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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Amazon Acquires Woot

In a cool move Amazon has bought the geeky surplus store Woot. Will operate as an independent subsidiary. Although I have not been there for a while Woot was known for its cheeky, self-deprecating copy that was by itself a fun read and follow. See, for example, their acquisition announcement. Congratulations to Woot for being acquired, worth a look again, as I plan to.

Google Celebrates Maps Mashups

Its only been five years since the launch of the Google Maps API. ReadWriteWeb celebrates with an article about it, and points to their map of mashups. Have now been involved with several applications that used Google maps, and the potential unleased for GIS applications is phenomenal. Take a look at some of the examples shown.

Washing Away Bad Hair Days

In the Online WSJ: Wash Away Bad Hair Days - In the Lab as Procter & Gamble Tries to Figure Out Pantene, Fickle Shampoo Shoppers and Other Marketing Mysteries. ... Late in the article it is mentioned that they used neuromarketing techniques, specifically EEG biometric tests, to endorse and augment classical market research methods. At the end of the article a P&G researcher effectively endorses the use of neuromarketing biometric methods. First time I have seen that publicly done.

Play and Our Brain

Reexamining aspects of the interaction of work and play. Which brought me back to Stuart Brown's book: Play: How It Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul, and his site and blog.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Cargill Starts Innovation Center

I am a long-time student of innovation centers, helping found one myself, and remember hearing of Cargill working in this area a few years ago. Now they are finally under way. The description seems to be what one might expect. Much more on innovation centers in this blog. Want to know more? Contact me.

How Procter Fosters Green Innovation

P&G Fostering green innovation:

" ... Procter & Gamble has launched a major green-innovation campaign with a goal of selling $50 billion in sustainable products by 2012, says Len Sauers, P&G's vice president for global sustainability. To do that, the company has tasked its 9,000-strong R&D team with creating products that combine impeccable environmental chops with a strong mainstream appeal. "The key is to develop products that enable this mainstream market to be sustainable without any inherent trade-offs," Sauers says. "There can be no decrease in performance or increase in price." ... "

Precision Body Scanning

We tracked the idea of body scanning for some time, for product design applications like diapers. Its been seen in fitting Jeans and in some high fashion places. It does not seem to have taken off in general though. This article suggests it has advanced in some high value and precision areas, like in firefighting suits and sports uniforms.

Panera Opens Pay as You Wish Store

This does not seem like it should work, our reaction to 'free' as it is, but the article claims it does, to be seen how much they replicate this.

Visualizing Latency

In the CACM:, technical but interesting, The last sentence is telling, if you have to explain it, is it a good visualization? Yes, the underlying technology you are explaining can be complex, so that could be a reason ... Not otherwise.

Visualizing System Latency
Heat maps are a unique and powerful way to visualize latency data. Explaining the results, however, is an ongoing challenge .... "

Monday, June 28, 2010

Who Are Your Twitter Followers?

GigaOhm does a good job providing a case study of how to best understand your Twitter followers. This starts to answer a question I have had recently: Just who are these 500 people who follow me? Unless you block, or set up a restrictive follow policy, anyone can follow you. I often look at a follower's profile before I decide to re-follow. There are obvious answers: Common interests, Local Businesses, Want to sell me something etc. But what other characteristics do followers have? It turns out, because of the relatively open Twitter API, there are some tools you can use to find this out. Good case study.

Analytics Magazine: Focus on Forecasting

The July/August issue of Analytics Magazine cover enterprise forecasting. A tricky area I spent much time working in. This magazine is always a practical place to look for real solutions. Here are just some of the articles:

" ... Andy Boyd talks about the myriad barriers that forecasters encounter in a corporate setting and how to overcome them in order to achieve forecasting's full potential.

Michael Gilliland and Udo Sglavo list the "worst practices in business forecasting" to avoid.

Jack Yurkiewicz helps to answer maybe the toughest question a forecaster can face: with so many forecasting software packages to choose from, which one is right for me? ... "

Even the Tech Sophisticated get Phished

A cautionary tale about password use. Cory Doctorow gets Phished.

Cory Doctorow: Persistence Pays Parasites

“Here’s how I got fooled. . . . Phishing isn’t (just) about finding a person who is technically naive. It’s about attacking the seemingly impregnable defenses of the technically sophisticated until you find a single, incredibly unlikely, short-lived crack in the wall.” ... "

Private Label

UPI article on the increasing use of private label by cost conscious consumers. Useful statistics.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Nielsen and McKinsey Social Venture

A joint venture that links several groups I know well:

" ... Nielsen and management consultancy McKinsey & Company have formed a joint venture to help clients improve their business performance through the use of intelligence drawn from social media sites. Nielsen’s BuzzMetrics buzz-tracking service becomes part of the new company, NM Incite, to which McKinsey will contribute expertise in the areas of marketing and sales, organisation and service operations ... "


I often quote the StoreFrontBacktalk site. Evan Schuman does a great job tracking the technologies that continue to change the world of retail and E-commerce. Read the site and add it to your list. You can also add your name to a newsletter there. Over the years I have learned much from it. Here are some recent posts in this blog that quote StoreFrontBackTalk.

Item Search with Xyggy

I received this recently, just started to take a look at it, intriguing paradigm:

" ... Thank-you for the post on Bayesian Information Retrieval .. The Xyggy technology is a new search tool that operates on "items" (or if you prefer "object" or "things") of any data type. Given a text query or a few example items, Xyggy will return other similar items. The interactive search box facilitates an intuitive experience to initiate a search by dragging items in and out to find relevant items....
We are actively courting companies and always suggest that a good way to proceed is to build a prototype using their data to determine the value of the Xyggy technology. We are setup to turn around prototypes pretty quickly dependent on the data type. If any of your clients would be interested then we will be eager to help. I'll be pleased to discuss potential uses if that helps.

Dinesh, ceo & founder, www.xyggy.com ... "

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Pepsi and the Next FourSquare

Have examined packages like Foursquare and there are some fundamental problems with their use for marketing plays. Enterprises like Pepsi are trying to influence their design. Good idea if you believe lcoaation based social media are the future. In AdAge:

" ...Pepsi wants to get in on the ground floor of the next Foursquare. The marketer, which has been outspoken about its commitment to social media, crowdsourcing even its biggest marketing program through the Pepsi Refresh Project, is hooking up with a venture-capital firm to do just that ... " .

