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Sunday, September 30, 2012

Mapping Ecosystems

In GigaOM:  On the value of geographical mapping ecosystems. And why Apple took a risk with it's update of the iPhone maps.  Is the move similar to the half-baked delivery of intelligence like that of Siri?  I have been  involved in the practical use of such ecosystems as Google Maps and implementations of natural language structures.  The important thing is that a useful ecosystem survives so that what you developed with it does as well.

Mind Mapping Tutorial

A reference to a tutorial by Steve Dotto for doing mind mapping.  We used it often in the enterprise to define, understand and reference the operations of the business.  Sometimes in its more refined form  called concept mapping.  Or in its time domain driven method called process mapping.  I trained new hires in its use.  And used it for unique applications for application to the understanding of the consumer.  It was  prerequisite for analytics applications.  There is no excuse for not using it today, you can get it in cheap, often free and easy to use apps for your phone, tablet or laptop.  Map on!

Case for Abolishing Patents

In the Atlantic:  No doubt they are a mess.  Though many have invested so much in them that it will be a very tough task.  I have seen both truly phenomenal and completely ridiculous things patented.  Do patents make an economy more productive?

" ... What do we get from all this? Precious little, the paper argues. They find virtually no statistical evidence that rising patent applications actually make our economy more productive.  Eliminating patents altogether, Boldrin and Levine say, would also have fewer negative consequences than most of us assume. Most industries, they argue, only resort to patent litigation once their pace of innovation has slowed. As long as they still cranked out out new, popular products, companies like Apple would continue to profit by being the first to market, which often confers a long-term advantage.  ... " 

SAP Bundles Analytic Database

SAP has bundled the IQ database with its analytics offerings, seeking to establish an easier to use and less risky adoption process for companies.   " ... SAP announced a new family of products that marry its Business Objects BI (business intelligence) software with the Sybase IQ analytic database and include specialized business content for use by various industries. The four offerings include BI suite, analytics edition; BI platform, analytics edition; Edge analytics edition; and Crystal Server, analytics edition. The latter two are mostly aimed at small and medium-size companies. Along with IQ, the bundles also include SAP Data Integrator for bringing information into the system. In both cases, customers get a runtime-only license, restricting IQ and Data Integrator's use to the analytic applications in the bundle....  " 

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Tears of Steel

The Blender Foundation's all open source short movie: Tears of Steel is now out and available.  On their site and on YouTube. Is this the future of film?

Loss of Web History

I did several projects to look at corporate history in the enterprise as it addressed computing technology, and found the Internet Archive a useful resource.  Now I am preparing for a talk at Xavier University. Yet as the article says, it contains a large number of artifacts, but not the primary detail that a historian needs.  Especially when dealing with social network communications.  Discussed in the BBC Technology Section: The Decaying Web.

Symmetrical Faces

Are apparently more influential.  I recall that there have been studies to use this idea in advertising.  Reference?   The site has some striking examples.  A commenter suggests that this is why people tend to not like pictures of themselves, being used to seeing a view of themselves in a mirror.

Text Analytics News

A newsletter that looks interesting on text analytics methods.  Sign up for their briefing here.  " ... We have compiled a 3000 word briefing on realizing true value from text analytics investments. It's full of practical insight, recommendations and predictions from analytics experts from Disney, American Airlines, Porter Novelli and more..... " 

Friday, September 28, 2012

Intel Shows Roadmap

Correspondent Michael Curran of Micro Industries, a company we used extensively for in-store displays,  posts about Intel's Developer's forum, which I do not normally follow.   He suggests this shows a roadmap for technologies destined for intelligent retail signs:

" ... Each September, Intel® demonstrates its latest technology innovations at Intel’s Developer Forum (IDF) in San Francisco. In addition to the traditional rollout of new microprocessors, this year Intel unveiled a number of software initiatives that leverage their recently acquired assets at Wind River and MacAfee to provide a basis for the next generation of personal and embedded computer applications. From a digital signage perspective, the most interesting aspect are Intel’s new software tools that make it easier to integrate various types of interactive technologies into digital signage applications. ...From Intel’s perspective, I am sure that these tools are targeted at the Ultra-Book market but their relevance to the digital signage market is significant. Intel is poised to deliver software development tools that address touchscreen interfaces, gesture control, voice control and facial recognition along with a number of enhancements to their currently available tools for Anonymous Video Analytics (AVS) ... " 


In Adage:  Facebook trolls for deeper participant data using the popular birthday notification feature.

Automatic Mapping

Via MIT News:  A prototype wearable sensor system that can automatically map a building interior.  Seen as useful for emergency responders.  " ... In experiments conducted on the MIT campus, a graduate student wearing the sensor system wandered the halls, and the sensors wirelessly relayed data to a laptop in a distant conference room. Observers in the conference room were able to track the student’s progress on a map that sprang into being as he moved.

Connected to the array of sensors is a handheld pushbutton device that the wearer can use to annotate the map. In the prototype system, depressing the button simply designates a particular location as a point of interest. But the researchers envision that emergency responders could use a similar system to add voice or text tags to the map — indicating, say, structural damage or a toxic spill.... " 

Don't Rely Entirely on Big Data

CIO Article:   An interesting article, though I don't quite agree with the premise.  Unless your problem is very simply constructed you cannot have it depend strictly on a data set, however large or volatile.  It always depends upon some context that cannot be controlled by the decision maker. So a decision maker almost never completely depends on the data, unless you can close the loop entirely.  So I see the title as obvious, but good to remember.

The Obsession of Mobile

Mobile makes people more productive.   It is clear that it has become an obsession to be connected for many people.  Productive, but to a breaking point?

Full Scale Virtual Research Continued

I made another working visit to John Milby's Full Scale Virtual Research laboratory today and remain very impressed by their abilities and direction.  He has taken the capabilities far beyond our enterprise lab work. I had professor Shu Schiller of Wright State University with me and we discussed the practical applications of the method, and its similarity to augmented reality research methods she is working on in her research.  This resulted from a talk I gave at Wright State last weekend on the implications of the 'end to end virtual supply chain'.

