/* ---- Google Analytics Code Below */

Friday, November 30, 2012

Start Small for Big Data

As in all efforts that deal with large and complex systems,it makes sense to start with simple problems. This HBR article does a good job in making the case.  Obvious, but useful to say.  Still it is not always easy to find the simple solution for a problem.  Something as simple as plotting some data can often be a great place to start, because it makes you look at the basic structure of the data, and its relationship to other data.   Start there.

Staples Prints 3D

In CIO:  Word that the office services store will start to print 3D items.  A method promoting remote manufacture.  This development could lead to the increasing use of the idea for select products.   " ... Customers are expected to create 3D customized parts, prototypes, art objects, architectural models, medical models, tools, machine components, robot parts, or 3D maps, among other purposes....  The Staples 3D models will use the Mcor Technologies IRIS printer, which Staples and Mcor said had the highest color capability of any 3D printer in the industry and the lowest operating cost of any commercial class 3D printer. Mcor also said its 3D printers are the only ones to use ordinary business letter paper as the layering build material.... " 

Big Data in Ohio

In Adage:  More on the IBM Big Data and analytics center in Ohio.

DemandTec/IBM Shopper Insights

Our own enterprise was devoted to the art and science of being shopper centric.   Decades of research allowed us to leverage that capability against the needs of the consumer.   Centricity was the key to making the system work effectively.  I discovered this piece in the Demandtec/IBM site which coves some of the same concepts.  And mirrors some of our own thinking.  They write:   " ... Of course each shopper is unique – and supporting shopper centricity gives you and your trading partners a competitive edge. But how do you actually harness key insights on the value of the shopper?  How do you offer the best rewards that truly excite consumers and drive long-term growth? ... " 

And how do you harness the insights?  This is once again a combination of running the numbers, doing the analytics, but also driving the insights with new design ideas to make them work.   In part this is about dividing up the problem properly:

... With IBM DemandTec Shopper Insights, you can take action on critical insights across the entire business planning lifecycle.  Set broad corporate strategies.  Determine key target segments. Collaborate with partners and flawlessly execute marketing and merchandising plans... 

The benefits are outlined:

"  ... Stand out from the competition by adopting more shopper-centric strategies
Understand consumer demand by shopper segment
Deliver actionable shopper insights at the point of decision ... " 

Utilizing new ideas at the point of decision was particularly important.  The First-moment-of-Truth was preached as the means to success.  As the first moment of truth crept  to different contexts and media, such as mobile and online,  the adjustments were made to capture these places with new designs and measure the results with the right data.

Note this is by its nature a big 'big data problem' (Volume, volatile, complex and real-time).  The dive using analytics needs to be deep, with the latest technologies.    We continue to win with these methods.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

What Does Big Data Mean?

Michael Stonebraker continues his useful set of of articles on the meaning of the term.  The term  directly includes the volume part, but we frequently forget other frequently present  aspects of its complexity.   In talks I give and conversations I have with analytical practitioners we often have to clarify why other aspects of 'big data' are just as important. Recommended series to clarify these aspects.  Part III of the series.

Real Time Shopper Feedback

In Progressive Grocer:  How BJ's is using a real-time shopper feedback system.  " ... BJ's Wholesale Club is using a survey platform from On The Spot Systems that provides real-time feedback from members who use mobile devices to take surveys about private-label products. "Survey On The Spot's real-time, actionable feedback model will allow BJ's to know what its customers are thinking at that most critical moment, while they are actively consuming the products -- allowing the company to make immediate decisions to build stronger relationships with its members," said Ken Kimmel, president of On The Spot ... "

Sales: Amazon vs Wal-Mart

In Adage:  A competitive interaction that we are likely to see more of.  As you might expect, some demographic layering here.

Columbus Ohio IBM Analytics Center

Announced today.  Columbus, Ohio event.   Brought to my attention recently and of interest.  There was an online video session today I was unable to attend.   " ... This partnership between Columbus 2020 and IBM will help grow the economy by ensuring that existing companies are thriving, that the world’s leading companies are attracted to the region, and that innovations are cultivated and commercialized. IBM will launch the client center – which will be home to some of the best and brightest minds in the IT industry – as its first dedicated advanced analytics center. This client center joins IBM’s network of more than 200 other client centers around the globe, and is the first in Ohio. Columbus 2020 is a public-private partnership that leverages the strengths of central Ohio’s research and academic institutions and diverse industries to position the Columbus Region as a national leader in dynamic economic development. The IBM Client Center is key in achieving this as it will be exclusively focused on the “design, build, manage, and support” model to respond to customers’ analytics challenges.... " .   

Neurons Interact without Synapses

We were all taught that brain neurons interact through synapses.  Now apparently, at least in some cases, they can communicate without using synapses.   A study with insects that points to other ways of brain function.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Robots for iPad

IEEE Spectrum has just published an publication App that surveys a number of robots and robotic applications.   This appears to be only available for the iPad systems at this time.    Whimsical at times, but some excellent examples, some of which I had not seen.  Would have liked more links to fundamental papers on the subject.  Costs $4.99    " ... Robots have long captured our imagination. Now a new iPad app will show how robots are becoming reality. Robots for iPad, a fun and engaging app featuring the world’s coolest robots, is now available in Apple’s App Store. Created by IEEE Spectrum, the award-winning technology magazine, the app lets users explore 126 robots from 19 countries, with 360-degree views, interactive animations, technical specs, and hundreds of photos, videos, and articles. 

Among the amazing robots included in the app are Honda’s famed humanoid Asimo, NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover, and Google’s self-driving car. There are also androids, drones, exoskeletons, quadrupeds, and snake robots. The app offers countless hours of exploration and entertainment to anyone interested in learning about robotics. Robot enthusiasts can review in-depth, technical data about each robot, while beginners can learn how robots work and how to get started in robotics.

