Turbo Todd

Ruminations on IT, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Super Bowl 50: The Return Of The Avocados

without comments

So what are the odds on this weekend’s Super Bowl 50?

I’m talking about the actual football game. We’ll get to the ads in a moment.

Nate Silver and his FiveThirtyEight crew at ESPN have the Carolina Panthers 59% to 41% over the Denver Broncos to win the Super Bowl.

You can learn more about how they get to this math with their ELO ratings, something I wonder if that crazy fast defensive secondary for the Denver Broncos has ever heard of…or perhaps just ignores.

As for who I’m rooting for, I have too many friends and colleagues who live and work in North Carolina to just come out and say I’m in the Denver camp.

So consider me Switzerland when it comes to the actual game.

I’m just there for Coldplay, Lady Gaga…and the advertising.

I’ve been doing some early scouting of ads that have been sneak previewing online, and from my accounting so far, the Super Bowl’s creative drought will likely continue (but to be fair, I’ve only been able to see a handful of ads thus far).

Thus far, my favorite is a returning winner from last year, the Avocados from Mexico.

I don’t want to spoil the surprise, or your guacamole, but the creative concept looks to have a Moses-like figure holding the “First Ever Draft” (as in football draft). There’s lots of cute animated animals and excited avocados, and it’s actually pretty funny. Funny is good for Super Bowl ads. I’m going to go out and buy a bag of avocados right now just to show my support for the Mexican avocado industry.

As for what advertisers are will to pay to appear in the big game, the price is definitely right, at least for CBS.

30-second spots were reported as far back as last August to have been going for a $4.5 million — that was the base price. But let’s not forget that 114.4 million people tuned into last year’s game, making it the most-watched broadcast in U.S. history.

Yes, that even includes the last episodes of “Friends,” “Seinfeld,” and “M*A*S*H.”

I hope the advertisers get their money’s worth, but judging from the ads previewed online thus far…well, let’s just say I can’t wait for halftime and the game is still a full two days away.

Written by TurboTodd

February 5th, 2016 at 6:33 pm

IBM Launches Cloud Data And Analytics Marketplace For Developers

without comments

IBM today announced a broad expansion of its Cloud Data Services portfolio with more than 25 services now available on the IBM Cloud.

They are designed to help developers build, deploy and manage web and mobile applications and enable data scientists to discover hidden trends using data and analytics in the cloud.

The hybrid cloud services can be deployed across multiple cloud providers and are based on open source technologies, open ecosystems that include company and third-party data, and open architectures that allows data to easily flow amongst the different services.

In addition to self-service capabilities for everything from data preparation, migration, and integration, to tools for advanced data exploration and modeling, IBM introduced the following new cloud data services today:

  • IBM Compose Enterprise: A managed platform designed to help development teams build modern web-scale apps faster by enabling them to deploy business-ready open source databases in minutes on their own dedicated cloud servers.
  • IBM Graph: The first fully managed graph database service built on Apache ® TinkerPop that provides developers a complete stack to extend business-ready apps with real-time recommendations, fraud detection, IoT and network analysis uses.
  • IBM Predictive Analytics: A service that allows developers to easily self-build machine learning models from a broad library into applications to help deliver predictions for specific product use cases, without the help of a data scientist.
  • IBM Analytics Exchange: An open data exchange that includes a catalog of more than 150 publicly available datasets that can be used for analysis or integrated into applications.

“Data is the common thread within the enterprise, regardless of where its source might be. In the past, data handlers have relied on disparate systems for data needs, but our goal is to move data into the future by providing a one-stop shop to access, build, develop and explore data,” said Derek Schoettle, General Manager, Analytics Platform and Cloud Data Services. “IBM’s integrated Cloud Data Services give developers greater scalability and flexibility to build, deploy and manage web and mobile cloud applications, and enable data scientists to apply information across businesses efficiently.”

IBM Graph delivers the only enterprise-grade graph database as a service, built on Apache TinkerPop, the leading open source graph technology stack. Provided as a service, IBM Graph helps remove the complexities traditionally associated with moving data from existing databases to graph architectures.

