HP, Autonomy, the Vatican: Business Process Case Example

July 21, 2014

On Saturday (July 20, 2014) I read “Exclusive: Vatican Dispute Sheds Light on HP Case in Troubled Autonomy Deal.” The story notes that Reuters saw  “a letter.” Because there was no link to the letter, I decided to wait and see how other “real” journalists reacted to the story.

I found “HP Autonomy Legal Case Takes Religious Twist with Vatican Deal Mystery” interesting. The article does a good job of summarizing Reuters’ recounting of Autonomy selling software to a reseller. Autonomy booked the revenue. The reseller in the US assumed the job of bundling up the software and services and collecting from the Vatican.

Several questions crossed my mind as I through about the original story and the rehash from the V3.co.uk Web site:

  • Is this process different from the one used for selling or leasing an automobile through the value chain at a local Lexus dealership?
  • From where did the copies of the source documents come? Under what circumstances? Why? How?
  • Are other enterprise software vendors using different financial transaction methods? What are some examples germane to the HP Autonomy Vatican case example?

In my experience, there are many ways to sell or license software and services. These range from the open source or freeware approach to the pay for to get a license to use the proprietary deliverable (whether tangible or intangible). Vendors and customers choose an approach that meets the needs of the parties to the deal.

I ask myself, “Is this case example information, reformation, disinformation, misinformation?”

Stephen E Arnold, July 21, 2014

What Most Search Vendors Cannot Pull Off

July 19, 2014

I recently submitted an Information Today column that reported about Antidot’s tactical play to enter the US market. One of the fact checkers for the write up alerted me that most of the companies I identified were unknown to US readers. Test yourself. How many of these firms do you recognize? How many of them provide information retrieval services?

  • A2ia
  • Albert (originally AMI Albert and AMI does not mean friend)
  • Dassault Exalead
  • Datops
  • EZ2Find
  • Kartoo
  • Lingway
  • LUT Technologies
  • Pertimm
  • Polyspot
  • Quaero
  • Questel
  • Sinequa

How did you do? The point is that French vendors of information retrieval and content processing technology find themselves in a crowded boat. Most of the enterprise search vendors have flamed out or resigned themselves to pitching to venture capitalist that their technology is the Next Big Thing. A lucky few sell out and cash in; for example Datops. Others are ignored or forgotten.

The same situation exists for vendors of search technology in other countries. Search is a tough business. And when former Googlers like Marissa Meyer was the boss when Yahoo’s share of the Web search market sagged below 10 percent. In the same time period, Microsoft increased Bing’s share to about 14 percent. Google dogpaddled and held steady. Other Web search providers make up the balance of the market players. Business Insider reported:

This is a big problem for Yahoo since its search business is lucrative. While Yahoo’s display ad business fell 7% last quarter, revenue from search was up 6% on a year-over-year basis. Revenue from search was $428 million compared to $436 million from its display ad business.

Now enterprise search vendors have been trying to use verbal magic to unlock consistently growing revenue. So far only two vendors have been able to find a way to open the revenue vault’s lock. Autonomy tallied more than $800 million in revenue at the time of its sale to Hewlett Packard. The outcome of that deal was a multi-billion dollar write off and many legal accusations. One thing is clear through the murky rhetoric the deal produced. Hewlett Packard had zero understanding of search and has been looking for a scapegoat to slaughter for its corporate decision. This is not helping the search vendors chasing deals.

Google converted Web search into a $60 billion revenue stream. The fact that the core idea for online advertising originated with the pay-to-play company GoTo which then morphed into Overture which THEN was acquired by Yahoo. Think of the irony. Yahoo has the technology that makes Google a one trick, but very lucrative revenue pony. But, to be fair, Google Web search is not the enterprise search needed to locate a factoid for a marketing assistant. Feed this query “how me the versions of the marketing VP’s last product road map” to a Google appliance and check the results. The human has to do some old fashioned human-type work. To find this information with a Google Search Appliance or any other information retrieval engine for that matter is tricky. Basic indexing cannot do the job, so most marketing assistants hunt manually through files, folders, and hard copies looking for the Easter egg.