Dancing humanoids, lifelike androids, and toy robots come alive on the iPad screen with the app’s interactive images. Created exclusively for the app, the interactives let users “play” with robots by spinning them 360 degrees or moving them through a variety of actions: Just by swiping the screen, a user can get the little humanoid Nao to perform tai chi or make the child robot iCub crawl back and forth. The interactives offer a unique, hands-on experience that’s possible only with the iPad. ... "

Thomas Malone on Collective Intelligence

Thomas W Malone was a consultant for us for a number of years. here  he writes in the Edge on collective intelligence.  Of course our intelligence has always been collective, but now the opportunity is so much deeper and broader and volatile.   Big Intelligence?     We also now live in an era where we can assemble intelligence very quickly too.  In the past this was very time consuming.  Working on a project like that now. Malone writes:

" ... Pretty much everything I'm doing now falls under the broad umbrella that I'd call collective intelligence. What does collective intelligence mean? It's important to realize that intelligence is not just something that happens inside individual brains. It also arises with groups of individuals. In fact, I'd define collective intelligence as groups of individuals acting collectively in ways that seem intelligent. By that definition, of course, collective intelligence has been around for a very long time. Families, companies, countries, and armies: those are all examples of groups of people working together in ways that at least sometimes seem intelligent.... " 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Privacy Implications of Cyborg Eyepieces

Much has been heard about the 'Google Glasses' idea of letting someone experience a place overlaid with a computer screen.  We examined eye tracking and Neuromarketing approaches that overlay what a person is looking at and non conscious sensor readings.  Here the story is about researcher Steve Mann, who we also followed, who has been researching some of these Cyborg methods for some time.  And then was confronted by store employees in France for potential privacy infringement of fellow shoppers.   In one case, we examined a scenario of how a 'shopper' could move through a retail space wearing such a device while gathering behavioral data,  because their backpack and ball cap and wiring would be seen as a medical device.   Maybe not in France.

Get Your Washing Machine to Text

The Internet of things, where all things have an address and can communicate.  Here, word of a way you can text the concept with real things.

IBM DemandTec for Marketers

From IBM DemandTec, a good view of the need to construct valid shopper segmentation.  Why?  So we can use targeting to make sure the right consumer gets the most influential message.  The link goes to an infographic and further  information on this concept.

New techniques are now available to make it easier to do.  Relationship and social marketing allow the integration of new and precise marketing methods.  Linking this further to marketing mix methods, minimizes   cost to achieve a particular return.  To take this further.   And more at the link:

1. Use advanced science and shopper segmentation to better understand shifts in consumer demand and connect with individuals and segments rather than broad markets. Merchants can now surface those insights right at the point of decision of pricing, promotion and assortment activities. By recognizing that each shopper is unique and responds differently, revolutionary merchandisers can tailor strategies to focus on their most valuable shopper segments – providing differentiation at the shelf and a real path to category growth.

2. Stay relevant with intelligent targeting
Invest in capabilities designed to manage the entire promotion lifecycle – from analytics to deployment. Target promotions not with a broad brush, but by shopper segment through localized and automated ad versioning across virtually all customer touchpoints. An integrated planning environment can keep your marketing counterparts on the same page as your team throughout the planning cycle, translating into greater visibility, improved quality, and ultimately more time to focus on strategic issues.

3. Capture value, measure results
Increase marketing ROI by aligning assortment, price, promotion and marketing decisions in a unified planning environment. A common platform also allows you to work more effectively with your merchandising team counterparts – helping teams to plan for category growth, new shopper attraction and behavioral impact on key shopper segments while allowing you to tailor your marketing investment to achieve financial goals..... "

Monday, November 26, 2012

Data Analytics Foundation

New and growing.   Contact us for more information.  More details to follow.

Data Analytics Foundation works with market-leading companies across multiple verticals, solving high impact business problems in the areas of Marketing, Supply Chain and Risk Analytics. The Data Analytics Foundation is a leading provider of decision sciences and analytics solutions, helping companies institutionalize data-driven decision making .... 

Commenting on Communications

I am getting increasing number of Spam Comments with an author of  'Anonymous'.  It is getting difficult to even scan all messages.  If you would like to improve your chances of being approved for publication include an author name.  If you want to get to me privately for a speaking or consulting session, use the contact information in the left hand column.  I am speaking at the Rotman School of Business in Toronto this week.  I will always respond to requests promptly.  I will not approve comments that are not on point to this blog and the message commented on.

Leveraging Big Data Around Customers

Good piece, because it is ultimately how you leverage the data, and leveraging it means that you use analytics  to make it work with specific decision processes.  Figuring out precisely what those processes are is the first step.  Surprisingly even otherwise sophisticated companies have not done this well.   And often this means understanding the processes of your customers as well.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Visual Thinking for Design

Visual Thinking for Design, by Colin Ware.  Just placed on my list.  I was influenced by my recent look at the integration and analytical and design thinking via the Design of Business by Roger Martin.  At the link  you can look inside the book: " ... In Visual Thinking for Design, Colin Ware takes what we now know about perception, cognition, and attention and transforms it into concrete advice that designers can directly apply. He demonstrates how designs can be considered as tools for cognition - extensions of the viewer's brain in much the same way that a hammer is an extension of the user's hand. Experienced professional designers and students alike will learn how to maximize the power of the information tools they design for the people who use them. ... " 

Predicting the Future

Good thoughts from Brad Feld on predicting the future.  Recall I have connected with and have discussed RecordedFuture here a number of times, which addresses a key part of doing this kind of work effectively.  Collecting existing predictive data to construct a reliable forecast.

