March 3, 2014
Usually when money and students are mentioned in headlines, it is about student debt and the rising cost of tuition. Oracle has a more positive headline about this topic: “Metropolitan State University Reduces Students’ Nonpayments From US$4 Million To US$700,000 Per Year.”
Metropolitan State University is based in Minnesota. The college was experiencing a $4 million loss in students not paying their tuition. The solution was to deploy Oracle RightNow to improve communication channels with students and establish a student-relationship system to keep track of conversations.
After deploying Oracle RightNow, the immediate problems were resolved. It provided a centralized system that sent quick and individualized responses, improved efficiency, reduced application tracking, and most importantly send out trigger messages to students reducing student nonpayments from $4 million to $700,000 a year.
Metro State selected Oracle, because:
“ ‘We chose Oracle RightNow for its extensive reporting and analytics capabilities, which are far better than any other higher education customer relationship management tool on the market. Having the ability to easily put rich data in the hands of our advisors has really propelled us to the next level,’ said Andrew Melendres, vice president, student affairs and enrollment management, Metropolitan State University.”
Universities are slashing budgets left and right. Gaining several million in revenue from unpaid student tuition boosted Metro State’s budget and made them an example for other schools. We would expect that Harvard, Yale, and Stanford will follow Metro State’s lead.
February 25, 2014
There are dozens of news sites. These range from the little known among “experts” like Big Project to almost anonymous services like WN.com. The hurried Web user can consume headlines at https://news.google.com/news or http://news.yahoo.com/. My local newspaper offers news but begs for dollars. News appears to be everywhere.
I read “Local Newspapers and TV Stations Are building Their Own Private Ad Exchange with Google.” Ah, how times have changed according to the article. Here’s a passage I noted:
Today, the Consortium is taking a step towards fulfilling its promise of increased revenue through a new partnership with Google. The deal is supposed to strengthen Google’s relationship with local publishers by “turbo charging” the online news business via “growing budgets” for programmatic buying, according to a company blog post by Laurent Cordier.
Google is a force to channeled. Most of the news professionals I know tell me that they are good researchers and that they use Google. That’s good for Google.
But what about the flow of news? Newspapers and magazines need ad revenues, and in my research, I found that Google can deliver traffic. With traffic comes money. With the money comes dependence.
For Google that’s very good. For those who become dependent on Google, the consequences are cash. If there are other issues, will the dependent executives assert, “We understand the situation. We can deal with whatever comes down the road.”
These folks believe these words. I am suspicious of deals that refer to turbocharging.
And what about coverage of events? Our work continues to reveal that it is more difficult to:
- Locate timely news online
- Verify stories propagated by certain sources
- Find backfiles
- Figure out what’s filtered in and out, when, and why
- Access information on certain topics
- Get timely updates online from certain governmental organizations
- Keep track of content that disappears.
Perhaps those Google bucks will improve coverage of local activities, expand backfiles, and increase the flow of verified, original reporting?
I will have to wait and see. But is information the purpose of those in the deal with Google or is the goal cash. As George Bush once said about support for those affected by the crisis in Haiti, “Just send cash.”
Stephen E Arnold, February 25, 2014
February 13, 2014
I have an iPod and an iPad kicking around. We even have a Mac computer. My wife has an iPhone. The gizmo provides her iPhone equipped friends with myriad opportunities to look at baby pictures, check lunch dates on their calendars, and make phone calls. None of the gizmos is without flaws. The Apple product line up is premium priced and designed to meet the perceived needs of semi-affluent or pretend-affluent customers.
I read “A Look at Apple’s R&D Expenditures from 1995-2013.” I urge you to read the story but the main point is the diagram showing Apple’s spending for research and development. I translate “research and development” to “innovation” but you may have a different way to define the phrase. I have snipped a small segment of the chart to illustrate what has happened to Apple, based on the data presented in the write up.
Look at that ramp up. What is fascinating is that the scale in 2013 noses into the $4 billion range. The take away is that the amount of money Apple is spending is rising pretty quickly. Apple has money in the bank and some products that continue to sell well.
Apple is able to invest increasing amounts of money in innovation because it has money.
Search vendors face innovation problems. The chatter on LinkedIn and in the write ups for conferences that flood my email talk around innovation. The discussion pivots on some well worn themes, only tangentially related to information retrieval.
Innovation in search has stalled. Apple is spending aggressively to help ensure its innovation flow.
But what happens when a search vendor with far less money has to innovate. DARPA will award a handful of contracts. Venture funding sources will want a pay off.
The net net is that the cost of innovation in search is not that different in its need for financial investment. Apple can write the checks. Most search vendors—despite the flashy webinars and mindless news releases—cannot.