“It is good to see Apache TinkerPop and the Gremlin graph traversal language being adopted as the primary interface to IBM’s Graph service,” said Marko A. Rodriguez, Apache TinkerPop Project Management Committee member. “IBM was instrumental in pushing TinkerPop to join the Apache Software Foundation which is important because Apache provides a commercial-friendly license and a tried-and-true open source development model that has done wonders for TinkerPop’s software and community. I hope other large enterprises follow IBM’s decision to leverage Apache TinkerPop in their respective graph products and services.”

The new offerings build on IBM’s significant investment in Apache Spark and further complement its mission to provide enterprise class support for open source developers and data handlers of any level. IBM has redesigned more than 25 of the company’s core analytics and commerce solutions with Apache Spark, helping to dramatically accelerate their real-time processing capabilities.

For more information on IBM’s Cloud Data Services portfolio, please visit: www.ibm.biz/open-for-data.

Written by TurboTodd

February 4th, 2016 at 3:33 pm

Let The iPhone 7 Rumor Mongering Begin!

without comments

The iPhone 7 isn’t slated to be launched until September of this year, but that’s not stopping anyone from starting to talk about everything from the supply chain to the device’s speeds and feeds.

I’m up for renewal on my 5s in June, which will have lasted me a good two years, so I’m especially interested to see what the buzz is around the 7.

MacRumors writes that the iPhone 7’s body will be similar to the design used on the 6 and 6s, with a couple of exceptions:

The first involves the rear camera, which protrudes slightly on the iPhone 6 and 6s. On the iPhone 7, the camera is said to sit flush with the rear casing, enabled by a thinner camera module. Recent rumors have indicated Apple is considering equipping the iPhone 7 Plus with a dual-lens rear camera, but the smaller iPhone 7 is expected to include a more traditional camera.
– via www.macrumors.com

The other significant change with the body of the iPhone 7 is the removal of antenna bands across the rear, allowing for a cleaner all-metal look on the back. Antenna bands at the sides and around the top and bottom edges are said to remain, however.
– via www.macrumors.com

You can also read Forbes soothsaying coverage of the iPhone 7 here.

Written by TurboTodd

February 3rd, 2016 at 9:52 pm

Posted in apple,features,iOS,iPhone

IBM To Acquire Digital Agency ecx.io, Expand Design Studios To Prague, Warsaw, Dubai

without comments

IBM today announced it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire ecx.io — a full-service digital agency headquartered in Dusseldorf, Germany. The proposed acquisition of ecx.io extends the strategy and design expertise of IBM Interactive Experience (IBM iX) with new digital marketing, commerce and platform skills to accelerate clients’ digital transformations.

ecx.io is a leading digital agency in Europe and one of the few specialized in implementation services across three of the leading commerce and customer platform software providers: Adobe, Sitecore, and SAP hybris. The hybris capability deepens IBM’s longstanding relationship with SAP, and brings the value of design thinking to the companies’ expansion in e-commerce.

Upon close of this transaction, ecx.io will bring 200 employees specialized in designing and implementing commerce and digital marketing services and platforms to IBM iX. Clients will benefit from this range of capabilities, combined with the strategy, analytics, cloud and cognitive depth of IBM.

“The customer experience has become a new priority in modern business strategy,” said Paul Papas, Global Leader, IBM Interactive Experience. “Together with ecx.io’s distinct expertise, we’re raising the bar for experience-led, digital marketing and commerce.”

ecx.io will continue to serve its roster of clients, including Axalta, SPAR, Hammer and JAB Anstoetz, from existing locations in Dusseldorf, Bracknell/London, Munich, Wels, Varaždin, Vienna and Zurich.

“For the last 20 years, we’ve fostered an open, agile and collaborative culture with a dedication to quality and innovation,” said Christoph Mause, CCO and co-founder, ecx.io. “Joining forces with IBM iX will provide us with a global network of talent with expertise in strategy, analytics, cognitive computing and innovation that will not only compliment our services offerings, but allow them to become more personalized. Together with iX, we will continue to provide clients with superior services and platforms for exceptional customer engagement and experiences.”

The acquisition of ecx.io is the latest strategic move in a rapid-fire series of investments in the design and experience prowess of IBM iX. In the last week, iX announced its intent to acquire Resource/Ammirati, a US-based digital marketing and creative agency, and Aperto, a digital agency with headquarters in Berlin.