Google Docs Add OCR

Have not tried it yet but OCR conversions to text for Google documents is a nice addition. In particular for incoming faxes that I would like to store away and have them searchable. Don't know yet how well their OCR will work for faxes and copies. I also see a number of other updates have been made. A real SaaS challenge for Word?

UxSuite Discovers Unforeseen Usage Patterns

Colleague Aylin Koca of the TU/e Department of Industrial Design reports on the establishment of her startup: UXsuite. See some of her previous work posted on here on soft reliability.

What UXsuite does:

UXsuite helps in tracking and analyzing how complex connected products are used and experienced by diverse users around the globe on a day-to-day basis. Through real-time adaptation of usage and experience observation, UXsuite helps to automatically discover unforeseen interaction patterns.

Automatic combined analysis of product usage and individual user experience patterns yields verified and continuous feedback on experiential design of products. Because users saying is not users doing; you need to know both! Based on such rich insights, it becomes possible to always position according to evolving customer needs at real-time ... "

Friday, June 25, 2010

Unilever Plans to Double Digital Spending

In Adage: " ... Unilever will double spending on digital marketing this year, Chief Marketing Officer Keith Weed said in a seminar today at the International Advertising Festival, as the world's No. 2 advertiser looks to make its digital presence proportionate to the amount of time people spend with digital media ...

Tom Davenport's Masterclass

In SASCOM a good report on Tom Davenport's Masterclass. Nicely done, though not too much more than an outlne. Recall that Davenport used our enterprise analytics work for a model in some of his books. His general view is that " ... most companies have massive amounts of data at their disposal, yet fail to utilise it in any meaningful way. But analytics is enabling firms to aggressively use their data in key business decisions and processes, with impressive results.... " . I agree.

Tobii Glasses Announced

Light weight eye-tracking. Nicely done, in particular the visual business intelligence that is included. See the short video in the link below for a demonstration. P&G recently announced a partnership agreement with Tobii....

" ... Tobii Glasses  —  combining the power of mobile eye tracking with fast data aggregation

Today Tobii Technology globally launches the groundbreaking Tobii Glasses. These are the first mobile eye tracking glasses that assimilate a pair of normal glasses. This has been achieved by placing the eye tracking sensor behind the right eye and reflecting the eye tracking data off a hot mirror coating on the lens. This is a totally unique technology that creates unparalleled unobtrusiveness for mobile eye tracking!

A very cool feature of the Tobii Glasses is the innovative IR marker system. The IR markers were designed to work with our supreme eye tracking software Tobii Studio and we have therefore been able to create an unprecedented data aggregation tool for mobile eye tracking. This system will save many hours of manual work for our customers....

... By Rasmus Pettersson, Product Manager at Tobii Technology AB ... "

Social Media and Small Business

Useful short piece in E-Commerce Times:

" ... So how can something with that much influence be easy and unintimidating for a small-business owner to use? There's no need to be intimidated, blogger Christopher Bucholtz of Forecasting Clouds told the E-Commerce Times. Cost isn't really a major concern, either -- your major investment when adopting a social marketing strategy is time ... "


Geofencing is a kind of virtual alert system based on a geographical line or lines drawn on a map. So if you wanted to determine if a person entered a particular supermarket aisle, you would outline that aisle with a geofence, and as a person with a location-enabled smart device entered they could be tracked or credited with a visit. A loyalty count, but you don't need to check-in to anything. A big plus.

It's about more than just getting close to something, its about crossing boundaries. Much more about the concept and recent thoughts about it in a recent Readwriteweb post. An simple but important concept in location based systems and geographical information systems.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

This Blog and How it Relates to What I Do

This blog in various forms was initially established to communicate to innovation center visitors starting around 2002. This blog's readers include executives and innovators of many kinds from retail, manufacturing, R&D, IT and beyond. From large companies to startups.

I am now retired from the enterprise, but still very actively consulting. I am working with a number of companies as a board member, technical consultant, partner, innovator and guide. I can evaluate, write, advise and innovate in a number of areas. Always looking for new ways to collaborate. More about me can be found by Googling my name. Detailed data in LinkedIn. A short bio is here.

Read this blog. If the areas I talk about are of interest to you, and can use my expertise, call me in the US at (513) 405 7387. More contact information in the left column of this blog. I Look forward to helping you.

Openness Audit

Heard Charlene Li talk today introducing concepts in her new book: Open Leadership: How Social Technology Can Change the Way You Lead. Some excellent points. In her blog she includes a post about the concept of an Openness Audit. Allows you to score yourself on how open your decision making process and organization is. I have not read the book yet, but looks like it is worth it.

(My policy on books is that if you send me one I will mention it - and often review it. Otherwise it may or may not get reviewed in turn). Contact info in left column.

I know there are still many organizations that are still debating the very value of social networks. This could help, especialy with their internal use. A number of good examples were shown.

Stories Sell

In Roger Dooley's Neuromarketing blog: Why Stories Sell. With some links to previous posts on the subject. Certainly they do sell, and are much more memorable than simple statements. Our brains have some special empathy for human scenarios. Advertisers have known it for a long time. Would like to see much more work on understanding how the brain works with stories.

Scented Spaces

Discovered! An excellent site and scented spaces blog by Tracy Pepe on scent design. I am following, check it out. See also her recent post on CPG scent branding, a favorite topic of mine.

Social Media Terms

A useful glossary of social media terms. Terms in play are always changing, worth knowing.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Auction Followup

In recent posts I have been exploring auction technologies, mobile and otherwise. Part of the exploration I did was to attend a local auction at Cowan's Auctions of the papers of Mary Lincoln. I got a number of emails about that, so thought I would include a link that talks about the results of that auction. Fascinating results.

eBay buys RedLaser

Barcode reading has been on my mind lately, see recent posts. And just as that occurs eBay buys RedLaser, with more than just code-reading on their mind. RedLaser is the best known barcode reading App, used by several shopping systems. I just reviewed Bing's remarkable move into this space.

