lead your organizations. We invite you to become a member of our community, to access:

  • up-to-date information on the subjects of interest to you
  • our newsletters
  • gated thought-leader content and discounted access to our prized events, such as Transform 2021: Learn More
  • networking features, and more

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Source: https://venturebeat.com/2021/05/11/onestream-data-analysis-ai-tools-usage-increased-in-2021/

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Digital transformation will spur economic boom in 2021, CEOs tell Gartner

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Join Transform 2021 this July 12-16. Register for the AI event of the year.


Chief executives around the world expect a return to strong economic growth over the next two years and are betting on digital transformation, AI technology, and corporate activism to help make it happen.

Some 60% of CEOs polled for Gartner’s 2021 CEO Survey said they anticipate a return to economic growth this year and in 2022. That follows pandemic-ravaged global economic performance in 2020, the research firm said. Gartner on Tuesday released its annual survey, which over six months last year polled 465 CEOs and other senior business executives employed at companies of varying size, revenue, and industries located in North America, EMEA, and APAC.

“CEOs’ top priorities for 2021 show confidence,” said Mark Raskino, research vice president at Gartner. “Over half report growth as their primary focus and see opportunity on the other side of the crisis, followed by technology change and corporate action.”

“This year, all leaders will be working hard to decode what the post-pandemic world looks like, and redeveloping mid- to long-range business strategy accordingly. In most cases, that will uncover a round of new structural changes to capability, location, products, and business models,” Raskino said in a statement.

AI, quantum computing, 5G are strategic priorities

Respondents cited business growth, technology change, and corporate actions such as mergers and acquisitions as the top three priorities for their companies over the next two years. Technology is a particularly strategic concern for CEOs — digital capabilities were the only area where a majority of respondents said they planned to increase investment in 2021.

Gartner found that more CEOs than ever are citing digital change and investment as a priority for their organizations. When they gave answers about top strategic business priorities in their own words, 20% of CEOs used the word “digital,” up from 17% in 2020 and 15% in 2019. The unprompted citation of digitization as a priority has been steadily increasing in Gartner’s survey over the past several years, growing from just 2% of citations in 2012.

Drilling down to specific technological areas where CEOs expect to invest, respondents cited AI as the “most industry-impactful technology” over the coming years, Gartner said. Some 30% of respondents said quantum computing would be “highly relevant” to their companies’ long-term plans, but a majority weren’t certain how that would look. Respondents also cited blockchain and 5G as technologies they were focused on.

While a majority of CEOs polled did not have designated data officers such as chief digital officers or chief data officers, 83% of respondents said they employed chief information officers. A majority of CEOs surveyed by Gartner said their “top ask” of their CIOs is digitalization.

The United States-China economic rivalry and trade relations between the countries was another area of concern for Gartner respondents. One-third of surveyed CEOs said that “evolving trade disputes between the two nations” over core technologies like AI and 5G were “a significant concern for their businesses.”

CEOs see M&A opportunities, remote work in store

Global CEOs also cited M&As and other corporate actions, social and environmental issues, and new workplace conditions resulting from the pandemic as primary areas of focus.

Interestingly, fewer respondents than in previous surveys cited “sales revenue” as a growth priority, while more mentioned “new markets.” Gartner’s Raskino suggested that this shift, plus the increased emphasis on M&A opportunities, “shows that CEOs and senior executives seeking advantage from a cyclical downturn are going shopping for structural inorganic growth” rather than counting on incremental sales growth “using the strategies that have served them well in the past.”

“‘Techquisitions’ can bolster digital business progress, while also providing access to potential fast-growth market sectors,” Raskino said.

Meanwhile, more than 80% of CEOs believe “societal behavior change” taking place during the pandemic to become more or less the “new normal.” Most expect hybrid work-from-home arrangements to become permanent for many workers, while expenditures on travel-related activities will remain lower than before the pandemic.

These developments, as well as nearly half of surveyed companies’ prioritization of sustainability to mitigate climate change, will further increase companies’ reliance on digital technology and digital channel flexibility in the coming years, said Kristin Moyer, Gartner research vice president.

“This suggests that continuing to improve the way customers are served digitally will be vital,” Moyer said.

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  • up-to-date information on the subjects of interest to you
  • our newsletters
  • gated thought-leader content and discounted access to our prized events, such as Transform 2021: Learn More
  • networking features, and more

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Source: https://venturebeat.com/2021/05/11/digital-transformation-will-spur-economic-boom-in-2021-ceos-tell-gartner/

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AI

Digital transformation will spur economic boom in 2021, CEOs tell Gartner

Avatar

Published

on

Join Transform 2021 this July 12-16. Register for the AI event of the year.


