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Monday, February 28, 2011

Official Google Packaged Goods Blog

I was reminded again today of the official Google CPG blog.  A post this month tells us the insights gleaned in 2010.

Digital Marketing at Reckitt

The focus on digital video is interesting:
In Adage: Can Digital Marketing Rekindle Growth at Reckitt Benckiser?

Marketing Chief Jiri Kulik Plans to Remain Biggest Advertiser in Online Video ... '

Primer on Co-Creation

Good piece in the HBR on the complexities of using co-creation" ... But what is co-creation, really, and how do you do it right? Co-creation involves working on new product and service ideas together with the customers who are going (you hope) to buy them. It turns "market research" into a far more dynamic and creative process. It's easy for the C-suite to sign up to co-creation. But very often it goes against the grain of how they built their careers in the first place. This does not come naturally. Where to start? ... '

RFID Journal Offers Starter Kits

I notice that the below offer started last December, and is of interest to users that might want to test these tagging methods in their own environments and conditions.   I am assuming this is still underway.  Read the whole article at the link below to understand what is being offered.

Out-of-the-Box RFID Solutions

RFID Journal is offering several starter kits from technology partners that end users can employ to track IT assets, apparel and other items.  By Mark Roberti  

RFID Journal began offering starter kits from several solutions providers via our Web site (see RFID Journal to Offer User-Friendly Out-of-the-Box RFID Starter Kits). Our goal is not to become a distributor of radio frequency identification technologies, but rather to serve the needs of our readers, who often ask me to recommend RFID solutions that can be used to track IT assets, reusable containers and so forth, or that can be tested in their own environment. We are offering these starter kits as a test to see if there is a demand for prepackaged solutions  .... "

Sunday, February 27, 2011


Good piece on averages, pulled from the new book: Numbers Rule Your World, by the author of that book Kaiser Fung,  which I did a pre review of here.  This is a good place to start in learning about practical uses of statistics.

Associative Memories Applied by Saffron Technologies

Repeating and updating this post because I think there is considerable value in the application of Associative memory systems.   I had a recent conversation in this area and found that the artificial intelligence approach is little known.  

Saffron Technologies forthcoming book: Making Memories, Applying Neuron-inspired Associative Memories to National, Business and Consumer Intelligence by Manuel Aparicio IV

You can register and get a free copy of the Prolog and Part One and reserve a free copy of the ebook.

In the enterprise we closely examined the application of associative memories for enterprise experience storage and retrieval applications.  It is related to neural network techniques.   I have met with Saffron several times and am impressed with this rare and complete application of this leading edge work.

" .. Making Memories tells a story about the science, technology and business of Saffron's new approach to capturing and reasoning from the "memories" of your data. It's what Saffron calls "Experience Management." ... These sections will give you a strong sense of what Making Memories is about: How an old idea -- human thought processes and how they work -- is being applied to create a completely new arena of data analytics for business that surpasses the need for rules and statistics.
We believe the book is very timely given today's data management challenges ... "

Taking Advantage of Social Media

From Chief Learning Officer:  Good intro on taking advantage of social media.  I have worked several projects in social media, including early introductions to the enterprise, and found there is still much mis-understanding in this space.  People understand what it is, but not what they should do to leverage it.

Prominences in the Sun

Not in the usual realm of things posted here, but NASA's new Stereo satellites gives us the ability to see some amazing things about the violence occurring in the nearest star.   Some of the work I did in Astrophysics included modeling the sun and how it acts as a heat engine and evolves.  This kind of video shows us far more of what is going on than we could then.  This activity has the potential for major communications and power interruptions on earth.  This happened just a few days ago:

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Cyber-Emergency Policy

Good piece in E-Commerce times on US Emergency Policy.   Who gets to control what aspects of access or interactions during an emergency?

Robot Marathon

The first two-legged robot marathon has started in Osaka Japan.  42 km in an indoor track.  See the video.

Creating Stories: Storify

Brought to my attention: Storify:  Now investigating.

Create stories using social media.
Turn what people post on social media into compelling stories.
Collect the best photos, video, tweets and more to publish them as simple, beautiful stories that can be embedded anywhere ... 

Friday, February 25, 2011

Linkedin Company Search

In Readwriteweb: Linkedin has a new search capability that lets you look at how you are connected to companies.   A nice idea with some subtle capabilities.   Though as I understand it you have to have legitimate connections to people in that company to use it.  As they suggest,  this could be a way to gather statistics about how companies are shifting by type of company and roles.  Unclear if you can get at that data, but it would be a rich source of understanding changes in industry, providing they have a consistent taxonomy.

New Way for Analytics

My colleague, Sammy Haroon, writes about a new way for analytics.


Good Fast Company article on Neurocinema:  The use of neural scanning techniques, like those used in Neuromarketing, to understand how film viewers react to on screen images to predict how how well they non consciously react.  Lots of marketing dollars here, so considerable potential leverage.  Leading to better predictions of how well a movie might sell to various demographic groups.   It could also be used to help edit the movie by choosing the scenes that viewers react to best.   We examined this idea ten years ago using agent modeling techniques linked to questionnaires.

