Data Sheet—Tuesday, October 14, 2014

October 14, 2014, 12:37 PM UTC

Good morning, Data Sheet readers. Why are Tim Draper and Marc Benioff backing trade show technology company Loopd? Prepare for another flood of new Apple technology news on Thursday. Plus, your marketing team just discovered its Facebook fan base grew 16% in the past month. So, is that good or bad? Social media analytics company Unmetric may have the answer.


Microsoft, Salesforce chat up relationship. One of the first things Satya Nadella did after becoming Microsoft's CEO was approach Salesforce founder Marc Benioff with ideas about how the two companies could ensure tighter ties between their technologies. Competition is still fierce in the field, but Microsoft corporate vice president Tony Prophet was on stage Monday at Dreamforce in a show of support. “We’ve seen a very dramatic shift at Microsoft in a short period of time,” noted Benioff during the conversation. The fruits of this cozy new alliance will start showing up in products in early 2015.  ZDNet

New Apple iPads, iMacs on deck. Apple's briefing scheduled for Oct. 16 may not be as overhyped as last month's iPhone 6 and Apple Watch launch, but there's plenty for businesses to appreciate. The lineup discussed Thursday should include speedier tablets with screens that make them easier to use outdoors in field applications, powerful new integrated desktops with high-resolution display technology, and the latest overhaul to the Macintosh operating system. Plus, stay tuned for details more about Apple Pay. Wired


Dropbox: breach reports aren't true. One big objection to digital document sharing and storage services like the ones offered by Dropbox has been concerns over security, so reports that surfaced Monday about 7 million stolen passwords seemed plausible. Apparently, they were off-base. Although about 400 account credentials were compromised, it has this message for customers: "Dropbox wasn't hacked." TechCrunch

Cisco warns about WebEx conference spying. Could a competitor or other unauthorized person be listening in on your confidential video calls? The company is reminding customers about its password lock-down options after a security researcher and journalist revealed many "big-name" companies—including Charles Schwab, CVS and Union Pacific—are in the habit of disabling them for sensitive meetings. Computerworld


EMC, Cloudera join forces on data management. The partnership makes it simpler for businesses that use EMC's Isilon storage technology to organize data so it can be used for business analytics purposes—without requiring them to install a separate piece of dedicated hardware. ZDNet 

IBM bolsters mobile development story. Many companies are scrambling to create mobile applications for their customers, employees and business partners because that's the way they want to work, but very few enterprise development teams boast deep experience in writing them or keeping them up to date. IBM aims to fill that gap, and a new alliance with upstart Xamarin creates an even larger developer audience for its technology. eWeek


Elite Amazon Web Services ally hires new CEO. Seattle-based 2nd Watch just scored $10 million in new funding (bringing its total to $37 million) and named former Verio president Doug Schneider to lead its push into new geographies. Founder Kris Bliesner is staying as chief technical officer. 2nd Watch is one of just 22 companies on Amazon's "Premier" sales and technical partner list (after handling more than 300 cloud computing projects). New clients disclosed this week include design house Diane von Furstenberg and education technology company Amplify.

Prominent angels back event marketing technology. Venture capitalist Tim Draper and Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff are leading a $1 million seed round for upstart Loopd. The San Francisco-based company replaces paper badges with teeny, bi-directional smart tags that collect information about which booths attendees visit and who they meet along the way. Notes Draper: "As an investor, I've seen hundreds of companies struggle to measure the true ROI of corporate events and tradeshows. Loopd is taking the mystery out of the efficacy of marketing events and conferences by tracking and measuring interactions between decision makers and company representatives."


Put social strategy into competitive context

Your marketing team probably collects myriad social statistics such as monthly increases in "fan" engagement or the number of times people comment about brands or products on Facebook or Twitter. But those data points probably don't answer this fundamental question: is your strategy good enough?

That was the motivation behind Unmetric, a three-year-old New York startup that benchmarks social media activity across more than 30 industry sectors, providing context around progress (or lack thereof).

Contrary to its ironic name, the company's technology studies more than 50 different metrics across more than 25,000 brands. The service lets brands dig into questions such as: Does my team answer customer inquiries as fast at the competition? How effective is my campaign on Pinterest versus Facebook? Or, how much mindshare does my company's activity usually capture compared with others in my sector? Unmetric also offers examples of content your brand might want to emulate in the future and points to unusual activity that might portend a future trend.

Considering that Forrester Research expects U.S. social media spending to reach $18.7 billion by 2019, compared with $8.2 billion this year, that information could be extremely valuable. "We use algorithms plus people power to put each data point into context," said Lakshmanan ("Lux") Narayan, co-founder and CEO.

"Right now, our biggest rival is the manual approach," he added, later in our conversation. Philosophically speaking that might be a differentiator, but he seems to have overlooked that there are some pretty big enterprise software companies hoping to make a name in social media analytics including Adobe, IBM, Oracle SAS and Salesforce.

More important from your perspective as a potential client: Unmetric's early customer list includes seven of the top 10 automakers (including GM and Toyota), home improvements retailer Lowe's, high-tech giant Microsoft, and consumer brands Frito Lay and KFC. The company also works with some of the biggest media agencies around, including BBDO, Oglivy and Saatchi + Saatchi.

Narayan's experience was shaped at past employers such as ad agency Interpublic Group; other senior executives hail from financial services firm J.P. Morgan Chase, and research company Nielsen (among many others).

Unmetric currently generates information related to six social channels: Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter and YouTube. Unmetric's monthly subscription starts at $490 per month, and Narayan says the average company pays in the "10s of thousands of dollars per year." (The more brands you monitor, the more you pay; GM, for example, watches at least four, Narayan said.)


Do you turn off and tune in during takeoff and landing? Late last year, the FAA agreed to let individual airlines decide whether portable electronics like laptops, wirelessly disabled smartphones, e-readers and MP3 players should be completely shut down while a plane takes off or touches down. But the biggest U.S. flight attendants union is suing to have that decision overturned, saying these technologies represent a dangerous distraction. TechCrunch


Strata/Hadoop World: Big data tools and techniques. (Oct. 15 – 17, New York)

QuickBooks Connect: SMBs, entrepreneurs, accountants and developers. (Oct. 21 – 23, San Jose, Calif.)

IBM Insight 2014: Big data and analytics. (Oct. 26 – Oct. 30, Las Vegas)

TBM Conference 2014: Manage the business of IT. (Oct. 28- 30, Miami Beach)

SIMposium 2014. Tech execs and practioners. (Nov. 2-4, Denver)

AWS re:Invent: The latest about Amazon Web Services. (Nov. 11 – 14, Las Vegas)

Gartner Data Center Conference: Ideas for operations and management. (Dec. 2 – 5, Las Vegas)