These 100 Companies Are Leading the Way in A.I.

Whether you fear it or embrace it, the A.I. revolution is coming—and it promises to have an enormous impact on the world economy. PwC estimates that artificial intelligence could add $15.7 trillion to global GDP by 2030. That’s a gargantuan opportunity. To identify which private companies are set to make the most of it, research firm CB Insights recently released its 2018 “A.I. 100,” a list of the most promising A.I. startups globally (grouped by sector in the graphic above). They were chosen, from a pool of over 1,000 candidates, by CB Insights’ Mosaic algorithm, based on factors like investor quality and momentum. China’s Bytedance leads in funding with $3.1 billion, but 76 of the 100 startups are U.S.-based.

COMPANY COUNTRY SECTOR FUNDING($ Mil.) AEYE U.S. AUTO TECH 16.27 Affirm U.S. FINTECH & INSURANCE 525 Afiniti U.S. MARKETING, SALES, CRM 80 AiCure U.S. HEALTHCARE 30.74 Algolia U.S. ENTERPRISE AI 74.02 Amplero U.S. MARKETING, SALES, CRM 25.5 Anki U.S. ROBOTICS 182 Appier Taiwan COMMERCE 81.5 Applitools U.S. SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENT & DEBUGGING 10.5 Appthority U.S. CYBERSECURITY 23.25 Aquifi U.S. COMMERCE 32.76 Arterys U.S. HEALTHCARE 42 babylon U.K. HEALTHCARE 85 Benson Hill Biosystems U.S. AGRICULTURE 34.21 Brain corporation U.S. ROBOTICS 114 Bytedance China NEWS & MEDIA 3,100 C3 IoT U.S. IOT 130.94 Cambricon China HARDWARE FOR AI 101.4 Cape Analytics U.S. FINTECH & INSURANCE 14 Captricity U.S. CROSS-INDUSTRY 49.02 Casetext U.S. LEGAL TECH 24.28 Cerebras Systems U.S. HARDWARE FOR AI 85 CloudMinds U.S. ROBOTICS 130 CognitiveScale U.S. CROSS-INDUSTRY 40 Conversica U.S. MARKETING, SALES, CRM 56 CrowdFlower U.S. ENTERPRISE AI 55.95 CrowdStrike U.S. CYBERSECURITY 281 Cybereason U.S. CYBERSECURITY 188.62 Darktrace U.K. CYBERSECURITY 182.3 DataRobot U.S. ENTERPRISE AI 124.61 Deep Sentinel U.S. PHYSICAL SECURITY 7.4 Descartes Labs U.S. GEOSPATIAL ANALYTICS 38.46 U.S. AUTO TECH 77 Dynamic Yield U.S. COMMERCE 45.25 Element AI Canada ENTERPRISE AI 102 Endgame U.S. CYBERSECURITY 96.05 Face++ China CROSS-INDUSTRY 608 Flatiron Health U.S. HEALTHCARE 313 FLYR U.S. TRAVEL 14.25 Foghorn Systems U.S. IOT 47.5 Freenome U.S. HEALTHCARE 79 Gong U.S. MARKETING, SALES, CRM 26 Graphcore U.S. HARDWARE FOR AI 110 U.S. MARKETING, SALES, CRM 264.3 Insight Engines U.S. CROSS-INDUSTRY 15.8 Insilico Medicine U.S. HEALTHCARE 8.26 Invoca U.S. MARKETING, SALES, CRM 60.75 Kindred Systems Canada ROBOTICS 43 KYNDI U.S. CROSS-INDUSTRY 9.6 LeapMind Japan ENTERPRISE AI 13.4 Liulishuo China EDUCATION 100 MAANA U.S. IOT 40.14 Merlon Intelligence U.S. RISK & REGULATORY COMPLIANCE 7.65 Mighty AI U.S. AUTO TECH 27.25 Mobalytics U.S. E-SPORTS 2.65 Mobvoi China CROSS-INDUSTRY 257 MOOGsoft U.S. IT & NETWORKS 52.93 Mya Systems U.S. HR TECH 29.5 Mythic U.S. HARDWARE FOR AI 19.42 Narrative Science U.S. CROSS-INDUSTRY 47.87 NAUTO U.S. AUTO TECH 182.6 Neurala U.S. ROBOTICS 15.95 Numerai U.S. FINTECH & INSURANCE 7.5 Obsidian Security U.S. CYBERSECURITY 9.5 Onfido U.K. RISK & REGULATORY COMPLIANCE 59.53 Orbital Insight U.S. GEOSPATIAL ANALYTICS 78.7 OrCam Technologies Israel IOT 47 Osmo U.S. EDUCATION 38.5 PerimeterX U.S. CYBERSECURITY 35 Petuum U.S. ENTERPRISE AI 108 Preferred Networks Japan IOT 112.8 Primer U.S. CROSS-INDUSTRY 14.7 Prospera Israel AGRICULTURE 22 Recursion Pharmaceuticals U.S. HEALTHCARE 118.62 Reflektion U.S. COMMERCE 45.91 SenseTime China CROSS-INDUSTRY 637 Shape Security U.S. CYBERSECURITY 106 Spain PERSONAL ASSISTANTS 8.2 Shield AI U.S. PHYSICAL SECURITY 13.15 Shift Technology France CYBERSECURITY 39.72 Socure U.S. RISK & REGULATORY COMPLIANCE 33.25 SoundHound U.S. NEWS & MEDIA 114.1 SparkCognition U.S. CYBERSECURITY 43.88 Sportlogiq Canada SPORTS 7.2 Tamr U.S. ENTERPRISE AI 41.2 Tempus Labs U.S. HEALTHCARE 70 Text IQ U.S. RISK & REGULATORY COMPLIANCE 3.34 Textio U.S. HR TECH 29.5 Tractable U.K. CROSS-INDUSTRY 9.82 Trifacta U.S. ENTERPRISE AI 76.3 Twiggle Israel COMMERCE 35 UBTECH Robotics China ROBOTICS 521.39 Upstart U.S. FINTECH & INSURANCE 584.73 Versive U.S. CYBERSECURITY 57 Vicarious Systems U.S. ROBOTICS 118.03 Workey Israel HR TECH 9.6 WorkFusion U.S. RISK & REGULATORY COMPLIANCE 71.3 ZestFinance U.S. FINTECH & INSURANCE 268 Zoox U.S. AUTO TECH 290 Zymergen U.S. LIFE SCIENCE 174

