“Above the Trend Line” – Your Industry Rumor Central for 2/5/2018

Above the Trend Line: your industry rumor central is a recurring feature of insideBIGDATA. In this column, we present a variety of short time-critical news items grouped by category such as people movements, funding news, financial results, industry alignments, rumors and general scuttlebutt floating around the big data, data science and machine learning industries including behind-the-scenes anecdotes and curious buzz. Our intent is to provide you a one-stop source of late-breaking news to help you keep abreast of this fast-paced ecosystem. We’re working hard on your behalf with our extensive vendor network to give you all the latest happenings. Heard of something yourself? Tell us! Just e-mail me at: daniel@insidebigdata.com.  Be sure to Tweet Above the Trend Line articles using the hashtag: #abovethetrendline.

Welcome back for a new installment of “Above the Trend Line,” insideBIGDATA.com’s rumor central. I can’t believe it’s already February and with one month of 2018 already under our belt, the big data ecosystem is steaming ahead. Let’s start with a number of new partnerships, alignments and collaborations … Accenture (NYSE: ACN) has formed a strategic alliance with and made a minority investment in Maana, a pioneer in digital knowledge technology enabling industrial companies to accelerate digital transformation. The alliance will initially target oil and gas clients, with plans to expand to other industries. Terms of the investment were not disclosed. The Maana Knowledge PlatformTM, which creates digital knowledge based on human expertise and data and augments people’s abilities to make better and faster decisions, complements Accenture’s deep industry expertise and capabilities. By working together, Accenture can extend its intelligent industry solutions such as Digital Plant Operations and Intelligent Operations Center with Maana’s knowledge platform™, which accelerates creation of knowledge models using its patented knowledge graph and artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms. Through the use of AI and analytics within the Maana Knowledge PlatformTM, Accenture can help clients digitize decision flows and optimize assets and operations … Kinetica, provider of the fast next-generation analytics database, announced its official entry into the South Korean market through a partnership with UClick, a well-established total business solutions provider. Together, Kinetica and UClick will bring a new generation of databases accelerated by NVIDIA GPUs to help solve the challenges of local enterprises around processing large amounts of real-time streaming data. With the increased adoption of artificial intelligence (AI)-based technologies and Internet of Things (IoT) in Korea, Kinetica will be a key enabler for various industries including energy, financial services, healthcare, manufacturing, retail, and telecommunications, to use real-time analytics to improve their business outcomes … Distinguished scientist and professor Andrew McCallum, director of the Center for Data Science at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, will lead a new partnership with the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative to accelerate science and medicine. The goal of this project, called Computable Knowledge, is to create an intelligent and navigable map of scientific knowledge using a branch of artificial intelligence known as knowledge representation and reasoning. The Computable Knowledge project will facilitate new ways for scientists to explore, navigate, and discover potential connections between millions of new and historical scientific research articles. Once complete, the service will be accessible through Meta, a free CZI tool, and will help scientists track important discoveries, uncover patterns, and deliver insights among an up-to-date collection of published scientific texts, including more than 60 million articles … Location intelligence platform CARTO helps companies use location data to drive business decisions. CARTO software lets cities see the impact of a subway shutdown, sales teams build optimized territories, and insurers estimate damages from tropical storms. Now CARTO users have a new, cutting-edge mapping stack. CARTO is switching to Mapbox to power a new class of location data analysis tools for their customers. CARTO customers can now visualize massive data sets at 60 frames per second within CARTO software. They’re leveraging our geocoding for location search and our routing for analytics like isochrones so customers can understand the impact of location on their businesses … Technical complexity and other roadblocks shouldn’t prevent organizations from using advanced cloud services. So IBM and Mendix, a leader in low-code platforms, are partnering to make sure they don’t. The collaboration between IBM and Mendix will combine the ease of Mendix’s low-code environment with the advanced services available on IBM Cloud, including AI, blockchain, data analytics, mobile and Internet of things (IoT) services. This significantly accelerates the speed at which developers from all backgrounds, from highly skilled coders to professionals expanding their roles, can build and deploy cloud-native innovation. With Mendix on IBM Cloud, non-technical users can easily assemble software components and connect into datasets to build complex apps. The Mendix low-code development platform enables software creation through point-and-click interfaces instead of computer programming, reducing the amount of hand coding required to bring an app to production.

