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Is Collaboration the Key to Big Data Progress?

May 22, 2015

The article titled Big Data Must Haves: Capacity, Compute, Collaboration on GCN offers insights into the best areas of focus for big data researchers. The Internet2 Global Summit is in D.C. this year with many exciting panelists who support the emphasis on collaboration in particular. The article mentions the work being presented by several people including Clemson professor Alex Feltus,

“…his research team is leveraging the Internet2 infrastructure, including its Advanced Layer 2 Service high-speed connections and perfSONAR network monitoring, to substantially accelerate genomic big data transfers and transform researcher collaboration…Arizona State University, which recently got 100 gigabit/sec connections to Internet2, has developed the Next Generation Cyber Capability, or NGCC, to respond to big data challenges.  The NGCC integrates big data platforms and traditional supercomputing technologies with software-defined networking, high-speed interconnects and visualization for medical research.”

Arizona’s NGCC provides the essence of the article’s claims, stressing capacity with Internet2, several types of computing, and of course collaboration between everyone at work on the system. Feltus commented on the importance of cooperation in Arizona State’s work, suggesting that personal relationships outweigh individual successes. He claims his own teamwork with network and storage researchers helped him find new potential avenues of innovation that might not have occurred to him without thoughtful collaboration.

Chelsea Kerwin, May 22, 2014

Stephen E Arnold, Publisher of CyberOSINT at www.xenky.com

Decrease from TrueVue

May 21, 2015

The article on Business Insider titled Google Has a New and Unexpected Explanation for Its Falling Ad Rates places the blame on Youtube’s “TrueView” video ads. For some time there has been concern over Google’s falling cost-per-click (CPC) money, the cash earned each time a user clicks on an ad. The first quarter of this year has CPC down 7%. The article quotes outgoing Google CFO Patrick Pichette on the real reason for these numbers. He states,

“TrueView ads currently monetize at a lower rate than ad clicks on Google.com.  As you know, video ads generally reach people earlier in the purchase funnel, and so across the industry, they tend to have a different pricing profile than that of search ads,” Pichette explained. “Excluding the impact of YouTube TrueView ads, growth in Sites clicks would be lower, but still positive and CPCs would be healthy and growing Y/Y,” Pichette continued.

It is often thought that the increasing dependence on mobile internet access through smartphones is the reason for falling CPC. Google can’t charge as much for mobile ads as for PC ads, making it a logical leap that this is the area of concern. Pichette offers a different view, and one with an entirely positive spin.
Chelsea Kerwin, May 21, 2014

Stephen E Arnold, Publisher of CyberOSINT at www.xenky.com

 

Long-term Plans for SharePoint

May 21, 2015

Through all the iterations of SharePoint, it seems that Microsoft has wised up and is finally giving customers more of what they want. The release of SharePoint Server 2016 shows a shift back toward on-premises installations, and yet there will still be functions supported through the cloud. This new hybrid emphasis provides a third pathway through which users are experiencing SharePoint. The CMS Wire article, “3 SharePoint Paths for the Next 10 Years,” covers all the details.

The article begins:

“Microsoft Office 365 has proven to be a major disruption of how companies use SharePoint to meet business requirements. Rumors, fear, uncertainty and doubt proliferate around Microsoft’s plans for SharePoint’s future releases, as well as the support of critical features and functionality companies rely on . . . So, taking into account Office 365, the question is: How will companies be using SharePoint over the next 10 years?”

Stephen E. Arnold of ArnoldIT.com is a leader in SharePoint, with a lifelong career in search. His SharePoint feed is a great resource for users and managers alike, or anyone who needs to keep on top of the latest developments. It may be that the hybrid solution is a way to keep on-premises users happy while they still benefit from the latest cloud functions like Delve and OneDrive.

Emily Rae Aldridge, May 21, 2015

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Yahoo Management: Raising the Bar

May 20, 2015

I love it when Xooglers demonstrate how Googley behavior translates into down home management expertise. Two examples this morning:

  • The Wall Street Journal reported that the new Yahoo chief information officer has decided to leave Yahoo for other opportunities. You may have to pay to view the article or you can buy a dead tree version at your local news agent. (Local news agent! What was I thinking?)
  • The Alibaba deal worth lots of money may have hit a speed bump. You can get some of the details in “Yahoo Affirms Spinoff Plan as IRS Comments Trigger Share Slump.” That tax stuff is tricky. Accountants have so much to do and tax issues come up so infrequently.

