Turbotodd

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Big Moves In Big Data: IBM New Data Acceleration, Hadoop Capabilities

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IBM just announced new technologies designed to help companies and governments tackle Big Data by making it simpler, faster and more economical to analyze massive amounts of data. New data acceleration innovation results in as much as 25 times faster reporting and analytics.

Click to enlarge. IBM just announced new technologies designed to help companies and governments tackle Big Data by making it simpler, faster and more economical to analyze massive amounts of data. New data acceleration innovation results in as much as 25 times faster reporting and analytics.

IBM made a significant announcement earlier today concerning new technologies designed to help companies and governments tackle Big Data by making it simpler, faster and more economical to analyze massive amounts of data. The new data acceleration innovation results in as much as 25 times faster reporting and analytics.

Today’s announcement, which represents the work of hundreds of IBM developers and researchers in labs around the world, includes an industry-first innovation called “BLU Acceleration,” which combines a number of techniques to dramatically improve analytical performance and simplify administration.

Also announced was the new IBM PureData System for Hadoop, designed to make it easier and faster to deploy Hadoop in the enterprise. Hadoop is the game-changing open-source software used to organize and analyze vast amounts of structured and unstructured data, such as posts to social media sites, digital pictures and videos, online transaction records, and cell phone location data.

The new system can reduce from weeks to minutes the ramp-up time organizations need to adopt enterprise-class Hadoop technology with powerful, easy-to-use analytic tools and visualization for both business analysts and data scientists.

In addition, it provides enhanced Big Data tools for monitoring, development and integration with many more enterprise systems.

IBM Big Data Innovations: More Accessible, Enterprise-ready 

As organizations grapple with a flood of structured and unstructured data generated by computers, mobile devices, sensors and social networks, they’re under unprecedented pressure to analyze much more data at faster speeds and at lower costs to help deepen customer relationships, prevent threat and fraud, and identify new revenue opportunities.

BLU Acceleration enables users to have much faster access to key information, leading to better decision-making. The software extends the capabilities of traditional in-memory systems — which allows data to be loaded into Random Access Memory instead of hard disks for faster performance — by providing in-memory performance even when data sets exceed the size of the memory.

During testing, some queries in a typical analytics workload were more than 1000 times faster when using the combined innovations of BLU Acceleration.

Innovations in BLU Acceleration include “data skipping,” which allows the ability to skip over data that doesn’t need to be analyzed, such as duplicate information; the ability to analyze data in parallel across different processors; and greater ability to analyze data transparently to the application, without the need to develop a separate layer of data modeling.

Another industry-first advance in BLU Acceleration is called “actionable compression,” where data no longer has to be decompressed to be analyzed.

Not IBM’s First Big Data Rodeo

The new offerings expand what is already the industry’s deepest portfolio of Big Data technologies and solutions, spanning software, services, research and hardware. The IBM Big Data platform combines traditional data warehouse technologies with new Big Data techniques, such as Hadoop, stream computing, data exploration, analytics and enterprise integration, to create an integrated solution to address these critical needs.

IBM PureData System for Hadoop is the next step forward in IBM’s overall strategy to deliver a family of systems with built-in expertise that leverages its decades of experience reducing the cost and complexity associated with information technology.

This new system integrates IBM InfoSphere BigInsights, which allows companies of all sizes to cost-effectively manage and analyze data and add administrative, workflow, provisioning and security features, along with best-in-class analytical capabilities from IBM Research.

Today’s announcement also includes the following new versions of IBMs Big Data solutions:

  • A new version of InfoSphere BigInsights, IBM’s enterprise-ready Hadoop offering, which makes it simpler to develop applications using existing SQL skills, compliance security and high availability features vital for enterprise applications. BigInsights offers three entry points: free download, enterprise software and now an expert integrated system, IBM PureData System for Hadoop.
  • A new version of InfoSphere Streams, unique “stream computing” software that enables massive amounts of data in motion to be analyzed in real-time, with performance improvements, and simplified application development and deployment.
  •  A new version of Informix including TimeSeries Acceleration for operational reporting and analytics on smart meter and sensor data.

Pricing and Availability 

All offerings are available in Q2, except the PureData System for Hadoop, which will start shipping to customers in the second half 2013. Credit-qualified clients can take advantage of simple, flexible lease and loan packages with no up-front payments for the software and systems that deliver a new generation of data analytics.

IBM Global Financing offers attractive leasing programs with 90-day payment deferrals for the PureData System for Hadoop, as well as zero percent loans for the broader portfolio of IBM big data solutions.

IBM Opens Lab To Bring R&D To The CEO

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One of the things we heard about extensively during our time on the ground at SXSW Interactive 2013 in Austin over the past week was the importance of the customer experience.

Whether that be in applications in mobile devices, in customer service via the social media, the physical experience of a brand’s product or service…the customer experience rules!

And this anecdotal data is supported by IBM’s own research, including last year’s Global CEO Study, which queried 1,700 CEOs from 64 countries and 18 industries and found that CEOs are changing the nature of work by adding a powerful dose of openness, transparency, and employee empowerment to the command-and-control ethos that has characterized the modern corporation for more than a century.

The study revealed that the advantages of this fast-moving trend are clear: Companies that outperform their peers are 30 percent more likely to identify openness — often characterized by a greater use of social media as a key enabler of collaboration and innovation — as a key influence on their organization.

Those “outperformers” are also embracing new models of working that tap into the collective intelligence of an organization and its networks to devise new ideas and solutions for increased profitability and growth.