Imagine the ability to rapidly interact with shelf designs and expose designs to the shopper.  Build experimental designs and create trade offs for all sorts of packaging,  fixtures and product placement.  Understand the mechanics and details of consumer first-moment-of-truth choice.  Include how shoppers use their smart phones in the store.   Integrate advanced methods like eye tracking.  All at full scale and seamlessly, digitally and quickly done.  Contact me or John Milby directly at the link above for more information.

Funding of Innovation

In Technology Review:   On the funding of innovation.  The thoughts of Nathan Myhrvold.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Vanishing Electronics

Research into disappearing electronics.  Electronic 'pills' that dissolve inside the body after their function is done.

Analytics in Action Talk

Analytics In Action:  What do Jeopardy, Pampers and Major League Baseball have in Common?

A number of my former colleagues will be presenting.  

Smartphones Provide Economic Data

An economist looks at how smartphones are a gold mine of economic data.  " ... An economist taps into payment apps for their every financial transaction ... "

Shopper Tracking

One of the first technologies we experimented with in the enterprise retail laboratory was ShopperTrak.    To understand how we could use analytics generated by shopper behavior under different conditions. I see that ShopperTrak has made some new advances in their offerings that are worth looking at.

Cisco Location Analytics

In another move, Cisco is acquiring mobility analytics and Wifi network location player Thinksmart Technologies of Dublin.  The company tracks the location of people in public venues such as retail.  Another example of how mining sensor data for analytics is becoming important.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Value Added Showrooming

Good piece by David Bell of Wharton on Showrooming.    " ... With the rise in popularity of smartphones and the proliferation of online retailers, showrooming -- the practice of browsing products at one store but buying them elsewhere to get a better price -- has become a growing problem for bricks-and-mortar retailers. The key to combatting showrooming, experts say, is to resist the temptation to block customers' efforts at price comparisons, which are only going to become easier as technology evolves. Instead, retailers should capitalize on the advantages that bricks-and-mortar stores can bring and experiment with new ways of offering an omni-channel shopping experience ..." 

Rules and Decision Management

The large enterprise can think about how to systematize their business processes and the rules that they use to make decisions.  This has often been difficult for the midsize to smaller business.  The systems have not existed to help these businesses think through how their business should work well to grow and be profitable. These businesses have their own internal expertise, but do not typically have the internal resources for other specialized knowledge.

In the large enterprise we used methods called expert systems.  We interviewed dozens of experts and then placed their expertise in sets of rules.  These were then combined with analytical methods to calculate and adjust the results of particular choices to optimize results based on the rules .  This created a simulation of a specific set of  business decisions.  When we did not have internal experts available for a set of decision rules, we went outside to interview experts that had additional domain knowledge we could readily insert into the process.

A recent discussion with a Mid Size business led me to take another look at this area.  The business had some quantitative methods that calculated results, but did not have a means to implement their business rules. I needed a better way to generate these rules from flowcharts of their processes.

I had previously looked at the Ilog JRules capability for delivering decision rules.  Now re-branded as Operational Decision Management.   Also to be seen on the  IBM Decision Management page on Facebook.  Check this out as a method to implement rules within business processes.

This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines  of a smarter planet. More on that here: http://goo.gl/S6P7m 

Facebook Commerce Successful for Small Retail

In CIO:  The claim made here is that Facebook Commerce is becoming particularly successful for small businesses.  " ... Second-quarter profits from Facebook stores were up 38% from the first quarter for the 180,000 small to midsize retailers, and have been going strong ever since, says e-commerce company Ecwid. Based on Facebook's monthly active users stats, Ecwid makes the most widely used Facebook store-building software  to work across social-media platforms and Web sites.... " .   I am somewhat skeptical based on the way this analysis is done, based on user statistics, but it is worth exploring.

Data Mining for Drug Facts

In CACM:  On the use of data mining to determine drug information about drugs  Work out of Stanford University: " ... When people with high blood pressure start taking thiazide diuretics as treatment, they are warned about possible heart-related side effects, including palpitations, fainting, and even sudden death. Patients taking a certain class of antidepressants face similar risks. But what if they are taking both drugs together? Would the bad effects be more likely? No one knew.... " 

What Consumer Products Companies Know

Gib Bassett of Teradata on What Consumer Products Companies Know About Consumers.  " ... With widespread adoption of mobile devices and participation in social media, consumers are now more accessible than ever, facts not lost on Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) companies.  No longer do retailers stand in the way of direct consumer relationships – connections shown key to competing for scarce consumer attention and walletshare.  It’s nothing short of a revolution, based on what executives at major CPG companies have stated publicly within the past year ... " 

Some great quotes here.  Also, see the Teradata Industry experts blogs.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Pepsico Search for Tech in Brazil

In CGT:   " ... PepsiCo is bringing PepsiCo10, its three-year-old technology incubator program, to Brazil. "Along with the search for new ideas, PepsiCo10 supports our strategy of attracting and retaining top talent by giving us a chance to communicate with some of the brightest and most creative young Brazilian minds,” said Cristiana Gomes, director of human resources at PepsiCo Brazil. ... "

Behavior and Psychology

Correspondent Lisa C. Kaczmarczyk  In her Interdisciplinary Blog,  ' ...  "You can talk about behavior without knowing anything about psychology" according to Christopher Konrad, one of the panelists at the UX and Psychology meeting I have been discussing in the last few posts. Konrad has a significant background in  software for several large companies we all know and love (or hate, depending upon your personal taste) such as Microsoft, Intuit and Sandia National Labs. He also has a degree in Psychology and runs his own design firm (suitably named Konrad) so you can't just write off his comment without considering what it might mean.... ' 

An Easy Button for Big Data?