2011 the Year for Semantic Technology

Good overview article on the opportunities for semantic technologies this year.  " ...  Semantic technology will increasingly be recognized as a tool that helps provide early identification and analysis of consumer sentiment, purchasing trends, market deals and competitive information. Moving forward, monitoring social media-focused comments and conversations will be a core part of any business. By uncovering information in its true context and form, organizations will be able to strategize, analyze and make smarter predictions ... "

Google Changes Search

Google announced changes in it's search algorithms yesterday.  Initially only implemented for US searchers.  Which they say will improve the quality of results by rating sites in new, more equitable ways,  less likely to be gamed.  I have not noticed anything major as yet, but will continue to watch.  Are you seeing very different results?

Interactive China Province Map

Mark Perry points to an excellent Economist interactive map of the Chinese provinces, their population, GDP, exports, etc.  Useful data for modeling.  Could have used this a few years ago as we built retail models of the provinces. 

Governing Predictive Analytics

In Information Management, a short article, mostly common sense, but a good reminder of how to address an analytical problem. " .... Six Steps to Governing Analytics ... This approach deals directly with behavioral change and the actions to help ensure that value is being achieved ... '

Thursday, February 24, 2011

RFID News Update

The RFID Journal is always a good place to go for the latest news on tagging things.   Check out their useful and detailed news update.

Dole Tests QR Codes

Good detailed example of the use of QR codes.  Have mentioned them many times here.  We tested their use in the aisle for locational 'check in':

" ... It was a match made, if not in heaven, than in the produce section. When Price Chopper sent out more than 40,000 postcards on Dole's behalf in November, the messages included both a QR code and a short code for texting.  "The QR code is the hero, but for the mobile experience to be accessible by everyone, we had to incorporate a short code," says CarrieAnn Arias, senior manager of shopper marketing at Dole Fresh Vegetables. "Most phones are Web-enabled, but not everyone has a smartphone. [To use a QR code] a consumer has to be able to download an app and have a reader."  .... "

Towards Collaborative Business Intelligence

A general overview of architecture for BI: " ... In today’s search for information, the business intelligence user experience is disorienting and frustrating. It is much like driving in a city during rush hour and stopping to change cars every block. Why would we want our users to have that type of complicated, discouraging experience? ... '

Email Overload is Intractable

In the HBR Blog.  I agree.  Even with filtering and careful examination, too much of it can slip through or simply gum up the works.  So what can be done?

Letting Your People Speak and Celebrate

Paul Gillin has an excellent piece in his blog where he uses the Watson-Jeopardy example at IBM to show how a company can celebrate an accomplishement publicly.  Lots of interesting links there to examine.  We needed to do more of that in the enterprise.  It was attempted, but always lacked real emphasis, and rarely had any public component.   Now admittedly Watson is a big thing, an unprecendented step forward in the use of artificial intelligence.   Its publicity is a step forward for IBM as a consultancy.  Yet I think that this can also be done well at a smaller scale.  Internally and externally to make your people happier and celebrate their success, leading to more in the future.  Check out Paul's post for more.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Using Plug-and-Play Macroscopes

From the ACM:  Looking at complex data with visualization tools: " ... Decision making in science, industry, and politics, as well as in daily life, requires that we make sense of data sets representing the structure and dynamics of complex systems. Analysis, navigation, and management of these continuously evolving data sets require a new kind of data-analysis and visualization tool we call a macroscope (from the Greek macros, or "great," and skopein, or "to observe") inspired by de Rosnay's futurist science writings. ... "

Open Education

Readwriteweb looks at the future of Open Education, and the tenth anniversary of the concept at MIT. " ... Over the past decade, MIT has shared its course materials with over100 million individuals, and MIT OCW is laying out an ambitious roadmap for the next decade, with the goal of expanding its reach ten-fold: "to reach a billion minds." ... '  Lots of good background and statistics about an effort everyone should know about. 

Numbers Rule Your World

Numbers Rule Your World: The Hidden Influence of Probabilities and Statistics on Everything You Do by Kaiser Fung

In the midst of reading this book which I have had on the stack for some time.   A largely non-technical work that I would recommend to those that do not have a statistics background but still have to defend and describe analytical works to others.   Or to those with a statistics background who need to have good explanatory paragraphs to share.  A case study oriented book.  The studies I have seen so far are good, though I would have liked some more details of the technical solutions, perhaps in an appendix.  The author is a statistician who works in the advertising and consumer behavior space.  Recommended.

Does Your Company Know What it Knows?

Short outline piece in the HBR on this perennially important issue.  We worked on it since at least the 70s.  Surprise it is still important, and largely unaddressed.

Making Decisions Work

A good results brief from Bain & Company on making decisions work.   Even if you have the right decision in hand, it also has to be operationally well implemented to make a difference.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Hidden Gems

Roger Martin of the Rotman School writes in the HBR about hidden gems in your business model.  With some instructive recent examples.

Marketing Brain Blogs

Just brought to my attention:  20 Cool Brain Blogs every Marketer Should Read.   A good set of links, a number of which I had not heard of before.  Will examine and report on them further here,

Flocking Science

The natural organization of animals and people, in a number of settings has been studied for purposes of evacuation, ecology and even the arrangement of retail shelves.  We examined some of the latter in the laboratory, and for the purposes of modeling how shoppers interact.  An article in Ars Technica about the mathematics involved.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Rethinking the Internet

In the Stanford News:
  A father knows best: Vint Cerf re-thinks the Internet in Stanford talk

" .... He helped develop the Internet in the 1970s while at Stanford. Now, Vint Cerf is thinking about how to improve his creation that's become the greatest communication force of our time ... "

Senior Execs Should Know What Metadata Means

Good piece in SASCom Voices (Read it all at the link):

' ... “We’ll know that data has finally made it as the second most valuable asset in our company when all senior executives understand what 'metadata' means." This was an absolutely wonderful quote from a senior leader at a large insurance company with accountability for an enterprise data management initiative. (Even better, the first most valuable asset for this insurer was its employees.)

