October 22, 2014
I read “HP Will Unveil new Computing Product Called Sprout Next Week.” I am not sure I understand a multi function device that combines a touch screen, an overhead projector, and a 3D scanner. Why? An important function is missing.’
Where is Autonomy Idol? It’s a multi billion dollar technology wonder. A “Powered by Idol” would be a nice marketing touch.
Shortly after the acquisition, I heard that HP wanted to embed Autonomy Idol in a range of devices. Well, after three years, why isn’t Idol included in Sprout?
I can envision the late night TV ad now. I want to see a touch screen, overhead projector, and 3D scanner promoted as the next American Idol.
Stephen E Arnold, October 22, 2014
October 21, 2014
I noted a link to a LucidWorks presentation in a tweet. I navigated to the presentation on Slideshare. The approach in the presentation was trendy. My approach to presentations is untrendy, so I am no judge.
I found one slide particularly suggestive of the company’s approach to marketing. On slide 20 I saw this:
I am not exactly certain what vowel the asterisk represents. The slides strikes me as possibly offensive. But I live in rural Kentucky. What do I know? I assume the message is clear.
Perhaps this type of marketing messaging is one of the reasons ElasticSearch appears to have more momentum in the commercialized open source search sector?
Here’s a representative ElasticSearch slide from “A Gentle Introduction to ElasticSearch.”
Which company’s presentation resonates with you? Cluelessness or clues?
Stephen E Arnold, October 22, 2014
October 21, 2014
I read a thought provoking post on the Xanalys blog. The write up is “Watson a Name?”
The article states:
long before IBM began using the name Watson for its artificially intelligent computer system – the system designed to play the TV game show Jeopardy – the name was used by Xanalys for its industry leading investigation management software.
The write up continues:
Xanalys’ Watson™ software was born out of Cambridge, England technology company Harlequin in the late 1980s. The programs in the Watson suite include Elementary Watson, Watson Mapping, Watson Pro, Watson PowerCase and Watson CaseCall. The foundation of the suite, though, was always Watson. Watson, a name still trademarked by Xanalys, is a powerful visual analysis tool for operational intelligence that enables investigators to rapidly import, track and then interpret data from a wide range of sources. Watson provides a powerful querying facility to support the effective analysis of that data that can actually identify links between contacts and reveal associations among activities that are not immediately apparent to an investigator or analyst.
Xanalys does not seem overly troubled by this “coincidence.” My thought is that IBM may have been somewhat casual in its branding of its search system. Another possibility is that IBM was just doing what large companies do.
For more information about Xanalys, navigate to www.xanalys.com.
Stephen E Arnold, October 21, 2014
October 19, 2014
I read “Panopto Recognized as a “Leader” in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Video Content Management.” I learned that Panopto is a “leader” in the mid tier consulting firm’s league table of enterprise video content management vendors.
According to the write up,
In use at Fortune 500 companies and leading academic institutions worldwide, Panopto is the only video platform that provides organizations with an integrated, off-the-shelf solution for video recording, live streaming, video management, and inside-video search. Within the enterprise, Panopto is being used to improve sales enablement, streamline employee onboarding, scale corporate training, and simplify the delivery of executive communications. Within universities, Panopto is the fastest-growing solution for flipping the classroom, capturing lectures, and streaming campus events.
For many years, I have pointed out that locating information in a large collection of videos remains a dicey proposition. Years ago I explored Exalead’s video search system. It worked, but it imposed hefty computational burdens on system resources. Perhaps that has changed under Dassault’s stewardship? I wonder if the Exalead system could be used to manage an organization’s video? I don’t know, and the company does not appear in the Gartner version of the Boston Consulting Group’s matrix.
Another possible omission is Autonomy’s line up of video management and findability tools. I recall seeing a demonstration of a system with the “powered by IDOL” label. Has Autonomy withdrawn from the field of video play?
In our ongoing investigation of Google technology, we learned that it is easy to use YouTube as a convenient, low cost video management system. But no Google in the BCG inspired matrix.
I don’t know too much about video management, but when I scanned the graphic available from this link, I noticed these companies’ absence?
