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Sunday, January 31, 2010

Value and Caution of Evolving Robots

Several commenters have reported this also mentions the finding that evolving robots also learn to prey and ask 'What could go wrong'?

' ... Dario Floreano and Laurent Keller report in PLoS ONE how their robots were able to rapidly evolve complex behaviors such as collision-free movement, homing, predator versus prey strategies, cooperation, and even altruism. A hundred generations of selection controlled by a simple neural network were sufficient to allow robots to evolve these behaviors. Their robots initially exhibited completely uncoordinated behavior, but as they evolved, the robots were able to orientate, escape predators, and even cooperate. The authors point out that this confirms a proposal by Alan Turing who suggested in the 1950s that building machines capable of adaptation and learning would be too difficult for a human designer and could instead be done using an evolutionary process. The robots aren't yet ready to compete in Robot Wars, but they're still pretty impressive.". Also here.

Improving Disaster Management

In Communications of the ACM: 'Improving Disaster Management: Social networking, sophisticated imaging, and dual-use technologies promise improved disaster management, but they must be adopted by governments and aid agencies if more lives are to be saved in the wake of crises....' . Well put piece, while it is good to respond as a crowd, some central organization can make the results far more effecient and focused.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Music Conference

From: www.theconfluencegroup.com

The Original New music Seminar Hits LA on February 2. Keynote speaker Daniel EK, CEO of Spotify ....

January 14th, 2009, NY, NY - The original New Music Seminar (NMS) For more see: http://www.newmusicseminar.biz, is pleased to announce Daniel Ek, CEO of Spotify, as the keynote speaker for the upcoming Los Angeles New Music Seminar taking place on February 2nd at the Henry Fonda Theater. Spotify, under the leadership of Ek is the innovative new music technology and service that has taken Europe by storm and is now poised to enter the US market with equal force.

"New Music Seminar has a reputation for bringing together artists, industry executives and entrepreneurs and discussing how the music business can be revolutionized. I'm looking forward to talking directly with artists and labels about how they can use services such as Spotify to help redefine how music is marketed and distributed." - Daniel Ek. ... '

On the Nature of Startups

Steve Blank on A Startup is not a smaller version of a big company. Now having been involved with several of each, so true. Size and complexity do not scale linearly, nor together

Scent of a Woman

More non-rational signalling:

Scent of a Woman: Men’s Testosterone Responses to Olfactory Ovulation Cues
Women around the world spend billions of dollars each year on exotic smelling perfumes and lotions in the hopes of attracting a mate. However, according to a new study in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, going "au natural" may be the best way to capture a potential mate's attention...

Friday, January 29, 2010

Better Decisions Through Analytics

Tom Davenport podcast on better decisions through analytics, in the HBR Blog.

Shifting Back to National Brands

In the WSJ: ' ... Shoppers are starting to open their wallets again for brand-name household basics, but it's taking lower prices, heavy advertising and new products to tempt them. Procter & Gamble Co. and Colgate-Palmolive Co. sold more of their premium-priced consumer goods at the end of 2009, suggesting that fewer shoppers are basing their purchases on price alone ... ' .

Yet there is still considerable concern in CPG about private label and movement in retail to develop them.

FourSquare in Retail

Drew McLellan on Foursquare in the Marketing Prof Daily Fix. In particular he talks about its use as a location-based loyalty play. I was in NYC earlier this week and was surprised at the number of locations already using it.

Las Vegas Facility Used for Consumer Research

Using these contextual spaces in focus-group style forums is an old idea. What is most interesting is that number of non-conscious, biometric capabilities are now being integrated into these spaces as well. ' ... At CBS Television City, Tube-Watching Is a Science Las Vegas Facility Is Being Used to Examine How Viewers Experience and React to Programming ... '.

Facebook, Twitter and Procter

David Hornik posts in the Venture Blog. Sounds familiar, lots underway still, and there are special challenges for large complex, global organizatons. Scale also introduces requirements complexity.

' ... attended an event sponsored by Proctor & Gamble called the "Innovation Outreach Venturing Day." The event was an effort by executives at P&G to connect with the investment community in the Bay Area to discuss how P&G might work more closely with the emerging technology companies we all touch every day. The pre-amble to the event was a run down of the scale of Proctor & Gamble's business and the massive amount of technology they already leverage. The scale of P&G is pretty stunning -- P&G has 32 separate brands that do more than half a billion in revenue annually ...

And because of their scale, P&G already leverages massive amounts of technology. When talking about social media platforms, they mentioned that they already have more than a dozen in trial within the enterprise at the moment, and they continue to assess more. They have looked at every knowledge management system you can imagine, and continue to assess more. They have worked with every digital agency on the planet, and continue to assess more. ... '.


Thursday, January 28, 2010

Desire and Perception

Intriguing proposition:

Desire influences visual perception
We tend to assume that we see our surroundings as they really are, and that our perception of reality is accurate. In fact, what we perceive is merely a neural representation of the world, the brain's best guess of its environment, based on a very limited amount of available information. This is perhaps best demonstrated by visual illusions, in which there is a mismatch between our perception of the stimulus and objective reality ... in 2006, psychologists Emily Balcetis and David Dunning, then at Cornell University, reported that an ambiguous figure tended to be interpreted according to the self-interest of the perceiver. They now show that the desirability of an object influences its perceived distance.'

