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“Above the Trend Line” – Your Industry Rumor Central for 5/29/2018

Above the Trend Line: your industry rumor central is a recurring feature of insideBIGDATA. In this column, we present a variety of short time-critical news items grouped by category such as people movements, funding news, financial results, industry alignments, rumors and general scuttlebutt floating around the big data, data science and machine learning industries including behind-the-scenes anecdotes and curious buzz. Our intent is to provide you a one-stop source of late-breaking news to help you keep abreast of this fast-paced ecosystem. We’re working hard on your behalf with our extensive vendor network to give you all the latest happenings. Heard of something yourself? Tell us! Just e-mail me at: daniel@insidebigdata.com. Be sure to Tweet Above the Trend Line articles using the hashtag: #abovethetrendline.

Welcome to another installment of our Rumor Central: Above the Trend Line, where all the latest scuttlebutt bubbles up to the surface for our readers to digest. In the big data industry, there’s never a dull moment. We’re all excited to be up to our necks in all that’s happening. This is exciting!

Let’s start with some new funding news … Reltio, innovator of the Self-Learning Data Platform, announced that it has secured a $45 million Series D investment to accelerate innovation, fuel international expansion, and ramp support for global enterprise customers. With current investor New Enterprise Associates (NEA) leading this round, and participation from other existing investors, Crosslink Capital, .406 Ventures, and Sapphire Ventures, Reltio has now raised $117 million in total … Tracking First, an enterprise data governance platform designed to structure and unify digital campaign data, announced $4 million dollars in funding, led by Silverton Partners with a strategic investment from Kickstart Seed Fund. The company also announced the appointment of seasoned industry veteran Verl Allen as CEO. Allen previously worked in corporate development and strategy roles at Adobe and Omniture, overseeing over $2 billion in acquisitions during his time there … ThoughtSpot, a leader in search and AI-driven analytics for the enterprise, announced it has successfully closed $145 million in Series D funding. The funding was oversubscribed with strong participation from both existing as well as new investors. Existing investors Lightspeed Ventures, Future Fund, Khosla Ventures, and General Catalyst participated, alongside new participants Sapphire Ventures, and other global investors. Since its founding in 2012, ThoughtSpot has raised $306 million in total funding. With the new funding, ThoughtSpot will continue to innovate its next-generation analytics platform, accelerate global business growth, including expansion in EMEA and APAC, and grow its R&D centers in Palo Alto, Seattle, Dallas, and Bangalore … Starmind International AG, one of Europe’s leading AI Tech company building self-learning networks to access human expertise, announced the closing of a major growth financing round. Focusing on rapidly growing B2B software and AI technology companies, Digital+ Partners is investing $ 15 million and actively supporting the company with access to global corporations and tech experts. The funding is dedicated to Starmind’s designing of next generation algorithms and accelerating their growth throughout the global market … Okera launched out of stealth mode with $12 million in Series A funding led by Bessemer Venture Partners, bringing the total amount raised to date to $14.6 million. The company was previously known as Cerebro Data. Okera addresses the enormous gap in data management across heterogeneous data stores and formats and gives data consumers, owners and stewards a unified platform for confidently unlocking the power of their data without compromising on governance or compliance. Existing investors Felicis Ventures and Capital One Growth Ventures participated in the round. Ethan Kurzweil, Partner at Bessemer Venture Partners, and Wesley Chan, Managing Director at Felicis Ventures, joined Okera’s Board of Directors. The new funding will be used to accelerate operational growth. With the general availability of its first product, the Okera Active Data Access Platform, Okera solves one of the most challenging data management problems facing the enterprise today as organizations strive to be more data-driven and agile while supporting evolving data privacy and regulatory requirements. Unlike traditional data management approaches that either restrict access in the name of security or leave data open in the name of innovation, Okera allows data teams to have a unified way to actively manage access to data in a flexible and agile manner with fine granularity and greater visibility into how data is being used … DeepCode, an expert in program analysis and machine learning/artificial intelligence (AI) for software programming, announces the successful completion of its seed financing round led by the European Venture Capital firm btov Partners together with a group of comitted angel investors like Thomas Hofman, an ETH professor and entrepreneur, and Joachim Schoss, founder of Scout24. DeepCode is a Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETH Zurich) spin-off and was founded in 2016. The funding will be leveraged to expand the team, DeepCode’s platform and offerings, and to conduct further research in adjacent fields. The funding will also allow DeepCode to integrate into the platform and offer developers the benefits from the latest research in programming languages and machine learning.