The inclusion of some products/companies with which I was not familiar was interesting; for example, Perceptive Software (part of Lexmark and owner of ISYS test search). The separate entries and Kulu Valley and Qumu struck me as an anomaly. Qumu, I believe, owns Kulu. Does 1 + 1 = a super leader or is this an oversight or just a failure to update?
Congratulations to Panopto. But in the back of my mind there is a reason why some consultancies lag behind McKinsey, BCG, and the pre-break up Booz, Allen & Hamilton. Mentioning “mid tier” reminds me of IDC’s sale of my content on Amazon without my permission under the “expert” Dave Schubmehl’s name.
Stephen E Arnold, October 18, 2014
October 16, 2014
Google is just so darned friendly. The system knows exactly what users want. The GOOG offers helpful suggestions for just about everything.
Now how does Google work?
To answer this question, study “How Google Works.” This is a very sophisticated presentation that is so darned clever. The information is so darned relevant. Darn it. I wish every 60,000 person company controlling information access would explain itself in this way.
Here’s an example:
Isn’t this type of presentation darned magnificent? Why fool around with Google patent documents? Why waste time on Google technical papers like this one
Why waste time fooling around with trivial activities like this?
Oh, wow. This slide show is not about technology. The slide show wants to convince you to buy Eric Schmidt’s new book.
Isn’t that so darned clever? You can buy a copy from the company that is Google’s closest competitor, Amazon. Isn’t that a darned good way to do cooperative competition?
Stephen E Arnold, October 16, 2014
October 3, 2014
I read “MarkLogic Positioned as a Leader in NoSQL Document Databases Report by Independent Research Firm.” The research firm is the mid tier outfit Forrester Research Inc. Forrester creates “wave” reports. These are Forrester’s response to various grid, quadrants, and tables cranked out by Gartner, Ovum, Butler, Kelsey, and a life boat stuffed with consulting firm shakeout survivors. Dated October 2, 2014, the MarkLogic news release will be the first of a half dozen or more issued by companies in this “independent research firm’s” report. The mid tier analyses are crafted so that negatives are swathed in high density, low impact foam like the spray on insulation.
Like Heaven’s Gate’s media event, any publicity is good publicity. At least, that’s the public relations mantra. Look at IBM Watson and its BBQ sauce recipe with tamarind. I mention that innovation as frequently as possible.
Well, let me do my part for this report:
The write up asserts:
“MarkLogic offers the most mature and scalable NoSQL document database. Unlike other NoSQL document databases, MarkLogic has been offering a NoSQL solution for more than a decade,” stated Forrester in the report that evaluated select companies against 57 criteria. “MarkLogic has the most comprehensive data management features and functionality to store, process, and access any kind of structured and multi structured data.” Forrester’s evaluation of NoSQL document database vendors scored factors like performance, scalability, integration, security, high availability, workload management and form factor. MarkLogic was cited as a Leader in the evaluation, receiving its highest score in the go-to-market category.
Okay. The news release provides a link so the reader can get a copy of the “independent research firm’s” report. If you want to skip the original document and go to the registration form so you can download the “independent research firm’s” report, navigate to http://bit.ly/1oGQCvf. In my experience, some follow up by the “leader” MarkLogic may take place.
In my view, content marketing covers these “independent” reports. The idea makes clear that attention is required in order to kindle interest in a product or a service. Now MarkLogic is an Extensible Markup Language data management system. The company has been in business since 2003. The firm has ingested more than $70 million in venture funding. The firm has experienced the same type of revolving door for senior management that other ageing starts up experience; for example, Lucid Imagination (now Lucid Works, which I write as Lucid Works. Really?). MarkLogic, in order to meet stakeholders’ expectations, has to find a growth bull, get it in a corral, and covert the animal to high value revenue.
- Proprietary XML systems positioned as NoSQL alternatives have to find a way to convince a prospect that proprietary is a better value than open source. The impact of Hadoop, a variant of Google’s Big Table, is long in the tooth and faces some of its own value challenges.
- Companies like Oracle are providing some of its clients with the comfort of a proprietary system with compatibility with open source technology. Thus, some large companies may be reluctant to dismount one old nag and climb on another. IBM also does some anti open source marketing but that’s another story. For some insights, run a query for Watson on the Beyond Search index.