How do You Augment Reality?

Have also done some experimentation about how three dimensional visualizations can be overlaid on physical environments, with thoughts especially to retail contexts. Here is one such example, the Jiim system at the Australian Centre for Visual Technologies (ACVT). Here is an enlightening video of how it can be used.

' ... Jiim is a system developed at the Australian Centre for Visual technologies which allows the user to create 3D models while they capture video. This has a number of applications, but perhaps most interestingly means that a user might be able to perform 3D modelling within an Augmented Reality system. This would mean that real and synthetic (augmented) geometry would be able to interact, without the need for pre-existing 3D models of the scene. The video shows a few examples of this application. .... '

ThinkVine Addresses CMO Priorities.

A few posts ago I mentioned ThinkVine's 'editors pick' award, they worked with us in the enterprise, here are more details from their press release:

" ... ThinkVine, a marketing simulation & planning tool provider, announces that it has been named a 2010 Editor’s Pick in the magazine’s annual Reader’s Choice issue.

ThinkVine launched its flagship product in March 2009 and its immediate marketplace adoption speaks to the alignment of our capabilities with the priorities of today’s Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs):

1. Knowing what the ROI of a marketing plan is before spends are made
2. Ability to run an unlimited number of “what if” scenarios
3. Ability to test new media that has not been tried before

..... “It’s an honor for CGT to highlight the success we’ve been having in the Consumer Goods space,” said Damon Ragusa, President & CEO of ThinkVine. “Today’s CMOs need better planning tools and the market seems to be responding to what we have to offer.”

To read the entire 2010 Consumer Goods Technology Editors’ Pick article, click here.... "

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Some Local Quant Seminars of Interest

Department of Quantitative Analysis and Operations Management, University of Cincinnati

SEMINAR 1: Mathletics: The Math of Winning
Prof. Wayne Winston, Indiana University, February 4, 2010 - 4:00-5:30 PM - 108 Lindner Hall

This talk will focus on how basketball, baseball and football teams can use math to make their teams better. Methods for rating teams, players and lineups will be discussed. Impact of math on in-game decision making (Belichick!) will also be discussed.

SEMINAR 2: Teaching Spreadsheet Modeling
Prof. Wayne Winston, Indiana University, February 5, 2010 - 1:30-3:00 PM - 108 Lindner Hall

This talk will focus on Winston’s three MBA electives: Spreadsheet modeling, Spreadsheets for Finance, Spreadsheets for Marketing. Specific topics to be covered include:
· Pricing models
· Scenario approach to portfolio optimization
· Option Pricing and simulation
· Customer Value models.
· Neat Excel Functions: Offset and Indirect.

Wayne Winston is John and Esther Reese Professor of Decision Sciences at Indiana University. He has written 13 books including Mathletics, Data Analysis and Business Modeling , Operations Research: Applications and Algorithms and Practical Management Science. He has won over 30 teaching awards and is a two time Jeopardy! Champion. Recently he developed two online courses (Spreadsheet Modeling and Mathematics for Management) for Harvard Business School. His sports blog at waynewinston.com is extremely popular.

For more on the QAOM Seminar Series, contact craig.froehle@uc.edu or visit the
QAOM Seminar Series online: http://www.business.uc.edu/departments/qaom/seminar

A Too Disruptive Innovation?

In HBR Blogs, good illustrative post on this issue:

Is This Innovation Too Disruptive for My Firm?
One of the trickiest decisions in business is to assess: is this innovation too innovative for my firm? You need to decide whether the core business will embrace the new product or service or reject it. Xerox, which invented the laser printer, ethernet, and the personal computer, actually rejected the new computer and network —but adopted the laser printer. Why? ... '

In the Days of the Robo Recession

In IEEE Intelligent Systems: Where's My Personal Robot? A good current view of personal robots, their uses and progress and the long way to go before there is an intelligent robot in every home. Anthromorphic robot applications have even slowed down in Japan. Still convinced that other than single task robots, there will have to be some considerable developments in AI before these become viable in the home.

Newton and the Apple

The Royal Society has published a manuscript history of the 18th century that relates the story of Newton and the inspirational-apple. Though most historians are still skeptical. The Royal society's version simulates manuscript page turning.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Procter and Facebook

A good detailed article on Procter & Gamble's proposed uses of Facebook and social media. ' ... Procter & Gamble Co. loves Facebook after all, and besides encouraging brands to develop a presence there, the world's biggest marketer has opened an office in Silicon Valley to help develop social-networking systems and digital-marketing capabilities with the website ... '


Interesting piece on social pressure and networks, lessons for marketing?

" Can you persuade someone to like a product by telling them that it’s popular? Do teenagers like Taylor Swift because she’s good or because everyone else they know likes her — so hey, she must be good, right?

Sociologist Robert Merton dubbed this tendency to base what we think we think on what other people are doing the “self-fulfilling prophecy” in 1949 ... Now, based on some studies conducted with the help of the Internet, it seems clear that we’re often just sheep...

