The Next Big Thing You Missed: A Tiny Startup’s Plot to Beat Google at Big Data

29. January 2014

Date: 29-01-2014
Source: WIRED

Keen IOThe staff of Keen IO, inside the communal space it shares with other startups seeking to remake the way of the world builds software.

Ryan Spraetz helps run a Silicon startup that aims to remake the future of online business, but he describes it with a metaphor that dates to the 16th century.

More than 400 years ago, Spraetz says one afternoon outside a San Francisco coffee shop, a Danish nobleman named Tycho Brahe spent most of his adult life collecting data that described the night sky. Each night for more than 30 years, Brahe would climb into his observatory and record the brightness and the position of the stars overhead. Then he died. But his young assistant, Johannes Kepler, would go on to use Brahe’s massive trove of data to formulate the three laws of planetary motion, the laws that proved the Earth revolves around the sun.

“Because Brahe dedicated his whole life to gathering all that data, Kepler is now cemented into history,” Spraetz says, and this becomes an on-ramp to his startup, a 15-person company called KeenIO. As Spraetz explains it, Keen aims to provide the world’s online businesses with ready access to the sort of detailed data so diligently gathered by Brahe, giving them the information they need to make the big leap forward — to, as Spraetz puts it, “turn them into Keplers.” Read the rest of this entry »

The enterprise IT infrastructure agenda for 2014

27. January 2014

IT infrastructure managers must simultaneously capture the next rounds of efficiencies, accelerate the transition to next-generation infrastructure, reduce risks, and improve organizational execution.

January 2014 | byBjörn Münstermann, Brent Smolinski, and Kara Sprague, McKinsey & Co.

This year has been tough for many organizations that manage IT infrastructure—the hardware, software, and operational support required to provide application hosting, network, and end-user services. Highly uncertain business conditions have resulted in tighter budgets. Many infrastructure managers have rushed to put tactical cost reductions in place—canceling projects, rationalizing contractors, extracting vendor concessions, and deferring investments to upgrade hardware and software.

We have conducted more than 50 discussions with heads of infrastructure at Fortune Global 500 companies over the past six months to get a sense of the issues they are wrestling with. Clearly, infrastructure leaders must meet 2013 budgets while ensuring they can address critical challenges in 2014 and beyond. They can do so by pulling 11 levers.

Capture the next round of efficiencies

There is no indication that 2014 will be dramatically easier from a budgetary standpoint than 2013 has been at many companies. Even as infrastructure organizations lock in 2013 savings, they need to take several actions to establish a pipeline of cost-improvement initiatives that will create space in their budgets for 2014 and 2015.

1. Put in place a commercial-style interaction model with business partners Read the rest of this entry »

Google chief warns of IT threat

24. January 2014

Date: 24-01-2014
Source: The Financial Times

A broad range of jobs that once seemed beyond the reach of automation are in danger of being wiped out by technological advances, Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google, warned on Thursday.

Speaking in a briefing at the World Economic Forum in Davos, he said that an acceleration in technological innovation made this one of the biggest problems the world faces in the next 20 to 30 years.

“The race is between computers and people and the people need to win,” he said. “I am clearly on that side. In this fight, it is very important that we find the things that humans are really good at.”

Mr Schmidt’s comments follow warnings from some economists that the spread of information technology is starting to have a deeper impact than previous periods of technological change and may have a permanent impact on employment levels.

Google itself, which has 46,000 employees, has placed big bets on automation over some existing forms of human labour, with a series of acquisitions of robot start-ups late last year. Its high-profile work on driverless cars has also led to a race in the automobile industry to create vehicles that can operate without humans, adding to concerns that some classes of manual labour once thought to be beyond the reach of machines might eventually be automated.

Recent advances in artificial intelligence and mobile communications have also fuelled fears that whole classes of clerical and research jobs may also be replaced by machines. While such upheaval has been made up for in the past by new types of work created by advancing technology, some economists have warned that the current pace of change is too fast for employment levels to adapt. Read the rest of this entry »

What’s the point of all that data, anyway? It’s to make decisions.

23. January 2014

Date: 22-01-2014
Source: Technology Review
Subject: The Power to Decide

WHY IT MATTERS: The ability to automate decision making will determine winners and losers in many industries.

