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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Thoughtful Risk Taking

From Knowledge@Wharton:   Kodak and MasterCard.  Kodak is a company I have followed for many years, and even interacted with in the innovation space. How could they fail?  Impressed with the details behind MasterCard.
" ... The new culture at MasterCard encourages "thoughtful risk-taking," he said. In its old form, leadership at the firm was nervous and unable to risk upsetting the proverbial apple cart. According to McWilton, the perception was that margins were good, so why take a risk? Now, with the advent of technology like microchip-embedded cards, international rules regarding transactions and new federal rules surrounding credit cards, there has to be a level of creative risk-taking, otherwise the changes will suck up those margins in a heartbeat, McWilton noted... " 

Unilever Invests in Internet Marketing

More Internet data leverage: " ... Unilever and Nielsen announce an agreement for the use of Nielsen Online Campaign Ratings reach, frequency and gross rating point (GRP) measurement for all Unilever brand Internet ad campaigns in the United States.... " 


Microsoft's Illumishare.   A virtual reality effort by Microsoft that allows the mixing of the virtual and real.   The video emphasizes education examples, but it appears to be generally useful.  How do you share physical objects?  I do hope that this development will  becomes generally available.

High Performance Analytics

SAS's always insightful Jim Goodnight, on high performance analytics.

Retail Needs a Reboot

Insightful, somewhat simplistic view of the changes in retail from GigaOM.   Classic retail needs to be re-thought definitely,  reboot perhaps.   The insertion of innovative methods that combine mobile and mortar are needed.  Also, the leverage of new data sources will add the ability to tailor the interaction via data mining.

Branding Knowledge Management Initiatives

Branding Knowledge Management.    By Lauren Trees.   An interesting element that we had not thought about in great detail during our own internal tests.  What we were attempting to do was to make knowledge management as transparent as possible.    Good read on the topic

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Who is on Your Network?

From ComputerWorld.  A clever little free mobile App for Apple or Android or desktop called Fing that scans your local network and tells you what is on it.  Simple and easy to use.   The link above will tell you much more about the features.  At very least you can tell that someone else is lurking.

BiggerPlate Mapping Groups

I have long been a proponent of concept, mind and process maps as a means of capturing and delivering many kinds of knowledge.    BiggerPlate is a sharing repository of knowledge maps.   A great place to start to get an outline map to build on.  The maps they share are usable by many mapping applications.   Now they have established a means to form groups.  An excellent way to think about sharing the construction of knowledge maps, and the updating both of technologies used and the maps themselves.  Good step forward.

More Direct Social Selling

In Supermarket News:  " ... The Economist Intelligence Unit found that more consumer-goods companies are using social media to sell directly to customers, and the number is expected to increase. In a survey of more than 200 executives, 74% said they plan to use social media to promote products, 63% said they will use the avenue to capture customer feedback and 62% said they will use it for customer service ... "

Google Knowledge Graph

I order to be more precise search must embed semantic reasoning.   In Mashable, an interview about the challenge and the use of semantic knowledge networks.   Google Knowledge Graph Could Change Search Forever.  
" ... The future of Google Search, though, could be a very different story. In an extensive conversation, Singhal, who has been in the search field for 20 years, outlined a developing vision for search that takes it beyond mere words and into the world of entities, attributes and the relationship between those entities. In other words, Google’s future search engine will not only understand your lake question but know a lake is a body of water and tell you the depth, surface areas, temperatures and even salinities for each lake.... " 

Formalizing the Water Cooler

Good thoughts about why and how to gather corporate knowledge from obvious, but rarely captured sources, like informal conversations.   Points to less formal places like social networks.  In my career I remember several times I got real ahas at the lunch wagon or other iconic watercooler places.  Though I think that truly formalizing  these  places will remove their complete contextual nature.  Can we have both?

Risk Analysis App

Boris Agranovich of the Global Risk Community has posted an early look at a new free App that: 
" ... will offer simple way for decision-makers to identify the potential business impact of their organisation's assets and processes being disrupted.  The app – Citicus MoCA – is billed as being easy to use and "enables a wider range of stakeholders to discover, assess and highlight the relative importance of their information resources, supplier relationships, products, sites and any other types of asset or process they depend on." ... '

Check out the details in the link above, looks very interesting if it delivers what it promises.  I see there are no  current reviews for the iPhone version of the App.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Cognitive Computing Page

A  reconnect with some IBM researchers led me to revisit their cognitive computing presence:

" ... Researchers at IBM have been working on a cognitive computing project called Systems of Neuromorphic Adaptive Plastic Scalable Electronics (SyNAPSE). By reproducing the structure and architecture of the brain—the way its elements receive sensory input, connect to each other, adapt these connections, and transmit motor output—the SyNAPSE project models computing systems that emulate the brain's computing efficiency, size and power usage without being programmed.

IBM is combining principles from nanoscience, neuroscience and supercomputing as part of a multi-year cognitive computing initiative. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has awarded approximately US$21 million in new funding for phase 2 of the SyNAPSE project. For this project, a world-class, multi-dimensional team has been assembled, consisting of IBM researchers and collaborators from Columbia University; Cornell University; University of California, Merced; and University of Wisconsin-Madison.... "

BBC Future

BBC Future a nicely designed site that features future tech. See also their Neuroscience topic sub section.

Gamification for the Small and Medium Size Business

Some simple thoughts about why to use gamification for the small and medium sized business.  More of a why  than an exactly how, but a quick and useful read.

P&G Will Use More Analytics

CPG manufacturing and marketing giant Procter & Gamble is planning to quadruple their business analytics resources, despite planning to decrease their spending in many other areas.  Much more about that here.  This is about data big and small, but more importantly connecting data to the right business process.  I used to be in charge of P&G's analytics competency.  Need any help in this space?  Contact me.

Right Data

I am a proponent of getting a handle on big data via transformation, be it  data organization and management, analytical models or visualization means.  But more important is getting the right data, large or small,  inserted into the decision process that can be improved.  Know the business process first and what could make it hum.   More on that.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Thinking Fast and Slow

I have been making my way through Daniel Kahneman's Thinking Fast and Slow for the last few months.  This is very well worth reading.  I do wish there was more about how these  ideas could be applied more generally to areas like marketing and merchandising.   I can see how it might be.  Also a good source of behavioral research information. 

