Category Archives: Analytics

Adobe, Software AG and Wipro show how cloud can manage retail detail

Three major retail technologists have unveiled how the cloud could make retailers more responsive.

German retail technology specialist Software AG has launched a cloud based Smart Store Monitoring systems to give retailers the word from the high street in real time. By interpreting large volumes of data streaming in from sensors, tills and apps in their brick-and-mortar stores, it will help them react quicker to market conditions in the stores and instantly avert problems.

The instant insights could help retailers see how in-store promotions are working and make timely interventions to boost their impact. The intelligence will also help retailers work the Internet of Things (IoT) to maximum effect and move staff to busy areas when needed, according to Oliver Guy, Retail Industry Director at Software AG. The cloud based technology could “persuade marketing managers to fine-tune promotions on the fly and improve their response to different consumers in a particular location,” said Guy.

That calls for more flexible management of the flow of data, which would be enabled by the cloud and the IoT according to Guy. “To benefit from the store’s shifting purpose and growing shopper expectations, retail managers must be able to track, monitor, analyse and optimise all in-store activity in real-time,” said Guy.

Though retailers are optimistic about the value of IoT three common technology barriers were cited in the report: blending a disparity of data sources, choosing the best response to events or expectations and dealing with mass data diversity in real-time.

Software AG claims its Digital Business platform solves these problems by connecting all IoT-enabled data sources, briefing store staff and head-office merchandisers, instantly adjusting

signage and other automated store peripherals and modelling predictions to take pre-emptive action – such as staff or stock replenishment – to nip problems in the bud.

A Wipro study conducted with Planet Retail, which said 82% of retailers it interviewed feel that investments in digital technology and operational improvements would help them target customers as individuals. Those who fail to react to feedback and hyper-personalised offers and promotions will fall behind, it said.

To this end, Adobe has added new services to its Marketing Cloud to help retailers improve the customer experience. The additions include new ‘shoppable media advancements’, advanced push notification and extra Adobe Experience Manager Screen options.

A new emphasis on data-driven remarketing means retailers can connect consumers’ behaviour online with contextual data. Acting on this intelligence they can create user-defined remarketing triggers, such as an email, push notification or SMS, to increase the likelihood of purchase. If a consumer views women’s footwear for several minutes, for example, the retailer can send an email highlighting that product and incentivising the customer with a discount.

Infor invests $25 million in cloud-based retail analyst Predictix

Cloud app provider Infor has invested $25 million in data scientist Predictix with a brief to use its powers of analysis to solve the problems troubling modern retailers.

Infor will become a reseller of Predictix, incorporating its applications in the Infor cloud and its CloudSuite offering aimed at the Retail sector. Atlanta-based Predictix had 40% growth in SaaS subscriptions in 2015, has five of the top 15 global retailers as customers and manages $60bn in weekly forecasts. Its technology platform LogicBlox, which underpins all Predictix applications, has attracted funding from DARPA, the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. The Infor cloud has 40 million users.

The addition of Predictix to CloudSuite Retail brings modules that support demand forecasting, merchandise financial planning, assortment planning, category management, network flow optimization and optimisation of allocations and markdowns.

Cloud based demand forecasting could be 50% more accurate for retailers, claims Predictix, since it is more elastic and can apply self-learning algorithms to unlimited amounts of data. The improvements in forecasts leads to higher sales and greater profitability for retailers, it claims. Merchandise financial planning, meanwhile, increases the retailer’s powers of diversifying and creates more revenue out of existing product lines, according to Predictix. Assortment planning and category management, on the other hand, can create up to $20 million in annual benefit for every one billion dollars in sales.

Network flow optimisation, meanwhile, saves retailers money by modelling their entire supply chain network, analysing the wastages and offering new more efficient alternatives. The allocation and markdown optimisation services promise to give retailers up to 20% greater revenues and profit. Predictix is suitable to all types of global retail including online, brick-and-mortar, social, mobile, fashion, hardlines, mass-merchant and grocery, the vendor says.

IBM to buy The Weather Company and make it elementary to Watson

IBM The Weather Company PhotoIBM has entered an agreement to buy The Weather Company’s B2B, mobile and cloud-based web properties, in a bid to extend its Internet of Things range.

The acquired assets include WSI, weather.com, Weather Underground and The Weather Company brand. The Weather Channel will not be part of the acquisition but it will license weather forecast data and analytics from IBM under a long-term contract.

