5 Technology Observations: 25 February 2015

Good morning, I.T. entrepreneurs. Here are five technology updates, insights, gossip, show tunes (hum along) and insights to start your day for Wednesday, February 25, 2015.

Actually, today's update involves 11 items.

11. Google Live Chat for Business: This. Is. Hot. Imagine if Google search results allowed customers to instantly live chat with you, your help desk, your sales team, etc. Google is testing live chat for business capabilities right now. Two big questions: What APIs and integrations will Google require for the live chat link to show up as part of your online identity? Second, how many small businesses will assign staff to manage live chat inquiries that arrive through Google Search links?

10. The Real Turnaround Story: HP's latest financial results, announced yesterday, mentioned the usual hardware and currency struggles. Dig a little deeper and you'll find the real story worth tracking. HP's quarterly SaaS revenues were flat compared to the corresponding quarter last year. That's inexcusable at a time when most major players in the SaaS market generate strong double-digit growth. The result: I remain convinced IBM -- with its ever-growing cloud initiatives -- is the real long-term turnaround story to watch among IT giants. Still, HP deserves some credit for recent cloud wins -- including the big Deutsche Bank engagement.

9. Impressive Get, Part I: Congrats to Rene Bergeron, Jason Bystrak and your team. I noticed Judson Althoff on a certain agenda that landed in my inbox (unsolicited but welcome) yesterday. Impressive.

8. Aging Well: Dtex Systems, a security company that detects and stops insider data leaks, has raised $15 million in Series A funding. The twist: Dtex is 15 years old -- which proves you can pivot or reposition a company for growth opportunities at any point in time.

Microsoft's Althoff (l.) and IBM's LeBlanc (r.) have similar itineraries for March...

Microsoft's Althoff (l.) and IBM's LeBlanc (r.) have similar itineraries for March...

7. Impressive Get, Part II: Robert LeBlanc, senior VP of IBM Cloud, has landed on the same agenda I mentioned earlier (No. 9 above). Rarely do you spot such high-level executives from Microsoft and IBM speaking at the same conference...

6. Timely Tuck In: ServiceNow, which has a cloud platform that helps enterprises to automate IT support and more, has acquired Intreis -- a consulting firm focused on governance, risk mitigation and corporate compliance. ServiceNow has quietly emerged as one of the world's largest cloud-based companies based on revenues ($682.2 million for 2014 -- up 61 percent from 2013).

5. Big Miss for Big Data?: Hortonworks, the Hadoop provider, yesterday announced its quarterly results for the first time as a public company. It wasn't pretty. Revenues and income were below analyst expectations -- and downright lackluster. Ouch. Time to worry about the Hadoop and big data movements? Absolutely not. In case you missed our earlier rants: The Hadoop market today is a lot like Linux about 15 years ago. Lots of growth -- but there are lots of different distributions vying for those dollars. Plus, operating system giants may eventually offer bundled Hadoop capabilities for free at some point. I believe in Hadoop as one cornerstone for big data... but I'm not ready to invest in specific Hadoop providers.

4. Horizontal PSA: Mavenlink has raised $19 million in funding. The company's SaaS platform serves project-focused businesses -- marketers, PR pros, consultants, IT service companies and more -- to manage "all aspects of service delivery from start to finish."

3. That Was Fast: Smartphone shipments to India declined for the first time ever in Q4 2014, IDC said. It's a healthy reminder that IT market cycles (launch, growth, peak, contract) are getting shorter and shorter... You've got to redefine your business -- or yourself -- more frequently than ever.

17hats' CEO Donovan Janus talks funding and solopreneur apps.

17hats' CEO Donovan Janus talks funding and solopreneur apps.

2. Did You Hear?: As promised, 17hats CEO Donovan Janus joined our latest podcast last evening -- describing the emerging market for automation apps that serve extremely small businesses -- Solopreneurs and Micropreneurs. In addition to discussing small business automation trends, Janus and I cover seed funding tips, growth strategies and the due diligence process with investors. 

1. Next Up: We're keeping a close eye on the upcoming Techday New York (April 23) conference, which is billed as "the world's largest startup event." Conference organizers Jesse Podell and Alec Hartman (surprise: two serial entrepreneurs) are set to join our next podcast on Tuesday, March 2. In addition to touching on the conference, we'll explore some of the more noteworthy IT startup trends they're tracking.

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