A few short years ago, data management had not made the top list of projects at many insurance companies, but now we’re seeing insurers begin to make strategic and organizational investments in their data management initiatives. But this executive’s comment is well put – data management applies to all data from capture to presentation. Data management does not start in a data warehouse – it starts with the point of entry, which makes data quality everybody’s responsibility ... '  

P&G Reopens Egypt Plants

Good to see them reopening, after being closed for two weeks,  they supply other demand in the middle east.  More.

More Video Carts

A report on the use of a video cart that amuses children with videos while pitching products to the shopper based on their location.  We looked at this idea briefly.  Worth recording as a location aware idea.  I agree that this has too high an annoyance factor for wide adoption.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

New in Electronic Shelf Labels: Tweets?

The Venture Lab reports on funding work they are doing with an Electronic Shelf Label  (ESL) startup called Tagnetics.   I had worked with the predecessor of this firm in our innovation labs.  I have also worked with the concept of shelf price labels, testing the idea both in the laboratory with consumers and with retailers.     The idea has been around for some time, but still is not widely implemented.  Due to issues like cost, device maintenance, required store infrastructure and ensuring accurate data. All retailers I talked to were interested, but concerned about these issues.  The potential use of the same infrastructure to get the attention of the shopper, creating a shelf-edge display, or even selling this micro ad space to manufacturers, was often brought up. 

The content of an ESL is far simpler than a store display.  Traditionally just a price and description.  Could this evolve into a tweet at the shelf edge, with tailored, varying messages? 

Read the full article from Venture lab below:

Electronic Shelf Label Systems: Coming To Your Grocer’s Aisle 
In a recent poll, Industry trade publication Progressive Grocer found that independent grocers rank Electronic Shelf Label (ESL) systems as one of the most important technologies for retail stores in the next few years. Some see ESLs as possibly the greatest single change in retail since the checkout scanner. What is an ESL? Electronic Shelf Label Systems or ESLs are used to display product pricing on shelves; they replace the printed paper or vinyl labels that are prevalent today. Typically, electronic display modules are attached to the front edge of retail shelving. With an ESL in place, a retailer can change prices on all products throughout the store from a single location, virtually instantaneously ... "

Dan Ariely in Praise of the Handshake

Good piece by Dan Ariely formerly posted  in the HBR.  The implications of contracts versus handshakes.

Bias Against Creatives

Is there a bias against the quirkily creative, diversity in thinking,  innovation because it does not fit into the enterprise narrative?   I have seen it. More from Knowledge at Wharton.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Skill Sets for the Information Worker

In Information Management: An evolving set of skills for the information worker. In today’s fast-paced environment, knowing how to communicate with the business side is as critical to success as technical knowledge.  Obvious, but very true.


A fully operational, hummingbird-like operational aircraft.:  " ... The hand-made prototype aircraft has a wingspan of 16 centimeters (6.5 inches) tip-to-tip and has a total flying weight of 19 grams (2/3 ounce), which is less than the weight of a common AA battery. This includes all the systems required for flight; batteries, motors, communications systems and video camera. The aircraft can be fitted with a removable body fairing, which is shaped to have the appearance of a real hummingbird. The aircraft is larger and heavier than an average hummingbird, but is smaller and lighter than the largest hummingbird currently found in nature." ...  Via  Slashdot.

Comparing Watson with the Human Brain

Short, but mostly non technical CW article on the Jeopardy-Watson IBM supercomputer, comparing at least its organizational and logical size to the human brain.   Still not similar in it's micro structure, but we are starting to learn much about what it really takes to 'think'.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Revealing all the Ingredients

More examples of increasingly providing more detailed information about products:
Clorox Reveals Chemicals You've Been Dumping on Your Floors, Counters, Commodes
Cleaning-product companies are notorious for keeping a tight lid on their ingredients. There is no current regulatory requirement that cleaning companies disclose a full list of ingredients, after all, and who wants to stir up consumer worries by revealing the use of potentially toxic compounds? Apparently, Clorox does. In 2009, the company began listing the active ingredients in all of its products, and this week, Clorox revealed all of its preservatives, dyes, and fragrances. Is this corporate transparency at its finest or just a greenwashing stunt? ....

Making Fan Pages More Effective

Jan Ochs on setting up a Facebook fan page and making it more effective.  Useful ideas.

Kraft Advanced in-store Kiosks

I have not seen much about advanced kiosks of late.  We experimented with them in labs and stores.  The additional capability of having a kiosk or display 'look back' at the shopper was also pushed by several vendors, but never broadly implemented.  Here something new in StoreFrontBackTalk:

Kraft's in-store kiosk would see faces and shopping lists

Kraft Foods is developing an in-store kiosk that would make product recommendations based on a customer's gender, the time of day and items the customer already planned to buy. It would use facial recognition to determine gender and a mobile application to access shopping lists, but it would not consider factors including height or ethnicity ... "

Media in the Drivers Seat

In Adage ... while platforms can impress people, get them looking, content has always been king:

Call It a Comeback: Media to Thrive in World of New Devices, Technologies

Activate's Michael Wolf on Why Competition Between Platforms Puts Media Back in the Driver's Seat

The pendulum is swinging from technology back to content. That's the new opportunity and challenge for Michael Wolf, a co-founder of Activate, a digital consultancy built to help media survive and thrive amid changing conditions. "Not everybody in the media business is going to benefit," he said. ...

