July 5, 2015
Here I am. Sitting in the misty morn contemplating layoffs in the Louisville-Lexington region. At a Fourth of July party, the founder of a large Kentucky-based business reassured his listeners that there would be almost no layoffs as a result of the Aetna-Humana deal. I yawned.
My mind was not attending to the woes of Humana’s soon to be unemployed thousands. I was considering the news item I had just read on my trusty Blackberry Classic (right, no iPhone for me, gentle reader).
The short item was “Insider Selling: Lexmark International CFO David Reeder Sells 7,283 Shares of Stock (LXK).” Who was doing the selling? The person was David Reeder, the Lexmark chief financial officer. Perhaps Mr. Reeder has to send a child to school or must replace a cracking concrete driveway?
Lexmark beat some analyst estimates in its April 2015 quarterly statement. What’s the big deal?
The write up reports:
Several analysts have recently commented on the stock. Analysts at Goldman Sachs initiated coverage on shares of Lexmark International in a research note on Wednesday, June 17th. They set a “sell” rating and a $34.00 price target on the stock. Analysts at Zacks downgraded shares of Lexmark International from a “hold” rating to a “sell” rating in a research note on Wednesday, June 3rd. Analysts at Cross Research upgraded shares of Lexmark International from a “sell” rating to a “hold” rating and raised their price target for the stock from $36.00 to $43.00 in a research note on Thursday, May 14th. Analysts at Brean Capital reiterated a “hold” rating on shares of Lexmark International in a research note on Thursday, April 30th. Finally, analysts at TheStreet upgraded shares of Lexmark International from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating in a research note on Tuesday, April 28th. Five analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, four have issued a hold rating and two have assigned a buy rating to the company. The company currently has an average rating of “Hold” and an average target price of $39.29.
My question is, “Will revenues from the content processing acquisitions ignite Lexmark’s revenues and pump up the profits?” My research suggests that Lexmark may find that making big money from content centric software is no picnic on a warm sunny day.
I am rooting for the printer company, but I am a realist. Some Lexmarkians may want to keep their résumés sparkling and bright. When a CFO sells shares, I pay attention.
Stephen E Arnold, July 5, 2015
July 4, 2015
Short honk: I have been a fan of the Silobreaker system, which is available for commercial and governmental content processing. I read Network Products Guide “New Products and Service: Winners 10th Annual 2015 IT Awards” recommended solutions league table this morning. Silobreaker, founded by a couple of wizards with military and commercial experience. According to the league table, the Silobreaker content processing and information access system is the top dog for applications centering in Europe, the Middle East and Asia. This means that the system’s multi-lingual capabilities were the best, according to the Network Products Guide’s editors. The company also nailed a silver medal for US focused solutions. You can get more information about Silobreaker at www.silobreaker.com. Sign up. Join the thousands of users who want to work with a winner.
Stephen E Arnold, July 4, 2015
July 1, 2015
have expressed interest in Computer Sciences Corp’s public sector division. There are not a lot of details about the possible transaction as it is still in the early stages, so everything is still hush-hush.
The possible acquisition came after the news that CSC will split into two divisions: one that serves US public sector clients and the other dedicated to global commercial and non-government clients. CSC has an estimated $4.1 billion in revenues and worth $9.6 billion, but CACI International, Leidos Holdings, and Booz Allen Hamilton might reconsider the sale or getting the price lowered after hearing this news: “Computer Sciences (CSC) To Pay $190M Penalty; SEC Charges Company And Former Executives With Accounting Fraud” from Street Insider. The Securities and Exchange Commission are charging CSC and former executives with a $190 million penalty for hiding financial information and problems resulting from the contract they had with their biggest client. CSC and the executives, of course, are contesting the charges.
“The SEC alleges that CSC’s accounting and disclosure fraud began after the company learned it would lose money on the NHS contract because it was unable to meet certain deadlines. To avoid the large hit to its earnings that CSC was required to record, Sutcliffe allegedly added items to CSC’s accounting models that artificially increased its profits but had no basis in reality. CSC, with Laphen’s approval, then continued to avoid the financial impact of its delays by basing its models on contract amendments it was proposing to the NHS rather than the actual contract. In reality, NHS officials repeatedly rejected CSC’s requests that the NHS pay the company higher prices for less work. By basing its models on the flailing proposals, CSC artificially avoided recording significant reductions in its earnings in 2010 and 2011.”
