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AI at the core of next-generation BI

Next-generation BI is upon us, and has been for a few years now.

The first generation of business intelligence, beginning in the 1980s and extending through the turn of the 21st century, relied entirely on information technology experts. It was about business reporting, and was inaccessible to all but a very few with specialized skills.

The second introduced self-service analytics, and lasted until just a few years ago. The technology was accessible to data analysts, and defined by data visualization, data preparation and data discovery.

Next-generation BI — the third generation — is characterized by augmented intelligence, machine learning and natural language processing. It’s open everyday business users, and trust and transparency are important aspects. It’s also changing the direction data looks, becoming more predictive.

In September, Constellation Research released “Augmented Analytics: How Smart Features Are Changing Business Intelligence.The report, authored by analyst Doug Henschen, took a deep look at next-generation BI.

Henschen reflected on some of his findings about the third generation of business analytics for a two-part Q&A.

In Part I, Henschen addressed what marked the beginning of this new era and who stands to benefit most from augmented BI capabilities. In Part II, he looked at which vendors are positioned to succeed and where next-generation business intelligence is headed next.

In your report you peg 2015 as the beginning of next generation BI — what features were you seeing in analytics platforms at that time that signaled a new era?

Doug HenschenDoug Henschen

Doug Henschen: There was a lot percolating at the time, but I don’t think that it’s about a specific technology coming out in 2015. That’s an approximation of when augmented analytics really became something that was ensconced as a buying criteria. That’s I think approximately when we shifted — the previous decade was really when self-service became really important and the majority of deployments were driving toward it, and I pegged 2015 as the approximate time at which augmented started getting on everyone’s radar.

Beyond the technology itself, what were some things that happened in the market around the time of 2015 that showed things were changing?

Henschen: There were lots of technology things that led up to that — Watson playing Jeopardy was in 2011, SAP acquired KXEN in 2013, IBM introduced Watson Analytics in 2014. Some startups like ThoughtSpot and BeyondCore came in during the middle of the decade, Salesforce introduced Einstein in 2016 and ended up acquiring BeyondCore in 2016. A lot of stuff was percolating in the decade, and 2015 is about when it became about, ‘OK, we want augmented analytics on our list. We want to see these features coming up on roadmaps.’

What are you seeing now that has advanced next-generation BI beyond what was available in 2015?

Anything that is proactive, that provides recommendations, that helps automate work that was tedious, that surfaces insights that humans would have a tough time recognizing but that machines can recognize — that’s helpful to everybody.
Doug HenschenAnalyst, Constellation Research

Henschen: In the report I dive into four areas — data preparation, data discovery and analysis, natural language interfaces and interaction, and forecasting and prediction — and in every category you’ve seen certain capabilities become commonplace, while other capabilities have been emerging and are on the bleeding edge. In data prep, everyone can pretty much do auto data profiling, but recommended or suggested data sources and joins are a little bit less common. Guided approaches that walk you through how to cleanse this, how to format this, where and how to join — that’s a little bit more advanced and not everybody does it.

Similarly, in the other categories, recommended data visualization is pretty common in discover and analysis, but intent-driven recommendations that track what individuals are doing and make recommendations based on patterns among people are more on the bleeding edge. It applies in every category. There’s stuff that is now widely done by most products, and stuff that is more bleeding edge where some companies are innovating and leading.

Who benefits from next-generation BI that didn’t benefit in previous generations — what types of users?

Henschen: I think these features will benefit all. Anything that is proactive, that provides recommendations, that helps automate work that was tedious, that surfaces insights that humans would have a tough time recognizing but that machines can recognize — that’s helpful to everybody. It has long been an ambition in BI and analytics to spread this capability to the many, to the business users, as well as the analysts who have long served the business users, and this extends the trend of self-service to more users, but it also saves time and supports even the more sophisticated users.

Obviously, larger companies have teams of data analysts and data engineers and have more people of that sort — they have data scientists. Midsize companies don’t have as many of those assets, so I think [augmented capabilities] stand to be more beneficial to midsize companies. Things like recommended visualizations and starting points for data exploration, those are very helpful when you don’t have an expert on hand and a team at your disposal to develop a dashboard to address a problem or look at the impact of something on sales. I think [augmented capabilities] are going to benefit all, but midsize companies and those with fewer people and resources stand to benefit more.  

You referred to medium-sized businesses, but what about small businesses?

Henschen: In the BI and analytics world there are products that are geared to reporting and helping companies at scale. The desktop products are more popular with small companies — Tableau, Microsoft Power BI, Tibco Spotfire are some that have desktop options, and small companies are turning also to SaaS options. We focus on enterprise analytics — midsize companies and up — and I think enterprise software vendors are focused that way, but there are definitely cloud services, SaaS vendors and desktop options. Salesforce has some good small business options. Augmented capabilities are coming into those tools as well.