But Watts devised a clever way to simulate the effect. He and his collaborator, Matthew Salganik, created a music-downloading Web site. They uploaded 48 songs by unknown bands and got people to log in to the site, listen to the songs, then rate and download them. Users could see one another’s rankings, and they were influenced in roughly the same way self-fulfilling prophecies are supposed to work. That meant some tunes could become hits — and others duds — partly because of social pressure.
... ".

Seer Technology

I was recently pointed to Seer Technology by a client's vendor connection. Their catchphrase is '... see what can't be seen ...'. Was led to this by the general requirement of safety tracking people inside of buildings, where the building cannot necessarily be set up ahead with infrastructure.

Neither RFID nor GPS are reliably consistent within large buildings. Seer uses inertial/dead reckoning methods to determine the location of people in three dimensions. The classic problem with these methods is that they may not be accurate enough for the task at hand.

Seer also builds chemical detection systems. Applications in first response systems, mining, firefighting, military and law enforcement systems. Worth looking at.

Augmented Reality: Hype or Reality

Good overview article in Computerworld that introduces you to mobile augmented reality, the players and possible directions. Value and adoption by the typical consumer using their own smartphones in their daily contexts will be key. Overall they are optimistic, positioning it as a natural extension of human perception, though the timing is still unclear.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Should You Consider an App?

A good 16 page Forrester report, via ATG, requires registration.

Is An iPhone Application Right For You?
How to Decide if a Mobile Application Should be Part of Your Brand's Road Map

The size of the smartphone market — and the buzz surrounding Apple's iPhone App Store — has many interactive marketers considering whether they should deploy mobile applications. Early success by some brands might lead marketers to mistakenly conclude that it's a no-brainer. Before proceeding, interactive marketers should clearly weigh the advantages of driving brand affinity, customer engagement, and possible revenue versus costs in time and resources and the potential pitfalls of a poorly executed application....

•iPhone Apps Show Enormous Uptake
•A Mobile App Can Provide Value In Different Ways
•How To Move Beyond The Hype To A Sensible App Strategy
•iPhone Gets All The Attention, But Don't Ignore Other Platforms
•Tools For Measuring App Usage And Success Are Still Emerging ... '


CGT Picks ThinkVine

I have mentioned Thinkvine here a number of times, and have met with their management. Now they are among the Consumer Goods Technology Editors Picks.

ThinkVine Corporation aims to help companies make better marketing investments.

In 2009, the company launched "The Emerging Marketplace," a marketing simulation and planning software that lets marketers test detailed marketing plans before spending against them. The technology strives to be forward-looking, to capture the impact of marketing at the consumer level and to actually explain sales ... '


More CPG Activity in e-Commerce

Large CPG has always had a reluctance to interfere with their very profitable existing channels by setting up their own e-commerce stores, lest brick-and-mortar retailers feel they are going into competition with them. Is this starting to change? An Adage article provides background and recent activity.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Ehrenberg-Bass Institute

We have been sponsor company members of the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute at the University of South Australia for a number of years. Professor Byron Sharp and his team produce some very useful reports. Most recently their report on distinctive assets, including how to measure and manage these vital assets. Very innovative. Heartily recommended. You can find out more about their marketing reports and how to join their team.

Why not Just Fill in the Blanks

In the NYT, like a flat tax, a great direction:

' ... It’s a stunningly reasonable idea. When you prepare your return, why can’t you first download whatever data the Internal Revenue Service has received about you and, if your return is simple, learn what the I.R.S.’s calculation of your taxes would be? You’d have the chance to check whether the information was accurate, correct it as needed and add any pertinent details — that you’re newly married, for example, or have a new child — before sending it. Far better to discover problems early with the I.R.S., whose say matters more than third-party software’s best guess.... '

Update: Intuit, maker of a popular tax preparation package, says no.

Intelligence of Analytics

Short post and podcast in E-Commerce Times on developments that are improving analytics. Covering some of the dilemma today of having more data, yet there seems to be less business intelligence being done. ' ... New architectures for data and logic processing are ushering in a game-changing era of advanced analytics. These new approaches support massive data sets to produce powerful insights and analysis -- yet with unprecedented price-performance..... ';

Are you a Linchpin or a Cog in the Machine?

Always interested in what makes innovative organizations work. Josh Bernoff of Forrester in the GroundSwell blog reviews and outlines Seth Godin's new book, forthcoming this week: Linchpin, Are you Indispensable?. Its kind of an old recommendation to make yourself indispensable in the organization. Then you can ask the question: Is the Organization indispensable for me? But any group, even in 2010, still needs more cogs than linchpins. Like my HR person said when asked to hire only the best and the brightest: 'Who is going to do all of the work?'. Until AI prevails we still need people to punch the keys. Looking forward to reading it.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Fundamental Barriers to Sales

Dave Knox does an excellent job talking about the fundamentals to sales success. We dealt with it every day in the enterprise, he makes a good point about the inherent risks and directions.

Barrier to success…or key to success?
from Hard Knox Life by Dave Knox

Broadly speaking, the most difficult thing in business is trying to make a sale to another company. This holds true whether this “sale” is an entrepreneur trying to raise capital, an agency pitching a new campaign idea or a start-up trying to get a brand to buy their platform.

