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Data Sheet—Thursday, August 6, 2015

Good morning, Data Sheet readers. Google and Microsoft are supporting an important patent appeal. IBM wants your company to use more Macintosh computers, and Adidas is chasing after Nike with its own fitness app. Sad that Jon Stewart is signing off after 16 years? Cheer up by celebrating the one-year birthday of this newsletter! Encourage a colleague to subscribe, and have a super Thursday.

TOP OF MIND

Fashion sense. Target is testing location-based marketing at 50 stores. Still, sometimes the best way to get ideas about someone’s personal style (or size) is to ask questions. That’s a common strategy at apparel sites MM.LaFleur, Stitch Fix, and Bombfell. “I think we found this really sweet spot in between truly personal and somewhat removed,” MM.LaFleur COO Narie Foster told the Wall Street Journal. “In that sweet spot, people are extremely honest.”

 

TRENDING

Why this patent appeal has the support of Google and Microsoft. Back in 2012, chipmaker Marvell Technologies was ordered to pay $1.5 billion to Carnegie Mellon for infringing two hardware patents. What’s at issue is how the fine was calculated. The original ruling based damages on sales everywhere, not just in the United States. That’s an unusual and expensive precedent they want reversed.

We had it backward. Remember the rumor earlier this week about EMC potentially buying out VMware? Another, less conventional scenario is a reverse merger that encourage the software company to swallow up its current, hardware-centric parent, reports Re/code. Both are being considered.

Adidas changes pace on smarter footwear, but can it catch up to Nike? Its $240 million deal for Austrian fitness app maker Runtastic gives it access to 70 million connected users concerned about their athletic stats.

Death to PowerPoint? Microsoft just added a new application to the Office portfolio, although you need Windows 10 to use it. Sway’s mission: aid and abet digital storytellers.

SoftBank is feeling confident about Sprint’s turnaround. Overall subscriber numbers aside, the carrier’s results were better than expected. That just inspired a $1 billion stock buyback program for its Japanese parent.

Fitbit’s fiscal feat. It broke a quarterly sales record for its first quarter as a public company, topping $400 million and up 453%.

 

 

THE DOWNLOAD

Big data could improve supply chain efficiency—if companies would let it

How’s this for irony? The manufacturing sector generates more data than any other portion of the economy but many manufacturers haven’t figured out its value. “One oil-and-gas company, for example, discards 99% of its data before decision makers have a chance to use it,” note several McKinsey Institute consultants in the firm’s August essay about digital manufacturing. That’s a pretty disheartening statistic.

Apparently, this paralysis has less to do with the availability of software to get the job done and more to do with human reluctance.

Here’s the rub: strategies that improve the entire supply chain can inadvertently weaken results for an individual link—design, distribution, prototyping, procurement, or production. Since many managers are compensated on results for their own individual fief and not the entire kingdom, there’s little incentive to change. “The organization gets the behavior it rewards. … What I see are silo objectives, silo metrics, silo rewards,” supply chain consultant Jeff Karrenbauer told Fortune. Not really a surprise, but definitely a sticking point for the digital manufacturing revolution.

Read more about the battle of wills between humans and algorithms.

 

ALSO WORTH SHARING

This new math will astound tech veterans. Did you notice Microsoft had slightly more revenue last year than IBM?

Speaking of which, for its next act, IBM will sell Macintosh computers into corporate accounts.

You know who looks a lot like an engineer? General Motors CEO Mary Barra, who joined the viral tweetstorm about gender diversity on Tuesday.

In two months, 11 million looky-loos must pay for Apple Music. There are still lots of kinks to work out, starting with the confusing interface.

China to Internet giants: Clear a desk for your in-house censor.

Wait, mainframes are insecure? Then again, they weren’t meant to be connected to the Internet.

Be more responsive on Facebook. One of its latest features lets customers (or prospects) send messages to your company right from an ad. But only celebrities can broadcast using its new video streaming app.

Tesla decelerates. It won’t sell as many cars this year as originally forecast—less because of demand and more because of supplier hiccups.

MY FORTUNE BOOKMARKS

As the world of TV crumbles, what does the future hold for ESPN? by Mathew Ingram

Apple’s investors want the company to do back flips by S. Kumar

Silicon Valley’s longest-serving CEO calls it a day by Rick Wartzman

How researchers are using a drone to discover connected devices in Austin by Jonathan Vanian

Women’s tennis to experiment with courtside iPads by Daniel Roberts

Reddit has banned some of its most racist subreddits by Kia Kokalitcheva

ONE MORE THING

One big family, until family comes. Stop expecting tech startups to adopt generous parental leave policies, like those embraced by Netflix and Microsoft. But there’s a practical reason they should.

MARK YOUR CALENDAR

LinuxCon North America: All about open source. (Aug. 17 – 19; Seattle)

SuccessConnect: Simplify the way the world works. (Aug. 10 – 12; Las Vegas)

VMworld: The virtualization ecosystem. (Aug. 30 – Sept. 3, 2015; San Francisco)

Gartner Customer 360 Summit: Strategies for digital engagement. (Sept. 9 – 11; San Diego)

Dreamforce: The Salesforce community. (Sept. 15 – 18; San Francisco)

.conf2015: “Get your data on” with Splunk. (Sept. 21 – 24; Las Vegas)

Cassandra Summit: Largest gathering of Cassandra database developers. (Sept. 22 – 24; San Francisco)

nginx.conf: The modern web. (Sept. 22 – 24; San Francisco)

AppSec USA: Application security principles. (Sept. 22 – 25; San Francisco)

BoxWorks: Cloud collaboration solutions. (Sept. 28 – 30; San Francisco)

Workday Rising: Meet and share. (Sept. 28 – Oct. 1; Las Vegas)

Minds+Machines: GE’s annual industrial Internet event. (Sept. 29 – Oct. 1; San Francisco)

HP Engage: Big data, big engagement. (Oct. 4 – 6; San Diego)

Gartner Symposium ITxpo: CIOs and senior IT executives. (Oct. 4 – 8; Orlando, Florida)

AWS re:Invent: The global Amazon Web services community. (Oct. 6 – 9; Las Vegas)

I Love APIs: Apigee’s annual conference. (Oct. 12 – 14; San Jose, California)

Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing: World’s largest gather of women technologists. (Oct. 14 – 16; Houston)

DevOps Enterprise Summit: Lean principles meet technology management. (Oct. 19 – 21; San Francisco)

Dell World: Global conference for customers and partners. (Oct. 20 – 22; Austin, Texas)

CX San Francisco: Forrester’s forum for customer experience professionals. (Oct. 22 – 23)

Oracle OpenWorld: Customer and partner conference. (Oct. 25 – 29; San Francisco)

TBM Conference: Manage IT like a business. (Oct. 26 – 29; Chicago)

eBusiness Chicago: eBusiness and channel strategy. (Oct. 29 – 30)

QuickBooks Connect: SMBs, entrepreneurs, accountants and developers. (Nov. 2 – 4; San Jose, California)

CMO+CIO: Forrester’s summit on strategy collaboration. (Nov. 2 – 4; Sarasota, Florida)

Oktane: Identity management trends. (Nov. 2 – 4; Las Vegas)

FutureStack: Define your future with New Relic. (Nov. 11 – 13; San Francisco)