In order to forge those closer connections with customers, partners, and a new generation of employees in the future, CEOs plan to shift their focus from using e-mail and the phone as primary communication vehicles to using social networks as a new path for direct engagement. And while social media is the least utilized of all customer interaction methods today, it stands to become the number two organizational engagement method within the next five years, a close second to face-to-face interactions.

Big Data, Big Opportunity

Given the data explosion being witnessed by many organizations, CEOs also recognized the need for more sophisticated business analytics to mine the data being tracked online, on mobile phones and social media sites. The traditional approach to understanding customers better has been to consolidate and analyze transactions and activities from across the entire organization. However, to remain relevant, CEOs must piece together a more holistic view of the customer based on how he or she engages the rest of the world, not just their organization.

The ability to drive value from data is strongly correlated with performance. Outperforming organizations are twice as good as underperformers at accessing and drawing insights from data. Outperformers are also 84 percent better at translating those insights into real action.

From Theory to Action

To this end, IBM today announced the creation of the IBM Customer Experience Lab, dedicated to helping business leaders transform the way customers experience their products, services and brands through the use of mobile, social, cloud and advanced analytics technologies.

IBM Research scientists and business consultants will co-create with clients to deliver systems that learn and personalize the experiences of each individual customer, identify patterns, preferences and create context from Big Data, and drive scale economics.

The IBM Customer Experience Lab will provide CEOs, CMOs, CFOs, heads of sales and other C-suite executives direct access to a virtual team of 100 researchers, supported by the deep industry and domain expertise of thousands of IBM business consultants addressing the opportunities of the digital front office.

In the new age of Big Data and analytics, organizations are reassessing how to move from addressing mass audiences to personalized relationships. The same technologies allow enterprises to engage in new ways with their employees, allow government agencies to build new relationships with citizens, or enable new models of interaction among students and educational institutions.

IBM Research is developing technology assets and capabilities that can help deliver front office capabilities as a service from a cloud, design novel products to match customer preferences, and leverage math and psychological theories of personality to improve marketing effectiveness.
Client Engagements

The Lab focuses on innovation breakthroughs in three primary areas:

  • Customer insight. Applying advanced capabilities such as machine learning and visual analytics to predict differences in individual customer behavior across multiple channels.
  • Customer engagement. Using deep customer engagement to drive insight and continuously deliver value by personalizing engagement, versus transactional experiences.
  • Employee engagement. Embedding semantic, collaborative, and multimedia technologies to foster employee engagement and insight – in person and online.

Among the clients engaged with IBM on advancing their innovation process are Nationwide Building Society, the world’s largest building society serving 15 million members in the United Kingdom, and Banorte, one of the largest banks in Mexico with more than 20 million customers.

“Mobile and social technologies, and the ability to access information anytime, anywhere, is driving significant change in the way consumers bank and in the services they expect,” said Martin Boyle, Divisional Director of Transformation, Nationwide Building Society. “Our ability to innovate and anticipate, and not just respond, is what sets us apart from the competition and helps us to provide our customers with new and better ways to do business with us. By partnering with IBM, we can tap into its vast research and innovation expertise and facilities, which has already proved invaluable in our transformation program and will continue to be an important part in how we continue to innovate our service for customers.”

New Tools and Capabilities

The Lab provides IBM clients with an innovation process, assets and platform to give line of business leaders the exclusive ability to work side-by-side with IBM researchers and business consultants to analyze business challenges and jointly create solutions that integrate next-generation mobile, social, analytics and cloud technologies.

Co-creation with clients includes an innovation model called Innovation Discovery Workshops, which generate ideas, roadmaps, prototypes and solutions that draw on research assets, business consulting and IBM Software solutions in areas such as Smarter Commerce, Big Data, analytics, and Mobile First products.

The IBM Customer Experience Lab will be headquartered at the Thomas J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, N.Y., supported by researchers at IBM’s 12 global labs including Africa, Brazil, California, China, India, Israel, Japan, Switzerland, and Texas.

The Lab brings together skills across disciplines including service science, industries research, mathematics and business optimization, social, mobile, Smarter Commerce, data mining, cloud computing, security and privacy, cognitive computing and systems management. IBM invests more than $6 billion annually on research and development and employs about 3,000 researchers worldwide. IBM Global Business Services deploys business consulting, applications and delivery expertise globally, including market-leading business analytics, Smarter Commerce, mobility and applications management practices.

Visit here for more information about the IBM Customer Experience Lab, and follow IBM’s innovation breakthroughs on Twitter at @IBMResearch.

IBM Taps Next Generation Leaders For Watson Innovation

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The Watson Case Competition at USC, the third in a series hosted by IBM, is the latest example of IBM's work with academia to advance interest among students in Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) curriculums that will lead to high-impact, high-value careers. The competition is in keeping with IBM's Academic Initiative which delivers course work, case studies and curricula to more than 6,000 universities and 30,000 faculty members worldwide to help students prepare for high-value future job opportunities.

The Watson Case Competition at USC, the third in a series hosted by IBM, is the latest example of IBM’s work with academia to advance interest among students in Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) curriculums that will lead to high-impact, high-value careers. The competition is in keeping with IBM’s Academic Initiative which delivers course work, case studies and curricula to more than 6,000 universities and 30,000 faculty members worldwide to help students prepare for high-value future job opportunities.

