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Michael Stonebraker Explains Oracle’s Obsolescence, Facebook’s Enormous Challenge

March 31, 2015 Leave a comment

Professor Michael Stonebraker, 2015 ACM "Turing Award" winner for contributions to computer science.Michael Stonebraker is a living legend in the database world.

Not a year goes by I don’t hear this or that tech startup or industry executive refer with awe and admiration to his work of the past 40 years.

Stonebraker refined therelational techniques that today form the heart of billions of dollars in annual software sales by Oracle (ORCL),International Business Machines (IBM), and Microsoft  (MSFT).

Friday afternoon, I had the honor of speaking with Stonebraker by telephone, to congratulate him for being this year’s recipient of the Association for Computing Machinery‘s “Turing Award” for his groundbreaking contributions to computer science. More on the award can be found on the ACM Web site.

Stonebraker, a professor at MIT‘s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab, said he was honored, remarking that “This is the Nobel Prize of computer science.”

(Stonebraker’s full bio can be found on the CSAIL Web site.)

Stonebraker not only continues to do fundamental research into database theory, but also has deep and informed views on the state of the industry that are of value to any tech investor.

Among the provocative views he shared with me is that current database technology from Oracle and others is “obsolete,” and that Facebook (FB) is grappling with “the biggest database problem in the world.”

Breakthroughs

Stonebraker’s chief claim to fame is having pushed forward the relational technology first conceptualized by E.F. ‘Ted’ Codd in a seminal paper in 1970.

Stonebraker’s companies, Ingres, then Postgres, and many more after that, such as Vertica(acquired by Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) ) helped bring Codd’s academic notions to fruition in the commercial marketplace.

When asked what he contributed, Stonebraker is remarkably humble: he deftly switched the conversation to a glowing summation of Codd, whom he refers to as “Ted.”

“What Ted proposed at the time was radical,” he said. “It was a complete change from how things were being done in database.”

Ted saw two important things. At the time, there were databases such as IBM’s IMS, whuch was structured as a hierarchy, and the CODASYL database, which was structured as a network of connection between objects. Ted realized that what people inherently understand are relations, and so he turned the problem of data management into one of relations. That dramatically simplified things. He saw that things must be kept simple. Ted really followed the KISS principle [Keep it Simple, Stupid].

The other big breakthrough by Codd, says Stonebraker, was moving the actual manipulation of data away from assembly language programming of the time to higher levels of abstraction that would later become structured query language, or SQL.

The conventional wisdom at the time was that you should build for the particulars of how the data is stored. He saw that made no sense. He brought principles of encapsulation and abstraction to programming databases, like with a high-level-language in programming. The problem with the assembly approach was, your data lives a very long time. Today, your business might be in plumbing supplies. But then then you merge your company with another company, and now you’re in plumbing supplies and beauty supplies. Inevitably, your data structures will change as a result. If you write these assembly language programs, you have to throw them away and recode when things change, whereas if you write at a high level, with data independence, your data will not be dependent on the structure of the data. 

As for his own contribution, Stonebraker is equally humble. In conversation, he uses “We” instead of “I,” and he notes that the Ingres database “was the contribution of quite a number of people.”

Among them, Jerry Held and Gene Wong joined Stonebraker in receiving the ACM’s “System Software Award” in 1988 for Ingres.

Stonbraker notes that he and his fellow pioneers brought Codd’s lofty relational ideas into the realm of ordinary individuals:

Ted was a mathematician, and he wrote his things in mathematical terms that no mere mortal could handle. We turned it into constructs that could be manipulated by ordinary people. Second, it was argued at the time that RDBMS couldn’t perform, but we showed it could be efficient.

Oracle, Microsoft, IBM have a problem

Turning to the present, Stonebraker tells me Oracle’s database, IBM’s DB2, and Microsoft‘s SQL Server are all obsolete, facing a couple major challenges.

One is that at the time, they were designed for “business data processing.”

“But now there is also scientific data and social media, and web logs, and you name it! The number of people with database problems is now of a much broader scope.”

Second, “We were writing Ingres and System R for machines with a small main memory, so they were disk-based — they were what we call ‘row stores‘.”

“You stored data on disk record by record by record. All major database systems of the last 30 years all looked like that – Postgres, Ingres, DB2, Oracle DB, SQL Server — they’re all disk-row stores.”

But, with the fall in the cost of memory chips, “main memory is now cheap enough that OLTP [online transaction processing] is going to be main-memory databases, increasingly, and they don’t look like disk-based row stores at all,” contends Stonebraker. He cites as examples the newer “in-memory” database Hana from SAP (SAP), and also his own new initiative, VoltDB.

The third of the database market that’s legacy Oracle and SQL Server and DB2 will be replaced by things such as VoltDB, and whether Oracle can adapt or die remains to be seen:

Oracle or SQL Server or DB2 are legacy code at this point. There’s that great book by Clayton Christensen, The Innovator’s Dilemma. All the system software vendors are up against the innovator’s dilemma. They are selling the old technology, and the question is how will they morph without losing their customer base? There’s no question that with Oracle, the customers are dug in pretty deep in the traditional systems, but my point of view is there is two orders of magnitude performance difference to be had with other technology approaches, and sooner or later that will be significant. It may take a decade or longer for the legacy stuff to actually die away — there’s still a lot of IMS data in production in the real world! — but sooner or later it will get replaced. My point of view is that if you want to do 50 transactions per second, it doesn’t matter what technology you use, you can use whatever you want. But if you want to run 50,000 transactions per second, your current implementation is simply not going to do it. Sooner or later, you are going to be up against a technology wall that will force you to move to new technology, and it will be completely based on return on investment.  

Where NoSQL and Hadoop are going

Another third of the market, focused on “data warehousing,” is moving from row-stores to “column stores,” which can be far more efficient, he says. “All the data warehouse vendors have converted to the column stores or are in the process.”

The last third is “everything else,” says Stonebraker.

That includes “NoSQL” databases such as MarkLogic, which I profiled recently; and Hadoop, the open-source database widely used by Google and others, and now commercialized by startup Cloudera and by Hortonworks (HDP).

