• Big Data Weekly
  • Experfy Editor
  • APR 18, 2014

Big Data Weekly: Act-On, Beckon, Medicare, Vertica Big Data Conference

Act-On raises $42 million for business expansion

Act-On, a marketing automation system vendor, has managed to raise $42 million in a fifth round of VC investment. The startup hit Venture Beat’s list of top 10 marketing automation vendors. Based in Beaverton, Oregon, this company targets the non-tech market.

Says Act-On CEO Raghu Raghavan,

“How fast we can grow is really about how much money I have to hire salespeople. This is not a market where I have to fight competitors … marketing automation is still a green-field market with only five percent penetration.”

Marketing automation products are designed to manage and personalize one-to-one, marketing campaigns through the user experiences on the web, on the social media, on the mobile network, or on other marketing channels.

Technology Crossover Ventures (TCV) led the $42 million funding round along with existing investors Norwest Venture Partners, US Venture Partners, Trinity Ventures, and Voyager Capital. TCV’s investment strategy involves singularly selecting marketing technology startups with proven track record, and then investing huge amounts of money to help the startup mature to high growth. Act-On, with an impressive client portfolio of 2,200 mid-sized and enterprise-level businesses, is adding around 300 to 400 clients every quarter. According to Raghavan, the company tripled from 2012 to 2013, and is slated for doubling again in 2014.

Raghavan plans to acquire new companies with interesting technology for all aspects of marketing with an intent to expand its product portfolio and acquire rare talent.


Beckon solves big data problem for marketers

The data deluge that often confuses the modern marketer becomes a bigger issue because of the overwhelming technology contraptions!  “Marketers now have email systems, social tools, a media agency with TV, radio, and print insights, web tools, A/B testing, and search analysis,” says Jenny Zeszut, Beckon’s CEO.  “Marketers don’t have a single system that ties it all together.”

According to her, due to this multiplicity of marketing data channels, “the average CMO is actually using data less now than two years ago — making data-driven decisions only about 29 percent of the time, compared to 37 percent in 2012.”

Beckon, which started over a year ago, just announced a $10 million funding round from August Capital and Canaan Partners which will help Beckon expand its sales and marketing efforts for acquiring new customers.

In a typical scenario, companies utilize IT staff, data scientists, analysts, and others to glean the data sources and create some coherent report. This process can be highly laborious and time-consuming, without leaving clear indications about how the different data are correlated to each other. The data, though present, becomes useless during real-time decision-making.

As an answer to this problem, Beckon specializes in combining custom reports from multiple systems and “auto-magically” analyzing and presenting the data in a single format. Beckon provides in-depth analysis of varied marketing data and publishes the ROI and cost-effectiveness for every channel — and exports the report to PowerPoint.


Release of Medicare’s big data: What purpose does it serve?

Forbe’s Post on Medicare Data Released in April 2014

If you have reviewed the post above on the Forbes site, you probably know that most readers have responded negatively to the publication of Medicare data or rather big data, which has left many readers clueless about the intended objective of this public release of insurance information. Now the government sector is proactively seeking big data technologies to share insightful documents with the general public; probably an attempt at sharing hitherto classified information. However, many reviewers called this Medicare data release exercise a “scavenger hunt for the Medicare Millionaires.”

This public report certainly reflects transparency if that was the sole intention. The millions of medical expense records contained in that data, by themselves, have no other value and serve no purpose. Unless of course, the government hopes that the pricing transparency alone may influence the future pricing structures of medical procedures. As the post says “hope isn’t a strategy when the system is running at over $3 trillion a year – and growing at about 5% per year for as far as the eye can see.”

It seems what the Medicare “data dump” has managed to establish is that it is easy to create catchy headlines around a mass of numbers. Also, the big data report is built around the profit and revenue aspects of Medicare, rather than on its safety and quality.

What this big data dump has triggered is an involved dialogue about sky-high medical expenditures in the US. The government is clearly singularly focused on the politics and economics of healthcare programs.


HP will play host to Vertica Big Data Conference 2014 in Boston

This spectacular event to be held from August 11 to 14, 2014, promises a lot of learning-oriented events such as pre-conference training workshops on architecture overview, management console, database designer, advanced projection design, resource management, HP Vertica analytics, and query performance tuning

The conference will also feature some interesting events like the Vertica Hackathon where participants with a wide variety of skill sets will team up for practical demonstrations of data analytics which will be evaluated and, if the demo deems it, awarded.

The Connect Community will feature HP’s technology user community representing over 72,000 IT personnel globally. The primary goal of this event is to allow community members to brainstorm, network, and collaborate on opportunities that lead to maximum benefits from their investments in HP technologies.  Vivit, as the independent HP Software community, will provide opportunities to connect with the industry’s thought-leaders.


NY startup to provide data science boot camp to qualified scientists and engineers 

Michael Li of Foursquare has arranged a hacker boot camp for data scientists, called The Data Incubator. This boot camp will initiate the best and the brightest science and engineering PhDs into a data science career.

Scheduled to begin in June of his year, the program is certainly not meant for newbies, but for individuals with programming experience, qualitative aptitude, and communication skills. Li plans to introduce the tools of the trade to the students, which is an added bonus.

The six-week boot camp, to be conducted at New York City will not cost anything beyond the room and board expenses! What The Data Incubator has planned is taking a fee from the employer partners during any hiring event. If The Data Incubator alumni get hired as data scientists or quantitative analysts, that will surely give a market boost to this program.

Li says, “We’re really trying to turn the educational model on its head,” said Li. “The idea that you should pay for your own training when you’re so close to being employable — I just don’t think it’s right.”

Li’s professional background includes a post as plasma researcher at NASA, a post as an analyst at financial institutions, and currently as a data scientist at Foursquare. He earned a combined PhD in computational and applied mathematics from Princeton last year.

The Harvard Innovation Lab

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The Harvard Innovation Lab


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