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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Thinkvine and DRI on Grocery Shopper Behavior

What looks to be a very interesting upcoming webinar on Shopper Behavior, see full link for registration information:

Grocery Shopper Behavior Q2 2009
Digital Research, a marketing research firm, and ThinkVine, an Analytics Services provider, will reveal their unprecedented findings “Grocery Shopper Behavior Q2 2009” during a live webinar taking place July 15th, 2009 at 1:00PM Eastern.

The purpose of the study was to ascertain the current economic mood of consumers and how the current economy has affected grocery shopper behavior in the United States. Highlighted findings include:

* Categories with the highest brand retention: Carbonated Soft Drinks, Pet Food & Coffee
* Categories with the highest brand abandonment: Cookies, Paper Towels, Juice Drinks
* 47% of shoppers are deciding where to shop based on store circulars & flyers
* People who have already made grocery cutbacks are almost twice as likely to cut further still .... '

Twitter versus Online Reviews

An excellent piece from Adage: Forget Twitter; Your Best Marketing Tool Is the Humble Product Review Feedback Has Influenced Design, Supplier Relations for Samsung, Walmart. I agree, Twitter is not the place to go for reviews. Two few characters, too little commitment from a reviewer. Do many reviewers then post a link to their full bodied pieces? Rarely I think. The piece also includes some description of how companies are using reviews. Helpful.

Eye Tracking Study by Google

In the Google Blog: A good overview of how they use eye-tracking for online analysis.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Debunking Social Media Myths

In Harvard Business Publishing. Short piece by David Armano with some excellent points.

Neuroscience on 60 Minutes

A somewhat overblown segment on neuroscience biometric analysis on 60 Minutes last night. UK Neuroscientist Gemma Calvert, who we have worked with, was interviewed briefly. Work at Carnegie over viewed. Scientists interviewed (and likely edited) to be more optimistic about where this was all going. Pushed 5th Amendment issues. Link here, it is the second segment that starts at 14:30.

Innovation at P&G, Wal-Mart, Unilever

Good AdAge piece: " ... considering the competitive landscape and the company's own recent history, P&G Chief Technical Officer Bruce Brown made a fairly bold prediction on Fox Business News last week: That 2010 would be P&G's biggest year for innovation in a decade. That's a pretty tall order considering the decade includes calendar 2000, which saw the launch of Swiffer, a new form of facial cleansing in Olay Daily Facials and a new form of tooth whitening in Crest Whitestrips ... recession is ideal for marketers to focus on the long term, because financial markets are more forgiving on earnings targets than they've been in years, said former P&G Global Marketing Officer Jim Stengel, now a consultant and soon-to-be UCLA marketing professor.... "

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Should Linking be Barred?

In the early days of the web the whole idea of linking to copyrighted content was questioned. All public content is by definition now copyrighted. That whole issue eventually went away. Now in a post by Judge Richard Posner on the bleak future of the newspaper, he suggests that the solution may require a law that prohibits linking to copyrighted content or paraphrasing copyrighted content without permission. That could put a big squelch on Web innovation that attempts to build on the innovation of others.

Visual Attention Scanning

From Mind Hacks, of particular interest for anyone like myself, who is looking at new biometric methods for understanding the consumer in their multiple decision making contexts:

A remarkable study has just been published in the cognitive science journal Vision Research which may be the first genuine demonstration of brain scan 'mind reading'.

The study focuses on visual attention and particularly what is called 'covert visual attention' - the ability to mentally focus on something without moving your eyes.
For example, take the phrase 'cat x dog'. I want you to fix your eyes on the 'x' and keep them there, but then alter your concentration so you mentally focus on 'cat' and then 'dog' and back again.