Today’s transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of 2016 and is subject to applicable regulatory review and customary closing conditions. Financial details were not disclosed.

IBM iX is a next-generation services organization dedicated to creating personalized experiences. Services span industry strategy, creative and design, to scalable digital, commerce, mobile and wearable platforms. iX specialists work side-by-side with clients including Citi, Nationwide and Wimbledon to co-create experiences that drive business results.

With the opening of new studios in Prague, Warsaw and Dubai, IBM will have the geographic reach of more than 25 studios.  For the second consecutive year, Advertising Age named IBM iX the largest global digital agency in its Agency Report for 2015.

Written by TurboTodd

February 3rd, 2016 at 5:29 pm

What’s Past Political Prediction Is Prologue?

without comments


I’m glad that’s over.

No matter your political persuasion, there’s but no question that this presidential campaign season to date has been one for the record books, where all the rules changed, where up was down, and down was up…and finally, finally, last night we got to some real, actual voting by the good people of Iowa.

In the last Des Moines Register poll taken prior to the Iowa Caucuses, Donald Trump came in as first choice for president by Republicans, at 28 percent, with Ted Cruz at 23 percent.

And what did the actuals look like? Ted Cruz garnered 27.7 percent, and Donald Trump 24.3 percent (with Marco Rubio a close third at 23.1 percent).

So about a four percentage point delta from the polls to the caucuses.

On the Democratic side, the last Register poll had Hillary Clinton at 45 percent for first choice for the Democratic nomination for president, and Bernie Sanders at 42 percent.

With 100 percent precincts now reporting, the vote was much closer than the polling showed, with Clinton and Sanders in virtually a dead heat. Clinton, 49.9 percent, Sanders, 49.6 percent.

And now it’s on to the great granite state of New Hampshire for the primaries to be held a week from today, February 9th.

If you’re looking for a fun way (beyond the standard polls) to follow the 2016 race, check out Betfair’s presidential nominee betting market for the Republican and Democratic candidates.

Written by TurboTodd

February 2nd, 2016 at 3:56 pm

IBM Watson Ecosystem Opens for Business in India

without comments

IBM today announced InspireOne Technologies and TEXTIENT as the first two India-based partners to join the IBM Watson Ecosystem. The companies will begin developing cognitive computing solutions in the region.

InspireOne Technologies is using IBM Watson cognitive APIs in its professional development app to empower employees to develop their leadership skills, and TEXTIENT is a marketing insights platform tapping Watson to develop real-time brand perception reports.

The announcement was made as part of the IBM Watson India Summit in Bangalore focused on how cognitive systems are transforming businesses and customer outcomes, and ways in which India is well poised to usher in this next wave of technology innovation. According to a Gartner announcement from November, India has the fastest growing IT market in the world — IT spending in India is forecast to reach $71 billion in 2016, and grow to $85.28 billion by the end of 2019.

“The creativity and passion of Indian businesses to introduce cognitive-infused apps to the market is overwhelming, and the region is poised for incredible growth,” said Stephen Gold, vice president for IBM Watson. “As the first Indian partners to join the Watson Ecosystem, InspireOne Technologies and TEXTIENT are excellent examples of how cognitive technology will help transform the region and the world.”

InspireOne Technologies and TEXTIENT are already making strides in bringing their powered by Watson solutions to market in India.

  • InspireOne Technologies (Haryana, India): InspireOne Technologies is a professional development organization that is embedding Watson in its Supernova application to empower employees to develop their leadership capabilities. Supernova uses Watson’s Sentiment Analysis and Natural Language Classifier APIs to analyze corporate emails, enabling Supernova to deliver evidence-based insights so managers can refine their own leadership capabilities and areas for development. Supernova can capture and quantify to what extent an employee applies leadership competencies such as collaboration or strategic thinking and also explain how to further develop such skills. For example, an employee who does not demonstrate collaboration frequently might get specific pointers, such as asking more questions from team members during interactions. HDFC Life, a large insurance company in India, has been using InspireOne’s Supernova solution powered by Watson.

