5 Technology Observations: 15 July 2015

Good morning, I.T. entrepreneurs. Here are five technology updates, insights, chatter, perspectives and views to start your day for Wednesday, July 15, 2015.

Actually, today's update involves 10 items to sip on.

10. Toshiba Accounting Scandal?: Watch for major executive changes to unfold at the mobile PC and electronics giant. An accounting scandal allegedly inflated Toshiba profits by more than $1 billion, The Wall Street Journal reported.

9. Next Opportunity: Want to make money in the crowded cloud market? Perhaps you should focus on cloud usage, tracking and cost management opportunities. Here's why.

8. Beyond Desktop as a Service: IndependenceIT, which got its start in the desktop as a service market, expanded its Cloud Workspace Suite to support new remote support capabilities. Keep an eye on the platform's enhanced APIs -- which surely means additional third-party integrations are on the way...

More data-driven rewards? Yes please.

More data-driven rewards? Yes please.

7. Customer Experience vs Analytics: I visit Dunkin' Donuts everyday -- grabbing a coffee as part of my indirect "commute" from my bedroom to my home office. This is a once-daily routine every business day. Yes, I am part of DDPerks -- a point-loyalty system -- which earns me a free coffee after about every 10th purchase. And yet... the perks system is giving me double-points most of this month. Hmmm... D&D's data should indicate that I'll keep coming daily, with no need to give me the double-points perk. And therein resides the lesson: Even when the data says your customers are happy, take extra steps to further improve the customer experience -- even if it costs you an extra dollar or two in the short-term.

6. Dangerous Warning: WeWork, which offers shared office space to startups, has seen its valuation double to $10 billion in the past six months. A growing cadre of critics (nice alliteration, eh?) believes WeWork looks dangerously similar to dot-com companies that went boom then bust. Side note: Early-stage startups are also seeing their valuation sizes grow dramatically, according to Innoven Capital's analysis of 153 angel group deals from April 2011 through March 2015. That pretty much explains why I've mostly kept my own wallet closed -- except for my 50 percent investment/ownership in After Nines Inc...

5. Free Labor, Expensive Lessons: Founder Steve Huffman makes it clear that he plans to clean up Reddit's online community -- somehow drawing the line between good content and "more offensive and obscene content." The statement comes as Reddit struggles to appease a volunteer moderator community that's now turning against its creator. The key lesson: Free content and free moderation isn't free. It comes with a price. And that price is either loss of control or loss of loyalty.

4. Investing in Data Science: WorkDay, which promotes cloud-based HR and financial software, has launched WorkDay Ventures to invest in roughly a dozen startups focused on data science talent. It's safe to expect more details on Information Management, which overs analytics, business intelligence and the chief data officer trend. 

3. Fresh Funding: Tech startups raising money to accelerate growth include...

  • DataCamp (Boston, Mass.), which makes an online platform for learning data science, raised $1 million led by Chris Lynch at Accomplice.
  • Relay2 (Milpitas, Calif.), developer of a cloud-based WiFi service platform, raised $3.5 million in Series D funding from a range of backers.
  • Scale Computing (Indianapolis, Ind.), focused on hyberconverged infrastructure, raised $18 million led by ABS Capital Partners.
  • Sysdig (San Francisco), which offers a remote monitoring and management cloud for containers and Docker, raised $10.7 million. EXCLUSIVE: CEO Loris Degioanni explains the strategy in our latest podcast, Episode 042.

2. Ex Machina: My wife and I finally had a chance to sit down last night and watch Ex Machina -- the sleeper hit about artificial intelligence and the Turing Test. The big questions throughout the movie: Who's really being tested... and just how much do search engines know about us? Despite its extremely slow pace at some points, Ex Machina has impact. By the way, the Turing Test was named after Alan Turing -- a British computer scientist and World War II cryptanalyst whose story was central to The Imitation Game, a must-watch despite some fictionalized plot points.

1. Mobile Optimization (And More): A few months ago, I mentioned Mobilegeddon -- the revised Google search algorithm that rewards mobile-optimized websites and penalizes sites that deliver a lousy mobile experience. (Surely, you know who you are by now...). Fast forward to the present: Websites that have weak mobile engagement saw a 10 percent decrease in organic traffic since Google introduced the search algorithm in April, according to Adobe. Ahem... if only there was a better way to deliver the same exact user experience on mobile, tablet and desktop. Yes, identical. Hmmm...

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