We’re also seeing the tech funding spigots wide open early in the year with a series of new and supplemental investments … C3 IoT, a leading AI and IoT software platform provider for digital transformation, announced a new $100 million round of financing by existing investors TPG Growth, Breyer Capital, Sutter Hill, Pat House, and Thomas M. Siebel. Joining the round is The Rise Fund, the global investment fund that is committed to achieving measurable social and environmental outcomes alongside competitive financial returns. C3 IoT provides several AI-based product offerings that deliver environmental and social benefits, such as energy management and precision health solutions … Arundo Analytics, a software company powering advanced analytics in heavy industry, announced an initial closing of $25 million on its Series A financing round. To date, the company has raised over $32.5 million since its founding in 2015 … Lightelligence is an MIT-spinoff company working on next-generation AI hardware. They are announcing seed round financing around $10M, backed by top VC investors and leading industry technologists. Lightelligence is developing nano-photonics based technology to accelerate artificial intelligence computation and more broadly information processing by leveraging the power of light – namely, ultra low latency, high throughput and extremely high power efficiency. The technology was developed at MIT after years of research in nanophotonics, deep learning and optical computing. The founding team includes world-renowned professors, Ph.Ds, experienced entrepreneurs and industry veterans in the field of semiconductors and consumer electronics. Lightelligence will license the technology exclusively from MIT Technology Licensing Office. The patents were filed when the founding team worked as researchers at MIT. The patents outline the foundation of the technology and cover the fundamental principal, component design, system design and algorithms … Trifacta, a leader in data wrangling, announced a $48 million in financing from new strategic investors, including Google, New York Life, Deutsche Boerse, Ericsson and Columbia Pacific, along with participation from existing investors Accel, Greylock Partners, Cathay Innovation, Ignition Partners, and Ridge Ventures. Since its founding in 2012, Trifacta has raised a total of $124 million in growth funding. Building on the company’s more than 3x increase in customer count, the new funding will support continued development of Trifacta’s award-winning data wrangling platform and accelerate the company’s expansion in cloud and new geographies … Dremio, the self-service data company, announced that the company has closed $25 million in Series B funding. The round was led by new investorNorwest Venture Partners with participation from existing investorsLightspeed Venture Partners andRedpoint Ventures. With this investment, Dremio will continue to disrupt the data analytics market by further expanding its engineering and sales teams and increasing its international reach. Dremio has raised a total of $40 million. Founded in 2015, Dremio’s customers include leading organizations in the US, Europe, Asia and Australia, such as Daimler, OVH, Quantium and TransUnion … Snowflake Computing, the data warehouse built for the cloud, announced it has closed $263 million in growth funding led by ICONIQ Capital, Altimeter Capital and newcomer Sequoia Capital. Snowflake’s latest round also includes the remainder of Snowflake’s existing funding partners: Capital One Growth Ventures, Madrona Venture Group, Redpoint Ventures, Sutter Hill Ventures and Wing Ventures. Since its founding in 2012, Snowflake has raised a total of $473 million at a pre-money valuation of $1.5 billion. Snowflake continues to experience rapid growth thanks to its innovative cloud data warehouse that far surpasses the capabilities of legacy competitors. But the data warehouse was just the beginning. Snowflake continues to evolve what’s possible with data analytics, enabling enterprises to easily access critical data within their ecosystems and beyond. In the past year, Snowflake grew its customer base by 300 percent and has increased customer data stored in Snowflake four-fold … Unravel Data, the Application Performance Management (APM) platform designed for Big Data, announced that it has secured $15 million in Series B financing led by GGV Capital, with Microsoft Ventures and Menlo Ventures also participating. This brings the company’s total funding to $23 million. The investment will be used to increase sales and marketing staff and boost product development. The funding will allow Unravel to help more enterprises optimize their growing Big Data deployments. In addition, Glenn Solomon, Managing Partner at GGV Capital, will join Unravel’s Board of Directors.

In new pivot news we learned … TiesNetwork – the maker of the decentralized public database — changes its name to TiesDB as the company focuses all its activity on development and imminent launch of the database product. TiesDB rebrands to underscore its unrelenting focus on developing and launching the first public, decentralized distributed database that has been created by members of cryptocommunity for the cryptocommunity. This B2B product is badly needed to satisfy the soaring demand to store non-financial data. TiesDB database product emerged to satisfy the compelling need to store terabytes of non-financial data, and to conduct quick searches in it. The volume of this data is growing exponentially due to enormous growth of popularity of decentralized messengers, social networks, social networks-based media, and large encyclopedias. The new product is focused on the most acute needs of IT and crypto community. And finally, TiesDB is a decentralized solution, which means that its servers are public.