In the M&A realm, we learned of … Mitek Systems, Inc. (“Mitek”) (NASDAQ:MITK), a global leader in digital identity verification solutions, announced that it has acquired A2iA, SAS, (“A2iA”), a global leader in artificial intelligence (AI) and image analysis, for €42.5 million in cash and shares of Mitek’s common stock.

We also heard of a number of new partnerships, alignments and collaborations … C3 IoT announced that it will partner with Intel to address the market for AI and IoT enterprise software applications, estimated to exceed $250 billion by 2020, across large commercial and public sector organizations globally. The collaboration includes a C3 IoT AI Appliance powered by Intel AI and a go-to-market program for joint marketing, sales, training, and rapid prototyping initiatives to accelerate customer success with AI and IoT application development. C3 IoT is also joining the Intel AI Builders Program that provides Intel partners implementing AI with the resources and support to accelerate the adoption of their Intel-based AI platforms … Education is frequently cited as the barrier to success across industries – perhaps none more so than technology. In order to eliminate this barrier, companies need to take action. That’s where H2O.ai and AI4ALL come in. The two organizations announced a partnership to improve access to artificial intelligence (AI) education, tools and resources for a new generation of students through H2O.ai’s AI4Kids program. The partnership will help provide kids from all walks of life with a strong foundation of AI skills that will help them in not only their future educational pursuits, but also as they enter the workforce. Amidst the many fears surrounding automation and AI, preparing the next generation with the skills to develop and manage AI will give them a step up … C3 IoT, a leading AI and IoT software platform for digital transformation, and Trūata, the first data analytics company designed specifically in response to Europe’s privacy laws, today announced a multi-year agreement to support customer compliance with privacy and data protection requirements in their data analytics efforts, including those of the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) … Confluent, provider of a streaming platform based on Apache Kafka®, announced a partnership with Google Cloud to make Confluent Cloud available on Google Cloud Platform (GCP) for mission-critical use cases, including event-driven applications, machine learning for advanced analytics, and hybrid cloud data pipelines. By using a fully-managed streaming data service on GCP, customers can offload the operating burden of Apache Kafka and stream data at scale, in real time, to Google Cloud big data services including BigQuery, Cloud Machine Learning Engine and TensorFlow. This enables enterprises and developers to focus on generating faster and better business insights instead of managing infrastructure … Unravel Data, the Application Performance Management (APM) platform designed for Big Data applications, announced that it has integrated with Microsoft Azure to improve performance and reliability for Big Data workloads in the cloud. Unravel’s APM platform will be available on the Microsoft Azure Marketplace, enabling Azure customers to easily analyze, troubleshoot and optimize their Big Data deployments with a full-stack solution. As a result, enterprises will gain guaranteed reliability, improve productivity and reduce costs … Talend (NASDAQ: TLND), a global leader in cloud and big data integration solutions, and Qubole, the maker of a leading cloud-native, big data, self-managing and self-optimizing activation platform, announced new combined capabilities that help data engineers build and run data pipelines, applications and services in the cloud at a fraction of the cost and without the burden of managing servers. Using Talend and Qubole, customers can eliminate time spent writing complex Spark code for big data processing, and instead use Talend to create data jobs and pipelines that are automatically executed at scale on Qubole’s platform.