There are 100 or more of these NoSQL companies, and Stonebraker thinks they will all eventually end up looking like SQL databases. “It started out, NoSQL meant, ‘Not SQL,’ then it became ‘Not only SQL,’ and now I think it means “Not-yet-SQL’,” he quips.

NoSQL proposes low-level languages, and they are betting against the compiler, and that’s an incredibly dangerous thing to do,” he says, just like the assembly-language programming back in the day. He thinks VoltDB and other approaches can fix the problems brought about by legacy RDBMs, and “NoSQL guys will drift toward looking at SQL,” he contends. “They will move to higher-level languages, and the only game in town is SQL.”

As for Hadoop, it will take on SQL aspects and merge with data warehousing:

If you look at the major vendors there, Cloudera, Facebook and Hortonworks, if you look at what Cloudera is doing, they released the Impala system a little while ago. If you take a careful look at it, it is a SQL engine. MapReduce is nowhere to be found. The historical Hadooop stack was Hive on top of MapReduce, on top of HDFS. Look at Impala and you see MapReduceis nowhere to be found. I think everyone pretty much agrees the MapReduce interface is not very interesting. None of the data warehouse guys have anything that looks like that. So I think MapReduce will atrophy and be replaced by SQL. Impala is a column-store, so it looks like Vertica or Red Shift, or any other data warehouse model. So data warehouse and Hadoop are going to completely merge eventually. 

And so, “Hadoop will look like the data warehouse market, and NoSQL will look like the SQL market.”

Arrays, graphs and data science take over

More interesting to Stonebraker are areas such as the “social graph” of Facebook, and the emerging area of data science.

He predicts a lot of business analysts who run data warehouses will be replaced in years to come by data scientists, who are trained to work with arrays rather than tables, and with techniques such as regression analysis, Bayesian analysis, and other approaches represented by programs such as the statistical package R:

Another incredibly dominant trend right now is that the data warehouse market is about business intelligence, it’s about business analysts using Business Objects, and Cognos, and products like that as a GUI [user interface] in front of a SQL system. They are running SQL analytics. But what I think is guaranteed to happen is that business analysts will be replaced by data scientists. It will take a while, because we don’t have enough trained data scientists, but the market will get much more sophisticated. Suppose you are the Wal-Mart guy who has to figure out how to provision Wal-Mart products around major snow storms. The query you want to run is in the week before the storm, and the week after, What sold by department in the North East, and compare that with, say, Maryland — that’s standard business intelligence work. And what comes out is a big table of numbers. An alternatives is to get data scientists to build a predictive model to predict sales by department in the winter. You run that model and out comes a bunch of predictions, which is what the business guy actually wants. Sooner or later, the business intelligence world will move to the data science world, using things like regression analysis, Bayesian analysis — these are lots of big words, but all of these techniques, if you look at them, it’s an array-based, not a table-based calculation. People who do data science now often code in MatLab or R. So, as we transition to data science we are going to transition to array-based calculations. The question is, Are those going to be done on an RDBMS, or is there room for a new class of array-based data manage? I think the jury is completely out, but it’s going to be a sizable market over time and it’s going to happen, maybe not this year, but over time. It’s a possible opportunity for array-based data management. We just built something to do that, SciDB. It is a commercial product that is array-based. There are certain kinds of data science applications that are getting a lot of traction. The genomics market is one that will be huge as all of us get [genetically] sequenced. The things those guys want to do is completely array-based. SciDB is focused on genomics for the short term, but will eventually move into other areas.

Facebook has the biggest problem of anyone

His other point is that Facebook has a big problem: Its problem is a graph problem, figuring the combinations of “vertices” and “edges,” in the language of graph theory, but Facebook is entirely based on the database technology “MySQL,” which means that its underlying infrastructure doesn’t fit the task at hand:

Look at Facebook, it is one giant social graph, with the problem of how to find the average distance from anyone to anyone. You can simulate a graph as an edge matrix, and a connectivity matrix in an array-based system, and you model graphs in a table system, or you build a special-purpose engine to implement the graph directly. All three are being prototyped and commercialized, and the jury is out whether there is room for a new graph engine or if one of the other technologies would be good enough. I think the answer to graph problems is it will be done by either an array or a table DBMS. Facebook has a big transaction processing problem: You “friend” me, and that is an update to the social graph. That’s currently implemented on MySQL, and as of three years ago, they had over 4,000 MySQL instances. It’s probably 10,000 now or more. They would love to get rid of MySQL. They are prototyping everything in sight to explore new approaches. The infrastructure is at odds with the nature of their problem, and at such an extreme scale. I would say they have the hardest database problem on the planet. For Facebook, the question is make versus buy, and like Google and Amazon, they are running at such scale that it tilts them toward make rather than buy.

The upshot of all that is, “Off in the future, there will be a fair number of graph and array problems, and it will be intersting to see how those will be solved over time — that’s equivalent of saying, the database world is alive and well, and will continue to flourish for a while.”

GPUs and non-volatile RAM may again change databases

In closing, I asked Stonebraker what hardware innovations, like faster DRAM, would eventually impact databases.

He said “Two things are very significant,” one being GPUs, or graphical processing units, the kind of chips in which Nvidia (NVDA) specializes, the other being non-volatile RAM.

Regarding GPUs and other “co-processors,”

There will be various co-processor approaches. No one will build one [a co-processor] just for the databases market, because it’s not big enough, so we will have to piggy back on someone else’s technology, and GPUs are here, and we ask, What can we use them for? That is a very active area of investigation. Take a look at Intel’s “Xeon PHI.” At the Intel Science and Tech Center at MIT, one of the things they are having us look at is what to do with PHI, which has very fast floating point performance. Another thing is what to do with FPGAs, among things that hardware guys developed for some other reason.

Regarding NVRAM,

The thing I think will be way more important is non-volatile RAM, NVRAM. The various vendors are betting on various things, and it is probably coming this decade, and it’s going to be way faster than flash. Flash is too slow to be really interesting — some people are using it [flash] now, but it’s not mainstream. It is going to be very significant. Hewlett-Packard’s MEMRISTOR is one of the technologies; Intel is betting on something, though they won’t tell us what it is.