Bill Franks, who has an excellent book out on big data analytics, writes about the lack of an 'easy button' for big data.  Insightful thoughts.  " ... It is good to remember in today’s hype-filled big data world that there is no “easy” button for big data. In fact, in many ways, big data is quite difficult to deal with. Many organizations seem to be falling for the fallacy that simply implementing new tools or platforms will “automagically” solve their big data problems. Unfortunately this isn’t the case.... For example, there is a common belief that MapReduce platforms such as Teradata Aster or Hadoop can tame big data in and of themselves.  In reality they don’t inherently enable new functionality or analytic logic to be executed. Rather, they allow you to scale certain kinds of functionality and analytic logic in a way that makes the functionality and logic much more powerful and widely applicable.... " 

Predictions for Self Driving Cars

Recorded Future posts one of their future looking views of the future of self driving cars.  Another good example of how their technology works, especially for examples where there are relatively few future looking indications.  Its all plotted on a time line to understand the implications of multiple predictive indications.

Pentaho and Cisco Partner for Big Data

In A Press Release:  We did lots of work with Cisco, especially in the retail space with devices that enabled price checking.  Was involved in a number of innovation brainstorming sessions with them.  Surprised to see them involved in big data analytics, will follow to see how they put all of this together.

Monday, September 24, 2012

How Mobile is Remaking Marketing

A useful presentation by correspondent Phil Hendrix of Immr and GigaOM.  Contains a number of good case studies on the subject.

Fast Decisions Better than Perfect Data

In Information Management:  Under some conditions, and with care.  But a good point,  what we called 'quick and dirty' analysis is sometimes very valuable to understand the scope and direction of an ultimate,  better result.  And you often cannot get perfect data gathered in perfect conditions.

Need for Advanced Data Visualization Analytics

Visualization is a form of analytics that integrates the power of human visual processing.   Such visualization works best when integrated with analytical methods, whose results can also be visualized.   A good view on the visualization need, increasingly useful in a big data world of data volume, velocity and variety.  What better to further tease value from this complexity than analytics?

Target Uses Passbook

Target stores has announced that they will be providing coupons through Apples' Passbook App, available on the new IOS6 operating system on iPhones.

ConAgra View of Innovation

ConAgra's view of innovation.   They rightly view an important element is information directly from customers.   And the ability to construct platform based solutions rather than one-off products.   Plus discussion of private label strength and value add based on their innovation capability.   Another warning to national brands.

Can Design be Free

'Design wants to be Free', the article paraphrases Stewart Brand.  But what are the implications for low cost and universally available design?   Universally create able via 3D printing.  Loss of quality?   Are the results similar to what we are seeing in the publishing world?   " ... An object is no longer something you merely consume. It's something you create. Famed industrial designer Yves Behar explains why this shift is a revolution in the making.... " 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

SAP Mobility Design Center

An intriguing effort by SAP to look at design in mobility.  With some similarities to our own innovation center work, which in part supported design of many kinds of interfaces between people and things.

Diagnostic Tricorder Challenge

In GigaOM:  Via the nonprofit Qualcomm Foundation.  The interconnection of a number of complex sensors to a smart phone style telecommunications device.  In particular, the sensors that are currently built into smartphones do not cover all the needs of physical monitoring involved.   The potential rewards, though, are considerable.  Join the challenge.  Also, how might this be seen as an augmented reality challenge?   " ... Better sensors could change the way consumers diagnose and monitor their physical ailments. So maybe your smartphone becomes an EKG monitor, or perhaps you buy a device that measures 5 vital signs at once as opposed to a digital thermometer. We learn more in this video.  The combination of sensors and mobile networks are changing the way we interact with the health system. Maybe it’s the addition of a jacket on your phone that can monitor our heartbeat or even a program that allows a user to track their sleep, but the world of medicine is set for a big shift.... "

Big Data and Analytics Vendors to Watch

An intriguing list to take a look at.   Mostly relatively start up to small companies.  Have seen a number of these, but many were new to me.   Have talked to a number.   Though many will not exist a few years from now, the breadth and capabilities are worth watching.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Augmented Blog

A blog by an employee of Metaio, that covers the augmented reality industry.   " ... which develops and provides augmented reality solutions for brands, agencies, industrial clients and anyone looking to include AR in their special project.  The goal of this blog is to inform people on all of the cool things this technology offers. We offer in-depth commentary on our projects, important product announcements, event coverage and insights into the culture here at metaio. And every Monday we offer a collection of links to all of the goings-on in the industry from the week before ... " 

Cybernetic Binoculars

I have been following a number of DARPA developments.  Here a project which seeks to link brain waves and sensor interactions.  A kind of brain augmentation that we will see more of.    " ... DARPA's Cybernetic Binoculars Tap Soldiers' Brains To Spot Threats  ... The U.S. Army and DARPA have concluded field tests on next-generation binocular replacements that read human brain signals and have a 91% threat detection success rate. They might just help you control your car with your thoughts too ... " 

Amid Transformation

Short report in AdAge about thriving amidst  transformation.  That technology breeds innovation, which then leads back to tech again. And that " ... People and Culture Are As Important as Technology in Data-Driven Marketing ... " .   Plus several brief examples of projects underway that bridge digital, tech and innovation.  Could use some more detail.

GS1 Records ten Million Products

The GS1 Global product registry has reached 10 million products registered.   Full press release.

Useful Innovation

In Forbes:  Innovation is about nurturing ideas.  But always with a focus and strong recognition that it exists within a context.

