Developing a Practical Model for Ethical AI in the Business World: Stage I – Executive Design

In this blog post series, Amalgam Insights is providing a practical model for businesses to plan the ethical governance of their AI projects. To read the introduction, click here.

This blog focuses on Executive Design, the first of the Three Keys to Ethical AI introduced in the last blog.

Stage I: Executive Design

As a starting point, any AI project needs to be analyzed in context of five major questions that are important both from a project management and scoping perspective. Amalgam Insights cannot control the ethical governance of every company, but we can provide a starting point to let AI-focused companies know what potential problems they face. As a starting point, businesses seeking to pursue ethical AI must consider the following questions:

  • What is the goal of the project?
  • What are the key ethical assumptions and biases?
  • Who are the stakeholders?
  • How will AI oversight be performed in an organization?
  • Where is the money coming from?

What is the project goal?

In thinking about the goal of the project, the project champion needs to make sure that the goal, itself, is not unethical. For instance, the high-level idea of understanding your customers is laudable at its surface. But if the goal of the project is effectively to stalk customers or to open up customer data without their direct consent, this project quickly becomes unethical. Likewise, if an AI project to improve productivity and efficiency is practically designed to circumvent legal governance of a process, there are likely ethical issues as well.

Although this analysis seems obvious, the potential opacity, complexity, and velocity of AI deployments mean that these topics have to be considered prior to project deployment. These tradeoffs need to be analyzed based on the risk profile and ethical policies of the company and need to be determined at a high level prior to pursuing an AI project.

What are the key ethical assumptions and biases?

Every AI project makes ethical assumptions, compromises, and biases.

Let me repeat that.

Every AI project makes ethical assumptions, compromises, and biases.

This is just a basic premise that every project faces. But because of the complexities of AI projects, the assumptions made during scoping can be ignored or minimized during the analysis or deployment if companies do not make a concerted effort to hold onto basic project tenants.

For instance, it’s easy to say that a company should not stalk its customers. And in the scoping process, this may mean masking personal information such as names and addresses from any aggregate data. But what happens if the analysis ends up tracking latitude and longitude to within 1 meter, tracking interactions every 10 minutes, and taking ethnic, gender, sexuality, or other potentially identifying or biasing data along with a phone IMEI identification into account as part of an analysis of the propensity to buy? And these characteristics are not taken into account because they weren’t included as part of the initial scoping process and there was no overarching reminder to not stalk or overly track customers? In this case, even without traditional personally identifiable information, the net result is potentially even more invasive. And with the broad scope of analysis conducted by machine learning algorithms, it can be hard to fully control the potential parameters involved, especially in the early and experimental stages of model building and recursive or neurally designed optimization.

So, from a practical perspective, companies need to create an initial set of business tenets that need to be followed throughout the design, development, and deployment of AI. Although each set of stakeholders across the AI development process will have different means of interpreting and managing these tenets, these business guidelines provide an important set of goalposts and boundaries for defining the scope of the AI project. For instance, a company might set as a set of characteristics for a project:

  • This project will not discriminate based on gender
  • This project will not discriminate based on race
  • This project will not discriminate based on income
  • This project will not take personally identifiable information without first describing this to the user in plain English (or language of development)

These tenets and parameters should each be listed separately, meaning there shouldn’t be a legalese laundry list saying “this project respects race, class, gender, sexuality, income, geography, culture, religion, legal status, physical disability, dietary restrictions, etc.” This allows each key tenet to be clearly defined based on its own merit.

These tenets should be a part of every meeting and formal documentation so that stakeholders across executive, technical, and operational responsibilities all see this list and consider this list in their own activities. This is important because each set of stakeholders will execute differently on these tenets based on their practical responsibilities. Executives will place corporate governance and resources in place while technical stakeholders will focus on the potential bias and issues within the data and algorithmic logic and operational stakeholders will focus on delivery, access, lineage, and other line-of-business concerns associated with front-line usage.

And this list of tenets needs to be short enough to be actionable. This is not the place to write a 3,000 word legal document on every potential risk and problem, but a place to describe specific high-level concerns around bias.

Who are the stakeholders?

The makeup of the executive business stakeholders is an important starting point for determining the biases of the AI project. It is important for any AI project with significant potential organizational impact to have true executive sponsorship from someone who has responsibility for the health of the company. Otherwise, it is too easy for an algorithm to “go rogue” or become an implicit and accepted business enabler without sufficient due diligence.

How will AI oversight be performed in an organization?

AI projects need to be treated with the same types of oversight as hiring employees or any significant change management process. Ideally, AI will be either providing a new and previously unknown insight or supporting productivity that will replace or augment millions of dollars in labor. Companies putting AI into place need to hold AI logic to the same standards as they would hold human labor.

Where is the money coming from?