Freeman Dyson, physicist and favorite thinker and writer, insightfully reviews : Thinking, Fast and Slow, by Daniel Kahneman. Excellent thoughts regarding How to dispel your illusions. The basis of irrationality in economic decision making. Includes his take on the famous 'luck vs skill' Lancaster bomber survival analysis of WWII. Even addresses the near universal dilemma of calorie consumption among many of us.

Cognitive Science of Religion

A few years ago I had the chance to look at data that linked cognitive science, specifically brain scanning,  and spirituality.   Now there is a journal for this space, described in more detail in Cognition and Culture.  How can this be applied to marketing?

"The cognitive science of religion is a burgeoning field that finds itself in the center of cross-disciplinary research. Cognition is understood in a variety of ways from bottom-up to top-down models and theories. New insights into cognition, culture and religion are being discovered, new ways of doing research are being established and new methodologies and technologies are being used in the cognitive science of religion. The number of scholars and scientists working in this exciting field are expanding exponentially, and the journal provides a cutting-edge publication channel for this field."

Roomba Maker Takes on Healthcare

Good idea,  the Japanese have been looking such care systems for years.

Health care and robotics: " ... iRobot partners with InTouch Health to develop new generation of 'telepresence' robots that could help people with chronic diseases remain at home....   The use of telemedicine in hospitals got another boost with the announcement that iRobot, maker of the Roomba and other kinds of "practical robots," will provide $6 million to InTouch Health and take a minority position in the company. The agreement builds on a joint development and licensing agreement the two firms made last summer to explore opportunities for using iRobot's devices in healthcare.... " 

Future of Ethics in Branding

Ethics in branding.  Like ethics in advertising or merchandising, always debatable.  Everything we do has an element of influencing, so where is the limit?

Saturday, February 25, 2012

P&G Quadrupling Analytics Needs

Did you know that CPG giant Procter & Gamble is planning to quadruple their business analytics resources, despite decreasing their spending in many other areas?  Much more about that here.  I used to be in charge of P&G's analytics competency.  Need any help in this space?  Contact me.

Digital Influence Group

Recently encountered: Digital Influence Group.

We are a diverse mix of digital marketing and media strategists, research and data analytics experts, creative interactive designers and programmers, savvy producers and inventive technology professionals. We’re high-energy, hard-working and exceptionally passionate about what we do — the fantastic team members and clients we get to work with every day are just icing on the cake! ...

To learn more about our (awesome) agency or connect with a member of our team, feel free to follow @diginfgrp or our employee list on Twitter, join us in conversation on our Facebook Page or check out pics of life at Digital Influence Group in our Flickr slideshow ... "

Friday, February 24, 2012

Sensory Signals

Brands getting Physical to build trust, by Martin Lindstrom.  In our own experiments we discovered that tactile signals were more engaging than digital screens.

International Neuromarketing Association Born

I see that this new association includes a number of people that I have had interaction with in the future non conscious marketing space.   See in particular the article interview with Neurosense's Gemma Calvert for an insightful view about this space.   She was speaker at a conference I chaired and provides very useful thoughts on the topic, and is now a board member in the new association.

Origami Robotics

We examined this idea broadly years ago, could the concept of Orgami be used to deliver certain forms of packaging?  The concept here is very different, but with similar design inspiration:   In IEEE Spectrum:

" ... Harvard University researchers have manufactured beautiful (and superbly functional) air-powered origami robotic actuators out of paper and elastic materials. The team of engineers and chemists built these “soft pneumatic actuators” by combining paper with a silicone elastomer called Ecoflex in a mold and casting a structure that contains a pneumatic network. The process is fast, easy, and inexpensive. When the pneumatic networks are inflated with an external source of air, the elastomer expands, creating an actuator.... " 

Agile Careers: Swarms vs Teams

Swarming.  Hearing lots about agile lately.  Heard about agile development from Sogeti last night.  Always thought it was a good idea, but needs to be executed well or it leads to chaos.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

BOI Solutions

Just introduced to the new BOI Solutions.  Have worked with their people for years.  A Revolutionary approach to multimedia collaboration....  More to follow.

Innovation Center Supports P&G's Tide New Detergent

A rare public peek into P&G's innovation center by Jared Newman.   Done for the introduction of Tide Pods.

Fifty Cameras, a Fake Home and Virtual Reality: How Tide’s New Detergent Came Together
Laundry detergent is not my regular beat. But when Procter & Gamble invited me to check out one of its secret lairs, with a PR rep touting “advanced modeling and virtual reality” within, I couldn’t resist.Yes, the maker of Tide, Bounty, Duracell, Head & Shoulders and countless other household brands has a secret lair near its Cincinnati, Ohio headquarters. It’s one of 52 P&G “Innovation Centers” around the world, and until this week, the press has never been allowed inside any of them...

The occasion for lifting the veil of secrecy was a new line of detergent, called Tide Pods. These little packets of polyvinyl, roughly the circumference of your thumb and forefinger together, are stuffed with highly concentrated detergent, along with isolated swirls of stain remover and brightener. Instead of measuring a cup of liquid, you drop the whole Pod into the wash, and it dissolves at any temperature. P&G regards this as a revolution–the iPad of detergents, if you will. Apparently for every year you use Tide Pods, you’ll save an hour ....

The Beckett Ridge Innovation Center, a 137,000 square-foot building in the middle of a West Chester, Ohio office park, had little to do with the science behind Tide Pods. The actual experiments go down at other centers. The BRIC, as it’s called, is all about figuring out how people go about their lives so P&G can learn how to make its products better. That’s where the technology comes in..... "

Windows with Flash on Your iPad

From ComputerWorld: A curious way to get to flash on your iPad, and run things like Word.  Could be very useful. Trying now.

Gamifying the Help Desk

From Lauren Carlson.  This is an interesting and novel gamification example, of the class of applications where you are trying to get people to do tedious tasks. Gamifying support agent work:

".. Gamification is slowly but surely gaining wide acceptance across the enterprise, with many software vendors already integrating gaming elements into their products. But what about the help desk? My article includes some really neat graphics and makes the suggestion that gamifying the help desk will enhance the user experience and, as a result, reduce the notoriously high turnover rate among support agents.... "

Great piece that is worth a full read.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Google Glasses for All?

