5 Technology Observations: 26 August 2015

Good morning, I.T. entrepreneurs. Here are five technology news updates, insights, chatter, and plenty more to start your day for Wednesday, August 26, 2015.

Actually, today's update involves 12 items to sip on.

12. VMware Buying EMC (Seriously?): EMC's board of directors is taking a "second and closer look" at a proposal under which VMware (2014 revenue: $6 billion) would acquire EMC (2014 annual revenue: $24.4 billion), Re/code reported. It's been four years since venture capitalist Marc Andreessen first said software is eating the world. Fast forward to the present, and software -- particularly cloud data center software -- could eat EMC. The big question: Are EMC CEO Joe Tucci and VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger on the same page? Re/code suggests the answer is no. That means the upcoming VMworld conference (Aug. 30-Sept 3) could get very interesting, indeed. Here's After Nines' take on the situation.

11. Jamming WiFi?: What if certain cell phone companies (ahem, Verizon and T-Mobile) broadcast their cellular signals over "some of the same free airwaves" that WiFi networks leverage? Hmmm... apparently, the cellular companies aren't trying to jam the WiFi networks with cellular noise. But Google and Cablevision (both of which run big WiFi networks) are worried about the potential interference. So should just about every other business that has a WiFi network or leverages public WiFi... (Isn't that all of us?)


10. Applauding Accenture: The big consulting firm has a new HR policy that allows new parents to travel less. The policy allows new parents (mothers and primary care givers) to work locally during the year after they return from parental leave.

9. Updated - Amazon Work-Life Balance: Debate about Amazon's corporate culture and its treatment of employees continues. A new University of Kansas study suggests Amazon's employees are less satisfied with their work-life balance when compared to employees at other tech companies. But therein resides a larger problem. We keep focusing on work-life balance when we should all be focused on life-work balance, as HTG Peer Groups has often pointed out to me.

8. Midmarket Private Clouds: Amid the SMB sector obsession, ZeroStack is focusing instead on midmarket customers -- developing a private cloud solution for midsize customers. ZeroStack emerged from stealth mode this week with $5.6 million in Series A funding.

7. The Mobile Ad Problem: Marketers think their mobile ad programs need improvement. On a scale of 1 (lowest) to 7 (highest), marketers rate their programs 3.56 on customer engagement (ouch), 3.12 on customer retention (ugh) and 2.89 on customer acquisition (oh my), according to a Duke University survey. (Pause here for maximum effect.) Sounds like most of us are spending a lot for very little. Perhaps it's time for an industry reset. Imagine if you could reach a total audience without having to make an artificial leap between the digital worlds of mobile, tablet and desktop. Hmmm...

6. 451 Brand Confusion?: I'm familiar with 451 Research, which closely tracks IT enterprise issues. But Hollywood Movie Director Michael Bay is promoting 451 Media Group, an interactive media business. Hmmm... So geeks can either (A) check out IT research or (B) check out touch-enabled  graphic novels on their mobile devices. Sounds like the two 451 companies serve different markets ... with similar geeked-out audiences.

5. Intuit Small Business Layoffs: Yup, the small business software giant is cutting nearly 250 employees -- mostly from its Small Business Group, according to TechCrunch. The company also plans to divest several businesses -- including Quicken. The lesson for IT entrepreneurs: If you dominate a market but that market goes away, your dominance isn't worth much...

4. Amazon Machine Learning: Perhaps in a few years, Amazon won't have to worry so much about employee morale... because machine learning could replace some folks down the road. Indeed, Amazon is hiring more data scientists in Europe to write new algorithms and focus on machine learning techniques that improve sales predictions and anticipate fraud... Oh, and that reminds me to plug Information Management, a top site for data scientists.

3. Best Buy Still Believes in Apple Watch: The big retailer plans to sell Apple's smartwatch in all of its 1,050 brick and mortar locations by the end of September, Best Buy said in an earnings call this week. Best Buy started selling Apple Watch in 100 locations in August. While Apple hasn't disclosed sales figures for the watch, most analysts think the device is off to a slower start than their original forecasts.

2. Government Data Center Inspections?: Can the FTC really investigate your business to see if you failed to properly security your IT assets? We covered that -- and more -- during Tuesday's edition of Tech News Today, hosted by Mike Elgan. Here's that Aug. 25 episode in case you missed it.

1. Meet Us In Providence?: Sometimes people overlook the setup... and the punch line. So here it is again. Amy Katz and I will be business planning in Providence, Rhode Island, tomorrow. The setup: Hmmm... We typically only meet face to face when we're trying to decide whether to build something big (and small...). The punchline: Stay tuned.

Subscribe: Want to receive our blog headlines in your inbox each business day (except Fridays, when we're off the grid)? Then subscribe to our enewsletter. Thanks to those who already have.