Editor’s note: This interview has been edited for clarity and conciseness.

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Fostering Agricultural Leaders to Lead the Economy of Tomorrow

Since our nation’s beginning, the farm has been a foundation of American society, but too often rural communities do not have broadband access or don’t have access to the digital skills needed on today’s modern farms. That’s why today, Microsoft is excited to partner with the National FFA to launch “Blue 365,” an initiative that aims to bring innovative technology, science, research and entrepreneurship to the classrooms of the more than 650,000 FFA student members nationwide.

On today’s modern farm, technologies such as precision agriculture, Big Data, cloud technology, robotic systems, and advanced communications and others are what allow agribusinesses to be more productive, safe, and efficient. As a company that develops technology that plays a role in transforming society, we have a responsibility to help people across all geographies gain access to opportunities and skills that will help them participate, and thrive, in the digital economy.

The National FFA is a natural partner for this work. As a premier youth organization dedicated to preparing its 8+ million alumni and 650,000 current student members for leadership and careers in the science, business and technology of food production and agriculture, the National FFA has been passionately committed to evolving sustainability and innovative efficiency, decreasing food waste, and supporting cutting-edge technological innovations throughout its 90-year history.

Microsoft’s partnership with FFA builds on our TechSpark initiative launched last year, and other projects that support agricultural-focused priorities through sustainability, connectivity, and digital skills:

  • Microsoft’s AI for Earth is a grant-based program that puts cloud and AI tools in the hands of individuals and organizations working to solve global environmental challenges, including sustainable agriculture.
  • Microsoft’s Airband Initiative is working to close the broadband gap for the 19.4 million people living in rural communities.
  • Microsoft’s TechSpark program is a national civic program to introduce digital initiatives designed to foster greater economic opportunity and job creation in six communities across the United States.

With FFA’s leadership with students and agriculture, and Microsoft’s experience in technology and student partnerships, we believe this partnership will help young leaders use technology to drive innovation in farms of the future, sustain and renew our planet, and enrich their communities.

Plan your Exchange migration to Office 365 with confidence

Introduction

Choosing an Exchange migration to Office 365 is just the beginning of this process for administrators. Migrating all the content, troubleshooting the issues and then getting the settings just right in a new system can be overwhelming, especially with tricky legacy archives.

Even though it might appear that the Exchange migration to Office 365 is happening everywhere, transitioning to the cloud is not a black and white choice for every organization. On-premises servers still get the job done; however, Exchange Online offers a constant flow of new features and costs less in some cases. Administrators should also consider a hybrid deployment to get the benefits of both platforms.

Once you have determined the right configuration, you will have to choose how to transfer archived emails and public folders and which tools to use. Beyond relocating mailboxes, administrators have to keep content accessible and security a priority during an Exchange migration to Office 365.

This guide simplifies the decision-making process and steers administrators away from common issues. More advanced tutorials share the reasons to keep certain data on premises and the tricks to set up the cloud service for optimal results.

1Before the move

Plan your Exchange migration

Prepare for your move from Exchange Server to the cloud by understanding your deployment options and tools to smooth out any bumps in the road.

2After the move

Working with Exchange Online

After you’ve made the switch to Office 365’s hosted email platform, these tools and practices will have your organization taking advantage of the new platform’s perks without delay.

3Glossary

Definitions related to Exchange Server migration

Understand the terms related to moving Exchange mailboxes.

G.SKILL 32GB(2×16) DDR4 2800MHz SODIMM Laptop RAM

Brand new, was bought at the beginning of the year from Amazon France for a potential laptop that I never got around to buying. Limited lifetime warranty with G.Skill, I’ll be happy to help with any warranty claims should they arise.

This is pretty fast Laptop RAM so please make sure it’s supported by your device if you’re interested.

Price and currency: £320
Delivery: Delivery cost is included within my country
Payment method: BT
Location: Exeter
Advertised…

G.SKILL 32GB(2×16) DDR4 2800MHz SODIMM Laptop RAM

For Sale – MacBook Pro 13″ 2015. i5 2.9, 8GB RAM, 500GB HD, 1 year’s JL warranty remaining

Somewhat to my surprise, I’m upgrading to a new MacBook so my “old” one will be available by the beginning of next week.

It was bought new by me from John Lewis in February 2016 so has 13 months of the JL warranty remaining. It’s in excellent condition – I take very good care of all my tech – and has been protected by a shell case since day one. If the buyer wishes, I’ll include the case at no extra cost.