Back in 1956, an engineer and a mathematician, William Fair and Earl Isaac, pooled $800 to start a company. Their idea: a score to handicap whether a borrower would repay a loan.

It was all done with pen and paper. Income, gender, and occupation produced numbers that amounted to a prediction about a person’s behavior. By the 1980s the three-digit scores were calculated on computers and instead took account of a person’s actual credit history. Today, Fair Isaac Corp., or FICO, generates about 10 billion credit scores annually, calculating 50 times a year for many Americans.

This machinery hums in the background of our financial lives, so it’s easy to forget that the choice of whether to lend used to be made by a bank manager who knew a man by his handshake. Fair and Isaac understood that all this could change, and that their company didn’t merely sell numbers. “We sell a radically different way of making decisions that flies in the face of tradition,” Fair once said. Read the rest of this entry »

The Focused Leader

21. January 2014

Daniel Goleman, HBR 12/13

Grouping these modes of attention into three
broad buckets—focusing on yourself, focusing on
others, and focusing on the wider world—sheds
new light on the practice of many essential leadership skills. Focusing inward and focusing constructively on others helps leaders cultivate the primary elements of emotional intelligence. A fuller understanding
of how they focus on the wider world can
improve their ability to devise strategy, innovate,
and manage organizations.
Every leader needs to cultivate this triad of
awareness, in abundance and in the proper balance,
because a failure to focus inward leaves you rudderless,
a failure to focus on others renders you clueless,
and a failure to focus outward may leave you
Focusing on Yourself
Emotional intelligence begins with self-awareness—
getting in touch with your inner voice. Leaders who
heed their inner voices can draw on more resources
To do so, leaders must learn to focus their own attention.
When we speak about being focused, we commonly mean thinking about one thing while filtering out distractions.
But a wealth of recent research in neuroscience shows that we focus in many ways, for different purposes, drawing on different neural pathways—some of which work in concert, while others tend to stand in opposition.

Business education: Build it and they may come

20. January 2014

Date: 20-01-2014
Source: The Economist

Management schools are on a building spree. That is a risk for some

SAIDBUSINESS-SCHOOL students are a pampered bunch. Scholars sipping a glass of red in the posh rooftop bar of Oxford’s Saïd Business School could be forgiven for thinking they had wandered into the nearby Randolph Hotel by mistake. Stanford students can view an impressive modern-art collection housed in its own museum. Harvard Business School MBAs can book a masseuse to relieve the stress of a hard day slaving over case studies.

Life for the next generation of business students is to get even cushier. In the past few years the leading schools have been raising vast amounts to spend on new facilities. On January 9th Yale’s School of Management formally opened its swanky new home, designed by Foster + Partners, Norman Foster’s architecture practice. The Kellogg School of Management in Illinois will soon start work on a new headquarters (see artist’s impression, above) for its MBA programme on the shores of Lake Michigan, at a cost of $200m. Stanford’s business school spent $345m on its new campus, largely thanks to the largesse of Phil Knight, the founder of Nike.

The biggest project, at least in terms of cost, is under way in New York. Columbia Business School is within touching distance of raising the $600m it needs to complete a new campus in West Harlem. From Cambridge, MA, to Cambridge, UK, an arms race is under way to provide MBAs with the plushest place to study. Read the rest of this entry »

The effect of today’s technology on tomorrow’s jobs will be immense—and no country is ready for it

17. January 2014

Date: 16-01-2014
Source: The Economist
Subject: Technology and jobs: Coming to an office near you

The effect of today’s technology on tomorrow’s jobs will be immense—and no country is ready for it

INNOVATION, the elixir of progress, has always cost people their jobs. In the Industrial Revolution artisan weavers were swept aside by the mechanical loom. Over the past 30 years the digital revolution has displaced many of the mid-skill jobs that underpinned 20th-century middle-class life. Typists, ticket agents, bank tellers and many production-line jobs have been dispensed with, just as the weavers were.

For those, including this newspaper, who believe that technological progress has made the world a better place, such churn is a natural part of rising prosperity. Although innovation kills some jobs, it creates new and better ones, as a more productive society becomes richer and its wealthier inhabitants demand more goods and services. A hundred years ago one in three American workers was employed on a farm. Today less than 2% of them produce far more food. The millions freed from the land were not consigned to joblessness, but found better-paid work as the economy grew more sophisticated. Today the pool of secretaries has shrunk, but there are ever more computer programmers and web designers.

