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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

RFID Improving Inventory Accuracy

It is what we ultimately expected from RFID tagging: a better understanding what you have and where. That would lead to less out-of-stocks and less over-ordering. Saving money in retail that could be passed on to the consumer. Have not seen the full technical paper yet. Here from CACM:

RFID Significantly Improves Item-Level Inventory Accuracy - University of Arkansas, Fayetteville

The University of Arksansas' research project "provide[s] insight on how RFID can help retailers increase efficiency and thus significantly reduce expenses," says RFID Research Center Director Bill Hardgrave.

A new study on the use of radio-frequency identification tags on individual retail items shows that inventory accuracy decreases or diminishes over time with conventional systems that rely on barcodes and/or human counting to track inventory. The research, conducted by the RFID Research Center at the University of Arkansas, also demonstrated that the use of an RFID-enabled system could improve inventory accuracy by more than 27 percent over a 13-week period ... '

Unilever: Blends of New and Old Advertising

From Knowledge@Wharton: Will the Future of Advertising Be a Blend of Old and New Media?. Unilever's "Dirt is Good," is considered by experts to be a perfect example of a new path for marketing in the 21st century ... .

Google Wave Threatens Social Networks?

Will Google Wave threaten Facebook and Twitter?

Google Communications Tool to Roll

The long awaited Google Wave tool is about to roll to early users. ' ... designed to consolidate features from e-mail, instant messaging, blogging, wikis, multimedia management and document sharing. Using social networking-like interfaces, the tool should enable collaboration and community-building applications .... ' . Should be interesting especially to see how it differs from tools we have already. More.

On Counting Shoppers Thermally

From Storefrontbacktalk. Video based tracking systems continue to evolve:

' ... Many retail stores rely on customer-counting systems triggered by body heat despite the fact that (as proven by the case of roasted chickens being confused with infants) the technology has its shortcomings. Up until this summer, The Limited, a 240-store clothing chain with outlets in malls and shopping centers, was one of them, said CIO Roger Coville.

Coville said the chain suspected the thermal-imaging system wasn’t too hot when it came to accuracy and, convinced by a pilot project that compared the system’s capabilities for truthfulness with those of new equipment that relies instead on analysis of video data, In his testing, video-based counting was 20 percent more accurate than its thermal predecessor. Oh, the CIO added, it’s also a lot cheaper, which makes it a hard combo to ignore ... '

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Microsoft Antivirus

Microsoft is now offering a basic free antivirus capability for its operating systems. This could start some tussles with other offerings.

Data Mining Software

A new blog which describes data mining software. I see that it covers SPSS Clementine, which has since been renamed PASW Modeler. SPSS has since been bought by IBM. We used Clementine for several applications to categorize data and then construct models for ongoing insight using analysis flow models. It worked well and the operational visuals were a good way to show clients what was going on. The system included neural net and statistical models. I like the idea of the data mining blog, but it could use more detail.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Buy and Sell Data

Infochimps is a site that says it will allow you to buy and sell data. A curious idea with some shaky potential issues. How will they be able to assure the validity of the data? They are still in the early stages and I was unable to get an invite so far. Give me access and I will review. Worth following.

" ... Infochimps lets you discover, share and sell data of any size, topic, or format. Open source knowledge. Anyone can post data under an open license for the world to share and edit, forever, for free. Request a beta tester invitation to share data!

The first open marketplace for data. For anything from polling surveys to market research to fantasy sports statistics, we can connect your data to a massive audience of customers. You control the terms, you set the price, we handle storage, distribution and billing. Sell data now! ... "

Picturing an Uncertain World

In the midst of reading Howard Wainer's Picturing the Uncertain World. This Amazon link has a 'look inside'. Have read two of his recent books. See his site for more information about his work. His mixes easily digestible statistics and discovery by visualization. Tells good stories and I can imagine these being used in teaching. The are the kinds that tie to real problems that I remember best from my introduction to math, design and statistics.

Two Billion IPhone Applications Sold

Apple reports 2 billion apps have been 'sold'. I have slowed down in purchases and am about to do a purge of applications I have not used for months. Still love the idea for mobile intelligence. Have made a number of useful new discoveries in the store. ' ... There are now more than 85,000 apps available to the more than 50 million iPhone™ and iPod touch® customers worldwide and over 125,000 developers in Apple’s iPhone Developer Program ... '

Neuro Information Act

Neuro-information non-discrimination act signed. Consider the implications for biometric data gathering and use.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Free from any Source

Finally getting to Free: Future of a Radical Price, by Chris Anderson. I did not get it during the free download period, but it was just as free from the library. An easy and thin read, covers many useful examples, good read.


