A belated Happy New Year, Data Sheet readers! Ridiculous crowds and endless taxi lines aren’t my thing, so I’ll be sharing tidbits from the Consumer Electronics Show desk-side from New Jersey. Speaking of gadgets, though, Intel just made another significant investment in wearable technology.
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Intel buys into business-relevant smart eyeglasses. The giant microprocessor company just bought about 30% of Vuzix, one of several companies explicitly focused on industrial applications for technically endowed headwear (or is that headware?). ZDNet
IBM’s dubious distinction. The company’s stock sagged 12% during 2014 (ending around $160.44 per share). It’s the second straight year the company has led the list of worst Dow performers. Contrast that with the performance of Intel (a Nasdaq stock), which was up about 46%. Hey, no place to go but up, right? That must be what Warren Buffett is counting on. Wall Street Journal, Motley Fool
RadiumOne founder wants his company back. Former CEO Gurbaksh Chahal, who was fired over his conviction for battery and domestic abuse, is apparently proposing a “nine-figure” buyout of the ad-tech company. Re/code
Does Athenahealth need an infusion? Pretty much everyone agrees small physician offices and medical clinics need to automate records and billing processes. But the high-flying digital healthcare company is about to post its slowest annual growth since becoming a public company in 2007 (just 24.3% for the year). And hedge funds like David Einhorn’s Greenlight Capital have become very vocal short-sellers. Fortune
Computer Sciences fined $190 million. The penalty stems from a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission accounting investigation. Reuters
Christmas Eve surprise: IRS sues Ballmer, other execs. The federal agency wants to force former CEO Steve Ballmer and nine other former and current executives to testify for an ongoing investigation into the software developer’s international tax practices. The Seattle Times
RESEARCH & PREDICTIONS
Don’t expect super strong tablet sales. A new forecast projects worldwide shipments of 233 million units in 2015, which represents an 8% growth rate in 2015. That’s far slower than double-digital expansions from the past several years. Gartner
High-tech’s 20-something myth. Contrary to popular perception, the median age for some of the best-known and biggest technology companies is over 30. Hewlett-Packard had the highest median age of the bunch considered as part of a PayScale analysis (39 years old), while Salesforce had one of the youngest (29). VentureBeat
Why email will be slow to die. Newfangled collaboration applications such as Slack are appealing, but 61% of U.S. workers surveyed by Pew Research Center say their digital inbox is their most important software tool. Wall Street Journal
POLICY & STRATEGY
Anatomy of a corporate cyberattack. It started with macabre images on an internal computer network just before Thanksgiving and led to the delay of a major motion picture release. Seven weeks later, Sony Pictures Entertainment still hasn’t recovered—executives have been relying on old BlackBerrys to communicate. (Hey, they’re secure!) As experts debate whether an insider or North Korea is to blame, there’s one thing upon which they agree: every business needs more employee training on security policies. New York Times, Fortune
STARTUPS & DISRUPTORS
Predictive analytics, a potent prescription for health care
Just before the New Year, predictive analytics company Inovalon Holdings—which specializes in healthcare applications—filed plans to raise up to $500 million in an initial public stock offering.
“We believe that the opportunity before us is substantial as data increasingly becomes the lynchpin in health care—from clinical quality outcomes and financial performance, to the consumer experience and drug discovery,” the Bowie, Md.-based company notes in its papers.
Indeed, of all the potential applications for big data and emerging 3D simulation technologies (and there are many) those centered on speeding medical diagnostics or clinical trials could be the most life-altering. Literally.
That’s one reason this is a major early focus for IBM’s WatsonAnalytics service. So much so that the company is customizing its technology for the Mayo Clinic to speed up cancer research, and encourage higher patient participation. “With shorter times from initiation to completion of trials, our research teams will have the capacity for deeper more complete investigations,” said Nicholas LaRusso, the Mayo Clinic doctor leading the project. “Coupled with increased accuracy, we will be able to develop, refine, and improve new and better techniques in medicine at a higher level.”
DataStax, which sells distributed database management software used by the likes of eBay, Intercontinental Hotel Group, and Netflix, is also finding a following among businesses seeking to disrupt health care. Its technology underpins a service from Amara Health Analytics that uses real-time predictive analytics to identify sepsis, a notoriously difficult-to-diagnose infection that affects 1%-2% or all hospital patients. It also kills roughly half of who contract it. Amara’s application continuously monitors medical device data and alerts clinicians when a patient appears to be at risk.
