Turbo Todd

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

Health Benefits Provider Anthem, IBM Partner To Strengthen IT Operational Performance

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IBM has announced a new strategic technology services agreement with Anthem, Inc., one of the leading health benefits companies in the U.S.

IBM was selected to provide operational services for Anthem’s mainframe and data center server and storage infrastructure for the next five years.

Among the benefits of the relationship, Anthem has the ability to leverage IBM Cloud solutions that will help increase the ease, availability and speed of adding infrastructure to support new business requirements.

This services agreement, valued at nearly $500 million, is a key part of Anthem’s strategy to strengthen the operational performance of its enterprise technology infrastructure and business solutions, and improve the member experience and the value delivered to members in its affiliated health plans.

Anthem, Inc. serves nearly 69 million people through its affiliated companies, including more than 37 million enrolled in its family of health plans.

The company has been at the forefront of using technology to provide new and better solutions that simplify health care processes and improve health care quality. As the company continues to grow, Anthem wants to improve the value of its business systems by enabling greater performance and reliability of its technology infrastructure.

As part of the agreement, IBM will offer new cloud orchestration capabilities that provide the foundation for Anthem to seamlessly integrate cloud infrastructure, off-premise or on-premise, into its existing data center environment.

This will also enable Anthem to further consolidate infrastructure onto a consistent, flexible platform that can rapidly scale to meet business needs across the enterprise.

You can go here for more information about cloud offerings from IBM, or follow on Twitter at @IBMcloud.

Written by TurboTodd

January 22nd, 2015 at 6:26 pm

IBM Awards UT Austin Top Spot In Watson Competition

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IBM today announced the first winner of its Watson University Competition, part of the company’s partnership with top universities through its cognitive computing academic initiative.

The winning team of student entrepreneurs from the University of Texas at Austin will receive $100,000 in total in seed funding to help launch a business based on their Watson app, which offers the promise of improved citizen services.

Hook ‘em, Horns!

Student teams were given direct access to Watson in the classroom via course curricula and the Watson Developer Cloud. They were asked to identify an industry-specific challenge to solve, and then work as a team to identify and ingest relevant data into Watson to train it to answer related queries. In addition, the teams were asked to develop a prototype app and supporting business plan based on their industry of choice. 

The University of Texas at Austin took home top honors with a new app called CallScout, designed to give Texas residents fast and easy access to information about social services in their area. Many of Texas’ 27 million residents rely on the state’s social services – such as transportation, healthcare, nutrition programs and housing assistance – though they can have difficulty finding the right information.

The CallScout app, which the State of Texas has approved for pilot, was designed to help streamline the delivery of social services information across mobile devices, ensuring crucial information is available when and where it is needed, especially for citizens without home internet service.  The app will integrate local hours of service, route and map information and other relevant data, while automatically delivering push notifications when important details change.

“This is more than a school project for us – it’s about creating a sustainable business that addresses one of the key challenges we all face as Texas residents,” said Bri Connelly, team leader and undergraduate Computer Science student at the University of Texas at Austin. “The opportunity to directly impact citizens of our home state was a huge driving force in our work.”

In addition to the University of Texas at Austin, student teams from Carnegie Mellon University; Ohio State University; Northwestern University; Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI); University of California, Berkeley; University of Michigan; and the University of Toronto competed at the Watson headquarters in New York City to pitch their business ideas to judges from IBM and venture firm The Entrepreneurs’ Fund, an early-stage venture fund focused on cognitive computing and cloud-based B2B software. 

IBM’s Watson is a cognitive computing system that can analyze volumes of data, understand complex questions posed in natural language, and propose evidenced-based answers that help improve decision making.

As the pace of innovation and new investments in cognitive computing accelerates, IBM continues to expand its Watson ecosystem of clients, partners, developers, venture capitalists, universities and students by working with the academic and venture communities to give students access to hands-on training, the latest cognitive technologies, industry experts, and now the funding required to bring their ideas to life.

The Watson Ecosystem of partners continues to expand with over 4,000 businesses and entrepreneurs seeking to innovate and revolutionize business with cognitive based apps. Through partnerships with top educational institutions across the country, the Watson Group is now empowering students from a range of disciplines for careers to move the cognitive era forward.

This includes the IT developers who create cognitive apps, the entrepreneurs who commercialize the apps, and business professionals who use them every day. 

Software developers can check out IBM’s Watson Developer Community here.

Written by TurboTodd

January 15th, 2015 at 9:45 pm

SnapChat: Commanding A Premium For The Teenage Ad Demographic Unicorn

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Holy SnapChat advertising, maloly!

