Read Like an Analyst

Read Like An Analyst: AI’s Attack, 26 Disruptive Trends, and Robotics Funding

Sean Campbell
Authored bySean Campbell
Isa Gautschi
Authored byIsabel Gautschi

Here are the tech industry critiques, think-pieces, and predictions that got the Cascade Insights team sharing on Slack this week.

Tech vs. Gov

That awkward moment when “technology outpaces the law.”

Theranos, 23andMe, and Zenefits have run into serious compliance issues. Christina Farr of Fast Company examines the mentality that leads some tech startups in the healthcare field to take ill-advised shortcuts and how others are addressing compliance head on.
Read Like an Analyst
On his Stratechery blog, Ben Thompson explains that the dispute between Apple and the FBI is not a simple disagreement over whether the company should unlock a terrorist’s iPhone. Rather, it’s three separate issues:

  • Should Apple be forced to defeat its own “software-based protections against brute force attacks” to unlock the San Bernardino shooter’s phone?
  • Should companies be forced to build “golden keys” independent of the user’s passcode into their encryption? (Though Thompson explains that this is not what Apple is being asked to do in the current case.)
  • How much did PR play into Apple’s principled stance against the FBI’s request?


Ransomware is way cold. The excellent Radiolab episode “Darkode” puts cybercrime into a very human perspective.

Information Is Beautiful has an impressive visualization of the “World’s Biggest Data Breaches.” Filter selected losses greater than 30,000 records by type of organization (government, academic, media, etc.), method of leak, number of records stolen, or data sensitivity. Hover over the bubbles for the story behind the breach.

In her New York Times article “No Business Too Small to Be Hacked,” Constance Gustke reports that small businesses are especially susceptible to ransomware attacks.

Cloud services aren’t safe from ransomware either.

Crystal Ball

Will tales of when smart houses/cars/appliances attack be the next generation’s version of ghost stories?

You know you’re just dying to read how people answered this Worldbuilding Stack Exchange thought experiment: “You are an advanced AI that controls a smart house. How do you kill your master?”

In movies made not too long ago, our now not-so-distant future seemed to be filled with flying cars zipping around skyscrapers. Ben Thompson ponders a more likely future for electric, driverless, and ridesharing cars.

Brian Solis, a principal analyst with the Altimeter Group, identifies “26 Disruptive Tech Trends for 2016 – 2018.” Solis includes trends with technological and socioeconomic impact. Here are a few teasers from the fascinating report:

  • Customer experience will become more important than products.
  • Drones will join the workforce.
  • The cloud will take over business.


“The cloud is for everyone. The cloud is a democracy.”- Marc Benioff, Salesforce CEO

The cloud sure isn’t static. InfoWorld shares “13 ways the cloud has changed (since last you looked).” (A few teasers: “Variable pricing,” “Algorithms not hardware,” “Better analytics,” and “Blockchain as a service.”)

Just how big can Amazon Web Services get? The Next Platform graphs out five possible growth curves with varying degrees of likelihood.


“Products are evaluated, services are experienced.”-Ken Rutsky

David Skok shares “the key metrics that are needed to understand and optimize a SaaS business, and how these can be used to drive SaaS success.”

Did you make it to SaaStr? Check out this succinct collection of quotes from the conference on topics such as Sales & Marketing, Product & Engineering, and Partners & Ecosystem.

B2B Savvy

Humanizing Detail Tacked Onto End Of New Board Member’s Bio”- The Onion

It’s a good time to be looking for a job, but the tech industry interview process takes a while. Fast Company lays out how candidates rate tech companies on the experience.

Customers should pay careful attention to these 7 elements of cloud SLAs  to avoid getting screwed. Phil Bode and Steven Jeffery, authors of the upcoming book “Supplier (Vendor) Management – Going Beyond Strategic Sourcing to Gain Real, Sustainable Competitive Advantage” warn that cloud contract service-level agreements tend to protect cloud providers over their customers.

Bob Warfield blasts marketers for offering one-size-fits-all advice about free trials. The most important thing, he says, is to make sure the free trial is long enough to give the user an “aha!” moment. The length of the trial should be tested to make sure it is sufficient to do just that. “If you can make that happen in 14 days, great, but don’t just assume that’s the case.  Give them whatever time they need. Even offer to extend the free trial for ANOTHER 30 days if they’re not done evaluating,” he cautions.

CEB identifies “5 Trends That Will Affect All Sales Execs in 2016.” Among them: suppliers will need to learn to provide a better purchase path to keep B2B buying teams from getting overwhelmed and more will have to be done to “attract, engage, and retain millennial sales talent.”

“Efficiency may be the right priority when times are difficult and resources are scarce but creativity is the right priority in a time of plenty. And abundance is what being big is all about.” writes Horace Dediu for Asymco.

Possibly taking a page from Google and Facebook, Microsoft has made moves to integrate its research and product teams.

Has the pace of business accelerated? The Economist ponders the question through a variety of angles and historical data and comes away with some interesting insights. “This abundance of information gives firms a cloak of hyperactivity…” The Economist states. “Lift up the hem, however, and the illusion of acceleration gives way to a dangerously stolid reality. As well as lower rates of new company creation, industries have become more oligopolistic.”


The standout articles that didn’t fit into other categories.

TechSoup Blog, The World Bank IC4D Blog, and the Center for Democracy and Technology were featured in BizTech’s “25 Must-Read Nonprofit IT Blogs 2016.” More on the do-gooding organizations and their blogs here.

“While it’s taken a few years, building the infrastructure to store and process massive amounts of data was just the first phase,” FirstMark VC Matt Turck writes of the big data landscape. “AI/machine learning is now precipitating a trend towards the emergence of the application layer of Big Data.”

Robotics got a lot of funding last year… Here are a few of the companies from Travis Deyle’s Hizook post, “Venture Capital (VC) Funding for Robotics in 2015”:

  • Auris Surgical “is developing a microsurgical robot for eye surgeries, such as cataract removal.  They raised $150 Million this year.”
  • Yuneec Electric Aviation “a Chinese drone manufacturer, and they received $60 Million from Intel this year.”
  • Bionik Labs “raised $6.2 Million to bring their medical exoskeleton products to market.”

Questionnaire wording, methodology, self-selecting respondents and other issues may be impeding a clear picture of container use in production. The New Stack has an interesting comparison of findings from recent container surveys.

Who says datacenters have to be on land? Microsoft recently tested one under the sea.

At Bat, the United States’ top grossing sports app, has added some fancy new updates.

The Read Like an Analyst (RLA) roundup is curated by Cascade Insights analysts Philippe Boutros, Colleen Clancy, Jacob Dittmer, Harrison May, CEO Sean Campbell, and President & CTO Scott Swigart. It is written and edited by Marketing Assistant Isabel Gautschi with Sean serving as editor-in-chief.

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