Stephen E Arnold
January 28, 2014
Finland’s AddSearch has picked up a hefty investment. A press release over at PRWeb reports, “AddSearch, Instant Search Tool for Websites, Announces $650k Seed Investment and Imminent Launch.” Founded last April, the company has set out to fix what is broken in site search. The write-up tells us:
“AddSearch is a lightning fast hosted search tool for any website, offering instant and accurate search results after the first keypress. AddSearch works across all devices, gives website owners complete control over their search results and is very easy to install….
“‘Website search is broken’, commented Pasi Ilola, AddSearch co-founder and CEO. ‘Existing search solutions for websites offer a very poor and slow user experience, often failing to provide the most relevant search result. Building and maintaining your own search functionality is highly expensive and time-consuming. That is why we created AddSearch – it is easy to set up for the website owners and it just works.’”
We really look forward to site search that functions well and is a pleasure to use, because existing systems really are terrible. Does AddSearch hold the key? The company is based in Helsinki, and is now (I imagine) pleased to be financially backed by Vision+ and Tekes.
Cynthia Murrell, January 28, 2014
January 19, 2014
Talend is a favored maker for XML data processing software and recently we read about “XML Data Processing Using Talent Open Studio” on Rohit Menon’s blog. Manon was working on a Netflix search engine project called Flicksery. He pulls his data from the Netflix catalog XML file and Talend Open Studio helps him analyze the data embedded in the file. In his post he explains how he used the software to pull the data and what neat features it has.
Talend also rounded up $40 million in funding from Bpifrance and Iris Capital. The news comes from IT Business Edge in the article, “Talend Lands $40 Million In Funding.” Bpifrance is the French government’s investment branch and they are the main initiator for the funding. A large portion of the funding is supposed to push Talend further into big data market.
Mike Tuchen, Talend CEO, said about the funding efforts:
“ ‘They [French government] look for innovative high growth companies with a strong presence in France, especially ones in targeted areas were they see huge opportunity like Big Data,” Tuchen said. “With this in mind Talend was a perfect fit, so it’s not surprising that they found us.’ ”
We have known that Talend was trying to promote its name in big data for a while. Projects like Flicksery demonstrates its software’s capabilities and we think it is just the beginning of something bigger.
Whitney Grace, January 19, 2014
January 16, 2014
Two items warranted posting on my white board.
The first was the somewhat ungainly local news service Patch. I noted this version of the action: “AOL Gives Up Control of Money-Losing Patch as Shares Rise.” Patch was invented by Tim Armstrong. AOL then bought Patch and hired Mr. Armstrong, a Xoogler. Or, maybe it was hired Mr. Armstrong and then bought Patch? Either way, the trajectory of Patch made clear that getting hired at Google and then becoming a real manager at a powerhouse like AOL were not congruent. Patch, according to Bloomberg, was “a pet project.” I assume it was like one of the old-school 20 percent free time projects except this one had an appetite for cash and served as a trigger for quite a bit of corporate explaining.
The second was the item I saw regarding another Xoogler’s management acumen: “He Was Fired: Here’s Marissa Mayer’s de Castro Buh-Bye Memo to Yahoo Staff.” Make that two Xooglers: the boss Xoogler at Yahoo Marissa Mayer and the number two at Yahoo, Henrique De Castro. I noted this passage:
During my own reflection, I made the difficult decision that our COO, Henrique de Castro, should leave the company. I appreciate Henrique’s contributions and wish him the best in his future endeavors.
Mr. de Castro will need a pick up truck to haul off his severance pay which is in the millions of dollars. Not bad for less than two years work.
The point is that some folks see getting hired by Google, flourishing in the Google greenhouse, and getting high praise from Googlers as the equivalent of management and operational expertise in the “real” world.
These two articles contain information that folks are mistaking Google employees with Google’s success. I would point to online advertising based on approaches developed by outfits like Overture as slightly more important.
My hunch is that AOL and Yahoo will generate further evidence about the management insights of Xooglers. Why are these Xooglers former Googlers anyway? Too bad I don’t have the energy to dig into the human resources angle. There are many azure chip consultants who can explain the why’s and wherefore’s.
Stephen E Arnold, January 16, 2014
January 9, 2014
Right now, Datameer is happily positioned at the intersection of preparation and opportunity, we learn from “Datameer Picks Up $19M to Help Companies Do Analytics Along with Hadoop” at VentureBeat. The use of Hadoop has been soaring, and Datameer is perfectly poised to rise with it. As more companies implement the open-source database framework, Datameer is seeing more demand for its help making sense of it all. It doesn’t hurt that the data-analysis firm built its solutions with Hadoop in mind from the start—any IT professional knows that can mean the difference between headache-free implementation and long hours trying to force applications to play well together.