Tremor CEO Interview

A CGT interview with Steve Knox, CEO of P&G's Tremor. " ... Have you ever wondered why consumers talk? Thought-leader Steve Knox shares tricks for building consumer advocacy for your brands through cognitive psychology ... "

A Checklist Manifesto

Interesting piece on the power of the checklist and our aversion to it:

" Checking Everything Off -- Except the Resistance to Change
from Knowledge@Wharton
Errors and omissions of the most ordinary and preventable kind kill thousands of patients every year in hospitals throughout the developed and developing worlds. A simple solution exists to this problem, argues Atul Gawande in his most recent book, The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right. A surgeon and a journalist, Gawande shows just how effective checklists can be to reduce the damage caused by human fallibility in industries including medicine, construction, aviation and others where the work environment depends on complicated processes, technology and equipment. So why aren't checklists used in every operating room and ICU? The answer is simple: In the existing medical establishment, too many doctors don't like to be told what to do. Add one more box to the checklist -- the need for cultural change.... "

Bing App does Barcodes

I noticed in updates for the Bing IPhone App today that they were now allowing you to read barcodes and other images using a smartphone's camera. Then search for the items with the derived code. Smartphone barcode reading development is something I have followed for a number of years.

I did a quick test of a number of items in the pantry that would be found on a typical store shelf. The read did very well, faster than most, in typical to medium dim light using an IPhone 3G, before autofocus. No audio feedback, which I would have liked. In a typical store it may be too difficult to see the thumbnail shown when the 2D code is read.

What I liked very much was that the reader did what no other camera readers do, it quickly read the code upside down and even positioned at 90 degrees. This saves time when reading multiple items. Have not tried any of the other kinds of codes it claims it can do, like 2D codes and album images, but will. Nicely done.

Also mentioned in Fastcompany.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Successful Software Platforms

Successful Software Platforms are the Byproducts of Successful Businesses, by Ruben Ortega
Most startup business plans I have encountered over the past few years mention that a side-effect of the business will be to create a software platform. The virtue of the software platform is that it will be capable of supporting the current business, and also create long-term value in delivering a foundation for developers outside the company to deliver products and enhancing a virtuous cycle of improvement .... "

Richer Bar Codes

Towards richer bar codes ... This is an evolution that has been going on for years, now we are in the midst of making it useful ...

" ... A shopper in a self-scan checkout line looks for the barcode on each product. Otherwise, those patches of fat and thin stripes that appear on everything from books to soup cans get little notice from the public.

But barcodes are becoming more complex and useful. Newer ones may look like layers of stripes and numbers, or geometric shapes or dots that form patterns inside a square or rectangle. They hold much more information than their predecessors -- and that's creating new functions for codes in a variety of industries, and helping consumers to become better informed, shop more efficiently and save money.

"From the checkout at your local store, to hospital wristbands and medicines to manufacturing environments and even the tiles on the Space Shuttle," said Steve Halliday, president of consulting firm High Tech Aid in Richland, "these relatively simple-looking black and white images continue to deliver incredible value." ... "

DemandTec and Target

We saw DemandTec during their early days as a revenue management system. An impressive and sophisticated approach. Gigaom posts a good article on their work with Target.

" .. DemandTec, a retail-forecasting software provider, has convinced Target Corp. — an existing customer — to hand over even more of its shopping data in order to better set prices and forecast demand. Target is following a growing trend in retail that involves using more granular customer data to predict demand, thanks to advances in software and technology. But stores still need companies like DemandTec to help them turn the plentiful straw of digital data into predictive gold, a service that becomes more challenging as more data is introduced ... "

Monday, June 21, 2010

Scent Branding

The use of scent was covered nicely in the current Business Week. I have mentioned a number of times our work in the innovation centers installing, testing and measuring the effect of using scent in retail. It's a powerful way to establish context in retail spaces. It works. It is an effective non-conscious trigger. Yet by its very nature it is harder to deliver and control. Particularly intriguing now is the ability to measure scent augmented conditions using neoromarketing biometric measures. Many more posts on scent here.

The article is good because it further outlines a number of current retail applications of scent to define brands in contest. It also describes new programs in using scent as a strong element of design, beyond the fragrance world. Parsons New School for Design in NYC has launched a Masters degree which includes olfaction in design.

Related post by Roger Dooley in his Neuromarketing blog and in Mind Hacks. Also notable is the work by Martin Lindstrom in using branded scent and work by Russell Brumfield. Both of these practitioners have implemented some very persuasive applications in this area.

I continue to follow.

Procter Offers Advice for Male Homemakers

Male oriented housekeeping tips from P&G. I have taken a look at it, well done, it is a multi-contributor blog.

" ... Procter & Gamble has launched a household tips website for the growing number of American men who have become homemakers in a tough job market. The site, Manofthehouse.com, went live this month and offers the kind of advice on child-rearing, cleaning and cooking more often found in women's magazines. The site will eventually be used as a vehicle for advertising P&G's household and other brands, said Jeannie Tharrington, spokeswoman for Procter & Gamble Productions.The launch comes as the United States struggles to emerge from a downturn that hit men's jobs especially hard, according to U.S. Labor Department unemployment statistics... "

Procter at the Shanghai Expo

An article about P&G's involvement at the 2010 China Shanghai exposition, now ongoing. More about the expo here.

Where Americans are Moving

This Forbes feature has received much publicity. Based on IRS data it is a dynamic visualization of US internal migration data. Simple and well done.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Delivering Health: mHealth

Mark Montgomery of Kyield sends along an excellent link:

The mHealth Revolution
Industry insiders offer their insight into the way new technologies
will change how health care is delivered
by Brad M. Pruitt, M.D. .... "

A short but good overview article on the current delivery of health care via new tech, such as the use of Smartphones. See also my previous post on AI Physicians.

One Time Display Password

StorefrontBackTalk reports that Mastercard is experimenting with a one time use password display. This approach has been used for access to secure resources for some time, but the card used was likely too expensive for general distribution. Also as a commenter asks, how would this be used in a restaurant, where the server leaves with the card? They could be given the one-time pin before leaving the table, or the process would need to be otherwise altered.