In the new customer wins category, we learned – Phenom People, a leader in Talent Relationship Marketing, announced that Microsoft’s career site is live on the Phenom People Platform. Coupled with advanced AI technology, the new and improved career site transforms the way Microsoft attracts and engages talent, creating a hyper-personalized and optimal candidate experience. Microsoft is focused on empowering both people and organizations by infusing AI into everything they deliver across their computing platforms and experiences. Recognizing the importance of a hyper-personalized candidate experience, Microsoft is utilizing AI to fuel the way they attract and engage candidates … Attunity Ltd. (NASDAQ CM: ATTU), a leading provider of data integration and Big Data management software solutions, announced that Dorman Products, Inc., a supplier of replacement parts and fasteners for passenger cars, light trucks, and heavy duty trucks in the automotive aftermarket, has implemented Attunity Gold Client to increase efficiencies and productivity in its SAP test data management and data refresh processes … Sinequa announced that Thales Group will implement Sinequa’s Cognitive Search & Analytics platform to enrich and unify the digital work environment of the company’s employees, based on advanced intelligent search and information analysis functions. Sinequa’s solution will support Thales in the processing and analysis of structured and unstructured content, which includes tens of millions of documents and records … LINK Mobility, a leading European provider of mobile messaging and solutions, enters into an agreement with Loop AI Labs, a leading provider of unsupervised cognitive computing. The partnership will bring the power of cognitive computing and artificial intelligence to LINK’s 16,500 Enterprise and Small Medium Business clients, serving 234 million people. Loop AI Labs is one of the leading providers in the cognitive software industry with operations in Asia, Europe, and USA. Loop Q, the flagship product, serves Global 2000 along with other large enterprises. It helps augment workforce productivity and automate repetitive processes previously managed by humans in all departments, typically retrofitting the existing enterprise legacy systems.

In people movement news we found out … Alluxio, developer of the software system that unifies data at memory speed with venture backing by Andreessen Horowitz, announced that Bob Wiederhold has been named executive chairman of the company. Wiederhold also serves as executive chairman at Couchbase, where he held the title of chief executive officer (CEO) from 2010 to 2017.

And finally … we’ll wrap up with a number of commentaries about recent events … it recently was announced that Orlando police are testing Amazon’s real-time facial recognition. But many fear that means more big brother, and less privacy. Here is a comment about this news from Neurala CEO, Max Versace:

Much of other players’ emphasis is placed today on enabling inference–or classification–on the device. This is, in a way, old news. Inference has been possible and viable on devices for a while, whereas the frontier in AI today is learning, not only inferencing, on the device. Amazon’s push to move face enrollment onto the device is symptomatic of a trend. Only on-device learning bears the promise of protecting user data–shipping your data and identity on the cloud is contrary to privacy. The future of an AI that does the job while respecting privacy–in particular when we are talking about a police force—requires learning on the device.”

Modern graph technology has proven to be incredibly effective for solving today’s toughest data challenges, in real-time and no matter how large or complex the data set. The industry has been brewing as of late calling for a standard graph query language to advance graph technology even further. TigerGraph CEO Dr. Yu Xu couldn’t agree more and provided us with the following comment:

There is a lot of industry chatter around the need for a standard graph query language — and we at TigerGraph, couldn’t agree more. For a nearly 15 year old technology that has seen little innovation since its inception, it’s time to pay attention to disruptors who are thinking in new ways when it comes to query language. New technology is coming to the market to finally address decade-old issues around scale and performance — providing real innovation, rather than a repacking and renaming of the old. GSQL was built from the ground up to deliver features needed by real-time big data, including: ease of use, familiarity of SQL-like syntax, and expressive power for solving real-world complex business problems—something legacy language options can not offer. We look forward to the ongoing conversation around what a standard graph query language should look like to help graphs cross the chasm to the mainstream.”