Many of the pioneering search engines tried explaining their products and services using euphemisms. There was question answering, content intelligence, smart content, predictive retrieval, entity extraction, and dozens and dozens of phrases that sound fine but are very difficult to define; for example, knowledge management and the phrase “enterprise search” itself or “image recognition” or “predictive analytics”, among others.

I had a hearty chuckle when I read “Don’t Sell a Product, Sell a Whole New Way of Thinking.” Search has been available for at least 50 years. Think RECON, Orbit, Fulcrum Technologies, BASIS, Teratext, and other artifacts of search and retrieval. Smart folks cooked up even the computationally challenged Delphes system, the metasearch system Vivisimo, and the essentially unknown Quertle.

A romp through these firm’s marketing collateral, PowerPoints, and PDFs makes clear that no buzzword has been left untried. Buyers did and do not know what the systems actually delivered.  This is evidence that search vendors have not been able to “sell a whole new way of thinking.”

No kidding. The synonyms search marketers have used in order to generate interest and hopefully a sale are a catalog of information technology jargon. Here is a short list of some of the terms from the 1990s:

  • Business intelligence
  • Competitive intelligence
  • Content governance
  • Content management
  • Customer support then customer relationship management.
  • Knowledge management
  • Neurodynamics
  • Text analytics

If I accept the Harvard analysis, the failing of enterprise search is not financial fiddling and jargon. As you may recall, Microsoft paid $1.2 billion for Fast Search & Transfer. The investigation into allegations of financial fancy dancing were resolved recently with one executive facing a possible jail term and employment restrictions. There are other companies that tried to blend search with content only to find that the combination was not quite like peanut butter and jelly. Do you use Factiva or Ebsco? Did I hear a “what?’ Other companies embraced slick visualizations to communicate key information at a glance. Do you remember Grokker? There was semantic search. Do you recollect Siderean Software.

One success story was Oingo, renamed Applied Semantics. Google understood the value of mapping words to ads and purchased the company to further its non search goals of generating ad revenue.

According to the HBR:

To find the shift, ask yourself a few questions. What was the original insight that led to the innovation? Where do you feel people “don’t get it” about your solution? What is the “aha” moment when someone turns from disinterested to enthusiastic?

Those who code up search systems are quite bright. Is this pat formula of shifting thinking the solution to the business challenges these firms face:

Attivio. Founded by Fast Search & Transfer alums, the company has ingested more than $35 million in venture funding. The company’s positioning is “an actionable 360 degree view of anything you need.” Okay. Dassault Exalead used the same line several years.

Coveo. The company has tapped venture firms for more than $30 million since the firm’s founding in 2004, Coveo uses the phrase “enterprise search” and wraps it in knowledge workers, custom service, engineering, and CRM. The idea is that Coveo delivers solutions tailored to a specific business functions and employee roles.

SRCH2. This is a Xoogler founded company that like Perfect Search before emphasizes speed. The alternative is better than open source search solutions.

Lucid Works. Like Vivisimo, Lucid Works has embraced Big Data and the cloud. The only slow downs Lucid has encountered has been turnover in CEOs, marketing, and engineering professionals. The most recent hurdle to trip up Lucid is the interest in ElasticSearch, fat with almost $100 million in venture funding and developers from the open source community.

IBM Watson. Based on open source and home grown technology, IBM’s marketers have showcased Watson on Jeopardy and garnered headlines for the $1 billion investment IBM is making in its “smart” information processing system. The most recent demonstration of Watson was producing a recipe for Bon Appetit readers.

Amazon’s search approach is to provide it as a service to those using Amazon Web services. Search is, in my mind, just a utility for Amazon. Amazon’s search system on its eCommerce site is not particularly good. Want to NOT out books not yet available on the system. Well, good luck with that query.

After I stopped chuckling, I realized that the Harvard article is less concerned with precision and recall than advocating deception, maybe cleverness. No enterprise search vendor has approached Autonomy’s revenues with the sole exception of Google’s licensing of the wildly expensive Google Search Appliance. At the time of its sale to Oracle, Endeca was chugging along at an estimated $150 million in revenue. Oracle paid about $1 billion for Endeca. With that benchmark, name another enterprise search vendor or eCommerce search vendor that has raced past Endeca. For the majority of enterprise search vendors, revenues of $3 to $10 million represent very significant achievements.