Source: Fortune-These 100 Companies Are Leading the Way in A.I.


Six CIO tips for business innovation with data

First Utility CIO Bill Wilkins has a job that relies on data. The company started as a small, entrepreneurial business in 2008 and experienced rapid growth as a pioneer in smart meters. By 2014, the firm had become the seventh-largest energy supplier in the UK, with over a million customers and a market share of 2%.

“Because of the company’s rapid growth, every year has been different,” says Wilkins.

The firm is now scaling up for further growth through a focus on its digital platform. Wilkins, who joined First Utility full-time in 2010 after spells with Sun Microsystems and SeeBeyond, is drawing on his experience to push a data-led process of innovation.

Wilkins offers six best-practice tips for other CIOs from his experiences of running data projects, covering areas such as organisational culture, external partnership and continuous innovation.

1. Create a customer-driven approach to data analytics

Wilkins says First Utility benefits from access to a huge data asset that it uses in three key ways. First, the business runs a number of information-led initiatives to boost customer engagement. “We are, essentially, a retailer and we want to have long-term, valuable relationships with our clients,” he says.

The second way First Utility uses data is for optimisation. “Information helps us to understand what processes work, which processes are causing us problems and how we can use our experience around those processes to make the business better,” says Wilkins.

The third way the firm uses information is strategically, says Wilkins. “Now we’ve built a platform, we want to know our technology is working and where the business can use systems and services to develop and grow,” he adds. “It’s all about making the most of data to find new opportunities and to market to new sets of customers.”

Wilkins says the firm’s customer-driven approach goes further – other external stakeholders are included, too. “From a very early stage of operation, the firm – because of its strong focus on data – has had access to detailed market information,” he says.

“It was not until the IT team built an application on top of that data that a wide base of users started making the most of our knowledge. The awareness within our organisation about how competitive we are in the marketplace is now much clearer because we created a visual representation of data for our employees.”

2. Get your organisational structure right

Wilkins says that, while his firm’s use of data is very broad, he can benefit from a tight organisational set-up. “We have the advantage of still being focused as an organisation, despite our rapid growth,” he says.

Take information management, for example. Here Wilkins benefits from access to a single data team. “If you go into many other billion-pound businesses, you’d have a much more established set of functions with their own silos of data,” he says.

“We’ve managed to retain a coherent organisational structure. We also have a central repository for data and that represents a huge advantage, because it means we can look at information and synthesise it in many different ways.”

Wilkins says he has strived to achieve an integrated approach to data, both in terms of human skills and technical resources. One key factor is that he combined the role of head of enterprise architecture with that of data delivery at a very early stage of his tenure as CIO.

This single manager has design authority for data inputs, but also needs to drive insight from the information. “In a period of rapid growth and innovation, we can use this integrated approach to make sure our aims and objectives are still as aligned as they possibly can be,” he says.

3. Look to evolve, rather than to keep starting afresh

Wilkins says that from the start, the investors at First Utility recognised that the company would use technology to create a competitive differentiation. The firm wanted to deliver smart, rather than standard, energy and it spent a lot of time building an end-to-end infrastructure.

“At the time, you couldn’t get a smart gas meter,” he says. “The business ended up building its own hardware to measure volume and send the data back to the office. The senior executives got involved in a lot of low-level, but clever, technology to get their smart proposition set up.”