Correction: a prior version of this post attributed the CODASYL database system to IBM, when in fact it was not from IBM. my apologies for any confusion caused by the error.

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Categories: Uncategorized

Capabilities of Mobile Device Management for Office 365

March 31, 2015 Leave a comment

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Applies to: Office 365

Topic Last Modified: 2015-01-23

Mobile Device Management for Office 365 can help you secure and manage mobile devices like iPhones, iPads, Androids, and Windows Phones used by licensed Office 365 users in your organization. You can create mobile device management policies with settings that can help control access to your organization’s Office 365 email and documents for supported mobile devices and apps. If a device is lost or stolen, you can remotely wipe the device to remove sensitive organizational information.

In this article:

You can use MDM for Office 365 to secure and manage the following types of devices.

  • Windows Phone 8.1
  • iOS 6 or later versions
  • Android 4 or later versions
  • Windows 8.1
  • Windows 8.1 RT

The supported apps for the different types of mobile devices in the following table will prompt users to enroll in MDM for Office 365 where there is a new mobile device management policy that applies to a user’s device and the user hasn’t previously enrolled the device. If a user’s device doesn’t comply with a policy, depending on how you set the policy up, a user might be blocked from accessing Office 365 resources in these apps, or they might have access but Office 365 will report a policy violation.

Apps supported by mobile devices to control access to Office 365

Apps on devices Windows Phone 8.1 iOS 6+ Android 4+
Exchange ActiveSync
OneDrive for Business
Office Mobile

On phones

NoteNote:
  • Exchange ActiveSync includes native email and third-party apps, like TouchDown, that use Exchange ActiveSync.
  • Support for iOS 6 and later versions includes iPhone and iPad devices.
  • Management of BlackBerry devices isn’t supported by Mobile Device Management for Office 365. Use BlackBerry Business Cloud Services (BBCS) from BlackBerry to manage BlackBerry devices.
  • Users won’t be prompted to enroll and won’t be blocked or reported for policy violation if they use the mobile browser to access Office 365 SharePoint sites, documents in Office Online, or email in Outlook Web App.

The following diagram shows what happens when a user with a new device signs in to an app that supports access control with MDM for Office 365. The user is blocked from accessing Office 365 resources in the app until they enroll their device.

Shows enrollment process for new device.

NoteNote:
Policies and access rules created in MDM for Office 365 will override Exchange ActiveSync mobile device mailbox policies and device access rules created in the Exchange admin center. After a device is enrolled in MDM for Office 365, any Exchange ActiveSync mobile device mailbox policy or device access rule applied to the device will be ignored. To learn more about Exchange ActiveSync, see Exchange ActiveSync in Exchange Online.

If you create a policy to block access with certain settings turned on, users will be blocked from accessing Office 365 resources when using a supported app that is listed in Access control for Office 365 email and documents. The settings that can block users from accessing Office 365 resources are in these sections:

  • Security
  • Encryption
  • Jail broken
  • Managed email profile

For example, the following diagram shows what happens when a user with an enrolled device isn’t compliant with a security setting in a mobile device management policy that applies to their device. The user signs in to an app that supports access control with MDM for Office 365. They are blocked from accessing Office 365 resources in the app until their device complies with the security setting.

Shows user is blocked when device isn't compliant.
The following sections list the policy settings you can use to help secure and manage mobile devices that connect to your organization’s Office 365 resources.

Setting name Windows Phone 8.1 iOS 6+ Android 4+
Require a password
Prevent simple password
Require an alphanumeric password
Minimum password length
Number of sign-in failures before device is wiped
Minutes of inactivity before device is locked
Password expiration (days)
Remember password history and prevent reuse

Setting name Windows Phone 8.1 iOS 6+ Android 4+
Require data encryption on devices Windows Phone 8.1 is already encrypted and cannot be unencrypted

Setting name Windows Phone 8.1 iOS 6+ Android 4+
Device cannot be jail broken or rooted

The following option can block users from accessing their Office 365 email if they’re using a manually created email profile. Users on iOS devices must delete their manually created email profile before they can access their email. After they delete the profile, a new profile will be automatically created on the device. Manually created email profiles on other supported devices like Android 4.4 and Windows Phone 8.1 are automatically replaced by a new profile when this option is turned on.

Setting name Windows Phone 8.1 iOS 6+ Android 4+
Email profile is managed

Setting name Windows Phone 8.1 iOS 6+ Android 4+
Require encrypted backup
Block cloud backup
Block document synchronization
Block photo synchronization

Setting name Windows Phone 8.1 iOS 6+ Android 4+
Block screen capture
Block sending diagnostic data from device

Setting name Windows Phone 8.1 iOS 6+ Android 4+
Block video conferences on device
Block access to application store
Require password when accessing application store

Setting name Windows Phone 8.1 iOS 6+ Android 4+
Block connection with removable storage
Block Bluetooth connection

You can set the following additional policy settings by using PowerShell cmdlets. For more information, see Get-DevicePolicy.

Setting name Windows Phone 8.1 iOS 6+ Android 4+
CameraEnabled
RegionRatings
MoviesRatings
TVShowsRating
AppsRatings
AllowVoiceDialing
AllowVoiceAssistant
AllowAssistantWhileLocked
AllowPassbookWhileLocked
MaxPasswordGracePeriod
PasswordQuality
SystemSecurityTLS
WLANEnabled

You can manage Windows 8.1 devices by enrolling them as mobile devices. After an applicable policy is deployed, users with Windows 8.1 RT devices will be required to enroll in MDM for Office 365 the first time they use the native email app to access their Office 365 email.

The following settings are supported for Windows 8.1 devices that are enrolled as mobile devices. These setting won’t block users from accessing Office 365 resources.