“Amara can correlate symptoms and set probability assessments in real time, and they can do this in a way that is faster than a human observer. It helps clinicians intervene sooner. This is stuff that starts to impact quality of life,” said Billy Bosworth, CEO of DataStax, which raised a $106 million Series E funding round in September 2014.
Analytics plus 3-D simulation and modeling software are also at the heart (pun intended) of an ambitious research project led by French tech company Dassault Systèmes. The Living Heart Project, which includes researchers from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, combines data about “physics of the human body” with information about materials used in medical devices such as pacemakers to anticipate how they will perform over time. “This is an expansion of our ability to predict how something will behave,” said Steven Levine, Chief Strategy Officer, Dassault Systèmes, SIMULIA, and director of the project.
The idea is to predict potential failures and speed innovation, while reducing the amount of money spent on client trials, Levine said. “If we can help the FDA and device manufacturers understand the failure mechanics so that they won’t place a risk on humans, they can improve reliability.”
Dassault Systèmes picked the heart as its first focus because cardiovascular disease remains the No. 1 cause of death globally and also because Levine has a personal interest in this research. His 20-something daughter, who was born with a rare congenital heart condition, is on her fourth pacemaker since the age of two. “The FDA has never really understood how strong the pacemaker leads should be. Now, we can simulate the motion that a person would go through. … Coupled with wearables technology, we are on the threshold of having an incredible amount of data about cardiovascular performance.”
MY FORTUNE.COM BOOKMARKS
Disney CEO Bob Iger’s empire of tech By Michal Lev-Ram
7 CEOs who will be in the hotseat in 2015 By Claire Zillman
The smart car gets even smarter By Kirsten Korosec
15 fabulous Fortune reads from 2014 By Verne Kopytoff
With the Classic, BlackBerry looks back to the future By Jason Cipriani
A candid conversation with Pixar’s philosopher-king, Ed Catmull By Michal Lev-Ram
FOR YOUR INNER TECHNOPHILE
Could this be the biggest change in computing since the 1940s? Hewlett-Packard’s “Machine” vision reinvents the computing architecture for everything from mobile phones to notebooks to servers to supercomputers. The mission: handle ever-mushrooming data loads faster, while eating up less power. Here’s how HP Labs is applying 75 years of research and development to this ambitious project. Fortune
ONE MORE THING
First Oprah, now Zuck’s talking up books. Facebook’s founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg is binge-reading as one of his 2015 resolutions. Up first is The End of Power, a tome by Moises Naim about realignments in the world’s power structure. You can read along, too! Re/code
MARK YOUR CALENDAR
National Retail Federation: Technology showcase. (Jan. 11 – 14; New York)
IBM ConnectED: Collaboration and digital experience. (Jan. 25 – 28; Orlando, Florida)
IBM Interconnect: Cloud and mobile strategy. (Feb. 22 – 26; Las Vegas)
Gartner CIO Leadership Forum: Digital business strategy. (March 1 – 3; Phoenix)
Microsoft Convergence: Dynamics solutions. (March 16 – 19; Atlanta)
IDC Directions 2015: Innovation in the 3rd Platform era. (March 18; Boston)
Cisco Leadership Council: CIO-CEO thought leadership. (March 18 – 20; Kiawah Island, South Carolina)
Gartner Business Intelligence & Analytics Summit: Crossing the divide. (March 30 – April 1; Las Vegas)
Knowledge15: Automate IT services. (April 19 – 24; Las Vegas)
RSA Conference: The world talks security. (April 20 – 24; San Francisco)
Forrester’s Forum for Technology Leaders: Win in the age of the customer. (April 27 – 28; Orlando, Fla.)
MicrosoftIgnite: Business tech extravaganza. (May 4 – 8; Chicago)
NetSuite SuiteWorld: Cloud ERP strategy. (May 4 – 7; San Jose, California)
EMC World: Data strategy. (May 4 – 7; Las Vegas)
SAPPHIRE NOW: The SAP universe. (May 5 – 7; Orlando, Florida)
Gartner Digital Marketing Conference: Reach your destination faster. (May 5 – 7; San Diego)
Annual Global Technology, Media and Telecom Conference: JP Morgan’s 43rd invite-only event. (May 18 – 20; Boston)
HP Discover: Trends and technologies. (June 2 – 4; Las Vegas)