CoinStar and DVDs in Retail

At the recent CFO Dimensions conference in Chicago I was able to interview a number of CFO participants for the CFO Intellectual Exchange Network (IXN)..   One that I was particularly interested in was Coinstar, the retail located kiosks that let you convert coins to cash or to gift cards.  The interest stems from our own interest in kiosk style interaction in retail spaces.  We examined things like the behavior of shoppers in front of and in back of checkout and the implications of linking the interactions with services beyond that store.  Also a number of issues linking to the ROI measure by square footage in the store, maintenance implications and the implications of trust in any system that uses personal information.

I interviewed Saul Gates, Corporate SVP, Finance and Chief Accounting Officer, Coinstar.   Prior to Coinstar, he held various roles at Microsoft Corporation including treasury controller; director, financial compliance; and most recently as director, corporate financial planning and analysis.

We discussed a number of delivery aspects of the use of kiosk interaction in retail.  In particular, the ability the use the same Coinstar platform to interact with the consumer.  Here you have twelve square feet of potentially valuable space, what else can you sell there?   In particular, one thing that is being done  is DVDs via its Redbox DVD rental services. Yet DVD rentals in general continue to decrease in sales.    More on the current status of DVDs here.

SAP is also being included to provide predictive analytics services to drive specific rentals,  SAP has the ability to deliver retail analytics capabilities that can combine near real time interaction with data from their myCoinstar personalization and methods.   In addition there may be opportunities of cross selling with other promotions in the retail spaces.

As we increasingly become a world that is working with digital streaming rather than with physical DVDs, the ability to link selection with online consumption is also a key consideration.  Another place for the use or predictive analytics and promotional connections.

Eye Tracking for Marketing Research

The enterprise spent many years experimenting with eyetracking methods.  An early form of neuromarketing that originated in psychology departments.  I am starting to review some of the vendors that are out there integrating technology, marketing and analytics.  Here is one example, from IMotions.  They write:  " ...   This video showcases iMotions' eye tracking platform for market and neuromarketing research. You can revolutionize your market research by pre-testing your communication material with eye tracking before they hit the market and gain insights to choose the marketing campaigns with the largest and most effective ROI. FMCG corporations can greatly benefit from eye tracking in combination with external bio-sensors such as EEG and GRS by knowing how their packaging, print ads, Tv ads and point of sale material will perform with the consumer. ...  " 

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Bayes Theorem Visualization

Pointed out to me.  The classic example of breast cancer detection, often used as an example of using Bayes Theorem to produce non intuitive statistical results.  In this video a visualization technique is used to motivate the results.   Via Luana Micallef.  Also further, this rational explanation.

New Advances in Gesture Control

Integrated with software systems being made available today. A new example. Will this capability ultimately require the teaching of gesture control in the fine detail you need for playing a musical instrument?   Or will AI be added to fill in the gaps?  See Elliptic Labs.

Deep Learning and Artificial Intelligence

Mindhacks mentions an article in the NYTimes that I have not yet read, about advances in artificial intelligence.   Recall we did early work in using AI applied to research and manufacturing decision making in areas like blending, maintenance, diagnostics and other related human intelligence areas.   Mentioned is Geoffrey Hinton, a long time icon in the interaction of data and intelligence.   Hinton was particularly known for the linking of neural nets and learning systems.  We used some of his concepts and directions for application to learning systems that could be taught to do what humans achieve in the enterprise.   The brief outline of the work that he did was for integrating pharma research.  We did similar work with R&D concepts to develop new products for the enterprise.

The NYT article about deep learning is here.  Reading.  See Hinton's background at the U of Toronto with some descriptive information about his Pharma work.

On the Promise of Neuromarketing

I was involved with several neuromarketing tests, both inside and outside the enterprise.  There were always very large expectations in play.  These expectations were in part driven by the use of the highly charged word 'brain',  which leads to the belief we can easily extract deep human secrets that drive behavior.   This article suggests we are ready to reset some of these expectations.    I largely agree.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Indoor Maps

Google provides more indoor floor maps.  This is something they have been doing for some time.  We examined it for use in retail.   Now over 10,000 maps exist for indoor spaces.   See their indoor maps availability site.  for examples of a number of global indoor sites available.

Physicists View of Our Technological Future

In the year 2100:   " ... Dr. Michio Kaku, celebrity physicist who has written New York Times Bestselling books, Physics of the Impossible and Physics of the Future, talked about the implications of this smart wall and much more in his much-anticipated keynote address at Supercomputing 2012 (SC12) this week in Salt Lake City, where he discussed the huge role that high performance computing will play in the year 2100. ... "  

IBM/DemandTec, New Partner Services

This is dated, but the application is interesting.  Just brought to my attention by a colleague.  We had looked at how competitive information could be integrated to analytic decision making.  In the past this was done on a 'what if' basis.  Using scenario planning methods.  Hand assembled and integrated data  with quantitative analyses.  Now the speed, breadth and volatility of the data required makes this difficult to do accurately.    The data involved is big and volatile.   There is also a requirement to infer intermediate conclusions to support the analytics.

" ... a collaborative optimization network for retailers and consumer products companies, have announced the availability of new services on the DemandTec network powered by new partners RivalWatch and FoodLink Online LLC.

Partner-enabled services are activated and delivered on the DemandTec network through the DemandTec Network Partner Program, providing a seamless experience for the community of 16,000 active network members. DemandTec customers will benefit from partner services that offer value-added content and functionality specifically designed to enrich and extend DemandTec capabilities. Partner services on the network leverage the strengths of a qualified partner ecosystem that closely aligns with the retail and consumer products industries, giving customers more flexibility and information to make business decisions.