Oh boy! Is it a wise decision to buy a company that has a history of stealing money and hiding information? If the company’s root products and services are decent, the buyers might get it for a cheap price and recondition the company. Or it could lead to another disaster like HP and Autonomy.
Whitney Grace, July 1, 2015
June 20, 2015
I learned about Cluuz.com in a briefing in a gray building in a gray room with gray carpeting. The person yapping explained how i2 Ltd.-type relationship analysis was influencing certain intelligence-centric software. I jotted down some urls the speaker mentioned.
When I returned to my office, I check out the urls. I found the Cluuz.com service interesting. The system allowed me to run a query, review results with inline extracts, and relationship visualizations among entities. In that 2007 version of Cluuz.com’s system, I found the presentation, the inclusion of emails, phone numbers, and parent child relationships quite useful. The demonstration used queries passed against Web indexes. Technically, Cluuz.com belonged to the category of search systems which I call “metasearch” engines. The Googles and Yahoos index the Web; Cluuz.com added value. Nifty.
I chased down Alex Zivkovic, the individual then identified as the chief technical professional at Sprylogics. You can read my 2008 interview with Zivkovic in my Search Wizards Speak collection. The Cluuz.com system originated with a former military professional’s vision for information analysis. According to Zivkovic, the prime mover for Cluuz.com was Avi Shachar. At the time of the interview, the company focused on enterprise customers.
Zivkovic told me in 2008:
We have clustering. We have entity extraction. We have a relational ship analysis in a graph format. I want to point out that for enterprise applications, the Cluuz.com functions are significantly more rich. For example, a query can be run across internal content and external content. The user sees that the internal information is useful but not exactly on point. Our graph technology makes it easy for the user to spot useful information from an external source such as the Web in conjunction with the internal information. With a single click, the user can be looking into those information objects. We think we have come up with a very useful way to allow an organization to give its professionals an efficient way to search for content that is behind the firewall and on the Web. The main point, however, is that user does not have to be trained. Our graphical interface makes it obvious what information is available from which source. Instead of formulating complex queries, the person doing the search can scan, click, and browse. Trips back to the search box are options, not mandatory.
I visited the Sprylogics.com Web site the other day and learned that the Cluuz.com-type technology has been repackaged as a mobile search solution and real time sports application.
There is a very good explanation of the company’s use of its technology in a more consumer friendly presentation. You can find that presentation at this link, but the material can be removed at any time, so don’t blame me if the link is dead when you try to review the explanation of the 2015 version of Sprylogics.
From my point of view, the Sprylogics’ repositioning is an excellent example of how a company with technology designed for intelligence professionals can be packaged into a consumer application. The firm has more than a dozen patents, which some search and content processing companies cannot match. The semantic functions and the system’s ability to process Web content in near real time make the firm’s Poynt product interesting to me.
Sprylogics’ approach, in my opinion, is a far more innovative approach to leveraging advanced content processing capabilities than approaches taken by most search vendors. It is easier to slap a customer relationship management, customer support, or business intelligence label on what is essential search and retrieval software than create a consumer facing app.
Kudos to Sprylogics. The ArnoldIT team hopes their stock, which is listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange, takes wing.
Stephen E Arnold, June 20, 2015
June 20, 2015
Think back. Vivisimo asserted that it deduplicated and presented federated search results. There are folks at Oracle who have pointed to Outside In and other file conversion products available from the database company as a way to deal with different types of data. There are specialist vendors, which I will not name, who are today touting their software’s ability to turn a basket of data types into well-behaved rows and columns complete with metatags.
Well, not so fast.
Unifying structured and unstructured information is a time consuming, expensive process. The reasons for the obese exception files where objects which cannot be processed go to live out their short, brutish lives.
I read “Tamr Snaps Up $25.2 Million to Unify Enterprise Data.” The stakeholders know, as do I, that unifying disparate types of data is an elephant in any indexing or content analytics conference room. Only the naive believe that software whips heterogeneous data into Napoleonic War parade formations. Today’s software processing tools cannot get undercover police officers to look ship shape for the mayor.
Ergo, an outfit with an aversion to the vowel “e” plans to capture the flag on top of the money pile available for data normalization and information polishing. The write up states:
Tamr can create a central catalogue of all these data sources (and spreadsheets and logs) spread out across the company and give greater visibility into what exactly a company has. This has value on so many levels, but especially on a security level in light of all the recent high-profile breaches. If you do lose something, at least you have a sense of what you lost (unlike with so many breaches).
