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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Creativity's Brief Moment

Grant McCracken on design creativity's brief moment in the sun. Now everyone is a supplier. Looking for the fundamentals. See also his book: Chief Culture Officer, still on my list.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Personal Kanban

Jerry Michalski is hosting a conference talk on Monday January 4 at 1:30 PM EST. Dial-in Number: 1-270-400-1500 Participant Access Code: 778778 ... Its about ' ... Personal Kanban, a way of seeing your work's shape, cadence and flow, developed by his longtime friend Jim Benson. Inspired by kanban/lean/agile methods, PK is tuned to personal productivity (there's a team version we'll tackle later). To get the most from this call, open Jim's SlideShare presentation.... '

Credit Card Reading with IPhone

Always interested in smartphone sensor ideas, here is another (via Stan Dyck): ... Jack Dorsey, Twitter Cofounder's new idea, a dongle type sensor that plugs into the audio jack on an Iphone and can read a mag strip. from AP (includes picture). See also their site for more related solutions.

' ... Dorsey is leading a new startup called Square. Its first product resembles a cube: a tiny credit card terminal that plugs into the headphone jack of an iPhone. The goal is to make it easier to complete a credit card transaction, whether you're a street vendor selling T-shirts or an individual settling a lunch tab with a friend.

Dorsey, who was Twitter's CEO until October 2008 and remains the social network's chairman, said he came up with the idea for Square nearly a year ago with Jim McKelvey, a glass artist who was frustrated after losing out on a $2,000 sale because he was unable to accept a credit card from a customer ... '

Bad Technology Predictions

It's the time of the year for predictions. In the WSJ, some particularly bad and notorious ones I had mostly heard of before. Having lived through some of these and understanding the context at the time, they are not really as bad as they sound out of context. Caution on specific predictions always advised.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Collaborative Analytics

The emerging practice of collaborative analytics. Not a new idea, but more systematized by some vendors. Analytics have never been a solitary activity, they are always enhanced by collaborative interaction, certainly with the client, but the more active that can be, the better it is.

Stronger Mobile Component to Online

In Adage, a short article on where digital marketing is heading. No doubt that smart phones will take a larger bite out of stationary online. ' ... According to the Mobile Marketing Association, total U.S. spend on mobile marketing will grow from $1.7 billion this year to $2.16 billion in 2010. Google's $750 million purchase of mobile ad network Admob reinforces that 2010 will be a significant year for mobile. We expect to see more consolidation in the mobile space ... '

Technical Analogies

Over the years I have frequently had to work with new hires and executives to describe changes in information technologies, especially game changing ideas like the Internet. So I liked this list of analogies you can use to make your point. Not all are on point, some just exchange one complexity for another, yet carefully chosen, useful.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Augmented Reality at Metaio

Some interesting thoughts in ReadWriteWeb on the status of Augmented Reality leader Metaio which has the package Junaio that I have looked at on Smartphones. They are working with enterprises on surprising marketing ideas, but if they ultimately survive is dependent on if they can convince enough consumers to play along by adding value to spaces. Junaio is the only AR company that is allowing non coders to participate in augmenting their own reality at this time. A big thing.

Science of Sharing

Sharethis comments on the science of sharing. Some interesting, but rather self-serving statistics.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Quantum Machine Learning

Google Research blog on quantum machine learning. Machine learning is the essence of artificial intelligence ... make a machine that learns and you can set it loose and wait for intelligent results. Trouble is, up to now its worked in only the most focused domains. Our own experiments in this domain took very simple tables of results and created editable decision trees. This worked. New ideas here are always welcome.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Challenging the Tipping Point

In Mind Hacks: Looking at the work of Duncan Watts. And by implication challenging the methodology of many kinds of simulations and predictive analytics in general. No, disagree ... Don't expect these methods to produce exact predictions, but rather often very useful directional information.

