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Virginia Backaitis News & Analysis

Are You Managing Documents Like It's 1990? [Infographic]

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Forget file-sharing services like Dropbox, Box, Nitro, Syncplicity and OneDrive for Business. Ditto for high resolution monitors, tablets and digital signatures. 

More than a third of us are working with documents and collaborating the old fashioned way, via email, printing and editing, hand signing and scanning -- you get the idea. So says a survey conducted by Nitro and the PDF Association. It looked at the way 1200 knowledge workers in 56 countries across 13 industries and 10 professions used documents on the job. And it’s not just small companies that we’re talking about, but those with as many as 10,000 employees as well. 

Gartner's Look at Advanced Analytics Vendors: Are You Using a Winner?

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Hats off to Gartner for resisting the temptation to call Advanced Analytics “Analytics 3.0” because no one knows what that means. Some say that 3.0 suggests “analytics for all," referencing “all” as average workers.

Advanced Analytics, by Gartner's definition, are anything but that, according to the Magic Quadrant for Advanced Analytics Platforms (registration required).

Instead, Gartner defines them as “the analysis of all kinds of data using sophisticated quantitative methods (for example, statistics, descriptive and predictive data mining, simulation and optimization) to produce insights that traditional approaches to business intelligence (BI) — such as query and reporting — are unlikely to discover."

In other words, advanced analytics are the scalpels used by highly trained data scientists.

What You've Been Missing: A Standard for Enterprise Apps

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If you’ve ever tried to set up Box, Workday, Oracle, SAP or one of many other Enterprise apps on an Enterprise Mobility Managed (EMM) device, you know it’s not fun.

In fact, chances are good you’ve downloaded a handful of apps you’ve never used — just because you couldn’t properly configure them.

“Public apps often get stuck on the device,” said Kabir Barday, lead product manager, application development at AirWatch by VMware.

Would-be users frequently become frustrated entering user names, passwords, server URLs and ports. Sometimes it’s cumbersome. Other times, they don’t have easy access to the required information.

The result? Error messages like “App can’t be displayed." But that’s not the biggest difficulty. The real problem is the loss of productivity.

Cool Stuff You're Missing at Mobile World Congress #MWC15

So what if it’s a little cloudy in Barcelona, Spain today. The high is 76 degrees Fahrenheit. Those of us who live in the US Northeast would certainly enjoy the reprieve from the snow and the cold.

But the weather isn’t the reason that we’d be near the shores of the Mediterranean today. The Mobile World Congress is the draw.

It’s the event where vendors like Samsung are unveiling iPhone rivals, where Microsoft is revealing its revamped mobile play and IBM is showing off the spawn of its marriage to Apple … and so much more.

Big Data Bits: Strata + Hadoop World Rewind

Last week was huge in the booming world of big data with vendors simultaneously chasing market share and sharing innovations on the big stage at Strata + Hadoop World in San Jose, Calif.

If you have a big data product or service to sell, there may not be a better opportunity. After all, there’s a captive audience that paid big bucks and committed their time to be there. Attendees genuinely want to hear what you have to say. This is why so many vendor announcements are made at, or around, the conference.

Putting forth the best you have to offer while on the big stage, without sounding like an infomercial or slamming the competition seems to challenge some, though. Here’s the secret, strut your best stuff, your grandest vision and your ability to deliver, and the customers you want to win over will see and hear, only you. Knock a competitor, even if you don’t out rightly name them, and there are two of you sharing the spotlight. Is that what you want customers to remember?

Enough said.

Google Joins the BYOD Party

For a while it seemed that Google was so busy getting geeky with glasses and driverless cars that it was blind to the big opportunity directly in front of it — bringing enterprise level security to the nearly 1 billion Android mobile devices that, in some way or another, are used on the job or for work purposes every day.

“For many, these phones have become essential tools to help us complete important work tasks like checking email, editing documents, reviewing sales pipelines and approving deals,” said Rajen Sheth, director of product management, Android and Chrome for Work at Google.

“But for the majority of workers, smartphones and tablets are underutilized in the workplace,” he added, noting that the business and innovation potential on these devices is for the most part, untapped.

And though Google initially spoke about separating work data and personal data on mobile devices at its I/O Conference last June, it didn’t make Android for Work available to the masses until now.

Are Hortonworks Numbers Better Than You Think?

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When the analysts pore over Hortonworks financial results this morning, company President Herb Cunitz thinks he knows what they will say. Some will note that the Hadoop distro provider beat the street. But others will say it missed the mark when it comes to revenues, as much of the tech press suggested yesterday.

“The street thought we’d come in at $13.5 million and we brought in $16.7 million,” he said.

So why are articles on the web at the moment suggesting that Hortonworks’ fourth quarter revenues were $12.7 million. Fuzzy math?

Not really. It might just be a difference between  GAAP — the acronym for generally accepted accounting principles — and non-GAAP figures, said Cunitz.

AirWatch by VMware Shakes Up Enterprise Mobility Management

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When VMware spent $1.54 billion to acquire Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) startup AirWatch last year, it raised plenty of eyebrows.

Some saw it as an act of desperation: VMware didn’t have a strong mobile play at a time when personal computers were becoming less and less of an endpoint.

Others saw it as brilliant: AirWatch understood something that many of its competitors did not — namely that “your smart phone or tablet is your computer” and that companies would need to go beyond safeguarding email and file sharing to protecting application data in transit as well.

As with any acquisition, there was also the question of integration. Would Palo Alto, Calif.-based VMware wreck everything that worked about Atlanta, Ga.-based AirWatch?

That doesn’t seem to have happened, especially in the wake of today's release of AirWatch8.

Who Wants an Open Data Platform Anyways?

It turns out that some people do, in fact, want an Open Data Platform.

Despite all of the brouhaha that might have gone down last week, first around Pivotal Software’s Data Event and then at Strata and Hadoop World, some of the vendors and companies that have signed onto the Open Data Platform (ODP) initiative are calling it, “An answer to our Hadoop prayers.” The aforementioned quote comes from Scott Gnau, president of Teradata Labs.

Simon Schmidt, the chief data architect at Union Bank, provided a reason as to why the ODP — a tested reference core of open source Apache Hadoop, Apache Ambari and related Apache source artifacts — was vital for an enterprise like his.

“We can’t maintain an internal staff to do all the testing, compatibility testing and researching of every piece of technology that comes along,” he said, adding that “having some industry people backing these things, giving us the type of indemnification that we require make this (a big data platform) a viable option for us for the long term.”

That statement, perhaps, answers the question that Gartner Analyst Nick Heudecker posed when we interviewed him shortly after the ODP announcement. ”It’s not clear who’s asking for this.”

Does Hadoop Need Saving?

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It was a big week for big data in Silicon Valley where O’Reilly’s Strata & Hadoop World Conference is ending today. The star of the show might have been data scientist Vijay Subramanian of Rent the Runway whose company rents Oscar-worthy gowns (that most of us can’t afford to buy) for our one-night-only Cinderella moments. Or maybe it was data scientist Noelle Sio of Pivotal Labs who volunteered at CrisisTextLine which helps connect teens in trouble with the volunteer counselors who might help them. Or possibly President Barack Obama who streamed in via video to introduce DJ Patil as the United States’ Chief Data Scientist. Never mind all the vendors like Microsoft and MapR who made some impressive announcements.

But instead the halls were filled with talk about the news that Pivotal Software made when it open sourced the components of its big data suite (which we predicted and is unquestionably good news for everyone) and announced the Open Data Platform (ODP), an initiative that brings together GE, Hortonworks, IBM, Infosys, Pivotal, SAS, AltiScale, Capgemini, CenturyLink, EMC, Splunk, Verizon Enterprise Solutions, Teradata, and VMware (and is open to other companies that want to join).

Why Salesforce Analytics Cloud May Be a Big Deal

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One of the big myths around business analytics, at this point in time, is that it's democratized. That the average business user can grab a dataset, ask questions around it, and glean the insights needed to take informed action on the spur of the moment, regardless of where they are and what kind of screen they‘re staring at.

The next time someone tells you this, say “show me.” Odds are that you’ll discover that when they say “average,” it doesn’t include most of us. And that “democratized” refers to a wider variety of data workers, meaning that they don’t necessarily have to be data scientists, statistical whizzes or know how to work with R, but it’s a pretty good bet that terms like “data profiling,” "data modeling” and Analytics will show up on their resumes more often than “exceeded quota.” 

MapR Closes the Big Data-to-Action Loop

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Everyone knows the time from data-to-action can be critical to winning business, regardless of the variety, velocity, variability and volume of information involved in the process.

And in a world where data is created not only at a pace that is challenging to even ponder but also streams from the Internet of Things (IoT), data lakes are so broad and so deep that making sense of anything in them in real time and reacting accordingly seems unfathomable. Add globally distributed data, and forget about it.

Or maybe not. Because MapR’s latest release, which includes Hadoop has been built for the real time, data-centric enterprise. It leverages table replication features designed to extend access to “big and fast” data enabling multiple instances to be updated in different locations, with all the changes synchronized across them.

“Real time is not just about running a query. It’s also about how and where and how quickly information is processed and the action an organization is going to take,” said Jack Norris, the MapR's chief marketing officer.

Microsoft Sends Productivity to the Stratosphere via Cloud Integrations

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If Steve Jobs were still alive, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella would give him a kiss. Ok, maybe that’s going too far, but a hug or a warm handshake certainly isn’t. After all, that’s what Nadella offered Salesforce CEO Mark Benioff.

Today Microsoft announced that Office for iPad and iPhone — which have seen more than 80 million downloads to date — is also available for third-party storage providers via an open API. “We want Office to be the preferred way to work with documents no matter where they’re stored,” said Kirk Koenigsbauer, corporate vice president for the Office team.

Or as Damon Tompkins, corporate vice president of worldwide sales and marketing at Microsoft partner Metavis recently explained in a blog post, Microsoft "plans to be the go-to for all you do, in other words, it wants to be your gateway to the cloud.”

EMC/VMware Spinoff Pivotal Tests Big Data's Golden Rule

What’s good for the community is good for business. This is the new golden rule. Or at least that seems to be the case in the world of big data, where most commercial solutions are open source at their core.

“Enterprises don’t want lock-in,” said Michael Cucci, a marketing manager at EMC/VMware spinoff Pivotal Software, during an interview last week. He added that companies want to be able to influence the future of the technology that they use to drive their businesses. In fact it's practically a must. “It has to be open source or the conversation doesn’t begin,” he explained.

With realizations like this, how do you sell (even the best) a big data platform that’s largely proprietary?

It turns out that maybe you don’t.

What Big Secret Will Pivotal Unveil Next Week?

While it’s no secret that Pivotal is making a big announcement on Feb. 17 during which it will evangelize about a new, “groundbreaking” approach to big data, who exactly is showing up to its party remains to be seen, as is what they will be open sourcing and how they will be spinning it.

But here’s the deal, as time passes, people talk and wheels turn in everyone’s heads. Who will Pivotal’s “special industry guest” be? Does it really know “What’s next in big data”?  

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