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IBM Launches Informative Blog

November 20, 2015

IBM has created a free blog that features information about the company: IBM’s InfoSphere Master Data Management Roundup. Besides the general categories of Headlines and Videos, readers can explore articles under Science, Technology, Business, and two IBM-specific categories, #Bluemix and #IBM. If you love to watch as Big Blue gets smaller, you will find this free newspaper useful in tracking some of the topics upon which IBM is building its future.

Oddly, though, we did not spot any articles from Alliance at IBM  on the site. Some employees are unhappy with the way the company has been treating its workers, and have launched that site to publicize their displeasure. Here’s their Statement of Principles:

“Alliance@IBM/CWA Local 1701 is an IBM employee organization that is dedicated to preserving and improving our rights and benefits at IBM. We also strive towards restoring management’s respect for the individual and the value we bring to the company as employees. Our mission is to make our voice heard with IBM management, shareholders, government and the media. While our ultimate goal is collective bargaining rights with IBM, we will build our union now and challenge IBM on the many issues facing employees from off-shoring and job security to working conditions and company policy.”

It looks like IBM has more to worry about than sliding profits. Could the two issues be related?

Cynthia Murrell, November 20, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

How to Speak to Executives

November 19, 2015

If you need help communicating with the higher-ups, see “Sales Pitch: How to Sell Your IT Strategy to the Board” at SmartDataCollective. Writer Simon Mitchell points out that, when trying to convince the higher-ups to loosen the purse strings, IT pros are unlikely to succeed if their audience doesn’t understand what they’re talking about. He advises:

“Step out of your technological mindset. Long presentations on subjects outside your audience’s core competence are a waste of everyone’s time. Don’t bore the board with too much detail about how the technology actually works. Focus on the business case for your strategy.”

The write-up goes on to recommend a three-point framework for such presentations: focus on the problem (or opportunity), deliver the strategy, and present costs and benefits. See the post for more on each of these points. It is also smart have the technical details on hand, in case anyone asks. We’re left with four take-aways:

“*Before you present your next big IT initiative to the board, put yourself in their shoes. What do they need to hear?

*Review how you can make tech talk accessible and appealing to non-technical colleagues.

*Keep your presentations short and sweet.

*Focus on the business case for your IT strategy.”

Mitchell also wisely recommends The Economist’s Style Guide for more pointers. But, what if the board does not put you on the agenda or, when you make your pitch, no one cares? Well, that’s a different problem.

Cynthia Murrell, November 19, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph


A Modest Dust Up between Big Data and Text Analytics

November 18, 2015

I wonder if you will become involved in this modest dust up between the Big Data folks and the text analytics adherents. I know that I will sit on the sidelines and watch the battle unfold. I may mostly alone on that fence for three reasons:

  • Some text analytics outfits are Big Data oriented. I would point modestly to Terbium Labs and Recorded Future. Both do the analytics thing and both use “text” in their processing. (I know that learning about these companies is not as much fun as reading about Facebook friends, but it is useful to keep up with cutting edge outfits in my opinion.)
  • Text analytics can produce Big Data. I know that sounds like a fish turned inside out. Trust me. It happens. Think about some wan government worker in the UK grinding through Twitter and Facebook posts. The text analytics output lots of data.
  • A faux dust up is mostly a marketing play. I enjoyed search and content processing vendor presentations which pitted features of one system versus another. This approach is not too popular because every system says it can do what every other system can do. The reality of the systems is, in most cases, not discernible to the casual failed webmaster now working as a “real” wizard.

Navigate to “Text Analytics Gurus Debunk 4 Big Data Myths.” You will learn that there are four myths which are debunked. Here are the myths:

  1. Big Data survey scores reign supreme. Hey, surveys are okay because outfits like Survey  Monkey and the crazy pop up technology from that outfit in Michigan are easy to implement. Correct? Not important. Usable data for marketing? Important.
  2. Bigger social media data analysis is better. The outfits able to process the real time streams from Facebook and Twitter have lots of resources. Most companies do not have these resources. Ergo: Statistics 101 reigns no matter what the marketers say.
  3. New data sources are the most valuable. The idea is that data which are valid, normalized, and available for processing trump bigness. No argument from me.
  4. Keep your eye on the ball by focusing on how customers view you. Right. The customer is king in marketing land. In reality, the customer is a code word for generating revenue. Neither Big Data nor text analytics produce enough revenue in my world view. Sounds great though.

