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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Hand Sanitizers

Johnson & Johnson's hand sanitizer Purell is of course getting a good ride recently. They have special news and related information. Should they be playing other social media as well? None that I can see. Out of stocks an issue? But does it work against viruses?

Lindstrom Among World's Most Influential

I see that Time Magazine has declared sensory marketing expert Martin Lindstrom, author of the recent best-seller Buyology, is among the world's hundred most influential people. Had a most of the day meeting with him and Buyology Inc yesterday. That must be a first, congratulations Martin! Previously about Buyology.

Update: Here is the full Time article on Lindstrom.
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Quest for Computable Knowledge

Stephen Wolfram posts a short timeline of a Quest for Computable Knowledge. Certainly some interesting mentions. Includes things like Wolfram's New Kind of Science (NKS). That thick work is intriguing, but I have yet to see any proof it has led to any science. So is this immodestly premature? In his latest piece on the WolframAlpha project he seems to be saying that this system will be implemented using NKS concepts. Is all useful knowledge computable? In the early AI days it was suggested that formal logical reasoning could solve real problems. That did not work. Does computation help or just extend the realm of our knowledge generation only slightly? Awaiting the mid May release.

Nielsen on Global Media

A very good pdf report on global social media from Nielsen, worth the read.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Facebook Opens Up

I see that Facebook has released a largely open API. What this means is that you will start to see many additional parties writing applications for Facebook. This will add some of the additional creativity you see adding to the functionality of Twitter and on IPhone applications. It will also mean much additional clutter with third parties presenting approaches that replicate others and have varying quality. Probably a required survival direction for FB.

Ariely on Experimentation and Measurement

In SASCom Voices: Dan Ariely on experimentation and measurement. Always an important issue.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Twitter Quitters Grow

According to Nielsen News Wire only about 40% of the system's users come back the following month. More stats at the site with some overdone curve fitting. Twitter has had big growth in the last year, but this kind of stat may mean it will not last.

I continue my Twitter experiment, started early this year. It has led to new connections, interesting content (like this post) and marketing learnings. It seems to have increased readership on this blog, where my tweets often point, by about 30%. But will it last? I still think there is a place for something like, but better crafted than Twitter.

Analyzing Coupons with Biometrics

Overview of work done by Neurofocus on the reaction of consumers to coupons and promotions. Multiple biometrics techniques used. Analyzing print and online coupons. In the Neuroscience marketing blog.

IBM to Open Analytics Centers

IBM will be opening a number of global analytics centers and hire or retrain 4,000 analytics professionals. They seem to be serious. Press release.

Emotional Cartography Resource

Michael W Cristiani passes this along, just now examining.

Emotional Cartography: Implications of Visualizing Intimate Biometric Data

" ... The (44MB freely downloadable) book Emotional Cartography - Technologies of the Self [emotionalcartography.net] is a collection of essays from artists, designers, psycho-geographers, cultural researchers, futurologists and neuroscientists, brought together by Christian Nold, to explore the political, social and cultural implications of visualizing intimate biometric data and emotional experiences using technology. The theme of this collection of essays is to investigate the apparent desire for technologies to map emotion, using a variety of different approaches.

Probably the best known emotion maps are the ones resulting Bio Mapping project, a community mapping project in which the Galvanic Skin Response (GSR), a simple indicator of the emotional arousal, is recorded in conjunction with one's geographical location. By combining the emotional responses of over 1,500 people over a period of 4 years, several "Emotion Maps" were generated of the city in which the participants roamed around. Interspersed throughout the book, are the images of the printed Emotion Maps as well as photos of the participatory process. As mentioned before, the book can be freely downloaded and includes some compelling examples of mapping the subjective views of our daily experiences in a visual form ...'

Monday, April 27, 2009

IBM Takes on Jeopardy

In the NY Times, the technology section : ' ... I.B.M. plans to announce Monday that it is in the final stages of completing a computer program to compete against human “Jeopardy!” contestants. If the program beats the humans, the field of artificial intelligence will have made a leap forward ... ' .

This reminds me of my first interaction with IBM and computers in general, at the 1964 NY Worlds Fair. The IBM pavilion had a presentation where you typed in your birth date and it generated a punch card with the headlines from the NY Times for that date. You got the card. At the time I considered that genius marketing. Just database look up, but I was impressed enough to keep thinking about computing and intelligence.