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Google Improves Social Search Tool

Google has changed its social searches so that when you are logged in with your Google account you will get interleaved results that include hits from your own connections.  Much more here.  Seems to be a reasonable change, though I have never noted it being useful in a search. 

Disrupting Your Industry

I am in the midst of a consulting project where it looks like it will be very hard to disrupt the industry.  Most everything has been done already.   All the slack has been taken out. .  There seems to be no room for disruption.   Or is there?

HOW TO: Develop Ideas That Will Disrupt Your Industry  from Social Media News and Web Tips – Mashable – The Social Media Guide by Luke Williams

Luke Williams, a fellow at frog design and adjunct professor at NYU Stern, is a leading consultant on innovation and the author of DISRUPT: Think the Unthinkable to Spark Transformation in Your Business. For more disruptive thinking tips visit: disruptive-thinking.com ... "

On Backups

Good defensive computing CW piece on backups, what they are and what they are not and how to make sure you don't lose really important things.

Catalog for Language Resources

More resources that can help you do research with languages:

" ... It has just become a whole lot easier to search the world's language archives. The new OLAC Language Resource Catalog contains descriptions of over 100,000 language resources from over 40 language archives worldwide.  This catalog, developed by the Open Language Archives Community (OLAC), provides access to a wealth of information about thousands of languages, including details of text collections, audio recordings, dictionaries, and software, sourced from dozens of digital and traditional archives... ."

Ramping Up Shopper Marketing

Good overview article from Wharton which provides a statement of the direction of what we used to call merchandising:

" ... Shopper marketing is gaining popularity as stores and consumer goods manufacturers seek a way to capture the attention of a consumer whose spending is increasingly siphoned off by websites and other media. But while businesses believe the goal of shopper marketing is laudable, they do not agree on a definition: Is it characterized by in-store deals, out-of-store promotions, digital coupons or all of the above? Does it take into account what a consumer thinks before he or she starts shopping, or merely what he or she sees once inside the grocery store? A panel of experts from major consumer goods makers, a private label company and a market research firm reflected the industry's differing views on the matter when they spoke at the recent Wharton Marketing Conference ... "

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Sands Research Superbowl Ad Ranking

Sands Research has posted their most recent super bowl ad ranking information, based on their unique neuro marketing methods.  They have also included eye tracking information this year as well, which is further very useful in understanding consumer reactions to ads.   They write below, much more at the link above, including rankings of all 69 ads.  

" ... The wait is over. All 69 Super Bowl Commercials have been tested in-depth and as seen above, we now have a new format which includes our Emotional Valence Score (EVS)™ and has the eye-tracking data overlaid on the commercial.  Deutsch LA's Darth Vader Ad for Volkswagen not only tops the ranking but also achieved the highest Neuro Engagement Score (NES)™ since we began testing the Super Bowl advertisements four years ago. In 2010, Deutsch LA also achieved the top spot with their Volkswagen Punch Dub advertisement ... "

The Begone Movement

Begone.  A movement to make it easy to get off of mailing lists promoted by Forrester's Josh Bernoff.  Nice idea, we need it, but I wonder if the marketers will agree?  Check the link for more information.

Publishing in the Digital Era

Fascinating statistics and surveys in this study by Bain & Company:
Publishing in the digital era
y Bain partner Patrick BĂ©har and Bain managers Laurent Colombani and Sophie Krishnan
A Bain & Company study for the Forum D'Avignon

Is the publishing industry next in line to experience digital turbulence? Will new reading platforms provide the press with an opportunity to restore its economic equilibrium? Bain & Company conducted a survey of nearly 3,000 consumers across North America, Europe and Asia to evaluate the migration of printed content to digital formats. The findings help to decode new reading behaviors and begin to assess their economic implications on the book-publishing and press industries ... "

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Unified Intelligence from Attivio

Had to miss this today, but find it interesting:

Unified Intelligence: Closing the Loop on Unstructured Data,  by James Taylor of Attivio

And here's a link to a PDF of the slides for the slides they used ...

via Eric Kavanagh, Host of the Briefing Room.

Progress in Artificial Intelligence

A good non technical overview of the progress of AI in the NYT.  Quite naturally people have hopes and fears of this world.  The broad expectations of the early 90s were not fulfilled, but then were refocused in a number of useful ways.  Even in the demanding enterprise we succeeded in narrow spaces.  Now the spaces are expanding.  Expect to see more general solutions in the coming years. 

Calculating the Amount of Information in the World

In Engadget:  An overview of a USC Annenberg study.  Quite a few exabytes, and growing.  The current capacity for digital is about 295 exabytes they say ... An exabyte is ten to the eighteenth bytes, or a million terabytes. 

Organizational Design and Structure

A post in the HBR on the importance of thinking about organization design and structure.  by Gill Corkindale  On leadership, managing yourself and managing people.  

