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The truth about big data: It’s more than technology

IDG News Service

Hey, it must be hard to be the only person on the planet who doesn’t understand big data.

Actually, that’s far from true: You’re in good company. While Gartner finds that 64 percent of enterprises are investing in big data, a similar chunk (60 percent) don’t have a clue as to what to do with their data.

The real problem isn’t one of technology, but of process. The key to succeeding with big data, as in all serious IT investments, is iteration. It’s not about Hadoop, NoSQL, Splunk, or any particular vendor or technology. It’s about iteration.

Big data, big confusion
Though the number of companies embracing big data projects has grown since 2012 — from 58 percent of enterprises surveyed to 64 percent — the level of understanding of exactly what to do with that data hasn’t kept pace, as the Gartner data suggests.

This isn’t all that surprising, given how hard it is to pull money from data. It’s easy to say “actionable insights,” but far harder to glean them. That’s why data scientists currently outearn most other professions, with an average salary of $123,000, which continues to go up:

Those who do data science well blend statistical, mathematical, and programming skills with domain knowledge, a tough combination to find in any single person. Of these, I’d argue that domain knowledge matters most as it leads to the process of getting value from data, as Gartner analyst Svetlana Sicular hints:

Organizations already have people who know their own data better than mystical data scientists …. Learning Hadoop is easier than learning the company’s business. What is left? To form a strong team of technology and business experts and supportive management who create a safe environment for innovation.

That “safe environment for innovation” is one that affords data practitioners room to iterate.

Innovation is iteration
There are at least two major problems with big data projects. The first is that many companies consider them, well, projects. Big data isn’t a one-off project: It’s a culture of collecting, analyzing, and using data. As Phil Simon, author of “Too Big to Ignore: The Business Case for Big Data,” told me: “Do you think that Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, Netflix, and Twitter do? Nope. It’s part of their DNA.”

The way it becomes DNA, however, is the second detail that trips up companies getting into big data: They think it’s a technology issue. While most great big data technology is open source, building out a big data application isn’t as simple as downloading Hadoop or the NoSQL database of your choice. As IDC analyst Carl Olofson highlights:

Organizations should not jump too quickly into committing to any big data technology, whether Hadoop or otherwise, as their solution to a given problem, but should consider all the alternatives carefully and develop a strategy for big data technology deployment.

Such careful consideration happens by iterating. Rather than paying a mega-vendor a mega-check to get started (do this, and you are absolutely doing big data wrong), the right approach is to start small. As Thomas Edison noted, the trick is to fail fast or, as he says, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

Big data is all about asking the right questions, hence the importance of domain knowledge. But in reality, you’ll probably fail to collect the right data and to ask pertinent questions — over and over again. The key, then, is to use flexible, open data infrastructure that allows you to continually tweak your approach until it bears real fruit.

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Reports of the iPad’s Demise Are Greatly Exaggerated

Mashable

The tablet is dead. At least, that’s what an array of breathless news reports would have you believe. Yes, it’s true that tablet sales are on the decline in many markets and growing slower than others. But don’t believe the unhype; the tablet isn’t going to suffer the same fate as the netbook.

Apple on Tuesday announced its third quarter 2014 earnings. And in what has become a trend, iPad sales failed to meet analyst expectations. Perhaps even more troubling, sales of the iPad were actually down year-over-year, a rarity in a growing market.

Looking at these figures, you can see that although the iPad is still boasting big sales — especially during the holiday quarter — it isn’t continuing to sell in the numbers many analysts predicted it would.

During the earnings call, Apple CEO Tim Cook attributed the slower sales in part to “market softness in certain parts of the world,” primarily in the United States and Western Europe.

Tablet growth is slowing in developed markets

Apple isn’t the only company seeing a year-over-year decline in tablet sales. According to IDC, the worldwide tablet market grew 11% year over year, but declined sequentially from the first quarter of 2014 by -1.5%.