Now the next step, Jeopardy playing. Now some of you might not remember Jeopardy but it is a general knowledge game show with a few twists. How much is this a movement towards general AI, as the article somewhat breathlessly suggests? Well not exactly, but I like any kind of step in the right direction, even with a somewhat less than general approach. Even 45 years later.

Update: IBM's press release.
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Consumer Machine Vision

Sammy Haroon, former astute enterprise colleague, writes about work in understanding consumers in real time using machine vision and some of his experiences. A favorite topic of mine as well.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

New Business Intelligence

Tom Davenport on what he calls the new Business Intelligence. He studied Procter's analytical capabilities among a number of other companies. Pretty good though I have some disagreements with the details.

" ... organizations need to increase their focus on decision-making. In particular, they need to think again about the relationship between information and decision-making. I recently completed a study on this topic, with the sponsorship of IBM's Information Management business unit, in which I looked at 26 efforts to improve decision-making in organizations. I concluded the following ten things about how business intelligence (BI) needs to evolve: ... '

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Sears IPhone Application

I downloaded the Sear2Go application for the IPhone and played with it. Fairly basic interface that worked well on WiFi. Was able to browse deals, coupons and see reviews of items. Since Sears has lots of private labels (Kenmore, Craftsman, etc) it may not be a very good way to compare prices. Would be interesting to use it at a Sears store to see how the online prices compare. There is a welcome coupon that is worth $5-50 with some exclusions. You can buy something at the online price and pick it up at a store, at least for some items. I did not buy anything so cannot rate the checkout experience. It lacks an information reason to use it, like the recipes at the Kraft store, but still worth looking at. This exploration has gotten me into a Sears store for the first time in years.

Moral Instinct and Norman Borlaug

I was pointed to an item in the NYT by Steven Pinker on Moral instinct which mentions Norman Borlaug. Name sounded familiar but did not register. The article positions him well and talks about all sorts of issues of morality and how our brains seem to cope. Another Neuroscience view. Via Barney Finucane.

Friday, April 24, 2009

BrandImage Shines

An interesting design project which also includes olfactory presence and design by Brandimage – Desgrippes & Laga. Now on display in NYC. Details in the article.

Google Analytics API Launched

It was brought to my attention that the Google Analytics API was recently launched. Will take a close look. Much more here.

Advertising Yourself

From Knowledge@Wharton: Advertising Yourself: Building a Personal Brand through Social Networks. " ... According to Jonah Berger, Wharton marketing professor, using social networking sites or a new media endeavor such as blogging can be especially useful for workers looking to reshape their career into a new kind of profile. "People will begin to see you in that role," Berger says. "By creating these links outside of your organization, you can change your meaning to [others]." ... '

Fortune 500 Blogging

From SNCR, research results on corporate blogging and its use with other social media.

Authors Dr. Nora Ganim Barnes, Ph.D., Senior Fellow and Research Chair of the Society for New Communications Research and Chancellor Professor of Marketing at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and Eric Mattson, CEO of Financial Insite Inc., a Seattle-based research firm.

" ... 81 of the Fortune 500 or 16% currently have public-facing blogs.
This compares with 39 percent of the Inc. 500; 41 percent of the higher education sector and 57 percent of the nation’s Top 200 Charities.
28 percent of the Fortune 500’s blogs link to Twitter accounts. (Other Fortune 500 companies have Twitter accounts, but they are not linked to their blogs)
Five of the top ten companies have public blogs: Wal-Mart, Chevron, General Motors, Ford, and Bank of America.
90 percent of the Fortune 500’s blogs have the comments feature enabled.
The computer software/hardware technology industry has the most blogs, followed by the food and drug industry, financial services, Internet services, semi-conductors, retail and automotive respectively.
Ten percent of the Fortune 500’s blogs link to podcasts; 21 percent incorporate video ... "

Download complete study.
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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Geocities Gone

Geocities, the oldest free web site community, is gone. It was fifteen years old. Quite a few web-years. Like the article says, I had forgotten it still existed. Yahoo bought it for $4.7 Billion.

Signals and Financial Modeling

Renowned Game and simulation model builder Ken Karakotsios posts on market signals in financial engineering. A very nice case study of how a model is constructed and engineered for the real world.