Your eyes aren't moving but you can concentrate on different things in the scene you're looking at just by shifting your attention. This is called 'covert' visual attention because there is no obvious ('overt') bodily movement associated with it, it's a hidden ('covert') mental process... '

Saturday, June 27, 2009

IBM Lattice Geometry Privacy Breakthrough

Mark Montgomery writes:

' ... Every once in a while someone's small idea leads to something huge. This could be one of those depending on how it plays out, providing the missing piece of the puzzle for individuals having the ability to control their own information on the Internet. It would be a natural fit with the individual module in kyield that would reduce complexity considerably when working across networks. Essentially takes the power away from the software application companies and places it in the hands of the individual, which in the long run I think would be very good for the industry by reducing the probability of an enormous backlash- a substantial risk. Big implications for information overload, healthcare, and many other areas. - MM .... '
IBM Claims Privacy Breakthrough for Cloud, Data
InternetNews.com (06/25/09) Goldman, Alex

Business Intelligence Tools Analysis

Dan Vesset and Brian McDonough of IDC provide an overview of the state of of Business intelligence tools: 'In 2008, the business intelligence (BI) tools market reached $7.8 billion in software license and maintenance revenue. The market growth of 10.6% in 2008 surpassed previous IDC projections. The BI tools market was characterized by the following trends ... '

Friday, June 26, 2009

Coupon Strategies Hasten towards Mobile

On the coupon strategies of retail until the day we go all mobile. As newspapers die and fraud continues. ' ... Many retailers had hoped that paper coupons will die a slower death, hanging on until mobile coupons were ready for mass market. But that’s not the way it’s playing out, especially among younger consumers... '

Confidence vs Expertise

Dan Ariely's blog describes a study where participants were more influenced by confidence versus expertise. Very true, though very often confidence comes from expertise. A shaky causal analysis? Worth a look.

“For the great majority of mankind are satisfied with appearances, as though they were realities, and are more often influenced by the things that ’seem’ than by those that ‘are.’” - Niccolo Machiavelli

Martin Lindstrom Newsletter

Martin Lindstrom, author of Buyology and Brandsense and one of Time's 100 most influential people, has just started an online newsletter. You can sign up here. His site also contains lots of news and videos about the neuromarketing field. I reviewed his Buyology book and other aspects of his work in this blog, it is an excellent introduction to this topic. Sharp guy with lots of enterprise connections.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Generational Baloney?

Controversial, but I liked this. Classification is a powerful tool, but it also is capable at driving a lot of bad conclusions. I may not agree with all of this, but it does make you think about generational classifications. We do have to defend ourselves. Via Michael W. Cristiani.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Dunkin Run

Dunkin Donuts has set up an IPhone app called Dunkin Run. You have to first set up a Dunkin Donuts account, then download the application. Its meant to set up a group order. You announce you are making a 'run' and invite friends to add their order to the run. Bit of a social component.

Primarily I would think for office type situations. Though those kinds of orders could as well be done from a desktop. You can find closest Dunkins close to your current location. Clever for this kind of food retailer, simple but seems fairly narrow in its application. Variants of this idea could be interesting to try for other food retail.

AI Overview

Forbes bas published a good set of overview articles on the current state of artificial intelligence.

' ... Can machines think? In 1950, Alan Turing, considered by some to be the father of modern computing, published a paper in which he proposed that, "If, during text-based conversation, a machine is indistinguishable from a human, then it could be said to be 'thinking' and, therefore, could be attributed with intelligence." He predicted that a computer would pass this "Turing Test" by the end of the century. That hasn't happened--yet. But the question continues to provoke and inspire. AI might be just around the corner, or it might be centuries away ... '


Anyone can read the posts that anyone has placed on twitter. Thus there are applications like TweetPsych, which you can use to analyze what you, or anyone else on Twitter has said, without their permission. The results for me seemed to be reasonable, though how precise and usable is hard to determine. Other related analysis tools.

' ... TweetPsych uses two linguistic analysis algorithms (RID and LIWC) to build a psychological profile of a person based on the content of their tweets. The service analyzes your last 1000 tweets and works best on users who have posted more than 1000 updates. It also works best on accounts that are operated by a single user and use Twitter in a conversational manner, rather than simply a content distribution platform. For more information read the blog post or follow the creator Dan Zarrella ... '

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Cutting Funds for Libraries

Stan Dyck does a good post on the looming threat of cutting funds for Ohio libraries. A sign of the times. Though I have heard of a number of other things in the trillion dollar splurge that were less compelling.

