Can Encryption be broken?

RSA 2048-bit encryption is the standard. The time to break the code for encryption is currently so long, this is the standard for most systems. All banking, email systems, etc use 2048-bit as the primary encryption method.

Now comes the new computers called quantum computers. The processing times on these systems are a fraction of traditional computers. Experts predict RSA 2048-bit encryption may be broken in 8 hours or less.

Scientists have found a new encryption method which would not be able to be broken, but it is far becoming the standard.

For more on Quantum computers and encryption, see the MIT Technology Review article at: https://www.technologyreview.com/s/613596/how-a-quantum-computer-could-break-2048-bit-rsa-encryption-in-8-hours

Excel Tip: Sort by Color

In a data area, several cells are selected by highlighting in a different color.  The example show cells that were manually selected, rather than using conditional formatting.  However, if cells are shaded or have a different font color due to conditional formatting, this will work as well.

Excel worksheet with some cells  shaded.

These can easily be sorted to the top of the list.  Place your cursor in one of the cells that has the color to sort to the top.  Right click.

From the pop-up menu, select sort > Selected cell color on top.  This will sort based on the color.

Unintended consequence of AI

To develop a new Artificial Intelligence model, it needs to be trained. This is done by processing a large amount of data several times until the model works.

With AI models becoming more complex, larger datasets are required to fully operationalize the model. This is taking significant amounts of computing power, and thus, electricity.

In a study at the University of Massachusetts, researchers found “that the process can emit more than 626,000 pounds of carbon dioxide equivalent—nearly five times the lifetime emissions of the average American car (and that includes manufacture of the car itself). “

Similar issues have been raised with Blockchain mining, in particular Bitcoin.

To see the article: https://www.technologyreview.com/s/613630/training-a-single-ai-model-can-emit-as-much-carbon-as-five-cars-in-their-lifetimes

New to Analytics? — Start here

Think you are new to analytics? You may have a start. Most of us in business, and especially accounting are quite adept in Excel. This makes the tool a perfect place to start. You cannot use the largest data sets, but with new Excel tools such as PowerPivot, that is constantly increasing.

Analyzing data in Excel helps you learn the process of determining which questions can be answered from the data and using an analytics technique to summarize. If you can do a Pivot Table in Excel, you are on the road to learning more about analytics.

For more information, see this article from Computerworld: https://www.computerworld.com/article/3315737/use-microsoft-excel-to-learn-about-data-analytics.html

Study: Women more affected by automation

There is no doubt that emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, blockchain, and robotic process automation are going to change the skills needed in the workplace.

A recent global report by McKinsey Global Institute showed that women may be more affected than men by automation. A summary of their findings:

Two women sitting at laptop
  • Women and men face a similar scale of potential job losses and gains, but in different areas.
  • Women’s jobs may be more prone to partial automation than being entirely displaced by automation.
  • Between 40 million and 160 million women globally may need to transition between occupations.
  • Women will need to be skilled, mobile and tech savvy to adapt.

“If women make these transitions, they could be on the path to more productive, better-paid work.” If not, they could be left behind.

Get a full copy of the report at: https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/gender-equality/the-future-of-women-at-work-transitions-in-the-age-of-automation

Excel Tip: Easily enter Absolute references

When entering formulas, use the F4 key to toggle between absolute and relative references.  When typing the above example, after typing “A1”, press F4.  Keep pressing F4 until the combination of absolute/relative references appears. 

Press F4 to make cell value Absolute

For a refresher on the differences between Relative and Absolute references, go to:

Data Visualization – A cheat sheet

With many software applications available that will analyze data available, most anyone can create visualizations. The options for the types of visualizations is nearly endless. But what graphic can tell the story of your data the best.

This infographic shows many of the basic rules of creating visualizations. and making them easier for the user.

https://www.kdnuggets.com/2018/08/data-visualization-cheatsheet.html

Future-proof your career

At the SAP Sapphire 2019 conference, Kerry Brown, VP of workplace adoption spoke on the technological changes affecting the workplace. He believes that “AI has the capability to impact and replace jobs in any workplace.”

Brown outlined 5 ways employees can “stretch” themselves from the disruption in the workforce.

https://www.techrepublic.com/article/how-to-future-proof-your-career-5-tips/

Change with caution

At a recent conference, Randy Johnston, founder of K2, spoke of the emerging technologies affecting the accounting profession. He also warned of giving into FOMO or the Fear of Missing Out. Most firms cannot adopt all of the new technologies at once.

For the rest of his remarks, see the article on Accounting Today at:

https://www.accountingtoday.com/news/johnston-accountants-need-to-change-carefully

Excel Tip – Flash Fill

Here’s your Monday Excel tip to help you become an Excel whiz!

Excel 2013 has a great new Flash Fill feature gives you the ability to take a part of the data entered into one column of a worksheet table and enter just that data in a new table column using only a few keystrokes.  Unlike a formula, the new columns are static, so if the original information is updated, the data won’t change.  If you need to have the new columns update, then Text Formulas are the better choice. 

In the following example, flash fill was used to complete all of the information after the 1st row was complete:

To use the Flash-fill:

  1. Type in the pattern of the information you wish to extract.  It must be in a column next to the original data.
  2. Press Enter
  3. From the ribbon, select Cells > Fill > Flash Fill or press CTRL + E

In the following examples, names of individuals were imported into a single column. The Flash Fill can be used to separate the names into 3 columns, but generate an email address, based on the pattern in the first cell of the column.

Enter the data in the first cell. Press Enter, then CTRL + e
The first name is complete.

Auto-fill is used to fill in the rest of the data, including:

This feature can be used in a lot of different situations. This YouTube has 20 more ideas of how you can use Flash Fill.