It is inevitable that neuromarketing methods be used to analyze high cost and leverage businesses. In the 90s we saw two applications of complexity modeling applied to this same problem. As far as I know that approach is no longer being used. Here fMRI is used to directly analyze films as they are exposed to consumers. The vendor is Mindsign.

Web Squared A Tipping Point?

More in Forbes on Web Squared, by Tim O'Reilly and Jennifer Pahlka. It is about adding more of our increasing set of smart sensors to the web and then adding real-time intelligence. This was suggested very early on with web cams and ubiquitous tagging. Now integration of sensors, social information by and about people and intelligent applications to combine the two can lead to new value. People have become a new collection of mobile sensors. I agree that the intelligent applications are a particular challenge for Web Squared. This will also cause an additional set of privacy concerns. Are we at a new Web tipping point?

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Procter, Nielsen and Snuggies

In Research Mag, Interesting collaboration, brought to our attention by former colleague Pete Blackshaw:

Blanket coverage
Snuggie, the ‘blanket with sleeves’, became a social media phenomenon in the US when its quirky ad went viral. Six million sales later, the Nielsen Company and P&G decided to look at the success of the Snuggie to test ‘listening’ and ‘asking’ based approaches to research. David Wiesenfeld of Nielsen Online and Kristin Bush of P&G report on their findings.

Mining online conversations for consumer insights is a seductive proposition. Every day, millions of consumers talk about all aspects of their lives online. This trove of naturally occurring consumer expression offers the richness of qualitative research, the sample sizes of quantitative studies, and the opportunity to understand consumers on their terms, not ours. By tuning in to relevant conversations, more can be learned about consumer attitudes and needs than through traditional ‘asking’ methods alone ... '.

What is the Semantic Enterprise?

Although many people understand what the word semantic means, what exactly it means when it applies to complex things like Networks, Webs or Enterprises has always been less clear. Mark Montgomery of Kyield gives a concise view for the enterprise in a white paper that has value when thinking about their future.

New Google Sketchup

New Sketchup version includes a number of useful changes. Remarkable package used briefly for a project.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Five Trends in BI

Good overview piece:

Five Trends Changing the Face of BI
Predictive analytics, agile development, user-centric business intelligence and improvements in visualization are giving new life to this mature technology ...'


Aggregating the Conversation

Godin's Squidoo 'Brands in Public' aims to aggregate the conversation, then you pay for some control. Examining. Site here:

' ... Brands in Public is a collection of interesting, accessible, public-facing dashboards for your favorite brands – from Zappos to Virgin America to In-n-Out Burger. Each dashboard organizes a hot list of what's being said about the brand around the web, via Twitter and blogs and YouTube and Google Trends and more. As well as polls and debates and commenting for people who want to do more than just watch.
... '

A Look at Clario Analytics as a Service

As part of a larger BI package exploration I took a look at Clario Analytics SaaS (Software as a service). You start by uploading your data via a secure FTP client to Clario. That process was easy, but I was not fully assured that my data had arrived at the right place. The interface is then designed to help you create a data flow diagram, which I have used before. The user interface is a somewhat nonstandard, minimalist and hard to figure out without some initial help. I was assured that they plan to change it radically to a more standard interface in a few months. Good idea.

I then also attended their introductory Webinar. They make some good points about Saas in general. It keeps you from having to maintain software and worry about how much space you need. No installing software. Backups done automatically. It also lets you set up a library of models you are using. All good, though I also want to make sure that the company and methods are stable if I entrust my analyses and data to them.

When I first looked at the underlying analytics it looked simplistic, but the webinar showed me that there were a number of advanced methods, including nodes that select the best analytics for deriving relationships, via branch-and-bound methods. A little concerned that the average user could not carefully determine statistical validity for their problem. I have not looked at the underlying methods yet, they are in their wiki-style documentation, which was easy to navigate.

You run the flow diagram in a batch mode, it runs on their processors. My simple 10MB data analysis took maybe 30 seconds. Here is another advantage of Saas, they upgrade the processors. You then open up the results. I really like to see the output visualizations immediately and would have preferred to see them appear without me asking. I Would also like to see any diagnostics as well to make sure I don't misinterpret results. Flagging analysis problems would also be useful, did not see that. They have a number of analytical consultants, so you can outsource the design of your predictive analytics as well.