No matter what the end goal of the AI project is, it will always be judged in context of the money used to fund the AI. If an organization is fully funding an AI project, it will be held accountable for the outcomes of the AI. If an AI project is funded by a consortium of funders, the ethical background of each funder or purchaser will eventually be considered in determining the ethical nature of the AI. Because of this, it is not enough for an organization to be pursuing an AI initiative that is potentially helpful. Organizations must also partner with or work with partners that align with the organization’s policy and culture. When an AI project becomes public, compliance officers and critics will always follow the money and use this as a starting point to determine how ethical the AI effort is.

In our next blog, we will explore Technical Development with a focus on the key questions that technical users such as data analysts and data scientists must consider as they build out the architecture and models that will make up the actual AI application or service.

Tangoe Acquires MOBI – Part IV: Market Considerations and Conclusion

Note: if you missed Part III of this blog series, catch up and read Part III: Enterprise Considerations

This is part of a four-blog series exploring Tangoe’s acquisition of MOBI.
Part I: Context for the Acquisition
Part II: Why?
Part III: Enterprise Considerations
Part IV: Market Considerations and Conclusion

Industries: Enterprise Mobility Management, Technology Expense Management

Key Stakeholders: CIO, CFO, Chief Digital Officer, Chief Technology Officer, Chief Mobility Officer, Mobility Directors and Managers, Procurement Directors and Managers, Accounting Directors and Managers

Why It Matters: Tangoe is the largest technology expense management vendor. By purchasing MOBI, Tangoe gains Managed Mobility expertise, a customer base with high customer satisfaction, and expertise in Robotic Process Automation to support enterprise mobility.

Top Takeaway: Tangoe continues to aggressively acquire market leaders both to increase market share and add Best-in-Breed capabilities, personnel, and technology to its technology management portfolio.

Tangoe Acquires MOBI

On December 5th, 2018, Tangoe announced the acquisition of MOBI, a leading managed mobility services organization based in Indianapolis, Indiana in the United States. With this acquisition, Tangoe increases its IT spend under management to over $40 billion, increasing its lead over other spend management vendors with multiple billions of dollars of enterprise technology under management including Flexera, Snow Software, Microsoft Azure Cost Management, CloudHealth by VMware, Calero, MDSL, Cass Information Systems, and Sakon.

Market Considerations

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Tangoe Acquires MOBI – Part I: Context for the Acquisition

Industries: Enterprise Mobility Management, Technology Expense Management

Key Stakeholders: CIO, CFO, Chief Digital Officer, Chief Technology Officer, Chief Mobility Officer, Mobility Directors and Managers, Procurement Directors and Managers, Accounting Directors and Managers

Why It Matters: Tangoe is the largest technology expense management vendor. By purchasing MOBI, Tangoe gains Managed Mobility expertise, a customer base with high customer satisfaction, and expertise in Robotic Process Automation to support enterprise mobility.

Top Takeaway: Tangoe continues to aggressively acquire market leaders both to increase market share and add Best-in-Breed capabilities, personnel, and technology to its technology management portfolio.

Note: This is part of a four-blog series exploring Tangoe’s acquisition of MOBI.
Part I: Context for the Acquisition
Part II: Why?
Part III: Enterprise Considerations
Part IV: Market Considerations and Conclusion

On December 5th, 2018, Tangoe announced the acquisition of MOBI, a leading managed mobility services organization based in Indianapolis, Indiana in the United States. With this acquisition, Tangoe increases its IT spend under management to over $40 billion, increasing its lead over other spend management vendors with multiple billions of dollars of enterprise technology under management including Flexera, Snow Software, Microsoft Azure Cost Management, CloudHealth by VMware, Calero, MDSL, Cass Information Systems, and Sakon.

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Tangoe Acquires MOBI to Strategically Expand Enterprise Mobility Capabilities

On December 5th, 2018, Tangoe announced the acquisition of MOBI, a leading managed mobility services organization based in Indianapolis, Indiana in the United States. With this acquisition, Tangoe increases its IT spend under management to over $40 billion, increasing its lead over other spend management vendors with multiple billions of dollars of enterprise technology under management including Flexera, Snow Software, Microsoft Azure Cost Management, CloudHealth by VMware, Calero, MDSL, Cass Information Systems, and Sakon.

Key questions to consider for this acquisition include:

  • Why did Tangoe decide to buy MOBI at this time? For its customer base? Corporate culture? Technology?
  • How does this acquisition affect enterprises seeking toolsets to assist with the orchestration and accounting of digital transformation initiatives?
  • How will work be split and coordinated between Tangoe’s Austin logistics warehouse and MOBI’s Indianapolis-based facilities?
  • What will Tangoe do with MOBI’s Robotic Process Automation initiative of Mobots?
  • Will Tangoe keep MOBI’s staff or will there be a bunch of high-quality mobility and support staff available?
  • What happens to MOBI partners who may compete with Tangoe?
  • Will MOBI customers be moved to the Tangoe Matrix platform immediately?
  • Will Tangoe contribute to the burgeoning Indianapolis tech scene that is currently one of the hottest startup spots in the country?

