May 22, 2013
When Marissa Mayer took charge of Yahoo, she flipped the failing company upside down with strategic changes and she is about to make another one, says CNet in the article, “Yahoo Reportedly Looking To Dump Microsoft Search Pact.” Mayer has been unhappy with Yahoo’s partnership with Microsoft and has been searching for a way to end the arrangement.
Both companies made the deal in good faith:
“The two companies entered into a 10-year search partnership in 2010 in which Microsoft would power Yahoo search and Yahoo would become the sales force for Microsoft’s premium properties. However, the relationship hasn’t yielded the revenue-per-search guaranteed by the partnership, prompting Microsoft to extend the RPS guarantee for another year, Yahoo disclosed in a regulatory filing Tuesday.”
Microsoft failed to hit the RPS targets and Microsoft keeps seeking extensions in hopes to generate some profits. Mayer wants to grow Yahoo, she does not want to remain stagnant which is what the deal is bringing. Yahoo still considers Microsoft an important partner, but back in 2008 Google courted Yahoo with an ad-search deal and they may come back. Yahoo will probably find a way out of the deal and if the purpose is to make money, which Google is good at, Yahoo just might join the Google family. Is it time to drink the Kool-Aid?
Whitney Grace, May 22, 2013
May 11, 2013
Just a small thing, the Bloomberg privacy breach allegations. There are far weightier matters in search; for example, are evaluations and ratings of search vendors objective? Someone on the LinkedIn Enterprise Search Engine Professional Group even raised the possibility that vendors “pay” for coverage in some consultants’ evaluations of technology.
Well, on to the smaller thing which is labeled this way in the New York Times: “Privacy Breach on Bloomberg’s Data Terminals.” You can located the story in the May 11, 2013, edition of the newspaper. If you look online at http://goo.gl/oeMqA you may be able to view the news story. (Google, no promises because I know how you want every blog post to have continuously updated links, but that’s another issue.)
The main idea seems to have originated with a real journalism operation called The New York Post. This point appears in paragraph six, so it is definitely a subordinate point.
As I understand the allegation, Bloomberg tradition terminals had a function which allowed “journalists to monitor subscribers were promptly disabled.” I think that Bloomberg terminals generate some sort of report which allegedly allowed a journalist to determine if someone had used the terminal. The idea is that no use of a terminal suggests that the person has either moved on, lost his or her hands, or experienced an opportunity to find his / her future elsewhere.
How secure are secure systems. Image source: Sandia.gov at http://goo.gl/NaEBE. Modern methods for accessing digital information are difficult to depict. Paper is tangible. Digital data are just “out there.” Humans assume that if it cannot be seen, the problems associated with what’s “out there” are no big deal. Is this an informed viewpoint?
The Atlantic Wire covered the alleged breach in a story called “Why Billions Are at Stake in the Bloomberg Terminal Privacy Problem.” What I found interesting was that the Atlantic Wire pointed out that the breach allegedly allowed a journalist to determine the “news habits” of Bloomberg terminal users. Is this similar to the type of information which online services extract from users’ Web search histories?
May 8, 2013
Short honk: The folks at GourmetDeVille, an information service covering artisanal and craft spirits sent me a link to a short news video. The talent is Jasmine Ashton, one of the ArnoldIT writing and research team. Ms. Ashton told me that she worked with Augmentext to develop this program. I wanted to send a happy quack to Ms. Ashton and her colleagues. I understand that more videos will be forthcoming. Although I am not a video person, I understand that video is a high value information type. I applaud the effort. Check out the 90 second news item at http://goo.gl/nLISJ.
Stephen E Arnold, May 8, 2013
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May 6, 2013
I was interested in the four news items in my alert system. A large consulting firm, which I think “invented” the notion of “business intelligence”, identified four companies as “Cool Vendors.” I was not familiar with any of these firms: Cloud Sherpas, Glue Networks, Nintex, and Reveille.
Here’s a snippet from the Reveille news release I saw:
The Cool Vendors in Content Management 2013 report provides IT and business buyers with innovative solutions to help them to create, manage, and access their information better. The analysis focused on providing solutions to support content on-the-go, improved collaboration capabilities and more effective management of the applications delivering the content.
And I noted from the Glue Networks’ item this passage:
Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner’s research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.
There are many lists generated, including those from one of the publications for which I write a for-fee column. My questions include:
- How does a company get on a “list”?
- Are the lists useful if the organization generating the list does not have some confidence in the listee’s business viability?
- Are these lists of most use to insurance, real estate, and other commercial enterprises trying to sell the listee something?