While I was out trying to grok all things SXSW Interactive these past several days, IBM continued with its efforts to put IBM Watson to work for the betterment of mankind by turning to the next generation of brilliant young minds to help figure out where Watson should work next.

Imagine a Watson-powered system that could uncover data-driven insights to help medical professionals identify those who may be suffering silently from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Imagine a Watson that could provide lawyers with faster research capabilities to improve their cases.

Imagine a Watson that could help businesses hire the best talent in the job market.

This is the magnitude of ideas sparked by more than 100 University of Southern California students who gathered recently to compete in the IBM Watson Academic Case Competition.

A debut on the West Coast, the Case Competition put USC students in the spotlight to create business plans for applying Watson to pressing business and societal challenges — and IBM business leaders were present and listening carefully.

IBM: Partnering To Learn

IBM partners with thousands of universities to offer curricula, internships and hands-on experiences to help students learn first hand about new technologies in the fields of Big Data, analytics and cognitive computing.

The company is at the forefront of creating a new workforce of Big Data trained professionals, from IBM’s collaboration with Cleveland Clinic, which provides Watson as a collaborative learning tool for medical students, to its public-private partnership with the New York City Department of Education and the City University of New York to create the Pathways in Technology Early College High School program (P-TECH), which allows students to participate in a six year science and technology program and graduate with an associates degree for free in computer science or engineering.

To kick-off the competition at USC’s campus, IBM provided students with a crash course on Watson’s breakthrough capabilities, including a demonstration of how Watson is helping WellPoint, Inc. and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center improve the speed and quality of treatment for cancer patients.

As the first cognitive computing system of its kind in the marketplace, Watson is able to understand and process the subtleties of human questions, sift through vast amounts of data, and use sophisticated analytics to generate fast, accurate answers for its human users.

Watson also learns from its interactions, constantly improving with each use. This represents a major shift in organizations’ ability to quickly analyze, understand and respond to Big Data, in industries such as healthcare — and this is where student minds were put to the test.

As part of the competition, students were assigned into 24 teams and given 48 hours to define a new purpose for Watson, develop a business plan, and present it to a panel of judges comprising school officials, IBM executives and local business leaders.

The challenge was unique among USC competitions because students worked toward a common goal with peers from other disciplines — similar to how IBM combines the talent of business leaders and research scientists to develop its patented innovations.

To foster interdisciplinary collaboration, each team was required to have at least one business and one engineering member, from USC’s Marshall Business School and Viterbi School of Engineering.

What’s Your Business Plan For Watson?

The student teams faced two rounds of judging based on four areas of criteria: how well the concept and supporting plan articulated and supported the team’s vision; the feasibility of bringing the product or service to market and the supporting elements; the extent the proposed solution leverages Watson’s key capabilities; and the team’s presentation. Three winning ideas were selected by a panel of eight industry and faculty judges, including representatives from Bank of America, Ernst & Young, and IBM.

  • 1st Place – Legal Research: Let Watson Do the Discovery for Your Next Legal Case – For corporate legal departments, building a case — or defending one’s own — relies heavily on fast and accurate research. Past legal trials, court documents, articles and digital evidence: all of these materials can make or break a case, and together they comprise a sea of unstructured data that is both time-consuming and costly to pore through. The first place USC team proposed using Watson to process its users’ research needs, based on its ability to think like a human, quickly sift through online legal documents for facts, and not only identify evidence to support a case — but forecast its probability of success. The first place team’s viewpoint: by placing Watson in charge of research, firms can recover time and costs, while delivering better legal outcomes. In turn, firms that leverage Watson’s speed and efficiency can address the growing legal trend towards “flat fee” billing and research outsourcing.
  • 2nd Place – Employee Training: Watson Uncovers the Keys to Success for Your Employees – According to the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD), 41 percent of employees at companies with inadequate training programs plan to leave within a year, versus 12 percent of employees at companies who provide excellent training and professional development programs. Conversely, the ASTD also states that effective employee training can lead to 218 percent higher income per employee and 45 percent higher shareholder return than market average. The second place USC team proposes that corporate human resource departments use Watson to optimize employee training, by crunching data pertaining to the employers’ HR needs, the employees’ career goals, and the range of training options available that can help both parties succeed. The second place team’s viewpoint: by improving employee satisfaction and retention, a Watson-powered employee training system can also drive higher shareholder value.
  • 3rd Place – Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: Watson Helps Doctors Find Patients – It is reported that Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder affects nearly 7.7 million U.S. adults aged 18 and older. This includes people who have served in combat, experienced domestic violence, have been in car accidents, or other traumatic events. Many with PTSD suffer silently, including the 400,000+ U.S. veterans who have yet to be identified and treated, per the U.S. Veterans Administration. Thankfully, the catalysts behind this illness need no longer remain invisible — due largely to Big Data. For example, there are now unprecedented amounts of data that accompany soldiers who return from war, from medical histories to information on combat experiences. The third place USC team proposes that physicians use Watson to identify people who may develop PTSD, by uncovering insights from data that can help piece together their personal story and shed light on pain he or she may be experiencing. The team’s viewpoint: by helping physicians find and diagnose those suffering from PTSD, Watson can help medical professionals offer patients the treatment they deserve.

Fueling Innovation While Investing In The Next Generation Of Tech Leaders

This competition is the latest example of how IBM is fueling innovation and working with students in higher education to hone valuable business skills that will shape the next generation of industry leaders.