Security settings

  • Require an alphanumeric password
  • Minimum password length
  • Number of sign-in failures before device is wiped
  • Minutes of inactivity before device is locked
  • Password expiration (days)
  • Remember password history and prevent reuse

System settings

Block sending diagnostic data from device

Additional settings

You can set the following additional policy settings by using PowerShell cmdlets:

  • AllowConvenienceLogon
  • UserAccountControlStatus
  • FirewallStatus
  • AutoUpdateStatus
  • AntiVirusStatus
  • AntiVirusSignatureStatus
  • SmartScreenEnabled
  • WorkFoldersSyncUrl

If a device is lost or stolen, you can remove sensitive organizational data and help prevent access to your organization’s Office 365 resources by doing a wipe from Office 365 admin center >Mobile device management. You can do a selective wipe to remove only organizational data or a full wipe to delete all information from a device and restore it to its factory settings.

For more information, see Wipe a mobile device in Office 365.

Categories: Uncategorized

HOW APPS ARE CHANGING THE ROLES OF PRODUCT MANAGERS AND MARKETERS

March 30, 2015 Leave a comment

Thinking-man-featured-image-for-apps-changing-roles-of-product-managers-and-marketersApps are changing the world. They are ushering in a new, engaged era by connecting people to brands in more intuitive, innovative, and actionable ways.

But you already knew that.

What you’re probably wondering is: now that apps are a big deal, how will they change what I do and what’s on my plate?

The Winds of Change: Apps & Who They Will Affect the Most

Whenever an exciting new technology rises to prominence, it naturally shakes up the whole system. Consumer expectations change, companies realign their resources, and new relationships are forged between people and the brands they love.

Apps (and the shift to mobile) have made us rethink the way we do business. We are moving away from interruptive models to interactive ones. Mobile-first businesses are popping up and thriving, while larger enterprises are racing to add a mobile component.

Today, product managers and marketers will most strongly feel the impact of this shift because these two roles are crucial to 1) actually building an app and 2) seeing it succeed.

Tomorrow, these two roles will merge into one. Intrigued? We’ll talk more about this at the end of this article. Let’s first address how apps are affecting the roles of product managers and marketers right now.

And this depends on whether or not your company is app-first.

Is Your Company Mobile-First or Not? The Answer Affects Your Job

In an organization where your app is the bread and butter of the entire operation, your role as a product manager or marketer will come with more authority, responsibilities, and flexibility. After all, you need to create a groundbreaking app because the health of your business depends on it! Product managers and marketers at app-first companies are more strategic thinkers. They need to deliver an app that pushes the limits on what’s possible on mobile, while also driving revenue.

Comparatively, in enterprises where mobile is not your core offering, product managers and marketers will have different app priorities. For example, there might be less focus on innovation and more attention on integrating the app with your other marketing channels and ensuring it adheres to your brand.

So, we just went over how the goals of product managers and marketers will change with apps in the picture. Now, let’s take a look at how apps will change the day-to-day lives of people in these roles.

From Product Managers to PlatformManagers

As a sharp product manager, you do a lot; you build things and rally a team of developers, designers, and engineers around business goals to deliver something that is worth selling.

That’s why the responsibility of bringing your company’s app idea to life will fall onto your capable shoulders. But if you think of your app as simply another product, you’re headed in the wrong direction because apps are much more than that. Apps are a channel for growth.

As a mobile product manager, your job is to now build an app that will act as a platform for communication, transactions, time management, ecommerce, etc.

Here’s how this process will be different:

1. Behavioral research primarily guides development  

Apps are not consumed; they are used. As a result, you’ll need to research long and hard about what problem your app is going to solve (i.e. how can people use your app to improve their lives?).

Quick Tip: Map out 3-4 main user scenarios around when and why people will use your app. Then, talk to people about their mobile preferences and behavior in your industry. Or, comb through articles, studies, or survey results that already exist. Find out how your app can help fulfill users’ needs and wants.

2. Multiple stakeholders are involved

Even if you’re officially assigned ownership of your company’s app, you’ll need to work with multiple departments to build, launch, and maintain an app. Engineering talent will do the backend coding and designers will beautify the frontend. Marketing will help you think of the app as it fits into the customer experience and develop solid user acquisition and engagement strategies around it. Support will be instrumental in collecting customer feedback, addressing any issues, and relaying them back to your product team.

Quick Tip: Get these stakeholders involved early. Their insight and input will define your app’s purpose and feature roadmap, not just the post-launch promotion.

3. Functional wireframes are needed

Every product manager is familiar with wireframes, which are pictorial schematics essential for organizing product elements. Traditional wireframes help you answer questions like, “Does this layout make sense?” and, “What is the best way to display information?”

When it comes to apps, product managers also need to craft functional (not just visual) wireframes. Functional wireframes illustrate how an app is going to be used and help you map out key funnels and conversion paths.

Quick Tip: There are plenty of tools that can help you create functional wireframes online. For example, try out JUSTINMIND.

4. Increased focus on beauty and aesthetics of the user interface

The importance of having a beautiful, clear, and intuitive user interface is amplified on mobile, where screen size is small and sensitive to touch. Make sure you spend a lot of time polishing off your app so it’s easy to use and navigate through. People are much less forgiving when they encounter poor design on their beloved smartphones or tablets.

Quick Tip: Don’t forget about your app’s icon and home screen widgets (if it has any) when designing your UI and UX.

5. Different development guidelines need to be followed

Apps are constrained to the guidelines and limitations of the operating system they exist on. And depending on whether you develop for iOS or Android first, you’ll need to ensure you follow Apple or Google’s rules. Otherwise, your app may not be approved for their app stores and it risks being incompatible with smartphone features.

Quick Tip: Can’t decide if you should develop for iOS or Android? We’ve done an analysis on this common conundrum and deconstructed the answer into business and technology perspectives.

6. Your app’s roadmap will be (at least partially) dependent on the iOS or Android roadmap

Speaking of following someone else’s rules, your app’s long and short-term feature roadmap will also partly depend on Apple and Google’s roadmap. Obviously, you’ll lay out a vision of your app’s evolution based on business needs and customer feedback, but be prepared to adapt and react to changes in the iOS or Android operating systems.