Boldly Going NoWhere

From CACM: NASA ends plan to put man back on the moon.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

IBM's Watson Natural Language System

In Mindhacks: Information about IBM's Watson system, which is designed to analyze and answer natural language queries. Also points to a NYT article on the topic, which is worth a read. A long-time artificial intelligence challenge. We saw it demonstrated for relatively simple database queries. Have not seen it for a number of years, but it has apparently improved considerably. I would like to see a comparison to the natural language capabilities of WolframAlpha. They are using it for Jeopardy game challenges. Natural Language remains a tough problem, not completely solved. Yet would it not be nice to communicate with machines in simple natural language, typed or spoken? IBM's site and the Watson system in WP.

Becoming a Design Leader

Thoughts on becoming a design leader, by David Sherwin. Nicely put. In the Design Mind blog.

Screen Games

Giant Screen social games at events, via Springwise. Why not done remotely as well? I saw a simpler example on the Lake Geneva fountain a number of years ago.

Variable Sun

In an earlier academic life experience I did sun modeling. This field has made considerable strides over the years. I am no longer involved with the technologies at play, but it is clear that the models used do not predict. It has always been known that the sun, as all stars, is variable to some degree. We are getting more information now about how much. More on our most recent learning:

" ... SUNSPOTS come and go, but recently they have mostly gone. For centuries, astronomers have recorded when these dark blemishes on the solar surface emerge, only for them to fade away again after a few days, weeks or months. Thanks to their efforts, we know that sunspot numbers ebb and flow in cycles lasting about 11 years.

But for the past two years, the sunspots have mostly been missing. Their absence, the most prolonged for nearly a hundred years, has taken even seasoned sun watchers by surprise. "This is solar behaviour we haven't seen in living memory," says David Hathaway, a physicist at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.... "

Friday, June 18, 2010

Visual Concept Search Solved?

From a paper by Cees Snoek and Arnold Smeulders of the University of Amsterdam, suggests that the machine understanding of images is within reach. Minimal abstract here. Good paper which addresses semantic issues of the problem. Well known tough problem that I have followed for a number of organizations.

Nestle Supermarket Barge

Had heard of this before but only briefly... a novel idea which uses a barge on tributaries of the Amazon river in Brazil to engage truly emerging markets. Much more in Bloomberg.

FMI Revamps Website

FMI provides excellent technical information, over the years have been to a number of their conferences: FMI (Food Marketing Institute) has updated its website, www.fmi.org, improving ease of navigation and making it easier for users to find information. The site, with a new look and wider screen, will be continually upgraded with new resources and information, said Leslie G. Sarasin, president and CEO.... '

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Visual Experience Management

From Saffron. Intriguing linkage of associative memory and visualization. Will examine it more closely.

"‘Visual Experience Management’ Makes Big Data “Pop” With Meaning
McLean, VA & Cary, NC, May 19, 2010 –- Centrifuge Systems, Inc., a leading provider of next-generation Business Intelligence (BI) software, and Saffron Technology, Inc., a data analytics software firm providing associative–memory-based Experience Management solutions, today jointly announced they are partnering to deliver a graphical, highly interactive streaming data analytics and Business Intelligence solution for enterprises worldwide. Both Saffron and Centrifuge were recently recognized as “Cool Vendors” by a leading analyst firm.

The integrated solution combines Saffron Natural Intelligence Platform Version 8.0 and Centrifuge 2.0. The offering gives customers in business and government the ability to apply associative memory to analytics and business intelligence — both via Saffron’s sense-making and decision support capabilities, and Centrifuge’s powerful visualization solutions ... "

Indoor Use of Augmented Reality

From a Junaio press release, a good example of further implications for retail. See the link to the short demonstration video below. Well worth looking at:

"Indoor Usage of junaio®: the KIOSK EUROPE EXPO 2010 Channel

MUNICH / ESSEN, June 17th, 2010 - Are you trying to find your way around a huge indoor event such as a trade fair or a large museum exposition? The KIOSK EUROPE EXPO 2010 Channel is the first real life implementation of junaio®`s advanced indoor navigation capabilities on your smartphone, presenting an interactive mobile guide to the world`s largest trade fair on electronic self-service and innovative retail solutions. junaio® is the first augmented reality platform to overcome the accuracy limitations of GPS navigation, offering pinpoint indoor navigation services. Point, click and view information on individual exhibits or find directions to interesting events and locations. Available for iPhone and Android ... find a movie here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jRcSFXvoPkU ... "


DePaul Program in Predictive Analytics

First of its kind program in the US. Useful to see this kind of thing happening, and I hope it is linked strongly to MBA programs there and elsewhere.

Update from the Comments: Another, perhaps earlier program at NC State. Part of the problem here may be the defintion of predictive analytics. All forecasting methods are predictive analytics, done using modern methods since the 40s.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Google Scholar Blog

Google Scholar, which we found useful in the enterprise a few times, has added a blog which details recent changes. Including the ability to set alerts for new research.

Choices for Statistical Analytics

Good article on SPSS, SAS and R by Steve Miller. I have worked now with all three of these packages over the years. They are all fundamentally good packages, with specialties and capabilities varying. In the enterprise all three were there. In the startup environment more attention is paid to cheaper solutions, so the focus changes for typical statistics. I am also concerned that some capabilities have been repackaged and now are being resold and packaged as 'predictive analytics'. In particular the way SPSS's former Clementine package is being re-sold at prices too high for the startup environment.

Visibility Magazine on Neuromarketing

Good article on neuromarketing in Visibility Magazine. Makes the case that these techniques should be added to your marketing toolbox. Especially here regarding Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

An AI Physician on Every Smartphone

An intriguing challenge. With increasing numbers of onboard sensors, the possibilities abound. Especially considering that your could connect to a real MD through a videoconference, as needed. It is certainly a way to get any kind of expertise where is is not readily available. Less confident about the Artificial intelligence aspect of this, you still cannot put too much confidence in the 'intelligence' aspect of this idea.