Watson Jeopardy Competition Review

I saw the first half hour of this competition between two former Jeopardy champions and the Watson IBM Supercomputer.  . Far too small a sample to make much of a conclusion about the generality of the technique. Watson did not have a connection to the Web, so no outside help. Though very large databases could have been downloaded and indexed ahead of time. Watson was very impressive, getting what I perceived to be very hard questions and missing some easier ones. Most impressive. the interpretation of natural language. Also revealed, the use of numerical confidence measures to determine when a set of possible answers could be narrowed to a single result.   Would like to see many more examples to see how this might be used say in an interface within the enterprise to answer questions that included both internal and expernal information, using informal business language.  IBM's Watson site.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Alone Together

Just reading:  Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other, by MIT technology and society prof Sherry Turkle.   She is an anthropologist of the way people use tools in the form of interacting computer devices, from phones to personal robotics.  I have missed her last two books, but this is about a topic that particularly interests me. As we move into the era of the ubiquitous, location-aware, smart mobile device, we need to understand how real human connections can survive and still flourish.   Perhaps augmented by the power of the machine.  But how well?   Good read so far.  Lots of case studies from this short moment in time.    Here is the book's site, where you can get excerpts and buy it.  This excerpt from the introduction is an excellent description of what the book is about.

Mining Published Research

Article on mining published research from the University of Chicago. Some intriguing ideas:

" ... Metaknowledge researchers are using natural language processing technologies, such as machine reading, information extraction, and automatic summarization, to find previously hidden meaning in data. For example, Google researchers used computational content analysis to uncover the emergence of influenza epidemics by tracking relevant Google searches, a process that was faster than methods used by public health officials.

Metaknowledge also has led to the possibility of implicit assumptions that could form the foundation of scientific conclusions, known as ghost theories, even if scientists are unaware of them. Scientific ideas can become entrenched when studies continue to produce conclusions that have been previously established by well-known scholars, a trend that can be uncovered by using metaknowledge, according to the researchers ... "

Book Citation App

A simple idea that has a smartphone App create citations for books in papers.  The idea is good, though they say there are some issues with choosing the right style of citation.  Just the idea of capturing any kind data in  the form of 1 or 2 D bar codes and then converting it into a usable format and saving that is useful.

The Value of Text Analytics

Good overview piece on the value of text analytics and current approaches.  We started using it when it was still called content analysis and can vouch for its value, in particular as it relates to customer oriented decision making.  I would think that increasing mobile data would take the value further.

Significance of Watson and Jeopardy

In KurzweilAI:  a good piece on the artificial intelligence of the upcoming Jeopardy challenge using the IBM Watson computer.  Ray Kurzweil on the meaning of computer machine challenges in games and Jeopardy to AI.  I have followed the game playing aspects of AI experimentation since their beginning. Although a powerful experiment in the right direction, it has never met the expectations of delivering the providing the  broad problem solving needs of the enterprise.

Update:  I saw the first half hour of this competition.  Far too small a sample to make much of a conclusion about the generality of the technique.  Watson did not have a connection to the Web, so no outside help.  Though very large databases could have been downloaded and indexed ahead of time. Watson was very impressive, getting what I perceived to be very hard questions and missing some easier ones.  Most impressive the interpretation of natural language.  Would like to see many more examples to see how this might be used say in an interface within the enterprise to answer questions that included both internal and expernal information, using informal business language.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

SEO Gaming by JC Penney

Engadget comments on a NYT article on JC Penney gaming the search process of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) on Google Search.  I fail to see how anything wrong was done by the retailer, except that the search system as it exists was manipulated to get the best results for themselves.  If Google's system is weak to such approaches, the fault is their's. Update:  John Battelle in his Searchblog provides more commentary and says this is nothing new or unexpected.

Considering Wal-Mart Bias

The bizarre bias against Wal-Mart in the NYC area.  I understand the arguments,  but they are essentially against efficiency. 

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Country Favorability Ratings

Gallup has published a favorability rating of countries to people in the US.   Both the methods used and the graphics are interesting.  Trends of the rating over time is visualized.  How much these ratings influence the use of countries, cultures and languages in marketing material is unclear.  As the article suggests, it varies with the news of the day.

Word Cloud for this Blog

I created a wordcloud using Wordle, using the RSS feed for this blog.   Scanning this, it is clear that it is using  only a small subset of recent words in the blog itself, based on the feed.

Word Clouds

A favorite topic of mine, pictures that represent compact, useful and easily scannable visualizations of real data.   Here Doug Lautzenheiser discusses the Wordle web application to construct the well known form called 'word clouds' .

Modernist Cuisine

Not sure how long this link will work, but a foodie friend sends me the article from the WSJ: The Game-Changing Cookbook: Nathan Myhrvold's 2,400-page 'Modernist Cuisine' upends everything you thought you knew about cooking.  As a confirmed foodie myself, the combination of math, physics and food is irresistible.  Met Myhrvold, the former CTO of Microsoft, in the past, but cooking never came up.  The book looks fascinating, but costs $625.  Shouldn't it be accessible online?   Note to Publisher, send me a review copy and it will be reviewed here. 

Retail is Ready for Mobile

Good piece with statistics in E-Commerce Times.  Useful statistics.  If you give the shopper the right kind of choices and offers , at the right time and place, with respectful treatment of the individual, mobile can be a powerful augmentation of the shopping experience.  The smartphone is getting closer to ubiquitous, the time is here.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Rhymes for Our Times

I see that former P&G colleague and renowned advertising exec Norm Levy has set up a blog: Rhymes4ourtimes in conjunction with his book: Rhymes for Our Times: Skews on the News.  An amusing set of verses that link to gathered items in the news.   I had seen him perform these on stage and they are very amusing.