Friday, September 21, 2012

More Paperless Coupons

Another example of paperless coupons, here for Tops. Adding promotions to your loyalty account is increasing in frequency.  " .... The Click-to-Card coupons have been added to the Coupon Central area on the Tops website, which also offers SmartSource printable coupons and lists Catalina checkout coupon offers. Customers add the Click-to-Card coupons to their Tops BonusPlus or BonusCard and redeem them at checkout. ...  "

Gait Recognition Revisited

In New Scientist:   When we explored a number of methods of identity recognition, the one that surprised me then was the ability to recognize people by the pattern of their walking.  We never applied it, but it was added to the list of possible measures.  Not as accurate as a fingerprint, but fairly good.   " .. Gait analysis has attracted attention because of the shortcomings of other biometric security techniques. Iris scans and face recognition require reasonably high-quality images, for example. They also generally require a cooperative subject, as do fingerprints. By contrast, a person's gait can be recognized from low-quality CCTV footage.... ".

Future of Smart Systems

In PEW Internet on the future of smart systems.   Read all of it. " ... By 2020, experts think tech-enhanced homes, appliances, and utilities will spread, but many of the analysts believe we still won’t likely be living in the long-envisioned ‘Homes of the Future.’ Hundreds of tech analysts foresee a future with “smart” devices and environments that make people’s lives more efficient. But they also note that current evidence about the uptake of smart systems is that the costs and necessary infrastructure changes to make it all work are daunting. And they add that people find comfort in the familiar, simple, “dumb” systems to which they are accustomed .... " 

Extra Sensory Shoppers

A short piece on 'extra sensory' means of understanding the consumer.  Along the way some new mentions of work being done I had not seen before that is worth a look.   Via Kevin Judd.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Technologies to Dominate Retail

Kevin Judd sends this notice of a one day conference on Technology in retail.  Combining speakers from a number of companies.  On September 24 in Cambridge Mass.   " ... Although self checkout is a hot topic, turns out that NFC will only be one of the technologies that retailers will and are flocking to.  The challenge is to get shoppers into the store. And once in the store to have stellar store operations to make sure they shop—and buy.  Oh, and did we say profitable operations?  ... "   If you participate, send me your impressions.

Analytics as a Database Operation

An interesting example of how a mid market company can gather and integrate and leverage data.    here transforming the way that it does business.  It seems like an additional way to then link in business analytics to better understand and then drive your business.   I like to see examples of the use of analytics by midsize companies.  It is not always the big company who can benefit by these methods.

" ... Adrianna Papell,a NY based dress manufacturer was unable to capture, in a single repository, the sales performance of its products from its retail customers. The Company's executives needed a tool to link sales data across all the company's retail customers to its internal systems to quickly and accurately measure sell-through performance, trends and profitability.

Working with IBM Business Partner Sky IT Group.  Adrianna Papell implemented SkyPad, SaaS Cloud Analytics Solutions, allowing the customer to gain insight into its product sales performance across all its retail customers, sorted by product attributes, time  dimensions and geographic locations. As a result, sales increased by 15% .... "      See their Facebook Page.

Often smaller companies think about business analytics being beyond their abilities.  One way to get around this is to think of analytics as a transformational process, just like a database operation.  How can you combine elements of your data to produce profit, or reduce cost, or increase quality?  There are usually lots of opportunity for every enterprise.  Consider integrating analytics as the final step of every database process.

This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines  of a smarter planet. More on that here: http://goo.gl/S6P7m 

Kroger Expands

Kroger experimenting with more general merchandise, like clothing, in Ohio.   A natural,higher profitability approach for the grocery retailer.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Advancing Analytics to Machine Learning

Things are changing in  advanced analytics.   Simple statistics  is not enough anymore.  An example from Orbitz.  Read the whole article:    "... I lead the traditional statistical modelers as well as the chief scientist and the machine learning (ML) crew. At Orbitz, we have found value in incorporating both types of data mining professionals (machine learners and statistical modelers) because many problems are well-suited for both camps. For example, the statistical modelers effectively address areas such as marketing mix analysis, predictive models across online marketing channels, customer lifetime value models, churn models, credit card fraud models, etc. Similarly, the machine learning staff deploys their algorithms in areas leveraging Big Data, where system feedback is leveraged to quickly learn from patterns in order to self-improve – areas such as the Hotel Recommendation Engine and Hotel Sort  on the Orbitz Web site. ..." 

Online Neuro Courses

Via NeuroRelay:   A number of free online courses from Coursera on topics Neurological from Coursera.  Not too much on the Neuromarketing side, but worth taking a look at for background.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Market Shifts

In Forbes: Adam Hartung: Growth - Dealing with Market Shifts. Innovation Matters; It’s Why You Care More About Apple than Kraft ...

Selling the Cloud

Nicely done overview, with good graphics, about the cloud and its business implications.     " ... The next stage of cloud computing will require companies to turn the momentum, innovation and investment into revenue growth and profits. The winners in round two will be those providers that can meet the needs of the large pool of customers now moving to the cloud ... "

Price Optimization

Another example of the use of price optimization in retail.   Many large retailers have tested the idea.

Extending Watson

IBM continues to seek to extend the potential of AI, now broadening the potential of Watson to the average user.  Will this take a Siri like advisers to a new level soon?.

iRobot Acquires Evolution Robotics

In this development, iRobot seems to be playing for more in-home applications, but it still appears to be floor cleaning.  Does this mean we are out of other in-home aid robotics? It is interesting this the acquired set of robots can use wiping cloths, like Swiffer.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Pepsi Goes Native in Silicon Valley

In AdAge:   An idea we tried as well.   Its a useful idea, but think it is more useful to embed silicon valley into your own contexts to get better ideas and testable innovations.  In general we know more about them than they know about our needs.  Co-locate in both directions if that is possible.

The Users of Big Data

On the Human component of Big Data in HBR.  This is not discussed as much as it should be.  How do people interact with the data and the analytics that come from having more and richer data?    I have discussed several recent examples of making this work. Such at P&G's Business Sphere Environment.  Also a number of data visualization vendors that are driving easier data understanding to the user.  The tools must be intuitive.  Artificial Intelligence will ultimately help, but it is the engagement of the user that will drive these systems to real value.

