Attivio Sponsors a Hackathon

November 13, 2014

Short honk: I find this item interesting: “Attivio to Sponsor Qlik World Conference 2014.” Attivio is providing financial support to a Qlik hackathon. The idea is for participants to become the “ultimate hacker for good.” See http://bit.ly/1ufoeXn. What will the hackers hack? If the goal is business intelligence, will these efforts be directed at open source content or other repositories?

There are media luminaries on the conference program; for example, Mark Cuban. The information about the program states that sessions, times, and locations are subject to change.

The only question I have is, “Is this a user conference or a commercial conference?” I know that Qlik offers software that, to me, seems to overlap with Attivio’s functionality.

With the increasing interest in without permission breaches of major systems, is a hackathon a completely positive positioning?”

My take is that this is essentially a single company affair designed to create a big marketing blast. I hope it works. As I pointed out, traditional vendors face a difficult challenge from firms that are offering what I would call “revolutionary approaches.” Watch for my upcoming Information Today write up that explains how some vendors have been leapfrogged by firms pushing information access in a new and quite useful direction.

Stephen E Arnold, November 13, 2014

List of Business Intelligence Vendors

November 3, 2014

I came across a write up called “Yellowfin a Top Performing Dashboard and Ad-Hoc Reporting BI Solution across Many Categories in BARC’s The BI Survey 14.” What I found useful about the article was the list of business intelligence vendors. I am familiar with the search companies that say there are in the business intelligence game. I am skeptical about this type of pivoting because these outfits are rarely in the automated collection business.

Here’s the list of companies in case you are tracking this market sector:

  • Arcplan
  • Bissantz
  • BOARD
  • Corporate Planning
  • Cubeware
  • Cyberscience
  • Dimensional Insight
  • Dundas
  • Entrinsik
  • Evidanza
  • IBM Cognos BI
  • Information Builders
  • Microsoft Excel, Power products, and SSAS (!)
  • MicroStrategy
  • Oracle BI Foundation Suite
  • Pentaho
  • Phocas
  • Pyramid Analytics
  • Qlik
  • SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence
  • Tableau
  • TARGIT
  • Tibco
  • Yellowfin.

No enterprise search vendors on this list. Is this more than a PR problem? Is it a credibility problem for search vendors who can flip from market to market without so much as a how de doo?

Stephen E Arnold, November 3, 2014

G2 Crowd Announces Business Intelligence Leaders

October 24, 2014

The article titled Tableau, Qlikview, TIBCO, SAS, and Oracle Lead G2 Crowd’s Business Intelligence Ratings on Venture Beat discusses the winners and losers of the Fall 2014 best business intelligence ratings. G2 Crowd claims the position of “unbiased” reviewers of business software. They launched in 2013 and have since collected tens of thousands of verified reviews. The leaders in BI mentioned above were headed off by Tableau Desktop in first position. The article states,

“Either there’s exceptional quality in the BI software, or BI users seem to be fairly easy-to-please people — at least those who rate the software they use. “Overall, G2 Crowd users were satisfied with the business intelligence products they reviewed,” G2 Crowd said in a statement. “Across all products, reviewers reported the product they use meets their requirements at an average rate of 81 percent, and on average reviewers said they were 81 percent likely to recommend the product they use.””

As may be obvious from the list in the article’s title, the industry leaders are all very established companies. Overall, not too many whizzy new vendors make the cut. As for the losers, those relegated to the “Niche” category of low market penetration doubled with low client satisfaction, only two companies fit the bill: Pentaho and Birst. See the full list here.

Chelsea Kerwin, October 24, 2014

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

Chiliad Offline: A Precursor for Other BI Outfits

October 13, 2014

According to PacerMonitor, Chiliad, Inc. filed for bankruptcy on August 6, 2014. As you may recall, the company was a Washington, DC area analytics firm founded by Christine Maxwell of McKinley Group and Magellan fame. (Magellan became part of Excite, which also faded away.)

About two years ago, Beyond Search wrote about Chiliad and its big rocks. Also, in 2012, the company named Craig Norris, as chief executive officer. Mr. Norris (an industry leader according to Reuters)  had been the CEO of Attensity, sentiment analysis outfit, which has experienced its share of strong headwinds. In the news release about his appointment, he said:

“I am excited to be joining Chiliad at an important stage in its growth. What makes or breaks an analytics company is the quality and usability of its core technology. Chiliad’s offering has proven its ability to extract critical findings from data at massive scale for both Government and Commercial customers. I am eager to see us gain recognition for our technology leadership.”