Quick Tip: Due your due diligence to keep tabs on what Apple and Google are planning for their mobile platforms. Be quick to update your app to take advantage of new APIs, features, and developer tools released by these tech giants. Don’t be blindsided by major announcements and unprepared on next steps.

7. Product iterations could lead to multiple apps

As a product manager, it can be hard to see your product split into smaller pieces. But this could be a good thing when it comes to apps. Look at how different groups of people are using your app and ask yourself, “Are some segments using my app in very specific ways?” Sometimes, it may make sense to spin off features into brand new niche apps to provide a more focused customer experience.

Quick Tip: To help you understand how different audiences are using your app, use an app analytics and marketing platform.

8. You will be accountable for new metrics

Product managers and mobile product managers focus on different metrics. Key performance indicators for apps include session length, cohort retention, and user lifetime value. In a nutshell, these metrics will help you gauge the stickiness and likability of your app.

Quick Tip: If you’re unfamiliar with these metrics or want more information into what they mean, read this article.

9. You will evolve into an app marketer

On paper, you may be a mobile product manager, but you will also need to embrace and understand app marketing principles. Why? Because push and in-app messaging campaigns are both an extension of an app (that you’ll need to develop), and key components of an app’s marketing strategy. For example, push notifications can deliver your app’s value to users’ home screens (through transactional alerts), while also serving up promotional advertising (like highlighting an in-app sale).

Quick Tip: Want to get a head start on learning the best practices of push and in-app messaging before you begin to build them out? Check out “The Anatomy of a Successful Push Messaging Campaign” and, “The Anatomy of a Successful In-App Messaging Campaign.”

From Web Marketers to Omni-ChannelMarketers

As a versatile marketer, you wear many hats; clever wordsmith, tireless publicist, bubbly sales cheerleader, and customer champion, to name a few.

Now, it’s time to add avid app marketer to that mix. Traditional and web marketers will be called upon to create demand around a company’s new app, develop a launch plan, and ensure it earns a happy (and growing) user base.

And as apps become the digital centerpiece connecting consumer devices, marketers will focus on optimizing the omni-channel experience.

Specifically, here’s how your job description will change:

1. You will become more data-driven

Smartphones and apps contain a wealth of both behavioral and profile data, which can help brands understand what their customers are doing inside their apps and who they are in the real world. As an app marketer, you’ll need to use this information to better target your push and in-app messages. Data-driven app marketing leads to the personalized app experiences people crave.

Quick Tip: Hungry for some research-backed app marketing best practices that you can use right away? We reveal six of them in this post.

2. Web marketing and inbound principles will need to be applied to apps

Apps are fundamentally different than websites, so you can’t apply the web’s tired strategies to the mobile world. Instead, you’ll need to freshen up your web marketing prowess and inbound learnings for the app-first era where App Store Optimization (ASO) (not SEO) is the key to getting found, push and in-app messages are essential for nurturing users (more than emails), and context marketing replaces content marketing in driving conversions.

Quick Tip: The best way to learn something new is to relate it to something you already know. That’s why we created a handy-dandy “this = that” chart of web to app equivalents. Check out how the online tactics and web metrics you know and love map to mobile.

3. You will need to understand app business models and choose the right one

Your company’s app has the potential to bring in revenue, but you’ll need to decide which business model makes sense for your audience. At the core of this decision is your ability to identify what’s truly unique about your app and whether or not people would be willing to pay for this. Then, you need to evaluate the pros and cons of the mobile business models at your disposal. Some of these bring in more money right off the bat at the expense of gaining users quickly, while others result in high initial downloads and accumulate profits later.

Quick Tip: Not sure which model to choose? We’ve summarized the advantages and disadvantages of the six most bankable ones right here.

4. You will be responsible for integrating your app into your marketing ecosystem

A big part of marketing an app is to ensure it is well integrated with your company’s other marketing channels, including your web presence, social media accounts, and brick-and-mortar locations. Part of this process will require you to evaluate how your app will replicate, augment, or replace your brand’s current customer touch points. Or, will it provide entirely new ones?

Quick Tip: Remember, your app is an extension of your brand, so you can’t leave it to fend for itself. Weave your app into your marketing organization by figuring out how it connects with every major channel and where it can be promoted. Here are specific tactics on doing just that.

5. Your focus will be driving engagement, not sales

Marketers are typically held accountable for the number of leads they send to sales, or how much revenue was marketing-sourced. When it comes to apps, your focus will shift from enabling sales to eliciting engagement. In particular, you will probably keep an eye on the growth of your monthly active users, retention rate, and the click rates of push and in-app messages that drive meaningful app usage.

Quick Tip: One way to evaluate how successful your app is at continually engaging users is to compare it to industry averages and trends. Our “State of the App” guide distills data collected from thousands of apps making it a valuable resource for benchmarking.

6. You will optimize for the customer experience, not for the channel

Don’t fall into the trap of simply optimizing your app for mobile – optimize for how your app fits into the customer’s journey. Think about when people come across your app. What stage are they at in the buying process? What part of the marketing funnel does your app fit into?

Quick Tip: You can identify your app’s place in the bigger marketing picture by defining its consistent use cases. In other words, in what scenarios will people turn to your app over your other marketing channels? Why? What can it do better than your website?

7. You will evolve into a product/platform manager

As you start executing app marketing strategies, engaging with your users, and monitoring their in-app behavior, you’ll get insight into what they like about your app and what they don’t. You’ll be able to decipher and understand data on what features people use most, what screens they navigate away from quickly, when they fall out of conversion funnels, etc. This will empower you to lead updates to your company’s app and inform its roadmap, putting you in the product/platform manager’s shoes.

Quick Tip: Marketers should work to align their app’s development steps to the buyer journey and ensure user scenarios guide the app’s feature build-out. Wondering how? Here are the templates you’ll need to thoughtfully iterate on your app.

Blurred Lines: Apps will Blend Product Management with Marketing

Apps are blurring the boundaries between devices, channels, and careers. In the near future, product managers and marketers won’t exist as separate roles because a successful app needs both slick features and standout marketing.