I go to my local library several times a week and a notice about this was posted there yesterday. I am a big user of library services and inter library loan, so would hate to see this happen to a close-by branch. There is something much more social where 'everyone knows your name', than all online and glued to the screen. Librarians thinking of you when they see a new book, asking what you thought of this book or that. Asking you to give a talk on some subject.

Yet it is inevitable, it will all go to bits eventually. Libraries should look to selling their services to schools and even companies. ... Retirees from those companies with experience with their needs could innovate and staff the spaces to make them useful. Knowledge management spaces, virtual and brick and mortar to.

The Future of TV

Dave Knox posts a good piece: I have seen the future of TV…and it’s not your Dad’s Prime Time. He relates his own experience with multi player games on Xbox Live and how these games can capture the interactive imagination of participants better than TV can. Good examples, great story. Of course massively multiplayer games have existed for some time. He relates how these new games are advertiser-friendly in new ways, leading to useful economic models.

I think there is still a broad majority of people that prefer passive interaction. So I don't think that TV will collapse anytime soon ... but since it depends on focusing large crowds, it and the networks may shrink considerably. Changes are coming.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Big Brand Loyalty Fading

In a large scale study of loyalty card customers. In the Financial Times. Not unexpected, but note that the funders of the study stand to gain by these results!

" ... Big brands’ best customers have been defecting in droves since the beginning of the US recession, according to a study. By this year, more than half of a typical US brand’s most loyal shoppers in 2007 had switched to rival products ... "

Saatchi & Saatchi CEO Blog

Long time colleague Richard James, who is always interesting, writes:

'Just got back from P&G Alumni event/few days holiday in Rome. Met some fantastic people and had an interesting time there. One of the people we had the pleasure of meeting and talking to was Kevin Roberts who has an interesting blog here which I think you will want to add to your blogroll ... Good youtube video here. And personal web site... '.

Escape from Cubicle Nation

Much enjoyed Pamela Slim's Escape from Cubicle Nation: From Corporate Prisoner to Thriving Entrepreneur. This is the kind of how-to book that I usually just skim, but I found myself reading through cover to cover. Deals with much of the trials and rewards of startup success and the rarely covered issues about leaving the big enterprise. All the key points are covered, often in a humorous and example-based way. Having now been involved with a number of startups, some successful some not, I have to say she is right. If you are thinking of taking the plunge, get this book. It is inspiring. You can see more at her blog, and get a sample chapter of her book. She is also at @pamslim.

Five Minute Books

I see that Jerry Michalski is putting together an interesting conference call idea. See more at the link. Always love new ideas for sharing knowledge. See also at @yitan .

"Howard Rheingold had a great idea several years ago that I've since seen implemented in a few places: Have someone take five minutes to report on something they know really well, then take an additional five minutes to discuss it. Yup, that quickly.... Let's narrow the subject here to books that have influenced you. What did you get from them? No need for a comprehensive book report (after all, in 5 mins?), just the big-impact aha!s for you ... "

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Social Networking Inside the Enterprise

This short article makes the case that social networking inside the enterprise is more important than outside. This was precisely what I was involved with before graduating from the mega-enterprise. How do we use blogs, podcasts and wikis to create a social form of knowledge management? I think this can work, but does depend on many things, like what is the culture of your enterprise? How can you get enough people involved in the effort to include key knowledge? It can be tough because the best people you want to involve are usually the busiest. Should you hire archivists? Or can such a system evolve like the Wikipedia? Could past or retired employees be useful to the system? Certainly f you can get them to participate.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Google and Amazon Stifling Creativity?

