Read Like An Analyst: Slacklash, IoT, & Artificial Intelligence

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

Artificial Intelligence

I think we should be very careful about artificial intelligence. If I had to guess at what our biggest existential threat is, it’s probably that. So we need to be very careful. I’m increasingly inclined to think that there should be some regulatory oversight, maybe at the national and international level, just to make sure that we don’t do something very foolish. – Elon Musk

Will bots become the next major computing platform? Microsoft hopes so.

CB Insights has a handy list and infographic of “machine learning and deep learning startups to watch” in the healthcare field.

A recent report explores “Cognitive technologies in the technology sector.” It covers:

  • “Which cognitive technology capabilities are attracting the most attention.”
  • Through the examples of IBM Watson Group and Alphabet/Google: “how cognitive technologies can transform business models, helping companies compete in the future marketplace.”
  • “Two main approaches technology companies are using to pursue marketplace opportunities: cognitive technology development platforms and cognitive technology platform-as-a-service (PaaS) offerings.”

IoT

…Just like any company that blissfully ignored the Internet at the turn of the century, the ones that dismiss the Internet of Things risk getting left behind.” – Jared Newman

In “A Year in the Life of the Internet of Things,” Jon Pittman, vice president of corporate strategy at Autodesk, reflects on 15 months of “149 connected devices, using 17 different systems, and at least five wireless networks” in his home. His major takeaway: “Ultimately, the Internet of Things need to focus less on the things and more on the “internet” part.”

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Gil Press offers a “summary of data and predictions from Forrester, Machina Research, the World Economic Forum (WEF), Gartner, and IDC” on the Internet of Things. Here’s a teaser from Press’s Gartner sum up: “In 2016, 5.5 million new things will get connected every day.”

Cloud

Cloudy with a chance of metrics.

“Either way, I think is time for the industry to come up with a standardized set of growth and usage metrics from those who say they offer cloud services,” writes Om Malik in an open letter to cloud leaders. A few of the metrics he wants to see are total storage capacity, total compute capacity, and the total number of developers using the platform.

Werner Vogels shares “10 Lessons from 10 Years of Amazon Web Services.” Sneak peek: “build evolvable systems,” “primitives, not frameworks,” and “APIs are forever.”

“We’re not targeting competing with hyperscale infrastructure service providers. At this stage of the game, chasing Microsoft, Google and Amazon is a fool’s errand,” says. Dan Jablonski, director of IT solutions product management at Verizon.

Slacklash

What would you call an all-day meeting with unknown participants and no agenda?” – Jason Fried

Basecamp Founder & CEO Jason Fried asks “Is group chat making you sweat?” Listing four positives and a whopping 17 negatives for group chat as a workplace communication tool, Fried ends this thought provoking piece with some advice for how to keep the tool effective rather than an energy drain.

For a funny perspective on the whole messaging conundrum, check out this breakup letter to Slack. Way to make the transitioning relationship from email to Slack sound deliciously sordid. Group chat is so needy!

Alongside thorough analysis, Annalee Newitz shares how Ars Technica uses Slack in her informative article “What Slack is doing to our offices—and our minds.”

Startups

Like sands through the hour glass, so are the startups of our lives.

In the FiveThirtyEight article “The Next Amazon (Or Apple, Or GE) Is Probably Failing Right Now,” Ben Casselman spells out some fascinating findings from new research out of MIT. The researchers believe they have identified some characteristics of companies trying to be the next big thing. Casselman lists a few:

  • “Their names, for example, tend to be shorter and are less likely to include the founder’s name”.
  • “They tend to be set up as corporations, not limited liability companies”.
  • “(T)hey are often incorporated in Delaware, a state known for its business-friendly regulations”.
  • “They often apply for patents early in their corporate lives.”

However, while there may be as many Bezos-like entrepreneurs as ever before, the U.S. is getting fewer Amazons in the making. Read the riveting piece to find out why.

CB Insights has a Downround Tracker of the unicorn era companies not living up to expectations. The list is updated in real time. They’ve also got 156 Startup Failure Post-Mortems and 92 of the most expensive startup failures of all time.

IT

“Autocorrect just changed “I have so much anxiety I can barely breathe” to “I’m fine.”

InfoWorld lays out “21 hot programming trends — and 21 going cold.” (Spoilers: preprocessors, Docker, and Spark made the hot list; full language stacks, hypervisors, and Hadoop did not.)

“In theory, chargeback is a wonderful way to keep departments honest. In practice, no one uses it,” Tom Hollingsworth writes in his blog post on “The Myth of Chargeback.”

Bonus Round

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

Vik Singh, founder and CEO of Infer, urges major players to consider acquiring Marketo in order to be more competitive with Salesforce.

“Like Disney’s Marvel Studios, Apple is now seemingly locked in an unending cycle of sequels and spin-offs,” writes Mike Murphy. In essence: “Apple is boring now.”

Meanwhile, one of Apple’s consistent defenders, Asymco, points out that Apple should be seen as a “customer creator” first and foremost.

Here’s some solid advice on product positioning strategy for SaaS companies.

“We’re particularly vulnerable to making bad arguments because we identify ourselves with being logical. How very wrong we often are,” says Heydon Pickering of developers. He goes on to list and explain a number of “Developer Fallacies” such as:

  • “The Gospel Fallacy”: “we’ve always done it this way.”
  • “The Bob The Builder fallacy”: “A problem with the design has been verified, therefore it must be fixed.”
  • “The Scale Fallacy”: “projects serving larger numbers of people are necessarily more complex intrinsically” and “projects serving larger quantities of content can only do so by being more complex.”

“We want to hire engineers; we don’t want to hire software developers,” Etsy CTO John Allspaw is quoted in this fascinating interview with The New Stack. “Engineering, as a discipline and as an activity, is multi-disciplinary. It’s just messy. And that’s actually the best part of engineering. It’s not about everyone knowing everything. It’s about paying attention to the shared, mutual understanding.”

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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