We received many commentaries on the GDPR compliance deadline on May 25, and the following experts have provided recommendations for GDPR:

Neil Barton, CTO, WhereScape:

More than ever ensuring data is both identifiable and accessible is a dominating theme for companies on the path to GDPR compliance. The good news for tech companies is that, as the May 25 compliance deadline advances, businesses are investing in long-term data protection strategies. As an example, for businesses managing large data sets, investing in data infrastructure automation software can be extremely beneficial. Automation software can be used to automatically tag data, ensuring data is identifiable, auditable and quickly retrievable if an organization should receive a GDPR-related request for access. To protect their organizations and the customers they serve, companies must proactively invest in the data protection strategies and technologies needed to avoid the pitfalls, and corresponding penalty fines, associated with the GDPR.”

Ziv Kedem, CEO at Zerto:

The quickly approaching GDPR deadline has many companies distressed about how to handle their customer data like never before. Despite a clearly defined compliance date since 2016, there is still a lot of uncertainty around it just weeks before, and this – combined with the threat of fines of up to $24 million– means many organizations are still wary of the impending regulation. Affected companies need to ensure that their businesses are IT resilient by building an overall compliance program. By developing and maintaining a stable, unified and flexible model of infrastructure, companies can protect against modern threats. There are backup tools out there, namely continuous data protection (CDP), that can help companies combat and prevent the loss of data, ensuring the availability of replicated data for full IT resilience.”

Matt VanderZwaag, director of Product Development at US Signal:

GDPR compliance is a daunting task, especially with the deadline quickly approaching on May 25. The reality is that compliance and the heavy fines associated with non-compliance can be overwhelming, especially if you are not a GDPR expert. In fact, the US Signal 2018 Security ‘Health of the Nation’ Survey found that nearly half of respondents will not be ready to comply when the regulation goes into effect, or are unsure if it applies to their organization. However, moving to an infrastructure provided by a managed service provider with GDPR compliance expertise, is one solution. Service providers can offer a variety of GDPR-ready solutions, in addition to advice and education to ensure your business has the skills to manage and maintain its compliance. In the future, GDPR, and data protection in general, should now be part of all conversations with managed service providers, to ensure that compliance is a top priority, and that companies don’t fall behind due to lack of internal resources.”

Setu Kulkarni, VP of Corporate Strategy, WhiteHat Security:

GDPR applies to any company, inside or outside the E.U., that interacts with the data of European citizens. The world is recognizing how data is the lifeblood of applications. Privacy of this data, integrating security training and formalizing data boundaries all require applications to be secure by design. Just as there are multiple layers of security in the most secure buildings, we have to create the same level of insulation for our digital information. By understanding how applications, both web and mobile, handle sensitive data and how they authenticate via best practices in development and operations, you can understand the context of data in use, and prove everything is being done to protect the data. We are living in an API-first world, and it is increasingly important to create the right separation of concerns between personal data and application data. Companies like WhiteHat focus on this as a business, offering both dynamic and static application security testing (DAST and SAST) products to help customers know what information is visible externally, while protecting the information they are allowed to collect. For potential breaches stemming from web applications, DAST products can identify web application security risks with the ability to customize asset importance/ranking according to what privacy data it touches, and how to avoid potential privacy breaches. Further, to address training compliance, companies can implement eLearning, to provide individuals a path to learn how to code securely, and better comprehend general security awareness. WhiteHat Security believes GDPR isn’t just about finding data—it’s about making certain it’s secure.”

Khash Sajadi, CEO and Founder, Cloud 66:

Cloud 66 believes in a holistic view of secure, compliant operations—empowering developers but approved by operations. Our tooling always provides an operational opinion for developers, combined with the opportunity for savvy users to assert as much control as they need. We believe compliance with GDPR criteria should include important operational details like alternate deployment models, fine-grained user access control, advanced secrets management, vulnerability minimization and scanning, ease-of-use with private registries, and various security tools.”