Some useful case-studies with impressive ROI. Most of the examples they give are in the direct mail domain, but this seems it would work well for many relatively simple analytics applications. You pay as you go per month or yearly. I imagine many small to medium size enterprises have intermittent need for Saas analytics, and this would be a good place get that. Also a good example of how Saas systems work. Clario is worth taking a look at.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

More Personal Mobility

Honda has a Segway-like, unicycle form personal mobility device called the U-3X in the works that is more remarkable looking than the Segway. No specific dates for sales.

Brand Retail as Theater

This reminds me of the work of Brenda Laurel, game developer and systems theorist, who wrote about computers and theater.

The theater of the brand: Building entertainment experiences at retail

Craig Hubbell EVP, PlayNetwork
In the ongoing battle to attract and retain consumer mindshare, retailers are increasingly turning to innovative marketing mediums to engage and stay top-of-mind with consumers. Gone are the days of unlocking the door and turning on the radio; today’s retailers are pressing fast-forward to fully customized soundtracks. Paper POP table tents and static signage are being replaced by sophisticated digital media networks...'

Computer Crime Legislation

Volokh posts on recently passed computer crime legislation. He quotes the entire act so that you can read it yourself. True it is legally cryptic, but you can get help if you need it. At least you have the whole thing to refer to. I like that, even for relatively inconsequential legislation.

Stephen Wolfram Talk

Stepehen Wolfram talks and does a Q&A on WolframAlpha and related topics they are working on. I need to get back to WolframAlpha to see how it is progressing. As I have said several times before, it is a good idea that needs maturing.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Meijers Opens Online Shopping Concept

An interesting idea in these tighter times, a convenience-based personal shopper concept by Meijer in the Chicago area. Shoppers pick up their own orders hand delivered in the parking lot. Online, but there seems to be no otherwise mobile component.

IBM Global CIO Study Promotes Analytics

Here is the place to download the study. Standardization, Security and analytics are emphasized. Requires a minimal registration.

' .. A new global study of more than 2,500 Chief Information Officers (CIOs), released by IBM reveals that leveraging analytics to gain a competitive advantage and improve business decision-making is now the top priority for CIOs. More than four out of five (83 percent) survey respondents identified business intelligence and analytics – the ability to see patterns in vast amounts of data and extract actionable insights – as the way they will enhance their organizations’ competitiveness ... With an increased focus on data analytics, the survey also revealed that data reliability and security have emerged as increasingly urgent concerns, with 71 percent of CIOs planning to make additional investments in risk management and compliance ... '

I am also convinced that analytical capability needs to be pushed down so that all members of the business community can leverage it.

More Machine Vision

Machine vision has been around for a long time. For example systems in manufacturing lines that easily detect varying quality. Once you take such system in a human environment like a or aim to understand a video the solution of these problems becomes more difficult. There have been considerable advances, but the general problem is still hard. Here is a new example from a company called Vitamin D Video, with a brain-based solution. ' ... In its current form, Vitamin D Video is targeted for video analytics and monitoring, but the underlying technology, called Hierarchical Temporal Memory, or HTM, is modeled on the human neocortex and is the stuff of AI-yet-to-come ... '.

This system is trained rather than programmed. We worked with several such systems and the results could be too narrowly focused. Like the manufacturing line example.

Decline of Cursive

On the decline of cursive handwriting, in a recent article.

I had discussions about this with a K-12 teacher relative, confirming the article. Little time is spent on the subject any more. As a child I had very precise handwriting, later working on calligraphy. That all ended when starting college, having to take many quick notes. I worked part time typing papers for others. My cursive became shakier. I used less cursive writing. Then with the advent of computers and word processing there was just no need any more. What happened then was my once proud cursive started to decline. A recent experiment showed I could not even do fine cursive if I tried.

So with common mobile note-taking devices does it matter? It is the kind of thing that can be handy. Common but not universal recording devices. Certainly the ability to read cursive is useful, as it starts to change into an art-form rather than a assumed skill. You cannot assume it can be read or produced by an educated person. I do regret my lost art-form.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

IFTF on Future Knowledge Ecosystems

I worked with Institute for the Future for years, and blogged for them as well. A new interesting report from them: Future Knowledge Ecosystems: The Next Twenty Years of Technology-Led Economic Development . These are always full of useful information. Examples like research, science parks and incubators.