When I read lists for anything, now more than ever I feel a chill marketing wind, not the hot breath of customer buzz. If a reader can shed light on these lists, please, use the comments section of the blog?
Stephen E Arnold, May 6, 2013
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HP, Autonomy, and a Context Free Expert Output about Search: The Bet on a Horse Approach to Market Analysis
May 4, 2013
I don’t think too much about:
- Azure chip consultants. You know, these are the firms which make a living from rah rahs, buzzwording, and pontification to sell reports. (I know. I labored at a non-azure chip outfit for what seems like decades. Experience is a good instructor. Oh, if you are a consultant, please, complain about my opinion using the comments section of this free blog.)
- Hewlett Packard. I recall that the company used to make lab equipment which was cool. Now I think the firm is in some other businesses but as quickly as I latch on to one like the Treo and mobile, HP exits the business. The venerable firm confuses my 69 year old mind.
- Autonomy. I think I did some work for the outfit but I cannot recall. Age and the lifestyle in rural Kentucky takes a toll on the memory I admit.
Nevertheless, I read “HP’s Autonomy Could Face Uphill Battle In Data Market.” There were some gems in the write up which I found amusing and illustrative of the problems which azure chip consulting firms and their experts have when tackling certain business issues.
The main idea of the write up for “investors” is that HP faces “challenges.” Okay. That’s a blinding insight. As you may recall, HP bought Autonomy for $11 billion and then a few months later roiled the “investors” by writing off billions on the deal. That was the mobile phone model, wasn’t it?
The write up then pointed out:
HP wanted Autonomy to jump-start its move into software and cloud-based computing. Autonomy is the No. 1 provider of search and retrieval software that companies use to find and share files and other information on their websites and document management systems.
Okay. But that too seems obvious.
Now here comes the kicker. The expert outfit providing inputs to the reporter doing the bull dog grip on this worn out bone is quoted as saying:
“Software license revenue (in this market) isn’t growing at the same rate as before, and we are beginning to see the rise of some new technologies, specifically content analytics and unified information access,” Schubmehl said. These new types of software can be used with types of business analytics software, business intelligence software and other software to help enterprises do a better job of locating specific information, he says, which is the job of search retrieval software.
I don’t know much about IDC but what strikes me from this passage is that there are some assertions in this snippet which may warrant a tiny bit of evaluation.
Will context free analyses deliver a winner? Will there be a Gamblers Anonymous for those who bet on what journalists and mid tier (second string) consultancies promulgate? For more about Gamblers Anonymous navigate to http://www.gamblersanonymous.org/ga/
May 3, 2013
My Overflight for search vendors generated an odd “recent” update. The item originated from Chrlettestuvv’s Blog. The story pointed to an item called “SAIC’s TeraText Solutions Signs Strategic Alliance Agreement with HP.” The source was an “article from Software Industry Report, August 1, 2005.
HP apparently needed something more than TeraText, which shared some similarities with the now forgotten iPhrase and anticipated features in MarkLogic Server today. I find these search- and content-processing related tie ups interesting.
Each time I recall one or some glitch in the Internet surfaces a partner factoid, I am more confident that search vendors and some growth hungry large corporations move from speed dating to speed dating activity. Do the engagements lead to marriages? Sometimes I suppose. Other times the companies, like boy friends and girl friends in high school, the couples just drift apart.
Search, however, remains mostly unchanged.
Stephen E Arnold, May 3, 2013
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May 2, 2013
I participated in three telephone conference calls earlier this week. As I was thinking about each, I realized that the “metacontent” of the calls had little to do with the actual subjects discussed. On the surface, the participants were opining about search, smart software and money.
After I read “Buyouts – New Venture Aims at $100 Bln Zombie Fund Market” I wondered how much pressure these folks will put on the managers responsible for breathing life into the nearly dead? Here’s the passage I noted:
The new firm plans to act as a fiduciary to replace or complement general partners of funds; provide advisory services for limited partners; create successor funds by consolidating direct private equity investments into a fund structure; and shop for investment opportunities such as follow-on capital at the portfolio level. In a prepared statement, Kirchner said the partnership “provides tremendous validation” of his firm’s business model. “Now is the right time for us to scale up to meet rapidly increasing market demand,” he said, adding that the deal with Crestline Investors will provide “institutional infrastructure and access to capital.”
I don’t see many butterflies, fairies, or unicorns in this play. I then thought about the conference calls. Each of these focused on raising money from a willing source. My latest take on some key phrases which I jotted down during these calls appear below:
1 — “We have a breakthrough search technology.”
