“Above the Trend Line” – Your Industry Rumor Central for 7/23/2019

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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 M&A activity, people movements, funding news, industry partnerships, customer wins, 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.

Let’s start off with some new funding news … Sinequa, a recognized leader in the AI-powered search and analytics market, announced a $23 million Series B funding round led by Jolt Capital and supported by Troismer BVBA, an existing investor. With this new funding, Sinequa will invest in its award-winning AI-powered search and analytics platform that connects knowledge workers in some of the world’s largest organizations with the information, expertise and insights necessary to make information-driven decisions … Kyndi®, the artificial intelligence company building the first Explainable AI platform, announced that it raised $20 million in Series B funding led by Intel Capital, with participation from UL Ventures, PivotNorth Capital, and existing investors. The new funding will be used to expand the company’s engineering and sales teams to meet growing customer demand in government, financial services and life sciences … Near, the platform that leverages AI to make real-world data actionable, announced that it has raised $100 million in a new round of funding. The investment comes from London headquartered private equity firm Greater Pacific Capital (GPC). With this fresh investment, Near has raised a total of $134 million to date, including from Sequoia Capital and JP Morgan. The Near platform has the largest data set of people’s behavior in the real world. Brands, enterprises and publishers can use location, transaction and other unique real-world signals from more than 1.6 billion users in the platform for data enrichment and marketing, in a privacy-led environment.

In the partnerships, alignments and collaborations department, we heard … ENGAGE Talent, an AI software company that offers the Total Talent Intelligence™ solution to help companies improve talent acquisition, engagement and retention and predict company and market performance, and PredictiveHR, the SaaS company that enables people analytics by utilizing machine learning to predict talent trends and their financial impacts, have partnered to provide enterprises with the industry’s most complete talent intelligence and analytics platform. This is the first solution that brings together an organization’s internal talent data, AI-driven metrics on its talent data and people, external data on industry and competitors, and analytics and reporting on that data on one platform … WANdisco (LSE: WAND), the LiveData company, announced a partnership with Databricks, a leader in unified analytics and founded by the original creators of Apache SparkTM, to accelerate and dramatically simplify the migration of on-premises Hadoop analytics workloads to Azure Databricks. WANdisco’s LiveMigrator effortlessly migrates petabytes of unstructured data to the cloud in one pass, rather than costly and risky multiple attempts that can take three to six months and block users from making changes. LiveMigrator provides non-blocking and continuous data migration, automatic transition from Hadoop to Delta Lake with Azure Databricks, while enabling a hybrid cloud architecture for migrating production applications. Delta Lake provides ACID transaction support and schema enforcement that delivers reliable data lakes at scale and makes datasets ready for downstream analytics … Cyxtera Technologies, the secure infrastructure company, announced it is joining the NVIDIA DGX-Ready Data Center program to enable AI workloads for NVIDIA DGX Systems customers. The program will bring NVIDIA DGX-Ready Data Center colocation services to Cyxtera’s hybrid-ready information security fabric and global footprint of 57 world-class data centers. Cyxtera’s data centers in the following markets are prequalified as NVIDIA DGX-Ready: Dallas, New York/New Jersey, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Seattle, London, Germany, Singapore and Toronto. Today’s announcement is another development in Cyxtera’s continued effort to evolve as technology such as AI drives data growth across multiple industry verticals … Microsoft Corp. and Providence St. Joseph Health announced a multi-year strategic alliance to accelerate the digital transformation of health care. The alliance will combine the power of Microsoft’s cloud, artificial intelligence (AI), research capabilities, and collaboration tools with the clinical expertise and care environments of Providence St. Joseph Health, one of the largest health systems in the country. The two organizations will develop a portfolio of integrated solutions designed to improve health outcomes and reduce the total cost of care by combining technologies from Microsoft with Providence St. Joseph Health’s data and clinical expertise. The alliance will accelerate the health care industry’s adoption of the cloud and enable data-driven clinical and operational decision-making by leveraging Microsoft Azure, and industry interoperability standards like FHIR, to integrate siloed data sources in a cloud environment that enables security and compliance … UrsaLeo, an enterprise-grade, cloud-based industrial IoT platform for manufacturing, and Widget Brain, a company that offers scalable AI services to transform machine data into improved machine uptime and performance, announced a partnership to help Industry 4.0 companies realize the full power of their IoT data. By connecting the two platforms through an API, the data that UrsaLeo gathers will be able to seamlessly integrate with Widget Brain’s Algorithm Factory. The data can then be used to drive Widget Brain’s proprietary root cause analysis and failure prediction algorithms to generate previously unseen insights into the customer’s business … Xignite, Inc., a provider of market data distribution and management solutions for financial services and technology companies, announced a strategic partnership with XPansion, a provider of market data usage, tracking and business monitoring software. Xignite will integrate XPansion’s XMon analytics and reporting functionality into their Market Data Cloud Platform to provide capital markets clients even more transparency of their licensed market data usage and costs, allowing them to manage consumption, allocate costs and avoid vendor compliance risk. Hosted in Amazon Web Services (AWS) public cloud, the Xignite Market Data Cloud Platform is a market data management solution that enables optimization of market data distributed across an enterprise, providing clients with tools to control, entitle and track data consumption across businesses. The solution is the industry’s only cloud-based market data management and optimization platform that can manage data flow across the latency spectrum, including real-time, end-of-day, reference and historical data … Broadw.ai, a leading AI platform solution for Broadway shows, has announced a partnership with WICKED, one of the most world-renowned musicals on Broadway. WICKED uses Broadw.ai to provide excellent customer experiences and enhance search-driven metrics inclusive of ticketing, traffic and conversion rates for the show. Rolled out in early 2019, the Broadw.ai virtual assistant powered by Satisfi Labs, has helped WICKED theatergoers with over 90,000 requests including ticket sales, via their website and Facebook. The AI platform, created in partnership with Satisfi Labs, delivers a seamless customer purchasing journey answering complex questions around food recommendations, parking, and shopping. Through its integrated Ticketmaster ticketing partnership directly built in the assistant, customers can purchase their ticket in Broadw.ai’s chat flow in a conversational setting. Since the launch, WICKED has seen an increase in ROI of 700% with the average ticket price selling for 20% higher compared to their weekly average.