But despite this being one of the toughest things in business, there are really only two approaches that companies use to make a deal happen. Some take the approach of going straight to the top, only wanting to engage with a senior executive who has direct budget authority. Others take the opposite approach, instead looking for someone that can become their advocate within the company. Usually this advocate is a more junior employee, the person that influences the budget instead of controlling the budget.... '

Military Social Networking

In Gigaom, an article about milBook, a Facebook-style social networking site for the US military, launched this past October. Should be some learning here, especially with the requirement of sharing knowledge with different levels of sensitivity. Enterprises of any size have the same issues, how do you share information with varying levels of value among people with many levels of experience and requirements. The primary bottleneck, at least first, is the corporate culture that provides approval and rewards for sharing knowledge.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Are Apps the Best Model?

Recently had a conversation with a colleague about writing an App for the IPhone for a supply chain problem. We were struck by the fact that it would have to be re-written and supported for two other mobile platforms for maximum coverage. Now that wasn't the original model for 'run anywhere' software. So what happened? Proprietary App stores are popping up all over the place, so the App store model is still exploding. Are we moving back to centralized computing? Nick Carr discusses this in Roughtype: Everybody's Appy Nowadays.

Multiple Media Strategies in Retail

Good article in StoreFrontBacktalk. Read the whole thing, allows you to nicely think about these multiple strategies. ' ... The mobile retail world has now neatly morphed into three categories: consumer-used (with true M-Commerce, mobile research from home and on the road, etc.); retailer-used (for price checks, inventory inquiries, in-aisle supply chain inquiries, etc.); and consumer-in-store (2D barcodes, price comparisons, SMS communications with the chain, watching demos, mobile research from within the store, direct payment, etc.) ... ' .

Pervasive Business Intelligence

How pervasive is Business Intelligence (BI)? I pushed it for a dozen years in the enterprise. It took a big uptick with the pervasiveness of the Web. Much lip service, but still not used many places it could have been very useful. Software as a Service and increasingly user-friendly analysis and visualization are helping. Another view from TDWI:

' ... In spite of increasing buzz about pervasive BI or about generalizing BI insights -- that BI makes the difference in an increasing number of decisions -- BI penetration still lags. Industry professionals seem no closer to licking the long-standing user-adoption problem. If anything, and in spite of the best-laid go-to-market efforts of the big BI suite players, user adoption has actually regressed.

In fact, "'Pervasive BI' continues to be more a vision rather than a reality," writes Howson. "BI adoption hasn't budged since we first began assessing this point in 2005." In fact, she concedes, "the percentage of employees using BI in 2007 was 25 percent and was 24 percent in 2009," so adoption actually slipped by a point... '.

Social Networking Privacy

E-Commerce Times has a good article on the dangers of exposing your personal information through social networking sites. There are obvious dangers and a number of not so clear ones. This always bears repeating.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Earthquake Data Visualized

Using Tableau dashboards: 'The Pan American Health Organization published an interactive dashboard showing the location of last week’s devastating earthquakes in Haiti. The view spans three days and makes it easy to see the sheer number and strength of the aftershocks that reached magnitude 5.9 ... '

Printing Food

In-store food manufacture has been mentioned here a number of times. Here is another related research example, the MIT Cornucopia Food Printer Project, recently mentioned in Engadget. I agree this ranks as way out there, reminding me of remote digital perfume and scent delivery, which we looked at. I am skeptical on the delivery, but it is thought-provoking. ' ... the machine also has a rapid heating and cooling chamber that purportedly allows for "the creation of flavors and textures that would be completely unimaginable through other cooking techniques ... ' . More at the Cornucopia site. Still looking for tele-taste, the remote stimulation of taste buds.

Making a Heatmap

A good piece on constructing your own Heatmap in Flowingdata. Heatmaps are a way to visualize and quickly scan the values and fixed time relationships of many variables. A Good example: The S&P 500 heatmap, a small portion shown at the right. Note how color, size, clustering and clickthrough are effectively used. Good for dashboard-style visualization applications.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

John Nash Documentary

Always interesting Mind Hacks points to a recording of the PBS documentary on game theorist John Nash. Much more informative than the Hollywoodized Beautiful Mind.

Pepsico Optimizes Trade Promotions

In Consumer Goods Technology: Integrated with the back office, CAS 8 is expected to provide a comprehensive view of account and channel performance...

Lessons from a Happiness Machine

An article about Coke's new Happiness Machine viral video made me think further about the dynamics of engaging shoppers in the store. Its the vending machine whimsically taken to new levels of dynamics and offerings. See my related previous message on The Venture Lab work with store food concept manufacture.

HP's Wall of Touch

Another example of 'walls' of information, which we experimented with extensively. Think of it as also useful for creating certain '2D environments' like the store shelf, for understanding consumer behavior there. Worked with a furniture manufacturer five years ago which was proposing that all rooms ultimately be outfitted with these capabilities. They are still far too expensive for that, but you can see it coming, unless completely mobile projection solutions take over first. See a demo.

In the WSJ Blog: ' ... The new design, called the “wall of touch”, is an interactive touch screen wall comprised of up to nine 43 inch to 46 inch, 1.5 inch thick panels with a resolution of 1080p. Driven by an H-P Z800 workstation, the wall acts as a large immersive H-P TouchSmart computer both in terms of content and resolution. Users can access cable feeds, satellite feeds, downloaded and streaming content from the web such as YouTube, Hulu.com, and social networking sites, as well view DVR and DVD content.