The rumor has been out there for years, that Google was developing a glasses-style interface for interaction and search.  We examined the general idea for maintenance applications, which was offered by a couple of vendors in the early 2000s.   Now it is out that the heads up display in the form of eyeglasses will include a number of smartphone capabilities.  Will these smart-glasses excite the public?     A head mount system is a more convenient mobile arrangement for certain hands-free operations, but not stylish.   But then neither was holding a puck to your head.

Scientific Storytelling using Visualization

Useful thoughts.  Tell a good story, get it to the right people, then provide the background as needed

"Scientists frequently tell stories using visualizations of scientific data, in the process of disseminating findings to peers and the general public. However, techniques and methods for effective scientific storytelling have received little attention so far. This article explores how literary and theatrical narrative conventions can inform the design and presentation of visualizations, and discusses the challenges of adapting scientific visualizations for broader audiences. It also summarizes recent workshops' findings on the role of storytelling in visualizations, and presents several examples of successful scientific-storytelling production teams. The conclusion is that scientific storytelling deserves greater support and recognition by the visualization community ... '

Empower MediaMarketing Expands

I have had a number of interactions with Empower.  They acquired retail data analytics specialists MIG last year. Now they have created the Empower Group by the acquisition of Powerhouse Factories to create services in creative, word of mouth and data analytics mining.  More here.

P&G to Address Cost Cutting

An extended article on how P&G plans to address cost cutting.  A periodic thing at all large enterprises.

Advertising Adapts to Gender

An example of a public advertisement using facial recognition software to alter an advertisement based on gender.  Another example of adaptive interactivity in displays that we will continue to see more of.   Again I point you to Keith Kelsen's excellent book on digital signage for more fundamental content strategies in this space.   There continues to be research and development into how ads can be adapted for specific locations, formats, times and contexts.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


Just getting to read Roger Dooley's book  Brainfluence: 100 Ways to Persuade and Convince Consumers with Neuromarketing.   Nice so far, an easy non-technical read that does not over promise the idea.  Good introduction.  The link above lets you preview some of the book.

" ... Brainfluence explains how to practically apply neuroscience and behavior research to better market to consumers by understanding their decision patterns. This application, called neuromarketing, studies the way the brain responds to various cognitive and sensory marketing stimuli. Analysts use this to measure a consumer's preference, what a customer reacts to, and why consumers make certain decisions. With quick and easy takeaways offered in 60 short chapters, this book contains key strategies for targeting consumers through in-person sales, online and print ads, and other marketing mediums.... "

Paco Underhill on the Shopping List

Not too much unexpected here.   Reminder of what the store is designed to do. Much of what shows up in the shopping basket is not in the shopping list.  Though in our own exploration of the shopping list,  it can mean many different things. Has this changed substantially in the world of the smartphone list?

Software as a Service for Data Scientists

In the CACM:    Experience at Globus Online.  Applicable in business too .." ... As big data emerges as a force in science so, too, do new, onerous tasks for researchers. Data from specialized instrumentation, numerical simulations, and downstream manipulations must be collected, indexed, archived, shared, replicated, and analyzed. These tasks are not new, but the complexities involved in performing them for terabyte or larger datasets (increasingly common across scientific disciplines) are quite different from those that applied when data volumes were measured in kilobytes. The result is a computational crisis in many laboratories and a growing need for far more powerful data-management tools, yet the typical researcher lacks the resources and expertise to operate these tools.... "

Unilever to Halve Environmental Impact

A commitment for 2020.    " ... Unilever Vice President Eelco Camminga said the company will be twice the size in 2020, with half the environmental impact. "We intend to source more responsibly, from more responsible manufacturers," he said. "We are working with responsible tea growers and are monitoring the supply chain. We are looking at the packaging our products come in and seeing how we can reduce waste." ... "

A Fix For E-Mail: Fluent

I agree that EMail is becoming increasingly hard to deal with.  Too much, too messy, and hard to deal with as an efficient means to store knowledge.   These former Google employees  claim to have a solution:  Fluent.  It will work with your current GMail account.  Have not tried it yet.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Supply Chain Analytics is Important

A survey of CIO's indicates that   " ... Analytics/business intelligence was the top-ranked technology for 2012 as CIOs are combining analytics with other technologies to create new capabilities, for example, analytics plus supply chain for process management and improvement."  ...'      This has been the case for a very long time, but more especially as the cost of procurement and product delivery increases with transportation costs.

Tailoring Analytical Insights at the Point of Decision

DemandTec is now an IBM Company, but I am continuing to make my way through their solution briefs for retail.  This week I took a look at one that I had not reviewed before, their brief on shopper insights.  Shopper insights were a particularly important piece of our laboratory work.  Constructing specific experiments to understand the actual behavior of a shopper in a particular context.  How might they be influenced by store design,  packaging and technology meant to influence their consideration and engagement with the retail environment?

As the article suggests, each shopper is unique.  '.. in terms of their value to the retailer and their response to merchandising and marketing activities ... '.      My own background used principles of modeling and statistics, applied to what is now called business analytics ... to create models of the consumer and their environment, based on the data gathered from these experiments.

They show a number of dashboards as part of their Shopper Insight Center that are designed to answer specific questions about  key retail processes.  This is exactly what we were thinking of producing in the lab environment.    As in any business analytics solution the problem is to connect the data gathering step with the specific process or workflow of the system you are interested in.  A set of simple dashboards is a good place to start. 

A set of dashboards, as the report suggests, can then be tailored to specific questions you are interested in exploring about the adjustment of shopper engagment in the retail environment.  I had seen similar things done to great advantage in Casino environment.  Once the simple dashboard environments are constructed, the data can then be tailored to address more in-depth analytical interaction with the data. Leading to precisely tailored analytical insights for any context.

Read the rest of the brief at the link above.

SpaceCurve and Complex Location Data

In GigaOM:  Metadata linked to location.

SpaceCurve, a Seattle-based startup pushing a database designed for location data, has raised $2.7 million on the promise it can help application developers better leverage the Internet of things. The money, which comes from Reed Elsevier Ventures, Divergent Ventures and Musea Ventures, will help SpaceCurve educate the market on its unique database ....