Will Big Data respond to this slap down? Will text analytic gurus mount their steeds and take another run down Marketing Lane to the windmill set up as a tourist attraction in an Amsterdam suburb?

Nope. The real battle involves organic, sustainable revenues. Talk is easy. Closing deals is hard. This dust up is not a mixed martial arts pay per view show.

Stephen E Arnold, November 18, 2015

IBM Watson: A Consumer App for Toy and Gift Buyers

November 18, 2015

When I read “IBM Watson’s New App Predicts the Must-Have Toys and Gifts,” I wondered if dead tree catalog makers would embrace Big Blue’s approach. The idea is intriguing. IBM Watson crunches data and generates outputs that guide the person looking for a toy for a grandchild or a gift for an office secret Santa party.

I learned:

The iOS app surfaces suggestions in a number of categories, like tech, health and toys and shows products that it thinks will be the most popular in each section. It also aims to predict trends so you can see whether an item will be popular throughout the holidays or if it will be a passing fad. Behind the scenes, Watson analyzes the conversations around products from social media, blogs, reader comments, product reviews and ratings to determine what will be the most on-demand items. It also takes sentiment (remember Watson’s personality identifier tool?) into account to detect exactly why something may be popular.

I thought about this. Amazon tries to suggest products, and it works once in a while. What confuses Amazon is that my wife purchases books and products which interest her. I use the same account. You can imagine the recommendations that combine math and ancient history books with mysteries written by depressed Scandinavian writers. The personal products recommendations are sometimes downright bizarre.

Microsoft also does the prediction thing with Bing. I wonder if Microsoft used Bing to determine how users of Windows 10 would respond to the “you have no choice” updates that are shoved down the Internet tubes?

For IBM, my reactions went in three directions.

First, IBM marketing and PR professionals are trying to make Lucene, acquired technology, and home brew scripts do something useful. In my own gift buying experience, I keep my eyes open, listen, and then use that information to purchase a personalized gift. For other gifts, I write a check. I am not going to fiddle with a mobile phone app. IBM is obviously aiming at a niche, which for IBM’s sake, finds this approach to buying useful.

Second, IBM Watson is not yet on my radar as a viable solution for search and content processing. IBM may be tallying huge sales, but I don’t hear about them. Even more telling is that my system for monitoring news about search and content processing snags wild and crazy assertions about how wonderful Watson is in curing cancer, making recipes, and, of course, selecting gifts. I find this difficult to believe. The sheer range of applications and capabilities attributed to Watson are difficult for me to believe.

Third, IBM has to find a way to generate substantial organic revenue. Reducing full time equivalents, buying back stock, and losing money for the Buffet machine are not inspiring confidence.

Perhaps IBM Watson will select the perfect gift? Amazon uses its recommendations to generate revenue for Amazon. IBM uses its Watson to generate public relations. Which is the better approach?

Answer: the one which makes money. I do not include the revenue IBM generates for its marketers and PR advisors.

Stephen E Arnold, November 18, 2015

All You Can View Patents

November 18, 2015

Patent information is available to peruse via the USPTO Web site and Google has an accurate patent search (that is significantly easier to use than USPTO’s search), but this does not tell the complete story of US patents.  GCN announced that the USPTO plans to remedy missing patent information in the article, “USPTO Opens The Door To Four Decades Of Patent Data.”

With the help of the Center of Science and Innovation Policy (CSSIP), the USPTO launched the new tool PatentsView:

“The new tool allows individuals to explore data on patenting activity in the United States dating back to 1976. Users can search patent titles, types, inventors, assignees, patent classes, locations and dates. The data also displays visualizations on trends and patent activity. In addition, searches include graphic illustrations and charts.”

People will be able to conduct the equivalent of an “advanced search” option of Google or an academic database.  PatentsView allows people to identify trends, what technology is one the rise or dropping, search a company’s specific patents, and flexible application programming interface to search patent information.

The USPTO wants people to access and use important patent and trademark data.  It faces the issue that many organizations are dealing with that they have the data available and even with the bonus of it being digital, but its user interface is not user-friendly and no one knows it is there.  Borrowing a page from marketing, the USPTO is using PatentsView to rebrand itself and advertise its offerings.  Shiny graphics are one way to reach people.

