Graeme Thickins on Tech

Reflections & analysis about innovation, technology & startups, with a focus on Minnesota, Land of 10,000 Lakes

Category: Analytics

The Hottest of the New Hotness in 2017: ‘The #AI 100’

Need a new list for the new year? And I don’t mean a list of predictions — save us from more of those. I mean a list of hot startups, in the hottest space of all this year: Artificial Intelligence.

CB Insights just uncorked “The AI 100” at its Innovation Summit, now going on out in sunny rain-drenched Santa Barbara. (Well, guys, at least you were going to be indoors most of the time, anyway.)

Yes, last year may have been all about Big Data, but this year it’s AI. Note, however, that the former isn’t out of vogue. It’s just that things are… evolving. And sort of blending. The algorithms of AI, which is actually a technology that’s been  studied for decades, hunger for data — huge amounts of it. The more the better, and the higher quality the better. It’s only in recent years that enough good data, and the tools to manipulate and analyze it, have become available to drive advances in AI. And those advances are coming at us in increasing, amazing waves.

So, dig in to The AI 100 PDF. Herewith a couple of screen grabs from the report: a graphic showing the various categories of companies, and an alphabetical listing of the all the lucky chosen. (Most of which have been  well funded, and many of which are already well into revenue stage.) 


Retailers Are Lagging, Says Omnichannel Leader

[Note: This post first appeared on April 30th at, where I’m a regular contributor.]

SPScommerce-Influence-logoRetailers still don’t appear to be facing the profound changes their industry is undergoing, according to Peter Zaballos, VP of marketing and product at Minneapolis-based SPS Commerce, in a keynote he gave yesterday at the company’s annual “omnichannel” conference, called In:fluence15.

“It’s not just about ‘the Amazon effect’,” he said. “It’s about digital engagement.”

Continue reading

Big Data Storms the Big Apple This Week

The_Big_AppleAnd I'm looking forward to reporting on this high-level gathering: the Gigaom Structure Data conference. It's billed thusly: "The industry's leading denizens share their views on big data and its impact on the information economy." 

That's right: big minds sharing deep thoughts on a humongously hyped topic — what could be more fun than that?  But it won't be just big companies represented at this fine event, there'll be lots of smaller ones, too — including my favorite kind: #startups. And you Gigaom-StructureData-logo know what they say: pretty much every tech startup today is a data startup of one sort or another — or will be. That's what happens when a topic is hyped as breathlessly as Big Data is — it permeates damn near everthing. Even your mother has asked you about it.

So, why am I going? Well, first of all, I've had a media pass to a Gigaom event before, and was impressed by the quality of their events. And this one gave me a chance to visit my son and his wife, who recently took up residence in Manhattan, where I haven't been in years. (I like my conferences mostly in California and Colorado, thank you very much.) That, plus the fact that I've been focusing a lot of my attention in data and analytics of late, right here in Minnesota. We have a large contingent of big data professionals in the state — mostly big-company types at our 20 Fortune 500s, of course, but some very interesting startups as well. I've become quite involved with a wonderful professional meetup-type group called over the past couple of years. Get this: our database now numbers 3700 data professionals across 600 organizations! (Follow Minneanalytics on Twitter.) It's a great group of people — lots of energy and smarts around the burgeoning, rapidly growing field of Big Data. I'm on the organizing commitee and have assisted with several Minneanalytics events, which have attracted up to 900 attendees. I'm specifically involved in engaging more of the startup community with the organization, and I also help manage the organization's social media presence.

My involvement in Minneanalytics and helping with content curation and community engagement got me to thinking beyond just our Twitter and email list communications, however. What might be another way I could help spread the love — and the need to keep up on the latest — around this thing crazy, hot topic of Big Data?

As a huge user of the Flipboard app since day-one of the iPad in 2010, it hit me: why not launch a Flipboard magazine on the topic? I hadn't done one before. I noted there were others who had already started Big Data magazines, but they were way geeky. I thought there might be room for one with a little different focus: on real-world uses for Big Data — how the technologies were being applied in ways that even everyday people could understand, in a wide variety of fields, professions, and vertical markets. I figured there was more than enough to content to begin — and I was right. BDITW-FrontPage

So one day, on a lark, I launched my first Flipboard magazine, Big Data in the Wild (shown at right). I subtitled it "Real-world examples of how big data is making big impact."  Fast forward: in just four months, it has more than 4600 subscribers and almost 89,000 page flips. Flipboard features it regularly on its Daily Picks, and Mike McCue, Flipboard's CEO, has even told me "great magazine!" So, I'm committed now! (As the magazine got establshed, I asked a colleague, Dan Atkins, one of the cofounders of Minneanalytics, to be a contributor to it.)

But after I recently committed to making the trip to the Big Apple, I started thinking… hmmm, being a magazine publisher now — haha, I mean a content curator — how could I, as a longtime reporter and blogger at tech conferences, not cover this event for my own magazine?  It was just too much of a crazy notion not to do it. So, here's what I'll be doing this week: publishing blog posts during and after the event and, you got it, flipping those posts into my magazine.

BDITW-TwitterBut wait, there's more! How can a magazine exist without a Twitter account? That would be just cruel. So, a week or two ago, I started @BigDataWild on Twitter, and have since built up a nice little, well focused following of professionals, which continues to grow. Naturally, I'll be tweeting links that will — yep! — take people to the magazine!! …to the posts I'll be writing about the event. Now how recursive is that?  But who am I not to create more data! Post, publish, link, flip, tweet, link back — feed the stream!

If you'll be at Gigaom Structure Data, be sure to say hello. I'd enjoy meeting! You can still register here. And, if you need convincing the agenda is worthwhile, read these two recent posts from Gigaom writers that will give you a flavor of what to expect:

5 Things that Will Remake Big Data in the Next 5 years

Upcoming Gigaom Event: Three Innovators Who Are Shifting the Big Data Landscape

Here's to a really BIG time!