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Machine Learning Resolves Enterprise Search

August 26, 2015

One of the main topics of discussion on Beyond Search is enterprise search.  We always try to find the juicy details behind enterprise search’s development, groundbreaking endeavors, and problems that search experts need to be aware of.  One thing we can all agree on is that enterprise search is full of problems.  The question is will all of enterprise search’s problems ever be solved?

Ron Miller proposed a possible solution on TechTarget’s Search Content Management blog, “Will Machine Learning Revamp Enterprise Search Software?”  Machine learning offers a bevy of solutions for many industries and what is very intriguing about the process is that we have yet to scratch the surface of its possible applications.  Miller points out that machine learning should deliver more accurate and broader search results than the traditional search index.

Miller imagines this scenario:

“I think we’re going to see tools where the machine can automatically generate results, based on what the user is working on. The information could perhaps populate onto a split screen, suggesting additional information that could potentially be helpful for the user, and then apply machine learning to the user’s response.”

He suggests machine learning driven enterprise search will anticipate a user’s information need and even help shape their daily work routine.  These are very feasible conjectures and machine learning has already shaped such industries as the medical field and engineering.  The main item to ask is when will machine learning become inexpensive enough to implement in enterprise search?

Whitney Grace, August 26, 2015
Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

The Data Lake Is a Hub: For Wheel I Tell You

August 25, 2015

When I read “Why Do I Need a Data Lake,” I thought about Mel Blanc. Mr. Blanc was a voice actor who enlivened the Jack Benny Show and Warner Bros. cartoons. For Mr. Benny, Mr. Blanc was the “sound” of the Maxwell automobile and the participant in the famous “Sí…Sy…sew…Sue” routine.

So what? I imagined Mr. Blanc reading aloud the write up to me as Daffy Duck.

Here’s a passage I highlighted and enjoyed:

The data lake has the potential to transform the business by providing a singular repository of all the organization’s data (structured AND unstructured data; internal AND external data) that enables your business analysts and data science team to mine all of organizational data that today is scattered across a multitude of operational systems, data warehouses, data marts and “spreadmarts”. [Emphasis in the original]

Note that the lake has “potential to transform”. I also like the categorical imperative of “all the organization’s data.” I find the “all” notion quite humorous because there are digital data which are not likely to be pooled and processed. One example is data governed by government contracts for which rules of secrecy apply. Another is digital information germane to a legal matter and in the control of the firm’s legal eagles. There are other examples as well. So the “all” is bobbing buoy. But what the heck is a spreadmart?

But the chortle inducing passage is the conversion of a data lake into a “hub and spoke service architecture.” That is quite a metaphorical shift.

Here’s another passage I highlighted:

the head of EMC Global Services Big Data Delivery team, termed this a “Hub and Spoke” analytics environment where the data lake is the “hub” that enables the data science teams to self-provision their own analytic sandboxes and facilitates the sharing of data, analytic tools and analytic best practices across the different parts of the organization.

I worked through the requisite list of dot points and then came upon a list of confusions for which I was prepared by the lake wheel juxtaposition. One confusion warrants some of my attention: “Create multiple data lakes.”

The idea is that an organization needs just “ONE [emphasis in original] data lake;

a singular repository where all of the organizations data – whether the organization knows what to do with that data or not – can be made available.  Organizations such as EMC are leveraging technologies such as virtualization to ensure that a single data lake repository can scale out and meet the growing analytic needs of the different business units – all from a single data lake.

I can hear Daffy as vivified by Mr. Blanc saying, “Do me a big data favor and scold anyone who starts talking about data lakes (plural) instead of a data lake.”

Okay, scold.

EMC, as I understand the firm’s strategy, is contemplating this action: The company has considered selling itself to one of its subsidiaries.

There you go. An example of a hub and spoke, data lake type analysis applied to storage. Why do I need a data lake.

That’s all folks.