Whitney Grace, November 18, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Mindbreeze Balloon Ride: Search Marketing Reaches New Heights

November 14, 2015

I am not sure if this balloon ride is sponsored by Fabasoft Mindbreeze. I am not sure why an enterprise search vendor would market information access with a balloon. Even Google, in its fascinating Googley world, uses balloons as a mechanism for delivering high speed internet access to those lucky enough to live in Sri Lanka and other urban conclaves.

The write I read is titled “Mindbreeze: Ballonfahrt für 5 Personen zu gewinnen.” I think this means something like, “You can win a balloon ride for five people in Salzkammergut.” A blog post captures some of the thrill of the blog post.

If you are interested in enterprise search, you might want to check out Mindbreeze’s solution. If you are, like me, happier sitting in a chair contemplating the craziness of enterprise search vendors, you will skip the balloon ride.

This idea ranks with Northern Light’s sponsorship of an Indianapolis 500 race car. How many sales did that produce? If the balloon ride is unrelated to the search Mindbreeze, perhaps Mindbreeze’s attorneys will want to check out the use of the Mindbreeze name because it is blowing in the wind.

Stephen E Arnold, November 14, 2015

Lexalytics: Checking into Hotel Data

November 14, 2015

I read “Boost Your Brand Reputation by Listening to Social Content.” I find the title interesting. The idea that a brand such as a hotel like Motel 6 or Hilton can improve its reputation by listening is interesting. I am not sure that listening translates to a better reputation. The guest in the hotel deals with the room, the staff, and the electrical outlet (presumably working). The guest forms an opinion about the hotel. I was in a hotel in Cape Town which features a non working door, no electricity, and pipes which leaked. This was a new room.

Listening to me did not solve the problems. What solved the problems was my speaking with two managers and proposing that I sleep in the lobby.

I am enthused by technology. I am not keen when technology is presented as a way to sidestep or subvert the reality that creates one’s views of a business, in this case a hotel. The idea is—well, let me be frank—not a good one.

I think the write up means that a hotel using Lexalytics technology has a way to obtain information that otherwise might not find its way to the 20 something in the marketing department. The hotel then has to take action to resolve the problem. This is pretty much common sense, but it does not boost a hotel’s social reputation. Listening is passive. The information must be converted to meaningful action.

That’s the problem with search and content processing companies and why many of them face credibility and revenue challenges. The hoped for action has zero direct connection with the grinding of the algorithms and the motivation or capability of the licensee to make a change.

The write up asserts:

This social currency, online reputation, directly influences a hotelier’s sales volume: good reputation, higher sales — poor reputation, lower sales. The upshot is that in the hospitality industry, increasing your reputation (and revenue) means listening to social content and basing your business decisions on the feedback you receive from guests. And I know I’m preaching to the choir here, but remember that good reputation isn’t just for high-end establishments. There’s a lot to be said for value for money, and smaller, more modest establishments can often gain the most from careful management of their online reputation.

Sounds great. The management of the hotel have to make changes. Over time, the changes will have an impact on the Facebook or Yelp posts that the guests contribute.

Technology is simply a utility, not a way to get from lousy hotel to wonderful hotel with a mouse click or by listening. Horse feathers.

Stephen E Arnold, November 14, 2015

Dassault: Lowered to Hold and Doing the Foundation Thing

November 13, 2015

Dassault Systèmes owns Exalead, one of the search companies forged in the white hot crucibles of the late 1990s. I did a quick check on the fortunes of Exalead, which was purchased by Dassault in 2010. I don’t hear much about Exalead, which had at the time of its acquisition some interesting technology.

What I learned in my quick check was two things. Both struck me as interesting.

First, in “Dassault Systemes Receives Consensus Rating of “Hold” from Brokerages,” I noted the “hold.” That’s one way of saying, “Yikes, we need to watch this outfit.” Some might argue that this is a vote of confidence. I, on the other hand, believe that this is one more signal that companies which have bet big on search are going to face some lean times in the months ahead. I noted this passage in the write up:

Berenberg Bank reissued a “sell” rating on shares of Dassault Systèmes in a report on Friday, September 25th. Credit Suisse restated an “outperform” rating on shares of Dassault Systèmes in a research report on Monday, September 21st. Finally, Zacks cut shares of Dassault Systèmes from a “buy” rating to a “hold” rating in a research report on Tuesday.