AdWeek’s reporting that SnapChat, the darling photo and video messaging app valued between U.S. $10B and $20B, is asking brands some $750,000 a day for its new ads.  

According to the article, McDonald’s, Samsung, Macy’s and Electronic Arts have been early sponsors of the so-called “Snaps” — quick videos and photos — that show up in users’ Recent Updates feed.

If that sounds SuperBowl-ish in terms of pricing, that’s because it is.

Then again, Snapchat reaches those coveted and ever-elusive teenage unicorsn, who apparently look at a television as though it’s a relic of the 1990s.

“Friends,” anyone?

As a point of comparison, AdWeek notes that a full day on the masthead of YouTube is a paltry $500K.


Written by TurboTodd

January 15th, 2015 at 9:13 pm

New IBM Study Details the Future of the Automotive Industry, Highlights “Cognitive” Vehicles

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IBM revealed results of its new Automotive 2025 Global Study during the Automotive News World Congress this week, outlining an industry ripe for disruptive changes that are breaking down borders of the automotive ecosystem.

The study forecasts that while the automotive industry will offer a greater personalized driving experience by 2025, fully autonomous vehicles or fully automated driving will not be as commonplace as some think.

The IBM Automotive 2025 Global Study is based on interviews with 175 executives from automotive OEMs, suppliers, and other thought leaders in 21 countries, detailing customer expectations, growth strategies, mobility requirements, ecosystem disruption and other topics shaping the direction of the industry.

Entitled “Automotive 2025: Industry without borders,” the study was developed by the IBM Institute for Business Value (IBV) as a follow up to “Automotive 2020: Clarity beyond the chaos.”

Expectations for crowdsourcing and co-creation with consumers

Today’s consumers are more engaged than ever. They desire both digital engagement and an improved driving experience combined. The report indicates that consumers not only want to drive cars; they want the opportunity to innovate and co-create them along with related services, such as infotainment.

IBM identified nine external influencers, such as economies/markets, government regulations and sustainability which affect other industries. According to the study, changes in consumer expectations were the most dramatic shift between the Auto 2020 and Auto 2025 studies. Addressing consumer expectations now ranks behind only technology in order of importance to the automotive industry.

The report also indicates that nearly two out of every three (63%) executives surveyed saw mobility services or car/ride sharing as an area for greater collaboration with consumers. In addition, more than half (59%) felt product design, marketing campaigns (54%) and service/after-sales (52%) were all areas in which the industry would benefit from working directly with consumers.

Cognitive vehicles and a greater personalized driving experience

By 2025, the vehicle will be sophisticated enough to configure itself to a driver and other occupants. Also, it will be able to learn, heal, drive and socialize with other vehicles and its surrounding environment. Nearly 80% of the executives felt in-vehicle cognitive technologies will be a key component of how vehicles learn and reason to provide a better experience for the occupants and optimize its own performance.

Fifty-seven percent believe vehicle “social networks” would be in place where vehicles would communicate with each other, allowing vehicles to share not only traffic or weather conditions, but information specific to a given automaker. For instance, if a vehicle was experiencing some type of problem not recognized before, it could communicate with other vehicles of the same brand to seek help on what the issue might be.

In contrast to common beliefs, the report also underscores considerable skepticism about fully autonomous vehicles—where no driver is required and the vehicle is integrated into normal driving conditions. A mere 8% of executives see it becoming commonplace by 2025. Moreover, only 19% believe that a fully automated environment—meaning the driving system handles all situations without monitoring, and the driver is allowed to perform non-driving tasks—will be routine by 2025.

Eighty-seven percent of the participants felt partially automated driving, such as an expansion of today’s self-parking or lane change assist technologies would be commonplace. Moreover, 55% said highly automated driving, where the system recognizes its limitations and calls driver to take control, if needed, allowing the driver to perform some non-driving tasks in the meantime, would also be adapted by 2025.

The borders will come down, shattering historically rigid boundaries

Overall, the IBV Automotive 2025 study paints a very clear picture: Industry growth will come from delivering additional value rather than just selling more vehicles. And even though one third of those surveyed feel they will be able to adapt to the challenges this presents, only one in five feel they are prepared now.

The future requirements from the study emphasizes that the rigid, self contained industry of the past century must quickly transform into an ecosystem that is expected to be open, collaborative and filled with new innovators:

  • 73% of OEM executives rated mobility services, cost-effective alternatives to vehicle ownership like car/ride-sharing, as a significant area for co-creation with consumers
  • 73% of all executives rated collaboration with other industries as the best opportunity for industry growth as it progresses toward 2025
  • 75% of all executives expect non-traditional industry partnerships to have a key role in the automotive ecosystem by 2025

You can access the full study findings here and follow the conversation on Twitter at #Auto2025, and follow the IBM Institute for Business Value @IBMIBV.