At the end of May, IDC updated its 2014 worldwide tablet forecast to a growth rate of 12.1% year-over-year. In contrast, tablet sales worldwide grew 51.8% year-over-year in 2013. In other words, the big boom of tablet sales’ glory days are over.

At least, that’s what some pundits and analysts are espousing. And although its true that tablet sales aren’t growing at the same rate in which they were (and are contracting in certain markets, such as the U.S.), that doesn’t mean the category as a hole was a failure or is doomed.

During the earnings call, Tim Cook spoke at length about the slowing iPad sales. He made it a point to note that

“One other point I might add on this, because I think this is interesting,” Cook said. “The market’s very bifurcated on iPad. In the BRIC [Brazil, Russia, India and China] countries, iPad did extremely well. The growth was very high. Like in the China it was [about 50%], in the Middle East it was [about 60%]. Luca may have mentioned those numbers. In the developed countries like the U.S., the market is clearly weaker there.”

Part of the reason that growth might be slowing — or declining — in the United States may simply be a factor of faster market penetration.

According to the Pew Internet Project’s research related to mobile tech, 42% of adults own a tablet computer. That compares favorably with the 58% of American adults that have a smartphone. When once considers that the tablet market is much newer than the smartphone market, the fast adoption rate is likely one reason growth has slowed faster too.

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Seeking funding? Here are 10 investors in India you should meet

Tech in Asia

We have seen investments into Indian tech startups on an upswing recently, topping US$1.3 billion in FY2013-14 and accounting for 266 deals. We’re getting close to a deal a day. In fact, the first quarter of 2014 had a multi-year high of $427 million. While ecommerce took the lion’s share, online travel and educational tech also attracted increasing interest from investors.

This is a continuation of a trend over the past five years. Between 2010 and 2013, more than US$3 billion flowed into India, which compares well with US$1.5 billion invested in Startup Nation Israel in the same period. This despite the fact that the Indian startup ecosystem is still not mature enough for big ticket exits, and over four-fifths of investment deals are early-stage.

So who are these early bird investors making big bets on Indian innovation? Who are the optimistic ones you should probably go to first if you’re a startup looking for funding in India?

Silicon Valley-based 500 Startups tops the list. It was the most active institutional investor in the Indian tech startup scene in 2013-14, making over 20 investments during the year, according to research firm CB Insights. Mumbai-based Blume Ventures was second, while Accel Partners rounds out the top three.

Four out of the top 10 ranked investors are based in India — Blume Ventures, Kalaari Capital, IDG Ventures India, and Kae Capital. The others have their headquarters abroad, but most of them have a presence in India to keep track of emerging startups as well as their investments.

Here’s a rundown of the top 10 institutional investors who have been the most active in the Indian tech startup scene recently:

500 Startups

Dave McClure’s popular Silicon Valley based seed fund has been bullish on India, with a country-specific fund called 500 Wallah. It made as many as 20 investments in FY2013-14, into companies like price comparison site PriceBaba and language learning innovator CultureAlley. And it currently has three startups from India in the ninth batch of its accelerator program.

Blume Ventures

This Mumbai-based homegrown venture capital firm likes to take a collaborative approach to investing, roping in other investors and angels into the ventures it backs. Blumers they call themselves, but they have a number of successes under their belt. Cool startups like cab aggregator TaxiForSure and robot-maker Grey Orange are in the Blume basket.

Accel Partners

Investments in ecommerce biggie Flipkart and Myntra’s series E, as well as BabyOye’s US$12 million series B and real estate portal CommonFloor’s series C and D rounds, among others, made Accel Partners one of the movers and shakers in India in the last four quarters. Freshdesk and BookMyShow are among the many Indian stars this California-headquartered firm has backed.

Kalaari Capital

Technopreneur-turned-investor Vani Kola, who returned to India after a billion-dollar exit from Silicon Valley, is the managing director of this Bangalore-based venture capital firm which took a punt on Snapdeal and Myntra long before the ecommerce boom. Kalaari, which derives its name from a martial arts tradition in South India, continues to pick winners like Urban Ladder and Zivame. 