When Data Does not Match Theory

Have seen this many times, especially in the realm of marketing, where people sometimes just search for data that matches the results they want. So its natural to look for methods that are at least apparently more objective. This article, and some further commentary in Mind Hacks talks about what scientists do when the results do not match the results that are expected. This is worth understanding when you examine any kind of results in experimental environments. Belief can be a dangerous form of blindness.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

On-Line Retailers and Neuromarketing

An NYT article on the use of NM concepts in online retailing. Includes quotes from Martin Lindstrom:

“At a retail store you have to pick up the item, put it in the cart, take it to the register, take out your card, and put it through the scanner to make your purchase,” Mr. Lindstrom said. “But online you don’t have all those road blocks. You just click three times.” ... An increasing number of retailers, marketers and ad agencies are using elements of neuromarketing techniques—developed from brain research—to make those clicks more likely

On the Consumer Power of Price Checking

Herb Sorensen in Retailwire writes about mobile price checking. Some further thoughts of my own:

I saw a number of price checking devices installed at a local retailer. You just hold up the package to the device installed on a pole and it reads the barcode and shows you the price. Quite convenient for those untagged items. Another approach is to use ESLs or electronic shelf labels that update prices. Still uncommon. Both of these methods are in control of the retailer and require some awareness and 'training' of shoppers. The ultimate approach is to have the shopper be able to read UPC codes directly with their own devices, usually a camera-enabled smartphone. I have written about this a number of times here, and we experimented with all these methods.

In the mobile case, of course, it is the shopper that controls the information. I have tested this in the store and am starting to see others do it. Now the shopper can see more than just the local price, but competitive prices, promotions and other 'extended' information. More control to the shopper. The mobile method today requires a smart phone, which not all consumers have. Also the current packages that do this are still not completely reliable. Plus, this does not work on private label UPCs and repackaged products, common at retailers like Costco, where that exact same UPC cannot be found at other retailers.

Lowering Your Information Standards

Tom Davenport makes an interesting point and expands on it: ' ... As information grows in quantity, consumers of it are willing to accept lower quality. I call this willingness satisficing — being satisfied with sacrificing quality ... '

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

On the Future of Analytics

Eric Siegel on the future of analytics in the SAS COM Blog.

Global Networks

The value of understanding a dynamic system as a quantifiable network with a distinct architecture has always intrigued me. Very early on we constructed networks to understand supply chains of goods, services and even people and their creativity. The topology of a network permits high level strategic understanding and improvement, even optimization of these systems. The methods are underused in business. The global networks of multinational firms are discussed at both a macro and micro level in HBS Working Knowledge.

Being Honest with Yourself

On the consequences of fooling yourself. With implications for private label purchasing decisions?

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Reinvention of BI

Good piece in Information Management by David M Raab:

The Reinvention of BI as We Know it

Total cost of ownership analyses must be expanded to properly capture the savings of new analytical technologies ..... '

Virtual Gifts do Better than Banner Ads

So called 'virtual gifts', which are basically ads that are passed along in social networks, appear to be more effective than banner ads. Some good examples and specifically how this method works via Facebook, by increasing the number of resulting impressions. Notably virtual-gift campaigns by Malibu Rum and Nestlé. In AdAge.

WolframAlpha Year-end Update

An update on what WolframAlpha has done and plans to do in the coming year. I like their direction, but they still have far to go. They have very impressive demonstrations, but the few times I thought of them for a piece of analysis I found it was not as straightforward as I expected. Still worth following, as I will.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Auto Wifi

Wired view of the current state of using cars as mobile hotspots and their planned usage. New specific work by Ford is detailed. I am less interested in how I could run wifi in a car than allowing a car to autonomously integrate with the Internet as a part of the Internet-of-Things. This is the first step.

Groundswell on Social Tech

I saw this Forrester/Groundswell post on the growth of social tech lately, it describes the participation growth from 2007-2009 based on Forrester's useful classifications: creators-critics-collectors-jointers-spectators-inactives. Consistent in all of the categories except for the last. In 2009 only 18% are inactive. Also a link to international data by country, gender, age. Data is embedded and a widget is provided. Good.

Decline of RSS Readers

In ReadWriteWeb, a look at the decline of RSS readers. I still use them, but agree I see them used less and less either in or outside of the enterprise. There is talk of other capabilities, notably Facebook and Twitter, overtaking its function. I use both, but don't see either serving the purpose efficiently. I still recommend RSS for people that want to understand a broad range of sources of information.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Digital Building Data Delivery

Brought to my attention: Archaio ' ... Our expertise is delivering software that accurately depicts building data and automated decision support tools to improve building management and response operations. We are the global software leader in an emerging software market called “Comprehensive Interior Reconnaissance” (CIR). CIR is essentially the last tactical mile of situational awareness for inside a building.... '.