"Partnering with universities such as USC gives IBM a unique opportunity to tap into the minds of our next-generation of leaders, whose training, skills and ideas for changing the world are all forward-thinking and based on a desire to make a meaningful impact,” said Manoj Saxena, IBM General Manager, Watson Solutions. "These students see what Watson is doing right now and think -- how else will cognitive computing impact my life and career in the years to come? To us, that's exactly the mindset that should be fueling IBM innovations, and the very reason we host Watson Academic Case Competitions."

“Partnering with universities such as USC gives IBM a unique opportunity to tap into the minds of our next-generation of leaders, whose training, skills and ideas for changing the world are all forward-thinking and based on a desire to make a meaningful impact,” said Manoj Saxena, IBM General Manager, Watson Solutions, about the new initiative. “These students see what Watson is doing right now and think — how else will cognitive computing impact my life and career in the years to come? To us, that’s exactly the mindset that should be fueling IBM innovations, and the very reason we host Watson Academic Case Competitions.”

Due to the overwhelming response from USC students seeking to participate in the Watson Academic Case Competition, students had to join a waiting list, once the 24-team maximum had been reached. One faculty sponsor, noting that the level of interest was unprecedented for a campus case competition, predicted registration could reach 500 next year.

“For USC students, the opportunity to share their own ideas with IBM on how to commercialize Watson is truly a unique experience,” said Ashish Soni, Executive Director of Digital Innovation and Founding Director of the Viterbi Student Innovation Institute at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering. “As educators, we’re quite pleased to see students getting excited about cognitive computing innovation, because we know there’s a business demand for the types of skills they get to showcase in Watson Case Competitions.”

Watson — Building a New Big Data Workforce 

It’s no secret that employers across the U.S. are seeking job candidates who can analyze and build strategy around Big Data, or the 2.5 quintillion bytes of information gleaned from sensors, mobile devices, online transactions and social networks, to name just a few sources. A recent Gartner report estimates that 1.9 million Big Data jobs will be created in the U.S. by 2015.

The Watson Case Competition at USC, the third in a series hosted by IBM, is the latest example of IBM’s work with academia to advance interest among students in Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) curriculums that will lead to high-impact, high-value careers. The competition is in keeping with IBM’s Academic Initiative which delivers course work, case studies and curricula to more than 6,000 universities and 30,000 faculty members worldwide to help students prepare for high-value future job opportunities.

IBM worked closely with academic institutions during the development and introduction of Watson. Eight leading universities around the world participated in the development phase of the system; and more than 10,000 students watched Watson triumph on the Jeopardy! quiz show in February 2011. Most recently, IBM announced it would provide a modified version of an IBM Watson system to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, making it the first university to receive such a system that will enable leading-edge research by faculty and students.

The competition at USC marks the latest collaboration between the university and IBM. Over the last two years, students at the school’s Annenberg Innovation Lab have been using Big Data analytics technologies to conduct social sentiment analyses and determine public engagement on topics such as sports, film, retail and fashion.

Two of the biggest projects looked at Major League Baseball’s World Series and the Academy Awards, projects developed for students to explore and expand their skills as they prepare for new data-intensive careers.  IBM also collaborated with the USC Marshall School of Business for “The Great Mind Challenge,” a global academic initiative focused on providing students with an opportunity to turn their social networking savvy into business ready skills to prepare for the jobs of the future.

Live From IBM Pulse 2013: A Day For Partners

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Turbo starts his IBM Pulse 2013 experience with a quick trip down golf, and "Rat Pack", history by playing a round at the renowned Las Vegas National golf course, one of the courses where Tiger Woods won his first PGA tournament victory in 1996. For the record, Turbo held his own, shooting an 84 (but convinced he could have gone lower if the greens had held).

Turbo starts his IBM Pulse 2013 experience with a quick trip down golf, and “Rat Pack”, history by playing a round at the renowned Las Vegas National golf course, one of the courses where Tiger Woods won his first PGA tournament victory in 1996. For the record, Turbo held his own, shooting an 84 (but convinced he could have gone lower if the greens had held).

Good morning, Las Vegas.

You know, I joke about Vegas as my second home, but I really do have to admit, it’s a city that continues to grow on me.

And I’m sure that couldn’t have *anything* to do with the delightful, if dreadfully slow, round of golf I played yesterday at Las Vegas National.

As I mentioned in a post on Friday, this is the very same course (one of three) where Tiger Woods won his first PGA Tour event, the Las Vegas Invitational, back in 1996 (he beat Davis Love III on the first playoff hole to win).

It’s also where Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., and others of the infamous “Rat Pack” used to hang out. I was only fifty years late on that front, but nonetheless, I did experience the course in all it’s glory and managed to pull of an 84. Considering Tiger’s 70 in 1996, I figure I was only .77 strokes a hole behind Tiger.

But enough sports analytics, because now all the play is behind me as I get down to work and the matter at hand, IBM Pulse 2013.

Please see my last post for some tips and tricks for navigating this year’s event (oh, did I mention, bring or go buy some comfortable shoes)?

I made my first navigation from the MGM hotel to the Convention Center this morning, and on the way, saw the now annual Burma Shave-like signs reminding us “we’re almost there!”

My favorite: Multitasking is all about doing several things badly all at once (There will be more of those tidbits of wisdom to come in future posts.)

Amen, oh great IBM Tivoli Confucian hallway philosopher!

Of course, this ain’t no Blazing Saddles shindig, so you actually *do* need a stinkin’ badge.