In an interesting and detailed piece, Cory Doctorow writes: ' ... Now, it's not that I hate Amazon or Google, but I do understand that they are fast becoming the intermediary between creators and audiences (and vice-versa), and that this poses a danger to everyone involved in the creative industries. That danger is that a couple of corporate giants will end up with a buyer's market for creative works, control over the dominant distribution channel, and the ability to dictate the terms on which creative works are made, distributed, appreciated, bought, and sold ... '. He suggests a creative solution.

Unloaded Dice Program

Mind Hacks points to an excellent podcast program on the science of randomness. ' ... The hour long science trip largely focuses on how we make sense of random or unpredictable events, from coincidences to statistical white noise ... ' Very good starter for students or anyone with interest in the topic. And everyone who seeks to make sense of business data should be!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Evolving Complicators and Simplifiers

From the Edge, a talk with John Bargh, professor of social psychology at Yale University and director of the ACME (Automaticity in Cognition, Motivation and Evaluation) Lab.

' ... They say that in science there are complicators and there are simplifiers, which is a good tension to have in any field of ideas or science. I've always been a simplifier — looking for the simple mechanisms that produce complex effect, instead of building a complicated model. Once we find one of these veins — one of these avenues of research — we just go for it and mine it and mine it until we run out of gold.... We discovered a new vein of research — the relation between physical and social or psychological concepts — that we came to by taking evolutionary principles seriously and applying them to psychology ... '

New Neuroscience Blog

Looks to be interesting, I see the posts so far have considerable detail on marketing issues.

'We are pleased to announce the launch of Lucid Thoughts, a blog devoted to the intersection of neuroscience, social science, and the marketplace, at .

Lucid Thoughts is a forum for tracking and commenting on one of the most exciting – and some would say controversial – scientific developments of the new century, the commercialization of neuroscience, psychophysiology, and behavioral economics....

The driving philosophy behind Lucid Thoughts is scientific transparency. As we have watched our fledgling field emerge over the last few years, we have seen too many providers trying to sell “proprietary solutions” and “secret algorithms” that purportedly give their customers a direct peek into the “secret” thoughts and preferences of their consumers. The reality is much less sensational but, paradoxically, much more exciting.... '

Whole Foods Launches App

Whole Foods has launched an Iphone/ITouch application that indexes its 2000 recipes. The same recipes it has had online. I installed and did some searches. Free, quick and very easy to use. I like simple for this kind of tool. The app is a bit verbosely titled: Whole Foods Market Recipes. Useful to have this mobile for market trips.

SourceForge Grows Up

I have used the open source developer community Sourceforge a number of times. Its useful because it can point to useful and economical solutions to tough problems. A report on it's direction. ' ... the SourceForge Web site has more than 30 million unique visitors per month -- and it reported more than $40 million in earnings for its last quarter, with no outstanding debt.... ' . Shows that money can be made in open source.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

IPOV: An E-Learning Service Bureau

The topic of knowledge management was one of my interests in the enterprise. In the 80s we tried mostly successfully, and also very expensively to use artificial intelligence to solve this problem. Some of our AI applications worked well for 20 years. Yet it was hard to convince parts of the enterprise to cover the bill. When blogs emerged in the late nineties, we used them to gather and deliver knowledge, but it was hard to engage enough people in the process.

I had an interesting conversation with Vic Uzumeri of iPOV recently. He outlined his approaches, which combine cheap video and search. Some of his their studies can be found in the iPOV blog. Worth taking a look. I plan to give it a try.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Neuromarketing and Search Optimization

An item about emotional engagement and search engine optimization. Two areas that I am currently engaged in.

Wikipedia Community

A good Q&A about the Wikipedia community. The comments also post some excellent thoughts. I remain a proponent, with the usual words of caution, which can also be made of any sources.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Tweetdeck on the IPhone

Have been experimenting with the Tweetdeck client for the IPhone, now in Beta. So far well done, have found no obvious errors yet. The best package I have yet to see for phone based management of a microblog social network.