Stephen E Arnold, August 25, 2015

IBM Still Leads. HP Closing the Decline Gap

August 21, 2015

Hewlett-Packard said on Thursday that its profit fell 13 percent in the third quarter, a reminder of the grim challenges prompting a break-up of the company in the coming months. The Gray Lady played it straight, pointing out:

The company said its net income for the quarter, which ended July 31, fell to $900 million, or 47 cents a share, from $1 billion, or 52 cents a share, in the same period a year earlier. Net revenue fell 8 percent, to $25.3 billion, from $27.6 billion a year ago. I read several reports about Hewlett Packard’s financial statements which cushion the impact of revenue decline.

The Register was more insightful. The headline “HP Is Getting So Good Now at Negative Growth, It Should Patent It.” I learned in the Negative Growth article:

The Enterprise Group experienced a modest 2 per cent annual gain, with total revenue for the quarter at $7bn. Once again, sales of industry standard servers were up an encouraging 7.7 per cent. But the higher-margin “business critical systems” saw sales slump 21 per cent, year on year. Technology services revenue was also down 9.3 per cent. Curiously, however, sales of networking equipment were up 22.5 per cent. Things weren’t so great on the Enterprise Services side, however, which saw its revenue dip to $4.98bn, an 11 per cent year-on-year decline. Infrastructure outsourcing was down 13.1 per cent, while application and business services was down 7.4 per cent.

IBM leads in the declining revenue race, however. IBM has 13 straight quarters of decline. HP will split into two companies whose value may be dragged down by the company’s performance. If the split does not take place, HP may have a chance to eat into IBM’s lead in the downhill slide, pro division.

Watson may turn around IBM. HP seems to be wrestling with its Autonomy deal. Both companies bet big on search and content processing. I wonder how the senior managers at each firm views the upside of whiz bang information access technology.

Stephen E Arnold, August 21, 2015

Its Hacker Season

August 21, 2015

One of the quintessential cartoon feuds exists between Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck as they argue whether or not it is duck or rabbit hunting season.  Whoever wins gets the lovely prize of having their face blown off, thankfully cartoon violence does not obey the rules of life and death.  The ensuing argument ends with hilarious consequences, but everyday another type of big game is always in season: your personal information.  Hackers are constantly searching for ways to break into vulnerable systems and steal valuable information.

One a personal level it is frightening to be hacked, but corporations stand risk millions of dollars, customer information, trade secrets, and their reputations if their systems get hacked.   There are many companies that specialize in software to prevent potential hackings, but Cybereason offers unique selling points in the article, “Introducing Cybereason: Real-Time Automated Cyber Hunting.”

“This is why Cybereason exists, to bring the fight against hackers off of the frontlines and into the depths of your environment, where they lurk after gaining unnoticed access. Security needs to be about having an ever-watchful eye over your endpoints, servers, and network, and the Cybereason platform will allow you to perform real-time, automated hunting across your entire environment.”

On their Web site they posted a product video that feeds on the US’s culture of fear and they present an Armageddon like situation complete with a female voice over artist with a British accent, a Guy Fawkes mask, and Matrix-like graphics.  My favorite bit is when Cybereason is made to resemble a secret intelligence agency of superheroes.

Despite the clichéd video, it does give a thorough visualization of what Cybereason’s software and services can do.  The fear factor might be a selling point for some clients, but I’d rather hear hard facts and direct solutions.  It takes out the dramatic elements and actually tells me what the product can do for me.  You have to love Cybereason’s ending phrase, “Let the hunt begin.” It makes me want to respond with, “May the odds ever be in your favor.”

Whitney Grace, August 21, 2015

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Enterprise Search: Failure Is a Synonym Whether on the Desktop or a Mobile Device

August 20, 2015

One of my favorite content management services has embraced enterprise search. With content management systems or CMS as they are called by the cognoscenti a source of information technology angst, enterprise search seems to be a complementary topic.

Both “disciplines” purport to make a trucking, chemical, or financial services firm into a more efficient information machine. The reality is persistent cost overruns, mismatches between user needs and what the systems actually deliver, and the deep thrum thrum of pumps outputting red ink.

I read “4 Ways Enterprise Mobile Repeats Intranet Mistakes.” I quite like the title. Four seems to undershoot the mistake score, but enterprise search has only been in the failure business since the early 1980s. My list of “challenges” is in pinball machine score range.