“Work with a partner, learn from their experience, innovate for your customers and differentiate from your competitors”

Bill Wilkins, First Utility

On joining the business, Wilkins was able to inherit this foundation work. The company had already solved the problem of taking heterogeneous data and creating a normalised, standard view of information that worked in a billing system. The problem, however, was that the system did not scale.

The answer to that challenge, says Wilkins, was to modify the foundation, which he says represents key advice to other CIOs facing a similar data conundrum. “What you have to do is to take what’s already there and look at ways to evolve that approach,” he says.

4. Partner with external specialists to build engagement

With the platform in place, Wilkins started to look at other ways to help First Utility develop its smart approach to energy provision. He realised there was a huge opportunity for using the firm’s half-hourly collected smart meter data to create a new form of engagement with customers.

“The call to action was that we realised we had this rich data set which contained lots of interesting information. What we had to do was to turn it into knowledge that could inform our customers about their energy use,” says Wilkins, who explains how the firm partnered initially with external specialist Opower to create its My Energy programme.

Read more about innovating with data

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  • The Digital Catapult in London’s King’s Cross is home to ambitious technology startups innovating around big data.

“That’s another tip from me – don’t try to build it all yourself,” he says. “Innovation happens in many places, so look for partners that can complement what you do. We worked with Opower, as the leading US player in energy analytics, and learnt from their knowledge and experience.”

First Utility then decided to bring the My Energy initiative back in-house, because it thought the US-centric platform was not necessarily the best way to serve its UK customer base. “Partnering allowed us to get a product out there and to learn from its use in the real world very quickly,” says Wilkins.

5. Use experience to build your own data platform

Knowledge from the first, externally developed iteration of My Energy proved essential as First Utility created its own version of the platform, which was launched at the end of 2014. “For other CIOs, I would say the lesson is to work with a partner, learn from their experience, innovate for your customers and differentiate from your competitors,” says Wilkins.

To achieve this level of differentiation, Wilkins built a dedicated team of internal specialists. He initially thought First Utility would need to employ a broad range of analytical specialists, but quickly discovered that customer experience expertise would be more useful.

“As we started building out the My Energy platform, we realised we needed people who could translate the data into areas that customers would be keen to investigate and use,” says Wilkins. “We inevitably spent much more time and money on the look and feel of the service and less on the data side.”

“We’ve learnt that the way you present information to different stakeholders is very important. Half-hourly updates have a very low value for consumers, but we’ve used My Energy to take that information and present it in a more informative manner for customers.”

6. Think in an entrepreneurial fashion and continue to innovate

As a smaller utility firm, First Utility must try to keep pace with larger competitors, but often with fewer resources, says Wilkins. He points to the firm’s mobile programme, which – when compared to the big budget spend of some competitors – was launched with the help of just four engineers in under a year.

One area of pioneering development is the firm’s partnership with Cosy, a Cambridge firm specialising in the development of smart heating systems. Wilkins says First Utility’s aim is to be in a position to offer the Cosy technology to all its customers by the end of the year.

“Cosy is all about bringing in a new data set concerning the heating characteristics of a house,” he says. “Customers get to control their heating from an app, and we get fine-grain information on their requirements, and the efficiency of their boiler and insulation. That information is then fed back into the My Energy platform.”

Wilkins says data becomes more valuable when it is weaved together and used for cross-purposes. As well as Cosy, First Utility is also set to launch a new Auto Read feature as part of its mobile app for customers who do not yet have smart meters. A UK first, the app uses the phone’s camera to take a snapshot of the meter and helps to create more accurate readings.

“Both innovations – Cosy and Auto Read – are concerned with how we can get better-quality data into our analytics engine,” he says. “Getting an accurate view of energy consumption is a challenge for utility firms. Unless you get it right, you start billing estimates, which isn’t great for customers and doesn’t help create certainty in terms of revenue for the business.”


Souce: CIO tips for business innovation with data

Time to cut IT costs again, predicts Gartner

IT spending is set to rise slightly in 2016, with IT spending increasing in datacentres, services and software, but devices and telecommunications spending is set to fall.

According to Gartner’s latest spending forecast, spending on datacentre systems is projected to reach $175bn in 2016, a 2.1% increase from 2015. Global enterprise software spending is on pace to total $321bn, a 4.2% increase from 2015. Spending on IT services is expected to reach $921bn, a 2.1% rise from 2015.

Gartner research vice-president John-David Lovelock said the top line of 0.5% of growth in 2016 follows two years of decline, due to the strength of the US dollar.

“When we look at western Europe, its growth will be 0.2%, but there was 0.7% growth in 2015,” said Lovelock.

He expects spending in Europe will rise in 2017. Companies have continued to spend when necessary, such as replacing aging servers, but he said there was a retraction in the phones and devices markets.

The analyst firm predicted the device market (PCs, ultramobiles, mobile phones, tablets and printers) would decline 3.7% in 2016. The smartphone market is approaching global saturation, which is slowing growth, said Gartner.