Secure Wireless Retail Networks

Particularly useful for point-of-sale applications.  Press release.   " ... New West Technologies partners with Enterasys Networks and Honeywell to offer secure wireless mobile retail network ... "

Commercial Drones

I read an article recently about a commercial drone being shot down.  Then this NYT article about how commercial drones are now allowed in general.    Heard of unintended circumstances? Sounds scary. " ...
A new federal law, signed by the president on Tuesday, compels the Federal Aviation Administration to allow drones to be used for all sorts of commercial endeavors — from selling real estate and dusting crops, to monitoring oil spills and wildlife, even shooting Hollywood films. Local police and emergency services will also be freer to send up their own drones. ... "

Sunday, February 19, 2012

QR Codes for a Timeclock

Colleague Walter Riker sends along an interesting application for QR codes. Using them as a contactless time and attendance system.  Simple idea.   See the Timestation Site.

Floating Cities

Mark J Perry points us to markets in floating cities.  And the Seasteading Institute.  Floating pioneer cities for everyone.  Designed to inspire communities around the world, wet and dry, to live together.


On Concept Maps, which were much used in the enterprise:

 " ... Concept maps are graphical tools for organizing and representing knowledge. They include concepts, usually enclosed in circles or boxes of some type, and relationships between concepts indicated by a connecting line linking two concepts. Words on the line, referred to as linking words or linking phrases, specify the relationship between the two concepts. We define concept as a perceived regularity in events or objects, or records of events or objects, designated by a label. The label for most concepts is a word, although sometimes we use symbols such as + or %, and sometimes more than one word is used. Propositions are statements about some object or event in the universe, either naturally occurring or constructed. Propositions contain two or more concepts connected using linking words or phrases to form a meaningful statement. Sometimes these are called semantic units, or units of meaning. Figure 1 shows an example of a concept map that describes the structure of concept maps and illustrates the above characteristics.... "

Informs Business Analytics

I see that several former colleagues of mine are speaking at the upcoming Informs Business Analytics conference.  (April 15-17, Huntington Beach, CA) Check out the schedule and speakers at the link.   It is sometimes overlooked,  but Informs is the oldest and most prestigious professional society delivering business analytics.  I have participated for many years.

Accenture Tech Vision

A general but well put view of our tech technical future by Accenture.

" ...This next revolution will differ from previous disruptions. This time, technology is present in every aspect of our lives. The lines between consumer and corporate technology continue to blur. On-premise and off-premise technology are melding to drive much quicker processing—and faster and better business results. The flexibility of new technologies and architectures is forcing us all to rethink how we harness IT to maket easier for our organizations to innovate.... "

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Braille-Like Texting Using One Finger Gestures

A prototype App developed at Ga Tech to allow texting via a touch screen.    Includes video.

" Georgia Tech researchers have designed a texting solution that could become a modern substitute for passing notes under the table. BrailleTouch is a prototype texting app that requires only finger gestures to key in letters on touch screen devices - no sight required. Credit: The Georgia Institute of Technology

Imagine if smartphone and tablet users could text a note under the table during a meeting without anyone being the wiser. Mobile gadget users might also be enabled to text while walking, watching TV or socializing without taking their eyes off what they're doing.... "

Target Analytics: Bridging the Uncanny Valley

Predictive analytics at Target.  Target can tell you about some intimate health details of the purchasers of goods in its stores and reveals it knows this information by sending out coupons.  As others have suggested, this is the 'uncanny valley' of retail prediction .... it is very clever that you can do this, but revealing that you are right, or very close to right comes across as very creepy to the recipient of that information.   We dealt with the concept in over-the-counter drugs and interactive shelf displays.

Big Data a Magnet for Startups

In CNet:   "  ...  Armies of entrepreneurs are trying to make money sifting through mountains of data from the Web and other sources, but one of the biggest challenges is simply getting control of the data in the first place ... "   True, it has been about getting the data for a long time.  We now have lots more data,  but it is still a challenge to get the right data.  

P&G Launches Childrens Safe Drinking Water Facebook Site

As reported in on the P&G Alumni site.     Connect here.   " ...
We are pleased to announce that the P&G Alumni Network has a complimentary, additional way to raise awareness and help diminish the global water crisis while reducing needless childhood deaths due the lack of clean drinking water in the developing world. Concurrently with the "Choose TAP, Save Lives" project, P&G Alumni members are invited to support an advocacy and the SafeDrinking Water Program (CSDW). ..."

Friday, February 17, 2012

Apps as Smartphone Spyware

Good piece on the ACM outlining how many smartphone Apps are spyware.   Disappointing that this is not revealed upfront. Is it part  of what we should expect for free Apps?

Pharmacy on a Chip

In ComputerWorld:

' ... Researchers at MIT have developed what they're hoping will be something of a pharmacy on a chip.  Scientists have developed a wirelessly controlled and programmable microchip that can be implanted into the human body to deliver medicine -- and it could replace daily drug injections, according to MIT.

"You could literally have a pharmacy on a chip," said MIT professor Robert Langer, who worked on the project with fellow MIT professor Michael Cima. "You can do remote control delivery, you can do pulsatile drug delivery, and you can deliver multiple drugs." ... '

Twitter Ad Platform

Will this significantly alter the environment of Twitter?  In AdAge:

" ... Twitter is rolling out the self-serve ad platform it's been testing to 10,000 small and midsize businesses next month through a partnership with American Express, in a bid to broaden its revenue streams.... " 

Brands American Women and Men Desire Most

In Forbes:   From a study by Buyology Inc, a former collaboration of mine:
" ... According to the second-annual study just released by Buyology, a strategic neuromarketing firm, and uSamp, a provider of technology and survey respondents used to obtain consumer and business insights, women and men have the strongest affinity for the low-cost airline among all major brands.

“The brands at the top of the Most Desired report have the strongest ties with the consumers we measured, and therefore, they have the ability to be more effective and efficient than their competitors,” says Gary Singer, Buyology’s chief executive and founding partner.... " 

Book Bundling

David Carr on book bundling.   An interesting case of combining digital and physical content together.  Not  much different than providing a site for a book to provide updates and a place for corrections and comments.