We also heard of some new customer wins news including … Luminoso, the natural language company that provides AI-powered analysis of unstructured data, announced that it is working with DENSO, the world’s second largest global manufacturer of automotive parts, in root cause analysis for upstream improvements in its application of knowledge bases at its production sites. With over 130 production facilities around the world, vast quantities of knowledge are generated through daily production and improvement activities, but these valuable collections of knowledge are spread around the world in disparate formats and expressions, limiting their use to only sharing information within constrained search ranges. DENSO is initiating improvements in business productivity through sharing and application, beyond the borders between business units or countries, of various reusable knowledge base entries collected with AI technology … Paxata, a pioneer in self-service data preparation, announced that AdhereHealth™, a leading healthcare technology company focused on medication adherence, has deployed the Paxata Adaptive Information Platform so their managed care and self-insured employer partners can improve the speed of quality data integration.

In new people movement news, we learned … ElectrifAi, a global leader in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML), announced the appointment of industry veteran Edward Scott as ElectrifAi CEO. This comes alongside a comprehensive corporate rebrand for ElectrifAi, changing its name from Opera Solutions and launching a new website.
Scott brings 25 years of experience in the technology and related private equity sectors to ElectrifAi. In his past career, Scott built and managed dozens of high growth enterprises globally, such as Akami and Interxion. Since his appointment as CEO, he has and will continue to guide the company’s mission to use AI and ML to propel customer’s businesses through improved profit, performance and reduced risk … Dr. Sydeaka Watson, Senior Data Scientist at consulting firm Elicit, has been selected to lead the Dallas chapter of R-Ladies Global, a worldwide organization whose mission is to promote gender diversity in the R community. R-Ladies supports minority gender R enthusiasts to achieve their programming potential by building a collaborative global network of R leaders, mentors, learners, and developers. The Dallas R-Ladies community is designed to develop members’ R skills and knowledge through social networking, collaborative learning, and sharing, and encourages minority identity access to STEM skills and careers … Import.io, a leading Web Data Integration solution provider, announced the hiring of three key team members to meet the demands of the rapidly expanding Web Data Integration market. Import.io hired Masa Karahashi as its new VP of engineering. Previously, Karahashi has led engineering efforts for a variety of start-ups, such as Human API, 3VR and Promptu. He has also spent more than a decade in various executive positions running worldwide enterprise engineering organizations at Oracle and Siebel where he was instrumental in ensuring the successful production launches of some of the world’s largest CRM deployments. Dixon Fiske has joined the Import.io team as VP of worldwide sales. Fiske has been in technology sales for more than 30 years, most recently with SOASTA (acquired by Akamai), Boundary (acquired by BMC), and Nimsoft (acquired by CA Technologies). Now at his ninth startup, Fiske looks to continue his track record of building successful sales organizations and driving company growth. Kevin Zachary has joined Import.io as its new VP of delivery and managed services. Zachary previously led professional services and customer success at Cloudera.  Prior to joining Cloudera, Zachary spent 14 years at IBM where he led various strategic delivery initiatives focused on data management and emerging technologies for open source big data, machine learning, and AI.

We also learned of some new IP news … Accenture (NYSE: ACN) has been granted a US patent for a “quantum computing machine learning module” that trains artificial intelligence (AI) models to determine when and how computational tasks would be best handled by quantum computing versus classical computing methods, and route them to the appropriate option. In doing so, it could help organizations understand where quantum computing can have the most impact within their businesses, and when classical computing may still be the best option for a given task.
Accenture’s new patent — U.S. Patent No. 10,275,721 — describes a solution to address the tradeoff between the benefits of using quantum computing versus classical computing resources. By determining when and how to utilize the power of quantum computing, such a system can help perform computational tasks in the most efficient and cost-effective way possible. Additionally, the module described has the ability to learn to prioritize certain tasks. As more advanced and efficient quantum and classical systems are introduced over time, the quantum computing machine learning module can adapt accordingly.

And finally, here are some thoughts and comments about the recent rash of BI acquisitions …

There’s no question that the recent flurry of M&A in the Analytics space is a huge validation that something important is happening here,” commented Derek Steer, CEO of Mode. “It’s the obvious next place for growth given the commoditization that is happening at other places in the stack—cloud data warehouses cost a fraction of their predecessors, and point-and-click ETL tools make it easier than ever to get data centralized and ready for analysis. Where things go from here will be interesting. Right now, we see companies looking for best-of-breed solutions and connecting them with a few key integrators like Segment and Slack. The consolidation that’s happening means customers will be pushed toward all-in-one “suites.” With Alooma and Looker, Google’s got the whole stack now, as does Salesforce with Mulesoft and Tableau. SiSense has explicitly stated that this was the goal of their Periscope merger. Whether this will resonate or ultimately be good for customers remains to be seen—being locked into a single-vendor stack seems like a scary proposition given the pace at which companies’ data needs change. Salesforce, Google, and SiSense are all working to “differentiate” by combining products into a full-stack offering, which means that in a year they still won’t be that different from one another. This opens the door for independent companies like Mode to stand out. Because we are not tied to integration roadmaps, we’ll be able to push the category forward.

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