User Experience Matters

In the Noisy Channel, a look at the UXmatters Blog. ' ... user experience is “the overarching experience a person has as a result of their interactions with a particular product or service, its delivery, and related artifacts, according to their design.” ... '

How Big is the Internet

Gizmodo graphically looks at how big the Internet has become. It is staggering.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Your Inner CEO

Alan Cox posts a review of his book: Your Innner CEO, which I recall being a good read. ' ... Your Inner CEO turns a new philosophy of leadership into a practical, applied program that can help anyone become a world-class leader. You'll learn to uncover your hidden goals, face your fears, summon your strengths, and propel yourself towards the future you want... ' . His unusual blog is also worth a look.

Net Neutrality and Tech Implications

In E-Commerce Times, an interesting view of net neutrality, in particular how ultimately other devices in the consumers home, like the set-top-box, will start to play:

Net Neutrality, VoIP and the First Amendment

New developments in technology could alter the debate over Net neutrality. First, there is the distinct possibility that Google is readying a smartphone that could eventually bypass telcos altogether, operating exclusively over the Internet. Another interesting development is the cable set-top box as a home networking appliance, including phone functionality. That could spell the end of the landline ... '

Global Economy as Physics problem.

Worth a look, though I have been weary of such simplifications since the Club of Rome.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Corkboard Database

A really simple idea, Spaaze.com, resting almost entirely on its metaphor, an infinite corkboard display. More about it.

Google Tool Predicts Browser View

A new Google tool predicts how much of a page will be visible to visitors on entering a site, before they scroll. This would be useful to understand the operational interaction of a site. The comments point out some limitations. Linking this to Analytics would be useful for site design and optimization.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Mirrors in the Brain

In the midst of reading Mirroring People: The New Science of How We Interconnect With Others, by Marco Iacoboni. A non-technical book about mirror neurons, which at least in the monkey, and possibly in the great apes and us, appear to sympathetically fire when we see others performing some actions or emotions. So far a useful overview of the initial research in the late 80s. There are some doubters, an outline of skeptical research can be found in the WP. Its an easy concept to stretch too far, like in the subtitle of the book, it may only be relevant in some simple pre-language motor sectors of the brain. Good read, I see at least a half dozen other books on the same topic in Amazon.

Update: Finished book, I recommend it. Later in the book he positions mirror neurons (MN) much more broadly, and likely controversially as the glue that creates social interaction. A number of interesting thoughts:

' ... mirror neurons in the infant brain are formed by the interactions between self and other ... to build a sense of self, since these cells originate early in life when other people's behavior is the reflection of their own behavior ....' (p.134)

As might be expected, as a researcher in the field, he is always looking for mirror neuron solutions. He also discusses neuromarketing which he is very positive about, describing their own superbowl ad studies, though no numbers about how well they did. He outlines a grand test for neuromarketing. He also considers the negatives of the MN system, such as it likely being an enabler of real-life violence when fed by media and gaming violence. And outlines the use of MN theories in politics. Nothing about connections to spirituality and religion.

Late in the book he suggests that MN theories could be used to build better and more socially responsible societies and outlines the considerable difficulties involved. I agree, this utopia is not likely to happen in any World we know today.

Google Pushes 2D Barcodes

From Storefrontbacktalk: ' ... This week, Google said it was trying to breathe life into these barcodes by mailing 200,000 2D barcode stickers to small businesses throughout the country. Such a move could allow these mom-and-pops to offer in-depth marketing information to anyone at the click of a smartphone ... ' . Read the whole thing. We experimented with the use of 2D barcodes. I continue experimentation with smartphones that read codes of various sorts, more posts to follow about my experiments in local retailers.