Google Maps Includes WebCams

Google Maps has started to include webcam locations. Now over 9,000 world-wide.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

GS1 DataBar

The GS1 DataBar (formerly RSS, Reduced Space Symbology) is a form of barcode, approved and promoted by the GS1 standards body which contains more data space and is meant to provide new data needed in UPC codes. StoreFrontBackTalk has a good article on it and its benefits. Reminded me of a number of discussions on new tech to address these issues. Interesting it seems that RFID approaches to replace UPCs on the shelf and checkout, once big in the early 00's are now little spoken of. An example of the GS1 Databar above.

Nature of Private Label Gains

This piece suggests that they have been underway for a long time and cannot be blamed on the recession. Also useful comments. A big challenge for major label CPG.

Wal-Mart to Double Solar Power

Wal-Mart is placing solar panels on their store roofs. Great idea and very good marketing.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

WolframAlpha Briefing

Attended the WolframAlpha briefing today, which consisted of an overview by Steven Wolfram and a demonstration of his very ambitious interactive knowledge system. The system will be publicly released free in a few weeks.

You type in a free form query. The system analyzes your language (English only at this time) and interprets it and looks for data it has about any of the terms you used. Makes assumptions about the meaning of terms but allows disambiguation. Then it looks for algorithms that relate to the terms you used and performs them. Again using likely relationships. Produces an in-line report based on your query.

This is a little like when you type on the Google command line something like 'How many quarts are in a peck?' and you get the conversion. But WolframAlpha takes this much further, seeking to interpret complex language and have many kinds of science and data embedded in the system.

Initially the system will be fluent in only some categories of data. Wolfram's demo showed a number of areas where it lacked knowledge and failed. It uses public data only, but he suggested that enterprise data could also be included under license. The idea of tailoring it for a corporation or specific domain is intriguing. Could this be a way of delivering business intelligence to the corporate masses?

The system is not a Wiki, you cannot just add knowledge. He suggested that knowledge will be readily added from expert sources as it evolves.

It is a tour-de-force of Mathematica programming at very least. He suggests it is the first killer application of his New Kind of Science (NKS) idea. I remain skeptical of this in a general AI sense. It is easy to show lots of examples that work, but much harder to be generally useful. We all know language can often be ambiguous. Users will have to learn to re-phrase and resubmit their queries. Is that easier than repeating searches? It is if the algorithms add value as well. In the demonstrations, as can be expected, what seemed to work best were queries about the hard sciences.

After all of that I was more impressed than I thought I would be. I can see its value when focused on some data sources and approaches. It can only evolve. I would recommend anyone who works with business intellgence take a close look at it when it comes out in a few weeks. Steve may have something here.

Nokia and Augmented Reality

Short piece on augmented reality that Nokia is developing for cell phones. The potential retail applications are considerable. I also am looking for the inclusion of abstract data and analytical sensor applications.

So What is a Quick Trip?

Herb Sorensen of TNS Sorensen covers the topic of a quick trip in grocery retail in a recent post. This is covered in more detail in his forthcoming book: Inside the Mind of the Shopper ..., which I have now read in preprint. Some surprising results based on empirical data covering thousands of observations of shopper behavior. It's a particular classification that we talked about much in the enterprise. How differently do shoppers behave based on the context of their needs? Is it the right granularity of classification? What can CPG learn from it? How can retailers change the way they operate based on this knowledge? Link on and then buy the book.

Paul Gillin on RSS Feeds

Some quarters have been talking about Twitter replacing syndication feeds like RSS. Paul Gillin makes the case that they are still of value. I agree.

Google Similar Image Search

Google image search now lets you find images that are similar to those brought up in a search. You can't load up an image and use it as a prototype to find similar image as far as I can see. Image analysis has been a particular interest of mine in recent ventures, so I tested this with a number of examples. You have to use it from the similar images search page at this time, not from the general search page.

Interesting results. Similar apparently means 'most similar'. So if I choose castles, and then seek to find all the castles that are similar to the German romantic castle Neuschwanstein, almost all found are professional photos of that castle pointing to commercial services. I might have meant 'similar' to mean other German castles, or castles with similar romantic forms. That is not what you get. Many pages down in the search you get tourist photos, other castles and things that don't look similar at all. So it does work, though the way this works you cannot choose the kind of similarity that you want based say on descriptive tags. That may not be what you want. Yes, I know it cannot read my mind as to what I mean by similarity. Nice experiment. Worth looking at.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Non-Normal Thinking

Herb Sorensen on Seafood shopping and non-normal thinking. This odd congruence is yet another example of why you should never accept normal distributions as an obvious data representation.