Battery count is currently at 348 because my practice is to charge the MacBook, then use it on a tray on my lap until it needs recharging, etc etc. Nothing has been unduly strained by hard usage: mostly, I visit various forums online, browse a number of other sites, and check emails.

This will come with all original packaging and accessories, all in the same excellent condition as the MacBook itself. I’m not sure whether there’s an Apple brown outer box because the unit was collected from JL, but if there isn’t the MacBook will be securely packaged inside another outer box before being posted. Amazon to the rescue again :).

The asking price is inclusive of RMSD. Collection is also possible, should a local buyer want to save a few £££. I’ll get some pics up tomorrow but in the meantime, if you’ve got any questions just ask.

Price and currency: £825
Delivery: Delivery cost is included within my country
Payment method: BT
Location: Bournemouth
Advertised elsewhere?: Not advertised elsewhere
Prefer goods collected?: I have no preference

______________________________________________________
This message is automatically inserted in all classifieds forum threads.
By replying to this thread you agree to abide by the trading rules detailed here.
Please be advised, all buyers and sellers should satisfy themselves that the other party is genuine by providing the following via private conversation to each other after negotiations are complete and prior to dispatching goods and making payment:

  • Landline telephone number. Make a call to check out the area code and number are correct, too
  • Name and address including postcode
  • Valid e-mail address

DO NOT proceed with a deal until you are completely satisfied with all details being correct. It’s in your best interest to check out these details yourself.

For Sale – MacBook Pro 13″ 2015. i5 2.9, 8GB RAM, 500GB HD, 1 year’s JL warranty remaining

Somewhat to my surprise, I’m upgrading to a new MacBook so my “old” one will be available by the beginning of next week.

It was bought new by me from John Lewis in February 2016 so has 13 months of the JL warranty remaining. It’s in excellent condition – I take very good care of all my tech – and has been protected by a shell case since day one. If the buyer wishes, I’ll include the case at no extra cost.

Battery count is currently at 348 because my practice is to charge the MacBook, then use it on a tray on my lap until it needs recharging, etc etc. Nothing has been unduly strained by hard usage: mostly, I visit various forums online, browse a number of other sites, and check emails.

This will come with all original packaging and accessories, all in the same excellent condition as the MacBook itself. I’m not sure whether there’s an Apple brown outer box because the unit was collected from JL, but if there isn’t the MacBook will be securely packaged inside another outer box before being posted. Amazon to the rescue again :).

The asking price is inclusive of RMSD. Collection is also possible, should a local buyer want to save a few £££. I’ll get some pics up tomorrow but in the meantime, if you’ve got any questions just ask.

Price and currency: £825
Delivery: Delivery cost is included within my country
Payment method: BT
Location: Bournemouth
Advertised elsewhere?: Not advertised elsewhere
Prefer goods collected?: I have no preference

______________________________________________________
This message is automatically inserted in all classifieds forum threads.
By replying to this thread you agree to abide by the trading rules detailed here.
Please be advised, all buyers and sellers should satisfy themselves that the other party is genuine by providing the following via private conversation to each other after negotiations are complete and prior to dispatching goods and making payment:

  • Landline telephone number. Make a call to check out the area code and number are correct, too
  • Name and address including postcode
  • Valid e-mail address

DO NOT proceed with a deal until you are completely satisfied with all details being correct. It’s in your best interest to check out these details yourself.

Mixed reality and medicine: Surgery with no surprises – Asia News Center

Let’s start at the beginning. The internal workings of the body have fascinated us since before the time of Leonardo da Vinci. And up until today, most medical schools have relied on books, models and, just like Leonardo, the dissection of cadavers to teach anatomy and surgical procedures to tomorrow’s doctors. But that has suddenly changed.

“Our way of visualizing the body in medicine has historically been as a two-dimensional abstraction. Now through mixed reality, we can view it in three dimensions and that is pretty transformative,” Dr. Kos says. Mixed reality is so transformative that clinicians – who are normally conservative in the uptake of new technologies – are “leaping at it”.

Institutions like Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland in the United States and the University of Sydney in Australia are using Microsoft HoloLens to instruct their students. Donning headsets, they can “see” and study the anatomical complexities as if from the inside of the body. Three-dimensional tutorials, projected across a visor, graphically show how the heart pumps, how the nervous system functions, how bones and muscles interact, as well as the layout of vital organs. Students can walk around and even through the projected images to get intimately acquainted with the subject.

Similarly, global training and education company, CAE Healthcare, is aiming to improve patient safety by getting its students to use HoloLens to simulate and practice medical procedures. Its President Dr. Robert Amyot says healthcare providers are at their “most dangerous” when they are still on a “learning curve”. But now that has completely changed due to HoloLens. Through repeated and 3-D simulations, students can practice varied scenarios, make mistakes, and try things before treating real patients.