Tiger Global Management

This ‘Tiger Cub’ from New York has funded some of the tech pioneers in India like Flipkart, MakeMyTrip and JustDial. In fact, it was one of the early players in the Indian tech startup scene, before unexpectedly shutting shop in 2009, ostensibly because it did not find the scale it was looking for. But it has been back with a bang since 2011.

Click to read more


Mobile-Ad Spending Leaps, but Trails User Growth

The Wall Street Journal

After less than a decade of existence, smartphones and tablets this year will draw more money from advertisers than the centuries-old newspaper industry or the nearly century-old radio sector, a sign of just how rapidly technology is transforming media habits.

But given how much time Americans spend on their devices, mobile-ad spending could be much higher, an indication that marketers remain uncertain about the medium’s effectiveness.

Research firm eMarketer estimates that spending on mobile advertising, which includes both smartphones and tablets, will soar 83% to nearly $18 billion in 2014. Newspapers will draw nearly $17 billion, while radio will bring in $15.5 billion.

“As more eyeballs are going there in larger numbers, the dollars are starting to follow,” said Cathy Boyle, an eMarketer mobile analyst.

Still, the imbalance remains stark: American adults now spend almost a quarter of their media time on mobile devices, eMarketer estimates, yet this year’s spending growth will raise mobile’s share of the ad market to only 9.8%. By contrast, American adults spend only 2% of their media time reading newspapers but ad spending for the sector hangs just under 10% of the overall market, eMarketer estimates.

Print’s resilience reflects marketers’ preference for what they know, industry analysts say, and impact among certain retailers and luxury goods.

Radio’s share of the ad market has been eroded slightly in recent years, dropping to 8.6% this year from 10% in 2008, according to eMarketer. Television draws about 40% of adult media time and the same proportion of the ad market.

That mobile still draws a far smaller share of the ad market than of consumers’ media time reflects advertisers’ slowness to change, analysts say, as well as their unhappiness with mobile ad formats. A variety of new ad products for mobile have emerged recently that is helping jumpstart ad spending.

“Historically we’ve had these really basic, tiny little banners that were more of a nuisance,” said Angela Steele, chief executive of Ansible Mobile, a mobile-marketing firm owned by Interpublic Group of IPG -1.07% Cos. Now marketers have more options, like “native” ads that appear in stream and look like a publishers content or ads that prompt readers to go right to the app store and download a game, Ms. Steele says.

Questions about the effectiveness of mobile advertising persist. EMarketer polled a dozen marketers and digital ad experts, who gave the effectiveness of mobile display ads a “B-.” Other mobile ad formats fared better, like location-targeted ads, which received an “A-.”

“The location capabilities inherent in mobile are a big factor driving a lot of ad revenue into the mobile space,” Ms. Steele said. Marketers are excited about the idea of being able to serve ads on the smartphones of shoppers within the radius of a particular store, for example.

Other media isn’t giving up their fight for dollars. Longtime radio executive Jeffrey Schwartz, executive vice president of Yahoo Sports Radio, says that older platforms still have use to advertisers.

Read more…

IDG World Tech Update- July 31, 2014

IDG News Service

Coming up on WTU this week Xbox One preps for a high sale price in China, we take a look at a futuristic motorcycle helmet and robotics help doctors be more precise.

 

IDG Enterprise’s Editorial Teams Earn 65 ASBPE Awards for Editorial & Design Excellence

 IDG Enterprise’s Editorial Teams Earn 65 ASBPE Awards for Editorial & Design Excellence

IDG Enterprise— the leading enterprise technology media company composed of Computerworld, InfoWorld, Network World, CIO, DEMO, CSO, ITworld, CFOworld and CITEworld— earned 65 editorial and design awards in categories from blog and feature article to online news and original research at the 2014 Azbee awards from the American Society of Business Press Editors (ASBPE). Additionally, NetworkWorld.com received honorable mention for B2B Website of the Year and Computerworld.com was in the Top 10. For the third year, CIO magazine was named one of the Top 10 Magazines of the Year.