Dominos PR Crisis

AdAge overviews the YouTube PR Crisis at Domino's Pizza. What they did right and wrong, with comparisons to other previous PR emergency cases. Though the case is not yet closed. It is increasingly clear that companies need to watch all social media closely and have a prepared reaction plan. Especially if what is being leaked has a strong cynical and viral appeal. Any restraint is gone as viral tools are universal.

Fast Business Intelligence

Good overview piece on players loading and delivering BI intelligence data. I have been exploring related approaches for virtual retail spaces lately.

Programmable Tattoos

A report in Slashdot on under skin displays, with a somewhat similar idea of tattoos that can act as displays. A bit reminiscent of injectable RFID tags, which have been used in veterinary applications and have been approved for and have been used in some humans. If I am going to use my skin as a display I would prefer to use projection as the method. Via Richard James.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Minimum Inventory, Maximum Diversity

From the Wolfram Research blog. About logo design using parametric equations and algorithms. Fascinating experiment that neatly combines design and mathematics. Regret I no longer have access to Mathematica to test this concept. Update: In the comments, Josh points out that there is a free Mathematica player, so you can experiment ... The pointer to Pearce's excellent book is also enjoyable .... If you are interesting in math and design check this and related articles in the Mathematica blog.

" ... A: They’re all instances of “minimum inventory/maximum diversity” systems, a term coined by Peter Pearce in his book, Structure in Nature Is a Strategy for Design (MIT Press, 1978).

A minimum inventory/maximum diversity system is a kit of modular parts and rules of assembly that gives you maximal design bang for your design-component buck. It’s a system that achieves a wide variety of effects from a small variety of parts. Nature excels at this game: every one of the many millions of natural proteins is assembled from an inventory of just 20 amino acids. Snowflakes are all just arrangements of the humble water molecule, H2O ... "

Hakuhodo Buys into Buyology Inc.

Martin Lindstrom has been consulting with Hakuhodo:

Japanese Agency Buys Into Buyology from Neuroscience marketing by Roger Dooley

Japan’s second-biggest ad agency, Hakuhodo, is investing in the growing field of neuromarketing: TOKYO - Hakuhodo has entered a business alliance with Buyology, a New York-based consultancy, to develop marketing-related neuroscience expertise ... ".

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Agile Marketing Needed

Consider agile marketing." ... Though an overwhelming majority (88%) of global executives believe that organizational agility is important to business success, 27% say their company is at a competitive disadvantage because it is not agile enough to cope with market shifts, according to a study conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) and sponsored by EMC... "

Friday, April 17, 2009

IBM New Intelligence Video : Analytics

The IBM Smarter Planet program has a short video: New Intelligence, which is a good promotional piece for analytical methods. They do seem to imply they just invented analytics and created 'service science'. Analytics has been around since the 40's and is implemented in many enterprises. Their site provides more. They include the term 'optimization' in their descriptions, which has been somewhat out of style of late. Still worth a look. Smarter is good.

Virtual Reality for Research

In Brandweek: A good overview of work that is underway in a number of companies. These methods " ... are now standard for the larger packaged goods firms like Procter & Gamble, Frito-Lay, ConAgra and Intel, which have been using them for years ... " .

For a simple example see IRI's model of a Wal-Mart.

Of particular interest is the use of more complex simulations that help drive the interaction between real consumer and virtual world. A way to measure some very predictive things in retail. And eventually simulating virtual consumer and a virtual world. That has also been tried in some insightful ways. There is a powerful possible integration here.

Electronic Shelf Labels, Again

More on Electronic Shelf Labels. I studied the issue of electronic shelf labels (ESL) nearly a decade ago and participated in several tests. If you have not looked at this, it is a tiny LCD label that replaces the printed price label on the edge of the shelf.

These can often be driven wirelessly from a central database of prices such as that used at point of sale. Saves labor costs of changing prices and can avoid the draconian penalties leveled by some regulators when the price charged does not equal the price posted. Also, ESL can also be used as small displays to attract the shopper and provide product information.

ESL's are still not in broad use due to their cost and infrastructure requirements. Also tests have shown they are hard to read, especially on bottom shelves, by some shoppers.