Qwaq Becomes Teleplace

I recently brought up Qwaq, which we looked at for remote visual, avatar-enabled collaboration. They announced today that they have become Teleplace. Good name change, can only help to make them better known. Incongruous company names can work (Amazon, Google) but I would not bet the company on it. Check out Teleplace. SL just does not work well with typical business interactions, we tried. Even Microsoft is abandoning it. Previously about Qwaq now Teleplace.

' ... Chris Koehn, General Partner of Abacus Solutions Group, said “As the Abacus Program Manager for the Air Force MyBase program, we're excited to leverage the specialized Training Center and server scalability of Teleplace 3.0 to build on the training successes we've already accomplished together. In addition, the new Session Broadcast capability has the strong potential to enhance the Air Force's training mission." ... '

Atlas - Modeling Shopper Behavior : Paper

I recently posted about a shopper modeling system from TNS - Sorensen called Atlas, at that link you will find more information about the method and how it is evolving. Now here is the background paper to the method: Atlas: Modeling Shopping Behavior, by Herb Sorensen, TNS Sorensen and Jacob Suher, The Wharton School. This updated paper does a good job of providing an overview and validation of the methods involved. Surprise, its all about mining and understanding real shopper behavior! Not at all technical and worth a look for those interested in retail tech.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Measuring Social ROI

Measuring social network ROI, fairly obvious, but with some useful examples.

The Face of Data

Akin to Chernoff faces, but univariate. You can generate a smiley face in Excel that displays a range of emotions. Fun and perhaps useful if you can stand a smiley face.

Procter Store Back Idea

Ad Age details Procter's idea of 'store back', which they consider essential to improvement of sales competing with private label as we emerge from a recession. It also suggests that this approach will lead to more innovation on the upstream product development space improving how product will better sell in context, on-shelf. Amen.

SAS JMP Tool Founder

Nice piece about SAS JMP tool developer John Sall, who I met years ago. Used JMP in the enterprise, but no longer have access. Was quite well done, it introduced exploratory analytics to many in our organization. More here about JMP.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Human Level AI by When?

The World Future Society suggests we will have Human level AI by 2025. The Foresight Institute blog says it depends what the tasks are. Of course if you could create an AI that would have the same learning capability as a 2-year old child you might get to the same place. I disagree to some degree that it would be much easier to build say an AI that could do a janitor's tasks than an AI could do those of a College professor. There are still lots of visual, navigational, manipulation and strategy tasks that a janitor does that are still some time away. Creativity is another thing ...

Product Innovation Site

Dr. Robert Cooper and Dr. Scott Edgett's Product Innovation site, best known for their Stage-Gate idea-to-launch method which we used in the enterprise.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Hanlon's Razor

Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity. ... Hanlon's razor was commonly brought up in the enterprise, this is the first time I have seen it named.

Shopping Behavior Decision Trees

Videomining has applied for a patent that uses shopper behavior to develop consumer decision trees. We talked to Videomining some time ago, they have developed a powerful concept for delivering a library of consumer shopping behavior. Based on the little in the news release, this looks like a good idea. It is all ultimately about consumer behavior.

Jung and the Unconscious

In the Sunday Times: The Holy Grail of the Unconscious. Most of what I know about Jung is the Myers-Briggs tests we used in the enterprise.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Procter and Accenture do Internet Innovation

In Consumergoods. About time they are really seriously working on this:

P&G Taps Accenture for Innovative Web Technology
The Procter & Gamble Company (P&G) is teaming with Accenture to transform P&G's global Web technology infrastructure and on-line digital capability. Under the multi-year agreement, Accenture will become P&G primary Web technology infrastructure and services provider.

At the same time, P&G will become the anchor client of Accenture Interactive, a new business that Accenture has established to help companies develop digital marketing capabilities and optimize online/offline investments. Accenture Interactive will bring together advanced technology platforms with consulting, analytics, Web development and digital managed services capabilities in an integrated model....'

Views of the Semantic Web

A Guide to practical semantic web technologies. Just reviewed again, it is worth looking at.