To learn more about which of these questions can be answered and which of these questions require greater due diligence, please read my full analysis, which is available at: https://amalgaminsights.com/product/amalgam-insights-market-milestone-tangoe-acquires-mobi-to-enhance-mobility-management-capabilities

VMware Purchases CloudHealth Technologies to support Multicloud Enterprises and Continue Investing in Boston


Vendors and Solutions Mentioned: VMware, CloudHealth Technologies, Cloudyn, Microsoft Azure Cloud Cost Management, Cloud Cruiser, HPE OneSphere. Nutanix Beam, Minjar, Botmetric

Key Stakeholders: Chief Financial Officers, Chief Information Officers, Chief Accounting Officers, Chief Procurement Officers, Cloud Computing Directors and Managers, IT Procurement Directors and Managers, IT Expense Directors and Managers

Key Takeaway: As Best-of-Breed vendors continue to emerge, new technologies are invented, existing services continue to evolve, vendors pursue new and innovative pricing and delivery models, cloud computing remains easy to procure, and IaaS doubles every three years as a spend category, cloud computing management will only increase in complexity and the need for Cloud Service Management will only increase. VMware has made a wise choice in buying into a rapidly growing market and now has greater opportunity to support and augment complex peak, decentralized, and hybrid IT environments.

About the Announcement

On August 27, 2018, VMware announced a definitive agreement to acquire CloudHealth Technologies, a Boston-based startup company focused on providing a cloud operations and expense management platform that supports enterprise accounts across Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform.

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Mapping Multi-Million Dollar Business Value from Machine Learning Projects

Amalgam has just posted a new report: The Roadmap to Multi-Million Dollar Machine Learning Value with DataRobot. I’m especially excited about this report for a couple of reasons. First, this report documents multiple clear value propositions for machine learning that led to the documented annual value of over a million dollars. This is an important…

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SaaS Vendor and Expense Management on Display at Oktane 18

Key Stakeholders: CIO, CFO, Chief Digital Officer, Chief Technology Officer, Chief Mobility Officer, IT Asset Directors and Managers, Procurement Directors and Managers, Accounting Directors and Managers Why It Matters: Okta is a key enabler for the discovery and management of SaaS, which is a necessary enabler for establishing the SaaS inventory and user identities needed…

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Tangoe Makes Its Case as a Change Agent at Tangoe LIVE 2018

Key Stakeholders: CIO, CFO, Controllers, Comptrollers, Accounting Directors and Managers, IT Finance Directors and Managers, IT Expense Management Directors and Managers, Telecom Expense Management Directors and Managers, Enterprise Mobility Management Directors and Managers, Digital Transformation Managers, Internet of Things Directors and Managers On May 21st and 22nd, Amalgam Insights attended and presented at Tangoe LIVE…

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Market Milestone: ServiceNow Buys VendorHawk and SaaS Management Comes of Age

Industry: Software Asset Management

Key Stakeholders: CIO, CFO, Chief Digital Officer, Chief Technology Officer, Chief Mobility Officer, IT Asset Directors and Managers, Procurement Directors and Managers, Accounting Directors and Managers
Why It Matters: Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) is now a strategic IT component. As enterprise SaaS doubles in market size over the next three years, this complex spend category will continue to expand beyond the ability to manually manage it
Top Takeaways: With this acquisition, ServiceNow will have a cutting-edge & converged Software Asset Management solution for both SaaS and on-premises applications in 2019. Enterprise organizations managing over $25,000 a month should consider an enterprise SaaS vendor management solution to optimize licenses, de-duplicate vendor categories, and gain enterprise-grade governance.

With ServiceNow’s acquisition of VendorHawk, the era of SaaS Vendor Management is emergent.

ServiceNow Acquires VendorHawk

On April 25th, 2018, ServiceNow announced its acquisition of SaaS Vendor Management solution VendorHawk in an all-cash transaction scheduled to close in April. This acquisition highlights the increasingly strategic role of SaaS from an IT service management perspective and validates the need for Software Asset Management solutions to support SaaS. In addition, this acquisition continues a string of acquisitions that ServiceNow has made over the past year including acquisitions of:

• Qlue, an artificial intelligence framework for customer service
• Telepathy, a design firm focused on massive adoption of applications
• SkyGiraffe, a no-code mobile app development platform used to make all ServiceNow applications mobile-friendly

The VendorHawk acquisition falls in line with these acquisitions in that VendorHawk will help enterprises to support the widespread adoption of SaaS.

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Market Milestone: Red Hat Acquires CoreOS Changing the Container Landscape

We have just published a new document from Tom Petrocelli analyzing Red Hat’s $250 million acquisition of CoreOS and why it matters for DevOps and Systems Architecture managers. This report is recommended for CIOs, System Architects, IT Managers, System Administrators, and Operations Managers who are evaluating CoreOS and Red Hat as container solutions to support…

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