Mathematica Tutorial Collection

Of interest, the Mathematica Tutorial Collection:

" .... When we released Version 6 in May 2007, Mathematica was reinvented. We also reinvented something else that Mathematica has long been known for: its extensive and detailed product documentation. While some appreciated the recrafting of our tutorial content as stand-alone electronic documents, others missed the narrative of the book, and let us know it. Which is a good thing, because it led to the creation of the Wolfram Mathematica Tutorial Collection ... "

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

50 Billion Opportunity

Dave Knox reports: " ... At this year’s CM Summit, Mary Meeker shared an updated presentation on her 2010 Internet Trends. As always, Meeker’s presentation was jammed with thought provoking statements and facts that every marketing professional needs to pay attention. In particular,the following caught my eye as things every Brand Manger and Marketer needs to keep in mind ... "

Via colleague Dave Cohen

Who Owns the Watercooler?

Word of mouth is always an interesting topic. The office watercooler is a symbol of that connectivity. An Adage article on the continuing reign of TV over Internet as the starting point for conversations. Hardly unexpected. How long will it last?

Future of Augmented Reality

A number of leaders from augmented reality vendors are interviewed:

" ... Last week in Santa Clara, California, luminaries from the augmented reality (AR) industry gathered for Augmented Reality Event 2010 - a conference focused on the business of AR. The two-day event was a great success filled with eye-opening sessions about AR and its possibilities for the future. Fortunately I had the chance to sit down one-on-one with two of the biggest names in the space - leaders of the pair of companies some refer to as "the titans of AR." .... "

Foursquare the Future

The location based location activity-game Foursquare has developed a base of both lovers of the concept and haters. I have tested it for some time now. This CW article gives a good overview of its progress and a number of businesses testing the waters with it now. It also suggests that we will all be using it, or something very like it, soon. I don't find the gaming aspect of it very interesting. Yet the loyalty and promotion-focusing potential of such systems are real. Companies are likely to provide better incentives to customers that engage by really being there.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Tivo on Getting a Commercial Noticed

TUESDAY, JULY 13, 2010 • 12:00-1:00PM EDT Register here
What Gets a Commercial Noticed
Alex Petrilli – Manager, Audience Research, TiVo Inc. and Elissa Lee – Vice President, Research and ARM Product Management, TiVo Inc.
According to TiVo’s Stop Watch data, 41% of all programs were time-shifted during the four quarter of 2009, allowing viewers to fast-forward through the commercials. To combat this dilemma of viewer-controlled programming, marketers are experimenting with a cadre of advertising innovations such as pod busters, limited commercials content and advertisements thematically tied to the program, with varying degrees of success. Discover which of these innovations are the most successful, as DVR penetration moves toward fifty percent and beyond.

Register Here

Future of LED Lightbulbs

Good article from the VentureLab newsletter:

Will LEDs Replace Your Standard House Lightbulb? Definitely Maybe
New solutions in the LED space are clearing the way for low-cost, high-efficiency lighting solutions ... '

World Laundry Trends

Ad Age piece on the trends on laundry solutions around the world. An old interest of mine from research within the enterprise.

Bad Spill Infographics

In Junk Charts: Oil Spills Bring out the Worst. A number of examples that just muddy up the data they are trying to deliver. I get the feeling that news organizations are trying to develop images that can be readily noticed for being different. But when you try to extract the actual data relationships they just become confusing.

Culture and Consumer Choices

Colleague Sammy Haroon posts on Culture and Consumer Choices.

Tomorrow, June 15, is GS1 MobileCom Day

Always informative value from GS1. Have worked with them for a number of years and reported on their activities here:

Tomorrow (Tuesday 15th June) is GS1 MobileCom Day!
Local conferences, workshops and demos are taking place in over 35 countries worldwide. You can participate by joining one of 3 global webinars. To register, just visit http://www.gs1.org/mobilecomday2010.

Asia-Pacific Webinar: IBM: "The Smarter Shopper" / SAP: "Mobile and retail"

Europe/MEMA Webinar: L'OrĂ©al: “The mobile consumer” / Deloitte: "Informing Shoppers"

Europe/Americas Webinar: Kraft: 'iFood App" / Ogilvy: "Advertising 2020" ... "

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Permanence of Social Data

How much should social network based strategies depend on data from the behavior of those sites? Evan Schuman writes about this in StoreFrontBacktalk. Most social sites have been around for a relatively short time and they are constantly changing their strategies. If the strategy is successful then it is likely that a site like Facebook will maintain the data to induce others to play the same way. And such strategies themselves are short-lived.

Carr vs Pinker

In Slashdot: Another look at the disagreement between the two Harvard associated thinkers Steven Pinker and David Carr. Does the availability of the Internet hurt or help our thinking? And is this also an argument about neuroplasticity, ... whether the human brain is fundamentally adaptable or genetically locked into patterns of behavior ... ? This does call for a debate, which I am sure is being worked.

Who Owns the Data Model?

This topic recently came up in a conversation and this post addresses it. From Information Management.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Pepsico Makes a Call for Innovation

In Consumer Goods Technology:
" ... A new program welcomes outside innovation into the organization to push its marketing and communications expertise to new levels PepsiCo launched an innovation incubator program called PepsiCo10, an open call for promising start-ups in media, communications and technology. In this unprecedented initiative, PepsiCo will select up to 10 aspiring entrepreneurial groups, match them with industry mentors, and join with them to activate pilot programs with PepsiCo brands. Entrepreneurs can find out more information about the PepsiCo10 and apply online now through June 24, 2010 ... '

Mind Over Mass Media

Always interesting Steven Pinker writes an opinion piece in the NYT entitled Mind over Mass Media. ' ... NEW forms of media have always caused moral panics: the printing press, newspapers, paperbacks and television were all once denounced as threats to their consumers’ brainpower and moral fiber ... '. Well put piece that challanges other recent work that suggests the shallowing of our minds.

How Blind to Change are We?

From the BBC, via Richard James. A good piece about how neuroscience and artificial intelligence have been exploring how our filters work and don't work when we want to explore complexity in our world.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Auctioning History Update

Based on messages received I know that some of you have been following my auction technology thread. I wrote about the Cowan auction of Lincoln history. That auction completed today, and the lot that included the Mary Todd Lincoln commitment papers sold for 32,500 US Dollars. It had been estimated to sell at between $8-10K. For more about upcoming Cowan US history auctions, see their site.

Future of Education

Does this mean the commoditization of higher education? Once you have lots of training courses online, and a way to rate them AND a means to pay the teachers, will formal classrooms just go away?