Kroger Links Loyalty to Wireless Minutes

Retailers are starting to do more clever things with loyalty programs:

' ... The Kroger Co. is rolling out what it says is a first-of-its-kind loyalty program that rewards frequent shoppers with free wireless service using its proprietary branded wireless phone service, i-wireless. The “Free Minutes” rewards program enables customers to earn free airtime on their i-wireless phones when they purchase groceries in more than 2,200 Kroger-owned stores nationwide ... '
Related, the test that linked P&G e-coupons to Kroger loyalty cards has been ended. ' ... P&G and Kroger first tried out digital coupons two years ago. Kroger also has teamed with AOL's Shortcuts, Cellfire and P&G rival Unilever on digital coupons and said it's talking with other potential partners ... '

New at Junaio

I recently mentioned Junaio and its IPhone App. A good example of the current state of 'augmented reality', as the term suggests its a means of adding useful information to your real environment via computer databases and interfaces. The Wikipedia suggests as an early example the well-known 'first down line' overlaid on the broadcasts of US football games. Or for that matter any information that is related to a physical space visually and presented in that space.

Now with the increasing use of smartphones that are aware of their physical location via GPS, and also include representations of space such as maps, it makes sense to allow a phone to manipulate the information that represents its own space. Junaio is just such an example. See their latest newsletter for more details, including the addition of APIs for developers. I am seeing more potential applications for these abilities. Yet there is still quite a way to go make them easy to use, and in particular to get enough participation to get people to expect useful augmentation in any given physical space. I do laud Junaio for taking very good first steps.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Ray Kurzweil's Future

Ray Kurzweil, noted technologist and futurist, predicts how technology will change us by 2020.

Coupon Chief

I recently got a note from Couponchief.com, which lets you search for coupons for online purchase. They write: ' ... Coupon Chief is one of the fastest growing coupon sites, with over 250k visitors/month. We have over 50k coupons for over 15000 stores, giving us one of the largest databases of online coupons on the net ... ' . Took a look. You can also easily post your own coupons. Overall very simple and nicely done.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Solar Goose: Solar Lighting Concepts

I attended the first Earth Day in Philadelphia and have always been a big proponent of (voluntarily) saving energy. My colleague Tom Chorman was head of finance for new product development at P&G and he now runs a start-up called Solar Goose that integrates and delivers new solar powered lighting concepts. He is a wiz at bringing together technologies and the right suppliers world-wide. The developments at Solar Goose were recently pictured in USA Today. These kinds of small company results are key to combining emergent technologies and making them workable. Take a look at their site, many details there and you can even order a unique gift for the holidays.

Comparing Real Prices

Michigan economics prof Mark Perry compares prices for a stereo system and for a state of the art TV. In 1958 and in 2009 in hours of wages. Insightful.

Rise of Asia

Astute colleague Wim Van de Velde points me to this TEDIndia talk where Hans Rosling uses Gapminder charts to point out the rise of Asia. ' ... Hans Rosling was a young guest student in India when he first realized that Asia had all the capacities to reclaim its place as the world's dominant economic force. At TEDIndia, he graphs global economic growth since 1858 and predicts the exact date that India and China will outstrip the US ... ' . Nice piece.

Monday, December 14, 2009

AnalyticBridge Newsletter

Once again, let me pass along the current AnalyticBridge newsletter, a good, socially enabled site on predictive analytics methods, meetings and other topics by Vincent Granville.

Telecommuting Teams

I was an early user of telecommuting and helped manage teams that used these concepts from the beginning. It's still a contentious concept within the enterprise ... those that use it often feel left out, managers don't feel hooked into their subordinates progress, either in work or in their understanding the organization. It has similar issues in the startup. There is now a huge pile of software choices to enable telecommuting, but it only works if all participants are very rigorous in its use. A new article in CIO covers some of the landscape.

Package Goods Online Spend

Good AdAge piece on the increasing use of online marketing in packaged goods.

What Matters Now

In Seth Godin's blog: What Matters Now, links to a free ebook from a number of authors, just started to browse. Provocative and worth looking at, agreeing and disagreeing with.

Is Knowledge and Analysis Overrated?

From the Harvard Business Org Blogs. by ' ... Jeffrey M. Stibel is an entrepreneur, a brain scientist, and the author of Wired for Thought: How the Brain Is Shaping the Future of the Internet. He studied business and brain science at MIT Sloan and Brown University, where he was a brain and behavior fellow ... ' . Some good thoughts, but I think we are also prone to underanalyzing as well, the overanalysis cases just strike an ironic chord when they are noticed.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Architecture for Nano Assembly

In the CACM: Blueprints for Self-Assembly

"Self-assembly, by which atoms, molecules, or other nanoscale components spontaneously organize into something useful, sounds so simple. Just mix a few chemicals and wait for a new plastic, drug, or electronic component to form at the bottom of your test tube.