Tweetdeck lets you manage multiple categories of Tweets in columns, which allows you to juggle personal versus professional information. Also allows you to manage multiple Twitter accounts from the same system. And gets you to a profile quickly to determine if someone is worth a follow. Runs and updates quickly though the scroll is slightly choppy. Has its own browser to get to a linked site. Overall a very nice solution. Free.

I think that a phone Twitter application like Tweetdeck, that can readily categorize incoming tweets to separate personal and categories of professional traffic will lead to more professionals using the service. This application is done well enough to make this happen.

FMI Looks at Private-Label

FMI will start to sponsor research on private-label good and put on a conference devoted to private label issues. In SupermarketNews. Good direction to take.

Facebook Increases 700 Percent

Social networking sites continue to expand. Blogging traffic is slipping. Reason is likely the simplicity and ease of short snippets versus longer posts. Probably a good thing. There will continue to be people interested in expressing themselves more broadly, just fewer of them.

' ... Facebook use grows by 700%; maintains top social networking spot Though still well behind Facebook, Twitter gains steam with usage up by nearly 4,000% ... In April, Facebook users spent 13.9 billion minutes on the site, a dramatic hike from the year-earlier total of 1.7 billion minutes, according to a report from The Nielsen Co. The 700% increase let Facebook easily maintain its place atop the social networking business ... '

Monday, June 15, 2009

On Innovation in Manufacturing

Sammy Haroon and Tony Tsai, two former enterprise colleagues of mine pass along comments on the Accenture Roudtable report about innovation in manufacturing.

Digital at Unilever

New from Unilever in Adage:

' ... Digital media and branded content largely have been seen as strategies for mature markets where TV advertising faces its greatest threats from media fragmentation and DVRs. But Unilever has found that such programs work in India and China as well as the U.S., and is making them increasingly ... '

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Name Trends in Wolfram Alpha

One unexpected thing you can do with the WolframAlpha computational search engine is to determine naming trends. Fascinating, yes, but also a bit of minutiae as well. Still it is a very nice example of the form of results you can get with WA. I am getting to like the overall idea that drives WA, but there is still much to be done. I prefer the interface by IBM's Martin Wattenberg in the Name Voyager to solve the same visualization problem.

Taking Another Look at Flu Model Accuracy

A while back I mentioned the inaccuracy of recent very sophisticated flu models and my general theories about how these models can go wrong. Continue to think about the problem. Now long-time correspondent and game designer Ken Karakotsios posts an item on the same article in the NYT about the skill sets needed for model designers. He will delivering some interesting models in his blog soon, place it on your feed.

Michalski talk on Bing

Jerry Michalski: '... Microsoft recently re-set its search service, rebranding it as Bing and calling it a "decision engine." It does do a few things better, such as search for purchaseable goods. Want to compare Bing and Google results? Try Bingle. With Yi-Tan regulars Dave Bujnowski, Paul Pangaro, Mary Hodder and Al Chang, let's discuss:
What's different about the Bing experience? Is it better?
What is a decision engine?
How can Bing make inroads against Google and others?
What should Google do next, if anything?

Date: Monday, June 15, 2009
Time: 10:30 PST, 1:30 EST
Dial-in Number: 1-270-400-1500
Participant Access Code: 778778

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Kindle in Business

I have followed readers for a number of years now. tested the Sony. Never been completely impressed. A convenience at the beach perhaps, if you can read through the glare and don't get sand in it. Yet in a recent meeting someone whipped out a Kindle to answer a question about a quote I had mentioned and solved the question in half a minute. Do specialized readers mean we will achieve the paperless office? Why not just have it all on your smart phone?

I have the Kindle App on my Iphone, and it is fine, except for the screen size. Ordering is also a bit complicated if I want an answer right away. There is so much more on the Web, we have meta search there that can get you to anything. You can buy many books digitally online. Sounds like a couple of days of search training, like we had at the enterprise, would get you to the same place without lugging around another device.

BW has further thoughts. Very positive about the Kindle and its use in business.