QR Codes vs Mobile Visual Search

Are QR codes days numbered?   The suggestion that MVS will take over from them soon is suggested.  People have just become trained in using QR codes, so I doubt it.  They still have to know there is something there, and the QR is a good target.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Mobile Payments Not a Game Changer Yet

In Knowledge @ Wharton:  Thoughts in advance of the March Pay-Pal phone wallet acceptance at Home Depot.  The uptake is still very small for the US consumer.  What will it take for more general acceptance of the smartphone wallet?  It has been a long time since its firm prediction.

Thinkvine Partners with Acxiom for Optimization

Longtime collaborative vendor Thinkvine has announced their partnership with Acxiom.  They present an interesting purpose in simulation terms.  More of this should be done in business:   " ...  Acxiom will use ThinkVine’s ThinkAhead™ technology in combination with its own proprietary insight and marketing expertise to provide its customers with greater depth into how to increase their sales volume, maximize ROI across all of their marketing investments, and establish a more agile and objective marketing planning process.... "     Full Press release.

Business Intelligence Without Rules

On business intelligence without rules.   Sometimes yo can formulate specific rules defining a business process, but sometimes you are better off using individual cases about how a process performs.  We used both in the enterprise, to good effect.   Also more about the embedded big idea.   Its all about utilizing your experience.

Searching Without Tracking

Mashable reports on a new search engine that uses novel methods to remove any tracking from your searching.   Search privacy.   " ...  Stealth is a search engine that does not store cookies, track IP addresses or save search terms.... "

Innovation for a Smarter Planet Mind Map

I have been examining a number of styles of knowledge and concept maps for a project.  Discovered this interesting example in the mind map library Biggerplate.  It is called:  Innovation for a Smarter Planet with Andy Stanford-Clark, IBM Futurist, a presentation to Wired Wessex.    Lots of interesting connections to documents, presentations and background information.  You can see it here and download it free to the mapping  program of your choice.  Which is the case for all the maps in Biggerplate.  I am continuing to explore.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Key Developments in Integrated Retailer Marketing and Merchandising

In the IBM smarter commerce blog.  A post that relates directly to the DemandTec acquisition.  It extends beyond to the 'social' integration and communications  all the way back to the manufacturer of retail products sold and their suppliers.  There is lots of potential here.   Further, how do you get the right information from the retail selling space to improve the operation of commerce?  I have been talking to a  company called Storeflix that has developed methods to make that happen through the smartphone.  It is what the smart commerce initiative calls the 'instrumented' component.  Much happening in this area today.

P&G Seeks More Discontinuous Innovation

In InformationWeek: Seeking to use some of the $2.7 Billion cash that they will receive from the Pringles sale to Kelloggs.
" ... Procter & Gamble CEO Bob McDonald is pushing the consumer goods giant for more "discontinuous innovation," meaning products or technologies that create entirely new brand categories or new capabilities, rather than just improve an existing product... "

IBM Announces Completion of DemandTec Acquisition

Announced today.  The integration of the DT abilities into IBM's Smarter Commerce effort makes much sense.  Looking forward to see the details of how it will all integrate together.   I have followed DT here since their first presentation to our innovation center in 1999:

" ... IBM Smarter Commerce on Cloud gives companies broader insights about customer merchandising and pricing preferences to better market, sell and deliver their products and services," said Craig Hayman, General Manager of Industry Solutions at IBM. "With IBM and DemandTec, marketing and sales executives in retail, CPG and other industries will be able to deliver the best prices and product mix based on consumer buying trends."

DemandTec delivers cloud-based analytics software to help organizations improve their price, promotion, and product mix within the broad context of enterprise commerce: retail, business-to-consumer, and consumer goods. As a result, companies can spot trends and shopper insights to make better price, promotion, and assortment decisions that increase revenue and profitability. By gaining a quick analysis of consumer trends, for example, a category manager at a consumer products company can collaborate with the retailer to understand price elasticity and set a more competitive price point.... "

Gartner Quadrant on Business Intelligence

Good recent view of the business intelligence market " ... In 2011, business users continued to exert significant influence over BI decisions, often choosing data discovery products in addition to/as alternatives to traditional BI tools. An avalanche of new use cases, content types and interaction models expands the scope for tomorrow's BI platforms.,,, " 

Exploring the Brain of the Consumer

Just now completing a read of Neuromarketing: Exploring the Brain of the Consumer.   by Leon Zurawicki of  the University of Massachusetts

I had the pleasure of chairing a session with Professor Zurawicki at the Neuroconnections Summit in Cracow Poland in 2009.   I followed up by reading his 2010 book on the subject.  This is a example of where a book has to cover a rapidly changing topic and provide background for the specific application of the innovation as it evolves.  A tough task.  This textbook style,  but largely non technical overview is an excellent place to start your journey.

Professor Zurawicki does an excellent job.  The first chapter, Exploring the Brain, provides a thumbnail overview of the neuroscience involved.    It then follows with a number of theories of brain research methods.  He also covers such recently applied techniques like tracking activity in  mobile settings and the integration of eye-tracking methods.

In the second chapter he covers the influence of multiple senses to emotions,  mood and behavior.  A topic we also experimented with in contextual experiments.   He mentions in particular how our own decision procession behavior can be influenced by apparently rational rules that can be triggered by nonconscious sensory inputs.  He cites Procter & Gamble's Febreze Strategy work as a example of the integration of sensory cues and overt decision processes. 

He specifically addresses the linkage of neural activity and consumer behavior.  And the curious linkage of how behavior breeds emotion and emotion breeds behavior.    I like too the coverage of the memory-learning connection in chapter 3, which links to our own exploration of associative memories.  I am sure there are hints here of how consumers can be convinced in their ultimate behavior.

I have utilized this book and its bibliography a number of times since its publication for explanation of theory and practice.  It is invaluable for the shelf of the marketing emergent technology practitioner.

He completes his journey in Chapter 5: Applying Neuroscience and Biometrics to the Practice of Marketing. Where he outlines the  methods by which many companies are now exploring this approach.  By its nature it is still very complete.  How must we ultimately integrate these learnings with classical marketing techniques?  How are those results implemented in the retail aisle?   There are plans to follow up this book with another that explores some of the specific applications underway in this space.  I look forward to reading that as well.
Enjoy.  I will continue to use this book as a reference. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Power Outlets that Can Control Use

A development by Sony.  This looks good, but also limits some of the expectations we have grown to expect from readily accessible  power outlets.  Not unexpected direction as electricity moves closer to the general standard for energy delivery.