Unfortunately, it's not so easy. Coaxing tiny particles to arrange themselves in an orderly way, with desirable and repeatable properties, is enormously complex, typically involving a great deal of trial and error in the laboratory.

But now two mathematicians, using tools from information theory and computer science, have found a new and relatively simple way to orchestrate the assembly of nanostructures. And they have devised algorithms that can produce mathematical proofs that their structures are optimum ... "

Gifts and The Knowledge Problem

Of interest, (broken link) though its not as deep as I first thought:

' ... The problem of buying good presents for other people, even people you supposedly know well, illustrates that old familiar Hayekian concept, the knowledge problem. If you can't even give your loved ones the right presents, how likely is it that a central authority could make the right decisions for everyone? ... '

American Information Diet

A graphic describing the US information diet at 34 gigabytes per day.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Opportunities in Traditional Trade Markets

Via Herb Sorensen, by Arnaud Frade, TNS Retail and Shopper

Opportunities in the Traditional Trade of Emerging Markets
Four billion people live on less than two dollars a day in the developing world. These people represent a huge and growing market for goods and services. For those of us who are familiar with the sophistication of modern retailing, it is easy to forget that the vast majority of people around the world still shop in far simpler stores. These simpler “stores” are collectively referred to as the traditional trade, to distinguish them from the modern trade, common in the more economically developed world. It is the traditional trade that plays a large role in the growing cities of India, Indonesia, Brazil and China - in fact, in cities, towns and villages all across the developing world.

The traditional trade ranges from well organized independent players, to small road-side shacks and single market stalls. How can brand suppliers best understand this growing retail opportunity? What are the key challenges to consider in order to be an effective supplier to this trade? This issue of the VIEWS will shine a light on some of these challenges and opportunities.... '

Friday, December 11, 2009

Broadband Penetration Lagging in US

An interesting set of statistics about broadband exposure per hundred people in the US. Small countries like Denmark and the Netherlands still prevail, but that may well be because these countries have concentrated populations that can be more easily covered by wireless methods.

Finding and Designing Algorithms

Part of what I do is to figure out how to apply algorithms to tough problems. A book I bought and enjoyed some time ago is The Algorithm Design Manual, by Steven S. Skiena, which I see now has a second edition. Not overly technical, with a strong practical approach, that is worth having access to. The Amazon link has a 'look inside' capability to help gauge its usefulness. See also the book's site and the associated sunnybrook algorithm library.

The Times Regrets the Error

I do read and sometimes quote the NYT on Science topics, but I suggest that those that completely trust such media should take care ... see the correction below, published on July 17, 1969 as Apollo approached the moon:

' ... A Correction. On Jan. 13, 1920, "Topics of the Times," an editorial-page feature of the The New York Times, dismissed the notion that a rocket could function in vacuum and commented on the ideas of Robert H. Goddard, the rocket pioneer, as follows:

"That Professor Goddard, with his 'chair' in Clark College and the countenancing of the Smithsonian Institution, does not know the relation of action to reaction, and of the need to have something better than a vacuum against which to react - to say that would be absurd. Of course he only seems to lack the knowledge ladled out daily in high schools."

Further investigation and experimentation have confirmed the findings of Isaac Newton in the 17th Century and it is now definitely established that a rocket can function in a vacuum as well as in an atmosphere. The Times regrets the error.... '

Problems With Self Serve Checkouts

We tested some of the earliest supermarket self-checkouts in the innovation centers. Shoppers like the idea, but were confused by their operation and were afraid they would be accused of theft. I have seen them evolve in local Krogers to the point that they now have their own lines forming behind them. I do see consumers balking at their use when they have to do lookups, say for produce types, but even that is becoming less common. IBM has tested cameras and image analysis systems that identify produce, but they are not in broad use. We still await RFID tags that make this all easier yet. Richard James sends me a BBC article link that suggests that shoppers believe among other issues, they are doing the store's work, but I observe they will do that readily if they see it making the process quicker.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Power of Your Listing in ...

What happens when your site disappears from Google. And who do you complain to?