IBM says the combination of technology and expertise from the two companies will be foundation for the new Watson IoT Unit and Watson IoT Cloud platform as part of its $3 billion investment strategy in this sector.

The Weather Company’s cloud data system runs the fourth most-used mobile app daily in the United States and handles 26 billion inquiries a day.

On closing the deal, IBM will acquire The Weather Company’s product and technology assets that include meteorological data science experts, precision forecasting and a cloud platform that ingests, processes, analyses and distributes petabyte sized data sets instantly. The Weather Company’s models analyse data from three billion weather forecast reference points, more than 40 million smartphones and 50,000 airplane flights per day, allowing it to offer a broad range of data-driven products and services to 5000 clients in the media, aviation, energy, insurance and government industries.

The Weather Company’s mobile and web properties serves 82 million unique monthly visitors. IBM said it plans to develop The Weather Company’s digital advertising platform and skills, commercialising weather information through data-driven advertising with additional ad-sponsored consumer and business solutions.

“The next wave of improved forecasting will come from the intersection of atmospheric science, computer science and analytics,” said Weather Company CEO David Kenny. “Upon closing of this deal, The Weather Company will continue to be able to help improve the precision of weather forecasts and deepen IBM’s Watson IoT capabilities.”

New Teradata apps enable IoT analytics

Internet of things cloudTeradata customers can now listen to the Internet of Things data thanks to two new software innovations designed to create insights into developments.

Teradata’s new Listener and Aster Analytics applications can intelligently listen in real-time and then use analytics to see the distinctive patterns in massive streams of IoT data, it says.

Teradata Listener is an intelligent system that can follow multiple streams of sensor and IoT data wherever it exists globally and feed it to a choice of different analytical systems. Data sent to the Teradata Integrated Big Data Platform 1800 provides access to large volumes of data with its native support of JSON (Java Script Object Notation) data. Alternatively, data fed to a Hadoop based system can be analysed at scale with Teradata Aster Analytics on Hadoop.

Teradata Listener helps data scientists, business analysts and developers to analyse new data streams for faster answers to business questions. Users can analyse data from numerous sources including sensors, telematics, mobile events, click streams, social media feeds and IT server logs, without seeking technical help from the IT department.

Teradata Aster Analytics on Hadoop has 100 pre-configured analytics techniques and seven vertical industry applications to run directly on Hadoop.

In a hospital, data from magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), radiography, and ultrasound imaging equipment might be streamed as text logs. This information describing patient behaviour and sensor data could be streamed into an Hadoop data lake. The new systems allow the users to runs text analytics on the data in order to find out how effectively personnel are working and how efficiently expensive resources, such as MRI scanners, are being used.

“Customers can combine IoT data with business operations and human behavioural data to maximise analytic value,” said Hermann Wimmer, Teradata’s co-president, “Teradata Listener and Aster Analytics on Hadoop are breakthrough IoT technologies that push the analytic edge, making the ‘Analytics of Everything’ possible.”

The collection and analysis of sensor and IOT data has been integral to driving the efficiency of the rail business, according to railways expert Gerhard Kress, director of Analytical Services at Siemens’ Mobility Division.

SAP unveils new powers within Analytics in the Cloud

SAP1SAP has unveiled a new user-friendly analytics service for enterprises which it claims will give better insights by offering an ‘unparalleled user experience’.

The SAP Cloud for Analytics will be delivered through a planned software as a service (SaaS) offering that unifies all SAP’s analytical functions into one convenient dashboard.

Built natively on the SAP HANA Cloud platform, it will be a scalable, multi-tenant environment at a price which SAP says is affordable to companies and individuals. The new offering aims to bring together a variety of existing services including business intelligence, planning, budgeting and predictive capacity.

According to SAP, it has fine tuned workflows so that it’s easier for user to get from insight to action, as one application spirits the uses through this journey more rapidly. It achieves this by giving universal access to all data, digesting it and forwarding the right components to the right organs of the organisation. An intuitive user interface (UI) will help all users, from specialists such as finance professionals to generalists such as line of business analysts, to build connected planning models, analyze data and collaborate. It can extend to unstructured data, helping users to spot market trends within social media and correlate them with company inventories, SAP claims.

It’s all about breaking down the divisions between silos and blending the data to make visualization and forecasting possible, said Steve Lucas, president, Platform Solutions, SAP. “SAP Cloud for Analytics will be a new cloud analytics experience. That to me is more than visualization of data, that’s realization of success,” said Lucas.

SAP said it is also working with partners to provide seamless workflows.