In the people movement category, we heard … Baidu Research, a division of Baidu, Inc. (NASDAQ: BIDU), announced today the hiring of three world-renowned artificial intelligence (AI) scientists, Dr. Kenneth Church, Dr. Jun Huan and Dr. Hui Xiong, and the establishment of two additional AI labs, the Business Intelligence Lab and the Robotics and Autonomous Driving Lab, as part of its push to strengthen fundamental AI research and development. Adding to Baidu Research’s powerful roster of AI experts, the new hires will help grow Baidu Research and advance AI development in China and around the world:

  • Dr. Kenneth Church is a pioneering and highly influential research scientist in Natural Language Processing (NLP). He founded Empirical Methods on Natural Language Processing (EMNLP), one of the most influential NLP conferences, where he also served as the president for several years. In 2012, Dr. Church served as the president of the Association for Computational Linguistics (ACL), a prestigious international academic association in the field of NLP. Prior to joining Baidu Research, Dr. Church had worked at IBM Watson Research Center, Johns Hopkins University, Microsoft and AT&T Labs-Research. Dr. Church holds a PhD in computer science from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
  • Dr. Jun Huan is an expert in big data and data mining, and was previously Professor of Computer Science at the University of Kansas.
  • Dr. Hui Xiong, a Professor at Rutgers University, is focused on research in data and knowledge engineering.

In the new customer wins department we learned … artificial intelligence startup CognitiveScale announced the details of how NBCUniversal used CognitiveScale’s augmented intelligence platform to identify the core elements of successful Super Bowl ads. Using automated video attribution and explainability capabilities, CognitiveScale analyzed years of Super Bowl commercial videos and client engagement data to understand the attributes that provided the most lift across an array of key success metrics. It then surfaced actionable insights around key video concepts, features and themes to help with ad creative. Some examples of key takeaways included: (i) comedic effects most often work best with sales messages; (ii) uplifting tones work best with branding messages; and (iii) if you have video of someone singing in the ad, make sure they’re smiling … Arcadia Data, provider of the native visual analytics software for big data, announced Fintonic, a mobile banking company that uses machine learning algorithms to provide customers with highly targeted loans and insurance products, has selected Arcadia Enterprise as the modern data visualization and analytics engine of its new data architecture. Arcadia Data will allow Fintonic to more easily deliver key data from within the business to top management in near-real time to continue offering its users the best understanding of what is happening with their money … LivePerson, a leading provider of mobile and online messaging business solutions, is leveraging Anodot’s AI-powered analytics solution to track massive amounts of business-critical data and metrics in real time. By catching hidden issues and uncovering glitches, Anodot enables LivePerson to avoid downtime so the 18,000 businesses relying on conversational interfaces, such as messaging, can connect with consumers continuously and smoothly.

In the M&A department, we heard … Conversica, a leader in conversational AI for business, announced that it has acquired Intelligens.ai, a provider of conversational AI for sales and marketing focused on the Latin American market. Intelligens is a rapidly growing private company based in Santiago, Chile—the “Chilecon Valley” of Latin America. Founded in 2016, Intelligens brings with it more than 40 customers in Chile, Peru, Columbia and Bolivia. The Intelligens acquisition brings with it new Facebook Messenger, Slack and Skype integrations and a rich repository of AI conversations in Spanish, adding to Conversica’s already extensive machine learning data set. The Intelligens technology, conversations and data set will be incorporated into Conversica’s conversational AI platform over the coming months, allowing current customers to take advantage of the new capabilities and increased AI accuracy—a result of the larger training data set now available. In addition, customers will also benefit from an increased pace of innovation, thanks to the new data science and engineering talent joining the Conversica team … French technology company Akeneo, a leading provider of open source product information management (PIM) solutions, announced that it has acquired Sigmento, an Israel-based technology company specializing in product data automation. The acquisition bolsters Akeneo’s market-leading position among PIM providers and reinforces the company’s mission to help retailers turn product information into powerful brand assets. The combined entity, now equipped with state-of-the-art machine learning technologies, will allow large enterprise companies to deploy data intelligence and deliver integrated product attribute information across multiple channels far more quickly and at scale.

And finally, in observance of Data Privacy Day (January 28), we offer a number of observations from a number of our industry friends:

With the GDPR deadline of May 25 fast approaching, ensuring data is both identifiable and accessible is no easy feat,” said Neil Barton, CTO, WhereScape. “Data Privacy Day serves as a reminder about what can be achieved with proactive action to get control of your data before the GDPR deadline. It’s vital that organizations put their data onto the path to compliance now, as fines associated with GDPR will take a toll financially and in reputation. All data must be easily identifiable and explainable. The only way to ensure effective compliance is to identify where a particular piece of data sits, tag it and track its lineage throughout the environment in order to understand its usage. Additionally, to answer the ‘access upon request’ requirements, data must be stored in a location with extract capabilities, and with the ability to build those extract capabilities quickly. Data infrastructure automation software can help companies quickly get into a position to be ready for the May 25 deadline – ensuring they can best protect their organizations and the customers they serve.”