Gimmicky Augmented Reality

Useful AdAge piece on gimmicks and hyping augmented reality. The suggestions are useful. Though gimmicks can be useful in positioning the possibility of an emergent technology. I described AR at a restaurant to a colleague and at first he was incredulous, but eventually was converted to the overall idea.

New Folds

A description in New Scientist of a new way of mapping the spherical earth into flat projections. I have seen a number of examples of similar methods. They are clever, though I am not sure that such views, though more accurate, will see general use. I recall hearing a comment, 'Why are there cracks in the map'? Is that better than getting the visual impression that Greenland is much bigger than it really is?

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Managing Business Complexity

Re-Discovered: Managing Business Complexity: Discovering Strategic Solutions with Agent-Based Modeling and Simulation by Michael J. North and Charles M. Macal . Read parts of this back in 2007 when it was published as an introduction. Now I am re-examining the use of Agent-Based Modeling (ABM) and the book forms an excellent study of the methodology and a number of applied examples. Both authors work at Argonne National Labs and we very successfully used their consulting services. Instructional pieces in this area are fragmented, but this is the only the book I know that puts it all together. I suggest at the least the first few chapters and browsing the rest for examples.

Neuromarketing in Forbes

Sally Satel, MD, is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. She comments on On neuromarketing in Forbes.

Interactive Area Chart

From Flowingdata: How to make an interactive area chart, like the name voyager from the Baby Name Wizard by Martin Wattenberg. See the example on the right that shows changes in personal spending. Step-by-step instructions.

Requires a bit of programming savvy, but fairly straightforward. I particularly like the form of this kind of visual, very simple and easy to understand.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Extended Packaging Becomes Reality

From Global standards body GS1, the concept of extended packaging allows the consumer to gather unlimited information from packaging via devices. For example a barcode reader on a smartphone enables extended packaging. Mobile commerce marches on for retail:

Extended Packaging is a reality for consumers
GS1 MobileCom brings key stakeholders together in Paris to define next steps for standards-based mobile commerce
For further information, contact Joe Horwood at joe.horwood@gs1.org or +32 473 33 47 85.

Brussels, Belgium, 25 November 2009 – A group of over 60 people from global brands and retailers including Nestlé, Kraft, L’Oréal, Coca-Cola, Walmart, Metro and Carrefour, solution providers and staff from local GS1 offices met in Paris last week to build the future of mobile commerce together ... '

Swash to be Sold Online Only

In an interesting development, P&G has decided to sell its Tide-Swash cleansing products online only. We visited their OSU - Columbus innovation store two years ago. See the Swashitout site.

John Nash Interview

A video interview of John Nash, game theorist, economics nobelist, and subject of the fictionalized movie: A Beautiful Mind.

First Time Scents

In Neuromarketing: On the memorability of first time scents, as opposed to the well-known Proustian remembrances. We did much innovation in the area of understanding of how scent interacted with shoppers in retail contexts. It is a powerful tool, but also the most difficult of the senses to control in retail spaces. Previously on this topic.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Bricklin Note Taker

Many of us that have been involved with personal computers since the beginning have a warm spot for Dan Bricklin. He co-invented the first PC spreadsheet package: Visicalc, which bridged the geek world to the world of corporate knowledge worker. I saw many accountants eyes light up when I first demonstrated it.

Now Bricklin has a note taking application for the IPhone that is also quite useful. It bridges the problem of big fingers and the small note taking area of the smart phone. Nicely done, easily learned. Should be on every IPhone if you like to take notes. More here. Pages are stored as jpegs. Would further like character recognition so I could search the results, but keeping it simple is good too.

FCC and the Set Top Box

In Slashdot: Regulating the set-top box: The cable companies require the use of their set top boxes to access their content. Will the FCC decide to regulate the box details? I recall when Time-Warner swapped out their box and software for me last year, I discovered that useful features that allowed me to move around a film more quickly had been removed. I assumed so that I could not also fast forward over commercials. They are a monopoly cable service.

Strategic Listening

Tom Peters weblog on strategic listening. I agree, but I have also seen the strong impulse in the enterprise to counsel new hires to speak rather than to listen and to most value those that always speak out. A balance has to be achieved.