What I now think this phrase means is something along the line of:
I have an MBA, know nothing about search, but I think this new search system can become the next Google.
In my opinion, this is self delusion fueled either by ignorance or the prospect of getting paid when a person or persons puts money into the search technology. Is Google a search company? Is it likely that Google will be unseated any time soon? These questions are ignored by the participants in this call.
2 — “I have more than $500,000 in sweat equity in this breakthrough cloud system.”
What I now think this phrase means something like this:
I want to get funding so I can pay myself $500,000.
I, like many others, want to get paid. Is there another bankrupt mom in this $500,000? A new Corvette? Is it realistic to think that a person or persons investing in a start up will happily watch $500,000 disappear into the pocket of a sweat equity worker? I think not in most cases. Investors want revenue growth, profits, and a big payday for themselves. Others stand behind in the line at the pay window.
3 — “I am working 80 hours a week and juggling essential tasks.”
Here’s my translation:
I have replaced judicious action with doing lots of stuff in the hopes that something, anything, works.
What message does working really hard while juggling send. One misstep and the balls come down and bounce away. One or two could strike the juggler and knock him or her unconscious. Could that be a way to achieve entropy?
Has search, content processing, big data, and analytics been cracked? For me, no. Are these chestnuts roasting by an open fire? You bet. Get too close to the flames and there is pain. Companies which accept funding have to produce with or without the odd phrases which keep cropping up in conference calls.
Stephen E Arnold, May 2, 2013
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April 29, 2013
I read “If MBAs Are Useless, We’re All in Big Trouble.” My interest is search which gives me considerable room to wander in the intellectual farm land. The key point, in my opinion, is that MBAs are not useless and smart money types who suggests MBAs are losers to some degree are off base.
Here’s the snippet which caught my attention:
While creating a product and starting a company have never been easier, building and sustaining a business have never been harder. And lean is not everything. That means business education has never been more important. But first, both b-schools and companies need to learn some new tricks.
Several thoughts crossed my mind. The argument points out what any one who owes money knows. Producing revenue is pretty important to avoid failure, humiliation, or legal action. Also, the idea that a person can do everything by himself or herself is not such a good idea. The underlying truism is that many tasks are complex. Renaissance men and women are in short supply. Ergo a team is needed. Also, the notion of learning new “tricks” is interesting. A trick is, in my view, a short cut. And as any one who struggled in math class knows, tricks make the difference between an A and a C or D for some people.
Even the US government embraces the precepts of MBA-type principles. How is that working out for the US debt? Image source: http://www.hhs.gov/open/images/innovations_fellows.jpg
The next key argument is that “growth” is difficult to achieve. I automatically substitute the phrase “making sales and getting paid” for growth, but the comment is spot on. The subordinate points just polish the discount forks and knives.
Here’s a passage I highlighted:
business education needs to be more practical. Moving faster means leaders have to make more decisions with incomplete, unstructured or ambiguous information. That requires a stronger emphasis on judgment and problem solving, not just analysis. And that realization is already driving both startups and established companies to ditch market research and business plans in favor of prototypes and experiments. The same thing is happening in classrooms.
I don’t agree. What seems to be happening is that the shift to online education is having a disruptive impact on education. I live in a fourth class city in a state which has modest traction in the wide world of higher learning. There are instant schools which provide education and degrees. There are universities which field athletic teams which get more attention than academic programs. There are lots of folks who graduate with degrees and have difficulty reading. I have met some MBAs who work in restaurants. Not good.
So what’s this have to do with search?
Actually the new online users have to have systems which think for them. If these users do not know how to separate the goose feathers from the giblets, the users will depend on systems and services which provide answers. Without the ability to determine if the answers are correct, the big computer outfits are in control
And MBAs? In my experience most MBAs want to make money, be successful, make decisions, and be able to create a killer golf or bridge group. The smart money reaction against MBAs, if it is indeed happening, is a “birds of a feather” action. An MBA who succeeds knows that MBAs are not central to the success equation.
I am not an MBA or M anything. I look at the situation many executives at search companies have as a working environment. I am not sure an MBA or even a degree in nuclear physics is going to provide a clear path to innovation or financial success.
Focusing on a degree or a particular attribute highlights the self evident fact that making money is tough. Looking for a trick, a recipe, or a short cut satisfies the mind which struggles with more sophisticated ideas.
Yep, I too want “speed, agility, and adaptability”. Unfortunately, none of those characteristics works like following a Lego diagram to build a castle. What does work? If someone knew, the dismal success rate of start ups, new products, and sustainable revenue would not be the defining characteristic of today’s business environment.