Yahoo management continues to provide a flow of possible business school case examples.

Stephen E Arnold, May 20, 2015

Navy Cloud Encounters a Storm Front

May 19, 2015

I read “Slow Progress Forces navy to Change Strategies for Cloud, Data Centers.” I have high regard for US Navy technical professionals. ONION router technology and miniature swarm drones have been based on some Navy research.

The write up troubled me. Here’s the first passage I noted this statement:

Culturally, we have to make this shift from a mistaken belief that all our data has to be near us and somewhere where I can do and hug the server, instead of someplace where I don’t know in the cloud. This is a big shift for many within the department. It’s not going to be an easy transition.”

Like most nations’ military forces resources are available in the form of personnel, machines, and money. Staffing also refreshes on a cadence different from some other government entities and many commercial organizations. There are not too many 70 year old nuclear submarine commanders.

The issue about the shift to cloud computing suggests that more than technical hurdles prevent enterprise and mission critical applications from moving to the cloud. I noted this paragraph as well:

While the Navy is open to using commercial or public clouds, the Marine Corps is going its own way. Several Marine Corps IT executives seemed signal that the organization will follow closely to what the Navy is doing, but put their own twist on the initiative. One often talked about example of this is the Marines decision to not move to the Joint Regional Security Stacks (JRSS) that is part of the Joint Information Environment (JIE) until at least version 2 comes online in 2017. Marine Corps CIO Gen. Kevin Nally said the decision not use the initial versions of JRSS is because Marine Corps’ current security set up is better and cheaper than version 1 or 1.5.

In interpreted the milspeak to mean, “We are doing the cloud but we are focusing on a private cloud, not the public Amazon thing.”

Will enterprise search vendors who emphasize their cloud solution advise their customers about cloud options? Search marketers often tell the prospect many things, and I assume explaining the different approaches to clouds and aggregation will be part of the sales presentation.

Stephen E Arnold, May 19, 2015

Exit Governance. Enter DMP.

May 17, 2015

A DMP is a data management platform. I think in terms of databases. I find that software does not do a particularly reliable job “managing data.” Software can run processes, write log file, and perform other functions. But management, based on my experience at Booz, Allen & Hamilton, requires humans. Talking about analytics from Big Data and implementing a platform to perform management are apples and house paint in my mind.

Intrigued by the reference, I downloaded a document available upon registration from Infinitive. You can find the company’s Web site at www.infinitive.com. The white paper maps you 10 ways a data management platform can help me.

I was not familiar with Infinitive. According to the firm’s Web site: Infinitive is

A Different Kind of Consultancy. Results-driven and client-centric. Fun, focused and flexible. Highly engaged and easy to work with. Those are the qualities that make Infinitive a different kind of consultancy. And they’re the pillars of our unique culture. Headquartered in the Washington, D.C. area, Infinitive specializes in digital ad solutions, business transformation, customer & audience intelligence and enterprise risk management. Leveraging best practices in process engineering, change management and program management, we design and deliver custom solutions for leading organizations in communications, media and entertainment, financial services and educational services. For our clients, the results include quantifiable performance improvement and tangible bottom-line value in addressing their most pressing challenges and fulfilling their top-priority objectives.

What is a data management platform?

White paper or two page document identifies these benefits of a DMP. I was hoping for an explanation of the “platform,” but let’s look at the payoffs from the platform.

The company points out that a DMP makes ad money go farther. Big Data become actionable. A DMP provides a foundation for analytics. The DMP “ensures the quality and accessibility of customer and audience intelligence data.” The DMP can harmonize data. A DMP allows me to “adapt traditional CRM strategies and technology to incorporate new customer behavior.” I can create new customer and audience “segments.” The DMP becomes the central nervous system for my company. And the DMP protects privacy.