Traditional vs Online Coupons

Good overview piece on the efficacy and return on online versus traditional paper coupons.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Brief History of Neuromarketing

A short paper on the history of neuromarketing, which attributes some of the early thoughts to Peter Drucker. Includes mention of P&G and the Febreze brand.

RFID Passports

In CACM a privacy threat analysis of RFID enabled passports.

Considering Invisibility

Long considered in the realm of science fiction. What you need to do is obvious. What is surprising to me is that we appear to slowly be approaching a solution. The implications? In ScienceNews:

Invisibility uncloaked
Cloaking devices would steer light or other electromagnetic waves around them like water around a stone in a smooth stream, leaving nary a ripple of difference in the flow. Cary Wolinsky and Rick KyleUlf Leonhardt is riding high these days, with a new award from the Royal Society of Great Britain to further develop his ideas on how to make things in plain sight disappear.

Born in East Germany and now occupying the theoretical physics chair at Scotland’s University of St. Andrews, Leonhardt is among the leaders of the worldwide race to realize an old dream of science fiction: cloaking devices. They would steer light or other electromagnetic waves around them like water around a stone in a smooth stream, leaving nary a ripple of difference in the flow. Such things, letting light swish past like a boxer ducking every punch, would be invisible ... '

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Smartphone Kills the Clock Radio

I have noticed this dynamic as well. I no longer use the clock radios in hotel rooms, just too messy to figure out each new one encountered. Can't trust them. So I use my IPhone. Fascinated by the replacement of technologies. We are seeing many these days.

Google Multi-Language Dictionary

Largely un-publicized, the Google multi-language dictionary and word translation service. Includes basic definitions and the uses of words on the web. Very nicely done, I assume it is based on their translation services data.

Fedex and SenseAware

The internet of things is a decade old concept that suggests all things can ultimately be tracked, understood and analyzed in their physical and temporal spaces by identifying them to the internet. Every item has its identifier and is linked via sensors to the Web. It is quite natural that a company like Fedex should continue to experiment with this idea. Now they have released a system called Senseaware ' ... it keeps tabs on the temperature, location and other vital signs of a package - including when it's opened and whether it was tampered with along the way. Fedex is running a trial period of about a year with 50 health care and life science companies, for tracking delivery of surgery kits, medical equipment - and even live organs ... ' . More details in ReadWriteWeb.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Anchoring Irrational Decisions

On influencing subsequent decisions:

Professor Ariely describes some experiments which demonstrated something he calls “arbitrary coherence”. Basically it means that once you contemplate a decision or actually make a decision, it will heavily influence your subsequent decisions. That’s the coherence part. Your brain will try to keep your decisions consistent with previous decisions you have made. I’ve read about that many times before, but what was surprising in this book was the the “arbitrary” part. The initial anchoring factor can be totally arbitrary, but it will still heavily influence your subsequent decisions ... '

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Open Source in Healthcare

Recently I mentioned a study that said that IT provided few savings in healthcare. Here is a post on the site HealthtechTopia: 25 Open Source Software Projects that Are Changing Healthcare. Worth a closer look.

Coke Zero's Facial Matching

A fun little application from Coke Zero, celebrating its similarity to regular Coke, will find people via Faceback that look similar to you.

New Google Analytics Features

I am just catching up in the newly announced Google Analytics Features, now available to all users. There will be explanatory webinars next week. Although there have been some issues with their legality in Europe. I have not tested them yet but an an overview indicates they are well worth a close look. I will follow with a piece about their usefulness to me.

Signals from Anti-Social Users

In the Noisy Channel, as mostly a consumer of search technology I have to worry about the bias of search, major and minor, my own needs ... sometimes casual sometimes precise, and the model of the content providers. I always think we have become good at it, but worry that we can be fooled.