A Self-Appointed Teacher Runs a One-Man 'Academy' on YouTube
Are his 10-minute lectures the future? ... '

Software Cost in Cars

Even our locomotion is getting more complex:
How much does software add to the cost of today's vehicles? How about tomorrow's electric cars?
by Sebastian Blanco

Back in 2005, the Center for Automotive Research, with help from other groups, conducted a study that predicted that electronics and software would make up almost 40 percent of a car's total value by 2010 (PDF). Yesterday, IBM used this number in a press release when discussing the way that the computer company wants to work to simplify the millions of lines of code and the way all the electronic systems in a car work together ... '

Whats Next for Publishing? Conference Report

Special report from Knowledge@Wharton: Turn the Page: What's Next for Publishing?. Excellent.

"Emerging technologies and strategies to reach new audiences are changing all aspects of the publishing industry, according to speakers at a recent Wharton conference in New York on "The Future of Publishing." In our coverage of the event, we look at the shifting habits of both readers and advertisers and how they affect traditional content delivery; the future of digital books and the new roles publishers will have to play in their promotion; and innovative ways to deliver content that involve consumers pulling, rather than publishers pushing, a product. We also include podcasts with executives from the Washington Post Company; the Palo Alto Research Center; search engine company Cuil; and Electric Literature, a quarterly literary magazine that publishes using a print-on-demand model ... '

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Choice: Semantic Structure or Systemic Crises

Mark Montgomery of Kyields's blog post on the Gulf spill and the need for polymath perspective/philosophy for overcoming challenges.

Laptops of the Future

Computerworld looks at some of the early prototypes of laptops from a number of vendors. Most of what we see are multiple screens that can be used independently. Not really very novel at all. Flexible screens, where you could roll up your laptop in a scroll and carry it along are still some time away. Or pull a screen out like a window shade. Screens can be made flexible, but all the other parts are still hard to embed readily. I still like the idea of a laptop that would be all projector, then could utilize any flat light surface at hand.

Voice Driven Web

From the CACM:
" ... IBM Exploring voice-driven methods for the third-world web
IBM Research India has launched the Spoken Web, a network designed to use phones, not computers, to bring information on the Web to mainly under-served populations ... '

AI and Stock Picking

In Technology Review: Text analytics method that picks stocks better than the pros. Which pro? Any pros? I have seen such methodologies of various stripes. My questions are always: In which kinds of markets? And why would you be telling me this? The text methods are interesting ... anything that can convert unstructured data to useful structured quantitative results is worthwhile.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Second Life Downsizes

Second Life, the well known virtual world that attracted large investments in time and money from companies like IBM, Kraft and Circuit City, announced a 30% downsizing. In addition they plan to make major changes in their interface that will make it browser based. Our enterprise built a life-like central office there for experimental purposes. I saw dozens of IBM employees building research, laboratory and meeting spaces. Witnessed the opening of a virtual supermarket being built and experienced its aisles. I interviewed a number of researchers working there.

I was particularly intrigued with some experiments underway that would allow people to experience complex data in novel 3D ways. Yet there seemed to be few useful business experiences happening and graphically impressive but empty mock ups of real spaces. The well known Second Life economy did not lend itself to consumer goods experiments. It is certainly not dead yet, but its demise may be close by.

The avatar centric 3D world has evolved remarkably since I examined it five years ago. Something like it may eventually be a new way that we interact remotely with people and machines. Its not ready for business prime time yet. Many did and do enjoy it as life-mimicking game environment. It still claims to be profitable.

There are alternatives than can be used for complex remote business interactions by people, such as Teleplace (formerly called Qwaq) that is worth examining, providing ' virtual spaces for real work ... ' ... I have posted some of my early thoughts on it here.

Kraft, Procter and J&J Talk Marketing

Great article fronm CGT overviewing the Marketing Summit this week:

" ... Kraft, P&G, J&J Unite to Share Sales & Marketing Insights
June 9, 2010 - More than 200 consumer goods executives convened yesterday for the kickoff of the 2010 Consumer Goods Sales & Marketing Summit at The Roosevelt Hotel in NYC. In its seventh year, the event has one aim in mind: to provide attendees with more insight into hot topics, like effective retail partnerships, marketing investments, promotions and brand penetration, through its thought-provoking agenda and abundant networking opportunities ... "
Read the rest through the link above.

New Media Actionable? A Good Idea.

Some useful ideas in really undertanding new media. Although I thought we always did this, I do have examples where it did not work out that way. ' ... While the Internet and social media are a potential boon to market researchers, they've also raised concerns and ongoing debate about methodology and the ability to project results ... '

Models of the Imagination

Some implications for advertising?

Mindhacks on the power of fictional plots and stories.
Psychologist Paul Bloom considers why imaginary characters and fictional plots can have such a powerful emotional effect in a fantastic article for the The Chronicle of Higher Education. Bloom argues that we have a form of 'dual representation' for fictional reveries where we engage our emotions with the characters, plot or situation as if they were real while knowing that they are not ... '

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Unilever Strikes iAD Deal with Apple

Apple plans to start it's iAD on July 1:

" ... a little over one week after iOS 4 becomes available to the general public. The iOS 4 update allows developers to incorporate the service into their applications using the API that Apple offered in beta form in April. According to Apple, deals have already been inked with numerous major brands, including JCPenny, Nissan, Best Buy, and AT&T. The Cupertino company claims the deals are worth more than $60 million, which accounts for nearly 50 percent of the mobile ad expenditures for the second half of 2010 as predicted by JP Morgan earlier this year .. '

Beyond that they are working with global CPG company Unilever.

Posing New Tools for Big Data

From Dataspora. Insightful post, starting to see increasing examples of this. Lots of good thoughts in this detailed piece:

' ... In my previous post , I discussed the forces behind what I’m calling The Data Singularity. My basic thesis is that as information generating processes become more frictionless — as humans have been excised from information read-write loops — the velocity and volume of data in the world is increasing, and at an exponential rate.

But where we go from here? What are the consequences of living in an age where every datum is stored? Where are the bottlenecks, pain points, and opportunities? Which technologies are addressing these? ... '.