Here are the four mistakes viewed through the eyeballs of a CMS centric source:

  1. No dedicated program with a person who “owns” the project
  2. Regular information technology folks are running the car wash
  3. Those regular information technology folks are not too swift in the “user experience design” department
  4. Regular information technology folks and search experts — heck everyone — does not understand what users need. (I assume there are assorted experts, failed webmasters, unemployed middle school teachers, and out of work journalists who do understand what users need.)

So what’s the fix? How will organizations ever manage? The sky is falling and we have to build a space elevator, right?

Nope.

The fix involves four actions:

  1. I have to quote this, since I lack the expertise to paraphrase the following: “Find a home within the organization for enterprise mobile leadership, and build up stakeholder engagement, governance, and change management capabilities.” Does this sound like horse features to you? I think this is different; these notions are balderdash. Your mileage may vary.
  2. You whoever you is simply “ensure your IT function operates at a strategic level.” Sure enough, boss.
  3. Beef up your “UXD” capabilities. The notion of UXD is supposed to evoke nifty stuff like unusable iPad apps, odd ball Google cards, and weird three line “hamburger” icons which are too small for my aged and clumsy fingers. I am into user experience; namely, a keyboard, a command prompt, and paper. Obviously I am a loser in the UXD game.
  4. Research what those frontline worker need. Oh, don’t forget to watch a frontline worker do work.

Let’s reflect on these fixes.

In my pre retirement years, I had the opportunity to work with a number of organizations. These ranged from lost in space tractor companies to outfits which were chock full of the smartest people in the world.

I learned that getting tasks completed were difficult. Few people, including the late lamented strategy officers, got much done. The design stuff emerged from marketing departments and most frontline folks ignored marketing departments. I learned that asking someone what they need produces features no one uses.

My hunch is that anyone who tries to implement an enterprise search solution is likely to convert that effort into the same slough of cost overruns, unhappy users, and technological mine fields associated with vanilla enterprise search.

For those who are looking for a better gig than implementing content management systems and enterprise search systems, the mobile thing dusted with user experience malarkey will remain marginalized or just ignored.

Install Elasticsearch. Use prebuilt templates. Move on. Senior management won’t care. Users won’t care. Maybe if a search project comes in under budget someone in accounting will be happy with enterprise search for once.

Stephen E Arnold, August 20, 2015

Geofeedias Political Action

August 20, 2015

The presidential election is a little over a year away and potential presidential candidates are starting on their campaign trails.  The Republican and Democratic parties are heating up with the GOP debates and voters are engaging with the candidates and each other via social media.   The information posted on social media is a gold mine for the political candidates to learn about the voters’ opinions and track their approval rating.  While Twitter and Facebook data is easy to come by with Google Analytics and other software, visual mapping of the social media data is a little hard to find.

To demonstrate its product capabilities, Geofeedia took social media Instagram, fed it into its data platform, and shared the visual results in the blog post, “Instagram Map: Republican Presidential Debate.”  Geofeedia noted that while business mogul Donald Trump did not fare well during the debate nor is he in the news, he is dominating the social media feeds:

“Of all social content coming out of the Quicken Loans Center, 93% of posts were positive in sentiment. The top keywords were GOP, debate, and first, which was to be expected. Although there was no decided winner, Donald Trump scored the most headlines for a few of his memorable comments. He was, however, the winner of the social sphere. His name was mentioned in social content more than any other candidate.”

One amazing thing is that social media allows political candidates to gauge the voters’ attitudes in real time!  They can alter their answers to debate questions instantaneous to sway approval in their favor.  Another interesting thing Geofeedia’s visual data models showed is a heat map where the most social media activity took place, which happened to be centered in the major US metropolises.  The 2016 election might be the one that harnesses social media to help elect the next president.  Also Geofeedia also has excellent visual mapping tools.

Whitney Grace, August 20, 2015
Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

 

Alphabet: Spelling Lemonade in the Harvard Yard

August 19, 2015

Talk about Mad Magazine and I think of the Harvard Business Review. For me, working through an issue, scanning the Web site, and listening to the stunning HBR podcast deliver a trifecta of amusement.