- The noise surrounding NoSQL is creating some confusion. This means that firms that are neither big or small have to find a way to make their size into a positive. Enter content marketing and reports that present a group of companies in a simplified table.
- Do the “independent” experts use the products included in a variant of the Boston Consulting Group’s matrix? You know: Install, optimize, customize, and utilize with their own brain, fingers, and eyeballs? My hunch is that none of this “real” experience stuff is germane to cranking out an “independent” report. Just my uninformed opinion, you understand.
If a company requires a NoSQL solution, how do those firms select vendors? Based on the research that IDC used to skip Dave Schubmehl to expert status, large companies are more likely to try open source for a new project. Smaller firms often look for brand name software in order to show investors that base technology has a brand name.
Forrester-type firms (Gartner, IDC, Ovum, etc.) generate “independent” reports to inflate the balloon. The French have a delightful verb for this: “se gonfler”. So, nous [MarkLogic] gonflons notre ballon. (If the translation is poor, blame Google, the inventor of Big Table more than a decade ago.)
Stephen E Arnold, October 3, 2014
October 3, 2014
I spotted some “fresh” jargon from search vendor Coveo. Here are the terms:
- Relevance solutions. The implicit idea is that other vendors’ search systems do not deliver results that are on point to a user. I am not sure how many vendors pay much attention to relevance. In fact, the shift to graphics and reports purport to “answer questions.” These systems may not, but it is an approach that powers some big folks’ innovations. Microsoft Delve, anyone?
- Unified search. The idea is that information can reside in different forms and locations. Presenting search results from these different sources eliminates the need to run queries on different systems. The problem is that “unified,” in my experience does not include certain types of content; for example, snippets from videos or data locked in proprietary systems like the IBM i2 Dot ANB format. Unified or federated search is a term popular with well known companies like Attivio and lesser known companies like Polyspot. The company in my mind most closely associated with this concept is Deep Web Technology. The idea is a good one, but expectations can rise above the actual “federated” experience in my opinion.
I find the creativity evidenced in these examples of jargonizing evidence of three trends:
First, “search” as a buzzword only has impact if qualified in some way; for example, federated, unified, intelligent, etc.
Second, individual vendors are working to try and differentiate themselves from what to many people seem to be identical in form and function. The differentiator boils down to price, the power of the brand, or perceived value of the system endorsed by mid tier consultants like IDC-type or Forrester-type outfits.
Third, the impact of open source alternatives lurks behind these verbal gymnastics. ElasticSearch, whether proprietary vendors are comfortable with the notion or not, offer a way to get search without the lock down that proprietary vendors bring to the party.
Stephen E Arnold, October 2, 2014
September 29, 2014
In 2012 and 2013, IDC sold my content with my name and Dave Schubmehl’s. These were nifty IDC “official” reports. The only hitch in the git along is that IDC did not trouble itself to issue a contract, get my permission, or tell me what they were doing with research my team prepared. The deal was witnessed by a law librarian, and I have a stack of emails about my research into such open source companies as Attivio, ElasticSearch (one of the disruptors of the enterprise search market), IBM (the subject of the IDC twit storm), Lucid Imagination (now Lucid Works which I write when I feel playful as Lucid works, really?), and eight other companies.
Hit by a twit storm. Rough seas ahead. Image from www.qsl.net.
In 2012, I had the open source research. IDC wanted the open source content to use in a monograph. So in front of a law librarian, IDC’s search “expert” thought the exchange of my information for open source intelligence, money, and stuff to sell was a great idea. (I have a file of email from IDC to me about what IDC wanted, but I never got a contract. But IDC had my research. Ah, those administrative delays.) IDC, however, was organized enough to additions to my company research like an open source industry overview.
In an odd approach to copyright, IDC did not produce a contract but it produced reports about four open source companies. Mr. Schubmehl and IDC just went about producing what were recycled company reports and trying to sell them at $3,500 a whack. Is that value or an example of the culture of narcissism? It may come as a surprise to you, gentle reader, but I sell research for money. I have a business model and it has worked for about 40 years. When an outfit uses the research without issuing a contract, I have to start thinking about such issues as fairness, integrity, copyright, and name surfing. Call me idiosyncratic, but when my name is used without my permission, I wonder how a big and allegedly respected organization can operate like a BearStearns-type senior executive.