The image at the right came from Marginmate, who I have not worked with.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Smells Like a Billion Bucks

In Fast Company. A teaser of an insider's look into Procter and what it takes to be a billion dollar brand. And you have to check out the bizarre Old Spice site, it's not your old sailor kit anymore.

Mindsets and Models and Risk

From Knowledge@Wharton: Re-thinking Risk Management: Why the Mindset Matters More Than the Model. Good piece on how to think about new architectures of risk. In the past large companies cranked out the financial models and if they were even off by a small amount the system was adjusted. Now changes in the models have to be considered:

" ... The models are not necessarily broken, but instead are only as good as the decisions that get made based on them, they say. As a result, the current crisis may represent an opportunity for companies to re-visit and re-think historical approaches to risk management. When it comes to planning for the future, the new thinking goes, it is not just the model that matters, it is the mindset ...
Well, if the models did not include a 'mindset' (whatever that is exactly) I would say that they are broken. It is the classic problem of not including external factors in a model. Those external factors were stable for a long time ... but no longer. In other words, throwing money at it may not work.

Update: Ken Karakotsios does some additional exploration of this in considerable data. Check out his prototype models.
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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Dan Ariely on Buggy Moral Code

Dan Ariely author of Predictably Irrational in a February TED video talk on Why we think it's OK to cheat and steal (sometimes). He covers some of this same example in his book but it is also interesting to listen to. I previously review his book. So is our moral code buggy? In what way? Ariely suggests why.

Shortcomings of the Pie Chart

In Seedmagazine: Understanding the shortcomings of the pie chart can help us make sense of and improve the emerging scientific aesthetic of the 21st century? Well I am not sure I think that PC's are always the best way to visually show parts of a whole, but I am not adamantly against them the way some people are.

Innovating in Emergent Markets

Tata and Unilever in emerging marketings, from Andrea Meyers' Working Knowledge. " ... How you get a product to market may be as important as what you get to market... "

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

P&G's Recent Social Media Efforts

P&G's Dave Knox posts about their recent Tide 'Loads of Hope' Social media effort: "... it looks like some have thought we were “having a one night stand” with Social Media. That isn’t the case at all. There are many P&Gers that are active in Social Media – as well as many of our brands. We wanted the event to help support those that aren’t as active see first hand that you have to be wired differently than traditional marketing efforts to be successful in the space ... " . Overall a good reaction to some of the external comments made about the work.

Death of Consumer Segmentation?

Insightful piece. Though really more about rethinking the idea of consumer segmentation and how it plays out in consumer decision-making. Makes the point that many of us knew, classic segmentation is a simplification for easy application. Maybe an incorrect simplification.

Netezza and Mapinfo

Used the package Mapinfo several times in the enterprise. Including the construction of front ends for optimization packages for the supply chain. The world of geographical information systems has changed considerably in the last few years. APIs for popular mapping programs have changed this domain. Most BI packages include a method to visualize geographic data.

Still, more fully featured GIS systems give better capabilities for mapping and analyzing location data. They also allow quick interaction with massive databases allowing an element of interactive analytics.

Mapinfo eventually ended up being acquired by Pitney-Bowes Business Insight, also a company we had interacted with a few times. Now they have announced a partnership with fast data warehouse innovator Netezza, which I have recently started talking to. This makes a lot sense, the article linked to above covers some of their telecom analysis directions:

" ... Using solutions from Pitney Bowes Business Insight along with Netezza data platforms, telecommunications providers can leverage vast data sets on customer behavior information, such as service usage patterns, detailed call records and website use, to analyze and segment customers. This comprehensive data analysis allows providers to target services or new opportunities to the most appropriate customers and prospects. Telecommunications organizations can also use customer data to better manage costs and revenue by mapping network assets and identifying optimal sites for network expansion ... "

Ear Sound Biometrics

Positive identification by ear sound biometics. Had heard of this proposed in 2007 when it was first funded and now it has made some progress.

Monday, April 13, 2009

More on Hand-Scanning Groceries

Another piece on the Scan It! system from Modiv Media. Article is interesting because it discusses actual shopper reactions to the in-aisle scanning idea. It confirms some of our own innovation center tests. There are shoppers that are intrigued by the idea, but many feel that it just adds un-needed complexity to shopping. Not too much different than self-checkout, which saw early slow uptake but seems to be blossoming now. That could have been influenced by jammed checkouts with retailers cutting labor. Consumer hand scanning is a form of pre-checkout, which could make the whole process more efficient for retailer and shopper. Also provide a moment-of truth opportunity for shopper engagement. We continue to follow.