"We've enjoyed a fruitful relationship with RivalWatch for more than two years and we believe the inclusion of RivalWatch's services on the DemandTec network will deliver significant value to the marketplace," said John Kittle, Retail Innovation and Analytics Manager at Ace Hardware. "There is a clear gap between competitive data and an analytical decision platform to activate competitive insights, and I'm excited to see how the new RivalWatch on DemandTec service fills the void." ... " 

Archimedes Bathtub

Recently started reading Archimedes Bathtub: The Art and Logic of Breakthrough Thinking, by David Perkins.  Nicely done.  Easily read.  It includes a number of examples we also used in innovative thinking classes we used in the enterprise since the 90s.

Mobile Commerce is Jumping

Thanksgiving sales are being driven through mobile rather than social.    A look at the future?  Driven by location, in other words anywhere, as opposed to social connectivity.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Mobile Marketing Toothpaste

Good overview of the use of mobile marketing for something as common as toothpaste.  " ... Marketing toothpaste can be a challenge for brands because even though consumers may use their product every day, few get excited about brushing their teeth. Mobile marketing, when done correctly, can provide these brands with some unique opportunities to build excitement and engage customers. ... " 

Midsize Insiders

Some of my blog posts will start to appear in Midsize Insiders.  Quite an interesting group of other bloggers as I have read them so far: " ... Insiders are independent subject matter experts, empowered to blog for IBM because they are highly regarded and trusted resources. Each insider writes about individual category-specific topics, put into perspective for the midsize business. .... " 

The Need for Thank You

In the HBR:   In a long career, before search became common, and I had become a rumored expert, I was often asked to do a simple online search.  Later their admins would be trained.   I responded quickly in one case, though it was not my job.   No thank you.  A week or so later I made a point of asking if they had received my note.  Again, just a few lines.   They did respond to that, saying that they had received my answer.  But still no thank you.  Simple thing I will not forget.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Augmented Reality Tricks for Dieting

What if we used augmented reality to scale what we eat to its caloric content?  A simple idea,  that might work in an era of Google Glasses type Augmented Reality.   But how  practical?   More in Slashdot.

Facebook and Jobs

Wharton looks at Facebook's social jobs App.  A competitor to Linkedin's focus?  " ... the company’s “Social Jobs” app will allow users to search approximately 1.7 million jobs by keyword and location, and then apply for positions without leaving the site. Facebook users can also share open positions with others in their networks by “liking” those jobs. The app is the culmination of a yearlong partnership with government agencies and human resources consortia, including the U.S. Department of Labor and the Direct Employers Association. ... " 

Retail Space Usage

In Progressive Grocer.   A recent exploration of a Fresh Market made me take a closer look at allocation of space and the implications of the approaches being used.  Times are changing.

Navigating the Big Data Challenge

From Bain & Company:   Good overview of the challenge involved.  Starting with a concise statement of the problem: " ... Today's decision makers have no trouble finding enough data to make good business decisions. Their challenge is knowing what to ask and how to find the answers. At most companies, the answer doesn't lie in an expensive big data solution, but in building the capabilities to ask good questions ... ".  It is all about the questions being asked first.

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Pain of the Interface

In Technology Review:  All UIs  (User Interfaces)   are a  pain to use.  Especially the new ones.  I read this as I am about to select a new one.

IBM Provides Ecosystem Financing

An interesting piece just received about how IBM is provide financing for its clients.  Quite a broad opportunity to drive opportunities for growth.

' ... IBM recently announced that it is providing its ecosystem of business partners with $4 billion in financing for credit-qualified clients over a period of 12 months. This financing, available through IBM Global Financing, can make obtaining credit easier and more accessible to enable IBM's Business Partners and their clients to acquire technologies such as cloud, analytics and PureSystems... ... IBM is also launching a new mobile app as another step to simplify the way IBM's Business Partners can apply for financing and gain access to credit within minutes via any mobile device. ... ' 

See their press release for an explanatory infographic, and a video interview with Pete Massiello, President of iTech Solutions and IBM Partner.

Several very interesting examples are given about how small and medium sized companies of very different types have used this financial aid to improve their sales and revenues and drive growth.

' .... "Finding capital for a new business or idea is almost always challenging," said Mark Hennessy, GM, IBM Global Business Partners & Midmarket." As a result, the gap between a promising vision and a business reality appears to be even more of an unbridgeable chasm. With this effort, IBM aims to provide the right foundation and resources to our global ecosystem of partners and clients to ensure that businesses, large and small, have access to the right technologies for success." 

'This financing will be made available through IBM Business Partners including managed service providers, resellers, ISVs, SIs and distributors, from more than 50 countries. In addition, IBM Global Financing can help credit-qualified Business Partners run and expand their business by providing working capital for IT purchases and improve their cash flow by providing financing for accounts receivables. IBM Business Partners can learn more about financing here. ...  '

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 here.  

Starwood Tweets Aloft

The Starwood Aloft hotel chain has started their agency review process using Twitter.    Recall when they had a virtual presence in Second Life?  My its been a long time since I visited there.  My enterprise also had a private presence there to test its use for internal innovation.  Both since long gone.

VSN Strategies

Colleague Jim Tenser has a blog called VSN Strategies.  " .... James (“Jamie”) Tenser is an author and consultant to the retail and consumer products industry. His firm VSN Strategies focuses on merchandising, marketing, consumer behavior, Shopper Media, Category Management, service practices, and multichannel retailing.  He is Executive Director and founding member of the In-Store Implementation Network and he serves on several corporate advisory boards.  Tenser is considered an authority on retailing, brand marketing, and consumer trends, and is author of two books. He is frequently quoted in national and international media. He contributes to periodicals such as Advertising Age, Progressive Grocer, RetailWire.com, CPGmatters.com, Supermarket News, and Marketing@Retail ... " 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Designing Great Visualizations

Tableau provides a paper on data visualization.  Requires Registration.  " ... This paper traces the history of visual representation, from early cave drawings through the computer revolution. It also examines the different styles of data visuals, discusses some of the barriers to making effective visuals and the methods used to overcome those barriers. ... Read this paper to learn about:     
the importance of context in visualizations ... human perception's capabilities and limitations .... the power of using data to tell stories ... " 


Reverse engineering the human brain.  Quite an idea,brought up a number of times, but I still don't quite see what we really know yet will make this possible for practical applications.

