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Saturday, November 28, 2015

What Amazing Bosses Do

I liked this.   In the HBR:  Motivating People .... What Amazing Bosses Do Differently  ... by Sydney Finkelstein

Manipulating Live Faces

Applications?  Entertainment I imagine.

Via the CACM: " .... Computer scientists from Stanford University and the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg in Germany say they have created a process dubbed "live facial re-enactment" that can instantaneously transfer facial expressions. ....  The researchers say with the new technique, a person's smile would appear seamlessly on live video of another person's face, even if the second person is not smiling. ... "

Amazon vs Wal-Mart

Walmart vs. Amazon: Can Bentonville Beat a Rival That Values Growth Over Profit?
One Seems to Have Upper Hand in Fight for Online Dominance; the Other May Have Secret Weapon in Millennials  ... " 

Microsoft Happy with Hololens Pre Applications

In VRFocus: Indication that Microsoft is getting many applications for their Hololens virtual reality approach. Looking forward to applications for the enterprise.

Using Sound Waves to Hack Data

Not a new idea. Research on this and related ideas were done at the Pentagon in the mid 70s.  It has always been a potential security issue.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Predictive Analytics in the Supply Chain

Nicely done overview of the topic.  Sounds like an outline of areas I worked in for a long time.   I do have to ask: What has changed since we started work in this area in the 70s?   I saw evidence of similar work being done in the 50s.   So?   The problems areas are the same.  More data, especially in real time, is available now.  Statistical and fundamental math are largely the same.  Computers are now faster and processors can now be used in parallel.  Some new methods exist that allow us to model some problems closer to the way decisions are really made.   Decision makers expect better, real time results.  The last point, increased expectations, always at hand answers, may be the biggest driver of all.   It gets your decision makers tightly involved.

From the article:  Summary:  Predictive analytics are increasingly important to Supply Chain Management making the   process more accurate, reliable, and at reduced cost.  To be at the top of your game as a supply chain   manager you need to understand and utilize advanced predictive analytics. .. "    by William Vorhies   Original post in Data Magnum blog

Feature Engineering Tips

So what is feature engineering?  Fundamentally it is the most important part of data science.  Or of any analytic method, from the simplest to the most complex.  Features are the data variables you include in your model.  Or often more importantly, the data you leave out of your model.  Or how your data can be combined or 're-engineered' to make it most useful.  Often you do not know what data features you have, or can measure, or even exist at all.   So its a good idea to thoughtfully understand which are important.  DSC on engineering them, with link to a white paper.    by Patti Tillotson

Brain Pickings and More

In the NYT Books Review:
‘Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs,’ by Lisa Randall   ...  review  by Maria Popova who is the founder of BrainPickings.org and an M.I.T. Futures of Entertainment fellow.  ... On brains, intelligence, stoytelling, entertainment, culture and more.  Will attempt to curate further here ...   I consider myself mostly a brain picker as well.

Online Retail Needs Instore Experience

Yes, apparently for at least some customers,  and for those customers, to achieve maximum revenue.  See also Herb Sorensen's take on this.   More here after his Amazon store visit.

Why Online Retailers Need Physical Stores to Improve Customer Experience by Shereen Dindar
It’s been almost a month now since Amazon surprised analysts by opening a brick-and-mortar bookstore in Seattle, Washington on November 3.

The online retailer is going head-to-head with small, independently owned bookshops by offering the personalized benefits of in-store shopping combined with the convenience of online shopping.

Amazon’s move represents a growing trend by online retailers to add brick-and-mortar locations to their businesses. It appears they now realize that online shopping will never offer a great customer experience. And in today’s marketplace, customer experience is everything. ... " 

Semantic Folding and Knowledge Processing

Semantic Folding ...

Note the mention of Jeff Hawkins, who we connected with long ago.   Posts re his Numenta company.  Technical, with intriguing implications.

The Semantic Folding Theory (SFT) is the attempt to develop an alternative computational theory for the processing of language data. While nearly all current methods of processing natural language use word statistics, Semantic Folding uses a neuroscience based mechanism of distributional semantics. After capturing a given semantic universe of a reference set of documents by means of a fully unsupervised mechanism, the resulting semantic space is folded into each and every word-representation vector .... 