Recommender Systems

ACM sponsored Webinar on Recommender systems, the power of personalization.

Thursday, September 20, 2012 at 12:00 PM EDT/11:00 AM CDT/9:00 AM PDT/4:00 PM UTC 

Personalization is the key to helping guide users through the morass of available choices to the products and information they seek. Industry leaders such as Amazon.com, Microsoft, Google, and E-Bay have long used recommender systems to improve their offerings and better serve their customers. But recommender systems aren’t limited to big technology firms—they've been widely used by small information providers, retailers, and service firms. 

This webinar provides an introduction to recommender systems, describing the different types of recommendation technologies available and how they are used in different applications today..

Campbell Soup Innovation Center

Always interested in the concept of contextually rich innovation centers.   Here is a new one by Campbell Soup / Pepperidge Farm.  Looking for more detailed descriptions of approaches used there.  Want to talk about methods to richly connect virtual interaction to this one or others?  Contact me.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Future of the Phone

In the Atlantic.   What is the future of the smart phone?  Obvious things like the integration of wallet functions.  But beyond that.  More intelligence and integration with our daily needs?   It is hard to predict.  I  am not sure we could have predicted uses like heavy social social networking happening today as little as fifteen years ago.   Is the iPhone in particular an indication of the future of function and design?   I have used that phone since its inception, but find the promised newest form less than inspiring.  Not sure I will jump to it until its clear that a next step forward is here.   Not a yawn, but a recognition that there should be more.  This and related thoughts in the Atlantic article.

Retailers Take to Shopper Marketing

In Supermarket News.  The retailer continues to take a stronger handle to the integration of shopper behavior and purchase.  " ... But in the recent past, we've seen more and more retailers embrace the notion that they can leverage all this energy to differentiate the shopping experience ... "  The data and the analytics continue to make this connection easier to do.

Languages of Innovation

Thoughts on a language of innovation.  All innovation exists in a context.  In our innovation centers we started to seek a means to simulate innovation in both actual and virtual spaces.  Then combine the real and virtual spaces. With internal and external resources.  The experiment is continuing.

Retailers Don't Recognize the Solution

As early as 2000 we actively researched the ability of RFID technologies to solve key retail cost and operational issues.  We expected the solutions to be in place a long time ago.  In RFID Journal,   " ... Retailers Recognize the Problem—Not the Solution A study conducted by Retail Systems Research indicates that retailers have in-store issues that RFID can solve, but they don't seem aware of what the technology can do... " . A piece which does a good job of positioning the current world of problems and solutions.

Saturday, September 15, 2012


Ethnographer at PARC speaks:  " ... I spend a lot of time observing ordinary people going about their business — in hospitals, shopping malls, living rooms, even in parking lots. This practice helps me uncover real, but hidden, unmet needs that can be solved with innovative technology. However, many clients searching for new product concepts or trying to refocus existing ones to reach the right audience are often wary of this approach. Their typical response is, “We don’t have time for that!” As long as three years later, some of those same clients are still searching for the right product concept.... "

Senior Care Robotics

Eldercare robotics.  A direction pioneered in Japan that that we saw demonstrated at a major manufacturer.  This approach designed for seniors with cognitive impairment.

Making Little Decisions from Big Data

An overview of predictive analytics in Information Management.  Reasonably good overview of analytics today.  It is all about utilizing data we are gathering today.   Though I have my usual disagreement quarrels with the aspects of the view.  Anything that deals with large amounts of volatile data, is not 'small' and thus enables valuable decisions.  The leverage of mining such data is usually considerable.  Also, all analytics is predictive.  It predicts what will happen under alternative process operation.  It is the science of 'better', even best operation.   Every business should consider using it.

Kalido and Teradata

Brought to my attention regarding agile data consolidation, late but worth noting:" ... Teradata (NYSE: TDC), the leading analytic data solutions company, and Kalido, the leading provider of agile information management software, announced a new pre-packaged solution enabling customers to build or expand a data warehouse in 90 days or less. The integrated data warehouse can then offer improved analytics supporting the best business decision possible. "Being able to extend the value of a data warehouse investment is critical to any organization that is trying to consolidate disparate data into a single, integrated platform," said Ed White, Appliances general manager, Teradata. "The Kalido technology not only makes the data consolidation process seamless and streamlined, but also lets the customer add new functional areas very quickly, and that's where a company gains the incremental .... "

Friday, September 14, 2012

Social Analytics with Voziq

Correspondent Chris Herbert sends along a link to Voziq.

... Monitor the social web for mentions of your brand, competitors and industry
Benchmark how you compare with your competitors and identify strategic focus areas
- Identify topics and trends so you can lead the conversation
- Analyze real-time sentiment, and leverage it as part of your marketing campaigns
- Protect your brand reputation with real-time responses and by engaging brand advocates
- Develop consumer insights based on social media mentions across the social web
- Improve marketing effectiveness and generate sales leads ... 

Protest Monitoring

I mentioned Recorded Future's monitoring analysis of the embassy attacks.  Now they have followed with a thirty minute video that examines the approach.   A good example of using future oriented analysis that can be used in government and corporate applications.

Transparent Mobile Computing

From CIO: The ability to have Apps run on multiple mobile platforms.  From Intel:  "...  "With transparent computing, software developers no longer must choose one environment over another in order to maintain profitability and continue to innovate," James said in a statement. "Consumers and businesses are challenged with the multitude of wonderful, yet incompatible devices and environments available today. It's not about just mobility, the cloud or the PC. What really matters is when all of these elements come together in a compelling and transparent cross-platform user experience that spans environments and hardware architectures. Developers who embrace this reality are the ones who will remain relevant." ... " 

The Connected Consumer

Correspondent Gib Bassett curates The Connected Consumer. Which contains a number of items about consumer packaged goods that I had missed.   Worth checking out and following.

GS1 and VICS Merger

Via Kevin Judd of Fujitsu.