Open Colleges and the Teachers Apple

A link just sent to me.  An interesting blog that addresses changes in the education industry.  " ... A decade ago, electronics and cell phones in the classroom were considered little more than a distraction. Today, new devices such as tablet computers and smartphones are changing this perception. Educators are finding innovative ways to supplement their lectures with the newest technology, and students are beginning to see their devices as essential components of their college experience. Naturally, major device manufacturers are now battling for dominance in the field. Below, we explore how Apple is winning the battle for education technology and what gives them the edge over the sizable competition in the market. ... "

Ask Your Director of Analytics

In Forbes:   What should the questions you ask your director of analytics?  If you have such a person.  Not the usual things, more about the business aspects.  That is good, but certainly not entirely inclusive.  Worth a scan.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

How Google Does Analytics

Gib Bassett sends along this piece from  Bernard Marr.  About Google's use of data and analytics to do decision making.  They sound very industrial engineering oriented, where the data drives the decision quite directly.    " ... Google is a company in which fact-based decision-making is part of the DNA and where Googlers (that is what Google calls its employees) speak the language of data as part of their culture. In Google the aim is that all decisions are based on data, analytics and scientific experimentation.... " 

Moores Law Becoming Irrelevant

Has the ever increasing drumbeat to computing and data manipulation become irrelevant?  The folks behind ARM say that as processors proliferate, efficiency will become more important than raw processing power.    Its what you get done, not how fast you get it done.  More in Technology Review.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Mixed View of Self Checkout

A good overview of the phenomenon.   My own decade long observation has seen the idea grow quickly.   Some companies are embracing them, others are backing off their use.  Ultimately I think the integration of mobile and self-service will make this succeed universally.

Motivating People With Money

Have read Dan Pink's recent book Drive, which I enjoyed very much.   Now a new method where he offers access as a reward to help promote the book.   Another step forward in understanding incentive.

Retail Compliance Checking

I have mentioned the application of retail activity compliance intelligence gathering  with a company called Storeflix.  Aimed at letting store employees use smartphone cameras to gather information and socially distribute the intelligence. Phil Hendrix passes along another App style example, apparently in test by Coke, called GoSpotCheck.  The article says that this would initially be used by commissioned employees or agents, but may later also seek to crowd source the intelligence gathering to fans of the product in-store.   That has similarities to the FieldAgent App, which I have tested for some time.  These kinds of applications could extend beyond  the retail shelf, to other kinds of compliance oriented applications.

Wearable Computing

A slide show on the next generation of wearable computing.  Lots new that is underway.  Applications for work, play, retail and social interaction.

Microsoft More Innovative Than Apple?

I have been playing with my newly acquired iPhone 5, and am disappointed with the overall innovation in view.  Normally I have been replacing my iOS phone every other year.  Do I now regret that doing that this year?  Visited the local Microsoft store last week, and what I saw was impressive, 8 has some real new things in place.  Apple still has the excitement inertia,  but will it last?  Woz chimes in too. 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Capital Economic Research

This site was recently brought to my attention.  The economist Ronald Mariutto's approach to solving enterprise problems.  " ... Founded by a PhD trained economist who had been a consultant for The Nielsen Company analyzing Procter & Gamble, Catalina, Target, WalMart, Kroger and competitive CPG manufacturers, as well as performed management consulting work for a Private Equity firm, he was inspired to bring together a team of marketing analytics experts, economists, and psychologists with the mission of innovating the next generation of integrated custom analytic business solutions to drive unprecedented value to mid-market and global organizations through novel data analysis methods and change management.  ... ".    Exploring collaboration.

Analyzing Customer Behavior

A 30 plus page PDF on analyzing customer behavior by Greenplum:  " ... Consumers are no longer what they used to be. Before they buy, they look around. A lot. And when they buy, they talk about it. To everybody. They want to be treated as unique. They want you to listen to them. They want you to talk to them. They want you to thank them. In short, they are influencers and mini-tyrants who will leave you in the blink of an eye if you don’t do as they please. And that’s the easy part. The problem is that they change so fast that you actually need to know what they want, before they do. Your organization needs to outrun them. It needs to be agile and fast.... " 

Technology Should Augment Humans

A view of how to construct good technology, and what that really means, one of a series of articles.

Target Experience with IBM DemandTec

I was pointed to a video interview with Shelly Hyytinen,VP of Merchandising Process and Systems Development at Target Stores.   An excellent view of how Target was introduced to IBM DemandTec's use of optimization science to address price and promotional planning optimization.

In particular I liked this interview because it also dealt with how deep analytics could be sold to the internal users of the 'art' of promotion. This is another example of the combination of design and analytics mentioned a number of times in this blog recently.   You still have the experience of old style merchants, but now how they can be empowered by new technology analytics.

The video also includes some specifics of how Target is using analytics to better understand their 'guests'.   And having been involved with them from the suppliers perspective,  the increasing importance of the ability of the retailer and the supplier working from the same set of historical and forward looking data.

Finally, a look at how strongly Target believes in the future of retail analytics, and the need to predict the expectation of mapping the needs for both online vs in-store channel consumer expectations.

Excellent interview looking at the risks of new technology, their mitigation and the forward looking needs of both retailers and suppliers.