Market Research Scanning App

An interesting and natural development.  An App by Kinesis Survey Technologies that does both barcode scanning and supports market research functions.  Includes the recording of location, time stamps and other on shelf data.  Linking this to databases, mapping and business intelligence functions would be good next steps.

Search Engine Trust

How much can you trust the output of a search engine?  I can tell you that many people in the enterprise do, but not always to their advantage. Computerworld explores. Also, related Sundar Kadayam has a good post on this same issue, commenting in particular on Google.


A Web for Robots.  Have also investigated the same kind of idea for retail spaces, and not for robotics

The Internet has revolutionized how people produce, consume, and share information. Now imagine the same thing happening for robots. What if robots could access a worldwide open platform where they’d encode, exchange, and reuse knowledge to help each other accomplish complex tasks? That’s the goal of RoboEarth, an ambitious robotics project involving several universities and companies in Europe. IEEE Spectrum contributor Markus Waibel, a member of the project, describes how RoboEarth is working to build an “Internet for robots.” Is this how robots will finally get smarter—by learning not from us but rather from each other? ... The project is set up to deliver a proof of concept to show two things:

•RoboEarth greatly speeds up robot learning and adaptation in complex tasks.

•Robots using RoboEarth can execute tasks that were not explicitly planned for at design time.

The vision behind RoboEarth is much larger: Allow robots to encode, exchange, and reuse knowledge to help each other accomplish complex tasks. This goes beyond merely allowing robots to communicate via the Internet, outsourcing computation to the cloud, or linked data .... "

Thursday, February 10, 2011

On Linkedin

I have had a presence on Linkedin from the very beginning of that service.  I have just edited my profile there . Review that to find out more about me and the services I can provide.  I am open for consulting or collaboration.

Ad Impression Dead?

In AdAge:

The Lowly Ad 'Impression' Has Become Meaningless, So Lets Kill It ... Forcing the impression to be the catch-all metric to compare media ad performance has been a favorite crutch of the media industry, but it does more harm than good. .... "

Behind the Scenes With Watson

From CNN:  A largely non-technical view of IBM's natural language computer Watson, to be competing on the Jeopardy quiz program next week.

The Sharer: New Blog on Search and Knowledge

A new blog by colleague Sundar Kadayam of Zakta. that I am following: " ... I am a technology entrepreneur. I have more than 23 years of experience in the software industry. I have been fortunate to be involved with many successful, award-winning products and industry-firsts. In 2007, I founded Zakta, where I work as its CEO. Zakta’s mission is to deliver Web search for YOU and people YOU trust. Zakta makes searching more purposeful by helping you find information faster, keep what you find and collaborate with others. SearchTeam.com, by Zakta, is the world’s first real-time collaborative search engine ... " .  

See also some of his novel collaborative search work at Zakta.com.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

New Neuroscience Blog

A new Law and Biosciences blog that often covers legal neuroscience topics. " ... The Law and Biosciences Daily Digest provides relevant summaries of legal opinions (civil and criminal) in which cognitive neuroscience or behavioral genetics evidence has been introduced. While there has been growing interest in the intersection of law & cognitive neuroscience or behavioral genetics, until now few are tracking or aware of the developing case law in this area.... "

Forcing Internet Access

Relating to recent events. It was evident early on that internet access points, like any wireless connectivity, can be remotely provided to a population.  Examples like airborne access points and self organizing dropped satellite access points.  Wired writes on the subject.  Which discusses how this alone could be considered an act of war.  Beyond that there is a further issue that the mechanisms providing the connections might be destroyed or jammed.

Marketing Value Customer Experience

From Forrester, interesting analysis about experience in particular (excerpt, the full document is for pay.  In general I have found their documents useful ) :

The marketing value of customer experience
Customer experience is marketing. That is, in a world drenched in social word of mouth, the way you treat your customers -- and the way they perceive you -- makes all the difference in what they say to their friends.

With that in mind, I'd like to share some key results from Forrester Research's latest Customer Experience Index survey. We asked over 7,700 consumers to respond to three questions about 154 different companies: how well did they meet your needs, how easy were they to do business with, and how enjoyable were they to do business with? The results are fascinating .... "

Business Intelligence Tools for the IPad

A quick survey in ReadWriteWeb.  I have now seen several examples of going mobile with BI  in the enterprise, and it is impressive what some standardization,  interactivity and data availability can do.  Adding some sensor based Apps to gather data could take it further quickly.

Introducing the Data Engine

Building Interfaces for Data Engines by Matthew Hurst
There is a new category of online experience - the data engine. These sites (which include timetric, Data Market, Infochimps, The Guardian's Data Store, Nation Master and my own experimental site d8taplex) represent the intermediary between the formal data being released by many networked organizations and researchers (and many other data sources besides) and a user base spanning data journalists, data geeks and an unwary public. There are two central challenges facing these utilities: collecting data and providing mechanism to allow users to discover, explore and interact with data sets ... "

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Design, Functionality and Diffusion of Innovations

In the CACM: " ... What's the relationship between functionality and design? What kinds of factors influence whether people do or don't adopt a technology? ... ".  Important questions.

Loyalty Hinges on Delight

In Mediapost: " ...  This year's Brand Keys Customer Loyalty Engagement Index shows " 'delight' is now the critical brand differentiator and most important driver of engagement and loyalty," said Robert Passikoff, founder and president of the Brand Keys consultancy. Brands with high rankings include Dunkin' Donuts, Starbucks, Cheerios, Frosted Flakes, Aquafina and Sam Adams ... "

Wired Billboards

Something we studied in the innovation centers.  In the WSJ.  Signs, billboards and displays that can interact with the observer and shopper.   The shopper is now armed with powerful smartphone sensors that will increasingly be able to detect and influence their environment. The retail environment will be adaptive and interactive. 