So, I picked mine up and wandered on into the Pulse Business Partner Summit to break a little fast, and chat with some of our partners.

When the lights went down, IBM Tivoli general manager soon hit the stage to “introduce” himself to the gathered wall-to-wall audience.

And it was quite an introduction.  I’ve interviewed Deepak a few times now at IBM events, and even I had no idea of his depth of experience at IBM.

He explained he’s once been a UNIX programmer and helped bring TCP/IP to the mainframe, had worked on the SP2 supercomputer that once upon a time outwitted a Soviet chess superpower, and helped implement a number of key high availability and systems management capabilities into IBM’s mainframe line.

More recently, Deepak was the chief marketing officer for Lenovo before returning to the IBM fold to lead our Business Analytics efforts and oversee the acquisition of SPSS.

Deepak warmed the audience to him with a very funny story about having been representing IBM with its new supercomputer at a conference in frigid Rochester. Apparently, the IBM computer was very plain and vanilla looking, and so the competition started making fun of it.

Deepak and his team decided to run out to Wal-Mart and purchase some Christmas lights, which they promptly wrapped around their supercomputer (turned out IBM had the fastest supercomputer, Christmas lights and all).

IBM Tivoli general manager Deepak Advani opens the Tivoli Business Partner Summit by introducing himself to the Tivoli crowd and explaining the depth and breadth of his background, which began as a UNIX systems programmer and shell script author back in the day. Advani now leads the IBM Tivoli organization worldwide, and will be featured prominently throughout IBM Pulse 2013.

IBM Tivoli general manager Deepak Advani opens the Tivoli Business Partner Summit by introducing himself to the Tivoli crowd and explaining the depth and breadth of his background, which began as a UNIX systems programmer and shell script author back in the day. Advani now leads the IBM Tivoli organization worldwide, and will be featured prominently throughout IBM Pulse 2013.

After establishing his background and bona fides, Deepak got down to business, reaffirming the critical importance of IBM’s partners to the Tivoli and broader IBM business, but explaining none of us in the ecosystem could rest on our laurels.

“We must bring more industry and domain expertise” into our technologies, Deepak asserted, “and we must also bring our line of business and IT audiences more closely together.”

This, of course, observing a theme pervasive within IBM since CEO Ginni Rometty took the helm: We must focus more on our line of business executives.

From CMO to CFO, they are increasingly involved in the IT decision-making process, and the back office has moved to the front, requiring a more collaborative “sell” for both constituencies.

Deepak also acknowledged the pain IT organizations felt these last several years, and explained that’s why IBM has worked to try and free them from operational matters with technologies like PureSystems, so that they can spend more time working with their LOB partners on innovation.

Finally, Deepak walked the audience through a number of key core and growth priorities, ranking among them the continued focus on mainframe and storage evolution, the importance of standars, and looking forward to growth areas like endpoint management and cloud computing.

He talked specifically about the notion of the “portability of workloads,” explain how IBM has taken patterns from PureSystems and moving them to the cloud. (A line of questioning I aspire to take up in my interview tomorrow on the Livestream stage with PureSystems’ Nancy Pearson and Jason Gartner.)

He also tiptoed through the world of “dev-ops,” with specific regard to managing the life cycles of applications.

Finally, Deepak explained we can do more to improve the design and usability of our portfolio, and also use analytics (his old job!) to improve and make better operational decisions.

Pulse 2013 is underway…hold on to your console!

Online Retailer LabelSneak Leverages IBM Smarter Commerce Technologies To Glean Mobile/Social Insights, Bolster Sales

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LabelSneak teamed with IBM and IBM Business Partner CSI Solution to connect with the growing marketplace of consumers who prefer to buy across online, mobile and social channels. IBM Smarter Commerce precision marketing is allowing consumers to choose which sales promotions they want to be alerted to or when their favorite clothing item goes on sale via text, tweet, Facebook post or email. This can be a more effective sales method as smaller retailers can deliver a level of personalization and a more tailored marketing campaign to the individual consumer.

LabelSneak teamed with IBM and IBM Business Partner CSI Solution to connect with the growing marketplace of consumers who prefer to buy across online, mobile and social channels. IBM Smarter Commerce precision marketing is allowing consumers to choose which sales promotions they want to be alerted to or when their favorite clothing item goes on sale via text, tweet, Facebook post or email. This can be a more effective sales method as smaller retailers can deliver a level of personalization and a more tailored marketing campaign to the individual consumer.

There’s some new news on the Smarter Commerce front from IBM.

Earlier today, IBM announced a collaboration with LabelSneak, a small online retailer of discounted designer men’s wear, which is using IBM Smarter Commerce technologies to create a unique shopping experience aimed at the millennial consumer.

As a result, LabelSneak has seen 148 percent growth in revenues, tripling sales in less than a year.

For The Fashion Conscious Male

LabelSneak is an outlet store aimed at brand aware males, and offers discounts of up to 75 percent on fashion and sportswear, alerting its consumers via social channels to personalized, limited-time sales offers.

With new deals updated regularly, the site generates tremendous amounts of data, including Tweets, Instagram photos, Facebook comments on popular sales items and conversations between consumers on favorite brands through social channels, mobile and tablet devices.

LabelSneak’s challenge was this: To capture and glean insights from all this big data to better understand what consumers were saying about the latest promotions, which items were the most popular and at what time and in what circumstances sales were most effective.

They also needed analytics to better target and mold online sales campaigns and to decide which social channels effectively communicated its message to attract new customers.