These vectors are large, sparsely filled binary vectors. Every feature bit in this vector not only corresponds but also equals a specific semantic feature of the folded-in semantic space and is therefore semantically grounded. The resulting word-vectors are fully conforming to the requirements for valid word-SDRs (Sparse Distributed Representation) in the context of the Hierarchical Temporal Memory (HTM) theory by Jeff Hawkins. While the HTM theory focuses on the cortical mechanism for identifying, memorizing and predicting reoccurring sequences of SDR patterns, the Semantic Folding theory describes the encoding mechanism that converts semantic input data into a valid SDR format, directly usable by HTM networks. ... ' 

Data Modeling Tools

Emphasizing the visual.  Nice overview.  Would this generally influence your choice of data tools?

Top 6 Data Modeling Tools ... by Zygimantas Jacikevicius

Businesses these days rely heavily on data to make important decisions on a day-to-day basis. The flow of correct and consistent data is of great importance for business users to make quick and well informed decisions. The flow and relationships of data need to be defined and structured to ensure best results. This process is called Data Modelling. To avoid human error and speed up the process specialised software is used to help with building a logical data model, a physical data model, creating DDL and being able to build reports to describe and share the model with other stakeholders. This list is the top tool pick from the consultants here at Data to Value. ... " 

Thursday, November 26, 2015

How the Internet of Things is Changing Work

Lots of interesting examples,   I clip below the obvious example in logistics.  But collaboration and other enterprise examples are also good

How the Internet of Things is Changing Work
Here's how Technologists think the world of IOT will change the workplace and how its already changing how we do business today.  By David Lumb

The Internet of Things (IoT) is an exciting concept, a future where "billions of things are talking to each other," as technology consulting company SAP describes it. We’ve seen gadgets and domestic appliances connect to the Internet and ping your smartphone with info, but it’s becoming more clear that these toys are a prelude to a vastly connected world. And yet, we spend most of our day at work. Here’s how technologists think the world of IoT will change the workplace—and how it’s already changing how we do business today.... " 

" ... IoT is already filtering into logistics support in another way with so-called "cognitive outsourcing"—aka, letting computers do the heavy thinking for us. Think about IBM’s Watson, says Hack, a resource of computing power that sifts through mountains of data to present conclusions by citing patterns that most humans can’t discern—or at least, can’t discern quickly. Cognitive outsourcing will speed up work (so long as we trust our algorithms) by speeding up not just the flow of information, but the flow of conclusions. ... " 

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Fast Image Classification

Something we tried to do, but never at this speed. In Flowingdata.  Neuraltalk2.

Giving Marketers Access to Data

In the HBR.  Well put, its not only getting them access, but also useful access.  In a form they can understand and can leverage.  That starts with data visualization.   See also Procter's 1 Consumer Place.    And fundamentally:

" .... Marketers these days can capture and analyze sales patterns in minute detail. They can geolocate customers and mine transaction histories. They can see patterns emerge from wholly new information streams, such as what people are saying about the company on social media. Because much of the data flows into a company in real time, they can also see what their customers are up to right now.

That’s the way it works in theory, anyway. In practice, all this data usually sits in different places — a company’s legacy CRM systems, its loyalty program databases, new cloud-based applications, third-party servers, and so on. That makes it hard to access. Sometimes marketers must wait in line to get the data they need served up to them by IT. ... " 

Intel Corp on Device Reliance

Correspondent John Stine on devices and more, This comes to mind as I am about to switch phones and add a new communications channel.

" ... During a separate seminar at that same technology summit, Jon Stine -- Intel's global director of sales and strategy for retail, hospitality and consumer goods -- outlined why retailers are spending so much to perfect their mobile and multichannel shopping strategies.

Americans are spending 9.9 hours per day on screens (mobile phone, TV, personal computer and tablet, among others). Intel data reveal that 60 percent to 65 percent of U.S. consumers begin their shopping by going online.

Still, as much as 90 percent of purchases are made in stores. That means serving customers online and in stores is a must for retailers like Wal-Mart, Stine said.

"Being agile and flexible has never been more important for retailers than right now," he added, noting that the mobile phone has become "the remote control for your daily life."

As we become accustomed to websites that load and refresh in 20 milliseconds, saving time has become as high a priority as saving money.

Brown noted that through its app, and the ability for customers to order and pay without ever interacting with a person, Starbucks has shaved a full minute off the time it usually takes to get in and out with a cup of coffee. That adds up to about 5 million minutes a month being saved.