Then, the straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back, a librarian told me that IDC was selling a report with my name and Mr. Schubmehl’s on Amazon. Wow, Amazon, the Wal-Mart for the digital age. The reports, now removed from Amazon’s blue light special shelf cost $3,500. Not bad for eight pages of information based on my year long research investment into the wild and volatile world of open source search and content processing. Surf’s up for Mr. Schubmehl.
Well, IDC after some prodding by my very gentle legal gerbil stopped selling my work. We received a proposal that offered me a pittance for a guarantee that I would not talk or write about this name surfing, unauthorized resale of my information on Amazon, and the flubs of Mr. Schubmehl.
My legal gerbil rejected IDC’s lawyer crafted “deal,” and I am now converting my IDC misadventure into a metaphor for some of the deeper issues associated with “experts” and certain professional services firms. My legal gerbil suggested a significantly higher fee, but, like many of that ilk, the gerbil broke my heart.
Hence, IDC and Mr. Schubmehl’s tweets and twit storm are on my fragile ship’s radar. Let’s review the IBM IDC Schubmehl twit storm on just one day in September 2014. Trigger warning: Do not emulate the IDC Schubmehl method for your content marketing program. One day of tweets only generates a lot of twit.
Now to the Twit Storm Unleashed on September 16, 2014
Using my Overflight system, I monitor IDC tweets. Quite an interesting series of tweets appears on September 16, 2014. Mr. Schubmehl posted 25 tweets about IBM Watson.
Here are three examples of the Watson content content to which his name was attached::
- September 16, 2014.
#WatsonAnalytics uses Watson cognitive technologies to ingest structured data and find relationships – Robin Grosset & Dan Wolfson
- September 16, 2014 Combo of cognitive with cloud analytics improves process, analysis and decision making – cognitive will change all mkts
- September 16, 2014
#WatsonAnalytics will be using a freemium model….first time for IBM…
Obviously there is nothing wrong with a tweet about an IBM product. What’s one more twit emission in a flow of several hundred thousand 144 character text outputs.
There is nothing illegal with two dozen tweets about IBM. What two dozen tweets do is make me laugh and see this content marketing effort as fodder for corporate weirdness.
Also, this IBM twit storm is not on the Miley Cyrus or Lady Gaga scale, but it is notable because it is a one day twit storm quite unlike the Jeopardy journey. Quite a marketing innovation: getting an alleged “expert” to craft 16 “original” tweets in one day and issue seven retweets of tweets from others who are fans of Big Blue. A few Schubmehl tweets on the 16th illustrated diversity; for example, “The FBI’s Facial Recognition System Is Here.” Hmm. The FBI and facial recognition. I wonder why one is interested in this development.
The terms mentioned in these IBM centric tweets on September 16, 2014, reveal the marketing jargon that IBM is using to generate revenue from the game show winning technology. My list of buzzwords from the tweets read like a who’s who of blogosphere and venture oriented yak:
- Automated data cleansing
- Analytics (cloud based)
- Big Data
- Cognitive (system and capabilities)
- Data explorer
- Natural Language Computing
- Natural Language Query.
From this list of buzzwords my favorites are “cognitive,” “Big Data,” and the number one silly word “Freemium.” Imagine. Freemium from IBM. Imagine.
My Interpretation of the Twit Storm
Let me capture several preliminary observations:
First, the Schubmehl Twitter activity on September 16, 2014 focuses mostly on IBM’s challenged Watson business development effort. The cluster of tweets on the 16th suggest a somewhat ungainly and down-market content marketing play.
Did Mr. Schubmehl wake up on the 16th of September and decide to crank out Watson centric tweets? Did IBM pay IDC and Mr. Schubmehl to do some content marketing like thousands of PR firms do each day? We even have these outfits in Harrod’s Creek, Kentucky to flog auto sales, bourbon, and cheesy festivals in Middletown, Kentucky.
Here’s a question: “How many tweets does a McKinsey or Bain type of consulting firm issue on a single day for a single product that seems to be struggling for revenue?” If you know, please, use the comments section of this blog to provide some factoids.