SAP and Google are collaborating to extend the levels of analysis available to customers, according to Prabhakar Raghavan, VP of Engineering at Google Apps. “These innovations are planned to allow Google Apps for Work users to embed, refresh and edit SAP Cloud for Analytics content directly in Google Docs and Google Sheets,” said Raghaven.

Amazon enhances AWS with new analytics tools

AWSOn the eve of its AWS re:Invent 2015 event internet giant Amazon is positioning itself for a run at the business intelligence market.

Already announced is the Amazon Elasticsearch Service, is a managed service designed to make it easier to deploy and operate Elasticsearch in the AWS cloud, on which more later.

In addition the WSJ is reporting the likely launch of a new analytics service, codenamed SpaceNeedle, which is set to augment AWS with business intelligence tools. The reported strategic aim of this new service is to both strengthen Amazon’s relationship with AWS customers and allow it to broaden its total available market.

Back to the Elasticsearch service, BCN spoke to Ian Massingham, UK Technical Evangelist at AWS, to find out what the thinking behind it is. “This service is intended for developers running applications that use Elasticsearch today, or developers that are considering incorporating Elasticsearch into future applications,” he said “Elasticsearch is a popular open-source search and analytics engine for use cases such as log analytics, real-time application monitoring, and click stream analytics.”

Apparently Wikipedia uses Elasticsearch to provide full-text search with highlighted search snippets, as well as search-as-you-type and did-you-mean suggestions, while The Guardian uses Elasticsearch to combine visitor logs with social network data to provide real-time feedback to its editors about the public’s response to new articles.

Expect more AWS news as the re:Invent event gets underway. Already Avere Systems has unveiled Avere CloudFusion, a file storage application for AWS, that aims to provides a cloud file system to leverage Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) and Amazon Elastic Block Store (EBS) with the cost efficiencies of Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3), all with the simplicity of network-attached storage.

Oracle launches Communications Analytics portfolio

OracleEnterprise software giant Oracle has unveiled a new product portfolio called Oracle Communications Analytics, a business intelligence suite aimed at communications providers.

The portfolio is a combination pre-existing products and four new ones: Oracle Communications Customer Experience Analytics, Oracle Communications Network Assurance Analytics, Oracle Communications Analytics Big Data Platform, and Oracle Communications Analytics Diameter Adapter.

The Customer Experience Analytics application is designed to offer customer care people a bunch of useful analytical information in one place. The Network Assurance Analytics app offers insights into Diameter network performance, while the Analytics Big Data Platform pretty much does what it says on the tin and the Big Data Adapters are tools designed to feed in that big data.

“CSPs have an advantage – they have a lot of data about how their network operates and the kinds of experiences that customers are having,” said Doug Suriano, GM of Oracle Communications. “But without the right big data and analytics tools, the data will remain unused and siloed in various systems. Our expanded Oracle Communications Analytics portfolio is designed with this challenge in mind, offering the broader Oracle expertise in big data as well as the industry-specific understanding of the communications market.”

“As the telecommunications industry accelerates its rate of change, it’s critical that CSPs leverage and monetize their network, service, and customer information,” said Clare McCarthy, practice leader, Telecom Operations and IT, Ovum. “To do so, they must first design analytics solutions that address their business problems in real time—and integrate them with existing data warehouse and analytics solutions. The latest releases of Oracle Communications Analytics products respond to this need and can provide value to CSPs looking to advance their big data and analytics efforts.”

Hitachi Data Systems unveils new automated IoT policing system

A new IoT system can predict crime by reading social media and analysing the public’s movements, claims Hitachi data Systems (HDS).

Hybrid cloud systems designed by HDS are to offer new automated policing systems, including predictive crime analytics and video management systems. The new public safety technologies were unveiled yesterday by HDS at the ASIS International Annual Seminar and Exhibits in Anaheim, California.

The new Hitachi Visualization Suite (HVS) (version 4.5) now includes Predictive Crime Analytics (PCA) and version 2.0 of the Video Management Platform (VMP).

The PCA predicts crime by analysing live social media and Internet data feeds to gather intelligent insights which enable the users of the system to make ‘highly accurate crime predictions’, claims HDS. Both social media and video camera data will be analysed for both historical crime and to predict potential incidents.

The HVS is a hybrid cloud-based platform that integrates disparate data and video assets from public safety systems, such as computer-aided emergency services dispatch, number plate readers and gunshot sensors. The real time info is then presented geospatially to monitors at law enforcement agencies in order to improve intelligence, support their investigations and make policing more efficient, says HDS. The geospatial visualizations will also provide better historical crime data, by presenting information on crime in several forms, including heat maps.