An MBA who takes over an enterprise search company may believe that wordsmithing will make sales. Sure, some sales may result but will the revenue be sustainable. Most enterprise search sales are a knee jerk to problems with the incumbent search system.

Without concrete positive case studies, talking about search is sophistry. There are comparatively few, specific, return on investment analyses for enterprise seach installations. I provided a link to a struggling LinkedIn person about an Italian library’s shift from the 1960s BASIS system to a Google Search Appliance.

Is enterprise search an anomaly in business software. Will the investment firms get their money back from their investments in search and retrieval?

Ask a Harvard MBA steeped in the lore of selling a whole new way of thinking. Ignore 50 years of search history. Success in search is difficult to achieve. Duplicity won’t do the job.

Stephen E Arnold, July 19, 2014

Google and Microsoft Shuffle the Deck

July 18, 2014

Each company is using different card tricks.

I see a common theme in the termination of employees at Microsoft and the management redeal at Google.

I read “Beyond 12,500 Former Nokia Employees, Who Else Is Microsoft Laying Off?” I am okay with a Microsoft watcher point out that not just Nokia staff getting the axe. The comment that caught my attention reveals how serious a problem Microsoft faces. Here’s the passage I noted:

Under the new structure, a number of Windows engineers, primarily dedicated testers, will no longer be needed….Instead, program managers and development engineers will be taking on new responsibilities, such as testing hypotheses. The goal is to make the OS team work more like lean startups than a more regimented and plodding one adhering two- to three-year planning, development, testing cycles.

As I understand this, a company almost four decades into its life cycle wants to be “like lean start ups”. I am not sure if my experience is similar to that of other professionals, but working with fewer people does not equal a start up. In a start up, life is pretty crazy. Need a purchase order? Well, someone has to work up that system. Need to get reimbursed for that trade show party? No problem we’ll get a check cut. Over time, humans get tired of crazy and set up routines, systems, and procedures. The thrill of a start up is going to be difficult to emulate at Microsoft.

That’s the core problem. Microsoft has missed or just plain failed with Internet search, unified experiences across devices, online advertising, enterprise search, and improving is core applications. Adding features that a small percentage of users try is not innovation. Microsoft is no longer a start up and firing people will not make it one. Microsoft is an aircraft carrier that takes a long time to turn, to stop, and redirect. Microsoft has to demonstrate to its stakeholders that it is taking purposeful action. Firing thousands of people makes headlines. It does not create new products, services, or meaningful innovations. IBM has decided that throwing billions of dollars at project that “could” deliver big revenue is almost as wild and wooly.

Now to Google. The company reported its quarterly earnings. Cheerleaders for the company point to growth in ad revenue. The New York Times states:

Google’s revenue for the quarter was $15.96 billion, an increase of 22 percent over the year-ago quarter.

Tucked into the article were several comments I marked as indicators of the friction Google faces:

ITEM: “The price that advertisers pay each time someone clicks on an ad — or “cost per click,” in Google talk — dropped 6 percent from the year-ago quarter, largely because of the shift to increased mobile advertising.”

ITEM: “Mobile, however, is something that Facebook seems to have cracked. The social media giant accounted for almost 16 percent of mobile advertising dollars spent around the world last year, eMarketer estimates, up from 9 percent in 2012. Google dropped to a 41.5 percent share of the mobile ad market last year, down from 49.8 percent in 2012.”

ITEM: ““There’s a little bit of concern in the markets that there’s some drunken spending going on,” said Mark Mahaney, an Internet analyst with RBC Capital Markets.”

The New York Times’ article omitted one point I found interesting:

Excluding its cost of revenue, Google’s core expenses in the second quarter jumped 26 percent from last year. Source: http://bit.ly/Uf8JPM.

The Google “core expenses” are creeping up. Amazon has this problem as well. Is there a reason to worry about the online ad giant? Not for me. But the “drunken spending” comments, while clever, have the ring of truth. Then the swift departure of Glass director Babak Parviz (Amir Parviz, Amirparviz, or Parvis) suggests disenchantment somewhere between the self assembly wizard and Goggle management. After a decade of effort, Google has yet to demonstrate that it can create a no advertising revenue stream of significant magnitude for a $60 billion a year company.