Consider “Alphabet Isn’t a Typical Conglomerate.” The write up is an explanation of how darned great the LingTemcoVought-ization of the Google is. Two companies. Google does the “all the world’s information” defined by online advertising; the other—Alphabet or Alpha bet or Phab— does the math and science fair projects. I know. I know. I should be excited about Loon balloons, self driving autos which even Volvo is working on—What, Volvo for goodness sakes), and solving the thorny problem of eternal life in a recreation of Juan Ponce de León’s epic adventure. I call him Ponce the Pointless.

Does Ponce remind you of anyone? Maybe a senior Google — oops, Alphabet — manager?

The write up focuses on such Harvard Yard favorites as a long time horizon, the importance of a company as a “talent magnet” from which start ups poach wizards, a “wake up call” to outfits like Amazon and Facebook, and a “catalyst to unleash the next wave of Google caliber companies in different industries.”

Sounds great. What could possibly go wrong as long as the ad revenue continues to burble.

Here in Harrod’s Creek, where the mine drainage gurgles into the pond which one attracted ducks, we think about revenue, organic revenue, lots of filthy lucre. The idea is that investments should have an upside for stakeholders. I am reluctant to point out these minor details:

  1. Google’s core business model was the online advertising approach of GoTo.com which became Overture which Yahoo bought. Prior to the IPO, the Alphabet kids worked out a deal with Yahoo to sail unencumbered into IPO land. Why worry about that legal settlement now? Google’s money machine was not exactly an original idea.
  2. Since the days of Backrub and fiddling around with the Clever system and method, the Google has not created a revenue stream which can lessen the firm’s dependence on online advertising. The vaunted innovation of Google applies to Chubby and Big Table, but in the diversification of revenue there has been much smoke and very little fire. Why will another corporate reorg unleash substantial new revenue streams? Hope springs eternal I suppose. What’s the problem with 95 percent of Phab’s revenue coming from online advertising? What could possible go wrong other than Facebook’s annoying presence?
  3. Google’s technological innovations do not seem that original to me. The death thing has been done and the departure of Amir Parviz, the nanotech protein wizard, progress seems slow. The tethered balloon seems tame compared to ultra light aircraft endlessly circling. The self driving car? Did I mention Volvo?

To sum up, the Alpha bet or the Phab folks may be doing the knee jerk “let’s buy Motorola” jive. How did that work out anyway? Long shots are fun. Long shots excite experts. Long shots are math and science club projects on a grand scale.

Why not do something slightly more exciting than sell online ads and deliver irrelevant search results? There is no need to make alpha bets and suggest that the idea is just Phab-ulous.

The Harvard Business Review, on the other hand, is finding a way to present lemonade with a twist of spin. That’s a good use of the alphabet. Will the European Commission get with the Phab0ulous new program?

Stephen E Arnold, August 19, 2015

ABC.xyz: Just Big Enough

August 15, 2015

I read a remarkable write up called “Week in Tech: Google Was Only the Beginning for Larry and Sergey.” The write up asserts:

Google simply wasn’t big enough to house Alphabet’s ambition.

Shouldn’t that be Messrs. Brin’s and Page’s ambition?

Nevertheless, the article bubbles with enthusiasm; for example:

And that’s just how low on the list of priorities the little subsidiary company by the name of Google had become in the eyes of its co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin.  It’s almost as if they now see their parenting job complete and they’re happy to wave Google off to lead its own life. Now tech’s most terrific twosome have a new litter of offspring, which have even bigger potential to change the world.

I talked for about 40 minutes with a bright reporter from a major Canadian publication. The topic was Alphabet. My view was slightly different from the one in this evanescent Trusted Review write up.

My comments to the journalist focused on these points:

  1. After the Backrub years and the Google years (think in terms of two decades), Alphabet and Google have one revenue stream: Online advertising. Google has tried with math club sticktoativity. But the efforts have come to naught. Nothing makes money like the modified GoTo.com/Overture.com/Yahoo.com online advertising method.In short, Google remains the one trick revenue pony as Steve Ballmer, MBA, said.
  2. The management expertise at Google is not up to Jack Welch-type standards. With lots of “presidents” possible, the burden of figuring out how to diversify revenue shifts from Messrs. Brin and Page to others.
  3. Google faces a person (Margrethe Vestager) in the European Commission who is not too happy with Google’s approach to search results. Whom will this person and her stalwart team sue? Alphabet or the old fashioned Google? Perhaps this shift in company structure is a fairly clumsy move to get ready for the down checks which seem to be rolling down the information highway.
  4. Search is no longer interesting. The notion of the “all the world’s information” may be  more difficult than solving the problem of life extension, generating revenue from the China and Russian markets, and dealing with the natterings of mere elected officials.

