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OFF BEAT: No welcome at IBM for Apple's Siri application


While ubiquitous in television ads, Apple Inc.’s voice-activated search application Siri is not welcome at IBM Corp.

While one may want to credit resentment on the part of Big Blue’s Jeopardy-playing supercomputer, Watson, for Siri’s exclusion, the reason has less to do with jealousy than with security, according to a recent article published in MIT Technology Review.

The article details the challenges faced by Jeanette Horan, information officer of IBM, in the wake of the company’s decision to adopt a “bring your own device” policy for employees in 2010. According to the article, 80,000 of the company’s 400,000 employees now access internal IBM networks using smart phones and tablets not provided by the company.

With the new devices came attendant worries about loss of sensitive company data. In the case of Siri, Ms. Horan and her team worried that the queries spoken into the application are uploaded and stored by Apple servers.

To combat the risks presented by mobile devices, Ms. Horan bans certain apps and also equips devices with encryption software to protect information as it travels to and from IBM corporate networks.

As Siri might say, “If you say so.”

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