Tamr is correct. Organizations don’t know what data they have. I could mention a US government agency which does not know what data reside on the server next to another server managed by the same system administrator. But I shall not. The problem is common and it is not confined to bureaucratic blenders in government entities.
Tamr, despite the odd ball spelling, has Michael Stonebraker, a true wizard on the task. The write up mentions an outfit what might be politely described as a “database challenge” as a customer. If Thomson Reuters cannot figure out data after decades of efforts and millions upon millions of investment, believe me when I point out that Tamr may be on to something.
Stephen E Arnold, June 20, 2015
June 12, 2015
The article on Venture Beat whimsically titled Where Are the Text Analytics Unicorns provides yet another cheerleader for search. The article uses Aileen Lee’s “unicorn” concept of a company begun since 2003 and valued at over a billion dollars. (“Super unicorns” are companies valued at over a hundred billion dollars like Facebook.) The article asks why no text analytics companies have joined this exclusive club? Candidates include Clarabridge, NetBase and Medallia.
“In the end, the answer is a very basic one. Contrast the text analytics sector with unicorns that include Uber — Travis Kalanick’s company — and Airbnb, Evernote, Flipkart, Square, Pinterest, and their ilk. They play to mass markets — they’re a magic mix of revenue, data, platform, and pizazz — in ways that text analytics doesn’t. The tech companies on the unicorn list — Cloudera, MongoDB, Pivotal — provide or support essential infrastructure that covers a broad set of needs.”
Before coming to this conclusion, the article posits other possible reasons as well, such as the sheer number of companies competing in the field, or even competition from massive companies like IBM and Google. But these are dismissed for the more optimistic end note that essentially suggests we give the text analytics unicorns a year. Caution advised.
Chelsea Kerwin, June 12, 2015
June 12, 2015
What is one way to improve a user’s software navigational experience? One of the best ways is to add a graphical user interface (GUI). Software Development @ IT Business Net shares a press release about “Lexalytics Unveils Industry’s First Wizard For Text Mining And Sentiment Analysis.” Lexalytics is one of the leading companies that provides sentiment and analytics solutions and as the article’s title explains it has made an industry first by releasing a GUI and wizard for Semantria SaaS platform and Excel plug-in. The wizard and GUI (SWIZ) are part of the Semantria Online Configurator, SWEB 1.3, which also included functionality updates and layout changes.
” ‘In order to get the most value out of text and sentiment analysis technologies, customers need to be able to tune the service to match their content and business needs,’ said Jeff Catlin, CEO, Lexalytics. ‘Just like Apple changed the game for consumers with its first Macintosh in 1984, making personal computing easy and fun through an innovative GUI, we want to improve the job of data analysts by making it just as fun, easy and intuitive with SWIZ.’”
Lexalytics is dedicated to helping its clients enjoy an easier experience when it comes to data analytics. The company wants its clients to get the answers they by providing the tools they need to get them without having to over think the retrieval process. While Lexalytics already provides robust and flexible solutions, the SWIZ release continues to prove it has the most tunable and configurable text mining technology.
Whitney Grace, June 12, 2015
June 9, 2015
I read “Text Analytics: The Next Generation of Big Data.” The article provides a straightforward explanation of Big Data, embraces unstructured information like blog posts in various languages, email, and similar types of content, and then leaps to the notion of text analytics. The conclusion to the article is that we are experiencing “The Coming of Age of Text Analytics—The Next Generation of Big Data.”
The idea is good news for the vendors of text analytics aimed squarely at commercial enterprises, advertisers, and marketers. I am not sure the future will match up to the needs of the folks at the law enforcement and intelligence conference I had just left.
There are three reasons:
First, text analytics are not new, and the various systems and methods have been in use for decades. One notable example is BAE Systems use of its home brew tools and Autonomy’s technology in the 1990s and i2 (pre IBM) and its efforts even earlier.
Second, the challenges of figuring out what structured and unstructured data mean require more than determining if a statement is positive or negative. Text analytics is, based on my experience, blind to such useful data as real time geospatial inputs and video streamed from mobile devices and surveillance devices. Text analytics, like key word search, makes a contribution, but it is in a supporting role, not the Beyoncé of content processing.