The main factor limiting IT spending, according to Lovelock, is worsening economic conditions.

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When asked about Europe, he said: “There is a shift from growth to cost optimisation.” But this is not like the stagnated market in 2001, where overspending in IT led to massive cut costs and redundancies.

“No one has revenue growth to transform to a digital business. CIOs must now optimise IT and business to fund spending on digital projects,” said Lovelock. As an example, he said the savings from legacy system optimisation and enhancements can be redirected to fund digital initiatives.

It is necessary to reduce costs to become a digital business, he added. One of the approaches Gartner promotes is so-called Mode 2 development, which Lovelock said costs less than traditional, or Mode 1 IT.

Businesses then need to move away from owning assets to using services such as software as a service (SaaS) and infrastructure as a service (IaaS). “Instead of buying IT, businesses will buy services,” Lovelock predicted.

“Things that once had to be purchased as an asset can now be delivered as a service. Most digital service twin offerings change the spending pattern from a large upfront payment to a smaller reoccurring monthly amount. This means the same level of activity has a very different annual spend,” he said.

Source: to cut IT costs again, predicts Gartner

The link between third-party vendor support and the cloud

Rebecca Wettemann is the vice president of research at Nucleus Research and leads the quantitative research team. Nucleus Research provides case-based technology research with a focus on value, measurement and data. The company assesses the ROI for technology and has investigated and published 600 ROI case studies. Wettemann specializes in enterprise applications, customer relationship management, enterprise resource planning and cloud. She spoke with SearchOracle about the ROI for cloud adoption and third-party vendor support.

Can you tell me what the typical return on investment is for cloud and third-party vendor support?

Rebecca Wettemann: Cloud delivers 1.7 times the return on investment of on premises. It’s interesting because, intuitively, we think it’s because cloud is cheaper and that’s certainly partially true. But the bigger top line benefit is that I can make changes, upgrades, get more value from my cloud application over time without the cost, pain and suffering, and disruption associated with upgrading a traditional on-premises application.

Today, a lot of ERP customers are a couple of upgrades behind. Staying current, particularly if you’ve made a lot of customizations, is extremely expensive, extremely risky, extremely disruptive. Going through an upgrade can cost maybe half a million dollars. It’s not unusual. So customers stay behind, and that’s when they start to look at third-party support as an option. Support from the vendor is expensive, and, as I get further behind, I get less attention from the vendor and less support that is really focused on what my needs and particular challenges might be because they’re focusing their resources on the customers who are upgrading and staying current.

I can cut my maintenance bill in half by going to third-party support and use that money to invest in cloud innovation.

Rebecca Wettemannvice president of Nucleus Research

Are companies that are already using cloud likely to be more or less interested in third-party vendor support?

Wettemann: Someone who is already on the cloud is likely to be less interested in third-party support because cloud vendors tend to recognize that they have to win that contract again every year or two. So they’re in there delivering additional value, delivering upgrades, delivering enhancements and providing support because they know that the barriers to switching are a lot lower for cloud applications. What we do see is companies taking their core ERP or core critical applications like Siebel where they are a few generations behind and [saying], “I’m going to put this on third-party support.” This is either because I already have a plan to implement a whole new version of what I have in a couple of years and I want to save money in order to do that, or because there are other areas of innovation in cloud that I want to take advantage of and I can put the money toward that. I can cut my maintenance bill in half by going to third-party support and use that money to invest in cloud innovation.

What we’re seeing with customers is not a lot that are saying, “Okay, I’m going to move from PeopleSoft to ERP cloud.” It’s a very small population. What we are seeing is people saying, “You know what, PeopleSoft is mission-critical for us. We don’t want to disrupt it right now. We want to watch the road map for ERP cloud and see where it’s going. But we want to get a Taleo subscription, so we can manage talent management, or we want to invest in something on the CRM side in Sales Cloud or Marketing Cloud that’s attractive to us.” So they’re looking at taking advantage of the investment Oracle has made in cloud in different areas of the organization, which is where putting the PeopleSoft portion — to use that example — on third-party support saves them a ton of money. Our research and talking to Rimini customers finds that they get as good if not better support as they get from the vendor.

This is definitely something we’re seeing as we talk to customers about how to fund new projects. IT budgets are not flat, but not growing at a tremendous rate. And what they’re looking at is: “How can I cut out this big portion of expenditure, which for many firms can be high six figures? How do I cut that out? Or cut it in half and use that to fund cloud innovation?” So, if I look at my overall ongoing IT budget, a significant portion of that is license fees. Anything I cut from there becomes, without needing more budget, funds to invest in cloud.

Is this what you see people doing?

Wettemann: We’re definitely seeing folks say, “Yes, I need to do more with my IT budget.” This is a great way to keep systems that I’m not ready to move to cloud yet on a much more cost-effective basis so I can divert my resources elsewhere.