You can’t build an app and expect people to automatically flock to it – you need to spend time and money promoting it. And mobile marketing isn’t about bombarding people with generic advertising; it’s about learning to predict, personalize, and evolve your app based on who they are.

Apps are indeed changing the way we live our lives, the way we connect with others, and the way we do our jobs. But this isn’t something to worry about. Rather, it’s something to get excited about.

Because without change, there can be no progress. And apps are most definitely moving us forward.

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4 Thoughts on How to Secure Funds for Your Business

March 30, 2015 Leave a comment

“The most important elements are character, character, character”

CA APPAREL NEWS

California Apparel News recently spoke with finance-industry executive, Ken Wengrod, to find out how lenders approach financing new businesses and how selling to e-retailers differs from selling to a bricks-and-mortar retailer.

Read more…

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As Twitter Introduces Periscope, Tech Titans Bet on Live Streaming Video

March 27, 2015 Leave a comment

Kayvon Beykpour, right, the chief and a founder of Periscope, and Joe Bernstein, also a founder, at their office in San Francisco. CreditJason Henry for The New York Times

Ms. Banks was not on the set of her daytime television show or modeling on the runway at New York Fashion Week. She was staring into her smartphone camera while using a test version of Periscope, a live-streaming video app that Twitter introduced on Thursday, one among a surge of such apps with names like Meerkat and Camio that are taking the social media world by storm.

The premise of Periscope, Meerkat and others is simple: Capture video of yourself doing anything from exploring a new city to playing with your dog, all using nothing more than your smartphone camera. The apps notify others that you are streaming live video of yourself, and you can share it with your friends and followers.

The concept is hardly novel and has resulted in numerous start-up flops in the past. For years, entrepreneurs have tried to make live-streaming video catch on with the masses, with companies like YouNow, Justin.tv and Livestream offering their own takes on personal broadcasting.

The new Periscope app from Twitter.

But recently there has been something of a renaissance of live-streaming apps. And companies likeTwitter and eager venture capitalists are spending millions of dollars on what they bet will be the next big thing to catch on with consumers.

“The world is way more ready for this than it was a year ago,” said Kayvon Beykpour, chief executive and co-founder of Periscope, which Twitter acquired this year. “We have the benefit of entering this market when people are more sold on the idea of live broadcasting.”

Driving the shift are technological advances and the ubiquity of smartphones, as well as years of people getting more comfortable with revealing information about themselves online through text and photos. With the new video apps, the comedian Jimmy Fallon has live-streamed a monologue rehearsal for his late-night talk show, the “Today” co-host Al Roker has broadcast the backstage hubbub at the morning show and Silicon Valley venture capitalists have trained smartphone cameras on themselves when they engage in activities like taping podcasts or making presentations.

“All of a sudden, the world’s pockets are full of good cameras and good screens with good data plans and good social platforms to let everyone know you’re broadcasting,” said Chris Sacca, founder and chairman of Lowercase Capital and an early Twitter investor.

In a statement, Ms. Banks said Periscope was a “wonderfully voyeuristic platform and it boggles my mind that the things that I’m sharing are able to be experienced by others live.”

Yet the current crop of live-streaming apps face a history of video app failures. Viddy, a video-capture start-up that was a Facebook darling in 2012 and raised tens of millions of dollars, experienced early spikes in activity and at one point was seen as the “Instagram of video.” Socialcam, a competitor, was looked at much the same way. Both apps fizzled or were acquired after consumer interest waned over the course of a summer.

Mr. Beykpour said one advantage of Periscope was the short lag time between the stream and the ability to send text responses to the person streaming, essentially letting people communicate with the broadcaster in near real time. Periscope also takes advantage of a user’s Twitter followers to rapidly build a potential audience, and the app suggests other active Periscope users as people to follow. In addition, the app lets users store videos for replay or sharing later.

Although Periscope operates independently of its corporate owner — much like the Twitter-owned short-form video app Vine — it has access to Twitter’s money and technical support.

But Periscope has competition, including Camio and — in particular — Meerkat, which appeared this month and has gained traction with consumers and celebrities. In a matter of days after Meerkat was introduced, its use exploded and it soared to become the 177th most downloaded app in the United States and the 22nd most popular social networking app, according to App Annie, a mobile analytics firm. Meerkating, which describes the act of someone shooting a video live stream, is becoming a verb.

Much of that traction came from Meerkat’s breakout popularity during South by Southwest, the technology and music conference held in Austin, Tex., this month, where a number of fledgling start-ups have gained momentum by creating buzz.

Periscope was under development for a year, but Twitter failed to quickly introduce and market the product after it bought the company in January, the people close to Twitter said. That let Meerkat swoop in to take the spotlight. About two weeks ago, Twitter restricted Meerkat’s access to its social graph, which meant that a user’s Twitter followers would not automatically show up in Meerkat.

Success for Ben Rubin, Meerkat’s founder, did not come overnight. He is a founder of Yevvo, another live-streaming video app that made its debut in 2012 yet saw little traction. Eventually Yevvo rebranded itself Air, which also flopped.

Now investors are eager to fund Meerkat. The companysaid Thursday that it raised $14 million from the venture capital firm Greylock Partners and other investors, including the YouTube co-founder Chad Hurley and the actor Jared Leto. In an online post, the Greylock partner Josh Elman said he invested in Meerkat because “it feels like we are at the dawn of a new era for live video.”

“Think of the selfie culture these days,” Mr. Rubin said. “Culturally, we’ve reached the point where cameras are more familiar and people have started to feel comfortable with video.”

He pointed to Jeff Needles, a friend from Twitter. Mr. Needles has recently hosted 24-hour “Meerathons,” in which he streams himself on Meerkat around the clock.

Others entrepreneurs, like Justin Kan, have tried and failed in some forms of live-streaming personal video. His early start-up Justin.tv was a 24/7 live feed of his own life.

“We weren’t able to retain an audience because, really, we just weren’t that interesting,” Mr. Kan said in a recent interview. Eventually, he found success. Mr. Kan sold Twitch, a gaming-focused streaming start-up, to Amazon for about $1 billion last year.