And search? How many of those content processing outfits which have been in business for four years or more will be able to emulate the success of an Endeca or Google? Does an MBA has the answer? Let me know. My searching online returns no usable system or method.
Stephen E Arnold, April 29, 2013
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April 29, 2013
I met David Bean years ago. He was explaining “deep extraction” to me at a now defunct search engine conference. I recall that he had a number of US government clients. I noted in my analysis of the company which appeared in my analysis of the company that the firm wanted to break into non government markets.
I made sure that one of my team captured news releases about Attensity. When I checked the my files to update my Attensity profile, I noted that the company had done a merger with a couple of German outfits, was pushing into sentiment analysis, and beating the text analytics drum.
In one sense, Attensity was following the same path of Stratify, which as you probably know was Purple Yogi. Hewlett Packard now owns Stratify and I don’t hear too much about how its journey from government work to the wide world of non government work has worked out. Purple Yogi, now Hewlett Packard Autonomy, Stratify is doing legal stuff … I think. If I understand the write up by a high intellect consultant expert, Attensity is speedboating into customer support.
Can market niches like customer support, eDiscovery, and business intelligence keep some vendors afloat?
Two different markets but one common goal: Diversify in order to generate big revenues.
I read “Attensity Uses Social Media Technology for Smarter Customer Engagement.” On the surface, the story is a good one and it is earnestly told:
Its product Respond uses natural language-based analysis to derive insights from any form of text-based data and among other results can produce analyses of customer sentiment, hot issues, trends and key metrics. The product supports what Attensity calls LARA – listen, analyze, relate, act – which is a form of closed-loop performance management. It begins by extracting data from multiple sources of text-based data, (listening), analyzing the content of the data (analyze), linking this data with other sources of customer data, and producing alerts, workflows and reports to encourage action to be taken based on the insights (act).
Familiar stuff. Text processing, outputs, and payoffs for the licensees.
Attensity, founded in 2000, that’s 13 years ago, is no spring chicken. I learned from the write up:
Attensity has also made some technical improvements to the product. The architecture now supports multitenancy and automatic load balancing, which are especially useful in handling very large volumes of tweets. Reporting has been enhanced to include more visualization options, trend analysis, emerging hot issues, and process and performance analysis.
My thought is that many firms which flourished with the once generous assistance of the US government now have to find a way to generate top line revenue, sustainable growth, and profits.
In the present financial environment, text processing companies are flocking to specific problem areas in organizations. Customer support (a bit of an oxymoron in my opinion), eDiscovery, and business intelligence (not as amusing as military intelligence in my opinion) now are well served sectors.
The companies looking for software and systems to make sense of data, cut costs, gain a competitive advantage, or some other benefit much favored by MBAs have not found a magic carpet ride.
The noise from vendors is increasing. The time required to find and close a deal is increasing. Some customers are looking high and low for a solution which is “good enough”. Management turnover, frequent repositionings, and familiar marketing lingo by themselves may not be enough to keep the many firms competing in these “hot niches” afloat.
Stephen E Arnold, April 29, 2013
April 24, 2013
Autonomy just scored a plum placement, we learn from, “ENCO Systems Selects HP Autonomy for Audio and Video Processing,” hosted at Market Watch. ENCO, who makes the radio and TV audio-automation software DAD and DADtv, just selected Autonomy’s IDOL server for inclusion in the next version of enCaption, their automated captioning-generation system. We learn from the press release:
“ENCO Systems provides live automated captioning solutions to the broadcast industry, leveraging technology to deliver closed captioning by taking live audio data and turning it into text. ENCO Systems is capitalizing on IDOL’s unique ability to understand meaning, concepts and patterns within massive volumes of spoken and visual content to deliver more accurate speech analytics as part of enCaption3. . . .
“enCaption3 is the only fully automated speech recognition-based closed captioning system for live television that does not require speaker training. It gives broadcasters the ability to caption their programming, including breaking news and weather, any time, day or night, since it is always on and always available. enCaption3 provides captioning in near real time–with only a 3 to 6 second delay–in nearly 30 languages.”
Despite the soured relationship between HP and Autonomy, whom the tech giant snapped up in 2011, HP continues to leverage this increasingly valuable resource. Founded in 1996, Autonomy grew from research originally performed at Cambridge University.
Two engineers from MIT launched ENCO back in 1983, with a focus on computer-based process control applications in the industrial realm. The company branched into digital audio delivery and radio automation in 1991; since then, broadcasters large and small around the world have come to rely on their technologies.
Cynthia Murrell, April 24, 2013