When Oracle customers move to the cloud, do they remain with Oracle or start using other vendors’ products?

Wettemann: I would say it’s a combination.

What factors influence that decision?

Wettemann: How much they’re an Oracle shop, certainly. Specific business needs that they’re looking for, whether it’s supply chain, CRM, HCM or another — Marketing Cloud is a great example. But they’re looking at what are the competing solutions in the cloud marketplace and how does Oracle stack up.

Is now a good time for making big decisions?

Wettemann: Yeah, absolutely. And it can also be a matter of not necessarily wanting to put all of their eggs in one basket. Because, remember, with cloud I don’t have to have the level of developer skill or DBA [database administrator] skill that I do to support an on-premises application. So, I don’t have to decide that I’ve got to have two or three Oracle DBAs that I know I’m going to be able to retain to make sure they keep my application running and everything works. I don’t have to do that with cloud, so I have more flexibility.

Source: The link between third-party vendor support and the cloud

Microsoft Azure partnership with HPE: Channel reaction

News analysis: The recent alliance between Microsoft Azure and HPE could eventually open opportunities for the channel, but appears to have minimal short-term impact.

The Microsoft Azure partnership with Hewlett Packard Enterprise promises to give channel partners greater opportunities and more tools to win over customers to the companies’ newly released hybrid cloud products and services.
Of interest to channel partners are plans to have Microsoft join the HPE Composable Infrastructure partner program to improve the automation and integration of Microsoft System Center and HPE OneView orchestration tools with today’s IT infrastructure, while also ramping up plans for next-generation infrastructure.

To help customers’ hybrid cloud migration projects, Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) has joined Microsoft programs to assist with the adoption of mobility, identity and productivity features. For example, HPE will sell Microsoft cloud offerings across Azure, the Microsoft Enterprise Mobility Suite and Office 365 through its participation in Microsoft’s Cloud Solution Provider program.

The partnership faces stiff competition from Amazon Web Services (AWS), and Dell’s acquisition of EMC will impact the range of choices partners and customers will have in the year ahead. In a cloud services market where consolidation is rampant and new offerings are being introduced frequently, companies’ positive projections for their cloud products and services can quickly evaporate leaving channel partners in the lurch.

Microsoft Azure partnership: Background

The extended Microsoft Azure partnership, in which Microsoft’s offering emerges as HPE’s preferred public cloud partner, follows HPE’s decision to exit the public cloud. After almost two years into its Helion Public Cloud initiative, the company announced that on January 31, 2016 it will sunset the HPE Helion Public Cloud and terminate customer agreements for public cloud services.

The HPE-Microsoft Azure alignment will certainly legitimize and support the Azure message that partners like Accelera are taking to market.
Joe Brown
president and co-founder, Accelera Solutions
The company’s public cloud uptake appears to have been limited. Research firm IDC was unable to quantify Helion’s adoption among enterprise customers as a definitive percentage.

“We primarily measure public cloud and HP does not even come on the public cloud radar,” said Larry Carvalho, IDC analyst covering platform as a service (PaaS).

Carvalho noted that HPE and Microsoft Azure are playing catch-up to AWS.

“Azure is behind AWS right now in IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) and PaaS functionality. However, in some ways HPE gets the benefit of bringing Azure to the enterprise so HPE gains a lot out of this partnership,” Carvalho said.

Partner reaction

One Microsoft Azure partner seeking to find the best cloud offerings for its clients is Syntel Inc., a cloud provider headquartered in Troy, Mich. Reacting to news of the partnership, Ashok Balasubramanian, head of the Services Transformation Group at Syntel, would only say that finding the right products and services from multiple cloud vendors is a practical approach to providing cloud offerings.

“Syntel is ‘product agnostic,’ so we do not endorse one product over another. Our goal is to choose the most suitable tool to meet our clients’ business needs,” Balasubramanian said.

Joe Brown, president and co-founder of Accelera Solutions, a cloud solutions provider based in Fairfax, Va., said he is encouraged by the alignment between HPE and Microsoft but noted that he isn’t expecting miracles. Accelera partners with Microsoft.

“The HPE-Microsoft Azure alignment will certainly legitimize and support the Azure message that partners like Accelera are taking to market,” Brown said. “I don’t expect it to create any real revenue contribution or change the way we’re selling or marketing.”

What impact will the Microsoft Azure partnership have on HPE and Azure partners?

Source: TechTarget-Microsoft Azure partnership with HPE: Channel reaction  by Nicole Lewis

IDC: Citrix, EMC, HP, VMware Favored, Oracle Not by Enterprise Customers

Enterprise customers value software providers on factors beyond cost, benefit and ROI, a new IDC study shows.