Second, the tweets provide the reader with a list of what seem to be IBM Watson aficionados or employees who have the job of making the shotgun marriage of open source code, legacy Almaden technology, and proprietary scripts into a billion dollar revenue producer soon, very soon, gentle reader. The individuals mentioned in the September 16, 2014, tweets include:
- Steve Gold, Baylor University
- Robin Grosset, Distinguished engineer Watson Analytics.
- Dan Wolfson, IBM Distinguished Engineer
- Bob Picciano, Senior vice president, IBM information and analytics group.
Perhaps Mr. Gold is objective? I ask, “Do the other three IBM wizards looking at the world through IBM tinted spectacles when reading their business objectives for the current fiscal year?” I asked myself, “Should I trust these individuals who presumably are also “experts” in all things related to Watson?” My preliminary answer is, “Not for an objective view of the game show winning Watson.”
Third, what’s the payoff of this twit storm for IBM? Did IBM expect me to focus on the Schubmehl twit storm and convert the information into my idea of a 10 minute stand up comedy routine to deliver at the upcoming intelligence and law enforcement conference in nine days? Is it possible that “doing social media” looks good on a weekly report when an executive does not have juicy revenue numbers to present? The value of the effort strikes me as modest. In fact, viewed as a group, the tweets could be interpreted as a indicator of IBM’s slide into desperation marketing?
What about consulting firms and their ability to pump out high margin revenue?
Outfits like Gerson Lehrman Group have put the squeeze on mid tier consulting firms. The bottom feeders with its middle school teacher and poet contingent are not likely to sell to the IBMs of the world. GLG types companies are also nipping at the low end business of the blue chip outfits like Bain, Boston Consulting, and even McKinsey.
Put GLG can deliver to a client retired professionals from blue chip firms and on point experts. As a result, GLG has made life very, very tough for the mid tier outfits. Why pay $50,000 for an unproven “expert” when you can buy a person with a pedigree for an hour and pay a few hundred bucks when you need a factoid or an opinion? I consider IDC’s move to content marketing indicative of a fundamental shift in the character of a consulting firm’s business. The shift to low level PR work seems out of character for a professionals services with a commitment to intellectual rigor.
Every few days I learn that something called TopSEOs.com generates a list of content marketing leaders. Will IDC appear on this list?
For those who depend on lower- or mid tier consulting firms for professional counsel, how would you answer these questions:
- What is the intellectual substance behind pronouncements? Is there original research underpinning pronouncements and projections, or are the data culled from secondary sources and discussions with paying customers?
- What is the actual relationship between a mid tier consulting firm and the companies discussed in “authoritative” reports? Are these reports and projects inclusions (a fancy word for ads) or are they objective discussions of companies?
- Are the experts presented as “experts” actually experts or are they individuals who want to hit revenue goals while keeping costs as low as possible?
I don’t have definitive answers to these questions. Perhaps one day I can use a natural language query to tap into Big Data and rely on cognitive methods to provide answers.
For now, a one day twit storm is a wonderful example of how not to close deals, build reputations, and stimulate demand for advanced technology offered via a “Freemium” model. What the heck does that mean anyway?
Stephen E Arnold, September 29, 2014
September 26, 2014
Science is a marvelous manifestation of human curiosity. I read “Five Ways the Superintelligence Revolution Might Happen.” Note the “could” as in “woulda, coulda, shoulda.” These terms shingle protectively many backsides.
The write up lists the options for “superintelligence”, which is a variant of artificial intelligence with a dash up the Googler’s singularity stirred in for good measure. These scientists remember some of the basic methods of chemistry. List the constituents and mix ‘em up. See what happens.
Here are the five ways technological nirvana will arrive:
- Make intelligence out of software. Essential humans will code a brain. Great idea for a research project. Probably won’t work particularly well for a while.
- Just use math. This is the approach my uncle and his both would have favored. You remember Kolmogorov and Arnold, don’t you? Also, Googlers and Xooglers are into this approach.
- Brute force. This is the technological equivalent of using surplus military equipment to check out a noisy fraternity party. In terms of smart software, the article is into using von Neumann systems to crack P=NP problems. Yep, that’s a good idea.
- Plagiarizing nature. This idea is that one emulates in software biological processes. Think how ants find a ham sandwich at your picnic. I was on the board of a company that puttered around organic algorithms in 2001. For some problems attacked via well managed methods, the results are interesting. Maybe IBM’s new chip or quantum computing will help out, but it is a subset of the math and brute force approach. Messy categorization I conclude.