Target outlines their key benefits derived:

Combined user-friendly software with scientific algorithms that generate optimized decisions with predictive analytics

Helped Target merchants reap the rewards of a science-based approach to making core merchandising decisions about range and price
Improved sales units, dollars, and gross margin; enhancing customer price perception


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

SAP Apps

SAP support Windows 8 with six new apps.  " .... In addition to SAP WorkDeck, the other five new apps for Windows 8 are: SAP Manager Insight for human resources decision-making; Learning Assistant for on-the-go training, anytime and anywhere; Interview Assistant for organizing recruiting tasks to help managers review applicant information and record results from interviews; Customer Financial Fact Sheet for account executives to access financial data, invoices and sales orders in real time; and GRC Policy Survey for employees to review and sign-off on relevant corporate policy changes. .... "  ... 

Future View of Sustainable Packaging

Via Chris Holden of RecordedFuture      A view of the future of packaging.  " ... "Sainsbury's said that it had the industry's most ambitious target to reduce packaging - by 33% relative to sales by 2015." ...  And much more about the plans of packagers and the users of packaging.  Does your company need to know about the future of key influencers of its business?   We did at Procter & Gamble.

Big Data Medical Applications

In CACM:  Valerie Barr outlines important big data medical applications.  Exciting examples underway.

Social Powered Subscription Service

In  AdAge, another project from their social labs.  A social powered subscription service.  " ... The @WalmartLabs unit today is broadly launching Goodies Co., a $7-a-month box of gourmet, organic, ethnic and specialty snacks hand-selected by its own employees after a beta test with 3,000 users that started in June. Subscribers who are active enough in rating, reviewing and touting the products can get Goodies boxes for free. Later this month, @WalmartLabs plans a wider rollout of last year's experimental Shopycat gift-recommendation Facebook app, to be promoted on Walmart.com as "Walmart Gifts." Facebook users who download the app can use it to mine data on friends' likes and posts to generate gift recommendations from Walmart.com or elsewhere. ... " 

Predicting Supply Chain Disasters

Over the years a problem we dealt with many times, some of our key production facilities being located in bad weather prone areas.  This article in HBR does a good of outlining the issues.  Consider too using methods scenario analysis and process modeling to start the analysis.

Google Data Center History

Fascinating view of how the Google Data center has evolved.  " ... Google opened up on its data center operations today at an industry event in Phoenix. It shared how its thinking and practices have changed as it seeks to lower the costs and environment impact of its servers and IT infrastructure ... " .

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Unconscious Branding Book

Via Sands Research 

Palgrave Macmillian Releases Today: Unconscious Branding: How Neuroscience Can Empower (and Inspire) Marketing by Douglas Van Praet

"Doug Van Praet has a unique ability to translate complex science into a straight forward methodology.   In his text, he lays out a clear path to effective marketing.  These steps are based on current knowledge of human behavior and biology.   The beauty of this book is the application of neuroscience to everyday problem solving in product marketing."    Stephen Sands, Ph.D.
Chairman and Chief Science Officer, Sands Research, Inc

Douglas Van Praet is Executive Vice President at Deutsch LA, one of the United States's hottest advertising agencies, where his responsibilities include Group Planning Director for the highly acclaimed and coveted Volkswagen account. 

In his ground breaking new book released today, Van Praet sheds light on his unique approach to marketing that has led to wildly successful efforts such as Volkswagen's beloved Star Wars "The Force" (Little Darth Vader) Super Bowl commercial. The Force was acclaimed the best advertisement of 2011 by AdWeek, the Wall Street Journal, Forbes and other leading media while taking social media by storm with over 50 million views.

Wicked Problems

We started to use the phrase 'wicked Problem' around the year 2000.  Here is an incomplete analysis of the use of the phrase:   So what is its definition?  I like this one: They are Messy, Aggressive and Confounding.    Not just complex and difficult.   For much more see: The Design of Business, by Roger Martin, pp 94-

Strategic Marketing Mix Decisions

I have been recently been taking a look at the broad concept of marketing mix decisions.  The problem is old:  how do we decide how much promotional dollars to allocate to what marketing medium?  How much are we wasting?   And how do we time the allocation to make sure it optimizes the results achieved?   It links to the general problem of forecasting demand.   Forecasting depends upon both specific company decisions and external uncontrollable contexts we need to consider.  When I taught forecasting I always included the   phrase 'The forecast will be wrong, but how will it be wrong is the more important question'.  

In recent years too the number of possibilities for forcasting methods has expanded.   Online and social methods, still in their relative infancy, also need to be allocated funds to make them work.   How do you react to rapid changes by competitors?  And the question of how much and when immediately emerges.

I have been taking a look at IBM DemandTec's approach recently to understand how it it integrates with other methods on the market.   My enterprise tested their approaches early on. Their holistic approach based on optimization methods bears a close look. They write:

" ... Holistic marketing mix decisions.  One continuous, actionable plan..... Simply using average marketing investment returns doesn't tell you much about what's driving volume, share, or profit.  If your assumptions are stale, you can't truly optimize your marketing mix in a rapidly changing marketplace. Now you can use the most dynamic predictive tools available to optimize marketing investment decisions throughout the year.  It's all delivered through one comprehensive system.

IBM DemandTec Strategic Marketing Planning transforms traditional marketing mix insights into one continuous analytic system that spans all of today's consumer touchpoints – media, trade, social, and more.  Empower CMOs with sophisticated tools for allocating portfolios.  Give brand managers precise up-to-date data to optimize decisions. .... 

Quickly adapt to marketplace shifts
Optimize marketing spend
Efficiently allocate marketing funds
Fully leverage your existing marketing mix analysis investment   .... " 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Midsize Organizations: Simpler BI

Jeff Zabin via Gib Bassett on using simpler business intelligence applications.  Especially for the midsize company. Yes, I agree.  In fact I would take it even a step further,  all organizations should always start simply with business intelligence applications, and then evolve them to the needs of larger and complex organizations.  Simpler models can be better validated and taught.  Simpler applications will always have broader understanding, and can ultimately seen as sub models of complex solutions.