Blending real-time event data from public safety systems with historical and contextual crime data allows agencies to conduct more thorough analysis, using spatial and temporal prediction algorithms, that could help solve many hitherto unsolvable crimes. It could also provide underlying risk factors that generate or mitigate crime, says HDS.

The system uses natural language processing for topic intensity modelling using social media networks which, HDS claims, will deliver highly accurate crime predictions.

The systems will ultimately create faster police response times when situations develop, according to Mark Jules, HDS’s VP of Public Safety and Data Visualization. “Today, we are empowering them with the ability to take a proactive approach to crime and terrorism,” said Jules, “Public safety is a fundamental pillar of our vision for smart cities and societies.”

IBM launches Cloud Security Enforcer to counter employee data leakage failures

Security concept with padlock icon on digital screenIBM has created a Cloud Security Enforcer service to give companies a more commanding view of all third-party cloud apps used by their employees and new powers to secure them. The Enforcer aims to give companies more control over granting access to corporate data and applications.

Most companies can only see a fraction of the cloud applications used by their workforce, according to IBM’s research. An Ipsos poll, conducted on behalf of IBM in July, found that one-third of employees at Fortune 1000 companies are sharing and uploading corporate data on third-party cloud apps. These employees increasingly engage in risky practices on these tools, such as signing in with their personal email addresses, using weak passwords or re-using corporate log-in credentials, says IBM.

The cloud’s productivity dividend for companies is being undermined by the loss of control of corporate data and the lack of employee protection, it says. The Millennial generation (those born between 1982 and 2002) are the worst offenders and the biggest users of cloud apps, according to IBM’s study. By 2020 half the employees at Fortune 1000 companies will be millennials and of these 51 per cent use cloud services at work. One in four employees links these apps to his or her corporate log-in and password, leaving loopholes through which hackers can gain access to company networks.

Rogue activities on unsanctioned apps, known as ‘Shadow IT’, lead to a loss of control that IBM’s new cloud-based tool combats by scanning corporate networks, finding the apps that employees are using and providing a more secure way to access them. The system was built in partnership with file sharing app maker Box, which aims to strengthen the security of files shared over mobile devices and the web. IBM has also built secure connectors into Box’s file-sharing cloud app for Cloud Security Enforcer, as well as Microsoft Office 365, Google Apps and Salesforce with more apps connectors to be added to its catalogue.

The Cloud Enforcer users deep threat analytics from IBM X-Force Exchange, IBM’s global threat intelligence network, which is manned by a global network of security analysts which monitors the internet for malicious activity and analyses 20 billion global security events daily.

SAP announces improvements to cloud platform and Vora analytics software

SAP HANA VoraSAP has released new software that it claims will make analytics easier for users of open source Hadoop software.

The SAP HANA Vora is a new in-memory query engine that improves the performance of the Apache Spark execution framework. As a result, anyone running data analysis should be able to get better interactions with their data if it’s held on Hadoop and companies will benefit from more useful intelligence.

SAP claims this new software will overcome the general ‘lack of business process awareness’ that exists in companies across enterprise apps, analytics, big data and Internet of Things (IoT) sources. The software will make it easier for data scientists and developers to get access to the right information by simplifying the access to corporate and Hadoop data.

SAP HANA Vora will bring most benefit in industries where Big Data analytics in business process context is paramount. SAP identified financial services, telecommunications, healthcare and manufacturing as target markets. The savings created by the new software will come from a number of areas, it said. In the financial sector, the return on investment in the systems will come from mitigating risk and fraud by detecting new anomalies in financial transactions and customer history data.

Telecoms companies will benefit from optimising their bandwidth, SAP claims, as telcos use the software to analyse traffic patterns to avoid network bottlenecks and improve the quality of service. Manufacturers will benefit from preventive maintenance and improved product re-call processes as a result of SAL HANA Vora’s newly delivered powers of analysis of bills-of-material, services records and sensor data.

The use of Hadoop and SAP HANA to manage large unstructured data sets left room for improvement, according to user Aziz Safa, Intel IT Enterprise Applications and Application Strategy VP. “One of the key requirements is better analyses of big data,” said Safa, “but mining these large data sets for contextual information in Hadoop is a challenge.”

SAP HANA Vora will be released by the end of September, when a cloud-based developer edition will also be available. Here’s a SAP vid on the matter.