LabelSneak teamed with IBM and IBM Business Partner CSI Solution to connect with the growing marketplace of consumers who prefer to buy across online, mobile and social channels.

With access to IBM Global Financing within minutes, the small retailer is now using IBM Smarter Commerce technology to handle high volumes of transactions as well as the large volumes and variety of data, CSI’s RapidCommerce Cloud Managed Service Solution has helped LabelSneak create a site to more effectively target the digitally savvy millennial consumer with an integrated brand experience across all devices.

To date, the platform is supporting a rapid pace of growth, enabling the client to focus its time and resources on growing the business such as conducting sales promotions, gleaning insights from Facebook comments or tweets.

The Competitive Challenge

Fashion companies of every size and style are vying for a slice of the men’s wear market. To compete with more established retailer brands, LabelSneak needed to better understand men’s online consumer behavior, create a more tailored marketing campaign and deliver the right merchandising mix.

Not only is LabelSneak gleaning insights from data analyzing which brands to carry, but they also are seeing how consumer preferences for certain brands in men’s wear are connected to a favorite sports teams or music.

Background On IBM Smarter Commerce

IBM Smarter Commerce precision marketing is allowing consumers to choose which sales promotions they want to be alerted to or when their favorite clothing item goes on sale via text, tweet, Facebook post or email.

This can be a more effective sales method as smaller retailers can deliver a level of personalization and a more tailored marketing campaign to the individual consumer.

IBM Smarter Commerce provides intelligent automation of marketing, sales, customer service and procurement to help chief marketing officers, chief procurement officers, sales, e-commerce, supply chain and customer service executives do their jobs more productively and efficiently.

Go here if you’d like to do some shopping on LabelSneak.

IBM To Acquire Business Analytics Firm Star Analytics, Inc.

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IBM yesterday announced a definitive agreement to acquire the software portfolio of Star Analytics Inc., a privately held business analytics company headquartered in Redwood City, California.

Financial terms were not disclosed.

The combination of IBM and Star Analytics software will further advance IBM’s business analytics initiatives, allowing organizations to gain faster access and real-time insight into specialized data sources.

With growing challenges in gaining a more complete view into varying types of data, companies are increasingly looking for ways to automate and provide business users with self-service access to critical information.

Star Analytics software addresses a rising challenge for organizations — helping to automatically integrate essential information, reporting applications and business intelligence tools across their enterprises, on premise or from cloud computing environments.

The software removes typical custom coding for specialized sources that is hard to maintain. It also eliminates manual processes that are cumbersome and time consuming.

“IBM sees an enormous opportunity for our clients to apply Star Analytics to the information they have stored in their financial applications,” said Leslie J Rechan, General Manager, IBM Business Analytics.  “And to then easily access it within their IBM performance management and business intelligence solutions.”

IBM Business Analytics

IBM has established the world’s deepest portfolio of Smarter Analytics and Big Data technologies and industry expertise, including almost 9,000 dedicated business analytics and optimization consultants, and 400 researchers.

Nearly 500 of the patents from IBM’s record breaking 20th year of innovation will serve as the building blocks for future analytics innovations that will help businesses and governments unlock the power of big data.

The acquisition is subject to customary closing conditions and is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2013.

You can learn more about Star Analytics here. 

Written by turbotodd

February 2, 2013 at 3:16 pm

Watson Heads Back To School

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Well, the introduction of the BlackBerry 10 OS has come and gone, Research In Motion renamed itself as “BlackBerry,” the new company announced two new products, and the market mostly yawned.

Then again, many in the market seemed to find something to love about either the new interface and/or the new devices. David Pogue, the New York Time’s technology columnist (who typically leans towards being a Machead), wrote a surprisingly favorable review . Then again today, he opined again in a post entitled “More Things To Love About The BlackBerry 10.”

With that kind of ink, don’t vote the tribe from Ottawa off of the island just yet!

As I pondered the fate of the BlackBerry milieu, it struck me I hadn’t spilled any ink lately myself about IBM’s Watson, who’s been studying up on several industries since beating the best humans in the world two years ago at “Jeopardy!”

Turns out, Watson’s also been looking to apply to college, most notably, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Yesterday, IBM announced it would be providing a modified version of an IBM Watson system to RPI, making it the first university to receive such a system.

The arrival of Watson will enable RPI students and faculty an opportunity to find new users for Watson and deepen the systems’ cognitive computing capabilities. The firsthand experience of working on the system will also better position RPI students as future leaders in the Big Data, analytics, and cognitive computing realms.

Watson has a unique ability to understand the subtle nuances of human language, sift through vast amounts of data, and provide evidence-based answers to its human users’ questions.

Currently, Watson’s fact-finding prowess is being applied to crucial fields, such as healthcare, where IBM is collaborating with medical providers, hospitals and physicians to help doctors analyze a patient’s history, symptoms and the latest news and medical literature to help physicians make faster, more accurate diagnoses. IBM is also working with financial institutions to help improve and simplify the banking experience.

Rensselaer faculty and students will seek to further sharpen Watson’s reasoning and cognitive abilities, while broadening the volume, types, and sources of data Watson can draw upon to answer questions. Additionally, Rensselaer researchers will look for ways to harness the power of Watson for driving new innovations in finance, information technology, business analytics, and other areas.