Keeping Plastic Cards

In GigaOm:   I had always expected that plastic cards would go away once the mobile smartphone-enabled wallet took over.  Here the case is made that cards will remain for some time.

Another Look at Design and Analytics

I met Joseph Kyoung-yun  of Wayne State at a talk I gave last week and he was nice enough to send along some background on the work he was doing.  He writes:  " .... Glad meeting you at Indy during the VA-CASE F2F meeting.  As I briefly introduced, my primary research interest is in knowledge-based engineering in product design and development. Some sample research projects are included in http://cindi.pro/research.html. Also, an NSF Center for e-Design has been initiated at Wayne State with multiple-university collaboration network.  ... "   Do take a look at the overview of their research projects.  I am intrigued about the more general interaction of design and analytical methods.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Drawing Together

David Sibbet, on the use of visualization capabilities with groups, as demonstrated by a mentor and friend at TED. "...  It's a simple, inviting, clear demonstration of why visualizing in groups is so much fun and so helpful.... "

Examination of Computers in 1984

I remember thinking about the advances in computing that year, and how the forecast of dire changes did not occur.  This article surveys computing, hardware and software of that day.  Suggesting that human progress is about ideas rather than the mere existence of new devices impressive for the day.

A Tablet is not a Book, Yet

In UX Magazine:   A complaint that reading a book on a tablet is not the same as reading a physical book.  I have thought that for some time, and in general only read a book on a tablet when I need to do a quick scan, rather than a studied 'read'.  At the same time I have talked to a number of people that have effectively transitioned to reading full books on tablets.  Is it mere a matter of style, or just learning a new mode by practice?  The elements of distraction are mentioned and a challenge:  " ... what could we as hardware, system, and app designers do to help reduce distraction? And how can serious user research help us in that? ... "

Rewarding Responsible Innovation

Had never heard it expressed quite this this way.  So what is responsible innovation?  " ... We are talking about ethics, in that ethics is responsibility-taking for future consequences of present actions. One problem is that we have great difficulty visualizing the consequences of our actions. We may see our new innovative path working beautifully, but it may be more difficult to see any collateral damage surrounding our new process. In a world as interconnected and fast moving as today the effect cause by related events (both positive or negative) can be enormous.... " 

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Giving Customers the Mobility to Pay

I have had the need to give mobility payment options to customers.  As a result have needed to examine options that are available, and I now tried several,  which are examined here.  This is an option which will continue to grow.

Facebook as an Offline Retail Tool

In Adage:  A replacement to the common circular?   " ... studies have indicated that online posts can have a huge impact on consumer action away from the platform. This correlation, along with Facebook's commitment to new and improved ad products, means that Facebook is about to become the primary marketing tool for retailers and their brand co-marketing partners. ... " 

Friday, November 09, 2012

High Performance Computing in the Cloud

Featured in CN Computing Now:    " ... High performance computing is no longer limited to those who own supercomputers. HPC's democratization has been driven particularly by cloud computing, which has given scientists access to supercomputing-like features at the cost of a few dollars per hour. The four articles I've selected for this month's Computing Now theme highlight some current work in academia and industry, examining key benefits, challenges, and enablers of HPC in the cloud.... " 

Printing Rocket Parts

Colleague Walter Riker points me to this SciAM article about the 3D printing of rocket parts.  Another move forward.

Neuromarketing Code of Ethics

An intriguing neuromarketing code of ethics.   " ...  Neuromarketing Science & Business Association (NMSBA) has launched today (9th November 2012) a Neuromarketing Code of Ethics. This is a first step towards adopting international standards applied to using neuroscientific methods to study the effectiveness of advertising campaigns, packaging and product design, as well as communication campaigns from non-profit organizations and government institutions. ... " 

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Devices and Software

O'Reilly talks about Square Wallet and a number of other software developments. I have also been introduced recently to some Apps that interact with health data that have a similar effect on whole groups of user-data interactions that are new and could change the way we do business.  Its worth following these even if you are not involved in the particular category of business talked about.  The ideas are not very new, having talked about for  a decade, but their use by consumers and in-enterprise could change the way we work.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

At the VA Center for Applied Engineering

Gave a talk at the VA Center for Applied Engineering today in  Indianapolis on the integration of design and analytically driven innovation.  Also got to see poster presentations on a number of efforts underway there.  Thanks to Will H Jordan, showing me some of their efforts. Very impressive.  This reminded me of some of my early work at Shands Teaching Hospital in Gainesville Florida, which had some similar goals, but far less technology available at the time. My talk was well received and I connected with a number of people who work there.  Look forward to continuing collaboration with them.

New Degree of Analytic Learning

A new degree of analytic learning?    An interesting interview:  " ... Barbara Wixom is an associate professor at University of Virginia’s McIntire School of Commerce and has also taken on a two-year visiting scholar role at MIT’s Center for IS Research. Far from buried in the academic side of analytics, Wixom is also a program chair of the BI Congress, a regular educational collaborative event that seeks to “align academia and practice” of business intelligence. Held in conjunction with the 2012 International Conference on Information Systems this December in Orlando, Fla., the BI Congress this year carries the theme, “Driving Innovation through Big Data Analytics ... "

Failure of Social Strategies

Charlene Li on the failure of social strategies.  Why most fail.  Agree with many of the points made here.  It can be hard to make them work disconnected from specific business strategy.  " ... My colleague Brian Solis and I are in the midst of conducting research on what makes a good social business strategy and a key finding is that as companies evolve their social initiatives, the efforts get disconnected from business goals. So while the company grows in its social media efforts, strategic focus, with a clear goal in mind, falls to the wayside.... " 

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Coke Does Social and Photo Sharing