' ... One of the interesting challenges we face as both both developers and consumers of search technology is that social signals are a double-edged sword. On one hand, social signals have proven essential in distinguishing signal from noise–be they links, re-tweets, or any number other ways that online consumers (or more correctly “prosumers”) actively and passively communicate value judgments about information. On the other hand, our reliance on these social signals makes us vulnerable to positive feedback and spammers. ... '

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

How Advertising Works

From Steve Genco of Lucid Systems:

' .... Derren Brown is a British “mentalist” and entertainer. He has a number of fascinating videos over on You Tube, including this classic – quite simply, the most persuasive illustration of nonconscious processing I have ever seen. When you click on the video below, you may have to follow the link over to You Tube to watch it. Please do so, then come back to discuss. Be sure to watch to the end – it’s worth the investment .... '

Executive Decisions: Goals and Metrics

In InformationWeek, good article and case study:

" ... The terms "scorecard" and "dashboard" are often used interchangeably, but there's an important distinction. Scorecards are all about tracking against defined metrics, and most scorecards are attached to a methodology, such as the Balanced Scorecard or TQM, says Mychelle Mollot, VP of worldwide marketing, analytics, and performance management at IBM. "Top executives have actually laid out a map for where they want to drive the business, and they've created metrics that will drive the behavior that will get them there," Mollot says.

Dashboards display key performance metrics and perhaps green, yellow, and red zones, but they don't tend to show predefined targets or goals established by management and aligned to strategy.

Whether they call their decision-support tools scorecards or dashboards, only a small percentage of leading companies have actually mapped out enterprise-wide goals with a formal methodology. (The Balanced Scorecard Hall of Fame currently lists only about 120 members, including Best Buy, Hilton, UPS, and Wells Fargo.) Some companies come up with their own methodologies, but the key question is whether it's a comparative decision-support interface --does it track performance trends relative to predefined goals? A much larger chunk of companies use dashboard-style interfaces that simply monitor the health of the business. "These types of decision-support tools aren't often attached to a grand methodology or linked down to the bottom of the organization," Mollot says ...

Global Innovation Marches on

Lots of interesting details in this report:

Booz & Company's 2009 edition of the Global Innovation 1000 report finds large R&D spenders are keeping the pace when it comes to developing new products and services despite fiscal challenges presented by the economic downturn ... '

' ... In the face of a severe global recession, the world’s 1,000 largest publicly traded corporate research and development spenders increased R&D budgets in 2008, affirming the critical importance of innovation to their corporate strategies, according to Booz & Company’s Global Innovation 1000, the global management consulting firm’s fifth annual analysis of global innovation spending. R&D spending at these firms rose 5.7 percent in 2008, a slower rate of growth than the prior year’s 10 percent increase, but in line with the group’s 6.5 percent increase in worldwide sales. More than two-thirds of the companies included in this year’s Global Innovation 1000 maintained or increased R&D spending in 2008, even though a third of the companies reported a financial loss for the year ... '

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Procter Anthropologist Finds Worldwide Traits

An article in the Cincinnati Enquirer on the work of Andrew Manning, P&G anthropologist. P&G finds worldwide consumers share traits. ' ... His anthropological learnings are used by P&G scientists, designers and marketers to make and sell products that consumers will buy. Manning recently summed up his job to a luncheon of the American Marketing Association's Cincinnati chapter: "I listen to consumers, and I use what they say to help create products." ... '

Suggesting Alternative Spending

Not surprising, but some ot the details are interesting:

Suggesting Alternative Ways to Spend Affects Consumers' Purchase Decisions
' ... It’s a scene that plays out in stores every day: a customer standing in front of a product display, frozen in indecision, trying to decide what to buy among the various options. As a study published in the December issue of the Journal of Consumer Research explains, whether the customer is weighing flat screen TVs or pairs of sunglasses, his choice can be swayed not by calling attention to details like product features, but to something he is not likely thinking about in the moment of decision — other ways he could spend his money ... '

Discovering Patterns in Data

Blog discovered: Neoformix: Discovering and Illustrating patterns in Data. Some interesting visualization examples, including most recently, exploring the 9/11 pager data and H1N1 data analysis. Nicely done.

Computer Science in a Conceptual Age

Intriguing piece in CACM on how the game industry is requiring more skilled programmers that in the past would have gone to industrial research labs. I would also like to see CS departments work on how to use the concepts behind games to aid industry as well.

' ... the conceptual age is defined by cognitive or creative assets, including design, storytelling, artistry, empathy, play, and emotion. Good engineering or good computer science is no longer enough; design must be just as good. The transition from information age to conceptual age has been overlooked by most academics in computer science, yet many of the consequences of the transition have been apparent for the past decade at least..... the integration of game development into computer science curricula. Here, I discuss what it looks like, how it affects computer science departments, and how it helps drive the overall transition ... '