SAP Labs AI Exec Joins Saffron Technology

Reported Today.   I have now had to pleasure of working with Dr. Hofmann several times in AI related applications .... "   Saffron Technology, Inc., a privately held big data software analytics firm, announced the appointment of renowned Artificial Intelligence (AI) expert Dr. Paul Hofmann as Chief Strategy Officer. Dr. Hofmann, formerly VP Research at SAP Labs, played a key role in developing SAP’s highly regarded research program with top USA universities like Princeton, MIT, University of California at Berkeley, Cornell, Carnegie Mellon University, and Stanford. Artificial Intelligence has always been a true passion for Hofmann, and at Saffron he will work to connect the corporate world with Saffron’s leading edge Associative Memory technology.... "

Hunting Advertising

Making advertising something you have to hunt for.  A game dynamic of a different kind.  Changes the context of a space to engagement rather than just pasted on ads.

How Brands Grow

I had the need to look at How Brands Grow, by Byron Sharp again.  A really great book that inspires me to look at the numbers behind brand growth again.   It is rare that I consult a book of this kind more than once.  This one is a gem.  See the official website of the book for more.  Also see Byron's marketing science blog.  P&G and a number of other leaders in the marketing space have supported his work for years.  Highly recommended.

Cloud Enhanced Innovation

IBM on how the cloud can drive new, innovative business models.  A largely non technical post with some useful  thoughts.

Data Science e-Book from AnalyticsBridge

A first draft of a data science e-Book available for free from the AnalyticBridge social network for analytics professionals.  Written by business analytics professionals. Join and review it.   Some interesting topics are included.    Join the group and discussions of methodologies, problems and solutions.

Monday, February 13, 2012

iPads in the Bedroom

A recent survey shows that most tablets are used at home rather than on the road.  And in the bedroom, where this post says tablets have become a fixture.  (68% of 880+ respondents use them there often) Mostly because they are so popular for reading and informal surfing.

Is Twitter Serious?

David Carr on the implied seriousness of Tweets.  He makes some interesting points about the difficulty of considering a communications channel very informal, but then paying the price when it upsets someone.  I remember a similar discovery in the relatively early days of e-mail.  When we started to use that emergent  channel internally it was praised for being informal, easy to use for transmitting creative thoughts without any fear.  Soon afterwards though we discovered that all searchable and discoverable communications are serious to some.   It is important to know how serious your channel is when you speak 'creatively', because we adjust both our speaking and listening according to context.

SuperBetter Labs

Some game designers have put together a system that lets you join an all star team.
SuperBetter is an online, social game designed to help you build up personal resilience. ... Document your SuperBetter journey for our blog. Get personal coaching, private all-star discussions, and surprises!

More information and apply for Beta participation. 

Redefine the employee

With changes in how people communicate, in both social and technical terms, we need to think of new ways to value people.  More thoughts in Chief Learning Officer.

Towards Better Shopper Marketing Strategies

In Mediapost:   Takes a look at a Booz & Company Study:

" ... The big challenge, concluded Booz, is for manufacturers to “better engage retail partners in the development and execution of shopper solutions that deliver added value beyond price reductions.” Those that are successful, Booz said, “will earn the right to win their categories.”ROI measurement results are often inconsistent, the survey found. Most of the respondents indicated that they measure brand sales lift half the time or less from such programs, while share gain results and brand health impact were measured even less.... "

Message Mapping

Over the years I have been investigating all sorts of mapping methods.  Concept, Process and Mind maps are common approaches that I have used in my work for years.  Now I see there are also message maps, here described by Ed Burghard.    Like a concept map, but with for precisely defining the message.  Burghard writes:

" ... A tool I have found to be extremely helpful is message mapping. It is a process I have used successfully for over 30-years to help ensure everybody involved in helping deliver the promise of a brand understands what the message is and how to articulate it. Like most tools that are effective, message mapping is deceptively simple in concept but can be challenging in execution. In my experience, the biggest challenge is in reaching a consensus on content and ensuring utilization.... "

Sunday, February 12, 2012

More Big Data Thoughts

In the NYT Sunday Review:  On the impact of big data.  Personally I think it is how business analytical methods  can be effectivey used against the right amount and form of data that is readily available to solve a problem.  Big, medium or small.  Big by itself is not good enough.

On Teaching with Technology

In the Chronicle of Education:  A teacher rethinks teaching with technology.  Like the  solution to any difficult problem, it is never all just about technology. " .... he has a new message. It doesn't matter what method you use if you do not first focus on one intangible factor: the bond between professor and student.... "

Adaptive Marketing

Adaptive Marketing was a new term to be.  Apparently devised by Mindshare to describe consumer focused and data based marketing.  It is good to be as adaptive as possible, because your world of context is constantly changing.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

When are Tweets Worthy of Your Time?

I started using Twitter about four years ago, dubbing it an 'experiment'.  I continue to use Twitter, in part because some clients and colleagues use it, and in part because it is an easy way to quickly market  my own work.  Clients who have decided to implement 'social' methods internally are working with tweeting as well.  But how can you make if truly effective, without getting all your work lost in the stream ... which is increasingly a deluge?   Some thoughts in Information Management.    Is there a true or even fuzzy ROI here?

Econophysicists and the Swans

Ultrafast Trades Trigger Black Swan Events Every Day, Say Econophysicists The US financial markets have suffered over 18,000 extreme price changes caused by ultrafast trading, according to a new study of market data between 2006 and 2011  .... "

E-Books Changing the Book Industry

It is obvious that it is, but how?  In E-Commerce Times.  An author speaks:  " ... Just as the iPod changed the music industry a decade ago, e-books are changing the publishing world right now. The rule book is being rewritten, and lessons in success and failure are coming from new and unexpected places... " 

Friday, February 10, 2012

Shiny Packages

Dan Ariely on the effect of packaging design on choice.  Good exploration based on eye tracking research.  " ... when making such simple choices, consumers can spot and choose most of their preferred items in as little as a third of a second. Granted, the visual saliency bias may, in some instances, lead us to make suboptimal choices, but that may be a small price to pay in order to go about our daily lives making rapid, mostly good, decisions. After all, who wants to spend an entire afternoon in front of the store shelf choosing between Snickers and Sour Skittles? ... "

Choosing Relevant KPI's

A slide show in Information Management that has some useful information.  Though this contains useful information, it is also an example of how the style of information delivery can get in the way of the content.  I guess making this a slide show with lots of pictures allows for more advertising impressions.  Another invasion of the infographic.  For me it makes me what to exit quickly.