Issues such as ease of doing business, license compliance, application management and cloud support make a difference to enterprise customers in selecting a preferred vendor, according to IDC data from a survey sponsored by Flexera, a provider of licensing, compliance and application installation tools and solutions.
The study, referred to by the sponsors as the “Customer Choice Awards” for rivals in the enterprise software market, asked 147 participants to rate vendors on eight different factors–criteria that “vendors should take note of and be aware of as they develop, launch and support their products,” IDC and Flexera said. The vendor for each category landing the most “Strongly Agree” or “Agree” responses won the “Customer Choice Award” for that question.

Competitors included Adobe (ADB), CA (CA), Citrix (CTRX), EMC (EMC), HP (HPQ), IBM (IBM), Microsoft (MSFT), Oracle (ORCL), SAP (SAP), Salesforce (CRM), Symantec (SYMC) and VMware (VMW), which taken together command about 50 percent of the market, or $200 billion in software spend.

“Applications require ongoing effort and cost to manage, support and maintain throughout the lifecycle of the license,” said Amy Konary, IDC Software Licensing and Provisioning research vice president. “The ease with which organizations can support those applications, and partner with their application providers during the process has a dramatic impact on vendors’ favorability ratings.”

Keeping in mind that anecdotal data is just that, basically the respondent’s opinion, here are the winners and losers:

  • Easiest vendor to work with? EMC. 91 percent of the survey’s respondents said so. Who scored the lowest? Oracle, at 43 percent.
  • Vendor’s apps easiest to manage, patch, maintain and upgrade? VMware. 91 percent said so. Who scored the lowest? Oracle again at 35 percent.
  • Vendor’s licensing policies easiest to understand? HP at 89.8 percent. Citrix came in a close second at 89.6 percent. Yet again Oracle scored the lowest at 42.9 percent.
  • Vendor’s usage and spend stats easy to understand? VMware at 93 percent. Poor Oracle, last again at 31 percent.
  • Vendor’s mobile, virtualization and cloud licensing rules help with migration? Citrix at 88 percent. Who lost? You guessed it, Oracle at 45 percent.
  • Vendor rarely issues license compliance audits? Citrix at 94 percent. Do we say Oracle lost at 35 percent or did you already know?
  • Vendor rarely forces license compliance true-up fees? HP wins at 93 percent with Oracle losing at 29 percent.
  • Vendor’s app prices reasonable and offer good ROI? Citrix at 87 percent with Oracle scoring the lowest at 44 percent.

“Building great products that deliver ROI is and should be the primary driver for every software vendor,” said Richard Northing, Flexera Products and Services senior vice president. “However, this report suggests that software companies must also look downstream and optimize the customer experience across a wide range of value criteria,” he said.

Source: IDC: Citrix, EMC, HP, VMware Favored, Oracle Not by Enterprise Customers

Dell-EMC deal comes with plenty of risks

Dell finalized its purchase of EMC this week, in a deal that analysts said could pay dividends for enterprise customers – if it succeeds, that is.

Dell’s acquisition of EMC and VMware should have strategic merit for enterprise customers, but the deal is also a risky one.

After weeks of speculation, Dell formalized its acquisition of EMC for $67 billion, the largest tech acquisition of all time.

The deal benefits are clearly advantageous to Dell, said Charles King, president of Pund-IT of Hayward, Calif.

Dell does very well in the SMB enterprise space but has had trouble cracking the code for larger organizations, he said. Meanwhile, large enterprises are EMC’s sweet spot and it has a massive portfolio of hardware, software and services that are aimed specifically at the needs of enterprises, he said.
EMC has done well to expand its footprint in software and outreach to developers through Pivotal, King said, something that could be an invaluable resource for Dell. Pivotal and the EMC Federation have done well to engage with the software industry and as EMC goes under Dell’s private ownership, it will allow it to manage the products and services it has without any second guessing by outside groups.

“The fact is – the addition of EMC [products] and services will benefit Dell but so will EMC’s relationships with thousands of larger enterprise organizations,” King said.

Another analyst however contends the merger is risky business.

The respective core markets for all three companies, particularly, Dell and EMC are under attack, according to Dana Gardner, principal analyst with Interarbor Solutions, LLC in Gilford, NH. Dell faces increasing pressures in the server markets with competition from HP and Lenovo – a market that is already declining. And EMC faces similar competitive pressures in the storage market from competitors old and new.

“This is a very risky undertaking because you have two companies that are struggling in their own markets and at the same time trying to enter new markets where essentially only VMware has a presence in,” Gardner said.

“VMware has to be the point on the spear for any forward progress for both of these companies.”

Dell’s hybrid strategy gains an ally

Dell’s focus on becoming the hardware supplier of the cloud makes sense, but the company needs to find ways to better facilitate enterprises use of hybrid cloud, said Michelle Bailey, an analyst and vice president of data center initiatives and digital infrastructure at 451 Research LLC in New York.

“They’re behind, there’s no doubt about it,” she said, adding that Dell hired away Jim Ganthier from HP last year to help with its cloud strategy. Dell needs to form partnerships with the world’s 25,000 cloud providers and become a systems integrator with tools such as Dell’s Boomi instead of taking on Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure.