Optimism remains the right starting-point, but for workers the dislocating effects of technology may make themselves evident faster than its benefits. Even if new jobs and wonderful products emerge, in the short term income gaps will widen, causing huge social dislocation and perhaps even changing politics. Technology’s impact will feel like a tornado, hitting the rich world first, but eventually sweeping through poorer countries too. No government is prepared for it. Read the rest of this entry »

Die Zukunft der Berater

17. January 2014


Die Zukunft der Berater

Von Clayton M. Christensen, Dina Wang und Derek van Bever, Harvard Business Manager, 15/1

Die Consulting-Branche verdient ihr Geld damit, Unternehmen beim richtigen Umgang mit strategischen Bedrohungen zu unterstützen. Jetzt gerät sie selbst in Gefahr.

Jahrelang hatten sich die Berater von McKinsey & Company mit ihrer Situation auseinandergesetzt. Sie hatten Diskussionen geführt und Analysen erstellt. Im Jahr 2007 schritten sie dann zur Tat. Die globale Beratungsfirma startete eine Reihe von Geschäftsmodellinnovationen, die das Verhältnis zu ihren Kunden grundlegend verändern könnten. Eine der spannendsten ist McKinsey Solutions: software- und technologiebasierte Analysewerkzeuge, die sich in die Systeme von Kunden integrieren lassen. Sie ermöglichen eine Zusammenarbeit auch über die traditionellen Projekte hinaus. Mit McKinsey Solutions entbündelte das Unternehmen zum ersten Mal seine Angebote und machte sein Wissen in Form von Produkten zugänglich.

McKinsey und andere Beratungsfirmen haben sich zwar schon häufiger neu aufgestellt – von universeller zu funktionaler Ausrichtung, von lokalen zu globalen Strukturen und von eng zusammenhängenden Teams zu miteinander vernetzten Experten an unterschiedlichen Orten. Der Start von McKinsey Solutions aber ist etwas gänzlich Neues, denn erstmals geht es nicht mehr darum, Berater zu entsenden.

Doch warum investiert ein Unternehmen, dessen wichtigstes Wertversprechen auf fundierten Urteilen und maßgeschneiderten Diagnosen beruht, in eine solche Neuerung – wo doch sein Kerngeschäft bislang noch floriert? Zum einen verspricht McKinsey Solutions kürzere Projekte mit einem klareren Return on Investment, die helfen, in wirtschaftlichen Schwächephasen Umsätze sowie Marktanteil zu bewahren. Zudem kann die Beratung, wenn sie proprietäre Analyseinstrumente beim Kunden einrichtet, dort auch in der Zeit zwischen zwei Projekten präsent bleiben. Das verbessert die Chancen auf zukünftige Aufträge. Diese geschäftlichen Vorteile dürften für die Entscheidung von McKinsey eine Rolle gespielt haben. Doch letztlich, so glauben wir, ging es um noch viel mehr: McKinsey Solutions ist als Absicherung gegen eine mögliche Disruption der klassischen Beratungsarbeit gedacht. Read the rest of this entry »

Corporate culture: Learning the lingo

17. January 2014

   Date: 16-01-2014
 Source: The Economist

Forget annual reports. Go to the canteen for what makes a company tick

Leverage: The CEO’s Guide to Corporate Culture. By John Childress. Principia Associates; 353 pages; $24.

IN JULY 2012 the treasury committee of Britain’s House of Commons summoned the boss of Barclays, Bob Diamond, to face the music. Barclays had been caught taking part in an industry-wide conspiracy to fix Libor, a benchmark interest rate, and the members of parliament wanted to know what was going on. Why had friendly high-street banks been transformed into financial casinos? And why did scandals keep piling upon scandals despite outrage from the public and promises to mend their ways from banking CEOs? Much of the answer, according to both Mr Diamond and his interrogators, lay in a phrase that was used more than 50 times during the hearing: “corporate culture”.

“Culture” is the mot du jour in the business world. Why do the wolves of Wall Street howl? Because Wall Street has a wolverine culture. Why do mergers fail? Because the cultures of the companies doing the merging often clash. Why do some companies succeed and others fail? Because they have either supportive or toxic cultures. Read the rest of this entry »