“IT leaders are dealing with massive change today – everything from the influx of consumer technologies, to big data and analytics, as well as cloud and mobile. Our editorial teams are documenting how these trends are reshaping business and the IT organization,” said John Gallant, chief content officer, IDG Communications. “We take great pride in our content and design and are thrilled to receive recognition by ASBPE. We strive to help our readers navigate these changes and we look forward to producing award-winning work that helps companies drive results through the use of technology.”

Including this latest recognition from ASBPE, IDG Enterprise brands have won more than 130 editorial awards since 2012. Each brand includes writers, bloggers and designers that produce hundreds of original articles per site each month, setting an exceptional standard for showcasing the transformation of technology in the enterprise.

“Media is undergoing a transformation, and our visitor audience of technology leaders has not only embraced new mediums, but they are leading engagement with our editors through our responsive design based sites and social media,” said Matthew Yorke, CEO of IDG Enterprise. “Being recognized for the innovative use of new channels, in addition to our ongoing stellar reporting and design is very exciting. These recognitions are a great honor and I could not be more pleased to work with such a talented team.”

2014 ASBPE Azbee Award Recap

CIO

Computerworld

ITworld

Network World

About IDG Enterprise
IDG Enterprise, an International Data Group (IDG) company, brings together the leading editorial brands (Computerworld, InfoWorld, Network World, CIO, CSO, ITworld, CFOworld and CITEworld) to serve the information needs of our technology and security-focused audiences.  As the premier hi-tech B2B media company, we leverage the strengths of our premium owned and operated brands, while simultaneously harnessing their collective reach and audience affinity. We provide market leadership and converged marketing solutions for our customers to engage IT and security decision-makers across our portfolio of award-winning websites, events, magazines, products and services. IDG’s DEMO conferences provide a platform for today’s most innovative and eye-opening technologies to publically launch their solutions.

Company information is available at www.idgenterprise.com
Follow IDG Enterprise on Twitter: @IDGEnterprise
Join IDG Enterprise on LinkedIn

###

Contact:
Lynn Holmlund
Sr. Marketing & PR Manager
IDG Enterprise
lholmlund@idgenterprise.com
Office: 508.935.4526
Mobile: 508.254.8336

How readers feel about native ads in 4 charts

Digiday

Publishers may be having a love affair with sponsored content, but what about their readers? Three recent studies provide new insights into how readers perceive the native ads that publishers are so enamored of. Turns out, it’s a bit of a mixed bag.

Here are four charts that describe reader sentiment about sponsored content.

Native-ad effectiveness depends on focus of the site
The IAB and Edelman Berland’s July 2014 report on sponsored content shows engagement is higher on business- and entertainment-oriented sites than on general news sites.

The survey of 5000 U.S. Web users found that only 27 percent of general news readers agree that sponsored content adds value to their experience of a site, versus the average of 38 percent for overall respondents across categories.

General news readers consistently saw sponsored content as less favorable and less likely to result in positive brand uplift for the brand or publisher, as this chart shows.

 How readers feel about native ads in 4 charts

Reputations count on both sides
Native-ad effectiveness depends on the reputation of both the brand and publisher. The IAB’s report shows news publishers see more engagement when they work with familiar and trusted brands. The corollary to this, however, is that native advertising is less effective for generating new brand awareness.

The chart below breaks down which factors are most relevant to readers of different types of content when it comes to native advertising — whether the brand is conveying important information, whether the brand is an authority or whether the brand is simply trustworthy. Turns out, content is still king.


 How readers feel about native ads in 4 charts

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The internet of things – the next big challenge to our privacy

The Guardian

If there’s a depressing slogan for the early era of the commercial internet, it’s this: “Privacy is dead – get over it.”

For most of us, the internet is complex and opaque. Some might be vaguely aware that their personal data are getting sucked, their search histories tracked, and their digital journeys scoured.