Second, Dassault is doing what Thomson Reuters did; that is, morph into foundationville. I am not sure what the tax advantages of this are and I am not too curious. I read in “La Fondation” that:

La Fondation Dassault Systèmes will provide grants, digital content and skill sets in virtual technologies to education and research initiatives at forward-thinking academic institutions, research institutes, museums, associations, cultural centers and other general interest organizations throughout the European Union. This support will provide greater access to 3D content, technology and simulation applications that have long been used by industry for the design, engineering and manufacturing of most of the products society relies on today. Such access can help create new learning experiences and encourage greater interest in science, math, engineering and technology disciplines among students.

From my crumbling office in rural Kentucky, this looks like a reprise of the “old” Lexis effort of providing “free access” to the Lexis online system in the hopes that future attorneys will continue to use Lexis. The free stuff goes away when the aspiring lawyer or future Uber driver passes the bar. How is that free stuff working out?

My thought is that neither of these news items does much to boost my confidence that Exalead is becoming a big revenue player at the upscaliest of the upscale French corporations.

The Exalead folks did know how to provide a great box lunch before the acquisition.

Stephen E Arnold, November 13, 2015

Expect Disruption from Future Technology

November 13, 2015

A dystopian future where technology has made humanity obsolete is a theme older than the Industrial Revolution.  History has proven that while some jobs are phased out thanks to technology more jobs are created by it, after all someone needs to monitor and make the machines.  As technology grows and makes computing systems capable of reason, startups are making temporary gigs permanent jobs, and 3D printing makes it possible to make any object, the obsolete humanity idea does not seem so far-fetched.  Kurzweilai shares a possible future with “The SAP Future Series: Digital Technology’s Exponential Growth Curve Foretells Avalanche Of Business Disruption.”

While technology has improved lives of countless people, it is disrupting industries.  These facts prove to be insightful into how disruptive:

  • In 2015 Airbnb will become the largest hotel chain in the world, launched in 2008, with more than 850,000 rooms, and without owning any hotels.
  • From 2012 to 2014, Uber consumed 65% of San Francisco’s taxi business.
  • Advances in artificial intelligence and robotics put 47% of US employment — over 60 million jobs — at high risk of being replaced in the next decade.
  • 10 million new autonomous vehicles per year may be entering US highways by 2030.
  • Today’s sensors are 1 billion times better — 1000x lighter, 1000x cheaper, 1000x the resolution — than only 40 years ago. By 2030, 100 trillion sensors could be operational worldwide.
  • DNA sequencing cost dropped precipitously — from $1 billion to $5,000 —  in 15 years. By 2020 could be $0.01.
  • In 2000 it took $5,000,000 to launch an internet start-up. Today the cost is less than $5,000.

Using a series of videos, SAP explains how disruption will change the job market, project management, learning, and even predicting future growth.  Rather than continuing the dystopia future projections, SAP positions itself to offer hope and ways to adapt for your success.  Humanity will be facing huge changes because of technology in the near future, but our successful ability to adapt always helps us evolve.

3DWhitney Grace, November 13, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph



Product Hunt Adds Collections to Its Search Results

November 13, 2015

Product Hunt is a website for the cutting-edge consumer, where users share information about the latest and greatest in the tech market. The Next Web tells us, “Product Hunt Now Lets You Follow and Search for Collections.” A “collection” can be established by any user to curate and share groups of products. An example would be a selection of website-building tools, or of the best electronic-device accessories for charging electronic devices. The very brief write-up reveals:

Product Hunt, the Web’s favorite destination to discover new apps, gadgets and connected services, has updated its Collections feature, allowing users to follow and search for curated lists. You can now follow any collection you find interesting to receive notifications when new products are added to them. Collections will also show up in search results alongside products. In addition, curators can add comments to products in their collections to describe them or note why they’ve included them in their list.”

So now finding the best of the latest is even easier. An important tool for anyone with a need, and the means, to keep in front of the technology curve. Launched in 2013, Product Hunt is based in San Francisco. Their Collections feature was launched last December, and this year the site also added sections specifically for books and for games.

Cynthia Murrell, November 13, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph


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