Shopper Centric Analytics Advances

In AdAge:
' ...A Prescription for Resuscitating Growth for CPG Companies
Advances in Data, Insights, Analytics and Technology Enable a Personalized Shopper-Marketing Experience
by Robert Holston ... '

Good article with some prescriptive thoughts about the topic as it addresses the challenge of economic changes to CPG companies, especially aspects like the increase in private label buying. The analytics and data availability is driving these new ideas.

Mypaint: Drawing With No Talent

A newly discovered drawing system called Mypaint for freehand images, does not make you a graphics artist, but a nice start. Via Downloadsquad.

Monday, June 07, 2010

IPhone in Trouble?

Is the IPhone in trouble because its business model is not open enough? You can build some clever things that win at first, but will they survive when challenged by more adaptive solutions?

Auctioning Lincoln History

This blog has a number of times covered auction technologies. This resulted from a number of studies of auction processes inside the enterprise. Recently I have had some conversations with the impressive local Cowan's Auctions on semantic taxonomies. I am also very interested in American History. This Friday, June 11, the commitment papers of Mary Todd Lincoln will be auctioned at Cowans. You can attend the auction in Cincinnati, or participate online or by phone. An article on the history of this item here. Open to the public. Along with a broad variety of fascinating other American History items. To see the richly detailed catalog of this auction, go to the Cowans site and click on the current auction catalog. The Mary Todd Lincoln papers are in lot #296. You can also register there for updates, or to bid online. The site also contains a database of thousands of items sold.

Digitizing the First Moment of Truth

Former P&Ger Randall Beard in his Marketing with Impact Blog about digitization of the first-moment-of-truth, the interaction of shopper and store at the shelf. Also known as merchandising. The topic is a frequent one in this blog. He does a good job providing an overview of the topic, connecting it to P&G practices and mentioning a number of vendors currently in play. Worth following. Via Stan Dyck.

Mapping Initiatives via Google and Bing

An intriguing race between major search engine providers, using health data:

Bing, Google Offering Dueling “Health Maps”
Microsoft and Google both have ambitious electronic health records initiatives. But today both introduced “health maps” that enable data visualization on a mapping interface ... '

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Ready for Mobile Video Chat?

How much does the ready and easy availability of video chat add to the value of business communications? Some rumors that this will be the new ingredient in the IPhone hardware and operating system. A Computerworld debate on the topic. I am of the opinion that while sharing screens can add much to business interactions, an actual visual of the person's face does little. Of course I can remember debating whether color screens provided any value for a PC. It's very ubiquity may provide new dimensions to business connections.

Rise of the Replicators

We met MIT's Neil Gershenfeld and read his book: When Things Start to Think. Much enjoyed, but I did wonder about how hard it would be to implement what he was suggesting. Remote manufacturing perhaps, but machine replication? Here is a New Scientist article that discusses progress in this area. A true rise of the replicators? The implications?

Reporting vs Blogging

Walter Riker writes about Reporting vs Blogging in his Ease of Blogging blog. Walter's blog is a great resource in this space, and he is also a first rate teacher if you are new to starting a blog. We often talk about related issues.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Sony Lifelogging Glasses

Via Walter Riker: Sony demonstrates lifelogging glasses. Have been looking at eyetracking approaches lately. In the Enterprise we examined related methods for delivering key knowledge to people as they performed support requiring tasks. As their design improves you could pay consumers to wear them to track their behavior engaging your product in the real world. Out there, but not that far away.

Semantic Publishing

From IEEE Inteligent Systems:

The Semantic Web:
From Proteins to Fairytales: Directions in Semantic Publishing
Anita de Waard
If computers are to help us process mountains of scientific information, we must build platforms for richer semantic technologies to represent scientific knowledge ... '

Focus on the Objectives of Business Intelligence

Richard Herschel looks at the various definitions of BI and tries to make sense of how it relates to the objectives we should be seeking. Well done.

He proposes a general definition:

' ... Business intelligence is the application of data, technology, and analytics to gain insight and knowledge that enables decisions about people, processes, products, and services that yield positive economic outcomes.

If this definition were uniformly adopted, then discussions about BI could be made more consistent and constructive. We could all focus on what matters – outcomes. That would mean that IT articles about BI would talk about technology’s ability to contribute to successful business results, not simply about components and their capabilities. Analytics articles would discuss BI willingly and actively, seeking to enhance awareness of their relevance, importance, and value to the practice and success of BI efforts.... '

Links as a Distraction

A discussion of whether including links in writing is a good idea. Have always thought the very purpose of being on the web is to include links to supporting material. But does it distract you from the point being made?

Friday, June 04, 2010

Tour Through a Visualization Zoo

From CACM: A Tour Through the Visualization Zoo,
A survey of powerful visualization techniques, from the obvious to the obscure...
The goal of visualization is to aid our understanding of data by leveraging the human visual system's highly tuned ability to see patterns, spot trends, and identify outliers. Well-designed visual representations can replace cognitive calculations with simple perceptual inferences and improve comprehension, memory, and decision making. By making data more accessible and appealing, visual representations may also help engage more diverse audiences in exploration and analysis. The challenge is to create effective and engaging visualizations that are appropriate to the data ... '

I like this, but I repeat ... keep it simple when you visualize!

Zakta Search

Once more I would like to suggest that you take a look at Zakta. Constructed by some very smart developers I know. Its been updated now a number of times. An alternative search engine that allows you to do all the usual things with search, but also seek out focused expertise in the form of 'Guides'. In addition, it sorts out the results of a search into alternate forms to make them easier to use. This is well worth a look as it evolves.

Try it here.

Medical Augmented Reality

Some great examples of medical augmented reality in ReadWriteWeb. Via obdervant colleague Stan Dyck. It brings up the interesting idea of using AR to highlight data and its implications are demonstrated. In the case of data visualization I am also always concerned that augmenting results can also misrepresent results. Though I much like the idea of using augmentation to highlight important relationships for training and alerting.

Scent of a Steak

A short piece about a company emitting the scent of a steak from a billboard. At the Innovation Centers we experimented extensively with targeted in-store scent delivery. The company involved is ScentAir, who we worked with. They also feature this project on their site. This is an example of a large scale delivery that probably does not need careful control of scent delivery. Different than in-store. More on this in ScentAir's Blog.