But the current nature of online services provides few mechanisms for individuals to have oversight and control of their information, particularly across tech-vendors.

An important question is whether privacy will change as we enter the era of pervasive computing. Underpinned by the Internet of Things, pervasive computing is where technology is seamlessly embedded within the real world, intrinsically tied to the physical environment.

If the web is anything to go by, the new hyperconnected world will only make things worse for privacy. Potentially much worse.

More services and more things only mean more data being generated and exchanged. The increase in data volume and complexity might plausibly result in less control. It’s a reasonable assumption, and it leaves privacy in a rather sorry state.

Many of the future predictions about privacy reflect this bleak diagnosis. If privacy isn’t dead yet, then billions-upon-billions of chips, sensors, and wearables will seal the deal.

But before jumping to such conclusions – and bearing in mind the immense power of established tech-vendors and their interest in this space – there may still be reasons to be positive. In particular, the fundamental differences between pervasive computing and Web 2.0 provide a beacon of hope.

One difference is that with pervasive computing, much of the technology becomes tangible and familiar. This makes issues of privacy more readily apparent to users. Web browsing histories stretching back over time are one thing; Google Glass is quite another.

If you can physically witness aspects of data collection, it short-circuits what has traditionally been a long feedback loop between privacy risk and cumulative effect. The hope is that the increased awareness inspires action.

This ties to a second difference: the technology itself could enable action. Unlike the web, where offerings tend to be one-size-fits-all, pervasive computing is driven by the individual, focusing on customised, person-centric services and experiences.

If the technology supporting this properly places individuals in the driving seat, it could also be used to provide individuals with the opportunity to take control of their personal data.

Moving from the abstract web

It has taken years for the sort of awareness and backlash that we’re now starting to see against Facebook, Google, and other major internet vendors that trade in personal data.

This is a product, in many respects, of the inherent obscurity of data collection by web-based services.

Moving from the web to the Internet of Things, many aspects of technology shift from being abstract and hidden, to being grounded in the real world.

Continue reading…

How to prepare for the flood of wearables into the workplace

CITEworld

If there’s a single lesson for enterprise IT professionals to learn from the consumerization, BYOD, and shadow IT trends that have rocked businesses of all shapes and sizes in recent years, it’s that workers will provide their own technology to solve problems if IT can’t or won’t deliver solutions that offer the ease, polish, and efficiency of consumer products.

After decades of being the arbiter of technology in the workplace and presiding over systems that generally grew and improved slowly and steadily, there was a sudden influx of consumer-oriented smartphones connecting to networks orders of magnitude fast than most corporate networks, app stores offering free or low cast apps that are easy to install, and cloud services that linked all of these technologies together. In just a couple of years, the playing field was massively and irrevocably altered and most IT organizations are still struggling to catch up.

For many IT organizations, learning that lesson and incorporating it into practice has been a rocky experience. Ignoring that lesson has often been equally brutal. Many IT leaders that have failed to consider this lesson have seen their influence, budgets, and staffing cut and seen other executives and line of business managers chipping away at their authority and capabilities.

Responding to this challenge has required enterprise developers and IT professionals, who are managing a range under-the-hood infrastructure along with PCs and devices in the hands of users, to develop new skills. That includes some of the so-called soft skills, like the ability to communicate effectively and collaborate with end users to understand their needs and issues and develop solutions that respond to them. It also includes skills that aren’t quite so easy to define, like understanding how to present information on a mobile device; adopting interface design that as easy to use as the best consumer app out there; and considering context as part of system, app, and network design (is someone in the office, at home, connecting by public Wi-Fi?).

Just as enterprise IT has been starting to get a handle on those challenges and become comfortable with those new skills, things are about to change again.

Welcome wearables

Wearables are poised to make a dramatic entrance into our lives and workplaces, if they haven’t already. Wearables pose many of the paradigm shifting challenges that mobile devices, apps, and cloud services did.