Yesterday, September 10th 2012, GS1 US and the Voluntary Interindustry Commerce Solutions (VICS) Association announced that they have signed a memorandum of understanding to merge their operations. This is significant news for the supply chain community.

The Article covers what this means to the development of standards for interoperation among players in the supply chain.    This is a big deal,  it can make, break and improve efficiency globally.  Good article on the importance of the move.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Winning the Show Rooming War

Good post on the growing behavior of shoppers using the retail environment to see and touch products, but then buying them elsewhere or online.   Good examples of the reactions of retailers that I have not seen before.  By Gino Van Ossel    @GinovanOssel     The Vlerick Marketing & Sales department houses many experts in  various fields of Marketing: Retail & Trade, Brand Management, Sales,  Conversation Management, Product Management, Innovation, Communication… Multiple researchers and professors are working, together with partner companies, to produce renewing research outcomes, along academic standards, and to mirror these insights onto the business world.

Future Intelligence with Recorded Future

An excellent case study of the use of Recorded Future for understanding the recent Middle East unrest and embassy attacks.    A use of semantic analysis of multiple textual databases that predict future events,  the aggregation of these indications and visualization of the interconnections.   It does not necessarily directly imply causal interaction, but it provides a road map for further understanding of complex future events.

A Look at Educational Technology

An opinionated view.  " ... Education is in some respects one of the most stagnant of all major industries. A farmer from 150 years ago would not comprehend a modern farm. A factory worker from 150 years ago would not be able to function in a modern factory. But a professor from 150 years ago could walk into a classroom today and go to work without missing a beat. Is this about to change? Many entrepreneurs and commentators believe so. Here, I offer my own assessment of the prospects for technologies to revolutionize education. This essay will explain why I label various technologies as winners, losers, and magic bullets in the table below. My opinions are not based on exhaustive research. They are based on my experience both as a high school teacher and as an entrepreneur..... ".

Designing API's for Mobile Performance Best Practice

In CACM by Kate Matsudaira

While there are lots of informative articles on mobile performance, and just as many on general API design, you’ll find few discussing the design considerations needed to optimize the performance of backend APIs for mobile client usage (if you know of any, please add them to the comments). Certainly, optimizing the on-mobile performance of the application is critical. But we, as infrastructure engineers, can do a lot to ensure that mobile clients be remotely served both data and application resources in a reliably performant manner, ultimately enabling and preserving a positive mobile application user experience .... " 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Risk Bias

In Mckinsey Quarterly:   Overcoming a bias against risk.  " .... Risk-averse midlevel managers making routine investment decisions can shift an entire company’s risk profile. An organization-wide stance toward risk can help. .... " 

Brands Pushing to Shoppers

Brands increasing push notification to mobile shoppers on the move.  In BrandWeek.  " .... The notifications can be triggered by contextual factors such as location. "The big difference between traditional text alerts and push notification is that it is a more seamless way to connect consumers to the content," said Brandon Lucas of BET, which used the notifications during the BET Awards in July .... " 

Ditching Powerpoint Bullets for Pictures

Picture superiority, which means using very few written words in presentations, is evoked in Forbes.  Made me think of an important proposal I was part of crafting today, and how it could be done with few words.   Despite what the article says, this is much harder to do when what you are writing about has few iconic representations.  And has to be precisely said rather than just illustrated.   I like the goal, but then, when you are done, the images are left behind, to be interpreted rather than precisely understood.

Mobile as a Bridge to In-Store

In AdAge:    Writing about a recent Google study.  Obvious at one level, but also an increasingly important concept as mobile becomes our ever available information platform.  " ... 80% of searches on smartphones are spontaneous, as opposed to planned, and nearly half of those are goal-oriented. Often those goals are purchases and, to Jonathan Alferness, this is evidence of mobile's role as a bridge -- and an extremely valuable one -- from the digital world to the physical one.... " 

Center for Business Analytics

In development and talking to:

The UC Center for Business Analytics (CBA) brings together organizations and a world-class, multidisciplinary group of faculty and students to educate and exchange ideas and best practices on how to apply analytical methods for enhancing business and organizational performance.

Through the sponsorship of visiting scholars and executives in residence, the center aspires to be the world-renowned venue for the exchange of ideas on the most critical problems facing organizations and how to best apply analytics to help solve these problems .... 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Driving Profitability with Retail Analytics

From the current issue of Analytics Magazine.  An excellent, practical publication that deals with quantitative analytical methods.  Here: " ... How to make choices and investments that deliver on expectations ... "

A New Internet Association

From the Precursor Blog:
" ... Google, Amazon, eBay, and Facebook reportedly are launching a new Internet Association in mid-September to be "the unified voice of the Internet economy, representing the interests of America's leading Internet companies and their global community of users. The Internet Association is dedicated to advancing public policy solutions to strengthen and protect an open, innovative and free Internet." ... " 

Unilever Balancing Creativity and Sales

In Adage:  " ... The task of delivering on both sales and creativity falls to Chief Marketing and Communications Officer Keith Weed, a career Unilever executive named to his leadership post and placed on the company's executive board in 2010 by CEO Paul Polman. And while Mr. Weed is happy with the business results -- including organic sales growth of 7% in the first half of the year putting Unilever near the top of his competitive set -- he's still not completely satisfied ...   "

P&G Decision Cockpit Detailed

P&G's CIO Filippo Passerini provides some detail about P&G's long in development Decision Cockpit, the brains behind the Business Sphere information delivery approach mentioned here previously.   " ... Sometimes you have to put the cart before the horse, according to Filippo Passerini, Procter & Gamble's Business Services Group President and CIO. That's how the consumer products giant came up with a decision-support environment now used by more than 60,000 employees worldwide to see what's happening in the business, why it's happening, and how to respond to changing market conditions. ...   At the IW500 Conference, P&G's Filippo Passerini demos analytic dashboards used to forecast performance and drive the right decisions....   