Tagging and Sharing Images

Image Spark:- Discover, tag, share, converge images that inspire your and your work. This is a good description of what I have always wanted to do with images. Inside a community. Will this package deliver this?

Friday, June 12, 2009

Design Books

Influential books on design in Karl Vrdenburgs' blog. Good, mind stretching examples.

Not Tried Twitter?

For those of you that have not yet tried Twitter, and there are many that still answer with a scowl of seriousness when asked if they participate. I suggest using the new Twitter search engine Topsy to look for your favorite topic. You may be surprised about some of the conversations underway and who is talking there. It can be very useful commercially. Any place that millions of people gather is worth the attention of a marketer.

Then on the flip side, Shocking, this Harvard report: Men Follow Men and Nobody Tweets: Further: @briansolis comments.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Can Math Provoke all Emotions

Science author Ian Stewart talks about the emotions that can be produced by the use and study of math.

Flu Models Wrong

Yet another example of models being wide of the mark. In the NYTimes a look at the models done for the flu and how poorly they have performed. As a person who has constructed models for many years this adds further concern to how seemingly sophisticated models can influence our behaviors. And when models do not match our expectations, the results are spun away. Big warning.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Fragile Hawthorne Effect

The Hawthorne effect is often brought up in industrial psychology. It was brought up when constructing industrial experiments and simulations where the behavior of people was involved. As it was presented, an experiment introduced better lighting in an industrial environment. Productivity increased. It was later discovered that any change in lighting in the environment, more light or less, increased productivity. The conclusion being that paying attention to the workers at all changed their productivity. Even when I was introduced to it we were told that this should be seen as a principle of caution and not some deep result. As an experts-can-be-wrong story it has survived a long time.

Now Steven D. Levitt and John List, of the NY Times Freakonomics blog say they have looked at the original data and find it does not support the conclusion that is primarily described as the 'Hawthorne effect'. A more complete write-up in the Economist.

' ... It turns out that idiosyncrasies in the way the experiments were conducted may have led to misleading interpretations of what happened. For example, lighting was always changed on a Sunday, when the plant was closed. When it reopened on Monday, output duly rose compared with Saturday, the last working day before the change, and continued to rise for the next couple of days. But a comparison with data for weeks when there was no experimentation showed that output always went up on Mondays. Workers tended to beaver away for the first few days of the working week in any case, before hitting a plateau and then slackening off ... '
Points to classic issues of data collections and external influences. You still have to consider the effect of observation on real people.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

P&G Pumping Digital Media

In AdAge: Marketing mix and other analytical methods are starting to show large companies that there is real value to using digital at a greater level. This has been known for some time, but it finally appears to be resulting in behavior. ' ... Even as Procter & Gamble Co. cut measured U.S. media spending 18% overall last quarter, it more than doubled spending on Internet display ads, according to data from TNS Media Intelligence.... ' . Read the whole article, lots of supporting numbers.

Grocery Strategies

A good BW overview article on new strategies by retail grocery. ' ... From ready-to-eat meals to eco-friendly offerings, food retailers are finding more ways to distinguish themselves and win customers ...'

Wordnik for Words

Wordnik. A beta site that seeks to be more than a dictionary. Sort of an encyclopedia of words. A modern OED. ' .... An ongoing project devoted to discovering all the [English] words and everything about them. More than 1.7 million words, and more than 130 million examples! ... ' With, it says, a openness to 'new words'. You can contribute your own words, pronunciations and definitions. More in the FAQ. Includes Princeton's Wordnet, which I have used for previous projects.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Public Relations 2.0 Examined

Good detailed article in PR 2.0 by Brian Solis: The State of PR, Marketing, and Communications: You are the Future. ' ... Contrary to popular belief, Social Media isn’t killing PR, but the business of PR IS in a state of paramount crisis. It’s not without merit however. Perhaps up until now, we have been our own worst enemy. The Social Web, the democratization of content and the wisdom of the crowds is merely amplifying PR’s weaknesses and expediting the declination of a broken business model. As is, many of us are collectively contributing to its perceived insignificance and irrelevance ... '

Wal-Mart on Marketing

In AdAge: Wal-Mart on their increasingly sophisticated methods of marketing and associated research. Also an increasingly strong approach to merchandising in their stores.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

The Evolution of Private Label

Q&A: Nielsen Industry Insight Director Details Evolution of Private Label, National Brands

' ... Nielsen Co. director of industry insights Tom Pirovano noted that, after many years, it’s the turn of national brands to play catch up. By the middle of 2008, dollar and unit sales growth figures demonstrated that consumers had began replacing national brand products with private label equivalents as concerns about a recession deepened....'