Activating Brand Advocates

In Chief Marketer. Thoughts on how to activate your brand advocates. For years I saw apathy to this idea in the enterprise.  No more.

Packaging Design

Thoughts on packaging design from a recent conference.  " ... "Packaging is the number one medium to communicate the brand," said Michael Okoroafor, VP global packaging at H.J. Heinz. ... " 

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Emergence of Whorfian Economists?

I have always been intrigued by the Whorfian hypothesis.  The idea that different human languages strongly affect our thinking styles, communication capabilities and even world view.  Now we have the notion of a Whorfian economist,  previously unknown to me.  The linguists that comment on it, in academic style,  think the whole thing needs to be peer reviewed.

Democratization of Data Science

As I start a study of the democratization of data, and of the Wolfram Alpha Pro release I also see an on-point post by Stephen Wolfram: Launching a Democratization of Data Science.   Well put with good examples.   It is about data and math, but also about organizing human language.   Also nicely attempted  by Tableau Public, which embraces free, public visualization.

You have to have the data you want to transform into insight.  Then you have to have a means of transforming it that is as easy as possible to understand to create an initial visual, plus the means to interact cleanly and obviously with the results.   Taking that a step further, you need the math to manipulate things.

Starting with the simplest transformations, then equations, then statistics and the models beyond.    And all that needs to be backed by enough documentation to help you succeed with minimum numeric literacy.  I like the direction of all of this.

Speaking Out

In the WSJ:   Why people fail to speak up in various contexts.  We examined this in focus group settings.   I see it in myself in very specific group contexts.  Another reason for better understanding of people unconscious reactions.  Good article.

Wolfram Alpha Pro Announced

The full announcement on Wolfram Alpha Pro.   Quite impressive detail.  A useful front end to business analytics?  Plan to take a much closer look and report back.

Smarter Energy Usage

IBM report on smarter energy usage:  " .. . From our prior surveys, we know consumers like the idea of having cleaner power options, and more control and efficiency at their fingertips. But have they assumed these benefits would be accessible immediately once a smart meter was attached to their homes? Do they have sufficient understanding that, in order to optimize these benefits, changes in energy consumption patterns and more permission to access information about that energy usage might be required? ... " 

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Wolfram Alpha Pro

Wolfram Alpha Pro is here, and only $4 a month.  In Technology Review.  Democratizing data analaysis in some new ways, both structured and unstructured.  It has been a long time since I have looked at Alpha. When I did I was quite impressed,  making it easy to do simple analytic things based on public data.   Will take another look to  see how it has evolved.   More in depth look.

Finding out Where an Image Originated

Wired provides a good how-to that details some services that allow you to find out where an image on the web originated.     Useful to have at hand.

Brand Promise Health Check

All about brand promise, aka brand equity.  Does it still make sense? " .. Most people want to know how to determine if they have a strong and compelling promise, and once they’ve decided on a specific promise they want to know how to ensure they are communicating it well.... " 

Trends shaping Business Intelligence and Analytics

In TDWI:   5 Macro Trends Shaping next Generation BI and Analytics.    Useful thoughts.  " .. Although the business intelligence (BI) market is growing again at a lightning-fast pace, it has so far failed to deliver a great experience to the designers and consumers of modern analytics. Yesterday's BI solutions are being displaced by "agile" providers that move beyond basic reporting, dashboards, and ad hoc analysis. Yesterday's BI stack (e.g., the layering of OLAP engines, ETL technologies, and data warehouse solutions) is completely incapable of solving modern analytical challenges ... " 

I do not agree here, things could clearly be done in a much better way, but I think this is still a matter of wrapping IT methodologies around the appropriate technologies.

Looking at Text

Bill Inmon takes a general, non technical look at the problem of dealing with textual data.  It remains a more difficult form of data to deal with. He introduces the use of ETL to convert text to relational databases. His introduction:

" .. It is stated that in most corporations 80% of the data is textual. In some corporations – insurance companies, for one – that ratio may be low. And for a long time it has been held that textual data cannot be manipulated by a computer. Textual data is notoriously non repetitive, and non-repetitive data simply does not fit well into a standard database management system. Database management systems are built for data with a structure that repeats itself over and over .. "

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

More on Hand Scanning at Fresh & Easy

From the comments, Clive Black links to a more detailed article on the Fresh & Easy Scanning, including some pictures.  Based on the pictures shown, there were the same designs that we orginally tested in out lab for Motorola.

Hand Scanning at Fresh & Easy

More on another test of shopper barcode hand scanning to improve the checkout process and provide targeted promotions.    Note this uses dedicated devices rather than smartphones.    The same system was tested at AHold.  We experimented with related systems.  Here at Fresh & Easy, a subsidiary of Tesco in the US.

From the comments, more details.

Turning iPhones into Microscopes

In GigaOm.   Or at least displays for real microscopes.  Another example of sensors linked to mobile devices.  We will continue to see more of these.  Its adding the analysis and sharing piece that will make this interesting to health data applications.

Headline: Value Drives Loyalty

In Mediapost: Surprise, consumer experience, especially 'delight' drives loyalty.  Nothing very new here, but the specifics of the categories and data are interesting.  In particular that emotional values continue to increase in importance.  " ... More than ever, the core drivers of brand loyalty are emotional rather than rational. That’s the takeaway from the 2012 Brand Keys Customer Loyalty Engagement Index (CLEI), which marks the survey’s 16th year. While emotional engagement factors have become more critical each year, the influence of two core, overarching components rose markedly in 2012: the brand’s “values” and the consumer’s brand “experience.” ... ' 

Monday, February 06, 2012

Argus Insights : Product Innovation

Brought to my attention by a client:  Argus Insights " ... Products that exceed user expectations win.  Very simply, delighted customers buy more.Companies that delver products exceeding the expectation of their users win market share. .... "

Real World Retail Analytics Using Kinect

Just brought to my attention.  Shopperception:  "  ... The Kinect sensors allow us to bring new and exciting 3D spatial recognition tools to the market research industry ...  Once in a while, a new technology disrupts a market. Find out how the Kinect is disrupting shopper analytics by giving new and powerful metrics about the shopper and his interaction with the shelf... "    Explanatory video at the link above.