IBM To Open Cloud Center In Mexico

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As part of its $1.2 billion investment to continue expanding its cloud services, IBM yesterday announced the opening of its first cloud center in Mexico.

Located in Querétaro, near Mexico City, the new facility strengthens IBM Cloud’s presence in Latin America by offering data residency within the region, even more redundancy in the Americas, and the complete SoftLayer platform, enabling customers to create their ideal fully integrated, scalable cloud computing environment in Mexico.

The new facility further extends IBM’s global cloud footprint, which includes new cloud centers recently launched in Frankfurt, Tokyo, Paris, Melbourne, Toronto, London, Texas, Virginia, Hong Kong, and more, all of which opened in the last year.

With industry experts predicting that Latin America will see more than 25 percent growth in the cloud-computing business within the next three years, the Mexico cloud center gives IBM a powerful anchor in the local cloud market.

The Mexico City facility will support the region’s growth by providing a local cloud center in which to keep location-sensitive data and workloads closer to Mexican and Latin American customers and end users.

It also broadens data redundancy options within the Americas by enabling backups that can be replicated and seamlessly integrated in any of IBM’s SoftLayer cloud centers via SoftLayer’s leading private network, with free unmetered bandwidth between locations.

Through SoftLayer’s unique global network, differentiated by its network-within-a-network architecture, the Mexico City facility provides 10Gbps connections to SoftLayer services, less than 25 milliseconds of latency from IBM’s Dallas cloud center, and less than 210 milliseconds of latency from IBM’s growing network of SoftLayer cloud centers around the world.

The Mexico City cloud center follows SoftLayer’s standardized pod design, having the capacity for thousands of physical servers and offering the full range of SoftLayer cloud infrastructure services, including bare metal servers, virtual servers, storage, security services, and networking.

With services deployed on demand and full remote access and control via a customer Web portal or API, customers can create their ideal public, private, or hybrid cloud environments.

The Mexico City cloud center gives IBM Cloud enterprise customers, SMBs, and startups a local Mexico facility to accelerate their business growth through SoftLayer’s high-value infrastructure, available via online orders with payment-on-demand.

You can learn more about IBM’s cloud offerings here.

IBM Launches New Mainframe Built For Analytics, Real-Time Encryption Of Mobile Transactions

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IBM today announced the z13, one of the most sophisticated computer systems ever built, and one which delivers scale and economics together with real-time encryption and analytics baked in.

The z13 system culminates a $1 billion investment, five years of development, and exploits the innovation of more than 500 new patents and represents a collaboration with more than 60 clients.

IBM’s new mainframe provides unprecedented new capabilities, including:

  • z13 is the first system able to process 2.5 billion transactions a day – equivalent of 100 Cyber Mondays every day of the year. z13 transactions are persistent, protected and auditable from end-to-end, adding assurance as mobile transactions grow — estimated to grow to 40 trillion mobile transactions per day by 2025.
  • z13 is the first system to make practical real-time encryption of all mobile transactions at any scale. z13 speeds real-time encryption of mobile transactions to help protect the transaction data and ensure response times consistent with a positive customer experience. The system includes 500 new patents including cryptographic encryption technologies that enable more security features for mobile initiated transactions.
  • z13 is the first mainframe system with embedded analytics providing real-time insights on all transactions. This capability can help guarantee the ability of the client to run real-time fraud detection on 100 percent of their business transactions by delivering ‘on the fly’ analytic insights that are 17X faster than compared competitive systems at a fraction of the cost.

The z13 includes new support for Hadoop, enabling unstructured data to be analyzed in the system. Other analytics advances include faster acceleration of queries by adding DB2 BLU for Linux providing an in-memory database, enhancements to the IBM DB2 analytics accelerator, and vastly improved performance for mathematically intense analytics workloads.

The z13 is the ideal private or hybrid cloud architecture, and has significant ability to scale and reliably and securely handle multiple workloads. In a scale-out model, it is capable of running up to 8,000 virtual servers — more than 50 virtual servers per core, helping to lower software, energy and facilities costs.

The z13 also lowers the cost of running cloud. For compared environments, it is estimated that a z Systems cloud on a z13 will have a 32 percent lower total cost of ownership over three years than an x86 cloud and a 60 percent lower total cost of ownership over three years than a public cloud. Additionally, the z13 is based on open standards, fully supporting Linux and OpenStack.