... Unlike most touch screen interfaces, users don’t have to make actual contact with the wall for it to interpret their gestures.

The wall employs a touch mechanism that uses optical cameras and a magnetic strip to detect when users are nearing the wall. For users who can’t reach the far corners of the screens, the wall of touch also works with a standard keyboard and mouse... '.
Not expected to be available until 2011, and other vendors are also at work on these ideas.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Meaning of Client Silence

Peter Bregman on silence. Have we all not experienced this?. What is the useful reaction to client silence as the most dangerous form of feedback?

Big Company IT at NRF

Storefrontbacktalk reports on a number of big company IT leaders at NRF and their innovation views.

Packing Intelligence in a Tweet

James Kobielus looking at the business intelligence value of Twitter. I still see Twitter as an alert leading to more information. Sometimes all of the intelligence can be included in the alert itself, often not.

Analytics for Humanitarian Logistics

Just added to Analytics Magazine, a short article and podcast on the use of logistics analytics in the Haiti earthquake. Linked to the Center for Humanitarian Logistics at Georgia Tech. Don't know too much about this, but will explore and report back. It is becoming clearer that efficient logistics is a key part of disaster response and relief. Was impressed by our own reaction to Katrina flooding logistics adaptations. Anyone involved who I might interview?

Monday, January 18, 2010

Brand Loyalty and Brand

Walter Riker, colleague at Procter, writes in Curious Voyager about brand loyalty being killed by the brand.

Making Food While You Watch

Laurence Hayward, of the Venture Lab sends along a report in their newsletter about a number of new ideas that manufacture fresh food concepts in stores while the consumer watches. Our own experience is that consumers are much attracted by seeing the manufacturing process and this increases the likelihood of a high-margin sale. With a direct demonstration of freshness.

Overzealous Spam Filter Found

I just noticed that the blog spam filter has been classifying too many messages as spam and that several useful comments had been blocked. I approved the comments I found. Do re-send a comment if it has not been included. I am still being vigilant and strict about comments, they need to be on-point to the post commented on. For my review they need to be in English or German. Thanks for the interest.

Procter Underutilizes Scale

AdAge interview with ' ... Bob McDonald, CEO of Procter & Gamble, said the size of the company is not a disadvantage, as many analysts believe. "Size doesn't matter," he said. "What matters is turning size into scale and turning that scale into accelerated growth.".

No doubt, its a problem with most large companies and those of any size. P&G has probably addressed this more than most. It's a broad 'knowledge management' problem and also a 'knowledge leverage' issue. Technology could be a big part of the solution, it is not all of the solution. Valuable networks of creativity exist, but are also blocked by the usual hierarchy bottlenecks. Search alone was thought for a time to be a solution to this problem, but there has to be structure that supports the distribution and leveraging of the results.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Checking in to Retail SmartPhone Potential

Since my early days in retail innovation centers I have been thinking about how the inevitable success of location-aware smart phones can directly introduce the retailer and the retailer to the shopper. Have written here about more visual methods like those used by Junaio to augment consumer reality.

A whole bunch of value-enhancing possibilities pop up when a shopper can enrich their information channel once they enter a venue of any kind. I was just introduced to Foursquare, which specifically allows the mobile user to check-in into a location.

A very good piece in Mashable describes some ways that Foursquare could 'change the world'. Some of the aspects also make sense for retail applications, and are being applied already. For example, the system automatically creates a loyalty environment by noticing when you are 'there'. It creates the means to make a game of shopping 'touches' than can also identify true fans and mavens. It can enrich the connection between shopper and retailer, and also link to the manufacturer. Either could provide tailored promotions and incentives to their shoppers and enrich the bond between them. Thinking of loyalty touches as a creative game is also a plus.

Of course the shopper can also go around the retailer to get to the manufacturer as well once they are trained in smartphone use. The wide usage of smartphones is approaching rapidly.

Others are noticing this concept of location-based touching as well. The 'augmented reality' vendor Yelp has just announced it has added 'check-in' to the abilities in its IPhone application. Its a simple idea that has quite a bit of potential.

Here is an open invitation to any of the vendors mentioned or linked to here, retailers or manufacturers to contact me about the further development of this concept. Interviewed many consumers in the innovation center about how and when they would be willing to engage in the aisle. Have a passion about how to make this happen effectively.

Reading and Blogging the NYT

Its inevitable. Rumors abound on the NYT going behind a pay wall. Althouse has some good comments, as a blogger, on the use of linking central news sources. You can't blame newspapers, being in an increasingly desperate situation, but think more clever use of advertising and location based services could help.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

More Internet of Things

New SmartPhone developments could fundamentally change the nature of shopping. In ReadWriteWeb ' ... a series called Mobile Web Meets Internet of Things this week, starting with a look at barcode scanning. We wrote that smartphones are increasingly being deployed as readers for barcodes - in particular via apps available on iPhone and Android. However, RFID tags are more functional and flexible than barcodes. While barcodes are cheaper and getting traction in the U.S. with the QR format, the potential for RFID tags is even greater. Apple knows this and if rumors are to believed, RFID will be integrated into the iPhone 4G later this year ... '.