With 15 terabytes of hard disk storage, the Watson system at Rensselaer will store roughly the same amount of information as its Jeopardy! predecessor and will allow 20 users to access the system at once — creating an innovation hub for the institutes’ New York campus. Along with faculty researchers and graduate students, undergraduate students at Rensselaer will have opportunities to work directly with the Watson system.This experience will help prepare Rensselaer students for future high-impact, high-value careers in analytics, cognitive computing, and related fields.

Underscoring the value of the partnership between IBM and Rensselaer, Gartner, Inc. estimates that 1.9 million Big Data jobs will be created in the U.S. by 2015.

This workforce — which is in high demand today — will require professionals who understand how to develop and harness data-crunching technologies such as Watson, and put them to use for solving the most pressing of business and societal needs.

As part of a Shared University Research (SUR) Award granted by IBM Research, IBM will provide Rensselaer with Watson hardware, software and training.The ability to use Watson to answer complex questions posed in natural language with speed, accuracy and confidence has enormous potential to help improve decision making across a variety of industries from health care, to retail, telecommunications and financial services.

IBM and Rensselaer: A History of Collaboration 

Originally developed at the company’s Yorktown Heights, N.Y. research facility, IBM’s Watson has deep connections to the Rensselaer community. Several key members of IBM’s Watson project team are graduates of Rensselaer, the oldest technological university in the United States.

Leading up to Watson’s victory on Jeopardy!, Rensselaer was one of eight universities that worked with IBM in 2011 on the development of open architecture that enabled researchers to collaborate on the underlying QA capabilities that help to power Watson.

Watson is the latest collaboration between IBM and Rensselaer, which have worked together for decades to advance the frontiers of high-performance computing, nanoelectronics, advanced materials, artificial intelligence, and other areas. IBM is a key partner of the Rensselaer supercomputing center, the Computational Center for Nanotechnology Innovations, where the Watson hardware will be located.

Flanked by the avatar of IBM’s Watson computer, IBM Research Scientist Dr. Chris Welty (left) and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute student Naveen Sundar discuss potential new ways the famous computer could be used, Wednesday, January 30, 2013 in Troy, NY. IBM donated a version of its Watson system to Rensselaer, making it the first university in the world to receive such a system. Rensselaer students and faculty will explore new uses for Watson and ways to deepen its cognitive computing capabilities. (Philip Kamrass/Feature Photo Service for IBM)

Not Back In Davos

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It’s that time of the year.

The year when all the smart, rich, famous and well-connected show up in Davos, Switzerland for the World Economic Forum.

I’m sure it’s nothing personal, but once again for as many years as I care to remember, my invitation never showed.

That’s okay, as things are pretty busy around here as we get off to a fast start in 2013.

However, I did really enjoy Alison Smale’s big picture set up piece for Davos this in The New York Time’s DealBook.

And if I were in attendance, that’s the type view I would be eagerly seeking — What are the general macroindicators and movements that smart peeps think are going to shape the year?

Some will be currents we can’t yet see, and as Smale observes, “Our footing is uncertain, as on this ski resort’s slithery streets, and we have steep slopes to climb, as the Magic Mountain will remind the global elite this week.”

Troubles in north Africa, the challenge of free information in China, anemic growth in Germany, the averted fiscal cliff but once again looming U.S. debt ceiling…”Crisis, in short,” writes Smale, “is the new normal.”

Speaking of Germany, also increasingly normal is the threat of cyber intrusion, according to a panel at the DLD conference ending today in Munich.

In coverage by Frederic Larinois from TechCrunch of Eugene Kaspersky, founder of Kaspersky Lab, the Internet security firm, and F-Secure’s chief research officer, Mikko Hypponen, it became readily apparent that cyber intrusion sophistication is reaching new levels.

Kaspersky spoke of recent cyber attacks like Stuxnet and Red October, suggesting such efforts have reached the equivalent of the “space station” in terms of their sophistication and impact, while Hypponen said the “happy hacker” of the 80s and 90s was long, and that instead “we now have to deal with criminals who try to make money from their malware and botnets, hacktivists who try to protest and governments attacking their own citizens and other governments for espionage and full-scale cyber warfare.”

The cyber genie, in other words, is well out of the virtual bottle.

So, let’s forget about all these woes for a few, shall we, and go shopping instead?

IBM’s new study of 26,000 global consumers will be coming out soon, and the early skinny has it revealing some interesting insights, including the fact that 35 percent of shoppers are unsure whether they would next shop at a store or online.

Talk about a confused consumer!

It also revealed that nearly half of online purchases result from “showrooming,” a growing trend whereby consumers browse goods at a store, but ultimately buy them online.

You’ve done that before, haven’t you?  You just didn’t know there was a fancy name for it!

Ultimately, consumers are seeking an integrated shopping experience.  So, in response, retailers need to connect their online and physical stores, blending the benefits of each — from research to purchase to building brand loyalty, to that ultimate golden chalice of retail, repeat sales.

IBM is helping through its analytics capabilities, helping retailers measure sales metrics across digital channels to spot consumer buying patterns and visualizing product display, promotions, and even coupons in new ways.

Visit the IBM Smarter Retail web site to learn how your organization can create an integrated shopping experience.

Me, I’ve got to run down to the Amazon store for some new typewriter ribbons. ;)

Written by turbotodd

January 22, 2013 at 6:47 pm

IBM’s 2012 Tech Trends Report: Skills, Skills, And More Skills!