Microsoft’s and Google’s recent actions make clear that both companies are trying to adapt to realities of today’s market. Both companies are under increasing pressure to “just make it work.” Three card Monte

Stephen E Arnold, July 18, 2014

Xoogler Under Pressure: The Yahoo Soap Opera Renews for Another Quarter

July 16, 2014

When Chris Kitze and I started The Point (Top 5% of the Internet), we admired the Yahoo Directory. Our goal was much narrowed than Yahoo’s. We focused on putting Web sites in the Point directory that meet our criteria for family friendly and young student friendly sites. That was in 1993 or 1994. The site was a hit and we sold the company to CMGI, and the Point ended up at Lycos. That deal was pretty successful for me, and I learned three things in the wild and wooly, pre crash Internet era 20 years ago.

First, selling ads was difficult. In the early days, there were no solid guidelines for how big an ad could be. Blinking and flashing were annoying, but there was not user backlash with these lame attempts to attract attention. Proving from log data who clicked and other details required scripts and machine resources to grind through the huge files our Sparcs happily pumped out. I learned that ads were indeed good money. But the 1993 Internet required our team to be the digital equivalent of Roman trireme rowers. I don’t recall much time off, and it was hard work.

Selling ads is hard work. The landscape is altered by the process. There’s no guarantee there’s gold in them thar riverbeds. Source: http://bit.ly/1wuH5ef

Second, advertisers were reluctant to pay up front. A problem Google solved with its “account” method. We were stupid. We sent an invoice, the usage data, and waited for the check to come in the mail. Basic lesson: collecting for any online service can be difficult. When times are tough, advertisers shuffle priorities and our invoices filtered to the bottom of the stack. Collections were painful.

Third, making pages in 1993 was a time consuming affair. We experimented with many technologies, toolkits, and even systems like the incredibly sluggish Cold Fusion were tested in 1995. We learned that the best way to create Web pages in the early 90s was to code ‘em up, shake ‘em out, and let ‘em loose. I repeatedly asked myself, “Why did I agree to put resources into a family friendly online service?”

I read two “real” news stories this morning. Neither has been connected in the blog posts and news streams flowing into my Oversight service. Let me point to each and then offer a handful of observations. I would suggest you keep the three factoids I learned from the Point (Top 5% of the Internet) start up.

The first item is “Yahoo Misses In Q2 With Revenue Of $1.04B, EPS Of $0.37.” At a time when newspapers and magazines are gasping for oxygen, Yahoo seems to have no turbocharger to activate. One Alibaba follows its dream, Yahoo has only its in hand properties and acquisition opportunities to produce another Klondike Gold Rush. The write up said:

Yahoo reported its second-quarter financial performance, including revenue (excluding traffic acquisition costs, or TAC) of $1.04 billion and non-GAAP earnings per share of $0.37. Revenue including TAC was $1.08. Analysts had expected the company to earn $0.38 on revenue of ex-TAC of $1.08 billion.

The quote to note about Yahoo earnings is:

The company stated in its release that revenue growth is its “top priority,” and that it is “not satisfied with [its] Q2 results” in that context.

The second reports presents some good news for Microsoft. True, the write up does not mention the impending layoffs or the dismal device market share that this former monopoly now has. “Microsoft to Surpass Yahoo in Global Digital Ad Market Share This Year.”

Unlike some “experts” I view information about online advertising with considerable skepticism. I don’t think the individual numbers presented an “facts” are important. What struck me as important is this statement:

Yahoo’s push to maintain its position as a top global ad seller will take another hit in 2014, according to new projections from eMarketer. Though Yahoo’s ad revenues will be back in the black this year, increasing its global digital ad revenues by 2.7% after a decline of 2.1% in 2013 to reach $3.53 billion, the company’s share of the $140.15 billion digital advertising market will fall from 2.86% to 2.52%.

Microsoft—believe it or not—appears to be doing better than Yahoo in the ad battle.

The big point in my opinion is that Yahoo has racked up falling ad revenue and will continue to lost online advertising market share, not because other vendors like Microsoft are doing a bang up job. I seem to recall that the Xoogler running Yahoo saw only happy faces in the revenue a few months ago. Like IBM’s slowing arcing down numbers, Yahoo appears to be riding a fading wave.