Pharmaceutical Compliance

Compliance in pharma is about determining if people take their medications according to schedule. Efforts like the 'smart' medicine cabinet have been demonstrated for a long time as solutions. Demonstrated the idea in innovation centers. Here is a new approach, ingestible chips included in medicines that then communicated via RF to an external patch. The same patch can be used to capture other biometric information.

Unilever and Logistics

Good overview of what Unilever is doing in logistics, in Consumer Goods Technology. Nothing very surpirsing here, covers their work with BravoSolution. " ... The goal: Identify ways to maintain service levels while driving cost out of the supply chain. Instead of an unwieldy pool of over 500 carriers, Unilever would ultimately be managing about 150 carriers for all of its over-the-road needs ... ".

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Collaboration Curves

Interesting piece that looks at the implications of collaboration. In the enterprise this is an increasing issue, especially when people are only distantly connected. My only issue with this is the kind and quality of connections. Often difficult to measure. Do we have some sort of multi-dimensional way to understand when a collaboration works, and under what conditions?

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Netezza Data Liberator

On the Data Liberator campaign from Netezza.

Paper Uses 2D Barcode

New use of 2-D Barcodes in newspapers. A good idea. Newspapers have included URLs for a long time now, though I have also seen a reluctance to provide them this since it takes you away from the paper and leaves you on the Internet. Not what they want these days. The vendor is ScanLife, which we used for demonstrations and tests and worked very well. My only criticism is that it uses a proprietary 2D code. Why?

I would also like to read the standard 1D barcodes, as other vendors of this idea can. See also my previous test of Microsoft Tag, which also uses a proprietary code. And previously about ScanLife.

The process is that you can use a smart phone and take a picture of the code in the newspaper with with its camera. Then software in the camera converts it into an address, such as a URL. This can provide you more information about an article or product, lead to a promotion, or get you to anything you can point to. I do much like the use of a camera phone as a scanner. Great multitasking idea.

Article via Richard James.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Nearly One Billion Apps Sold

Apple has 'sold' nearly a billion IPhone applications. Impressive, though many were for free.
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Schnucks Deli Kiosks

I have at times said some experienced-based critical things about store kiosks. Here though is an excellent example of their use. Schnucks is installing some deli ordering kiosks. The application to labor intensive things like the deli is a good one. Also, have noticed that in my local Krogers the Fujitsu self-checkouts are increasingly busy. There will likely be a waterfall effect here where more consumers get used to complex interactions by learning at the checkouts, making kiosk interactions throughout the store more appealing.

Flavored Ads and Fictional Inspiration

I am always looking for new sensory engagements with consumers. In the Economist: Trading Licks. Word of a researcher inspired by Willy Wonka's flavored and lickable wallpaper to develop flavored and edible films. Think of this included in ads, packaging, store fixtures, etc. Quite a few problems to be solved, like contamination and cost, but I like literature inspiring technology. Roald Dahl, the creator of the Wonka story would have appreciated it. He was inspired by Cadbury chocolate testing at his boarding school in the UK. Technology inspires fiction inspiring technology. There is a network there.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

What Unilever Learned about Social Media

An interesting AdAge piece from Unilever's CMO about what they have learned about social media: " ... Unilever is only starting to understand social media, but it's already learned plenty about its capability to make and break brands -- sometimes the hard way, said Chief Marketing Officer Simon Clift at the Advertising Age Digital Conference today.... " . And a followup piece about Unilever's CMO.

Benefits of Social Media Marketing



I have often been asked questions like: Who is using social media? How much time does it take? What are the benefits? How can I measure success?

A recent paper by Michael A. Stelzner: Social Media Marketing Industry Report: How Marketers Are Using Social Media to Grow Their Businesses is an excellent place to start. You can find an audio introduction and a free download of the paper here.

A number of surprising results are included. For example, above is a graphic from the report that shows what the survey respondents believe they achieved from using social networking. Another finding is that a large percentage (72%) of all marketers are just getting started with social networking. So you are not behind. Much more in the report, well worth reading.