Enter VMware, which has struggled in the public cloud market.

VMware faces its own competitive headwinds, Gardner said, as it tries to enter new markets itself with its existing and upcoming hyper-converged infrastructure offerings, which have had little success, as well as a new open source initiative.

Also, VMware’s public cloud strategy has not worked out, favoring now a move toward hybrid cloud and software defined data centers (SDDC), Gardner said. VMware can succeed in the hybrid cloud and SDDC markets but is up against the steel of the industry including IBM, Microsoft, Cisco, Oracle and HP, all of whom will not be preoccupied dealing with a one or two-year long transition of fully integrating its products with those of one of the largest IT suppliers in the industry, Gardner said.

“They are going to be so busy pulling all this together at a time when they need to dominate this hybrid cloud market,” Gardner said. “These other players are not going to be encumbered by the burden of the largest merge in the history of technology.”

The big question is whether Dell can continue to innovate after it takes on the combined $40 billion debt from the deal and spends time focusing on the integration of the two companies. For on-premises data centers, virtualization and the software-defined data center, the deal will bring the benefits of cloud computing, said CEO Michael Dell in a conference call.

Dell said he was looking forward to the combination of EMC’s RSA Security LLC and Dell SecureWorks Inc. in the growing security market, plus the addition of VMware’s enterprise mobility management product, AirWatch.

The tech industry has a long history of collaboration, Dell said, pointing to Dell’s existing partnerships with Microsoft, Oracle Corp. and Red Hat, Inc., which he said will all continue.

Dell also said the new combined company won’t strictly use virtualization software from VMware.

VMware has had a strong partnership with HP and Lenovo Group Ltd, said Pat Gelsinger, VMware’s CEO.

Bailey, from 451, said it will be important for Dell and EMC to remain impartial on virtualization software and said VMware shouldn’t do anything to make it harder for enterprise users to run VMware virtualization software on HP servers.

Expanding the VCE portfolio

EMC will continue its partnership with Cisco Systems, Inc. in privately-held VCE and it will continue to work with the broader ecosystem, company officials said.

A majority of VCE products are aimed at enterprises, particularly in industries such as telecommunications and financial organizations. . While Dell does have some products that perform similar functions to VCE’s VBlock and other converged infrastructure, none are really aimed at the enterprise.

“There is probably less overlap there than one might think,” King said. It would be wise for Dell to maintain and expand the VCE portfolio, he said.

The deal will give EMC stockholders $33.15 per share. VMware will stay a public company.

While Dell said jobs cuts are likely, he noted some other tech companies have seen much more significant cuts lately, such as the 30,000 job cuts that HP revealed last month. Dell said its new $30 billion enterprise data center business will be headquartered in Hopkinton, Mass. and the new combined business will have three hubs – Austin, Silicon Valley and Boston.

Source: TechTarget-Dell-EMC deal comes with plenty of risks

HP cuts jobs in bid to grow strategic services

HP’s Enterprise Services division is set for major cutbacks as the company attempts to reduce operating costs prior to the split in November 2015

HP is set to cut the headcount in its Enterprise Services division by up to 30,000 people in a bid to cut operating costs by $2bn.

The job cuts are key to the business strategy of HP Enterprise, once it splits in November 2015.

“These restructuring activities will enable a more competitive, sustainable cost structure for the new Hewlett Packard Enterprise,” said HP CEO Meg Whitman.
“We’ve done a significant amount of work over the past few years to take costs out and simplify processes, and these final actions will eliminate the need for any future corporate restructuring.”

The cuts come on top of the 55,000 job losses HP previously announced.

The Enterprise Services business has continued to lose money, with a loss of 11% compared to Q3 2014 (or 3% in constant currency), according to HP’s latest financial results.

In a transcript of HP’s Q3 2015 results, posted on the Seeking Alpha financial blogging site, Whitman stated: “In Enterprise Services, we’re turning the corner in what has been one of the most critical parts of the turnaround. Enterprise Services significantly improved its sequential revenue trajectory and delivered another quarter of sequential and year-over-year profit improvement.”

Strategic enterprise services is key for HP Enterprise business as its customers buy public, hybrid and private cloud-based IT infrastructure. Approximately 37% of HP Enterprise’s revenue will come from Enterprise Services. The company expects cloud revenue in fiscal 2015 to be approximately $3bn, growing over 20% annually for the next several years. This estimate includes revenue from its enterprise group, software and enterprise services segments, HP stated.

HP’s latest results reveal challenges ahead as the company prepares to split.

With the split two months away, HP Enterprise needs to ensure its hardware, software and services groups work and play better together.

The Enterprise Services business came out of HP’s $13.2bn 2008 acquisition of EDS but, by 2012, HP had written off $8bn of its value.

As Computer Weekly previously reported, HP appears to have made a substantial amount of job cuts in its services business. For fiscal 2016, HP said it expected revenue from the Enterprise Services group to be flat to down 2% year-over-year in constant currency, representing just a slight improvement of 1% compared to the losses it announced for Q3 2015.