More and more consumers are demanding that the in-store shopping experience be as fast as it is online. We're looking for what Stine described as the "living, breathing Internet." ... " 

IBM Makes SystemML Freely Available

The continued competition to provide free and open source analytics integrated with their offerings.    Consider the power of integrating cognitive systems like those that have grown from Watson, and these analytics.

In The WSJ: 
" .... Programmers of artificial intelligence software got a new tool to work with Monday, when International Business Machines Corp. announced that a proprietary program known as SystemML would be freely available to share and modify through the Apache Software Foundation.

The letters ML stand for “machine learning,” a hot technology in Silicon Valley that enables computers to find common patterns in large amounts of data. Machine learning has been used to teach computers tasks such as predicting phrases entered into search engines, recognizing faces in photos and detecting unusual moves in stock prices.  .... " 

More about SystemML.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Essentials of Innovation

McKinsey's new Podcast format:

Why are some big companies simply better innovators? The leaders of McKinsey’s Innovation practice, Erik Roth and Nathan Marston, explain the critical factors. ... 

The Essentials of Innovation
Why are some big companies simply better innovators? In this first episode of the McKinsey Podcast, the leaders of McKinsey’s innovation practice, Erik Roth and Nathan Marston, talk with the editor-in-chief of McKinsey Quarterly, Allen Webb, about the strategic and organizational factors that distinguish successful innovators—and why having a chief innovation officer isn’t usually the best way to go. .... " 

Graph Visualization and Analytics Tools

Piece on commonly used graph visualization tools.    One less known and not mentioned is Polinode, which I was recently introduced to.   Every data scientist should such a tool available for understanding the topology of complex networks.

One Marketing Metric

I like simple metrics, especially linked to actual funds,  but are these accurately measurable and stable?  In Adage: " .... One Marketing Metric to Rule Them All? Group Believes It Has One .. Lengthy Test Across 100 Brands Is Step Toward Linking Marketing To Cash Flow ... " 

Brick and Mortar Analytics

On the use of analytics for physical stores.  In Forbes.  I was reminded of this as I looked back on some methods we worked in the 90s.  More data, but not very different today.

Will Training for New Skills Have No Value?

Posed in CWorld: An interesting premise.  As we learn to augment people with new skills using virtual assistants,  will these first replace the most valuable and difficult skills?    I covered a number of these issues in recent months while examining how segmented tasks can augment people using assistants (VDAs).  As was suggested a long time ago, is it the skilled knowledge worker that may now be ripe for replacement?  Any task you may have wanted to train yourself for,  may already be under cognitive automation.  Consider the data science case,  where there are now attempts underway to automate many elements of analytics.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Kinds of Thinkers in Collaboration

In the HBR:    How should organizations link to collaboration tools?  Just dealing with that myself in a new organization.   Who adapts and how?   Good piece.

" ....  In most organizations, there’s a standard set of tools we use to form, lead, and manage teams. These include personality tests, skill profiles, and team roles. When you put a team together, you consider people’s personalities: are they an introvert or extrovert, risk-taker or risk-avoider, analytical or intuitive? You consider their skills: What is their specific area of talent, experience, or expertise? And you consider their potential role on the team: What will their contribution be to the team’s purpose? ... " 

Microsoft Tries an OpenFog Consortium

Fog computing they are calling it?  Won't set up a tag for that quite yet.

Microsoft helps accelerate IoT with new OpenFog Consortium

Rich Internet of Things (IoT) applications distribute application logic between the cloud and remote devices. Some IoT application logic is best suited for remote devices at the edge of the network, such as first order filtering and batching of data, while other IoT application logic is best suited for cloud, such as rich analytics and insights over aggregate data – as well as controlling and updating remote devices. .... 

Today, Microsoft announced it is working with ARM, Cisco, Dell, Intel and the Princeton University Edge Laboratory to form a consortium that aims to speed up the development of core technologies around that support these scenarios, referred to as “fog computing.” ... ' 

Innovations in Engines for Aviation

As I learn more about GE Aviation, More innovation in Big Scale Manufacturing.   In their innovation blog:

GE Reports: Just Like The Wright Flyer, GE’s Turboprop Business Was Born In A Bike Shop ... GE unveiled a new advanced turboprop engine yesterday that produces 10 percent more power than its peers and burns 20 percent less fuel. ... " 

Hololens to Provide Demo in Volvo Showroom

In Engadget:  An example of VR being used to provide engagement for marketing.  Does this provide actual value or just novelty?    First Hololens example with a real commercial client example I have seen.   Are there others out there?