The news release included assertions by Patrick Gross (Chairman of the Chiliad board of directors) that I have encountered many times in the last five years; to wit:

“Chiliad has already solved two very challenging problems. The first is the ability to rapidly search data collections at greater scale than any other offering in the market. The second is to allow search formulation and analysis in natural language. This means that no longer is an elite class of analysts required in order to generate meaningful results, thus reducing the personnel training and skills shortages that plague alternative solutions and put timely discovery at risk. The explosion of ‘Big Data’ is real and valuable findings are buried in vast collections for both enterprises and governments. Chiliad has the opportunity to integrate its innovative, massively scalable solutions with emerging open source software to build customized solutions for the largest-scale clients.”

Businessweek described the company in this way:

Chiliad, Inc. provides data analysis solutions for various clouds, agencies, departments, and other stovepipes. The company offers Discovery/Alert, a platform that enables investigators, business analysts, and knowledge workers to securely reach, find, analyze, and continuously stay on top of big data—whether structured or unstructured, and classified or unclassified. Its software solutions include Iterative Discovery cycle that allows analysts and researchers to reach various content silos, find what matters, analyze it to find meaning from the information relationships presented and continuously monitor changes; and Architecture, a virtual consolidated data center that enables multidimensional analysis and ranking. It serves government/intelligence, law enforcement, healthcare, pharmaceutical, insurance, and other markets. Chiliad, Inc. was founded in 1998 and is headquartered in Herndon, Virginia.

I have highlighted the buzzwords that were designed to generate sales leads and revenue. I can only assume that the verbiage and the Attensity management touch fell short of the mark. How many of the “analytics” and “business intelligence” companies will follow Chiliad’s path? Good question but I keep asking it.

Stephen E Arnold, October 12, 2014

Enterprise Search: The Quest for a Big Red Button

October 9, 2014

I just returned after three days at a content processing conference. This was not one of the search engine optimization or vendor rah rah shows for search and business intelligence. Nevertheless, several presentations and numerous participants voiced a need for a “big red button.”

I think search and content processing vendors may want to spend a few minutes thinking about this metaphor.

So what’s a big red button? The idea among the law enforcement and intelligence professionals at this conference in the suburbs of Washington, DC embrace an office supply vendor advertising campaign. The ad made the point that ordering from the vendor was as easy as pressing a big red button labeled “Easy.”

How does an ad for ink jet cartridges and pencils relate to six and seven figure enterprise search and content processing systems?

Easy, of course.

At this conference, the attendees and a number of speakers talked about the need to simplify findability, tracking, and analysis systems. The fancy visualizations, the ability to store massive amounts of data in a secure cloud, and the appetite among investigators for data is rising.

The usability of the systems is either choked by work cycles that do not produce useful outputs, held back by a shortage of specialists who can operate these systems, or weighted down with bells and whistles that get in the way of some essential functions.

Enterprise search, analysis systems, and intelligence systems were described as one exhibitor as “the major barrier to sales.” One of the speakers from an investigative unit groused, “Once set up, my team has a very difficult time making changes to get the outputs in line with our operational needs.”

A recent study by the Association for Information and Image Management (AIIM) reported that “more than half of the organizations surveyed show little maturity in their approach to search, with no strategy, no allocated budget and no identified owner.”

How can vendors deliver solutions when the customers exhibit indifference to useful technology? How can the technology deliver results to the user so that more informed decisions can be made?

These are important questions that cannot be answered by references to low cost search options, buzzwords, and bootlegging fixes so a single user or a small unit can access digital information.

Several observations are warranted:

First, the sales cycle is becoming longer for many vendors, not just those at the intelligence trade show I attended. Digital solutions are procured in a way that defers a decision. None of the individuals involved wants to make a choice that will lead to pushback from users or scrutiny from the accounting department.

Second, the users get tangled in complex systems. When new systems are explored, the users want simplicity and the vendors deliver complexity. The “failure to communicate” adds bureaucratic friction and in some cases flare ups among vendors, decision makers, and technical staff reviewing a solution.

Third, the benefits of a system or an incumbent system are often very difficult if not impossible to demonstrate. Without concrete data about cost/benefit or crimes solved or good decisions/bad decision ratios—search and content processing has a credibility problem.