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Across the four technology areas covered in the 2012 IBM Tech Trends Report  – mobile, business analytics, cloud and social business – only one in ten organizations has all the skills it needs. These shortages are not trivial or isolated. Within each area, roughly one-quarter report major skill gaps, and 60 percent or more report moderate to major shortfalls.

Across the four technology areas covered in the 2012 IBM Tech Trends Report – mobile, business analytics, cloud and social business – only one in ten organizations has all the skills it needs. These shortages are not trivial or isolated. Within each area, roughly one-quarter report major skill gaps, and 60 percent or more report moderate to major shortfalls.

Okay boys and girls, it’s that time of year.

No, not the time for Saint Nicholas to come shooting down your chimneys to deliver lots of tablets and smartphones for Christmas.

That time will come soon enough.

No, I’m referring to the results from IBM’s third annual Tech Trends Report, where we talk to an extended sample of technology decision makers to find out what’s on their minds.

In 2010, I explained from the results that it was all about mobile and the cloud.

Last year, the headlines centered on IBM’s Watson technology and business analytics.

This year…while we wait for the drum roll, let me first tell provide you with some background about this year’s study.

About the 2012 IBM Tech Trends Report Study

The 2012 Tech Trends Report is based on a survey of more than 1,200 professionals who make technology decisions for their organizations (22 percent IT managers, 53 percent IT practitioners, and 25 percent business professionals), and who come from 16 different industries and 13 countries (which span both mature and growth markets).

IBM also surveyed more than 250 academics and 450 students across those same countries in order to better understand how tech trends are impacting future IT professionals.

The Headlines This Year: What’s Old Is New, And What’s New Is An Emerging Skills Gap

According to this year’s survey, what’s old is new. Mobile technology, business analytics, cloud computing, and social business continue to be emergent key themes. What’s new is this: Though new and exciting business possibilities are emerging from these new capabilities, significant IT skills shortages, combined with lingering security concerns, are threatening adoption and business progress.

By way of example, the survey revealed that only one in ten organizations has all the skills it needs, and within each of the four areas previously mentioned, roughly one-quarter of respondents report major skills gaps, and 60 percent or more report moderate to major shortfalls.

The skills shortage is more acute in mature markets, with roughly two-thirds of respondents indicating moderate to major shortages versus roughly half in growth markets.

With respect to security concerns, they consistently rank as the most significant barrier to adoption across mobile, cloud computing and social business.

The report observes that IT security is not just a technology concern, however. It’s a broad business issue with far-reaching policy and process implications, and notes that moving into mobile means organizations must address the increased risk of data loss and security breach, device management challenges, and complications introduced by the growing trend toward “bring-your-own-device” (BYOD).

In cloud computing, it calls for policies on employee use of public cloud services, segregation of data within shared or hybrid cloud solutions, and ensuring the right data is in the right place subject to the right controls.

In social business, organizations need to consider customer privacy expectations, regulatory compliance, and employee guidelines on confidentiality, acceptable use, and protecting the corporate brand.

Pay Attention To The Pacesetters

So with all this in mind, which organizations are better positioned to create competitive advantage? Early adopters or late arrivers? Those focused on strategic impact or tactical implementations?

The data suggest it’s those companies forging ahead faster (in spite of adoption hurdles) and using mobile, analytics, cloud, and social technologies in more strategic ways.

The so-called “pacesetters” believe emerging technologies are critical to their business success and are using them to enable new operating/business models.

They’re also adoption ahead of their competition.

What sets them apart from the “followers” and “dabblers” are three key factors: They’re more market driven, they’re more analytical, and they’re more willing to experiment.

And where they say they’re headed next also provides a learning opportunity.

More than 75 percent of pacesetters are increasing investments in mobile and cloud computing over the next two years, and they’re betting heavily on business analytics and social business (two to three times as many pacesetters are raising those investments by 10 percent or more).

With respect to skills, 70 percent of pacesetters are building capabilities in mobile integration, security, privacy, and mobile application architecture, design and development.

Twenty-eight percent have already developed business analytics expertise in probability, statistics and mathematical modeling (and another 60 percent are eagerly developing those capabilities).

In cloud computing, more than 70 percent are developing skills in cloud security, administration, and architecture.

The 2012 IBM Tech Trends Report data suggests an opportunity for organizations everywhere to help close the large and expanding technology skills gap. Is your organization prepared to take these important and often necessary actions?

The 2012 IBM Tech Trends Report data suggests an opportunity for organizations everywhere to help close the large and expanding technology skills gap. Is your organization prepared to take these important and often necessary actions?

And nearly one-quarter of them have already built the expertise needed to extend social business solutions to mobile and to perform social analytics.

Their intent to combined technologies — mobile and social, social and analytics, etc. — are helping drive even greater business value for their organizations.

The 2012 IBM Tech Trends Upshot?

CEOs understand the external factors impacting their organizations most: Technology and skills.

But one without the other is a recipe for innovative decline, and to effectively address these interconnected imperatives, business and IT executives need new approaches for bridging skills gaps and helping their organizations capitalize on the strategic potential of emerging technologies.

The figure to the right demonstrates specific actions that can help you as a leader move your organization into a pacesetting position.  And IBM is also stepping up and offering some new skills-building initiatives as well.

Bridging The Skills Gap

On the heels of this study, IBM has announced an array of programs and resources to help students and IT professionals develop new technology skills and prepare for jobs of the future.

The initiatives include new training courses and resources for IT professionals, technology and curriculum materials for educators and expanded programs to directly engage students with real-world business challenges.  You can learn more about those here.

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