Several observations:

  1. Xooglers do not automatically generate money. In fact, Google’s revenue comes from its magical online search results ad system. (Anyone remember GoTo.com and Overture?) I bet Yahoo does.
  2. Selling online advertising is as difficult today as it was in the era of The Point (Top 5% of the Internet). Google’s approach relies on advertisers who will deposit money to be spent, so some of the collection hassle is ameliorated.
  3. Yahoo has been in turn around mode for a long time. Maybe AOL and Yahoo should get married and produce fat, happy revenue.

Now about the Yahoo search system. I find the results less than satisfying. I can’t figure out how to look at Louisville-related news. I continue to have difficulty logging into my for fee Yahoo mail account when I am out of the country. I suppose I am the Lone Ranger in my view of Yahoo. That’s okay but I see declines as due to more users than myself.

Stephen E Arnold, July 16, 2014

An Enterprise Search Case Studies Is Like Hunting for Digital Truffles

July 15, 2014

The job hunters, experts, and consultants in the LinkedIn enterprise search discussion groups have been looking for positive use cases related to enterprise search. Finding a success story that one can verify is similar to hunting truffles. Keep you eye on the pig, or the truffle will disappear.

I did come across one use case published in the Italian Journal of Library and Information Science. You can find it at http://bit.ly/1juFaWi. The title of the paper is “Using a Google Search Appliance (GSA) to search digital library collections: a case study of the INIS Collection Search.” The problem search system was BASISPlus, now a product marketed and mostly “frozen” by OpenText.

The original version of BASIS was created at Battellle Memorial Institute in the late 1960s. Battelle spun out BASIS and Information Dimensions was the result. In 1998, OpenText bought BASIS, and I don’t think there has been much modernization of the system in the last couple of decades.

Yep, that’s an old school mainframey type system. A colleague and I used BASIS when it was an Information Dimensions’ product to provide data management, report, and search functionality to a Bell Communications Research (a chunk of what was Bell Labs) system that was used by the seven Baby Bells for a number of years.

My team and I loved big iron and FORTRAN. We stuffed the IBM MVS TSO system with some tasty BASIS sausage in 1983.

Well, the use case explains that BASIS was not the solution today’s users required. The fix was to license the Google Search Appliance. You can get a taste of the GSA’s license and fail over cluster costs at www.gsaadvantage.gov. Prepare yourself for sticker shock.

Keep in mind that “positive” has a spectrum of meanings determined by the reader’s context. The solution is the Google Search Appliance. You know this product as a search toaster…sort of. The advantages and disadvantages section of the use case hammers on the good parts and tiptoes around the thorns.

Stephen E Arnold, July 15, 2014

SoftLayer Provides IBM a Lift: Can It Hoist Watson and Chip Bets?

July 14, 2014

I read “SoftLayer Cloud Business Thriving Inside IBM.” Thrive is not the word I would use to describe how iPhrase and Vivisimo have fared. A number of IBM acquisitions have just disappeared into the tummy of the gentle giant, Big Blue. Here’s how the “real” news outfit InformationWeek views the SoftLayer information:

Over the last 12 months, SoftLayer has gained 6,000 new customers. IBM purchased SoftLayer for $2 billion in July 2013. Kandis says SoftLayer’s customer base was composed primarily of small and midsized companies, with some verging on becoming much larger companies. The thing they had in common was they did not have big IT departments, but were looking to expand infrastructure rapidly, Kandis told InformationWeek.

There are some questions.

  1. Will SoftLayer be able to compete with the WalMart-like tactics of Amazon, Google, and Microsoft for cloud happiness?
  2. Will SoftLayer deploy a version of Watson that makes sense to potential licensees? (Recipes for Bon Appétit do not count. Sorry.)
  3. Will SoftLayer pump out enough cash to cover the money IBM wants to invest in next generation computing chips?

My view is that SoftLayer may not be up to the task. Amazon can cut prices quickly. Google, when it gets focused, is still sprightly, just not as zippy as it was in the 2002-2006 era. Microsoft may surprise even the anti Redmond contingent. There is a new, although somewhat muddled, CEO after all.

But SoftLayer has to content with bureaucracy, wild and crazy marketing, and the IBMness of its new work environment. The IDC “experts” don’t trouble themselves with some of the realities I notice. That’s for the best. More sophisticated analyses may shine in comparison.

