Weekly Business Review: Ubuntu, IBM, Pentaho, Dell

Lots happened the past week in the social media, social business, big data and business intelligence world. Read below a review of the most interesting happenings and developments that caught my particular attention. What news did you find the most interesting?

Social media and social business

IBM tops the social business marketplace

At least that is, according to an annual IDC survey into social business software.

“Businesses today are operating in the social age where innovation, speed and exceptional client experiences are critical,” said Alistair Rennie, general manager of social business at IBM, in a statement.

As companies increasingly look to fully utilize the knowledge and collaborative potential of their employees, IBM predict that the social business industry will only grow.

IBM reveal that 60% of Fortune 100 companies have been using IBM’s software for social business, including 80% of the top 10 retailers and banks.

IBM Connections is the bedrock of their social business offering.

Such outcomes have become commonplace amongst IBM customers. Jeff Bowman, head of global e-business at Caterpillar, said his company is just getting started with e-business and social media.

Craig Hayman, general manager of industry solutions at IBM Software, said one of his key goals in this social strategy is to enable both IBM and its customers to have better relationships with customers.

Igloo unveils social business industry’s first responsive designed Intranet platform

Igloo Software, a cloud intranet provider announced a series of mobile and web enhancements to their Software as a Service platform, including the introduction of responsive design and new mobile applications for Android and iOS devices.

Responsive design brings a full and consistent intranet experience to any desktop, laptop, tablet or smartphone. As you switch devices and resize the browser, the content and navigation automatically adapts to fit across the screen, giving employees access to the full suite of collaborative tools regardless of where they are or which device they are using.

For a more streamlined mobile experience geared towards content consumption, Igloo has also made available new mobile applications for both Android and iOS devices. Through the apps, mobile users can find contacts, review documents and get an at-a-glance view into activity, making it easier to stay connected even while on the go.

Mobility is also supported through email integration with popular applications like Microsoft Outlook and Gmail. Users can email files directly to Igloo with folder email addresses, forward conversations to initiate discussion threads, reply to posts without logging in to the web application and, with the latest release, add events directly to a calendar.


Big data

Big data scientists turn to Google Trends

The findings of the research, “Quantifying Trading Behavior in Financial Markets,” were published today in the journal Nature by a team of big data academics, Professor Tobias Preis of Warwick Business School in the U.K., Helen Susannah Moat of University College London, and H. Eugene Stanley of Boston University. Freis and Moat have already created a stir by using similar data-crunching approaches to quantify and model stock price fluctuations of companies on the Standard & Poor’s 500 index and gross domestic product growth among many of the world’s biggest countries.

The team analyzed changes in the frequency of 98 general finance terms such as revenue, unemployment, credit, and Nasdaq in Google searches from 2004 to 2011. The team then used the search volume data to determine an investment strategy that it called the “Google Trends Strategy.”

Here’s how it works: The team analyzed on a week-by-week basis the ups and downs of Google search volume for the 98 finance-related terms. “If the volume of search terms went up in the previous week, we would open up a hypothetical short position and sell in the following week,” explains Preis.

In contrast, a conservative buy-and-hold strategy that ignored Google searches and followed a more traditional investment strategy netted a return of 16 percent over the same period, the researchers found.

Preis says the findings—that aggregate search data could be used to determine early warning signs of subsequent stock market movements—have caught the finance industry’s attention.

Action buys big data and analytics startup ParAccel

Database vendor Actian has acquired “big data” and analytics startup ParAccel, the two companies announced.

ParAccel caught our eye last year as one of 10 startups leading the way in big data. We specifically liked ParAccel’s leadership in the high-performance analytics space and its work in “pre-crime,” where it helps predict criminal activity before it happens. ParAccel customers include Amazon, The Royal Bank of Scotland, OfficeMax, and MicroStrategy.

Actian believes the acquisition of ParAccel will complement its position as a strong infrastructure player and bring more customers into the fold. Bloor Group chief analyst and co-founder Robin Bloor agrees.

“Actian is building a modern, highly innovative end-to-end database, integration, and analytics solution aimed squarely at solving today’s growing data challenges,” Bloor said in a statement. “With the ability to capture, ingest, analyze, and take action on data at scale, Actian is now very powerfully positioned in the big data and data analytics markets.”