That is a bundle of benefits. But what is the platform provided by a consulting company, especially one that is “fun”? I was not able to locate details about the platform. The company appears to be a firm focused on advertising.

The Web site includes a page about the DMP at this link. The information is buzzword heavy and fact free. My view is that the DMP is a marketing hook. The implied technology is consulting services. That’s okay, but I find the approach representative of marketing billable time, not delivering a platform with the remarkable and perhaps unattainable benefits suggested in the white paper.

The approach must work. The company’s Web site points out this message:

image

Not a platform, however.

Stephen E Arnold, May 17, 2015

Quote to Note: How to Make Search Relevant

May 16, 2015

Short honk: I read “Intranet Search? Sssh! Don’t Speak of It.” It seems that enterprise search is struggling and sweeping generalizations about information governance and knowledge management are not helping the situation. But that’s just my opinion.

But set that “issue” aside. Here’s the quote I noted:

The only way this situation [search is a problem’] will change is with intranet managers stepping up to the challenge and telling stories internally. The problem with search analytics (even if you do everything that Lou Rosenfeld [search wizard] recommends) is that there is no direct evidence of the day-to-day impact of search.

Will accountants respond to search stories? Why is there no direct evident of the day to day impact of search? Perhaps search, along with some other hoo hah endeavors, is simply not relevant in today’s business environment? Won’t more hyperbole filled marketing solve the problem? Another conference?

The wet blanket on enterprise search remains “there is no direct evidence of the day to day impact of search.” After 30 or 40 years of implementations and hundreds of millions in search development, why not? Er, what about this thought:

Search is a low value utility which has been over hyped.

Stephen E Arnold, May 17, 2015

MBAs Gone Wild: Is There a Video?

May 13, 2015

I find Harvard fascinating. As a poor student in a small, ignored also ran university, I bumped into the fancy university folks at debate tournaments. Our record against many fine institutions, such as Dartmouth and the other Big Dogs was okay.

We won. Lots.

Then there were the Big Dog MBAs at Booz, Allen & Hamilton. Sigh. Wall Street forced more of these “special ones” into my radar screen. Delightful. There was an MBAism for every issue. Maybe not a correction or appropriate solution, but there was jargon, generalizations, and entitlement thinking. In meeting after meeting, I reviewed nifty, but often meaningless or incoherent, graphs or diagrams. I did not count this work as “quality time.” Today, as the beloved and now departed Yogi Berra said, “It’s déjà vu all over again.

I read “Where the Digital Economy Is Moving the Fastest” and circled a remarkable diagram. True, the write up is not about search, but the spirit of search and content processing system vendors tinted my perception, using only pleasing and compatible calming colors.

The authors developed criteria for countries which are moving fast. Not product sales or market share, countries. The world but for nation states like Yemen and its ilk. Then, like good MBAs, crafted a matrix and plotted the fast movers, the losers, the ones to watch, and the maybes. Here’s the graphic:

image

There are “Watch Out” countries. I admit I interpreted this label in a manner different from the article’s sense of the phrase. I checked out the countries between Stall Out (dogs) and Stand Out (invest for sure maybe?). Poor Sweden, Britain, and Germany. Look at the countries on the move. Check out the tweeners: Brazil, Turkey, and the Russian Federation.

Now this map, the graphic, and the meaning of the “data” strikes me as less than useful

The diagram reminded me of other consulting firms’ matrices. I snagged this at random from Google.

image

What about this version from

Which makes more sense? The diagram from the Harvard Business Review, the diagram with lots of dots, or the dead simple diagram from Boston Consulting Group?

From my point of view, the BCG approach makes the most sense. BCG analyzed market share data, actual numbers. The diagram presents visual cues which related directly to the numerical data., The viewer of the diagram does not have to wonder why a specific company is in one box or why a specific country is a “break out.”

Whether analyzing countries or companies on essentially methods which do not tie directly to numbers, the diagrams raise more questions than they answer. The BCG matrix, which consultants at McKinsey and Booz, Allen & Hamilton envied when the BCG matrix became available in the 1970s was, “Wow, what a great diagram?”