Coke has launched a photo sharing application about 'happy places'.  Nice idea,  how well it will be picked up will depend on.  I worked on such an app, and depends much on the value it provides and what your friends and family use.  " ... Coca-Cola has launched its own photo-sharing app and social network called Happy Places, although the domain for the website is not yet active. Consumers can use the app to upload photos of "that moment of happiness" to Twitter and Facebook and follow hashtags that interest them. The iOS app became available for free download on Nov. 1 ...  "

Design plus Analytics

Have been re-reading The Design of Business: Why Design Thinking is the Next Competitive Advantage, by Roger Martin.   For background on a talk on innovation I am giving tomorrow.  What struck me in a second reading was how it mirrored by own career.  I came out of grad school as an analytics practitioner, and delivered insight using that method for many years.  Yet there is clearly a problem attempting to predict the future with past data, unless you can very strongly and accurately model the operation of a system in context.  All the failures we had resulted from not knowing how to model and thus understand the context.   If there were no contextual surprises, the analytical models worked fine.  But in the years we took hits, this was not the case.   I now see the inclusion of design processes as a means of doing this.   Not just design process, but a means of integrating analytics and design.

Why You Can't Vote Online

In a voting line this morning, which was the first time in memory I had waited more than a few minutes,  I noticed the large number of people using smart phones while they waited.   It came to mind, why can't I vote online?  Technology Review provides some of the interesting background about why it is still insecure.

Monday, November 05, 2012

Achieving Smarter Commerce: IBM and DemandTec

I have been following DemandTec (Now part of IBM) since they presented at our innovation centers soon after they were formed.  I was impressed by the deep analytics they were using.  Since then I have connected a number of times,  visited twice, and in the last few months have posted a number of items here about their progress.  Then last year it was announced that IBM had announced its intent to acquire DemandTec for their smarter commerce initiative.  An acquisition that makes considerable sense. I had also attended some of the IBM road show on analytics applications, and saw how they were seeking to tie together a number of acquisitions that could interlinked and then be leveraged to 'smart' capabilities in general.  What I saw looked good.  Here is another example of their views on marketing.  And how they link to IBM's smarter commerce initiative.

Power Retailers

In Progressive Retailer.  A near time view of who the power retailers of the future.  Those that operate in mutliple channels.  " ... Manufacturers expect Wal-Mart Stores, Target, Kroger and Costco Wholesale to be the top "power retailers" during the next 15 years, according to Kantar Retail's 2012 U.S. PoweRanking report. Publix Super Markets and ALDI also are in the top 10. The report reflects manufacturers' view that multichannel and discount stores have fared well. ... "

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Associative Analytics

It has been a while since I took a look at Saffron Technology's blog.      I know several of the people involved, and their tech is solid.  They are now emphasizing what they call associative analytics.   " ... From 2012 forward, the automation of cognitive thinking by machines is going to change how we make sense and make decisions, by providing advanced data analytics for everyone. When built to work more like human brains – using associative memory technology – machines can assimilate the huge amounts of data being gathered from enterprises, the web, mobile devices, and embedded sensors into memories, constantly learning and reasoning in real time. ... "   See also their site which contains a rich set of information on associative memory methods.  They are also giving a number of talks on the methods. Reviewing their recent posts now.

Analytic Bridge.

Have mentioned this a few times, Analytic Bridge pulls together a number of useful online resources for data science that are worth subscribing to.    It is tough to keep up with, but well worth knowing it is here.

Digital Anthropology

Have always been interested in how elements of sociology can be digitized and interpreted.  Facebook and Twitter are examples of this can be done today.  But how valid are the statistics involved?   New related book.   " ... Anthropology has two main tasks: to understand what it is to be human and to examine how humanity is manifested differently in the diversity of culture. These tasks have gained new impetus from the extraordinary rise of the digital. This book brings together several key anthropologists working with digital culture to demonstrate just how productive an anthropological approach to the digital has already become.  ... " 

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Autonomous Software

In CACM:  On Mars,the use of autonomous software.  " .... Among the most innovative applications NASA computer scientists have contributed to the mission is Autonomous Exploration for Gathering Increased Science (AEGIS), which analyzes images gathered by the rovers' navigation cameras to identify features of interest, typically rocks with certain preprogrammed characteristics, without needing synchronous communication with scientists on earth. This capability saves significant time and bandwidth on the deep space network. In fact, NASA considers AEGIS so innovative it won the agency's Software of the Year award for 2011... " 

Oracle Presentation

Prep for a presentation led me to this recent Oracle presentation on advanced analytics and in-database techniques.

Friday, November 02, 2012

View of the Future of Retail

Armen Najarian of IBM  points me to video and presentations from the recent Akami Edge customer conference.  General overview here.  Mobile is by definition about location context which we also addressed in the innovation center. As this data is improved we will better understand how we will be able to use it to communicate with the consumer.  Thoughtful presentations and supporting data.   More as I watch more of the videos.

Also follow #revdecisions.  And an introdtuctory presentation by Lelah Manz  chief strategist for commerce. retail and travel tech enthusiast.  

Whats Next for Business Analytics

Information Management on what is next in Business Analytics.  Fairly simplistic and obvious statements as I see it.  Its should all be about linking it to the decision process more closely.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Twitter Visualization

A holy grail:  How do I do something that looks like prediction using big data and high volume data like tweets? It does come back to the question:  How well can visualization do prediction?  And in what contexts?  Interesting startup here.

P&G and ShopKick

In Adage:   Why and how P&G aided Shopkick.   Also hints about how large companies are connecting with technical startups these days.

Coca Cola and Innovation

Note the Innovation beyond just product.  End to end innovation is important.   " ... Mel Landis, chief customer officer for Coca-Cola Refreshments, said the company will continue introducing new concepts to boost convenience store purchases. “In some cases, it may even be different forms than it is today," he said. "It may be aluminum or glass. It could be a Freestyle [fountain] machine. It could be anything, but you’ll continue to see us diversify, whether in form or function or package." ... '