The needs of an effective smartwatch app are different from the needs of a smartphone or tablet. There’s no keyboard, screen real estate is very limited for both display or touch input, voice is the most likely candidate for entering data despite the focus on text-based input that has dominated previous phases of computing (including smartphones), and the best smartwatch apps to date are pared down to focus on a single task and execute it as efficiently as possible.

Google Glass and its impending competitors have a completely different set of needs and capabilities. Information needs to be displayed in a way that is as distraction-free as possible, considering that users will be interacting with the real world while using the device in a way that hasn’t been true with smartphones. Interacting with that information will almost certainly be a more more persistent experience than quick glances at a smartwatch or smartphone.

Wearables will also make understanding context more important, both in the apps designed for them and the smartphones paired with them. Context will become more granular, particularly if technologies like iBeacons or other smart devices are part of the equation. It won’t be a matter of understanding the difference between a user being at work or home. It’ll mean understanding if the user is at her desk or in a conference room, what meeting is going on in that conference room and who else is attending, if the meeting is so important that notifications should be disabled, and if she’s speaking or presenting and will immediate access to other data be needed?

Continue reading

Targeting Your Audience: Let’s Get Down to Data

IDG Connect 0811 300x141 Targeting Your Audience: Let’s Get Down to Data

It’s the catch-22 that’s increasingly giving marketers a headache. Brits now spend 1 in 12 of their waking hours online, giving advertisers a greater chance of their ads being viewed. Yet at the same time, consumers are increasingly becoming switched off to online advertising because they’re being subjected to so many banner ads. So how can advertisers not only first grab the attention of their audience with an ad, but keep their attention right up to the point of purchase?

Casting the net too wide

With so many potential eyeballs online, many marketers are taking the simple route and opting for automation tools to scatter their display ads far and wide. Programmatic buying is one such tool. Just like a stock exchange, it relies on algorithms and automated systems to sift through great volumes of data and then bid for digital space on ad marketplaces in real-time. But by bucketing consumer data together and using broad, pre-packaged audience segments, marketers aren’t getting their ads in front of their desired audience every time. This means they’re wasting much of their digital ad spend by unintentionally displaying their ads in the wrong places.

Just because I’m a 20-something professional male doesn’t mean I’m in the market for a brand new sports car and so I’m unlikely to click through on a banner ad displayed on the web page I’m viewing. Marketers must remember that not every customer within an audience segment is the same, so they have to take a more targeted approach if they’re to stand a chance of increasing their conversion rates.

Pinpointing individuals

Marketers need to learn to treat their customers as individuals: not only tailoring their ad campaigns to their broad demographics, but also to their personal tastes and interests. Set algorithms are a good start, but marketers need to go deeper and use more granular-level targeting. By focusing on the quality, not quantity of consumer data, they will be empowered to segment audience groups down to an individual user level and target them more effectively.

Search Retargeting is a digital ad technique that uses an anonymous individual’s recent history on search engines likes Google, Yahoo! or Bing, or an on-site search box, to identify their intent to buy something. By then looking at the relationship between particular keyword phrases and other variables, like time lag between actions (recency), a relevant ad that corresponds to the user profile can be served.

This technique allows marketers to target people on a much deeper level. If marketers can serve consumers with ads that match up to their personal interests and recent search history, it will ramp up the chance of them clicking through and converting to a sale.

Making data more intelligent

Once you’ve boiled down your audience segments to an individual level, the next step is to decide when to target them. Ideally, you want to be serving them a display ad just before they make a purchase. Smart data and Search Retargeting are the perfect combination because they enable marketers to pin point consumers at the exact moment of purchasing intent. This method is far more likely to lead to a purchase because it allows marketers to intelligently deliver ads exactly when that individual is looking to buy.

Whilst the opportunity to get banner ads in front of an online audience is ever increasing, so too is the complexity of the ad-tech ecosystem. Savvy brands and agencies that act now and make smarter decisions about their consumer data will reap the rewards of increased conversion rates and improved ROI on each campaign.

For more blogs and research from IDG Connect, click here