Predictive Analytics in the Supply Chain

A podcast from Accenture. " ... In this podcast, Frode Gjendem, senior director for supply chain analytics at Accenture, discusses the role of predictive analytics in helping organizations succeed in today’s business environment. Companies must be smart, quick and cost effective when bringing their products to market. This requires a dynamic supply chain capability that allows companies to be nimble, responsive and adaptive. Predictable analytic capabilities are at the heart of such a dynamic supply chain, providing real-time data-driven insight that speeds decision making and improves business outcomes, Frode says ... "

Super Ads as a Distraction.

Jonathan Salem Baskin does a good job raking the creative competition called the Superbowl Ads. " ... Brands don't need creative ideas; brands need business propositions that are better, smarter, more useful, relevant and ultimately more valuable than those of the competition. ... "


I am doing some re-exploration of crowd-sourced innovation ideas and I discovered this: Via IdeaConnection: " ... MillionBrains (MB) is a professional social innovation network that facilitates and enables both internal and open innovation. MB focuses on sustaining a true innovation culture and game-changing mind-set through meaningful collaboration and talent mobilization on a global scale.

The MillionBrains platform system is deployed internally in companies, NGOS and governments as a platform for collaboration around ideas, challenges, groups and projects. Corporate users include sectors such as technology, foods, medico and services. The platform can flexibly open up to include outside ecosystems in the innovation process (e.g. suppliers and partners) as well as external talent (in-sourced intelligence, specialist expert talent pools) .... "

Monday, February 07, 2011

Linkedin as the Login of Choice

In ReadwriteWeb:  Short article and infographic about the rise of Linkedin as the Login of choice.    Facebook, though also moving toward more of a  B2B identity place,  is still used by many as a family and friend place.  Linkedin makes sense as a business identity, but they are still restrictive, for example making it too difficult to extract links, so as to keep you within their site.  Some of that manipulation is not appreciated, especially by bloggers who want to use shared links easily.

Get the Data

Nice idea.   Questions and anwers about getting data you need in the form you need it in.

Every day, more and more data is being published on the web; but trying to get the data you want, in the form you want it, can still be a challenge. GetTheData is a Q&A site where you can ask your data related questions, including, but not limited to, the following:

■where to find data relating to a particular issue;

■how to query Linked Data sources to get just the data set you require;

■what tools to use to explore a data set in a visual way;

■how to cleanse data or get it into a format you can work with using third party visualisation or analysis tools ... "

Looks to be worth exploring.

Cowans Sells Duveneck Girl Portrait

I have been doing work looking at the use of social networking in the auction world.  This past weekend Cowan's Auctions sold Frank Duveneck's portrait of a girl for $42,300.  More here on the auction.  See Cowan's site for more information on social network enabled auctions.

Portrait of Young Girl by Frank Duveneck, Oil on Canvas 

Frank Duveneck (American, 1848-1919), signed and dated 92 l.l.; 19.5 x 15.5 in. 

Ex Mary Johnston, Glendale, OH; Descended in the family to the present owner.

Is the Cloud Ready Yet?

Hunter Richards asks for the opinion of accountants to see if they think that the cloud is ready yet.  Join in the survey and get the results.   With some interesting comments on the components involved.

Cyber War Rules of Engagement

In the BBC:  On a proposal for a cyber war rules of engagement.  This deserves thinking about much more than it has been.   We now depend much on the Internet and need to be ready for the event of it being attacked.   The no-nothing style arguments that all attacks and security breaches are good things are not sustainable.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Analytic Bridge on Facebook

The AnalyticBridge social network now has a presence on Facebook.  It has been a useful space to be part of.

Pitch for Semantic Web in the Enterprise

A quick video pitch by Mark Montgomery of KYield for semantic technologies in the enterprise.  Heard about semantic technologies but did not know why you should care?  Here is a start.

Predictive Analytics at the Stanford/MIT Venture Lab

This is an interesting upcoming session at the Stanford Venture lab on predictive analytics on February 15.  The speaker participants seem to be an interesting group.  It is unclear if this can be connected to remotely, but will find out and post back.

No Successor Signaled at P&G

In Adage: Procter & Gamble's Reorganization Signals No CEO Successor Yet

Decision Not to Replace Vice Chairman Steele Speaks Volumes
Procter & Gamble Co.'s re-organization in the wake of the impending departure of Vice Chairman Rob Steele doesn't make much difference in day-to-day operations, but how it was handled says some significant things about the future of the company and Mr. Steele .... "

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Searching With Privacy

Need to protect what you are searching about?   Startingpage claims to keep your searches and IP address private.  To try it, click here.  Though most people don't seem to care much about the privacy of what they search about. 

"Startingpage Protects Your Privacy!

Startingpage offers you Google's Web search results under the trusted privacy protection of Ixquick.com, the world's most private search engine. Startingpage is the only search engine that has been third-party certified not to record your IP address or use tracking cookies.

Your privacy is under attack!Every time you use a regular search engine, your search data is recorded. Major search engines capture your IP address and use tracking cookies to make a record of your search terms, the time of your visit, and the links you choose - then they store that information in a giant database.