Chief executives around the world expect a return to strong economic growth over the next two years and are betting on digital transformation, AI technology, and corporate activism to help make it happen.

Some 60% of CEOs polled for Gartner’s 2021 CEO Survey said they anticipate a return to economic growth this year and in 2022. That follows pandemic-ravaged global economic performance in 2020, the research firm said. Gartner on Tuesday released its annual survey, which over six months last year polled 465 CEOs and other senior business executives employed at companies of varying size, revenue, and industries located in North America, EMEA, and APAC.

“CEOs’ top priorities for 2021 show confidence,” said Mark Raskino, research vice president at Gartner. “Over half report growth as their primary focus and see opportunity on the other side of the crisis, followed by technology change and corporate action.”

“This year, all leaders will be working hard to decode what the post-pandemic world looks like, and redeveloping mid- to long-range business strategy accordingly. In most cases, that will uncover a round of new structural changes to capability, location, products, and business models,” Raskino said in a statement.

AI, quantum computing, 5G are strategic priorities

Respondents cited business growth, technology change, and corporate actions such as mergers and acquisitions as the top three priorities for their companies over the next two years. Technology is a particularly strategic concern for CEOs — digital capabilities were the only area where a majority of respondents said they planned to increase investment in 2021.

Gartner found that more CEOs than ever are citing digital change and investment as a priority for their organizations. When they gave answers about top strategic business priorities in their own words, 20% of CEOs used the word “digital,” up from 17% in 2020 and 15% in 2019. The unprompted citation of digitization as a priority has been steadily increasing in Gartner’s survey over the past several years, growing from just 2% of citations in 2012.

Drilling down to specific technological areas where CEOs expect to invest, respondents cited AI as the “most industry-impactful technology” over the coming years, Gartner said. Some 30% of respondents said quantum computing would be “highly relevant” to their companies’ long-term plans, but a majority weren’t certain how that would look. Respondents also cited blockchain and 5G as technologies they were focused on.

While a majority of CEOs polled did not have designated data officers such as chief digital officers or chief data officers, 83% of respondents said they employed chief information officers. A majority of CEOs surveyed by Gartner said their “top ask” of their CIOs is digitalization.

The United States-China economic rivalry and trade relations between the countries was another area of concern for Gartner respondents. One-third of surveyed CEOs said that “evolving trade disputes between the two nations” over core technologies like AI and 5G were “a significant concern for their businesses.”

CEOs see M&A opportunities, remote work in store

Global CEOs also cited M&As and other corporate actions, social and environmental issues, and new workplace conditions resulting from the pandemic as primary areas of focus.

Interestingly, fewer respondents than in previous surveys cited “sales revenue” as a growth priority, while more mentioned “new markets.” Gartner’s Raskino suggested that this shift, plus the increased emphasis on M&A opportunities, “shows that CEOs and senior executives seeking advantage from a cyclical downturn are going shopping for structural inorganic growth” rather than counting on incremental sales growth “using the strategies that have served them well in the past.”

“‘Techquisitions’ can bolster digital business progress, while also providing access to potential fast-growth market sectors,” Raskino said.

Meanwhile, more than 80% of CEOs believe “societal behavior change” taking place during the pandemic to become more or less the “new normal.” Most expect hybrid work-from-home arrangements to become permanent for many workers, while expenditures on travel-related activities will remain lower than before the pandemic.

These developments, as well as nearly half of surveyed companies’ prioritization of sustainability to mitigate climate change, will further increase companies’ reliance on digital technology and digital channel flexibility in the coming years, said Kristin Moyer, Gartner research vice president.

“This suggests that continuing to improve the way customers are served digitally will be vital,” Moyer said.

VentureBeat

VentureBeat’s mission is to be a digital town square for technical decision-makers to gain knowledge about transformative technology and transact. Our site delivers essential information on data technologies and strategies to guide you as you lead your organizations. We invite you to become a member of our community, to access:

  • up-to-date information on the subjects of interest to you
  • our newsletters
  • gated thought-leader content and discounted access to our prized events, such as Transform 2021: Learn More
  • networking features, and more

Become a member

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Source: https://venturebeat.com/2021/05/11/digital-transformation-will-spur-economic-boom-in-2021-ceos-tell-gartner/

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