Third, the future points to the use of technologies like predictive analytics. Text analytics are components in these more robust systems whose outputs are designed to provide probability-based outputs from a range of input sources.
There was considerable consternation a year or so ago. I spoke with a team involved with text analytics at a major telecommunications company. The grousing was that the outputs of the system did not make sense and it was difficult for those reviewing the outputs to figure out what the data meant.
At the LE/intel conference, the focus was on systems which provide actionable information in real time. My point is that vendors have a tendency to see the solutions in terms of what is often a limited or supporting technology.
Sentiment analysis is a good example. Blog posts invoking readers to join ISIS are to some positive and negative. The point is that the point of view of the reader determines whether a message is positive or negative.
The only way to move beyond this type of superficial and often misleading analysis is to deal with context, audio, video, intercept data, geolocation data, and other types of content. Text analytics is one component in a larger system, not the solution to the types of problems explored at the LE/intel conference in early June 2015. Marketing often clouds reality. In some businesses, no one knows that the outputs are not helpful. In other endeavors, the outputs have far higher import. Knowing that a recruiting video with a moving nasheed underscoring the good guys dispatching the bad guys is off kilter. Is it important to know that the video is happy or sad? In fact, it is silly to approach the content in this manner.
Stephen E Arnold, June 9, 2014
June 5, 2015
A happy quack to Datameer. The company is providing tools to deal with issues related to data quality, compliance, and security. If you Hadoop, Datameer is taking action, not just talking with regard to Hadoop crunching. With “end users” fooling around with analytics, outputs can be exciting. Some Statistics 101 students would be reluctant to turn these “reports” is at the end of the term. For MBAs, point and click analyses are quick and easy. Outputs? Hey, isn’t anything generated by a computer correct?
Navigate to “Datameer Adds Governance Tools for Hadoop Analytics.”
Accordin to the write up:
New data-profiling tools, for example, let companies find and transparently fix issues like dirty, inconsistent or invalid data at any stage in a complex analytics pipeline. Datameer’s capabilities include data profiling, data statistics monitoring, metadata management and impact analysis. Datameer also supports secure data views and multi-stage analytics pipelines, and it provides LDAP/Active Directory integration, role-based access control, permissions and sharing, integration with Apache Sentry 1.4 and column and row anonymization functions.
The source is one of the IDC/IDG properties, so check with Datameer to make certain you are getting the straight scoop.
Stephen E Arnold, June 5, 2015
June 2, 2015
Jack Be, a Maryland based intelligence software company, sold to Software AG in late 2013. If the information in “Aurea Software with Renewed Offer to Acquire All Update Software AG Shares” is accurate, the major shareholder of Software AG may acquire the German firm. The buyer could be Aurea Software. According the firm’s Web site:
At Aurea, we constantly challenge ourselves to identify and engineer truly transformative customer experiences, and we look for innovative ways that software and processes can transform an average experience for your customers into a great one. Our customer experience platform helps over 1,500 companies worldwide build, execute, monitor and optimize the end-to-end customer journey for a diverse range of industries including Energy, Retail, Insurance, Travel & Hospitality and Life Sciences.
According to a BusinessWeek profile, Aurea is the new positioning of Progress Software. BusinessWeek says:
Aurea Software was formerly known as Progress Software Corp., Sonic, Savvion, Actional and DXSI. As a result of the acquisition of Progress Software Corp., Sonic, Savvion, Actional and DXSI by Trilogy Enterprises, Inc, Progress Software Corp., Sonic, Savvion, Actional and DXSI’s name was changed. Progress Software Corp., Sonic, Savvion, Actional and DXSI comprises four progress software businesses.
A document attributed to Progress Software provides an interesting profile of Aurea. You can find this document as of June 1, 2015, at this link. My recollection is that Progress (now Aurea) used to own the EasyAsk search technology. In May 2015, Aurea acquired Lyris. According to the Aurea-Lyris news release:
Lyris is a global leader of innovative email and digital marketing solutions that help companies reach customers at scale and create personalized value at every touch point. Lyris’ products and services empower marketers to design, automate, and optimize experiences that facilitate superior engagement, increase conversions, and deliver measurable business value.
Jack Be’s screen scraping technology can be used to figure out what customers’ are saying on the Internet and on a licensee’s help desk system. Jack Be did include query tools. If the Reuters’ story is off base, we will update this post. One assumes that the new Progress will “empower” some significant progress.
Stephen E Arnold, June 2, 2015