Demise of the University

Don Tapscott in the Edge on the demise of the University. Universities like MIT are posting their coursework online. Libraries are online. Wikis allow knowledge to be gathered and tailored in new ways. I don't think the demise of the University will happen soon, credentialing will still be there, but do think there has to be considerable adapting by all institutes of learning to retain their position.

Update: Or will cell phones replace learning?

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Mirror Neurons and the Social Web

Matt Bamford-Bowes muses about Mirror Neurons and the Social Web. ' I think social web activity is one which is a reflection of Mirror Neurons at work ... ' . Interesting thought.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Mobile Coupons at Dairy Queen

Interesting test which uses stick-on RFID tags at Dairy Queen, by Evan Schuman in Storefrontbacktalk, read the whole thing for other examples of the approach:

' ... For the last two weeks, consumers walking into the Dairy Queen in Rochester, Indiana, have been offered something beyond ice cream and hamburgers: A pile of identical tiny RFID tags, each with peel-off adhesive strips, sitting right next to the waffle cones.

But when those consumers return to that Dairy Queen with those tags stuck to their wallets, their watchbands or the back of their cellphones, identical those tags shall be no more. Given the differing purchase histories of each customer, the tags will deliver sharply different discounts and offers. In effect, the tags will serve as digital coupons as well as makeshift CRM/loyalty programs ... '
Herb Sorensen has further thoughts on this.

Google Wave Talk

Jerry Michalski files a podcast on his recent conference call on Google Wave.. The Google Wave site also has an introduction. ' ... Google Wave is a new tool for communication and collaboration on the web, coming later this year. ... '.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Procter Buys Retailer

In an unusual move P&G has bought the 'Art of Shaving', a high end mall retailer with 36 stores that sells Gillette products. A rare move into the retail space for P&G, apparently to further understand the male grooming space. More here.

A Look at Google Squared

I mentioned this Google lab thing a while back. Google Squared. It is up now. You choose a name of a group of things and Google creates a table which contains the items it found in a search and attributes for each of the members of the group. Based on my short test it never seems to get a reasonably complete set of items for the group, or even the correct attribute values. 'Highest Mountains' appears to do a good job though 'English Kings' does not. You can save a table but there is no way to export the table to a data format to import it say into a spreadsheet. Intriguing idea. You can even start with a blank table and populate it. The attribute selection is a hint in the direction of a semantic Web. I have often tried to look up a list of things in Google or the Wikipedia, and this appears to be what Google Squared is attempting to automate. More at Blogoscoped.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Notes from the World Innovation Forum

Speakers notes from the recent World Innovation Forum, including those of my colleague Donna J. Sturgess: Building Brands through Emotion and Senses. A favorite topic of mine. Reading the rest now. Requires minimal registration. Via Valarie Bastek. This quote from Donna will be an increasing theme of this blog in the coming months:

' ... Companies only focused on serving 15 percent of their potential customer base would not be expected to become successful or remain solvent for very long, yet Donna Sturgess, global head of innovation at GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare asserts that marketers direct the bulk of their efforts on serving that small percentage that make rationally based buying decisions. The remaining 85 percent of consumers are led by their emotions, relying on a real or perceived feeling the product invokes. “Marketing needs to shift attention to emotions and motivators. Emotions are saturating buying decisions, and we need tounderstand that better ... '

Investing in Science-Based Innovation

From HBS Working Knowledge: ' ... In economic downtimes, businesses are apt to cut R&D projects that don't promise a speedy return on investment. But take a cue from smart science-based businesses, which view the recession as an opportunity to stoke up research and innovation for long-term competitive advantage ... '

New Book on Tagging

I was involved in an automatic tagging project a while back and reviewed Tagging: People-powered Metadata for the Social Web by Gene Smith.