Comparing the GDP of EU and US States

A most interesting comparison of the per capita GDP of US States versus EU Countries. Via economist Mark J. Perry.

Sarcasm Punctuation Mark

It seems like a futile effort, but a firm has patented and now sells a sarcasm punctuation mark, hoping to profit from all of that misunderstanding in text and email messaging. Still waiting for Esperanto to succeed. And what is wrong with :) for sarcasm?

Friday, January 15, 2010

Putting Shopper Marketing in Hands of Shopper

Joel Rubinson of ARF on Putting Marketing in the Hands of the Shopper, about Modiv's in aisle scanning system in use at Stop&Shop and being shown at NRF. Recall that we helped in the design evaluation of this system in laboratory stores. Shoppers were enthused about its application in the aisle. See many previous posts here about Modiv.

Procter to Test Online Store

Note also P&G's extensive use of contextual innovation centers to understand the consumer, in the WSJ:

Procter & Gamble to Test Online Store to Study Buying Habits
Procter & Gamble Co. plans to launch an online store that will sell key brands, aiming to study consumer buying habits as it counters moves by traditional retailers, which have reduced the variety of brands they carry.

P&G spokeswoman Tressie Long said the company sees the new online store as more of a "learning lab," where it can study consumers' online buying habits, rather than as a direct source of sales growth. P&G, which already sells its products online through the Web sites of such retailers as Wal-Mart Stores Inc., says it will share what it learns with retailers that carry its brands ... '

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Shoppers Want more Interactivity

Not a surprising result, consumers want more interactivity from retailers: ' ... For example, 75 percent of those surveyed want their mobile phones to tell them where the nearest store of interest is located, and 68 percent want to see if the goods they are seeking are in stock at nearby locations. Also, 79 percent of the respondents want to be able to print coupons off of Web sites ... ' . Not surprising, since not much is made of what a consumer would have to do to get these benefits. An IBM sponsored study shown at NRF does give some interesting details.

Functional Food Advances

Advances in Soy protein chemistry seem to indicate increased abilty to release functional ingredients slowly. Article in FoodNavigator.

Arithmetic Stifles Creativity

Long division no longer taught, stifles student creativity. Make sure your batteries are fresh. ' ...Only 57% of college freshman at the University of Washington could solve this problem below (231 / 7 = 33) without a calculator, using old-fashioned "long divison." ... '

Google Docs to Host All File Types

In an interesting development Google says it will host all file types up to 250 MB in size. Sharing large files is always a problem. This will surely put some file sharing capabilities out of business. Providing a form of a sharing cloud for everyone. Google has that leverage.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Hive Thinking

Jaron Lanier in the NYT. We were introduced to him and his Virtual Reality work years ago at the Institute for the Future. Some good points in the article, though it is ironic that this point is made in the NYT, a place where they try to mold our opinion and are now threatened by creative thinking on the Internet. The book is on my short list and may see a review here later

The Madness of Crowds and an Internet Delusion
' ... Mr. Lanier, a musician and avant-garde computer scientist — he popularized the term “virtual reality” — wonders if the Web’s structure and ideology are fostering nasty group dynamics and mediocre collaborations. His new book, “You Are Not a Gadget,” is a manifesto against “hive thinking” and “digital Maoism,” by which he means the glorification of open-source software, free information and collective work at the expense of individual creativity ... '

Small Business Tools at CES

A review of new small and mobile business tools from the Consumer Electronics Show. Nothing revolutionary, but a number of improvements shown.

Marketing Hub

Former colleague Rich Kiley has plans to make Cincinnati a world marketing hub. ' ... The fledgling effort to position Cincinnati as a world center for consumer marketing has identified two dozen “implementation strategies” that would promote the region’s marketing strengths and accelerate the sharing of knowledge among local companies ... '.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

FAQ's About Google Wave

Frequently asked questions about Google Wave. Very good. I have played with Google Wave a bit, and get the general idea, but not why it will make my life easier or more productive.

Shops Looking for You

In Martin Lindstrom's newest newsletter, video of some of his views on what has come to be called augmented reality.

Why Search For Shops When The Shops Can Search For You?
Tokyo, Japan. Nothing has made access to brands easier, faster and bang-on relevant to consumers than advancing technology; today, GPS-based messaging by NTT Docomo in Japan takes it to a whole new level. Their LBS (location Based System), for a reasonable monthly fee, will pinpoint and suggest shops, restaurants and whatever else you may require - to within 50 meters of your location - wherever you are! I interviewed Nicole Fall from "Five By Fifty", a trend marketing company based in Tokyo, to explain how your profile becomes the tool to customizing what references you need, which are then delivered directly to your mobile phone...precisely when you need them! Technology in the hands of skillful marketers can be a beautiful thing.

--- Also sign up for his monthly newsletter, alway some revealing things.

Thoughts on a Minority Report Interface

A Minority Report Interface shown at CES. When I see Minority Report style gestural interfaces I wonder if this kind of interaction with jump the physical process. It seems now the thinking is always the bottleneck. There are very good typists. I have seen very good programmers use editors in very quick and clever ways. But will gestural interfaces someday be like the skills of a pianist that can taught to very advanced levels? Is the Minority Report interface believable in that sense?