Kellogg Mobile Marketing

Simple mobile marketing idea from Kellogg UK, via Richard James.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Lite Business Intelligence

Newly discovered: LiteBI. A form of simplified business intelligence as a service. Also their blog. Taking a look now, would be interesting to see how this would compare to open source solutions like Pentaho. Has anyone done a comparison of these and other related solutions?

Enriched Loyalty Card

From RetailWire. A new idea. A loyalty card with some additional benefits, such as low price guarantee if the price decreases within 7 days. Still is not about loyalty specific to a consumer, but rather about lower price. Would like to see benefits that reward longer term behavior other than just 'buying here'.

ACM Queue Now Online

ACM Queue magazine has now moved online. It features a number of articles and blogs on emergent technologies and issues of software engineering.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Anniversary of Internet Rules

In the NYT: How the Internet Got its Rules. Forty years ago. It should be noted that this is about the Internet, not the Web, which took another twenty years to emerge. I used the Darpanet outgrowth of the Internet in the 70s to test remote systems. Then it seemed like a rather clunky government thing I learned about in a day-long training at the Pentagon. No idea that it would become a commercial institution. The Web, much later, brought it to the public.

Psych of Twitter

I have blogged for years, conversed on IRC, run e-mail lists and chat groups. Twitter is the first method I have seen where there was a severe limitation of expression. True in all the previous methods you could be brief ... but often people were not. Some suggest that the benefits of Twitter is that they force brevity. Is that a good thing? Or would it just be better to establish guidelines for posts to be as long as you really need to be? In a Psych Today article: the Psychology of Twitter.

IPhone Home Automation Applications

A list of home automation applications for the IPhone. Companies that are providing them. Again an example of what I would like, a one device world. Standards are still an issue as you might expect.

Monday, April 06, 2009

More Alpha Hints

Stephen Wolfram talks to Rudy Rucker on his upcoming Alpha release. The work has gotten lots of interest from people like myself who have had long-time interest in anything promising to embed intelligence on the Web. I have much respect for Wolfram's Mathematica, but have been unable to get my hands on Alpha yet. The article and several other 'reviews' I have seen helps, but it is still an enigma. Wolfram writes: " .. “It will raise the level of scientific things that the average person can do. People will find that the world is more predictable than they might have expected. Just as running Google is like having a reference librarian to help you, running Wolfram|Alpha will be like having a house scientist to consult for you.” ... ' ... quite a claim.

Sticker Based Contactless

Now more than two years ago we saw presentations by vendors pushing contactless payment in smart cards and cellphones. At the time I brought up the fact that you could just affix a sticker on a card or phone to implement a passive RFID. The speaker suggested that this partial solution would be 'unlikely'. In StoreBackTalk it is mentioned that just such a simple approach is being used.

I now see the enhanced readers everywhere, like the one at the right. These allow either contactless payment or swiping, but have yet to see them used in a contactless mode in my presence. The post in Storefront ... suggests that this misses the point of problems with the idea " ... typical contactless payment methods have not given consumers any real reason to use them. With no significant convenience or cost-savings issue, one need not look too far to figure out why contactless is struggling in many sectors ... " . I agree, it is very easy to swipe a card ... contactless is not much easier.

Modeling Financial Meltdowns

See Ken Karakotsios's work on modeling financial meltdowns. Great example of using simulation for economic models and encouraging collective input:

" ... This is the first of a series of posts providing an inside view in the development of an economic model. I’m part of a small team of developers creating a new kind of tool—one that will help non-experts understand important real-world systems (such as energy and the financial market), and will also help guide experts in developing policies for these systems.

We’ll be creating models in public and encouraging input and debate as we build these models, with the goal of harnessing the collective “wisdom of the crowds.” Beyond a public vetting of these models, our hope is that these models will enable a collective vision of how we, as individuals, want our society to work. With a shared vision, we can address policy-makers with a much more knowledgeable and unified voice, building the world we want in the spirit of true democracy ... "

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Why We Share Knowledge

Good post by Nancy Dixon on why we share knowledge. Covers important implications for knowledge management and the roles of people within the enterprise.

My own experience is that I have seen a largely self-selecting group within companies who are very willing to share knowledge widely. It is often the case, though that precisely the people you would like to have additionally participate in knowledge sharing methods like blogs and wikis will not. Using specific job roles like knowledge archivists and business information experts is useful as well. With the emergence of intranets and the shrinking of physical corporate library facilities, the assumption appears to be that searches will replace much of that infrastructure. Knowledge and AI based approaches were widely explored in the 80s, but only partially successful. Years later, well after intranet search became common, I was still being asked for ways to store key knowledge upon company retirements.