In 2018, it’s becoming impossible to exaggerate the threat that an outdated approach to data protection poses,” said Rob Strechay, SVP of Product, Zerto. “Recently, we’ve learned of Meltdown and Spectre, two major security flaws in microprocessors of nearly all the world’s computers. Last year, the WannaCry ransomware attack impacted hundreds of countries and the Equifax breach affected more than 145 million consumers. The attack surface continues to grow as our applications become more front and center pieces of our businesses. Our data is at risk, hacks and ransomware will continue to become more sophisticated. We can’t blame the targets for the malicious intent of a few, but we can expect for proper plans to be in place when attacks succeed. In today’s age we need to assume that complex hacks will happen and succeed. This may not be the direct fault of a CEO or CIO, but it is their responsibility to be prepared for the aftermath. The failure to have an up-to-date, rigorous IT resiliency plan in place will cause lasting damage. When inevitable hacks occur, the challenge will be to protect against the loss of essential data from within and to recover immediately, maintaining normal business operations so that customers and end-users experience zero impact.”

From the threats of malware attacks to the rise in popularity of IoT and smart devices, data is now more vulnerable than ever before,” said Chris Colotti, field CTO, Tintri. “As technology continues to advance, both companies and individuals need to remember the importance of keeping their data and information protected, both in the long and short term. Data Privacy Day is a great reminder of this. In this risky landscape, the key is to establish recovery point and recovery time objectives, which are a vast improvement over traditional backup tapes. For example, if your proactive security measures fail and your organization experiences a cyber-attack, you can speed up the recovery of data with online and near line snapshots. Being in a position to review snapshots quickly and enhance protection with multi-site replication is no longer a nice to have, but a must have.”

As enterprise data continues growing at exponential rates, artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities have emerged as the primary means for enterprises to respond and become Information-Driven,” said Scott Parker, senior product marketing manager at Sinequa. “While this evolution raises the efficiency and innovation of organizations and individual employees to unprecedented levels, it also introduces new data privacy risks and regulations. AI systems now exist that can analyze regulations across the world using multilingual natural language processing capabilities and determine whether a new regulation impacts specific organizations. Furthermore, these systems can identify who within an organization (R&D, legal, sales, marketing, etc.) should be informed and push the relevant information to these people. With this in mind, we should view data regulations like GDPR not as costly burdens but rather as opportunities to ensure compliance and data privacy while reaping the business benefits of accelerated innovation, increased productivity and optimized customer service.”

As data across all verticals continues its growth trajectory, so do the many data protection, privacy and security challenges for any IT Team,” said Trevor, Bidle, VP, information security and compliance officer, US Signal. “Data Privacy day presents an ideal opportunity for CTOs, and their teams, to take a close look at their data and determine the best approach for ensuring the ongoing protection of company data. Many businesses are choosing to engage third parties to outsource traditional IT services. In the face of an evolving regulatory climate, business has recognized the need for a IT Service Provider experienced in Compliance, Data Protection and has the network and infrastructure to create a fully compliant, secure solution allowing for the protection of data. Finding a provider that has the ability to address the administrative, technical and regulatory requirements of Data Privacy not only provides peace of mind, but it gives organizations the freedom to focus back on their own core business.”

The growth and value of data is constantly increasing, but so is the speed at which its security can be compromised,” said Gary Watson, Co-Founder and CTO, Nexsan. “Considering the high number of ransomware attacks in 2017, this year’s Data Protection Day should aim to refocus our attention on a key solution that prevents an attack from turning into a disaster – archive storage. Organizations that use long-term archive storage solutions as a second line of defence to house and keep data secure can be assured that it provides excellent, cost effective protection from the risks presented by ransomware.”

There can be no denying that we live in ‘the age of the app’ and the vast majority of organizations and consumers use them every day,” said Craig Hinkley, CEO, WhiteHat Security. “With new apps and updates to apps being written and released at an ever-growing rate, errors in the code they are built on can be exploited by attackers, therefore jeopardizing data protection and privacy. Although organizations and IT teams are well aware of network security, adding security to the development cycle can unfortunately be an after-thought. Working with a security mind-set and making it a top priority throughout development is essential to ensuring apps are less susceptible to attacks. The next wave of security is adopting a DevSecOps approach, which encourages collaboration between development, operations and security teams to elevate security as a priority throughout build and release cycles. More secure apps mean more secure data and privacy, and all of this adds up to helping us all live a safe digital life.”