However, with continued focus on cost management and operational improvements, operating margin is expected to further improve to be in the range of 6-7% for fiscal 2016, HP said.

Source: HP cuts jobs in bid to grow strategic services by Cliff Saran

10 Simple Questions That Not Every Email Provider Can Answer

Moving customers to the cloud is a great choice. But how do you identify the right provider? Here are 10 questions to ask potential email providers to help you make your decision.

When evaluating a hosted email provider, make sure you ask the right questions. And more importantly, make sure you like the answers that you get. Here are ten questions to help you effectively assess potential hosted exchange providers:

  1. How many users do you support today? In today’s market, there’s constant churn. Service providers with less than 500,000 users face an uncertain future.
  2. What kind of uptime service level agreement do you offer? No one can guarantee 100% uptime. Beware over-inflated promises or providers who don’t put uptime guarantees in writing. At the same time, if they offer less than 99.99% uptime, you should raise your eyebrows.
  3. What do current customers say? Nobody knows a service better than existing clients. Ask for references or case studies. Make sure you get concrete answers to hard questions about reliability, access, customer service and any problems they’ve experienced.
  4. Do you have Microsoft-certified technicians on your staff? Your Exchange provider should employ Microsoft-certified staff, because that’s the only way to be sure of their technological prowess. One reason you’re partnering with a service provider is to leverage their investment in highly qualified personnel.
  5. Which in-house technologies do you use to support your hosted clients? If a service provider doesn’t invest in its infrastructure, this does not bode well for the services it provides. Make sure providers use top-tier vendors and the latest technologies.
  6. What other services do you provide? Finding a partner with multiple areas of expertise allows you to easily expand your IT footprint. Look for easy integrations with communications, collaboration and email archiving services.
  7. How will you support users? 24×7 phone support is vital. Long hold times are inexcusable.
  8. Are you compliant? If you operate in a regulated environment, it’s important that your provider be compliant and/or certified in the required standards. Otherwise YOU could be vulnerable during an audit
  9. How do I control my data if I use your service? Your data should belong to you, and this fact must be stated clearly in your agreement. Watch out for companies that may hold data hostage if their contract is not renewed.
  10. How do you help me migrate end-users? Some hosted Exchange businesses only offer a technical support manual. Look for a partner whose experts manage this incredibly complex process from start to finish.

Source: Intermedia-10 Simple Questions That Not Every Email Provider Can Answer

Sapphire 2015: McDermott declares SAP natively digital

SAP CEO Bill McDermott declares the company “digital” at Sapphire 2015 and made “empathy” the watchword of his keynote

SAP CEO Bill McDermott declared the company to be “digital” and made “empathy” the watchword of his opening keynote at Sapphire 2015.

The company has announced what it calls “new digitally native offerings, built for immediate personal consumption via a new online purchase experience”.

“For 43 years SAP has helped organisations around the world become best-run. Our digital business will bring the power of SAP technology to individuals, using the simple approaches they’re already familiar with to their personal lives,” said McDermott (pictured).
“Every business is in a state of transformation. In 2014, we talked about Run Simple. Today we’re giving the roadmap for that.

“90% of the data in companies is dark. We have to digitise the core operations [to change that],” said McDermott.

SAP appointed its first chief digital officer, Jonathan Becher, in late 2014 to oversee its SAP Digital business.

Read more about SAP’s customer conference Sapphire

Read all the coverage on the SAP Sapphire Now 2015 conference.

SAP executives promote Hana as a platform during the 2013 Sapphire event.
McDermott stated that, to continue evolving the company, SAP Hana must take the role of “digital data platform”. The S/4 Hana iteration of its core enterprise resource planning suite puts the in-memory database platform at the heart of what most organisations understand SAP to be.

S/4 Hana has around 400 customers, with McDermott claiming “it gives you the perfect enterprise platform”.

Customers can now, with the “digitally native” services, buy from SAP on the web without the need for a purchase order or invoice.

The company also used the opening keynote to bring attention to its business intelligence and data visualisation software Lumira, which competes with Qlik and Tableau.

David McCandless, author of Knowledge is Beautiful, is due to show a visual interactive for the internet of things (IoT) at the event. A version of this visualisation will be ported into SAP Lumira to enable live interaction with the data.

The supplier said there have been more than 500,000 downloads of the free version of Lumira software.

The Lumira development team has, SAP said, improved the “governed data discovery and agile visualisation” aspects of the software. It has also added “big data discovery and data wrangling with Hadoop, helping users to access, prepare and mash with traditional data sources”, such as SAP Business Warehouse (SAP BW).

Other “digitally native” products and services announced were SAP Digital for Customer Engagement, a simplified cloud customer relationship management (CRM) system for individuals and small teams.

Source: TechTarget-Sapphire 2015: McDermott declares SAP natively digital by Brian McKenna