Personalizing Discounts at Sams

An obvious but still rare play in the world of loyalty. Is this the way that loyalty programs will evolve?

" ... Wal-Mart warehouse chain Sam's Club has introduced eValues, which offers discounts based on each consumer's shopping history. The program, available only to "Plus" members, allows users to view deals on the Sam's Club website, via e-mail or at store kiosks, with savings applied automatically at checkout ... "

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Wal-Mart's Supply Chain

Good overview post on Wal-Mart's supply chain practices from Evan Schuman's StoreFrontBacktalk.

Google Face Recognition Methods

Some interesting new methodologies being debated by Google. Recognition of images is an area I have worked on for a number of years.

Procter Partners with Tobii

P&G is involved in a widespread rollout of understanding non-conscious consumer behavior: " ... Procter & Gamble has partnered with Swedish eye tracking technology firm Tobii Technology to do package and shelf testing on a worldwide basis, according to a report from the Market Research Industry Online ... '.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Linkless Press Releases

I just reviewed two emails I received about some technology areas I cover. Neither contained a link to the press release content I could send on. I had to ask the company for the links. Brainless. Silicon Valley Watcher posts about this behavior.

Embedded Business Rules and Analytics

A topic of continual interest to me. We saw some of this in the enterprise when quantitative analytical methods were linked to sets of 'expert systems' business rules. In fact in our broad experiments these were the only solutions that really worked for non-trivial problems. This reverses the approach ... you start with business analytics methods, then add-in rules. Makes sense. Below, description of DMRadio talk on June 3, then access to recording afterwards:

"Embedded Analytics and Business Rules: The Holy Grail?
The effective combination of embedded analytics and business rules can pave the way for all kinds of valuable automation. Examples include next best offer which can boost sales; better fraud detection, which can limit losses; lower inventory, which can streamline operations and thus also lower costs; the list goes on. Tune into this episode of DM Radio to learn how, where, when and why to combine business rules with embedded analytics. We'll hear from Boris Evelson, Forrester; Dean Abbott, Abbott Analytics; Drew Rockwell, Martin Dawes Analytics and Mike Lees, Software AG.... "

Tacit Knowledge

During a period when many enterprises were thinking about how to build expert systems that might augment human beings, we learned about the concept of tacit knowledge. It was quickly discovered that while experts knew how to solve tough problems, formalizing that knowledge so that machines might use it was much more difficult. This article does a good job of explaining the concept. This is also well covered in Nonaka and Takeuchi's book The Knowledge Creating Company.

' ... The term was coined in the 1950s by the British-Hungarian physical chemist and philosopher, Michael Polanyi. In that era of enormous optimism about what physics and mathematics could achieve, it seemed only a matter of time before science formalised everything. This was to pave the way for computers to acquire all human abilities and run everything. Polanyi wanted to show there was more to scientific creativity than this and argued there was always something unspoken, even at the heart of the exact sciences. His most famous example was riding a bicycle: we can do it but without quite knowing how ... '

The author and his new book is worth examining:
Harry Collins is at the school of social sciences at Cardiff University, UK. His books include The Golem with Trevor Pinch (Cambridge University Press). This essay is based on Tacit and Explicit Knowledge (University of Chicago Press), which is part of the Cardiff group's project on expertise (www.cf.ac.uk/socsi/expertise)

Online Video Storytelling Study

Participate in the SNCR Study on online video storytelling. ' ... The research study will focus on how organizations are using video to enhance their storytelling both inside and outside the company. Every organization has stories designed to communicate who they are to both internal and external audiences. Stories are a powerful force for internal innovation and external customer connection. The results of this study will yield insight into best practices for organizations wanting to leverage video to reach audiences and tell their stories in new ways ... '

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Emerging Market Business Models

Colleague Sammy Haroon does a good job writing about new business models for innovation in emerging markets. Making good use of a recent Economist report on the subject. Sammy has some excellent close-up experience in this area and is worth listening to.

Bringing Augmented Reality to E-Commerce

From a press release by Metaio. The concept is something I have been looking at in a number of forms for years. Combining physical spaces with realities that can then be augmented or modified to match shopper needs.

We experimented with this in virtual reality spaces and in our innovation centers. Contact me if you would like to discuss this insight. This was before smartphones could deliver the capabilities directly to the hands of the shoppers.

Great idea, but how it works depends largely on how it can and is delivered. Smartphones, if they are not there today to technically provide this promise, they soon will be. So it is a good time to see this happen.

Metaio and YOUReality Bring Augmented Reality to E-Commerce (This link contains more details, images and videos) ... The Internet changed how people shop. Now, YOUReality LLC and metaio Inc. are changing how people will shop online. With the introduction of its Online Retail Visualization 3D tool, YOUReality is making it possible for consumers to see products in their own space before they purchase them by integrating Augmented Reality into a suite of commerce applications. The new services allow shoppers to make more confident buying decisions, deliver retailers a higher sales conversion rate, and significantly lower product return costs.

Online shopping is attractive to an increasing number of consumers for its convenience, speed, product selection and other benefits. To make the shopping experience even more engaging and informative, many retailers are enhancing their websites with multimedia features such as video clips, virtual visualization or slide shows so that shoppers can better understand product features.

With YOUReality, customers can even "bring it home" and try before they buy, allowing consumers to visualize context sensitive products with life-like 3D models in a photo of their own home environment. The resulting image provides a realistic view of what the object will look like in that space with the ability to move the item around (maintaining correct dimension and perspective) and change colors, styles, sizes and textures of the 3D object while viewing it in the photo ... '

Further formal press release.

Procter on Innovation

An interview with P&G's Melanie Healey on Invading 'Whitespace' via Innovation, in Brandweek. Nothing very new, but good view of their directions.

Upside of Irrationality

Dan Ariely's new book, The Upside of Irrationality is out. See more at his blog. On the list here.

Remembering Lee De Forest

A number of posts about the invention of the amplifier by Lee De Forest in 1906. A crucial step in the broad application of electronics. As the Gizmodo article indicates, he is rarely membered today. Gizmodo quotes from Nick Carr's new book, The Shallows. Like Tesla he made little from his remarkable inventions and died relatively poor.