What I believe has happened is that the value of the envy-generating BCG matrix is based in the data to which the quadrants tied because the focus was a specific product and its market share. If the share was increasing and lights were flashing green, then the product was a star.

The more recent versions of the matrix do the diagram, add complexity, and lack the quite specific analysis of numerical data which another person could analyze and, presumably, reach similar data-anchored observations. Math and data are helpful when properly combined.

In short, data and the BCG analysis make the BCG matrix an effective communication tool. Matrices without similar data rigor are artifacts of “experts” who want something that makes a sale possible.

BCG wanted to help its clients, not confuse them. MBAs, please, do not write me and tell me I don’t understand the sophistication of the methods underpinning these presentation ready diagrams. For me there is a gap between data-anchored graphics and subjective or opinion-based graphics.

Poetry and fiction are noble pursuits. Data may not exciting. But for me, an old school BCG matrix more satisfying as long as there are verifiable data unpinning the items mapped to the matrix.

Stephen E Arnold, May 23, 2015

HP Autonomy Dust Up: Details, Details

May 11, 2015

I read belatedly yet another analysis of the HP lawsuit against Autonomy. “Details of HP Lawsuit against Autonomy Executives” The write up reports that HP is taking “direct legal action against Lynch.” There is nothing like a personal legal action to keep the legal eagles circling in search of money.

The HP position is that Lynch (the founder of Autonomy) and Sushovan Hussain (former Autonomy CFO) overstated Autonomy’s growth and profits. My reaction is “Yeah, but didn’t you guys review the numbers before you wrote a check for $7 or $8 billion?”

Details, details.

The article states:

The acquisition has been seen as a disaster for HP since the tech giant was forced to write down $8.8 billion from the deal in 2012. The $5.1 billion legal claim is one of the largest ever brought against an individual in Britain. HP bases the claim on a $4.6 billion charge linked to the alleged financial misconduct, roughly $400 million connected to shares given to Lynch and Hussain and a further $100 million loss associated with Autonomy that was suspected of being caused by the former executives’ activities, according to the British court documents.

HP may not be a tech leader or even a C student in acquisition analyses, but it is the leader in the magnitude of the claim it is making against Dr. Lynch. If he is found guilty of selling something to HP who analyzed the deal and then decided to buy the company, he will have to pay $5.1 billion.

I don’t have a dog in this fight. But it seems to me that HP reviewed Qatalyst Partners’ financial presentation about Autonomy. Then HP analyzed the numbers. Then HP involved third parties in the review of the numbers. Then HP decided to buy Autonomy. Then HP bought the company. Then HP found that Autonomy is not exactly a product like a tube of Colgate Total toothpaste. Then HP fired, forced, or tasered Lynch and others out of the HP carpet land. Then HP tried to convert the technology into some sort of cloud based toolkit. And finally HP decided to go after Dr. Lynch. You don’t have to like him, but he is a bit of a celebrity in the Silicon Fen, holds an Order of the British Empire, and he is quite intelligent, maybe brilliant, and in my experience, not into dorks, fools, goof balls, losers, or dopey managers. Your mileage may vary, of course.

I am sufficiently experienced to know that when a buyer wants a product, service, or company, craving—nay, lust and craziness—kick in. “Yo, we’re 17 years old again. Let’s do it” scream the adrenaline charged experts. This is a slam dunk. We can take Autonomy waaaay beyond the place it is today. Rah, rah, rah. Get ‘em, team.”

Autonomy’s management and its advisors knows that PowerPoint dust can close deals. The blend of blood frenzy and the feeling of power one gets when taking ownership of a new La Ferrari is what business is about, dog. Smiles and PowerPointing from Autonomy played a part, but HP made the decision and wrote the check. Caveat emptor is good advice.

Frankly I see HP as the ideal candidate for a marvelous business school case. The HP Autonomy story is better than the Yahoo track record of blunders and blind luck. The management of HP believed something that has never ever ever been done: Generate billions of dollars in new revenue quickly. Google generates billions from advertising. Autonomy generated hundreds of millions in revenues from the licensing of dozens of products. HP got its wires crossed in reasoning which does not line up with the history of  the search and content processing industry.