Now Understanding Folksonomy: Catalyzing Users to Enrich Information is a new book on the subject by Thomas Vander Wal, who is now at Infocloud Solutions. To be released on June 15.

' ... The notion of folksonomies, categorizations that bubble up from readers rather than taxonomies produced by experts, has been catching on slowly over the past few years. More recently, however, folksonomies and tagging seem to be growing very rapidly. Tag clouds now cover the horizon of thousands of web sites, and they operate at the heart of many Web 2.0 sites.Thomas Vander Wal understands how to create, use, and deploy folksonomies. He coined the word, but more than that, he's been helping businesses apply this technology to their projects for the last few years. He presents the formal understandings behind classification in more familiar web-based contexts, showing how to create more flexible structures that users wants to support ... '

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Happy Birthday UPC

The UPC code, one of the most recognized global symbols, is 35 years old this month. ' ... the first live use of a UPC took place in a Marsh Supermarkets store in Troy, Ohio, on June 26, 1974, when a cashier scanned a package of Wrigley’s gum .. ' . Procter was broadly included in early testing. Just a few years ago, when I did talks in our innovation centers, we were predicting its replacement with RFID tags on the store shelf by 2005. Has not happened yet. UPC codes were also tested there on proposed packaging and check-outs to determine their robustness in store environments.

Site Tactics from Eyetracking Studies

A good summary of site design tactics based on eyetracking studies. Some surprising to me.

Monday, June 01, 2009

LPA Rules and Term Sheet Generator

I have written about Logic Programming Associates (LPA) in UK several times here. They do Prolog-based rule systems, in other words, expert systems. I worked on related systems for the enterprise for a number of years. Below is a good example of the kinds of things that can be built this way.

' ... Business Integrity Ltd, a company which was co-founded by LPA to help exploit technology developed at LPA, is now a world leader in document assembly. DealBuilder, much of which is written using LPA software, is an intelligent document development and assembly tool, which greatly simplifies the creation of legally correct, coherent documents in multiple languages.

One of BIL's customers is Wilson Sonsini who recently released the WSGR Term Sheet Generator. The WSGR TSG tool will generate a venture financing term sheet based on responses to an online questionnaire. It also has an informational component, with basic tutorials and annotations on financing terms. This term sheet generator is a modified version of a tool that WSGR use internally, which comprises one part of a suite of document automation tools that are used to generate start-up and venture financing-related documents. The WSGR TSG uses DealBuilder Author and Server V2.7. Both use LPA Prolog - at automation time, and at run time. More from Reuters. And in the WSJ ...'

Kroger Links Loyalty to Minutes

In a very simple program, Kroger is starting to test the idea of getting free wireless minutes for purchases on their loyalty cards.

Study of the Use of Emoticons

Emoticons, those little confabulated piece of punctuation have been around for some time. Some people use little image-icons, though they have been around since ASCII text days. Are the effective? I use them mostly in non-professional communication, where I want to indicate humor, irony, sarcasm or other emotions that my face is not there to deliver. I have always felt that overuse gives the wrong impression. Here is a study of their use.

Is the Cloud Reliable Enough?

Having now encountered several severe Google outages, this issue has been coming to mind more often. Now that just about every business uses the Internet to communicate with and manage their interaction, remote management of data and process makes one wonder. Still probably better for many enterprises than setting up their own server farms, but the concerns should be thought through carefully.

Wal-Mart's Self Service Kiosks

Wal-Mart has started an experiment with self-service kiosks. An intriguing issue regarding the resulting data ownership issues. Given the kind of information that may be shared on these devices, who is responsible for security breaches?