Creating Global Teams

Good overview piece, a situation I have seen much of: Creating Successful Global Teams

Must build trust and bridge cultural differences, By Peggy Albright
These days, computer professionals often work on globally distributed teams. While this practice was unusual a decade ago, today even small startups rely on global teams to increase competitiveness. Using talent from around the world lets a company draw on regional expertise, increase productivity and speed time-to-market by “following the sun” to create a 24-hour workday, and take advantage of a region’s economics to reduce investment and operational costs, particularly salaries ... '

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Store Simulation and Category Placement

I met today with Herb Sorensen and Bill Hruby to see TNS's just released Atlas Store Datamining Tool. An impressive piece of work that takes insights from Herb Sorensen's Inside the Mind of the Shopper book and uses a model that predicts store performance based on a TNS gathered database of consumer behaviors when shopping varying store designs.

This is the first example I have seen of a practical, usable category level layout analysis tool. It is still in the process of being developed further to include more details of store operations, and being added to a larger set of store consumer behavior based on alternative layouts.

I can see how even now it can be used to get deep insight into store performance. Useful for retailers and manufacturers. See the link above for more information. I will continue to report on it as I test it and as it evolves further.

Tagging Visualizations Over Time

A bit dated, but research at Yahoo about image tag usage over time. Here is the full technical paper. Not sure if this has gone anywhere, if anyone knows do let me know.

Rethinking the Long Tail

In Knowledge@Wharton: Re-thinking the long tail. ' ... a new research paper by Wharton professor Serguei Netessine and doctoral student Tom F. Tan challenges that theory using data from the movie rental company Netflix. ... '

E-Mail Cautionary Tale

In Slashdot a cautionary tale about how easy, cheap and relatively risk free it is to have third parties hack a public e-mail account. Have been involved in cases where legal discovery would have you made you cautious about what you say, but you don't have expensive lawyers in tow to help you. Such hacking also leaves little trace, so you won't know it has been done. Beware.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Visualizing Global Brand Data

A very interesting visualization of global brand data, a mix of geographic, network and more typical business intelligence graphics. Probably not the simplest way of displaying this data, but it does quickly attract your attention. Good case study piece.

Pointed out to me by Mike Cristiani of Market Intelligence Group.

Simple Portfolio Analysis

Today I attended a webinar by Gary L. Lilien on teaching portfolio analysis using the GE/McKinsey approach. He is author of the book Marketing Engineering. Have mentioned it here before that some of our internal portfolio work was featured in Robert Cooper's book on portfolio analysis.

Struck by how his simple method is implemented in an Excel spreadsheet, as part of a larger set of analytical tools for marketing. Yet there is not much math here at all, it is more about the process of choosing and iterating in key parameters. Powerful plus simple ideas work best.

We did this kind of portfolio analysis work often when working with execs and key stakeholders. Here too the results are provided in a useful visualization. Much more about the portfolio of solutions at their site, including archives of their presentations.

Update: An intriguing historical note on the origin of the GE/McKinsey framework.

Long Lasting Perfume Delivery

Procter & Gamble's Connect & Develop program requests input for technical solutions to long lasting perfume delivery system.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Neuroscience Picks top Emmy Winners

Sands Research claims to have predicted the top Emmy Awards (three out of top five) with their EEG based NEF scores, details in post, plus links to their previous Superbowl ad rankings. Good neuroscience-based analysis of popular culture.

Neuromarketing Overview

From Kevin Randall at FastCompany: Neuromarketing Hope and Hype: 5 Brands Conducting Brain Research. Reasonably short, but necessarily incomplete overview of the topic. Thanks to Krista Neher at Bootcampdigital and a number of others for passing this on.

New at Qwaq

Received a note about updates at Qwaq: Virtual Spaces for Real Work. Much surprised they have not received more traction. We took a look a few years ago and I have posted on it here before. Similar in a general sense to virtual worlds like Second Life, it is far more business oriented and friendly. If you are thinking about remote enabled virtual collaboration, especially cases that require also connecting to data and visuals, this is worth a look. Used at Intel, Media X at Stanford and Fuji Xerox.

Smartphones vs Desktops

Although smartphones have made considerable progress in being business friendly tools Forrester suggests that desktops still rule for business applications. We tested Blackberries early on for executives and now smartphones have become common. Many things can now be done on a Smartphone, though they remain a cramped space for many kinds of information manipulation.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Zakta Search Engine

I see that Mahendra Vora and Sundar Kadayam have founded a startup called Zakta. Much more here. He and his colleagues are best known for founding Intelliseek, which was ultimately sold to AC Nielsen. We had a number of conversations. The object of Zakta is to get better and more organized search results by integrating social networking and personalization with your search. Good idea. Try Zakta here. I will test it.