One plus for the write up, was a reference to Watson as a “general purpose big data analytical engine.” That’s an improvement over a recipe generation system or a sluggish medical diagnostic system. Progress.

Stephen E Arnold, July 14, 2014

YouTube: What Does Google Need? Money?

July 13, 2014

I read an exclusive to Thomson Reuters. I must admit I was a bit confused about what Google is or is not doing with YouTube.

You can find the “exclusive” (for the time being) at “YouTube Weighs Funding Efforts to Boost Premium Content—Sources.” This is, because it carries the Reuters’ logo, a “real” news story I presume.

The story jumps out of the gate with the suggestion that Google needs money. Digital video is the new living room for couch potatoes. If Google needs money, it the firm’s ad revenue flow insufficient to realize Hollywood-style fancies.

Here’s a passage I marked:

YouTube is by far the world’s most popular location for video streaming, with more than 1 billion unique visitors a month, far surpassing Netflix Inc and Amazon. But it is trying to lure more marketers for premium video advertising, boosting margins as overall prices for Google’s advertising declines.

There you go. But we learn that the special channel investment was a less than stellar success:

YouTube set aside an estimated $100 million in late 2011 to bankroll some 100 channels, though it never confirmed amounts spent or other details. Beneficiaries of that largesse included Madonna and ESPN, as well as lesser-known creators. Reuters was one of the companies that received funds for a channel. But few of those have garnered much mainstream attention

Is it possible that the write up suggests that when Thomson Reuters tried out the dedicated channel thing with YouTube, the test was a belly flop.

I find video ads are sort of an annoyance. In fact, I can’t figure out how to make them go away. My solution is to not look at the video. I browsed some videos of the SU 27 and did not encounter ads one day. Try this query on YouTube and on Google Video:


Here’s what I saw today.


Link is http://bit.ly/1ycyteQ.

Variable ads. Errors. Then a few videos of the only fighter aircraft that can do a cobra. Unfamiliar with the move? Ask around for a fighter pilot up on slick moves.

I was baffled. Is Google hunting for investments or is Google just doing Google moon shot thinking? My take on the write up is that Google is flipping rocks, looking for money.


When the online ad world shifts more aggressively from online search ads to other types of marketing, Google has to find a way to deal with its looming crossover of revenue and costs. Amazon is struggling with the same issue. I find giant, dominant, digital entities interesting. One is never sure of their motives whether it is a “real” journalism outfit or an online ad company.

What’s happened to search? Oh, right, I forgot. The new Google was Google Plus and social search. How did that approach to search (text and video) work out? Why are there two video search systems available? Is Google in sync with the couch potato market and the hot buttons of Hollywood moguls? I don’t know.

Stephen E Arnold, July 13, 2014

Searching News: More and More Difficult

July 10, 2014

An outfit called the Washington Examiner printed “Censorship: 38 Journalism Groups Slam Obama’s Politically-Driven Suppression of News.’” Stories that talk about censorship are difficult to peg on the white board of online information. True, I have noticed that certain documents once easily findable in www.usa.gov have been increasingly difficult to locate. My touchstone example is information about the US government’s RAC, MIC, and ZPIC programs to combat alleged Medicare non compliance. I have stumbled across other examples when querying the Department of Energy’s Web site with routine queries I used when DOE was a cheerleader for the Autonomy IDOL search system.

The “Politically Driven” article is somewhat different. The angle is that “real journalists”—presumably not the type of professionals working at entities like IDC—are not able to get information. The terms “media coverage” and “limiting access to top officials” make it clear that “real” journalists have some gripes; namely:

  • Officials blocking reporters’ requests to talk to specific staff people.
  • Excessive delays in answering interview requests that stretch past reporters’ deadlines.
  • Officials conveying information “on background” — refusing to give reporters what should be public information unless they agree not to say who is speaking.
  • Federal agencies blackballing reporters who write critically of them.

The article points to a “survey” in which “40 percent of public affairs officers admitted they blocked certain reporters because they did not like what they wrote.” Yep, a survey, similar to those cited by some consultancies to “prove” that something is really, really true.

The article concludes with a rousing call to action:

SPJ’s Cuillier told Secrets, “I feel this excessive message management and information control are caused by the professionalization of PR in the bureaucracy — in all levels of government.” And, he added, “It is up to journalists — and citizens — to push back against this force. Hard!”