Monday, September 10, 2012

New Maintenance

Old approaches to maintenance doesn't work any more.  A predictive maintenance in a smarter planet.   A favorite topic of mine, including context in prediction: " ... Just because machines start out the same way doesn’t mean we should service them the same way. To determine how often we get vehicles serviced, we need to consider the environment in which the machines operate, and how they are being used. The trick, off course, is to figure out just that: where and how are they being used? ... "

Tabeo: A Child Focused Tablet

In CIO:  Not sure I agree.  Why not just have a collection of Apps aimed at the child?  Yet I imagine it will engage the parent that is not comfortable with the tablet idea to begin with.  And being child proof to some degree will may along make it worthwhile.  " ... The Toys "R" Us Tabeo is a 7-inch, multi-touch tablet. It offers 4 GB of internal flash memory, which is expandable through a microSD slot. Tabeo features 50 free, preinstalled apps that the retailer said it "carefully selected to entertain and educate children." Toys "R" Us is also launching an app store for Tabeo.  ... " 

Understanding People and Places with Photos

In Queue:   Was discussed this today in an enterprise innovation lunch, relating photos to reality.  I have worked in this space before, and it deserves a better answer.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Virtual Consumer Research

A worthwhile reprise based on several comments and calls.  Virtual research is a powerful concept:

We didn’t just decide to leverage some industry standard research experience into a new approach. All of our founding partners participated in developing “the first” full scale virtual research product that truly reflected the reality that shoppers experience at the shelf. 

Our virtual research was developed to reflect the same results as physical research – tested in side by side comparisons. Additional panelist/participant research demonstrated that our virtual testing did not introduce behavioral or attitudinal differences. Research and market results are consistent....  

Saw John Milby's Full Scale Virtual Research Lab.  I received a great tour and technical discussion of work underway there.  I worked with John at our enterprise retail laboratories for years.

He is the consummate consumer research professional using years of experience to apply to brick and mortar retail, mobile environments and the interaction of retail and mobile devices.

He leverages a laboratory that displays full scale product images and shelf environments where shoppers interact with and compare products.  The data is then gathered and analytically combined with other captured behavioral information.   Certainly impressive technology, but it is more  valuable yet to apply years of consumer behavior experience to improve shopper experience and engagement.  John continues to build partnerships with many other expert practitioners in the field to further enhance these abilities.  Good work.

" ... his guiding principal was “consumers will know it when they see it; the challenge is to remove the limitations on what we can show them. Virtual packaging and shelf design is the path to our future.” ... "

Contact information at this link.

CEO Data Driven Innovation

In Innovation Excellence: Colleague Julie Anixter makes good points   " ... there is one very heartening trend that we're observing as the drumbeat for CEO action gets louder, and it is this - better data driven tools are emerging, and a new discipline that uses them is springing up. CEO's have always loved and demanded data. What we're seeing now is a new acceptance of data as the platform for the agile decision making required for innovating. ... " .

IBM RedBooks

Last week at a very informative Smarter Commerce meeting I was re-introduced to IBM Redbooks.  Positioned as 'no cost know how'.  They are written by a considerable assemblage of IBM experts, business partners and clients from all over the world.  They address many different topics of interest to business.  You can download at no-cost many of these publications, or get them in hard copy.  They are continuing to build new ways of having people develop additional  publications through what they are calling social media residences.   You can join these residences, which include blog posts and managed editing capabilities.   Overall a very good idea that appears to be very well done.

Tablets as Shopping Palettes

An article in Ars Technica on the Kindle Fire made me think further about the tablet phenomena.  I also traveled this week and spent time in a number of terminal waiting rooms, where I could count the increasing use of tablets.   Then in another recent shopping experience I encountered a person in a Target aisle who was looking at some merchandise and holding up their tablet like an artist's palette to compare product with features and pictures on the screen.   Better connectivity, options and use capabilities are driving us to new ways to think about shopping experiences and how to leverage this idea. Cheaper,simpler, even near-disposable options are arriving.  Get ready in retail.

Saturday, September 08, 2012

Wearable Computing

A health care proposal discussion for the use of  Google Glass,wearable computing for physicians,  had me looking at the idea again.  Integrating key data for a consultation and integrating it with multiple opinions.  Is wearable computing mature enough for delivery? 

Ingestible Sensors

From Springwise, and then linked to your phone..  A long ago idea, is proposed again.

Friday, September 07, 2012

In Need of Business Sufficiency

Seeking Better solutions.  " ...The first project, launched 18 months ago, is the Business Sufficiency program, which gives executives predictions about P&G market share and other performance stats six to 12 months into the future. At its core is a series of analytic models designed to reveal what's happening in the business now, why it's happening, and what actions P&G can take.... " 

Grocery List Apps

In Mashable:  Useful survey of a number of apps that address the simple grocery list. What are the key features?

Qualified Data Modeler

What is a qualified data modeler?  " ...The data modeler is a key position in any business intelligence initiative. But what does it take to be a good data modeler? The skill requirements go well beyond knowledge about how to create and maintain a data model. A person with know-how can create a model that is structurally correct, but building one that is accurate from a business perspective takes more than basic modeling skills. ... "  

Mass Customization and Open Innovation

Good topic.   An area that also deserves more analytics attention.  How should this be done better and lead to more sales and value?

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Smart Homes using Augmented Reality

The integration of sensing technologies to lead to sustainable buildings.   A technical paper.  A good example of the integration of sensing and focused smart technology.