The big red button is a powerful metaphor that suggests a pivotal moment in digital information access has arrived. Without a big red button, search and content processing may face even stronger headwinds going forward.

Stephen E Arnold, October 9, 2014

SEO Push Or Objective Review?

September 3, 2014

Butler Analytics recently evaluated a business analytics firm and showed the results in “InetSoft Review.” InetSoft is described as a top tier business intelligence platform and allows functions for ease of use. Further into the review, InetSoft is called “understated” due to the lack of praise for its stellar products. Potential users can choose from three packages:

  • Style Report Enterprise-an enterprise reporting application that supports many constructs.
  • Style Scope-an interactive dashboard software application with visualized analysis and real-time reporting.
  • Style Intelligence-an operational business intelligence platform with a data mashup engine for dashboards, visual analyses, and reporting creation.

The packages have varied options:

“InetSoft offers both perpetual licenses and on-premise annual subscriptions. Small to midsize organizations and business units can take advantage of user-based licensing, while large organizations can leverage server based licensing for enterprise deployments. A maintenance and support charge of 20% is added to perpetual license sales and is included in the annual subscription price.”

This is definitely high praise for an “understated” company. The review is objective enough and will definitely add to InetSoft’s content marketing and SEO value.

Whitney Grace, September 03, 2014
Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

Silobreaker Highlighted in SC Magazine

August 13, 2014

I have been a fan of Silobreaker’s online system and services for almost a decade. Unlike free online services, Silobreaker provides access to third party content as well as online information. An organization can work with Silobreaker in a variety of ways. The firm provides specialized services to process content for organizations as well as offering licensing deals to meet the needs of business information professionals and government entities.

The SC Magazine article “Soft Intelligence Is Important Too: Silobreaker.” I noted several passages in the story by Peter Stephenson as important to me in my work. The first snippet that I created observes:

With intelligence, especially cyber intelligence, the name of the game is situational awareness. That comes from reading lots of news items, blogs, social media, etc. In fact, Silobreaker does that well – to the tune of around 50,000 sources, more than 300 specific major malwares, thousands of vulnerabilities (from the CVE), and tracking 200-plus hacker groups. Then it applies proprietary algorithms to figure out what it has and to make that content available for a variety of queries, some automated and some manual. Specific target groups – such as various industry sectors – can be followed in conjunction with this raw data, which allows the setting of watch lists.

I am not too keen on the phrase “soft intelligence.” When data contribute to action, the service that provided information delivers something I would not characterize as soft. However, the comment is a good one. I would note that when Silobreaker includes a consultant’s report, what I call mid tier content marketing or saucisson by experts from outfits that emulate IDC-like “reports”, the Silobreaker display provides a context of other information.

I also noted:

Silobreaker can be employed as a SaaS service (Silobreaker Premium) or as a server in one’s enterprise – behind a firewall – as Silobreaker Enterprise Software. In either deployment, the key to the company’s success is in its suite of proprietary algorithms and its deep Internet search capability. We have tested the SaaS version with excellent results and have been able to correlate Silobreaker open source intelligence (OSINT) with bits and bytes from such sources as IP Viking and the SANS Internet Storm Center. That, added to monitored data at our Advanced Computing Center has provided an excellent picture of cyber activity and cyber activity trends. There are multiple ways to collect and analyze Silobreaker data. For example, you can easily create your own dashboard and include only those things that are important to you. You might watch trends within your own industry, trending malware, trending attacks, etc. You can relate those back to your particular business environment. So, we can watch trending attacks, hacker ops and malware that relates particularly to the banking industry, for example.

This is a helpful description of Silobreaker. I would point out that Silobreaker incorporates a number of features that other systems available to organizations struggle to implement in a context sensitive way; for example, a map that pinpoints an entity in a specific geographic area.

I too find Silobreaker’s trending functions quite useful. SC Magazine says:

Trending is the key analysis tool. Things happen. They don’t usually happen in isolation, but sometimes they do. What is important, though, are the trends that we can use predicatively to help erect proactive defenses. Silobreaker generates trend information using heat and time series. These show, graphically, the trends over whatever time period you want. Heat shows within one day or one week at time series set by you. The system uses a 360-degree analysis approach that looks at the interactions between trending items, rather than looking at them in isolation.

Again I would point out that the “last known location function” and the “at a glance” reports that can be used in a meeting are also outstanding. Silobreaker includes a robust searching system too. Very important. Recommended.

For more information, visit www.silobreaker.com.