Good idea to continue to look at the incentive that can be provided to people to make knowledge readily available and usable.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

More Simple Telepresence.

I have been examining simple telepresence tools, this article points to some examples. Have not tried these yet, but will.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Goodbye SGI

A colleague of mine was a founder of SGI(Silicon Graphics). I was asked if I wanted to join them when they started up. We used their geometry engines to do package design in the 80s when they nimbly replaced monster machines. Gave a talk to their Cray acquisition folks. They started up very sexy, then went through some shaky times. Now they are gone.

Shoppers Make Decisions In-Store

Miller Zell study on where and why shoppers are making buying decisions. Surprising to me is that they did not find in-store digital signage to be influential with unplanned purchases. What are the in-store triggers that capture each kind of shopper? Good overview of the thousand person study. Related, Kimberly Clark exec talks about their in store marketing.

This Blog now on the ACM Site

This blog, among a number of others, is now featured on the re-designed Communications of the ACM site. I have been a member of the ACM since grad school and this is the first time I have contributed directly. In the past I have pointed to a number of their articles here. ACM stands for 'Association for Computing Machinery' and is the preeminent professional group for computer science. We have not called our devices machinery for a long time, but it does point to the breadth of coverage.

Previously more academic, it has in recent years become much better at providing for the needs of the professional. The addition of blogs adds a dimension that reveals what the diversity of professionals is thinking about. Also has an excellent digital library for the member. Check it out and think about joining. A Twitter presence is also being tested and I will post about that later.

Online Couponing

From Retailwire, a good discussion on online couponing. Nothing very surprising, but a good overview of issues.

Free IPhone App Course

Stanford University has released a free 10 week course on developing IPhone applications. Based on a Stanford course, online participants see all content, but do not get course credit.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Gestural Interfaces

A good piece on gestural interfaces and some of their recent developments and applications. I have used everything from paper tape to light pens to the foot-mouse. Was a very early mouse user. Impressed by suggestions by the 'minority report' movie and the IPhone two-finger zoom. Have seen good demos for gestures in a collaborative war-room style space. Yet I have yet to see a really effective gestural interface for the kinds of things I do day-to-day. Still need a keyboard and irritated by touch interfaces in general. Convince me.

Fail Fast

Via Steve King. Good article: The Importance of Failed Innovation. The comments also make some good points. I will add that it is also about managing your failure and learning from each one. Its too easy to try to forget failure. That I found was less common in the enterprise. Learn as much you can from each failure. Set up an after action review.

RFID - Enabled Loyalty Program

An interesting example of using RFID tags to enable a loyalty program. Touchless systems are by their nature more convenient than scans.

RFID-enabled in-store marketing goes straight to the TOP
TOP Food and Drug, a Washington State grocery chain operated by Haggen Inc., has deployed an RFID-enabled customer relationship program in its stores. The program, TOP Connection, uses RFID-enabled key tags (or adhesive tags for cellphones) to target customers with tailored marketing promotions and value-added services.

The TOP Connection system uses a software platform from Accelitec Inc. This system, which is interfaced with RFID readers placed at checkout terminals and the key tags issued to customers, functions as an on-demand customer acquisition and retention platform, and holds encrypted customer information on secure servers. The software platform is compatible with legacy hardware and software used by most retailers ... ".

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Placing Product Effectively

This problem has been thought about for over thirty years. I encountered it a number of times in the CPG enterprise. You have an amount of product you would like to place on the store shelf which is based on consumer demand. You have the dimensions of shelves and their layout. You also know the dimensions of product packages.

How do you fill the shelves with product to maximize retail profit? The problem can be stated mathematically but turns out to be very hard to solve. In addition you also have non-quantitative design constraints that must also be applied and behavioral information about how shoppers buy. The complete problem remains unsolved.

The following CIO article is an overview of how Coca-Cola addresses this and some related vendors.

"The Art, Science and Software Behind Placing Coca-Cola Products on Store Shelves
The team charged with keeping Coca-Cola products stocked and moving from stores uses art and technology to make the most of shelf real estate. New software helps them plan ahead while boosting results.... "