We examined  many variants on this broad idea in the innovation centers and worked with business analytics  models to interpret the data .

Big CPG Ad Spenders Plan to Ease Back

In Ad Age. Detailed piece on the plans of Procter & Gamble and Unilever in ad spending. Some speculation but considerable useful information.

A Model of Human Health Behavior Change

We worked with Stanford  Professor BJ Fogg several times in the enterprise.   I am very late to discover this,  but he has created a new model of human behavior change.  " ... In 2011, the World Economic Forum selected the Fogg Behavior model as their framework for health behavior change. ....  "  Examining it now.   See also his persuasive technology site.  Also @BJFogg

Samsung Gaming for Engagment

In the NYT:  Good general piece on gaming for brand engagement.  Mentioning the example of Samsung in some detail.  " ... Samsung is embracing a business trend called gamification, which takes elements from games and applies them to other settings. Companies like Recyclebank, for example, use game incentives, like points and rewards, to prompt consumers to perform eco-friendly activities. Other businesses offer awards like virtual badges to induce their employees to embrace corporate goals and increase productivity. Meanwhile, a number of well-known retailers and brands, including Samsung and Warner Brothers, are employing point reward systems as a way to engage customers more deeply.        ... " 

Sunday, February 05, 2012

IBM's Watson Changing Careers

More indications that artificial intelligence, much promoted in the late 80s, is back again.    Based on the same kinds of rule-based,  certainty quantification methods we used then to prototype AI in the enterprise.  An now supported by a Web full of readily available knowledge.  Will it succeed generally this time?   I think so, but it may require substantial time to mature.

Unilever Taps a Join the Dots Panel

Had not heard of this before, but from Research Live: Unilever is recruiting a new panel of shoppers to help 'shape the future' of its family of brands.

Home Robotics and the Mint Cleaner

I was involved with several projects in the enterprise that dealt about how cleaning products could be used in conjunction with home robotics.  We got some early experience with in-office robotics that moved mail around.  In particular which algorithms could be used to make that process efficient.  The best known example is the iRobot Roomba floor sweeper.  But a recent conversation reminded me of the mint floor cleaner.  Which has been advertised much on cable recently and received generally good reviews.  Waiting for the workable home butler.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Managing Analytic Resources

Good post on the topic. I find many groups are uncertain about how to manage the process of working with analytics. And they are also unclear about how to deal with the results discovered.

On the Size and Complexity of Data

In the Atlantic: In an edited excerpt from his new book, Too Big to Know, David Weinberger explains how the massive amounts of data necessary to deal with complex phenomena exceed any single brain's ability to grasp, yet networked science rolls on.

Friday, February 03, 2012

Practicing for the Super Bowl Ads

Sands Research sends along an item and commentary pointing to an article in the WSJ on  how Super Bowl ad companies use neuromarketing methods to test modifications of ads to see which work best.   A good example of how neuro techniques are becoming used more commonly by big advertisers.  Usually in addition to other methods.  More and more of these methods are being used mobile, in context, a further powerful idea.

Enterprise Performance Management from SAP

Good post by Laura Mikovsky on Enterprise Performance management from SAP.  A classic need for the enterprise.   A typical dashboard BI application.   How are various parts of my enterprise performing, and how do I normalize these results with other measures like the economy?    You could take this further to measure other causal interactions,  both inside the organization and outside.  The post goes on to mention how some of their new in memory techniques and data availability can make these measures real time.  Useful in some industries. 

My suggestion: Take this a step forward and construct a company performance leader board, then use game dynamics to create in enterprise competition between, say, sales districts.  Provide automatic causal suggestions as to why the leader is ahead.   With cautions about the likelihood of people trying to game the measures.  We experimented with something like this well before this kind of sophisticated technology was possible, and data was far less available, as far back as the early 1980s.

Food Lion Shares Demand Data

In a move to consumer driven demand, Food Lion shares data:    " ... Food Lion is working on changing the way CPG vendors such as PepsiCo replenish its distribution centers and stores by offering them visibility into current and expected consumer demand as reflected by store-level inventory and sales. This represents a marked departure from the traditional replenishment scenario whereby Food Lion, like most retailers, only provides vendors with information on transfer of products from DCs to stores (known as warehouse withdrawals), but not on what happens at the store level. Instead, the chain is shifting to what it calls consumer-demand-driven replenishment.... "

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Conflict Management

An excellent piece by Ed Burghard on effective conflict management.  Most people do not deal well with conflict, and this chkeclist of possible solutions can be very valuable.

More on Story Telling

Steve King writes in the Small Business Blog about the rise of storytelling and a number of projects underway in that space.

Wireless Brain Wave Sensors

In SCiam:   General, non technical article on wireless encephalogram monitors.  A number of current gaming examples are mentioned.

Visual Beauty, Usefulness and Objectivity

How do you bring together objective truth, analytical precision and visually pleasing visualizations?  Can all the infographic spin be removed, or  does the mere choice of data shown have its ow spin?  Tableau software discusses in their blog.  Good examples shown. Overall the Tableau blog is worth following.

"  .... one cannot reach their potential with a publicly facing viz unless it is both analytically useful and visually stunning. No emphasis on either one. A viz needs to be beautiful to draw people in and engage them, but it also needs to be analytically valuable in order to serve a higher purpose than just beauty ... " 

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Crowd Sourced Ale

A simple example of crowd sourcing, not sure if it a very good one, but the application in food and drink is unusual.

Digital Signage Continued

I will have to mention Keith Kelsen's book: Unleashing the Power of Digital Signage once again.   An excellent book that I am making my way through now.  I particularly like the fact that it includes quantitative analysis of the value of signage uses, and a useful classification of context issues.  Much more here.   

If you are considering a digital design display in stationary, mobile, interactive or other environments, this book is a great place to start.  This was one of our key experimentation topics in the innovation center,  and it is of great value to have key topics laid out.

Federal Move to Mobile

The government is usually late to such moves.  They pioneer some aspects, then wait for a long time. But when they finally decide to move it legitimizes it for lots of other parts of the economy.  The CIO on the Federal Mobile Strategy.