Marginal Revolution University

MJ Perry reports on online instruction at Marginal University.  Another example of college courses online." ... We think education should be better, cheaper, and easier to access.  So we decided to take matters into our own hands and create a new online education platform toward those ends. We have decided to do more to communicate our personal vision of economics to you and to the broader world. You can visit www.MRUniversity.com here.  There you can sign up for information about our first course, Development Economics ... " 

Developing Digital Strategy

Well thought out piece .in Mashable. " ... When defining and developing strategy, marketers and agencies must ensure that their clients understand that strategy follows structure, it follows people, and it follows an idea. Second, they must make sure that clients get that profit and ROI are outcomes, not the strategy itself. If you’re wondering what developing such a strategy looks like, here are the key steps.... " 

New Supply Chain Book

I was introduced to a new and visually instructive book on optimizing the supply chain:   Supply Chain Network Design: Applying Optimization and Analytics to the Global Supply Chain (FT Press Operations Management) by Michael Watson, Sara Lewis, Peter Cacioppi and Jay Jayaraman.  This book includes many of the methods which we used for years in the enterprise.  Now they are integrated in packages like iLog/Cplex.   As I peruse it, this book seems to include many of the approach details you need to solve these kinds of problems effectively. The methods are often too deeply hidden in books and manuals.   More information to follow as I seek use it to apply to a specific client interaction.

The book also has a site and blog.     #IBMSCGS

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

New MS Logo

A new logo for MS, also has some links to past logos of Windows.  We traveled to Redmond way back then during Windows 1, talked to Gates, who tried to convince our enterprise to use Windows.  We didn't right then, but did soon afterwards.

Teaching Robots to Improvise

More on robots improvising.  An important step.The ones that will ultimately be able to sense. react to and plan for their future under a given set of goals will be most valuable.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Business in Business intelligence

By now anyone who works for a business should know this, but it bears repeating:  In Information Managment:    "... Business intelligence projects have historically produced remarkable results for countless companies. Properly implemented, BI projects give business analysts and management access to timelier, more accurate information to enable them to make better decisions. However, successful implementation of any business intelligence – or IT – project requires one other BI component: business involvement ...."

Wal-Mart Tests Smartphone Self Checkout

Not very much retail here, but it's not unexpected that we will soon see the idea of the shopper using their own device appearing more often.

Monday, September 03, 2012

IKEA Embraces Augmented Reality

A nice example of the use of augmented reality for a catalog.   A very good place to try the idea first.  Much more at the link.   I plan to try this at the nearby IKEA.  Via Metaio.  " ... Speaking of free download- both iOS and Android users can download the amazing IKEA Catalogue app for free(!) to discover all 43 pieces of augmented and activated content when the publication finally hits mail and IKEA stores around the world. Hybrid data comes from structured sources like enterprise applications and unstructured sources (mainly text), like news feeds, social media, and documents.... " 

Skepticism About Smart

Jerry Michalski posts in Rexpedition about his skepticism regarding the smarter world of things.   I like to hear the other side.  I am not as skeptical, but based on my own experiences, know enough to be cautious and distinctly practical.  Jerry's experiences and thoughts about  'Navigating massive change ... ' are also worth following.  We used as a useful consultant in the enterprise a number of times.

Experiential Retail

AT&T makes a move into experience retail, looking like the Apple store.  In Chicago: "   ... The gleaming 10,000-square-foot space -- complete with an Apps Bar staffed by "app-tenders" and plenty of communal space to grab a seat and play with gadgets -- bears more than a passing resemblance to Apple's temple of retail design.. ... " 

Analyzing your Facebook

It has been some time since I looked at Wolfram Alpha.  Its a system that lets you integrate multiple forms of data and semantic interaction to solve problems, built on the Mathematica engine.   Now a number of writers talk about its use to analyze Facebook social networks.  An example here.  And here.  Leading to a facebook report that gives hints of the detail you are revealing, and the potential for other analyses of Facebook data.

Sunday, September 02, 2012

Recognizing Real World Objects in Videos

In Slashdot:  Discussion of a Google patent for this.  It is a fundamental exercise for applications like autonomous robotics to be able to understand their world, feed that description to an artificial intelligence engine, and make specific plans for next steps.  I have not yet looked at the patent specifics,  but the goal is fundamental for AI applications.

More on Wal-Mart Search

In CIO Today:   Deeper understanding of semantics in content proves to be a valuable lever.   " ... Dubbed Polaris, Walmart's search tech seems to be working well. Walmart.com is already reporting a 10 percent to 15 percent boost in shoppers completing a purchase after searching for a product using the new search engine ... "

Smarter Commerce Summit

Doing an invited appearance at the Smarter Commerce Summit this coming week in Orlando, September 5-7.    Blogging and tweeting the experience. If there is anything anyone would like to have me explore, or if you would like to meet up when I am there, let me know.   #IBMSCGS

Agile Analytics

Was recently pointed to Birst Analytics.  Agile as presented is a good idea.   Looking forward to taking a closer look.   See their blog for a taste of what they are up to.

Robot Learns to Recognize Itself

New developments in robotics, especially those that can understand and react to their own context, is always of interest.

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Product Portfolio Management at Hallmark

From CGT:  A simple example of portfolio management strategies." ... There are many reasons why your company can't afford to miss product launch windows. So, how do successful companies hit launch windows consistently? It all starts at the beginning of the innovation process, i.e., choosing the right ideas, and continues through a development process that accounts for resource capacity and mitigates risk.... "  

Public vs Private Clouds

In GigaOm:   A good comparison between the choice of Public vs Private Cloud in corporate IT.   Which companies should use which?   " ... Cloud computing is supposed to save us money, and most would argue that it can. Cloud computing is also supposed to provide agility and flexibility in how you deploy and manage your IT solutions, enabling improved business capabilities. The problem is that depending on what you’re doing and when you’re doing it, saving money could be the only reason for adopting or not a reason at all.... " 

Zoo Analytics

A local zoo and spin off consultancy makes a point of the value of business intelligence applications.  First I had heard of this specifically addressed in an article.  Though I know that other similar venues, like theme parks, have used business analytics applications for a long time.   I remember seeing early applications at Disney World.  There are also similar capabilities explored in the casino context. This focus is more addressed to what they call 'cultural' attractions.