Investors have taken notice of Datameer’s advantages. Writer Jordan Novet relates:
“‘You’re actually seeing Datameer being purchased almost at the same time as Hadoop itself, at the same time as the distribution,’ Ben Fu, a partner at Next World Capital, said in an interview with VentureBeat. Next World led the latest round of funding for the company, bringing its total funding to $36.8 million. Datameer’s large contracts from customers such as British Telecom, Sears, and Visa, also made the company interesting, Fu said….
Next World Capital’s Fu is joining Datameer’s board. Alongside Next World, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Redpoint Ventures also joined the round. The new money will provide Datameer with the firepower to sign up new customers, especially in Europe, where Next World has a program to put startups in touch with executives at enterprises from around the continent.”
Novet notes the funding can also allow Datameer to take advantage of further Hadoop advances, as well as respond to competition. Datameer was begun in 2009 by some of the original Hadoop contributors. Headquartered in San Mateo, California, the company also has offices in New York City and in Halle, Germany. In related and possibly helpful news, Datameer is hiring for several positions as of this writing.
Cynthia Murrell, January 09, 2014
January 2, 2014
I have no idea if the video is a spoof or not. With the twerking and the other oddities video sites, I am skeptical. Maybe this is an Onion-style spoof?
Navigate to “Elsevier’s David Tempest Explains Subscription-Contract Confidentiality Clause.” You can watch the video or read the article. Either way, here’s the quote to note:
Well, indeed there are confidentiality clauses inherent in the system, in our Freedom Collections. The Freedom Collections do give a lot of choice and there is a lot of discount in there to the librarians. And the use, and the cost per use has been dropping dramatically, year on year. And so we have to ensure that, in order to have fair competition between different countries, that we have this level of confidentiality to make that work. Otherwise everybody would drive down, drive down, drive drive drive, and that would mean that [laughter'].
This is a pretty serious issue. Professional publishers are in a tough spot. The stakeholders want financial performance. The professional publishing companies have to generate revenue. The various electronic ploys have not worked as well as the old fashioned, 19th century business models. The result is charging as much as possible for information products.
As some professional publishing outfits know, the world is awash with unemployed lawyers, abstemious accountants, and beleaguered academic researchers. The solution? Raise prices and prevent folks from disclosing the staggering cost of a subscription to a medical journal.
One outfit is recycling “abstracts” as a business product advertised in airplane seat back magazines. Others are just investing like mad in apps and hoping that the golden goose shows up sooner rather than later.
Amusing, serious, and lamentably a signal that professional publishing and possibly scientific, technical, and medical publishing is in what might be phrased as “sunset years.”
Will “value” be one of the buzzwords of the year in 2014?
Stephen E Arnold, January 2, 2014
December 31, 2013
The article titled The Shakeup of Kleiner Perkins Exposes the Shortcomings of Venture Capital on GIGAOM discusses the controversial bet the firm made on cleantech under the reigns of John Doerr, who has seen Kleiner through the good times in the nineties internet investing phase and the bad times. The article suggests that Kleiner Perkins’ is not alone, especially if you accept the premise that venture capitalism is not a good fit for the energy sector.
The article explains:
“traditional VC hasn’t proven to be a good model for funding many of the sectors in cleantech, such as making solar panels, producing electric cars, and developing biofuels. It’s not good at funding basic scientific research, like driving breakthroughs in battery chemistry. Many of these technologies have needed more money and taken longer to scale up from lab to commercial product than afforded by the traditional venture capital time frame.”
If a VC firm doesn’t get a return on an investment for a long enough time, they will have trouble raising capital and moving on, explaining Kleiner Perkins’ current difficulties. (For a comprehensive history of the firm’s, and Doerr’s rise and fall, read John Doerr’s Last Stand). Ultimately, the article suggests that the onus is on corporations to stir and fund innovation through research and development.
Chelsea Kerwin, December 31, 2013
December 19, 2013
“According to the [AP] report, the SEC told the book company it was looking into two issues: the company’s restatement of earnings announced in July and an allegation from an employee who said that B&N improperly allocated some information-technology expenses between its Nook and retail segments. B&N said in a July filing that it had restated results from the fiscal years ending in April 2011 and 2012 due to material errors in the financial reports for those periods, according to the AP report. B&N said it was notified on Oct. 16 that it would be investigated.”
In an effort to adapt to the changing publishing landscape, the company began reporting its Nook revenue separately from the rest of its sales in late 2012. Naturally, news of the investigation was reflected in the company’s share prices, which dropped almost 12 percent right after the announcement. Will Barnes & Noble recover, or is this confirmation that the primarily brick-and-mortar bookseller is on the way out?
Cynthia Murrell, December 19, 2013