This example seems not quite so advanced: ' ... The technology, from Israeli startup PrimeSense, can be embedded into TVs, Blu-ray players and set-top boxes, allowing people to use hand gestures to scroll through cable TV menus from their living room couch, or stand in front of the TV and shuffle documents on the screen by moving their hands around in mid-air, much as Tom Cruise does in the sci-fi movie Minority Report ... '

Monday, January 11, 2010

Ten Companies to Collaborate around Insight

From Research, an interesting concept, including competitors:

' ... Diageo, Johnson & Johnson, Microsoft and Procter & Gamble are among 10 companies taking part in an ambitious project that invites brands to work together on developing new brand and product ideas and new avenues for research through in-depth analysis of existing data.

The Discovery Channel’s Species project, a survey of 12,000 men aged 25 to 39, acts as the information base and through a social media platform developed by research agency Sense, participating companies can gain access to the data, interrogate it, add their own information into the mix and discuss it with others that are taking part ... '

Metro overtakes Tesco

Metro has overtaken Tesco as the word's second largest retailer in sales.

Small Business Labs

Always interesting Small Business Labs posts on employee satisfaction, boomer retirement and small business formation.

Linking Weather to Marketing

A favorite topic is how some retailers and manufacturers can link demand planning to weather. We studied this possibility as early as the 1970s. Obvious relationships exist if you are selling umbrellas or cold remedies. Wal-Mart was a pioneer in using weather forecasting as part of its demand forecast. Now even marketers are taking note, using the buzz about weather to adjust their message.

Best Buy and Visa Contactless

In StoreFronBackTalk: Best Buy removes Visa Contactless system. Apparently over a dispute of the cost of valiation systems. A trend? We had a meeting with contactless payment vendors now over two years ago when these tests started. I have not seen much movement in this area since, though the devices seem to be in many stores, I have yet to see them used.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

3D TV Ready for Prime Time

Is this the year for the emergence of 3D-TV? Some thoughts from exhibitors at the Consumer Electronics Show.

Nanoparticle Use

On the safety of nanoparticle use in products. ' ... The science and technology committee of Britain's upper house of parliament said in a report that use of nanoparticles in food and food packaging is likely to grow dramatically in the next decade, but too little is known about their safety ... '

Saturday, January 09, 2010

GIS In Retail

Great article from ESRI: The Future of Retail: Understanding the Geography of the Marketplace Helps Businesses Thrive, by Simon Thompson, ESRI

Augmenting Packaging Using AR

Had a highly informative chat with Lisa Murphy of Metaio this past week about retail examples of augmented reality, and she pointed me to this interesting example of using a smart phone interaction with a Kellogg's cereal box. Watch the whole thing in the video at the link above.

What an amazing next step for the process of extending packaging. While we know how to 'use' cereal, think of demonstrating the complex use of a product in the aisle to make the sale. The Kellogg example is a striking novelty, but I am looking for some real engagement examples to change consumer behavior. Any ideas?

Vision for Augmented Reality

One of our early looked at AR used specialized eyeglasses. Here is more on this approach, though I think that smartphones will make this easier to deliver, at least in the short run. AR Eyewear to come? Opinion below:

' ... Eyeglasses, as we know them today, have been around for about 800 years, give or take. In-eye lenses, for just over a hundred and modern contact lens for about 50. In our time of exponential technological advancement I don’t expect to wait half a century for this technology to mature, but we’re going to see augmented reality optics in a form-factor similar to eyeglasses long before we’re placing them directly onto our cornea.

I do, however, believe that the “through the looking glass” trend of AR applications for mobile devices that are coming on the market today will be a short lived, stop-gap solution until the adoption of AR eyewear. If mobile AR indeed takes off (and I believe it will), people will quickly tire of holding their smartphones out in front of their faces. This will ultimately lead to interesting partnerships between fashion eyewear manufactures and consumer electronics companies, not unlike the partnership between Nike and Apple in the personal fitness electronics space. For now we have several electronic manufactures, many who are most use to dealing with military clients, doing their best to design consumer focussed video eyewear. With mixed results.... '

Friday, January 08, 2010

Future of Laundry

Have seen this low-water laundry idea covered for years, but yet to see it commonly implemented. So does a normal washer take water and destroy it? Or is the water usually treated, evaporate, come down in rain and become perfectly reusable?

Power from Solar Updraft Towers

An interesting combination of solar power and heat draft. Reminds me of methods that use ocean water temperature differences.

Webcast on Social Interaction in VR

Transformed Social Interaction in Virtual Reality
Jeremy Bailenson, founding director of Stanford University's Virtual Human Interaction Lab and an associate professor in the Department of Communication at Stanford
Monday, January 25, 12:30 pm, Berkman Center, 23 Everett Street, second floor

In this talk, I describe a series of projects that explore the manners in which avatars (representations of people in virtual environments) qualitatively change the nature of remote communication. Unlike telephone conversations and videoconferences, avatars have the ability to systematically filter their physical appearance and behavioral actions in the eyes of their conversational partners, amplifying or suppressing features and nonverbal signals in real-time for strategic purposes. These transformations have a drastic impact on interactants' abilities to influence others in social and professional contexts .... '

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Mobile Commerce Speed

Evan Schuman surveys the speed of mobile commerce in StoreFrontBackTalk. Are our decisions strongly influenced by mobile site speed?