As part of today’s announcement, IBM will also unveil a preview of new z/OS software that delivers advanced analytic and data serving capabilities. When available, this new operating system will expand the ability of z13 to process in-memory analytics and provide analysis on mobile transactions, helping clients to further extend mainframe enterprise applications to the mobile user.

You can learn much more about the z13 here.

Written by TurboTodd

January 14th, 2015 at 2:46 pm

IBM Consumer Study Reveals Widening Gap between Consumer Expectations, Actual Retail Experiences

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The annual National Retail Federation is in full swing in NYC at the Jacob Javits Convention Center, and it was there earlier today IBM released a new study that found though consumers are growing more enthusiastic about online shopping and digital interaction with retailers, their actual behavior lags behind.

The IBM Institute for Business Value study analyzed four years of survey data from over 110,000 consumers in 19 countries. It found that consumers are now very comfortable with combining digital and physical elements in their buying process.

However, while IBM’s study found that 43 percent of consumers said they prefer to shop online, only 29 percent actually made their last purchase online.

In some product categories such as youth apparel or home décor, there is a nearly 20 point gap between the percentage of people that say they enjoy shopping online and the percentage of people who actually made their last purchase online in those categories. This signals that retailers have an opportunity to better meet consumer expectations online.

Also, while more consumers are willing to share social, location, and mobile information with a trusted retailer compared to last year, the study shows that sharing could be much higher.

Forty-two percent of consumers see the potential benefit of sharing their location via GPS with retailers, but only 28 percent are willing to do so — even with a trusted retailer. Fifty-four percent of consumers see the benefit of sharing mobile for text with retailers, but only 42 percent would actually share this information.

High on the list of consumer requirements is a mandate for inventory visibility. As consumer expectations for product fulfillment are shaped by online shopping experiences, out-of-stock situations are becoming less acceptable.

Sixty percent of surveyed consumers said it is important for them to be able to find out if an item is in stock before going to the store. And 46 percent of consumers said it’s important that retail employees use mobile devices to fix an out of stock issue, up six points from last year.

A growing number of consumers said it’s important that retailers offer personalized promotions, particularly if they are presented on demand. Forty-eight percent of shoppers value initiating a personalized communication with a retailer when they are online.

When in the store, 44 percent of shoppers want on-demand communication. Forty-one percent of consumers said it’s important that store associates offer personalized promotions based on their purchase history or preferences, compared to 36 percent last year.

Additionally, the study found that associates ranked last on the list of trusted resourcesconsumers access for product knowledge — yet another sign that the role of the sales associate is changing.

The study signals that retailers should prioritize empowering their associates with tools to monitor inventory and offer promotions instead of focusing on general product information only.

You can go here for the full study and follow @IBMRetail on Twitter to keep pace of the changing digital retail environment and offerings from IBM.

Written by TurboTodd

January 13th, 2015 at 6:40 pm

IBM Cited As Leading Hadoop Provider Among Developers In New Analyst Report

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IBM has been cited as an industry leader for making Hadoop more accessible, scalable and reliable for developers in a new analyst survey.

In a survey of more than 1,000 big data developers, analyst firm Evans Data Corporation found that IBM is the leading provider of Hadoop among developers, with more than 25 percent of respondents identifying IBM’s Hadoop as their principle distribution.

The survey also focused on key growth areas such as machine learning and streaming analytics, where 18 percent of developers cited IBM InfoSphere Streams as their preferred application for machine learning, making it the second most popular choice in the category.

IBM also recently conducted an independently audited benchmark, which was reviewed by third-party InfoSizing, of three popular SQL-on-Hadoop implementations and the results showed that IBM’s Big SQL was the only Hadoop solution tested that was able to run all 99 Hadoop-DS queries.

Of the three, IBM Big SQL was found to be the fastest, most scalable, and most reliable – with a 3.6 times performance advantage running queries on a 10 TB for the compared solutions.

IBM continues to foster Hadoop-specific skills in the next generation of IT workers and implement new technologies to help established IT professionals transfer their existing skills into Hadoop.

More than 200,000 developers regularly use Big Data University, an online educational site sponsored by IBM and run by new and experienced Hadoop, Big Data and DB2 users who want to learn or contribute course materials.

Thousands of developers also participate in IBM big data meet-ups held around the world, which are free events offering developers an opportunity to learn about and experiment with Hadoop, SQL-on-Hadoop, and other Big Data technologies.

In addition, nearly 1,000 developers have registered to-date for IBM’s Big Data for Social Good Hadoop Challenge. The Challenge is a developer contest sponsored by IBM in collaboration with the leading city governments including the cities of Boston, Los Angeles and San Jose where participants are competing to create innovative solutions on Hadoop that solve civil and other real world social challenges.