Meanwhile, the Hololens – which is an advanced computer in its own right – has also become an unrivaled tool for surgeons planning intricate operations, which have little or no room for error. This is how it works: A patient is scanned by a CT or MRI machine. The resulting two-dimensional images are then presented in 3-D within a HoloLens headset. With these a doctor can determine exactly what needs to be done and how.

This is happening right now in Norway’s capital, Oslo, by a team of specialists renowned for correcting congenital defects in the tiny hearts of infants. Until recently, they had their own hi-tech way of planning such intricate surgeries: They used scans and a 3-D printer to create physical models of each heart. But now, the precise interactive 3-D imagery within the Hololens has made that once cutting-edge solution redundant after just a few short years.

Dr. Kos believes mixed reality will revolutionize how surgeons tackle a wide range of delicate operations, resulting in better success rates and speedier patient recovery times. “Using HoloLens means you can do surgery with no surprises. You can plan carefully ahead of time. No one’s anatomy is the same as another’s. So, you have got to know what you are in for.”

The future of Viptela SD-WAN under Cisco

Cisco’s $610 million acquisition of software-defined WAN vendor Viptela marks the beginning of the end for Cisco IWAN — a competing product that fell short of traction in the SD-WAN market, industry experts said. Also, Cisco is likely to eventually toss the vEdge appliance that runs the Viptela SD-WAN today and deliver the product as a virtual network function that will make the underlying hardware less relevant.

Last week, Cisco said it completed the purchase of Viptela, but provided no details on the product’s roadmap. However, a close review of Cisco’s overall networking software portfolio offers hints of the direction the company is likely to take the former startup’s technology.

Cisco IWAN will fade away

Maybe not today, tomorrow or two years from now, but IWAN is probably going to go away once enough customers have migrated from it to Viptela.
Shamus McGillicuddyanalyst at Enterprise Management Associates

First is the slow death of Intelligent WAN, or IWAN. Cisco has said it would continue “to invest in the roadmap of IWAN,” but analysts mostly agreed that the SD-WAN product, which many companies complained was too complicated, would be phased out over time.

“Maybe not today, tomorrow or two years from now, but IWAN is probably going to go away once enough customers have migrated from it to Viptela,” said Shamus McGillicuddy, an analyst at Enterprise Management Associates Inc., based in Boulder, Colo. “Complaints about IWAN are out there for everyone to see. It wasn’t a great success.”

Viptela SD-WAN under Cisco

Industry observers believe Cisco has learned from IWAN’s failure and will apply those teachings to how it delivers Viptela’s product. Today, an enterprise would choose one of three Viptela vEdge routers running the SD-WAN software. In the future, Cisco will likely offer the software as a virtual network function (VNF) that provides more options for the underlying hardware.

“It’s hard for me to speculate on how they will integrate their technologies, but in the long term, I would not be surprised if [Viptela] becomes a VNF,” said Dan Conde, an analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group Inc., based in Milford, Mass. “I think the goal is for Cisco to offer a general platform for network functions for their own and third-party VNFs.”

Turning the Viptela SD-WAN into a VNF would make it a component in Cisco’s Enterprise Network Functions Virtualization architecture for delivering software-based network services to the branch office. ENFV includes a Linux-based hypervisor for running VNFs as service-delivering virtual network appliances. Services Cisco provides today through the ENFV platform include firewalls, routing and WAN acceleration.

Viptela SD-WAN hardware options

As the hardware host for ENFV, Cisco offers its Unified Computing System E-Series Server or the 5000 Series Enterprise Network Compute System. Companies that need less horsepower could run VNFs on the hypervisor within Cisco’s Integrated Services Router.

Cisco has said it would let third-party VNFs run on the ENFV platform, but has remained silent on whether it would let other companies supply the hardware. Andrew Froehlich, president of the network consultancy West Gate Networks in Loveland, Colo., said he expects Cisco to bundle the Viptela SD-WAN with the company’s IOS network operating system and deliver it as a virtual machine instance that can run on any virtualized hardware in a private data center or public cloud.

Tying the software to proprietary hardware would make Cisco less competitive in the SD-WAN market, Froehlich said.

“Most in the industry would almost universally tell you that this would be a terrible move for Cisco,” he said. “And I have to believe that the people responsible for shaping the direction of Cisco’s future know this better than anyone.”

Cisco bought Viptela to provide the technology it needed to grab a bigger slice of the fast-growing SD-WAN market, which, in turn, could help the company reduce its dependency on declining network hardware sales.

Cisco is gradually shifting more of its business to software-based security and networking. By July 2020, software will account for more than 30% of revenue, compared to 22% this year, according to projections released this summer by the company at the Cisco Live conference.