I find this an interesting statement. What does “push back” mean? If I put on my semantic analysis hat, I can list possible meanings for “push back.”

The point is that news is shaped, sometimes gently, sometimes firmly. In order to determine what is accurate, one must work quite hard. The notion that an individual can ferret out specifics of a particular event by gaining easy access, walking halls, or just showing up flies in the face of my experience.

I have learned that misinformation, disinformation, and reformation are the common currency of professionals today. Forget the problem with US government bureaucracies. These operations survive changes in administration, budget shifts, and policy changes.

Focus instead on individuals who take information, put their name on it, reshape it, and use it to further a narrow agenda. I emphasize in my lectures for the intelligence community that figuring out what is “accurate” is getting more and more difficult.

We are in the grip of a cultural shift in information. Recent examples that make the magnitude of the “accuracy” challenge may be found in these examples:

ITEM: A Google executive dies and is described as a family man as a factoid in an article about a heroin overdose, a person of alleged ill repute, and a yacht. See “Did She Kill Before?

ITEM: A fellow with a fascinating work history puts his name on work done by the ArnoldIT team, sells it for $3,500 a whack on Amazon, and ignores my requests for payment. The person appears to be David Schubmehl, employed by the consulting and publishing firm IDC. Here’s the Amazon listing for my work with my name and that of two of my researchers. Seems just fine, right? I find this shaping of my information interesting because I have not given permission for this material to be sold on Amazon. But who cares about a 70 year old getting trampled by the “real” professionals?

ITEM: WN.com search results for th3 query “Brazil Riots 2014.” A lack of information about the events after Brazil’s loss in Rio flies in the face of the alleged robberies and police actions. See http://wn.com/brazil_riots_2014. Where’s the information, WN.com.

Net net: Anyone who wants accurate information has to work the old fashioned way. Interviews, research, reading, and compilation of factoids from various sources. I am not sure a fuzzy “push back” will have much impact in our present information environment.

For short cuts, one can ask a reporter on the US government beat, the editor at WN.com, or the very, very happy David Schubmehl, research director, where he analyzes the future and surfs on my team’s research.

Exciting times when “real” pros want easy access, a hop over the negative, and a free ride to expertise.

Stephen E Arnold, July 10, 2014

Amazon May Be Disintermediating Publishers: Maybe Good News for Authors?

July 9, 2014

Update: A person asked me who is the IDC “expert.”  The answer is David Schubmehl. His picture on LinkedIn shows him as a very, very happy individual. My photograph shows a quite annoyed 70 year old individual. Whenever I think about this unauthorized reuse of my content now being sold on Amazon, my heart races and I fear the IDC matter is pushing me closer to the “narrow house.” Did William Cullen Bryant use another’s work in “Thanatopsis”? Stephen E Arnold, July 9, 2014 at 4 53 pm

I read “Amazon Angles to Attract Hachette’s Authors to Its Side.” The main point is that Amazon is pro content and anti at least one publisher. Here’s the passage I noted with considerable interest:

Amazon has proposed giving Hachette’s authors all the revenue from their e-book sales on Amazon as the parties continue to negotiate a new contract. Hachette’s response on Tuesday was to suggest that the retailer was trying to make it commit suicide.

Why am I pro Amazon? Well, two UK publishers stiffed me for books I wrote and they published. One annoying outfit is out of business. No loss, believe me. The other is still promoting the book and presumably selling the scintillating monograph called Successful Enterprise Search Management. More recently I reported that IDC, one of the numerous McKinsey / Bain / Boston Consulting chasers published my content under another person’s name. The “expert” whose knowledge derived in part from the work of me and my associates is marketed on Amazon at this link as of July 9,, 2014. Notice that the IDC “original work” carries the hefty price tag of $3,500. (Goodness, I was offered a job at IDC when I worked at Ziff Communications in New York. I passed. I was uncomfortable from the git go with this company.)


Verified, July 9, 2014 at Amazon.com. Search for Schubmehl Attivio or IDC Attivio.