IBM’s portfolio of services on IBM Bluemix help meet the growing demand from organizations and developers looking to use insight to fuel their mobile, Internet of Things and web apps.

Data and analytic services such as BigInsights on Cloud, Cloudant, dashDB, DataWorks, Embeddable Reporting, Geospatial Analytics, Mobile Data, and Timeseries database enable developers to deliver more engaging apps, anticipate client needs and optimize operations in real-time.

You can learn more about IBM Big Data & Analytics here or follow @IBMBigData and @IBMAnalytics on Twitter.

Written by TurboTodd

January 13th, 2015 at 6:11 pm

Football And Movies, On Any Given Sunday

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On any given Sunday.  Isn’t that what they say about how it can go on the gridiron?

My Dallas Cowboys gave the Green Bay Packers a run for the money at Lambeau Field, in a virtual heatwave at 25 degrees Fahrenheit.

I’m not going to get all mopey dopey about the controversial call about Dez Bryant’s catch/non-catch in the 4th quarter, and any honest fan knows another controversial call went the Cowboys way last week.

Fact is, all the Divisional playoff games this weekend were pretty good football, and the AFC/NFC showdowns next weekend should be some good ones.

By the way, if you were watching those football games, you probably saw several new TV spots from Big Blue.  I especially liked the one on Bluemix (see below).

As for the Golden Globe Awards, I’d like to thank the Hollywood Foreign Press Association for a relatively entertaining evening last night.

Austin’s own Richard Linklater did very well with his 12-year-film epic, “Boyhood,” and we Austinites couldn’t be more proud.

I’d seen quite a few of the films in contention, and I must say, either not enough HFPA voters either saw “Selma” or they were MIA.

“Selma” is one of the most powerful films I’ve seen in years. Director Ava DuVernay took a critical time in American life — the fight for civil and voting rights in the 1960s — and brought it raging to life in all its viciousness and hopefulness.

I hope Oscar doesn’t overlook it quite so much, as it’s a worthy contender. Do yourself a favor, go see it.

As for the Globes, with Amy Poehler and Tina Fey stepping down as leaving as emcees after this year, I think I can already hear the ratings drop.

And now, the winner for “Best New Cloud Development Platform”…

Written by TurboTodd

January 12th, 2015 at 4:48 pm

IBM Breaks U.S. Patent Record For 2014

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IBM announced today that it received a record 7,534 patents in 2014 — marking the 22nd consecutive year that the company topped the annual list of U.S. patent recipients.

IBM inventors earned an average of more than 20 patents per day in 2014, propelling the company to become the first to surpass more than 7,000 patents in a single year.

“IBM’s continued investment in research and development is key to driving the transformation of our company, as we look to capture the emerging opportunities represented by cloud, big data and analytics, security, social and mobile,” said Ginni Rometty, IBM’s chairman, president and CEO.

“IBM’s patent leadership over more than two decades demonstrates our enduring commitment to the kind of fundamental R&D that can solve the most daunting challenges facing our clients and the world.”

The company’s record-setting 2014 patent output was led by more than 3,000 patents – 40% of its annual total – covering a range of cloud computing, analytics, mobile, social and security inventions.

Over the past five years, IBM has more than doubled its output of patents within these strategic growth areas and was the leading recipient of cloud, analytics, mobile, social and security patents during this period.

IBM inventors also received more than 500 patents for inventions that will usher in the era of cognitive systems, including new Watson related cognitive technologies.

During IBM’s 22 years atop the patent list (1993-2014), the company’s inventors have received more than 81,500 U.S. patents.

The Top Ten list of 2014 U.S. patent recipients* includes:

1 BM 7,534
2 Samsung 4,952
3 Canon 4,055
4 Sony 3,224
5 Microsoft 2,829
6 Toshiba 2,608
7 Qualcomm 2,590
8 Google 2,566
9 LG Electronics 2,122
10 Panasonic 2,095


The company’s 2014 patent count exceeded the combined totals of Accenture, Amazon, Google, HP, Intel and Oracle.

More than 8,500 IBMers residing in 46 states and territories and 43 countries are responsible for IBM’s record breaking 2014 patent tally.

IBM inventors who reside outside the U.S. contributed to more than 34% of the company’s 2014 patents.

Go here for more information aboutIBM’s patent leadership and some of the young inventors who contributed to the company’s 2014 patent production.

Written by TurboTodd

January 12th, 2015 at 2:55 pm

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