I am not anti Google. Hey, that outfit paid for Tyson’s dog food for several years. I am just not star struck because so much of Google’s early success resulted from three historical events which the cheerleaders don’t know. I think these folks cut history class when the information was presented.

First, Alta Vista tanked, and Messrs. Brin and Page scooped up some talent who possessed the raw engineering experience and expertise to build a variant of the Kleinberg CLEVER system, mix in the Alta Vista memory stuff, and cook up some useful search outputs until the IPO.

Second, Yahoo was unable to do much with its online ad business. The Googlers, like Raphael, entered the Domus Aurea and received inspiration. Prior to the IPO, the inspiration had a price tag, but the revenue free Google suddenly had a business model, not objective search results.

Third, the competition in the period from 1996 (early Backrub) to 2002 (functioning Google search) was clueless. There was the waffling of Fast Search & Transfer, the cluelessness of Yahoo’s management, and the portal mania which swept through Web search. Good systems like Muscat and Hotbot never had a chance. The Google emerged as the victor after the opposing armies went to Shake Shack to ponder their future.

Now the Alphabet Google reorganization makes official the end of a search era. Like enterprise search, some useful functions emerged. But the precision, recall, and relevance has morphed into something less useful to me but not to the author of “Google Was Only the Beginning.” I like the past tense too.

What’s next?

Cognitive computing and Watson? Smart software which understands Farsi slang? Humans who know how to locate, vet, and process information? Big Data and Hadoop plus open source wrappers? Videos on a smartphone? Predictive methods which deliver information before I know I need that information. An Uber like service for high value competitive intelligence?

Oh, right. We have the mobile Google methods. And they are about ads. Boring. Why not go to the moon, invent nano methods to address genetic disorders, and use balloons to deliver Internet access to Sri Lanka?

Which Alphabet letters will spell $60 billion a year in the original Google’s ramp time?

Stephen E Arnold, August 15, 2015

SharePoint 2016 Beta is Coming Soon

August 13, 2015

There is a lot of excitement about the future of SharePoint. Microsoft wants to capitalize on the good buzz but in their excitement the timeline has gotten skewed. It seems that the most recent change is in their favor, however. CMS Wire covers the story in their article, “Cancel Your Plans: SharePoint 2016 Beta is (Almost) Here.”

The author begins:

“For the past couple of years, we IT pros really haven’t known what our place in the world was going to be with SharePoint. But I feel like in the past couple of months I’ve seen the future. At least for me, as an IT pro, part of that future is identity. So you’re going to be hearing a lot more about that from me. But also the reason you’re going to be hearing about a lot of that is because next month — August — we’re going to get our first public beta of SharePoint 2016.”

The beta release will come earlier than projected. Lots of updates will come fast and frequently once the release is available, making it difficult to stay ahead of the curve. In order to sort through the chaos, stay tuned to ArnoldIT.com, a website carefully curated by Stephen E. Arnold. His SharePoint feed is a great way to stay in touch with the latest news, without being overwhelmed by the unnecessary details.

Emily Rae Aldridge, August 13, 2015

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Google Needs SEO and Domain Name Look Up

August 12, 2015

I read a story which I find difficult to believe. The article with the shocking information is “BMW Owns Alphabet.com and Has No Intention of Letting Larry Page Have It.” Well, there goes a chance to replace the Lexus used for a version of  the Google self driving car with a BMW driving machine.

According to the write up:

BMW has confirmed it has no intention of letting Larry Page have it. The car maker also owns an Alphabet trademark and is reviewing whether trademark infringement is being committed by the American company.

The domain name for the A to Z conglomerate which is the “new” Google is abc.xyz. The math club strikes again. Clever, clever.

Stephen E Arnold, August 12, 2015

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