According to Rajendra Ghag, senior executive vice president and chief human resource officer at HDFC Life, “We used InspireOne’s Supernova solution as a post program follow up and online coaching application across our executive talent pool.

The new development in Supernova, powered by IBM Watson, will generate enormous value for organizations looking to sustain their growth and invest in developing leaders. Not only do leaders get insights on how they applied behaviors that are essential for high performance, but they also get insights on their sentiments expressed, which is a huge plus point for any leader to fully assess the impact he or she can make in the workplace.”

  • TEXTIENT (Tiruvanmiyur, Chennai, India): TEXTIENT is a Software as a Service (SaaS) platform for brand, marketing and customer insights. It allows marketers to quickly gain strategic and actionable insights from social media posts about the impact of a marketing action or the competitive differentiation of their brand. TEXTIENT uses Watson’s Personality Insights API along with sentiment analysis, entity extraction, and concept extraction to automatically generate a comprehensive Brand-Essence Report in a matter of minutes. The report reflects dimensions influencing a brand’s strength and equity such as dominant brand personalities, emotional and sensory brand experiences, customer engagement and brand credibility. The intent is to supplement traditional market research, such as focus groups or surveys, with a cognitive solution that allows marketers to gain strategic and actionable insights in real-time that can help them act faster and maintain a competitive edge.

IBM Watson Accelerates Global Expansion

To continue the momentum sparked by InspireOne Technologies and TEXTIENT, IBM is working with dozens of startups and businesses across India to begin embedding Watson in their businesses across many industries.

IBM also expanded within the Indian health sector late last year by announcing Manipal Hospital in Bangalore as the first client in India to deploy Watson.

Furthering IBM’s strategy to accelerate the global growth of cognitive computing, in late 2015 Watson launched an Internet of Things Global Headquarters in Germany and also announced ecosystem partner programs in Japan, London, the Middle East and North Africa, and The Netherlands.

Watson is open to the world, allowing a growing ecosystem of developers, students, entrepreneurs and tech enthusiasts to easily tap into the most advanced and diverse cognitive computing platform available today. The Watson ecosystem now represents more than 500 ecosystem partners across 17 industries and disciplines, more than 100 of which have already introduced commercial cognitive enabled apps, products and services to the market. These partners join the more than 80,000 developers globally who are tapping into APIs via the IBM Watson Developer Cloud on Bluemix to pilot, test and deploy new business ideas.

Written by TurboTodd

February 2nd, 2016 at 2:44 pm

IBM To Acquire Aperto to Meet Growing Client Need for Digital Transformation

without comments

IBM today announced it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Aperto – a digital agency with headquarters in Berlin. Upon completion of this transaction, Aperto will join the IBM Interactive Experience (IBM iX) team, supporting IBM’s growth in the largest economy in Europe.

Aperto’s 300-plus employees will continue to serve its roster of clients, which currently includes companies such as Airbus Group, Volkswagen and Siemens.

IBM iX is the largest global digital agency Ad Age Agency Report — 2014 & 2015, providing clients a unique fusion of services spanning strategy, analytics and systems integration for scalable digital, commerce, mobile and wearable platforms — including consumer apps for the Apple Watch. Its consultants co-create solutions for clients, including Nationwide, Jaguar’s Landrover, Citi and Wimbledon, in its 25 global IBM Studios.

“IBM iX is a global market leader in experience design, which is emerging as an essential element in all business strategy,” said Paul Papas, Global Leader, IBM Interactive Experience. “We’re honored to be joining forces with Aperto and look forward to reshaping the future of business and digital innovation with our clients in Germany and beyond.”

“We pride ourselves on remaining at the forefront of the digital revolution. After 20 years in the industry, we’re proud to join forces with IBM iX, the largest global digital agency, to continue doing just that,” said Dirk Buddensiek, CEO, Aperto. “Between the talent sitting within the iX team, and IBM’s transformative work in the cognitive space, as well as leadership in cloud, mobile and analytics, this opportunity will open many doors for both our team and clients.”

IBM has identified a critical and growing need for digital, strategy and design skills at the leading edge of business strategy. Demand for experience design is expected to accelerate as clients in all industries seek to deliver more consumer-like experiences to their customers and employees, and integrate the power of cognitive computing and analytics platforms.