I hope Amazon disintermediates any publisher, consulting firm, or knowledge outfit that does not issue contracts, honor copyright, and puts individuals like me in the unenviable position of having my expertise inflate that of another; specifically, an alleged expert named Dave Schubmehl, formerly from the vendor of multiple software written by third parties. I assume that’s what “ramp quickly” means. For more on the shuffle of my work under an IDC’s consultant see http://arnoldit.com/wordpress/wp-admin/post.php?post=40033&action=edit.

Publishers and trust, respect, and appropriate professional behavior in my experience do not go together like peanut butter and jelly.

Go, Amazon. Disintermediate these outfits. And I will gladly split any money from my work 50 50 with you. Amazon has earned my trust. The publishers who have treated me poorly have lost my trust.

Ronald Reagan was correct, “Trust but verify.”

Stephen E Arnold, July 9, 2014

Google and Amazon: The Cost Challenged Prepare to Squabble

July 7, 2014

I read “Inside Google’s Big Plan to Race Amazon to Your Door.” The US of A is a big place. Making money with to-my-door deliveries is an interesting business proposition. Amazon floated the idea of drones dropping boxes in my yard and has some United States Postal Service trucks putting Amazon boxes on my brick mailbox on Sunday.

Well, Google wants to “race” Amazon. Like an F 1 team, racing can be expensive, very expensive.

The write up does not dwell on costs, preferring to point out:

Google is the undisputed king of search in all but one lucrative and vital category: Product searches.

I also noticed this passage:

Unlike Amazon, Google does not operate its own giant warehouses or store inventory for more than a few hours. Instead, it fulfills customer orders by picking up items from nearby retail stores. So rather than compete directly against retailers like Amazon does, Google is attempting to position itself as an ally. Shoppers in cities where the service is available — mainly areas around San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York City for now — visit a dedicated Google Shopping Express website where they can choose to buy goods like groceries, cameras and clothing from a selection of retail partners.

How many of those partners are willing and able to provide same day delivery. In Harrod’s Creek, some of the “we deliver” pizza joints don’t deliver to some locations not on a paved road or in a specific zip code. Will merchants change their tune when the GOOG is involved?

I also underlined the “me too” approach of Google in its battle with Amazon:

Eventually, Google plans to launch a flat-fee membership model similar to Amazon Prime…

In addition to consolidation of shopping, Google wants to be just like Amazon. The innovation is difficult for me to spot. I recall the Google Catalog project. The idea was to scan pages of printed catalogs. Now that did not seem like a particularly useful service. Google killed it. Then there was Froogle, and it disappeared. Now I think there is Google shopping, but I don’t use the service because I browsed pages and pages of non store listings. I recall that the service was not helpful to me.

Google’s approach is to be a partner. Okay, sounds good. Here’s the passage I dog earred:

Google has assembled a respectable group of partners to the program. Several of them say participating in the Google Shopping Express program gives them a way to evaluate whether it’s more cost effective to offer same-day and next-day delivery themselves, through a partner or whether they should at all.

Google “assembled” a group of college and university partners. How has that worked out?

Several observations:

First, both Amazon and Google have a cost control problem. The massive spending is hoped to turn into piles of money. My hunch is that when the costs become greater than the income, both Amazon and Google will have to find a way to produce the returns investors want. The bubble economy in the US may put increased pressure on Amazon and Google to generate better returns. Someone has to pay for the rising investments both companies are making.

Second, Google is less diversified in terms of its revenue than Amazon. As Steve Ballmer said years ago, Google is a one trick revenue pony. Generating meaningful revenue streams from the Overture/GoTo/Yahoo pay to play model is not as interesting to me as search shifts from the desktop to mobile devices. Google has to amp up its revenue. Amazon does too; hence, Amazon is doing some interesting things to publishers, for example. The objective is money, not stroking the publishers.

Third, I am weary of spending more and more time working around ads, search engine optimization content, and plain old flawed information. The Google engine does me no favors when my alert for the phrase “enterprise search” returns a pointer to an SEO outfit that does business as TopSEO. Pure garbage in my opinion.

Net net: Innovation is now enshrined as imitation. That’s okay. We know how the Italian inventor Tesla ended up. Fascinating 21st century business creativity. Oh, by the way, I don’t need same day delivery. I like to go to the farmers’ market.

Converting Amazon and Google to a digital WalMart leaves me cold.

Stephen E Arnold, July 7, 2014

Next Page »