7
Feb

NoSQL is, for better or worse, inevitable

 

2-Color-Design-Hi-Res-100px-widthThe following comments are based on a literal definition of the NoSQL acronym, “Not Only SQL”. So readers are advised not to interpret my comments as an endorsement of “NoSQL databases” (MongoDB, DocumentDB, etc).

A lot has been written over the last few months on the promise – or illusion of one – represented by NoSQL databases. This commentary focuses on the experience of enterprise consumers who have failed to obtain the results they expected from their efforts to implement a new approach to addressing data and working with it. The consistent thread running through these presentations is an assessment about the quality of the technology – not ready just yet – for prime time. For readers not familiar with this debate, a recent research report from Forrester claimed 42% of enterprise consumers of off the shelf “NoSQL” databases are challenged by them. Reference is made to the Forrester report in an article titled Database drama: Relational or NoSQL? How to find the best choice for you

Perhaps this assessment is accurate. But what if it really doesn’t matter? What if these consumers have no choice but to use other approaches than simply SQL to get at the results they require? In 2015 for prominent consumer brands, this is the case. Just 20 years ago Procter and Gamble, Clorox, Church & Dwight and their peers all looked to television and radio advertising, and print as their promotional playgrounds. Nielsen, Harris and other polling organizations could service this big business market segment with periodic reports, data visualizations, and even predictions produced by algorithms.

But in 2015 retail customers find their entertainment content online. Over the top video does not look to be leaving the scene anytime soon. Cloud SaaS social media options continue to magnetize their interest and speak to their needs with greater accuracy based on personalization technology already in use almost everywhere.

So how does Procter and Gamble crunch these numbers? Do they collect online chatter into columnar database structures for processing via SQL queries? Not likely. In fact it is highly unlikely the Procter and Gambles of the world are even touching online chatter any more. It makes more sense for them to simply consume the predictive product offered by facebook and/or another social media ISV. Sure they will likely look to Oracle, Microsoft, SAP and IBM to run the operation because they have the on-premises infrastructure and RDBMS repositories big consumer brands still need to put together with the massive volume of unstructured data their promotional efforts are producing in the cloud. But without NoSQL methods of addressing so-called “dark data” it is not likely we would be seeing Twitter, facebook, LinkedIn reporting the kind of increases in revenue, and even profit of the last couple of weeks.

Here is another important point to consider when evaluating whether or not NoSQL data structures make sense as a long-term solution for big business, or not: Twitter, facebook, LinkedIn, Google, Amazon and Microsoft all have developed their own version of big data solutions – clusters of servers in a peer computing architecture. Google claims to have invented NoSQL as a method of addressing lots of data. Microsoft has DocumentDB. They are all using analytics developed for unstructured data along with SQL to product the business intelligence the brands need to survive.

Until another medium emerges to challenge online content publishing over Ethernet networks with variants of hypertext NoSQL is simply inevitable.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2015 All Rights Reserved

 

 

 

10
Nov

Online conversations become even more valuable data as consumers implement new analytics designed to work with big data

On October 29, 2014, IBM and Twitter announced a partnership. Under the terms of this partnership, Twitter will provide IBM with data. In turn, IBM will permit customers to use its IBM Watson Analytics to work with Twitter data.

The Twitter data is often referred to as the “fire hose”. According to Statistic Brain, an average day sees some 58,000,000 Tweets. So it should be fair to say any effort to collect this volume of information, and, then, to analyze it, falls into the big data and analytics category.

So just who would be interested in the Twitter “fire hose”, and why? Reading further in the IBM press release one finds a clue: “The first joint solution will integrate Twitter data with IBM ExperienceOne customer engagement solutions, allowing sales, marketing, and customer service professionals to map sentiment and behavior to better engage and support their customers.” A brief look at IBM’s web site for its ExperienceOne service reveals a data analytics offer targeted to Chief Marketing Officer (CMOs), who usually lead “marketing, merchandising, sales, and customer service” (quoted from the ExperienceOne web site).

For an ISV like IBM to offer data collection, analytics, and even predictive analytics solutions, and the services required to successfully implement them, to a target market of CMOs from Lines of Business (LoBs), represents a major shift in focus from IBM’s familiar market of CIOs and enterprise IT organizations. In turn, the ExperienceOne offer stands as a testimony as to how the path by which technology innovation enters the enterprise has shifted away from the CIO and over to leaders from LoBs. Bottom line, this deal is a further indicator of why CIOs and their enterprise IT organizations are playing much more catch up than used to be the case in the past. It also can be interpreted as an indicator of a bigger enterprise need for Enterprise Device Management (EDM) and Mobile Device Management (MDM) solutions.

In this writer’s opinion the IBM Twitter partnership is a milestone in the evolution of the value of online user data. The daily production of enormous volumes of unstructured data from Tweets becomes a commodity, which Twitter can profit from in an entirely different manner than other social media sites have been able to achieve in the past. One can argue Facebook is doing much the same thing. But there is no IBM in the middle of how Facebook interacts with its customers. The data collection, warehousing, analytics, and, finally, predictive analytics capabilities a player like IBM brings to the process substantially elevates the potential represented by the Twitter fire hose for the CMOs who will ultimately consume it.

There is certainly room for firms competing with IBM to attempt to apply the same structure (with, presumably, Twitter competitors) for consumers with, perhaps, similar objectives in mind. The important point for anyone following the businesses owning the data (meaning Twitter and its competitors) is the likely need to factor in a higher valuation, should this IBM Twitter partnership pay off.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2014 All Rights Reserved

15
Oct

ISVs debut cloud, SaaS solutions to satisfy consumer appetite for Analytics and Data

On Monday, October 13, 2014, Salesforce.com announced the debut of a new cloud, SaaS solution named “Wave”. Back on September 16, 2014, IBM announced “Watson Analytics”, once again, a cloud SaaS, but, this time, a freemium offer. So it’s safe to say Analytics for the masses has become a new competitive ground for big, mature ISVs to contend for more market share.

A couple of points are worth noting about the Salesforce.com press release:

  1. GE Capital is mentioned as already using Wave. Given GE’s own recent PR campaign around its own data and analytics effort, one must wonder why the business finance component of the company opted not to use the home grown solution ostensibly available to it
  2. Informatica is mentioned as an “ecosystem” partner for Wave and released its own press release, titled Informatica Cloud Powers Wave, the Salesforce Analytics Cloud, to Break Down Big Data Challenges and Deliver Insights

The Wave announcement follows, by less than a month, IBM’s announcement of a freemium offer for “Watson Analytics”, and Oracle’s “Analytics Cloud”. Both of these offers are delivered via a cloud, SaaS model. So it’s likely safe to say enterprise technology consumers have demonstrated a significant appetite for analytics. The decision by Salesforce.com, IBM, and Oracle to all deliver their solutions via a cloud, SaaS offer speaks to the new enterprise computing topology (a heterogeneous computing environment) and the need to look to browsers as the ideal thin clients for users to work with their data online.

An ample supply of structured and unstructured data is likely motivating these enterprise tech consumers to look for methods of producing the kind of dashboards and graphs each of these analytics offers is capable of producing. With data collection methods advancing, particularly for big data (unstructured data), this appetite doesn’t look to abate anytime soon.

ISVs with solutions already available, principally Microsoft with its suite of Power tools for Excel (PowerBI, PowerPivot, etc), may also be participating in this “feeding frenzy”. It will be interesting to see how each of the ISVs with offers for this market fare over the next few business quarters.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2014 All Rights Reserved