Billions do not flow from content processing and search technology. Investors can pump big money into a content processing company like Palantir. Will these investors get their money back? Don’t know. But to spend billions for a search and content processing company and then project that a $600 million or $800 million per year outfit would produce a gusher of billions is a big, but quite incorrect, thought.

Never has happened. Never will. It took Autonomy 15 years, good management, intelligent acquisitions, and lots of adaptation to hit the $600-$700  million plus in annual revenue it generated. Only energy drinking MBAs with Excel fever can convert 15 years and multiple revenue streams from dozens of quite different products into one giant multi billion dollar business in a couple of years. The scale is out of whack. When I visited the store in Manhattan with the big crazy pencil and the other giant products I could see the difference between my pencil and the big pencil. HP, I assume, would see the two pencils as identical. HP, if it purchased a big pencil, would sue the shop in Manhattan because the big pencil would not fit into a Panasonic desktop pencil sharpener. Scale of thinking, accuracy of perception—They matter to me. HP? Hmm.

This is not bad business on HP’s part. This is not flawed acquisition analysis on HP’s part. This is not HP’s inability to ask the right questions. This is medieval lunacy with managers dancing on the grass under a full moon. Isn’t HP that company which has floundered, investigated its own Board of Directors, chased good managers from one office in Silicon Valley into the arms of a competitor based on the old Sea World property? Maybe. Maybe HP is a fully stocked fishing pond, not a water deficient stream in Palo Alto?

My personal view is that HP has itself, its Board of Directors, and its advisors to blame. I find it very difficult to believe that as talented as Dr. Lynch is that he could spoof HP’s Board, HP’s financial professionals, HP’s advisors, HP’s lawyer, and HP’s Meg Whitman. Hey, the guy is talented, but he is not Houdini.

Well, we have a show, gentle reader. We have a really big show. Where is Ed Sullivan when we need an announcer?

Stephen E Arnold, May 11, 2015

Show Business and Enterprise Search

May 11, 2015

Short Honk: I read “In Our Increasingly Automated and Global Economy, Every Business Is Becoming Just a Little Bit Like Show Business.” Quite a Google-ized string of words. The write up asserts that work will be skilled contractors coming together when there is a project, money, and a need for specialists. This is—wait for it—the Hollywood model.

I think the author is sort of right. For certain types of work, hiring specialists makes sense. When an employee needs a hip replacement, few companies want to have the requisite specialists on staff.

The article asserts:

Our economy is in the midst of a grand shift toward the Hollywood model.

The author adds:

It’s a surprisingly good system for many workers too, in particular those with highly sought after skills.

The future will be

a new era of the human-robot partnership, in which robots can be told what to do without the use of difficult programming languages.

Sounds fantastic as long as one has in demand skills and can market her or his skills to generate awareness of an individual’s capabilities. (Too bad for those without skills and lacking in visibility. Tough luck.)

My interest is search.

If there is a tech sector where the Hollywood model should be visible, it is enterprise search. The experts come together, implement a system, and users become really happy with their new information retrieval system.

Unfortunately the data I have gathered suggests that anywhere from 55 to 75 percent of a search system’s users are unhappy. The folks in information technology departments have become gun shy when it comes to search. The folks who manage enterprise search solutions live a life of quiet desperation. It is not whether the person managing search will be RIFed; it is when in many search intolerant organizations.

The generalizations about the outputs of a Hollywood style approach to staffing don’t make much sense to me on a practical level for television and motion pictures. I find the outputs’ quality and value at odds with the products themselves.

The fact that a handful of specialists contribute their skills to a product via services that look good, appeal to the young in mind, and tap into the rich repository of comic book literature is evidence that the Hollywood model does not work for me.

Enterprise search has embraced the Hollywood model and tossed in superstars like the Google Search Appliance as well. How is that working? From my experience, search remains a problem no matter what the experts say or do.

Maybe the Hollywood model works but only in a superficial way. But those who are unemployed can watch the TV or go to the motion pictures. That’s value.

For enterprise search, more than a buzzword and a management catchphrase are needed to deliver a usable system. I hear the song now, “Another opening, another show…”

Stephen E Arnold, May 11, 2015

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