Live-streaming video also poses certain challenges. Some people do not wish to be recorded without their permission, something difficult to prohibit when everyone with a smartphone can freely stream video using the app.

At the start-up incubator Y Combinator’s demo day in Silicon Valley this week, audience members were told not to live-stream the presentations because doing so might violate rules prohibiting general solicitation for funding set forth by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Live-streaming video’s appeal to operators of sex cams is also obvious. Some of the apps offer settings, such as private broadcasting, that could promote the practice.

Mr. Beykpour, Periscope’s co-founder, said that pornography violated the app’s terms of service and anyone watching a video could report it for a violation.

“Our focus now is to keep it a safe place,” he said.

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Richard III Gets a Kingly Burial, on Second Try

March 27, 2015 Leave a comment

British Army pallbearers carried a coffin containing the exhumed remains of King Richard III to his final resting place: a marble tomb next to the altar in Leicester Cathedral.CreditMatt Short/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

After three days of viewing by thousands who lined up for hours to file past the bier in Leicester’s Anglican cathedral, Richard’s skeletal remains, in a coffin of golden English oak with an incised Yorkist rose and an inscription giving the sparest details of his life — “Richard III, 1452-1485” — were removed overnight from beneath a black cloth pall stitched with colorful images from his tumultuous times.

With the solemn ceremony laid down for monarchs through the ages, the coffin was borne to a marble tomb adjacent to the cathedral’s altar by a party of 10 British Army pallbearers wearing red sashes over their khaki uniforms and rows of glinting medals attesting to their service in the country’s most recent wars, in Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Torin Weston, 4, in Leicester, England, on Thursday.CreditPool photo by Richard Pohle

With the tomb topped by a black marble plinth, the king’s remains, in a lead-lined inner coffin, were then lowered into what the Anglican prelates presiding at the service described as his final resting place. That placed him barely a stone’s throw from his ignominious grave for the past 530 years, in ground beside the cathedral, where frightened Franciscan friars disposed hastily of his corpse after his defeat at the Battle of Bosworth Field outside Leicester on Aug. 22, 1485.

That first grave lay in oblivion for centuries, unremarked until it was discovered beneath a municipal parking lot beside the cathedral in September 2012, in what has been hailed as one of the most astonishing archaeological hunches in modern history. The acknowledged good fortune of the archaeologists, who found what proved to be Richard’s bones within hours of their digger making its first cut in the buried ruins of the Greyfriars priory, was followed by what others in the field have described as an exercise of extraordinary scholarship, involving a closely knit team of experts in archaeology, engineering, forensics, genetics, geology, history and medicine, many of them from the University of Leicester.

Their work confirmed “beyond a reasonable doubt,” as the Leicester scholars have described it, that the bones were those of Richard. Critical to their findings was that the nearly complete skeleton included a deeply curved spine, evidence of the bone disease known as scoliosis that prompted later accounts that Richard was a hunchback.

The studies also established that a catalog of nearly a dozen wounds, including two ferocious blows to Richard’s skull from a sword and a halberd that would have killed him instantly, comported closely with contemporary accounts of how he died, toppled from his horse in boggy ground, after two hours of combat at Bosworth that placed him only yards away at his death from Henry Tudor, the victor at Bosworth Field who succeeded him on the throne as Henry VII.

The scholarship laid the groundwork for Thursday’s ceremony, where the few hundred seats that were available were as keenly sought-after as any at Wimbledon’s Centre Court. Crowds running into tens of thousands lined Leicester’s streets to watch Richard’s coffin pass on its way to the cathedral last weekend. The ceremonies drew hours of live television coverage and days of newspaper headlines, almost as if Britain had lost a 21st-century monarch.

The presiding cleric at the cathedral service was the archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, the worldwide head of the Anglican Communion. Some saw his presence, and the fact that the reburial took place in an Anglican cathedral, as an anomaly, since Richard was a devout member of the pre-Reformation church in England, and thus a Roman Catholic, who died well before Henry VIII’s break with Rome in the 1530s.

The Most Rev. Justin Welby, the archbishop of Canterbury, presided over the reburial ceremony of King Richard III at Leicester Cathedral in England on Thursday.  CreditPool photo by Richard Pohle

But any misgivings between the two churches were smoothed over when England’s foremost Catholic prelate, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, presided at a service welcoming Richard’s coffin to the cathedral on Sunday, and delivered a sermon that offered what many saw as a deft message of reconciliation to the contending schools of thought about Richard’s legacy as king.

To those seething at the spectacle of a notoriously violent monarch being rehabilitated by the church, the cardinal cautioned that power in Richard’s time was “invariably won or maintained on the battlefield and only by ruthless determination, strong alliances and a willingness to employ the use of force, at times with astonishing brutality.”

The recovery of Richard’s bones has spawned a raft of new books about the fallen king, and the BBC is planning a new television series to be titled “The Hollow Crown: The Wars of the Roses,” with the role of the king to be played by Benedict Cumberbatch. Mr. Cumberbatch, who has been identified by genealogists as a third cousin 16 times removed of King Richard, attended the cathedral ceremony on Thursday and read a poem specially written for the service by Britain’s poet laureate, Carol Ann Duffy.

Women dressed for the occasion left after the service on Thursday.CreditDarren Staples/Reuters

Notably absent from the cathedral on Thursday was Queen Elizabeth II. Perhaps wary of the controversy stirred by the honor being accorded the man who has come down through history as the most vilified of her predecessors — a man identified on the monarchy’s official website as having “usurped” the throne from its rightful heir — Elizabeth, 88, limited her role to an anodyne message on the opening page of the order of service for the reburial, noting the “importance” of the occasion.

“The reinterment of King Richard III is an event of great national and international significance,” the queen’s message said. “Today, we recognize a king who lived through turbulent times and whose Christian faith sustained him in life and death.”

The most senior royal at the ceremony was the countess of Wessex, a former commoner who is married to Edward, the third of Elizabeth’s sons. Another high-ranking royal among the guests was Richard, Duke of Gloucester, a 70-year-old cousin of the queen. His first name and title are the same as Richard’s before he seized the throne, and he is a patron of the Richard III Society, which has campaigned for a rehabilitation that would recognize Richard’s work in the field of legal innovations, including steps to widen court access for the poor.