ParAccel told us back in October that it intended to remain an independent company. That said, the decision to be acquired makes some sense because major competitors Vertica and Netezza were purchased by HP and IBM, and that sort of backing helped strengthen their services.

Prior to acquisition, ParAccel had raised more than $90 million in funding from investors including Amazon, Menlo Ventures, Mohr Davidow Ventures, Bay Partners, Walden International, Tao Venture Partners, and Silicon Valley Bank.


Business intelligence

Dell launches consulting and business intelligence tools to grow enterprise solutions portfolio

Flexible Workstyle Consulting is a Dell programme that offers IT departments best practice capabilities and customised IT management tools for bring-your-own-device (BYOD) programmes.

The Toad Business Intelligence Suite 2.0 is a self-service BI tool that offers business more control over a variety of data information.

“We are starting to see the democratisation of big data. We are starting to see the tools that make big data useful to companies of all sizes,” said Dell software group president John Swainson.

The Toad Business Intelligence suite 2.0 allows users to analyse data from a variety data sources to provide better information discovery.

The Flexible Workstyle Consulting platform offers users customisable deployment and development of BYOD tools through the ability to mix cloud and on premise systems.

Dell’s offering allows for the convergence of email, telephone, and video conference over a unified IP network.

Dell said the platform can lower costs while offering users a mobile and flexible platform.During the announcement for the offerings, Dell touted its move to become a stronger end-to-end provider of IT solutions.

Pentaho acquires Interface Shop Webdetails

Analytics, meet visuals. Business intelligence provider Pentaho has bought consulting partner Webdetails, a Portugal-based visual interface development shop.

The acquisition could point to new user interface approaches for intelligence products, as analytics tools move from providing information to becoming easier and faster to use.

Terms of the deal were not announced. Webdetails’ founder Pedro Alves, who is active in Pentaho’s open source community, will become Senior VP for Community at Pentaho. Alves wrote on his blog this week that the daily work for Webdetails 20-person staff “won’t change much,” except for the additional tag of “A Pentaho company.”

The Orlando, Florida-based Pentaho offers open source business intelligence products that provide data discovery, data integration and predictive analytics, as enterprise and community versions. The products are available on-premises, in the cloud or embedded into applications.


Cloud computing

SkyKick gives Office 365 partners migration tools for SMB customers

SkyKick has launched a new migration technology aimed at helping IT consultants, systems integrators, MSPs, VARs and others in the channel automate Microsoft Office 365 migration projects.

SkyKick, which promotes itself with the tagline “the easiest way to Office 365,” provides migration technology with the goal of making shifts to Office 365 as simple and risk-free as possible.

“Moving Microsoft’s SMB Office base to the cloud is a massive undertaking and will require high engagement from Microsoft’s vast partner base,” said SkyKick co-CEO Evan Richman, in a prepared statement. “SkyKick takes what has traditionally been a two- to six-week IT services project and makes it more transactional and scalable creating a win-win market scenario—any Microsoft partner can easily and profitably move their SMB customers to Office 365, giving SMBs  a great experience at a great value.”

Ubuntu delivers cloud computing enhancements

Ubuntu developer Canonical has officially announced the latest release of its Linux platform, Ubuntu 13.04, which delivers enhancements for those using the operating system to build an OpenStack cloud.

Available for download from tomorrow, Ubuntu 13.04, codenamed Raring Ringtail, introduces several enhancements on the server side aimed at cloud computing, including integration of the latest OpenStack Grizzly update that was pushed out earlier this month.

Mark Baker, server product manager at Canonical, told V3 many of the changes introduced in 13.04 are laying the foundations for the next long term support (LTS) release version of Ubuntu, for which Canonical guarantees maintenance and security updates for a period of five years.

For the compute part, Ubuntu integrates OpenStack Grizzly with 13.04 and makes greater use of Juju to enable administrators to deploy OpenStack in a highly available way.

For storage, Ubuntu 13.04 also now integrates the Ceph open-source distributed storage system to provide a scalable block, object and Posix-compliant file system.