Unilever and Crowd Sourcing

More details in AdAge about Unilever's use of crowd sourcing to replace some kinds of some product marketing. The comments are also interesting.

Spotfire BI Blog

Wim Van de Velde points me to Tibco Spotfire's new Business Intelligence Blog which I have put on my feed. I like their current post on five unconventional uses for BI software. Will point to posts there as I find them useful. Have used Spotfire since nearly its creation and always found it powerful for enterprise visual analytics.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

UK Lifts Product Placement Ban

Apparently in the UK placed products in imported shows are often blurred. Inside the UK product placements are banned. The BBC reports that this placement ban is to be lifted, a least for foreign shows. The way I read the article the ban is in place because the method is seen as dishonest. It is suggested that if it is done for UK produced programming there will be clear disclaimers to indicate that any placement is done for pay. At what point does the knowledge of the public that these are placements make this redundant? Does this becomes similar to marking situation comedy as 'fiction'?

Link provided by Richard James.

Norman Borlaug Dies

We see that Norman Borlaug, father of the Green revolution, Nobel scientist, died yesterday at the age of 95. It is estimated that he has saved many millions of lives. That may not be too green of him, but as a botanical dabbler myself he has my full appreciation.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Turing Test for Language-less Bots

Tech Review writes about fascinating work creating a test to determine if a bot is human. The original Turing Test came from a proposal by computing pioneer Alan Turing to demonstrate machine intelligence by fooling humans into thinking that a computer was another human during a question and answer process.

This new approach is a contest that ' ... challenges programmers to create a software "bot" to control a game character that can pass for human, as judged by a panel of experts. The goal is not only to improve AI in entertainment, but also to fuel advances in non-gaming applications of AI. The BotPrize challenge is a variant of the Turing test ... ' .

What is most interesting thing about the contest is that it deals with physical activities of the bots as they would be seen in gaming contexts. Natural language is not considered. Since language is such a big part of our detecting intelligence, this would appear to be a very different kind of test. Still, physical intelligence is also worth measuring.

Here is a summary of the 2009 contest which provides summary results. Later details will be posted. This was part of the just completed 2009 IEEE Symposium on Computational Intelligence and Games. Here are some video clips of the contest tests.

As in the Loebner Prize for the standard Turing test, no machine has yet been perfect in fooling all of a panel of experts into thinking it was intelligent.

Vintage Visualization

Mike Cristia of Market Intelligence Group (MIG), points me to a Flowingdata post on Vintage Infographics from the 1930s. Some nice examples and links to the whole resource.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Lindstrom Newsletter

Brand Futurist Martin Lindstrom now has his newsletter out. Lots of interesting branding and advanced marketing ideas and resources. Fun videos on the topic. Read it and subscribe.

BI for the IPhone

Sy Truong, whose blog Becoming a SAS Programmer in the Pharmaceutical Industry, sends along a post: SAS iPhone App Architecture. This is a technical post for those with SAS/BI and Iphone application background. I remain very interested in the whole topic of how to gather/aggregate/access data and then provide BI analytics results on mobile devices. Also how augmented reality will ultimately play here for retail. This is a good case study.

Procter Value Strategy Working

P&G says that its value strategy is working and sales will recover this fall.

SAP and Retail Simulation

In a further indication of SAP's deeper interest in predictive analytics in retail, they have said they plan to acquire SAF (Simulation, Analysis and Forecasting AG), a company that ' ... specializes in the development of ordering and forecasting software for the retail, logistics and industrial sector ... '. SAF has a project at the Metro Superstore.

The Smart Data Collective

Newly discovered: The Smart Data Collective: The data-driven enterprise community. A syndication of bloggers talking about the use of data and its profitable leverage in the enterprise. Good set of topics to follow.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Google Internet Stats

Google has launched an Internet stats center. Nice idea, have always looked for this kinds of resource for talks and background. Categorized and search able in useful ways. It is factoid oriented, includes a source attribution, but not always a link to it. Could be quite useful. This also calls to mind WolframAlpha. This source of information could be integrated with that WA's more structured style.

Is the Brain Shaping the Internet's Future?