This is IBM’s second creative and digital agency acquisition in a matter of days. It follows Thursday’s announcement of IBM’s intent to acquire US-based agency Resource/Ammirati, and demonstrates continued investment in Germany. In December 2015 IBM launched its global headquarters for the Watson Internet of Things (IoT) unit in Munich .

The transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of 2016 and is subject to applicable regulatory review and customary closing conditions.

Financial details were not disclosed.

Written by TurboTodd

February 2nd, 2016 at 2:21 pm

American Heart Association, IBM Watson Health and Welltok Partner To Infuse Cognitive Computing Into Heart Health

without comments

Today, the first day of American Heart Month, the American Heart Association (AHA) announced plans to develop a first of its kind workplace health solution that leverages the cognitive computing power of IBM Watson.

In the first application of Watson to cardiovascular disease, AHA, IBM, and Welltok will create a new offering that combines AHA’s science-based metrics and health assessments with cognitive analytics, delivered on Welltok’s health optimization platform. The effort is intended to help alleviate the burden of cardiovascular diseases, which affect more than 85 million Americans today.

The program will help assess both the employer’s workplace health environment, as well as employee health based on AHA metrics. Core to the offering is a new Workplace Health Achievement Index, which AHA also launched today.

The Index uses best practices to measure and rank corporate health initiatives, assessing companies on their workplace health culture. The Index is a result of efforts by the AHA’s CEO Roundtable, an organization of some of America’s largest employers dedicated to workplace health. They have served as a learning laboratory to develop, test and refine the Index.

In the new offering being developed, Watson will uncover cognitive insights by analyzing data from the Index to provide guidance on how an employer can support employee health, such as informing how corporations design, tailor and deliver health benefits and health promotion programs that maximize the health of the workforce.

Using Welltok’s platform online or via mobile, an individual employee could opt to complete AHA’s My Life Check questionnaire, which measures Life’s Simple 7, the key cardiovascular health indicators — not smoking, eating healthy, being physically active, achieving and maintaining a healthy weight, managing blood pressure, controlling cholesterol, and reducing blood sugar.

Welltok leverages consumer insights gained from the questionnaire and data collected via wearable fitness trackers, wireless-enabled scales and blood pressure cuffs to provide personalized recommendations to help the individual make healthy choices that could reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease.

“With Life’s Simple 7 and the Workplace Health Achievement Index, we’ve presented a science-based blueprint for healthy living and corporate well-being,” said Eduardo Sanchez, MD, MPH, Chief Medical Officer for Prevention, American Heart Association. “With this program, individuals and their employers will be able to benefit from a personalized, cognitive solution designed to help improve heart health and reduce healthcare costs. Our hope is that we can set a new standard for continuous quality improvement in workplace health.”

IBM CEO Ginni Rometty is a member of the AHA CEO Roundtable and IBM will integrate the offering into the company’s employee wellness strategy. The offering will tap Watson’s natural language processing, deep question and answer capability and similarity analytics, and Watson will be trained on evidence-based heart health goals and measures in order to recommend specific ways employers can create heart healthy environments and engage with their employees.

The global burden of heart disease threatens a multinational workforce, accounting for 1 in 3 deaths and more than $312.6 billion in annual health spending and lost productivity. Poor diet, lack of regular physical activity and other major risk factors for heart disease and stroke are responsible for at least 25 percent of employers’ healthcare costs.

A new study by AHA and Nielsen found that employees who feel encouraged by senior leadership to participate in workplace health programs are approximately twice as likely to eat healthy, and 69 percent report that workplace health initiatives have a strong impact on job satisfaction.

AHA research has shown that attaining a high Life’s Simple 7 score can help reduce risk for heart disease, stroke, cancer and many other health problems. People who reach ideal health for all seven metrics (“ideal cardiovascular health”) by age 50 may have significantly lower lifetime risk of heart disease and stroke.

Written by TurboTodd

February 1st, 2016 at 4:21 pm

IBM Closes Deal to Acquire The Weather Company’s Product and Technology Businesses

without comments

IBM today announced that it has closed the acquisition of The Weather Company’s B2B, mobile and cloud-based web-properties, weather.com, Weather Underground, The Weather Company brand and WSI, its global business-to-business brand.