Scott Parker, director of Product Marketing, Sinequa:

GDPR was created to ensure what its creators see as a fundamental right for EU citizens to protect their personal data. The penalties for non-compliance will be steep so organizations with EU operations or customers are understandably investing heavily in GDPR initiatives. But instead of seeing it only as a costly burden, organizations should view the regulation as an opportunity. With the challenge of quickly and accurately identifying and finding personal data, organizations with large datasets should embrace an information-driven approach that processes all relevant content and data from across the enterprise intelligently and securely into information that is contextual to the task at hand and aligned with each user’s goals. By extracting relevant information from enterprise data and using it for better decision making, organizations will be able to achieve superior customer service and operational efficiency, while at the same time complying with GDPR regulations.”

Jen Brown, Compliance and Data Protection Officer at Sumo Logic:

The GDPR deadline will come and go, and some won’t even blink an eye. Others will realize that they are drastically behind in their overall GDPR preparedness strategy. A few will suffer financial consequences in the form of fines by the European Union, but big companies will have an incredibly hard time absorbing fines. After all, 4 percent of revenue is unheard of and not a ‘slush fund penalty’ for many. What we have to remember is that May 25 is not a “pencils down” moment, it’s the opposite — a continuation of our new era of digital privacy and awareness. Here are a few things we can expect as a result of the passing deadline: [(i) Most organizations have been so focused on their own GDPR preparedness, that they may have overlooked how their vendor’s compliance is affecting their program. That’s why organizations must stay in lockstep with all vendors that handle personal customer data and establish clear, consistent lines of communication. Under GDPR, your organization will be held more accountable than ever for the data flowing across your systems, so it’s crucial you can pinpoint the various partners and vendors that have access to it as well. To overcome many challenges associated with third-party compliance, establish a strong Data Processing Addendum (DPA) that outlines sub-processors; (ii) The culmination of data subject access requests (DSARs) for data subject right fulfillment, an influx of customer questions, the onslaught of DPAs and requests for audits from controllers on GDPR D-Day could result in a paper DDoS attack that cripples businesses. Organizations that are focused on maintaining compliance may have a hard time balancing their efforts of keeping their technology and policies in check, while also staying ahead of competitors from a technological standpoint, leading to a short-term lag in innovation.] The biggest takeaway of GDPR is that collectively, it is all of our responsibility to be more diligent than ever about holding companies — and ourselves — accountable for how customer data is being used. In today’s digital world, we can’t afford not to do this. As an end-user, take the time to read terms of services, and understand the ways in which organizations can and should be providing better protection than ever. And remember, these efforts should not be limited to only GDPR. Other privacy regulations are released and updated monthly, so diligence is key.”

Rob Perry, VP of Product Marketing at ASG Technologies:

The news that regulators are going after Facebook and Google on the day that GDPR goes into effect is not a surprise. These are companies whose entire business model is based off of collecting and monetizing personal data, making them fundamentally at odds with the regulation and therefore they are obvious choices for regulators that want to prove they’re serious about the regulation and ensuring compliance.”

For companies that have seen news of these lawsuits and are worried they may face the same fate as Facebook and Google, here are three key points they should prioritize in their journey to compliance:

  • Move to an opt-in model with customer data. Most organizations today run on an opt-out model, forcing customers to do the legwork if they don’t want their data collected, but taking the onus off of customers is a key component of the regulation, so reversing that model is an easy first step.
  • Manage Your Critical Data – Data centric organizations are combining business and IT together to manage and collaborate on Key Information Supply chains that allow them to create and sustain data that cascades across the enterprise. Automating the view of this data is paramount to not only preventing reputational risk but treating data as an economic asset within the organization. By managing the data supply chain, organizations are able to understand what data they need, enabling them to only keep and protect personal data that they have a legal basis for using.
  • Understand that GDPR is not going anywhere. Just because GDPR went into effect today does not mean organizations can stop thinking about compliance. The regulation will continue to grow and evolve in the next few months, meaning organizations must always be thinking about compliance, adjusting and modifying practices and processes on and ongoing basis. There is no one-size-fits-all solution.”

 

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