Stephen E Arnold, August 13, 2014

Actuate: Some Metrics

August 9, 2014

The blurring of search, business intelligence, and number crouching makes it difficult to figure out exactly what a company licenses. In the case of Actuate, there are some crystal clear products and services, and there are some which weave across boundaries.

For some, Actuate means an open source business data-reporting project launched by the Eclipse Foundation in 2004. You can download Eclipse BIRT here.

Actuate released BIRT 4.4, a commercial product, in July 2014. The company issued a news release titled “Actuate Announces BIRT Analytics 4.4 for Even Easier and Faster Big Data Advanced Analytics for Business Professionals.” Actuate employs the jargon that electrifies those who ride the data analytics bandwagon; for example:

BIRT Analytics 4.4 is a sophisticated, end-to-end software solution that allows users to extract maximum value from Big Data, in the form of visual statistical insights that enable sharper commercial decision-making, and greater customer responsiveness, providing organizations a powerful competitive edge. The built-in, columnar database engine loads at an unrivalled speed of up to 60 GB/hour. With BIRT Analytics 4.4, users are able to explore up to 6 billion records in less than a second, and perform advanced analytics on a million records in under a minute. Business analysts and business users can get to the exact insight they need in seconds rather than days or weeks – freeing IT and data scientists to work on projects that require their expertise. A new user interface (UI) and instructions further increase productivity for business users and administrators.

The news release should pump some life into Actuate’s revenues which were $135 million for the year ending 12-31-2013. In May 2014, the company reported a quarterly decrease in net income and a decrease in net operating cash flow. Emerging Growth’s report “Actuate Corporation Offers Underwhelming Performance” stated:

The revenue fell significantly faster than the industry average of 6 percent. Compared to the same quarter last year, Actuate revenues fell by 31 percent.

Is Actuate struggling with some of the same market forces that bedevil search and content processing vendors? Announcements and feature upgrades have to translate into sustainable revenue; otherwise, stakeholders will become increasingly grumpy.

Stephen E Arnold, August 9, 2014

Recent Innovations At KB Crawl

May 30, 2014

It is not an uncommon thought in the technology sector that search tools could become more important that business intelligence. Veille Mag reports that KB Crawl President Bruno Etinne does not agree with this idea. In the article, “KB Crawl Or How To Structure Unstructured Data” states that most Web sites are designed these days to make finding information easier than typing keywords into a search engine. Information is categorized so finely; it leads to more business intelligence solutions than to search.

Such thinking might have led KB Crawl’s “new look,” described as way for data to meet the needs of many departments:

“KB Crawl “new look” for example prepare data for Excel that contains a mapping tool as PowerView will connect to publishing systems or online booking. The last application is that of a client who has financed a portion of the development. The software meets the needs of marketing, documentation, ereputation, strategy and decision support that are fundamental to economic intelligence. It allows you to make the right decisions.”

KB Crawl has designed its software as a SaaS with a simple user interface and with a new version releasing soon.

While information might be easy to find, if it is not readily available users will turn to a search function. Is KB Crawl depending on people to have a certain amount of information literacy? Clearly, the have forgotten that search is a business intelligence tool.

Whitney Grace, May 30, 2014
Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

Software AG Happy About JackBe

May 30, 2014

Business Wire via Sys Con has some great news: “Software AG’s Acquisition Of JackBe Recognized As Strategic M&A Deal Of The Year.” Software AG is a big data, integration, and business process technologies firm driven to help companies achieve their desired outcomes. With the acquisition of real time visual analytics and intelligence software provider JackBe will be the foundation for Software AG’s new Intelligent Business Operations Platform. The acquisition even garnered attention from the Association for Corporate Growth and was recognized as the Strategic M&A deal of the year in the $100 million category.

JackBe will allow Software AG to offers its clients a broader range of enterprise functions in real-time, especially in areas related to the Internet of Things and customer experience management.

“The real-time analysis and visualization of massive amounts of data is increasingly becoming the basis for fast and intelligent business decisions. With the capabilities of JackBe integrated in its Intelligent Business Operations platform, Software AG has been able to provide customers with a comprehensive 360-degree view of operational processes by combining live, historical and transactional data with machine-to-machine communications.”

Purchasing JackBe was one of the largest big data deals in 2013 and it also proves that technology used by the US government can be turned into a viable commercial industry.

Software AG definitely has big plans for 2014. Will they continue to make headlines this year?
Whitney Grace, May 30, 2014
Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

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