Intriguing interview in Blogoscoped. On the thought interface, long imagined and implemented in still limited ways. The implications it might have for linking brain and net. Book on order. This again looks like the computational cognitive model, which has its own limitations. See also the book quoted: 'Wired for Thought', by Jeffrey M. Stibel, which has a site and more detail.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Google Solar Power

Was unaware of this, but Google is looking via investment to develop mirrors for more economical solar power. Statistics are interesting, but pessimistic. Recall reading in rags like Mechanics Illustrated in the 70s about how near this capability was for widespread use.

Sweetener Market

One of my of little side ventures. The growing of the sweetener Stevia. I grew my first crop this year. Article about its market potential.

Business Blogging Blunders

Paul Gillin has posted several items on business blogging blunders. Here is the first, with links to the others. An exemplary read for anyone starting an external business blog to promote their services and interests.

Flu Patients Blogging and Reporting

A good overview of infodemiology, or using information on the Internet to report and track disease outbreaks. Blogs are good, but faster and simpler social networks may make this even easier to do. Also mentioned, Google's Flu Trends, which I had not seen much about lately. Related, an IPhone app called Healthmap: Outbreaks Near me reports on geographically close outbreaks and also allows you to report occurrences as well. An epidemically augmented reality. Ultimately this kind of mobile data update could result in near real time analyses of outbreaks and their spread. Also, in Wired: other information gathering tools.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Mike2.0 on Open Methodologies

Brenda Somich sends along information about MIKE2.0. It's a non-profit community for sharing information on IM topics with other industry professionals. They also have a LinkedIn group.

"... an Open Source methodology for Enterprise Information Management that provides a framework for Information Development. The MIKE2.0 Methodology is part of the overall Open Methodology Framework ... a collaborative effort to help organisations who have invested heavily in applications and infrastructures, but haven't focused on the data and information needs of the business. We believe this has resulted in many of the business problems faced by organisations today around compliance, lack of customer insight, failed transformation programmes and the high cost of technology systems..."

Next Generation Business Intelligence

Business intelligence (BI) is something I have worked on for years. For executives and for use by the individual employee. Recently BI has discovered well-integrated predictive analytics and visualization. Infoweek has a good piece on the next generation of BI. Includes the topics of whats important in BO and how companies hope to deliver it. IBM's purchase of SPSS has also led to many more companies interested in the topic. The next generation needs new ways to link to BI expertise and the expertise of the companies that want to apply it.

Procter E-Commerce Goals

From AdAge: P&G sets 4 Billion E-Commerce Goals. Increases have been suggested for years, this seems to a a very big and bold move forward. ' ... E-commerce has never reached even 1% of Procter & Gamble Co.'s sales, but now the company is looking to increase that share more than fivefold as it seeks to capitalize on its growing investment in digital media ... '.

Monday, September 07, 2009

On Bad Graphs

Stephen Few on bad graphs in Information Management Magazine. I see it is a bit dated now, but still worth reviewing. Bad visualizations are very common. I have encountered many designed to make a 'point'. [Link Corrected!]

Procter Aims for 360 Degree Insight

From the World Advertising Research Center (WARC): P&G Aims for 360 Degree Consumer Insight. Not too much very new here, but a restatement of an ongoing development.

Brain Simulation

A neuro surgery simulator based on fMRI data, from Gizmodo. Also mentioned in Mind Hacks. Includes a video. Background information in Tech Review: ' ... First, patient data from functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) is rendered into a 3-D, high-resolution model of an individual's brain. After the model is loaded into the system, doctors can touch and manipulate tumors and other virtual objects on screens in real time using a physical instrument resembling a scalpel...'

Sunday, September 06, 2009


I had taken a look at the government database data.gov when it came out earlier this year. Now there is a semantic database use case for this data called Thisweknow which addresses geographic data types. I am taking a look, since mapping data is of particular interest. Based on US postal codes and community name types. Some good examples in Readwriteweb.

The Role of Analysis in Invention

The role of statistical analysis in invention, by Felix Grant. Analysis as the mother of invention. Thoughtful piece.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Gordon Bell's Mylifebits

BW reviews the status of the work by Gordon Bell with MyLifebits. Inspired in part by Vennevar Bush's unimplemented Memex idea. We saw MyLifebits presented in its early phases. The article positions it going beyond the Twitterverse, automating the online and offline minutiae of your life, permitting it all to be retrieved and studied later on. An electronic scrapbook of his entire life. Though some kinds of recording can be automated via video and audio devices like the Sensecam at the right, much else still needs to be manually scanned. We are still not paperless. Also related to the more general Lifelog projects. We looked at it as a possible future knowledge management tool. It is noted that Microsoft has chosen not to come out with a suite of lifeblogging tools.

