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Apple buys Beats and teaches CIOs how to get ahead

It's official: Apple buys Beats from Dr. Dre. Also in Searchlight, Google diversity report reveals the uncomfortable truth and the IoT gets a high valuation.

What can CIOs possibly learn from Apple's acquisition of Dr. Dre's Beats Electronics and subscription streaming music service, Beats Music? Hint: It's not that diamond-studded Beats headphones look good on all ears.

Apple confirmed its $3 billion purchase of Beats on Wednesday after several weeks of speculation, acknowledging its entry into the realm of subscription music services -- and a rare misstep. Apple, formerly resistant to subscription services, wrongly assumed that listeners would prefer to own music tracks over renting them. Apple's iTunes digital music sales leveled off. The most obvious area for growth was in subscription services like Spotify, Pandora, Songza and, of course, Beats Music.

But, why wouldn't Apple just build its own subscription service with in-house tools and resources? "Beats provides us a head start. They provide us with incredible people that don’t grow on trees. They're creative souls, kindred spirits," explained Apple CEO Tim Cook in an interview at the Code conference in California following the acquisition.

CIOs, are you listening?

Staying ahead of the curve by harnessing new tech, leveraging innovative services and, most importantly, finding people with the right IT skill sets are all critical to success in IT. At the 11th annual MIT Sloan CIO Symposium last week, Equinix CIO Brian Lillie expressed concern about hiring the right talent to keep pace with IT and customers. "We've been fortunate, but it's only going to get harder," Lillie admitted to SearchCIO's executive editor Linda Tucci. "You need to reinvent how you manage, how you attract, how you retain, how you motivate, and how you compensate and incent these folks." Apple has kept itself on the fast track by acquiring a staff already studded with talented individuals led by a team of innovators.

In other hiring news, Google's first-ever internal diversity report finds a workforce that is 70% male and 61% white. Anyone at TechCrunch Disrupt 2014 in NYC could have told you that Silicon Valley in general lacks women and diversity, not to mention affordable housing and the sense of civic duty to encourage young people to study IT.

  • Google's recent acquisition of home automation company Nest Labs puts a high price on the future of the Internet of Things. Google paid four times Nest's current valuation to secure its place in the sensor-driven, Wi-Fi-enabled, self-learning, programmable tech world of smart door knobs and programmable refrigerators. "Google is the master of data monetization," Bill Schmarzo says on the likelihood of Google's success. But what dangers lie in giving Google access to all of this personal data?
  • Forbes staff writer Kashmir Hill explores the half-baked security of the Internet of Things in a column featuring two young dads, Sergey Shekyan and Artem Harutyunyan. Their skepticism over the security of their Foscam baby monitors developed into a full-on investigation that exposed just how easy and scary it is for this security device to be hacked.
  • A hacking feud wages on between the U.S. and China as the latter threatens to take future action to clear the names of alleged military hackers. Truth is the U.S. has still not explained its own cyber spying on foreign companies and governments revealed by former government contractor Edward Snowden -- whose exclusive interview with NBC's Brian Williams aired Wednesday night.
  • Self-driving cars aren't ready for Boston's jay-walkers. John J. Leonard, a veteran MIT roboticist, outlines other improvement areas for autonomous vehicles, i.e. police, snow-covered roads, lane merging and rotaries, roundabouts, traffic circles -- or whatever you call them; here in New England, it's a rotary.
  • Kids say the darndest things. They also solve really complicated global waste problems in very imaginative ways. NASA can start by finding aliens who are: A., Hungry, and B., Eat garbage. You'll understand once you see the kids' drawings.

Previously in Searchlight, Digital endeavors require fearlessness and Wanted: IoT and wearable tech. Let us know what you think about the story; email Emily McLaughlin, associate site editor.

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