The cable TV segment was not acquired by IBM, but will license weather forecast data and analytics from IBM under a long-term contract.

The combination of technology and expertise from the two companies will serve as the foundation for the Watson IoT cloud platform, building on a $3B commitment IBM made in March 2015 to invest in the Internet of Things.

The deal broadly extends the scale and capability of IBM’s cloud data services platform and expands The Weather Company’s enterprise services capabilities and consumer reach to a global scale, including plans to bring weather.com to new major markets such as China and India.

At the close of the acquisition, IBM announced a number of related initiatives:

Beyond Weather: The Weather Company Cloud Data Platform to Serve as Backbone for Watson IoT

The Weather Company’s dynamic cloud data platform, which powers the fourth most-used mobile app daily in the United States and handles up to 26 billion inquiries to its cloud-based services each day, will run across IBM Cloud data centers globally and serve as the technology backbone of IBM’s data services and Watson IoT businesses.

Leveraging one of the world’s most scalable, high performance and flexible data platforms, IBM can now collect an even larger variety and higher velocity of data sets from billions of IoT sensors around the world while also serving out real-time information and insights to tens of millions of users worldwide. The new platform offers developers greater flexibility to access, store and analyze IoT sensor data and to create new apps with richer and deeper insights powered by IBM Watson.

IBM is dedicating more than 2500 developers worldwide to help its clients and partners collect, analyze and act upon entirely new forms of IoT data resulting from the proliferation of automobile and airplane telematics, building and environmental sensors, wearable devices, medical implants, weather stations, smartphones, social media, manufacturing lines and supply chains, among others.

weather.com to Expand Globally

IBM announced plans to expand weather.com into five new major markets, including China, India, Brazil, Mexico and Japan, with the goal of increasing its global user base by hundreds of millions over the next three years. The company plans to leverage local media partnerships and the IBM Cloud network of over 45 data centers to drive much more local and personalized content to each region.

CEO David Kenny to Lead IBM Watson Unit

David Kenny, who was chairman and CEO of The Weather Company, and previously president of Akamai Technologies, assumes leadership of the IBM Watson platform business. He brings deep expertise in building platforms used by tens of millions of people daily as IBM continues to scale the Watson technology platform.

He will oversee the build out of the Watson partner and developer ecosystem, key APIs and emerging solutions powered by Watson. He joins Harriet Green, formerly CEO of Thomas Cook, who leads Watson IoT, Education and Commerce, and Deborah DiSanzo, formerly CEO of Philips Healthcare, who leads Watson Health.

Michael Rhodin, who launched the Watson business and drove the formation of Watson Health and Watson IoT, will now lead Watson Business Development. He will identify and incubate the next major industries and domains for Watson and will oversee related acquisition strategy.

The Weather Company will be led by Cameron Clayton, who was most recently its president, product and technology, and becomes part of IBM’s Data and Analytics Platform business unit.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

WSI, The Weather Company’s business-to-business brand, will now be known as The Weather Company, an IBM Business.

Written by TurboTodd

January 29th, 2016 at 10:09 pm

Austin-Based Artificial Intelligence Firm Ojo Labs Raises $5.8M Round

without comments

Austin’s emergent artificial intelligence scene may just have gotten that much smarter.

Ojo Labs, an Austin-based AI startup, has raised $5.8 million round to develop and launch its first product, according to the Austin-American Statesman.

The funding round came from Austin-based LiveOak Venture Partners and Silverton Partners.

The company was founded by Yodle co-founder John Berkowitz and former ProfitFuel CEO David Rubin.

According to the Statesman article, the newco is said to be working on using machine learning and neural networks to engage consumers in personalized, automated conversations.

I have those kinds of conversations with myself every day, so this could be a huge assist!

Ojo Labs joins the ranks of other Austin-based cognitive computing firms, including Cognitive Scale, a cognitive cloud company founded by former IBM Watson general manager (and auto-racing enthusiast) Manoj Saxena.

Written by TurboTodd

January 29th, 2016 at 5:34 pm

%d bloggers like this: