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5 Links for Developers and IT Pros 1-6-12

5 1 6 12It's Friday and that means it's time for our weekly feature where we search the Web looking for 5 interesting, funny and poignant links for developers and IT Pros.

If you missed our other post this week, Group to Launch Mobile Developer Alliance, please check it out. It looks at a new group that is forming this month at the Consumer Electronics show geared toward mobile developers and their needs.

Please consider subscribing if you like what you see here, and if you have something to say, please feel free to leave a comment and let us know what you think.

And here we go with this week's links:

Why Ice Cream Sandwich won't be able to save Android tablets - ZDNet

One writer tries some pre-release versions of the upcoming release of Android on his Motorola Xoom and concludes that while it's a huge improvement over the previous version, it's still lacking in many ways and won't be the version that propels Android tablets into the big time (except perhaps the Kindle Fire).

Could coding be the next mass profession? - Also Blog

Coding could be the next big jobs source -- if schools start providing the early training that's needed. The fact is there are jobs and a huge demand for programmers out there. As the author points out, it's a lot better than low-end jobs with lousy pay and no career path.

Analytics' Real Issues for 2012 - Internet Evolution

While many believe analytics is the next big thing, especially in light of the rise of Big Data, the social web and a desire to understand customers and competitors better, this author thinks ultimately the enterprise will proceed as it always has: slowly and cautiously.

The Top 5 Reasons Your App Isn't Selling - Sourcebits Blog
You put all that time and effort into developing a mobile app and it's not going anywhere. The question is why? It could be as simple as bad marketing or it could by your app just sucks.

IT pros lament: Low pay, no perks - Networkworld

Why is the turnover so high among young IT and developer pros? Well, the answer is fairly obvious, they are moving to companies that offer better pay and benefits (duh!). The lesson here is if you want to keep your people, the days of getting them cheap and working them to the bone could be over. Time to pay up.

Photo by Ron Miller. Used under Creative Commons License.

IBM Hops on Big Data Analysis Band Wagon


iStock 000007020002XSmallJust last week, I wrote a post about the meaning of the HP-Autonomy and Oracle-Endeca deals in the context of bringing meaning to big data in the enterprise. Just this week at IBM's Information on Demand & Business Analytics Forum in Las Vegas, Big Blue announced a big data analysis system of its own -- And it didn't require any high profile acquisition.

As I wrote last week, this smacks of a trend and it should because companies are dealing with more and more data across multiple systems both inside and outside the firewall every single day. That IBM has a solution should not come as a surprise to anyone.

In typical IBM fashion, this solution spans products in a series of offerings that are designed to help users get at the most important data to help them to best accomplish their jobs.

As is typical in these offerings, it's not just looking at data inside the organization, it's analyzing Twitter and Facebook and even video and weather data to try and make sense of how it all fits together for your particular organization's needs with what appears to be an emphasis on customer sentiment and building a better understanding of what your customers are saying.
The fact is, there is so much data out there and that's become more of a curse than a blessing. In fact, an IBM study of 1700 Chief Marketing Officers found that a full 71 percent stated they were unprepared to deal with the amount of data they have to process today.

IBM's solution includes a Hadoop data analysis tool, IBM claims can be up and running in 30 minutes (call me skeptical), and an iPad app that lets users find and analyze this data from the iPad on the fly from anywhere there is an Internet connection. There's also a cloud-based app for those who want to pay as they go.

It even includes a web site for educational purposes where users can learn about how to use these tools most effectively. All of this is typical IBM when it comes to a product launch of this type.

As we know by now knowledge is power in business and the more you can cull about your customers the better you can understand and present information to them that they care about. But it's clear this about more than just learning more about how people shop. There's a lot of data in every enterprise and if you can find ways to understand and exploit that data -- all data, regardless of where it lives or what its purpose -- you can run your business more efficiently.

And that's where I think this is ultimately leading, building a broad understanding of all the content inside and outside the firewall. It's a tall task, but these products show that vendors believe they can begin to tackle it and find ways to help you control the content.


HP and Oracle Hope to Make Sense of Big Data

iStock 000016740032XSmallBig data is a term that's been bandied about with relative ease recently, but if you want proof that it's more than marketing hype, just look at the recent purchases by HP and Oracle.

Data is exploding in the enterprise and on the Internet. When you have 800 million people or so on Facebook sharing content, it illustrates clearly just how content is exploding all around us whether you realize it or not.

With this data explosion, it becomes increasingly important to be able to pull information from this mass of information and find ways to make sense of it all. The bigger your data pile, the more difficult it is to find the nuggets that could be most important to your business.

It's a problem that the federal government faces all the time on so many levels, whether it's finding terrorists threats or making sense of the latest economic information, and it's just as important for you inside your organization to make sense of your information.

HP must think so because big data was really what Leo Apotheker must have been thinking about when he spent $10 billion to purchase Autonomy, a company that is probably best known for search, but also has a host of tools for managing and understanding data. Apotheker won't be around to see that vision come to fruition, having been fired and replaced by former eBay CEO Meg Whitman, but it was clearly what he had in mind when he decided to abandon the PC business and move in this direction.

Meanwhile, just this week Oracle bought enterprise search platform vendor Endeca, which has created a search platform on which you can build applications to help make sense of all that unstructured data.

As Lee Dallas points out on the Big Men on Content blog, it's easy to conclude that this deal was a direct response to the HP purchase, but it's probably due more to overall trends in the marketplace that both companies are smart enough to have observed and want to take advantage of.

The fact that two large enterprise vendors went after the same type of company is certainly interesting, and it proves just how important it is to to be able to search your vast stores of content and data to find the information that matters.

As somebody on the outside watching all of this, you may be intrigued by the ideas too, but have no clear idea what it means for your organization. Don't be afraid to seek out third parties to help you make sense of the trends and what they mean to your organization.

Whether we're talking data analytics, business intelligence, data visualization or enterprise search; there's a lot going on and it's not always easy to make sense of it all.

One thing is clear though, your unstructured data pile is growing and you need to find ways to get at that data and put it to work for your company, regardless of the vendor you choose to help you do that.

Software Vendors Recognize Increasing Importance of Analytics

3874959445 68bdaf4dda mAnalytics are playing an increasingly important role in business decisions across the enterprise, because as we have touched upon before, data has value if you can translate it into meaningful action.

As this reality becomes clear, more and more companies are purchasing analytics vendors as part of their portfolio. In fact, earlier this month, Twitter bought analytics vendor Back-Type. Twitter is an excellent example of a tremendous source of data, but the problem is there is just so much. How do you get at the data that matters to you?

In Back-Type's case, they have a product called BackTweets that in their words, "was created to help publishers understand the reach of their tweets and content, who they are reaching, and how Tweets convert to web traffic, sales and other KPIs."

And that's the key right there, it's taking data and trying to link it to key metrics to help you understand your business better --  and it's not just Twitter of course. IBM has been sucking up analytics companies like it's nobody's business buying Coremetrics, Unica, Netezza among others over the last several years.

And don't forget, Adobe's purchase of Omniture in 2009 for a hefty $1.9 billion.

What are these companies thinking? Well, they see the value of collecting and understanding data, whether that's related to web site visitors, social media traffic or sales and marketing information. The more you understand your customers and business processes and how they relate to your business's success the better off you are going to be.

When big companies get involved in an area in this way, you know there's something to it. Instead of creating a product and looking for market. These vendors saw a problem looking for a solution, so they went out and purchased the pieces they needed to get a piece of a growing market.

The problem from and IT standpoint is trying to sort through all of these different offerings and finding a solution that works for your company's data analysis needs. Whether you want to understand which web site design attracts more visitors or figure out what people are saying about you on social networks or understanding the qualities of your best customers, these tools can help.

But with so many companies clamoring for your attention, you may want to work with consultants to help you find the best solution for your company and your market. The last thing you want to do is to make a big investment, only to find you made the wrong choice or that  it takes a lot of work to make it compatible with the systems you need to pull data from.

Analytics has a growing role inside organizations, and choosing the right tools the first time is becoming more imperative than ever. And when big companies are paying attention to this, it probably means there's something to it.
Photo by dumbledad on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons License.