People waited to view the coffin of King Richard III, shown in a portrait, on Wednesday at Leicester Cathedral in England. CreditDarren Staples/Reuters

For Richard, the years since the discovery of his bones have marked a remarkable comeback. For more than 500 years, he has been popularly cast as one of the most odious villains of English history — the “poisonous, bunch-back’d toad” of Shakespeare’s “Richard III,” reviled as a child killer for his role, as Shakespeare and generations of historians have depicted it, as the prime mover in the smothering murders of the two young brothers known as the Princes in the Tower.

Their killings have come down as among the most heartless in English history. The boys were Richard’s nephews, aged about 13 and 11, one of them the rightful heir to Richard’s dead brother Edward IV, but they stood athwart their uncle’s ambition for the throne.

The grim legend that has been Richard’s legacy still draws widespread support, and its proponents have been vociferous in condemning this week’s events in Leicester. One of the country’s most widely circulated newspapers, The Daily Mail, told its readers this week, “It’s mad to declare this child killer a national hero.” The Times of London ran a similar headline of its own: “A glorious return for one of history’s biggest losers.”

Since the 1700s, there has been a minority voice among writers and historians that has cast Richard as the victim of a conspiracy by the Tudors, whose dynasty was founded on Henry Tudor’s victory. Among these protagonists, Shakespeare is seen as having won favor at court as a spin doctor for the Tudor cause, especially for Queen Elizabeth I, who, this version contends, wanted Richard’s reputation blackened to strengthen the Tudors’ own shaky legitimacy.

The public response of the past week appears to have been driven in part by the jamboreelike atmosphere that has swept Leicester. The weekend procession in which Richard’s coffin was driven to Bosworth and back featured people dressed in medieval suits of armor, period dress and the habits of Franciscan friars, some shouting “Long live the king!” The enthusiasm continued as the coffin, on wooden trestles beside the cathedral’s baptismal font, was opened to the public for what amounted to an extended lying in state. At one point, the waiting time ran to more than four hours.

Some saw the message encoded in the public acclaim less as one of embracing the idea of Richard as a “good king,” as he has been described by Phil Stone, chairman of the Richard III Society, than one of redemption beyond the grave, a theme that has had a compelling force, across all ages and religions.

That theme was pervasive in the reburial service, perhaps captured best when Archbishop Welby, standing beside the grave as the coffin was lowered, invoked forgiveness for Richard. “We have entrusted our brother Richard to God’s mercy,” he said, “and we now commit his human remains to the ground, ashes to ashes, dust to dust.”

Correction: March 26, 2015
An earlier version of this article misstated the title of the most senior member of the royal family in attendance at Richard III’s reburial. She is the Countess of Wessex, not the Duchess.

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Lululemon’s Holiday Sales Better-Than-Expected

March 26, 2015 Leave a comment

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Yoga-wear retailer’s shares jump despite currency issues, port delays hurting its outlook

Lululemon Athletica Inc. gave a weak outlook for its current quarter and the full year.  

Lululemon Athletica Inc. gave a weak outlook for its current quarter and the full year. Photo: Getty Images

March 26, 2015

Lululemon Athletica Inc. said Thursday that sales grew a better-than-expected 16% in its holiday quarter as traffic improved, fueling hopes that the yoga-gear maker is rebounding after a recent slump.

Shares gained 7% to $65.20 in late morning trading.

Still, Lululemon gave a soft outlook for its current quarter and full year, saying that shipping delays at West Coast ports and bad weather on the East Coast have dragged down its sales. The company said it also is struggling with the impact of weak currency in Canada and Australia, where it does about a quarter of its business.

Analysts have said Vancouver, Canada-based Lululemon may be on the cusp of a turnaround after setbacks stemming from a recall of some yoga pants for being too sheer. The recall, which dented its reputation and cost it tens of millions of dollars, was followed by a shift in consumer tastes toward more elaborate designs over basics that caught Lululemon flat-footed as it struggled to improve quality and quell infighting on its board as well as high executive turnover.

Lululemon has revamped its product line to include more embellished and patterned items now fashionable among its customer base as it pushes back against competition from lower-priced rivals such as Gap Inc.’s Athleta brand. The new approach, however, has increased lead times and depressed margins, as printed fabric is more expensive to produce than basic black or gray.

In the latest quarter, Lululemon said new silhouettes and colors drove momentum in its women’s bottoms category, while its men’s category also posted strong growth.

Lululemon’s same-store sales increased 5%, excluding currency fluctuations, while direct-to-consumer net revenue increased 20%. Gross margin narrowed to 51.5% from 53.5% a year earlier, pressured by factors including foreign exchange and airfreight costs.

The yoga-wear company had originally given a disappointing outlook for the quarter, but in January boosted its forecast and said it entered the new year in “very good shape” thanks to improving trends and strong results during the holidays.

Inventory pileup has been a problem for Lululemon in recent quarters as it has struggled to strike the right balance of seasonal and core merchandise.

Overall, for the period ended Feb. 1, Lululemon posted a profit of $110.9 million, or 78 cents a share, up from $109.7 million, or 75 cents a share, a year earlier. The company had forecast earnings of 71 cents to 73 cents a share.Revenue grew to $602.5 million from $521 million a year ago, topping the company’s projection for $595 million to $600 million. Lululemon said the weak Canadian and Australian dollars brought down its revenue by $13.2 millio

n.

For the first quarter, Lululemon forecast per-share earnings of 31 cents to 33 cents, below analysts’ call for 39 cents a share, according to Thomson Reuters. The retailer forecast revenue of $413 million to $418 million, missing the $442 million in revenue analysts had projected.

For the year, the company estimated per-share earnings of $1.85 to $1.90, while analysts had expected $2.06 a share in earnings. Revenue is expected to be between $1.97 billion and $2.02 billion; analysts had expected $2.05 billion in revenue

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