Update: Thinking about life recorders as common as a wrist-watch, and the implications.

Venture Capital Industry

Whats Really Happening to the Venture Capital Industry?. ' ... It is indeed quite likely that the venture industry is in the process of a very substantial reduction in size, perhaps the first in the history of the industry. However, the specific catalyst for this reduction is not directly related to the issues just mentioned. In order to fully understand what is happening, one must look upstream from the venture capitalists to the source of funds, for that is where the wheels of change are in motion ... ' >. Intriguing piece. Some of the stats shown are revealing. Via Mark Montgomery.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Revealing Slant in Mathematica

Jilyan Landon of Mathematica points me to a post in the Wolfram Blog. There something as mundane as an error message gives a hint to how well integrated Mathematica is. Reminds me of such arcane and now little-used languages like Lisp. Good example of why it could be used for applications like Wolfram-Alpha. The point may be lost on those without some computer science background, but it is a good one.

Internet at 40

I was pleased to have been involved in some of the early use of the Internet in the testing of remote Darpanet systems. It about to be 40 years old. CW makes some interesting predictions about its future. 3D worlds and more social networking, increased mobility and embedded intelligence. That seems a bit weak for a dream. Remember too that while the Internet provided the infrastructure it was the much younger Web that provided the interface to get the public involved universally. More to come.

Reboot Partners

Dean Debiase, formerly of TNS Media, has an interesting blog at Reboot Partners. ' ... which is a Strategic Execution and Market Expansion Advisory Group Helping Organizations Grow Globally ... '

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Cultivate Your Talkers

In Small Business Trends. ' ... People use social media for a lot of things. Personally, I use it to be as loud as I possibly can. I know that probably sounds bad, but think about it: I want to use all the tools available to me so that I can be ME as loud as I can, everywhere I can ... ' . Lisa Barone. Be loud among potential customers and find your talkers.


This newsletter and site were just brought to my attention. Created by Vincent Granville, his blog. Very good overview of predictive analytics, data mining, statistics and supporting and related topics. The current August newsletter. Also includes the capability of linking together practitioners in discussions. This area has always been a hard one to navigate since there are so many different focus areas. This site helps. Just now exploring.

Collaboration Tools at Procter and Cisco

A good overview of the use of collaboration tools in big enterprises.. Object to combine the intellectual property of the entire enterprise. Mostly about the low end IM, and high end telepresence. Little about knowledge management in the middle where many more could benefit from it.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Most Important Math Problem of Our Time

In the CACM: The Status of the P Versus NP Problem
It's one of the fundamental mathematical problems of our time, and its importance grows with the rise of powerful computers .

I have worked an entire career around the status of this problem. If solved, it could lead to some very fundamental solution improvements for the enterprise, transportation and industry. Nice overview. The two word answer to the status question: Still unsolved. Pessimism that it will be. Some new graphical representations of the problem that are useful. I like the visual shown at the right. See also the more reading section for details and examples of problems that could be solved in this realm.

GMail Outage

I experienced the Gmail outage here in NYC yesterday. I agree with several pundits that there was no easy way to tell what was going on. Had to go to a number of social sources and ask my colleagues, invoking the time-honored diagnosis chain to find out it was not just me. In other contexts this could have been crucial. Longest Gmail outage I can remember and an eye-opening experience regarding Google reliability.

Pressure to Limit Behavioral Targeting

Comments on a recent NY Times article. I see the point, this is a common startup direction. Clearly more balance needs to be had between targeting and privacy concerns. Thee potential commercial value is high.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Wal-Mart E-Commerce Changes

Wal-Mart appears to be expanding and changing their e-commerce operational presence: E-Commerce says: ' ... Wal-Mart is taking a page from Amazon's playbook, partnering with third parties to offer their goods for sale on its e-commerce site. The move is unlikely to cause Amazon any high anxiety, though. So far, Wal-Mart has just three partners, and though they will help to fill some gaps in its catalog, their presence is unlikely to dramatically boost its online sales.... ' . Much more detail in the article.

AI a Dangerous Dream?

Interview with Noel Sharkey. The robotics expert, formerly a player in artificial intelligence, suggests that AI is a dangerous dream. I don't think it is a dream, it is inevitable. It can be dangerous, like any form of progress. We use capabilities that have come out of AI seeking labs every day. Get used to it.