Analytics Need Some Action

1721372320 c94b9b0ecd mOne thing we don't have a shortage of these days is data. In fact, we have data coming at us from all angles, whether it's social media mentions, web site data or the latest sales and supply chain figures. Finding data is not a problem in most organizations, but finding ways to use that data to take meaningful action is another matter altogether.

Lee Bryant of Headshift, a social business consulting firm in the UK, gave a talk last week at the Enterprise 2.0 Conference in Boston called Social Business Intelligence: The Future of Listening. Bryant's lessons on analytics were in a social context, but a lot of what he talked about could be applied to any analytics data across the enterprise.

In Bryant's opinion, data provides the key to positive employee behavior, self-motivation and autonomy. In other words, when you provide actionable data to your employees and you give them tools to act on that data, good things are going to happen.

Taking all that into consideration, IT needs to find tools that help employees understand its growing data pile and take action. The 6/13/11 Informationweek covered analytics in depth. And there are lots of vendors producing products right now to deal with analytics processing to help companies get to that action step.

The trouble is finding the one that understands your business and choosing the best tool for the job. And that's not always an easy task. As the article points out, you have to balance a lot of factors. Chief among them deciding whether it's better to go for a quick deployment or for the ability to customize.

After you choose a tool, you need to figure out how to process the data, and Bryant believes we get too caught up in aggregate measurements instead of focusing on the things you can change -- and that's a key difference from how many organizations are looking at their analytics data.

Bryant would like to see companies begin to link this data to actions. "Analytics without action is a rear view mirror," he said. You can see what happened, but you can't do anything. What's interesting is how you link this to action."

But it's not as easy as it sounds. In fact, in Bryant's 15 minute address, he didn't get into actual details about how to get to the action step. He simply encourage everyone to do it. If it were that easy, however, to get at the nuggets of information that matter most, everyone would be doing it.

For now, companies have to find the tools and companies out there that can help sort all this out for you because Bryant clearly has one thing correct, and that's there is so much value in all that data, if only we can figure out how to use it to the best advantage.
Photo by crowt59 on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons License.

Pharma Needs to Extract Business Benefits from Analytics

Data, data everywhereIn every company, you'll find a certain tension between IT and the business units. This is particularly acute when it comes to analytics because it's not clear to many organizations which of the two should be in control, and when you get into the pharmaceutical industry, the need for good data just grows.
That's because pharmaceutical companies put so much money into the research and development of their products that it's even more imperative than in a typical organization to understand their markets to the fullest extent possible and to maximize the return on their marketing dollars.
Yet according to a recent article on Information Management, even though researchers have found it makes sense to put marketing in charge of the analytics budget, IT is still often in control and the results aren't pretty.
In fact, article author Jim Ericson attended the MIT Sloan CIO Symposium in May and reported on, "an ongoing survey about to close at MIT Sloan that asks organizations how close they are to an analytic execution ideal on a scale of 1 to 10, from not at all data driven to thoroughly data driven. The answer at the moment is 4.5."
Now each company's ideal situation is probably going to be a little different, but the overall picture is fairly clear. All companies -- whether they sell pharmaceuticals or widgets -- are struggling to figure out how to deal best with all of the data they are collecting and who should be in charge of that.

Even when you get beyond the politics of control and budget, there are still many issues to be resolved. The fact is that as companies get access to more and more data, it should give them the ability to make better and more informed decisions, but it's not always easy to find the right tools to extract and analyze the mountain of information to take maximum advantage of it.

While there are many tools out there from data warehouses to business intelligence dashboards to predictive analytics tools, it's not always a simple matter to put these tools to work and get the data you need to understand your key business metrics -- and this is particularly pronounced in the pharmaceutical industry.

There are no easy answers to complex problems such as this, but when you compound the situation with turf battles, it just makes it even harder. Sometimes, it may be better to bring in a third party with experience in these matters, especially one that understands your industry.

But whether you go it alone or get help, you have to know that this data can provide key insight into your business and provide you avenues to pinpoint market requirements. In the pharmaceutical industry, which has more data and more at stake than the average organization, this is even more crucial because it's so important to maximize your return on your product development dollars.
Photo by smemon87 on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons License.
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