DM Broadcast Today

Of Interest:

' ... We're starting the year off strategically at DM Radio, with a show focused on the many values of Data Modeling. Often associated with improving the performance of operational and analytical systems, data modeling can actually provide significant strategic value by giving a high-level, big-picture view of an organization. We'll talk to Bert Scalzo of Quest Software, Donna Burbank of CA ERwin, Jason Tiret of Embarcadero and David Dichmann of Sybase.

Here's a link to register for today's broadcast, which starts at 3 ET and lasts an hour ... '

Automated Negotiating Agents

Can Automated Agents Proficiently Negotiate With Humans? ... Exciting research in the design of automated negotiators is making great progress. From CACM.

While the ability to negotiate successfully is critical for any social interaction, the act of negotiation is not an easy task. Something that might be perceived as a "simple" case of a single-issue bilateral bargaining over a price in the marketplace can demonstrate the difficulties that arise during the negotiation process. In fact, it may demonstrate the complexity of negotiation and the modeling of the environment. Each of the two sides has his or her own preferences, which might or might not be known to the other party. And if some of these preferences conflict, reaching an agreement requires a certain degree of cooperation or concession ... '.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Eyetracking Web Useability: Review

A good review of the book, which is on my list, read the full, useful review:

' ... Eyetracking Web Usability is the outcome of the largest eyetracking study ever undertaken: 1.5 million fixations from 300 participants. Nielsen and Pernice are clearly keen to stress the magnitude and legitimacy of their research. Their test script, posted in full, is well considered and comprehensive, covering a range of tasks representative of real web use ... '

Legality of Remote Temperature Sensing

A look, from a perspective of legality, about using remote sensing. Some interesting technology mentioned and some of the privacy issues involved.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

New 3D Displays

Increasing examples of large 3D displays that don't need glasses. The display revolution continues.

TeleHealth in 2010

From Computerworld: Will IT change how doctors treat you in 2010?. Telehealth tech could allow patients to be monitored wirelessly in real time ...

Analytics Magazine

I have always found these very useful and practical:

The January/February issue of Analytics is now available. You may access this new issue and all previous issues at http://analyticsmagazine.com. ....

Analytics' goal is to provide readers with an understanding of how data, modeling, and mathematical analyses are used to drive better business decisions and provide concrete competitive advantages.

In this issue you'll enjoy articles relating what to watch out for when marketing in online social spaces, how to organize your analytical talent to maximize its value, how business leaders are embracing intelligent modeling technology, and how to use time to payback as a useful metric in planning optimization solutions. For many articles we provide instantaneous access to supplemental audio and video material to enrich the information provided. We encourage you to forward these and other interesting articles to colleagues who can benefit ... '

Monday, January 04, 2010

Reaping Outside Innovation at Procter

A short ABC article on how Procter & Gamble reaps and filters external innovation. A bit too much on the ridiculous and sensational, not enough on how these ideas are ultimately brought to fruition.

Enduring Twitter

David Carr on why Twitter will endure. I agree that something like it will. Blogs take too much time and Twitter is about the right level of commitment for the average person.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Mapping the World

Geographical Information Systems (GIS) are an old interest of mine. They were used in the enterprise a number of times. Integrity Logic provides a nice view of a public data source that could have lots of creative applications in a GIS. Also a nice example of terrestrial value of space agency data:

'... Ten years ago, in February 2000, NASA mapped the entire world in eleven days. ... the mission was called the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM), and over the course of eleven days, it used a big radar attached to space shuttle Endeavour to get elevation data from the vast majority of solid Earth; practically all land between 60 degrees North and 56 degrees South was included, with a resolution of 30 meters (90 feet). Over 9 terabytes of data were captured. It then took two years to process that data and make it usable (and it’s still being refined to this day) ... '

Microsoft Patents EMG Controller

From Engadget: Not sure of the appropriateness of the patent application, but I like the continuing work at trying to find replacements for ways to control the interaction between person and computer. Will it someday be as simple as just thinking what we want? I believe so.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

An Open Web of Books

A plan to build an open web of books. ' ... The Internet Archive has unveiled their ambitious project called BookServer, which will allow users to find, buy, or borrow digital books from sources all across the web. The system, built on an open architecture and using open book formats, promises that the books housed there will work on any device whether that's a laptop, PC, smartphone, game console, or one of the myriad of e-Readers like Amazon's Kindle .... '

Cutting the Analog Landlines

Are we at an end of an era? ' ... AT&T told the FCC that the death of landlines is a matter of when , not if, and asked that a firm deadline be set for pulling the plug ... '

Friday, January 01, 2010

New Evangelism

Dave Knox relates some good Guy Kawasaki quotes on Evangelism. Also links to Seth Godin's new book available as ebook online: What Matters Now.

Visualizing the Universe

Visualizing the universe as we know it, emphasizing sheer scale with inspiration from the powers-of-ten view. I like understanding scale, but there is so much more to it. Here on a dark Florida beach, got the chance to appreciate the sky again.