Speed of Marketing Automation

Consider in addition attentive or analytical methods to detect needed intervention.

Traveling at the speed of culture: can marketing automation keep up?
For successful brand campaigns that emerge based on real-time reactions to culturally relevant events, marketing automation capitalizes on these moments by driving consumer engagement.
Our latest marketing meme, driven by "war rooms" and 24/7 trendspotting teams, has data-driven marketers using insights to create memorable customer experiences that are linked to topical, cultural moments. These are not just a brand promise and not only singular interactions, but a combination of several relevant moments of truth (or MOTs) - the kinds of engaging moments of truth popularized by Google in 2011. Each touchpoint is personal, customized, and responsive of the actions and interests of the individual. ... " 

Origins of Graphic Communications

And link to TED talk on alphabets and graphics.
' ... "Why are these 32 symbols found in ancient caves all over Europe?"
Genevieve Von Petzinger, a paleoanthropologist associated with the University of Victoria (British Columbia), is concerned primarily with symbols in Ice Age European cave art dating to the Upper Paleolithic (40,000-10,000 BP), but she also has her eye on possible predecessors in Africa and parallels across Asia all the way to Indonesia. ... " 

Wal-Mart and Facial Recognition

Did Walmart cross a line with its facial recognition test?
By Matthew Stern

Whether or not the public at large will accept the use of facial recognition in their daily lives remains to be seen, but it is clear that retailers are willing to investigate whether the controversial technology has a role to play in stores. Fortune, for example, recently reported that Walmart had been testing the use of facial recognition technology to identify shoplifters. ... " 

Sunday, November 22, 2015

A Translating Megaphone Assists

A simple example of an assistant.  A megaphone at Tokyo Airport translates.  We have started to see examples of realtime translation. But imagine the same device being augmented with additional contextual information.   An ideal avenue of assistance?  Or does the need for common sense reasoning override the application?

Algorithmic Morality

Some classic examples of how we allow  humans to make deeply moral decisions.  Now how will these be handled by machine learning delivered algorithms?  Machine ethics?   And interpreted by the law? Second time in a career that I have been exposed to this.  Will it be solved this time?  See also the talk last week on this subject by Erin  Burke..

In Technology Review:   " ... Why Self-Driving Cars Must Be Programmed to Kill .... Self-driving cars are already cruising the streets. But before they can become widespread, carmakers must solve an impossible ethical dilemma of algorithmic morality.  .... " 

Persuasion in Marketing

Eric Barker:   Have been following up his writing and linking in Barking up the Wrong Tree:  The latest take:  NYPD Hostage Negotiators On How To Persuade People: 4 New Secrets.    His blog has lots of interesting social and psych pieces of broad relevance.   And of course marketing is strategic persuasion, and advertising is operational persuasion.  So there has relevance well beyond hostage negotiation.  Recommended.

Pitney Bowes Location Intelligence

Back in the enterprise we used the Mapinfo GIS system for location and mapping.    They were acquired by Pitney Bowes.  Now that location intelligence system is used by GE in its Predix platform.  The Mapinfo Pro systems still exist.  This is a useful integration of GIS and location analytics.  They write:

" ... What is Location Intelligence?
Location Intelligence is the capability to understand complex relationships between location and data in order to drive better business decisions. It enables organizations to derive meaningful insight by harnessing the power of location to solve business problems, deliver location-based services or manage assets. ... "

Logistic Regression vs Decision Trees

Decision trees were a favorite method in the enterprise, in part because the solution could be easily understood.   Now think of them in relation to Logistic regression for use in classification:

" .... By  Lalit Sachan in Blogon 05/10/2015 ... 
Classification is one of the major problems that we solve while working on standard business problems across industries. In this article we’ll be discussing the major three of the many techniques used for the same, Logistic Regression, Decision Trees and Support Vector Machines [SVM].

All of the above listed algorithms are used in classification [ SVM and Decision Trees are also used for regression, but we are not discussing that today!]. Time and again I have seen people asking which one to choose for their particular problem. Classical and the most correct but least satisfying response to that question is “it depends!”. Its downright annoying, I agree. So I decided to shed some light on it depends on what.  ... " ..... '