- Use humans plus any other methods that seems to work. There you go. This is the state of the art. I have discussed the approach in my analysis of Google’s nowcasting model here. Only hitch? Well, it is not right when it counts: Ebola threat, ISIS/ISIL, horse racing.
Net net: Not much in the breakthrough arena. Looks like we’re into incremental improvements. This method will work, but it won’t arrive quickly enough to keep some of the venture firms funding the wild and crazy AI Aiyaiii world.
The outfits that will be directly affected by this AI craziness are the search and content processing vendors. Many of the companies in this sector will assert that their systems are “intelligent,” “able to comprehend human utterance,” and “predict” user needs. The problem is that delivering on inflated expecations is more difficult than doing a PowerPoint about the magic of information access.
Stephen E Arnold, September 26, 2014
September 25, 2014
MarkLogic, founded more than a decade ago, is an interesting company. I heard that Google kicked its tires because Christopher Lindblad is a true wizard.
The outfit offers an Extensible Markup Language data management solution. Over the years, the company has positioned the system to slice and dice content for publishers, intelligence analysis for government entities, and enterprise search. Along the way, the company’s technology has been shaped to meet the needs of the pivoting forces in content processing. Stated another way, when one thing won’t sell at a pace to keep investors happy, try another way. In the course of its journey, the company brushed against Oracle and then found itself snarled in the confusion between JSON and XML and the sort of open proprietary extensions to the query language used to extract results from the XML store only to get buffeted by the hoo hah about Hadoop and assorted open source alternatives to Codd databases. Wow.
I read a content marketing / public relations story called “MarkLogic Expands Global Reach with New Offices in Chicago.” Check the source quickly because some BusinessWire content can disappear or become available to those who fork over dough to the “news” service. The write up asserted:
“The opening of these new offices is well-timed for the growing number of global customers who need the enterprise grade NoSQL solutions we are delivering to US-based customers,” said David Ponzini, senior vice president of corporate development, MarkLogic. “We are in an advantageous position to make an immediate impact in Europe and Southeast Asia. We continue broadening the market awareness for MarkLogic throughout the world.”
The trick, of course, will be to blast through the financial goals for the company set by the investors years ago. A failure to produce more than $60 million in revenues a several years ago led to the departure of one president. A couple of more senior executives have spun through the revolving door not too far from Google Island with its quirky dinosaur skeleton. Does that skeleton stand as a metaphor to proprietary software solutions?
In my view, the business thinking at work is more sales offices equals more sales. I once had an office in Manhattan even though I worked in Illinois. The cost was about $20 per month. I had an address on Park Avenue, south unfortunately and a 212 phone number. I made a sale or two to an organization run by John Suhler, but I quickly figured out that the key to making sales was my being in and around midtown.
I thought I read that outfits like IBM are going to a “no office” approach. Maybe MarkLogic has identified a solution to the overhead associated with full time equivalents and physical space? That begs another question, “What does MarkLogic know that IBM does not know?”
Some vendors have found that more sales offices increase costs without generating sufficient revenue to cover the overhead, miscellaneous costs and in country marketing expenses. I can name several Paris, France based content processing companies who learned first hand that additional offices are a very, very expensive proposition. Other companies leverage partners for revenues. In one of my industry reports, I pointed out that prior to the sale of Autonomy to HP, Autonomy figured out a hybrid sales model that seemed to work as long as Dr. Lynch was cracking the whip. Remove the management, the partnering model can go off the rails.
Don’t get me wrong. XML is a wonderful solution to certain types of information challenges. Thomson Reuters can produce hundreds of for fee publications using XQuery and XSLT with proprietary extensions. A quick look at Thomson Reuters financial results suggest that more may be needed by this company than a foundation and an XML data store.
How quickly will MarkLogic deliver a five or ten X return on the $70 million investors have pumped in. In today’s market, cranking out $300 to $700 million in revenues from content processing technology that competes with open source alternatives is a tall order.
Maybe more sales offices will do it? My hunch is that more closed deals is the evidence some stakeholders seek.
Stephen E Arnold, September 25, 2014