Those searches reveal a shocking amount of personal information about you, such as your interests, family circumstances, political leanings, medical conditions, and more. This information is modern-day gold for marketers, government officials, hackers and criminals - all of whom would love to get their hands on your private search ... "  

Whorf on Language

The Whorfian hypothesis (Also called linguistic relativity) came up a number of times as we started to think of product descriptions in many languages.  Are translations equivalent?  How much so?   I recall reading many very different opinions about it's relevancy.  Here a review of a book:   Through the language glass - Why the world looks different in other languages by Guy Deutscher that touches on the subject, in particular how verbal descriptions can change memories of an event, or visual impressions.  Have not read this as yet. With implications in marketing too.

Treadmill with a Browser

Nice idea.   I have been doing more internet browsing on the equipment of late. Perhaps the speed of the interaction should be proportional to the speed of the mill?

Friday, February 04, 2011

Simulating Worst-Case Scenarios

From the work of Joshua M Epstein at Johns Hopkins.  We had connected with him on the topic of 'Generative Social Science', based on his  book of the same name.  Some very interesting work on modelng systems of people. In particular a use of Agent Based Modeling approaches. Anyone interested in simulating systems of social agents should look at his work and the direction of the new center:

" ... What promises to be one of the nation’s most advanced computer simulation and modeling centers is taking shape on the university’s Mount Washington campus.

The Johns Hopkins University Center for Advanced Modeling in the Social, Behavioral and Health Sciences is being launched by Joshua M. Epstein. A former senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, Epstein is an internationally recognized pioneer in the field of “agent-based” simulation modeling, which creates virtual worlds populated by “agents” that act like real people.

“With the launch of this center, Johns Hopkins is firmly planting its flag in the ground and saying we are going to be a mecca for groundbreaking research and applied work in the field of agent-based modeling,” said Epstein, who joined the Johns Hopkins faculty July 1 as a professor in the School of Medicine’s Department of Emergency Medicine. He also holds joint appointments in the School of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Economics and the School of Public Health’s departments of Biostatistics and Environmental Health Sciences. ... "

Kraft Social Media

Kraft ramps up social media in preparation for the Super Bowl.

Innovation in the West

Colleague Sammy Haroon reports on innovation and entrepreneurism in the West.

Linkedin Skills

I have recently been helping a few people use Linkedin for the first time and have found it complicated to set up the right kind of adaptable presence I think they need.  Newly released Linkedin Skills looks like it might help in some cases.  Also reviewed in Download squad.  Tracking skill needs and trends and who has them is useful to help you adapt your presence to the needs that are out there.

Winning in Two Worlds: Supply Chain Adaptability

Very good piece in Wharton about supply chain adaptability:

" ... Companies must create adaptable supply chains in a two-speed world that work for both slow- and fast-growing markets -- without sacrificing sales volumes or margins. In high-growth emerging economies, this often means creating high volumes of low-cost -- and sometimes low-margin -- products, and distributing them at the lowest possible cost. In low-growth developed economies, supply chains must enhance efforts to defend or steal market share through better and faster innovation, and exceptional service .... "

Thursday, February 03, 2011

US and World Surnames

In the National Geographic, an interactive map of the relative uses of surnames in the US.  This is a fun style infographic, but difficult to get specifics from.  Related, you can also search for the relative occurrence of surnames worldwide by using this WorldNames service.  Which claims to provide data down to a county level.  Though I found some of the results illogical.  Note that it asks for an email address, but you do not have to enter a valid email.

Thingmagic and 100 Uses of RFID

I talked to Thingmagic about ten years ago, shortly after their creation from work started at MIT, when the enterprise took a close look at the uses of the 'internet of things'  in retail.   I don't follow this space as closely as I used to, but I saw a Readwreiteweb article on them today that provided an update. It was widely expected that the RFID firms would consolidate and they were utimately acquired by the GPS navigation  firm Trimble last October. See their 100 uses of RFID for some good example of this technology, it is all possible and implemented today.

Augmented Reality at the Big Game

Junaio and USA Today will be including an example of augmented reality at the Superbowl football game this weekend.  This should expose AR to many people, at least in the US, and could get many more consumers interested in the idea.  Instructions for participation here.  Also a video preview.  More about the link with USA Today.

Procter & Gamble Innovation in Asia

A very good HBR article on the topic.  Bruce Brown, P&G's CTO, talks about the challenges of the future for a global company.  A number of interesting specifics are addressed. 

Replacements for the Newspaper

If you put text and pictures on a pad device is this a replacement for a newspaper?   The roll out of The Daily is an attempt at making this work. GigaOM discusses this.   In one sense yes, it brings essentially limitless content to the user via search, links and alerts.   It thus puts a news source in context of much more information on the Web.  In this way it is much more than a newspaper, it is a place where the kind of content of a newspaper is embedded within definitional resources like encyclopedias.  And computational and analytical resources like Wolfram Alpha.     Still, papers are cheap, disposable, more easily carriable.  It is doubtful if they will be completely replaced anytime soon. 

Who is in Charge of Analytics?

I have started to see corporate explorations of this topic.   In a number of experiments we started to build executive information systems (EIS) to try to change the definition of the user. The issue of who was responsible for the analytic techniques immediately arose.   I see examples of where this is starting to happen again.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Buyology Inc Releases NeuroTypes

I see that the neuromarketing firm Buyology Inc has released their Neurotype approach, applying it to determine the ranking of the most desired brands for men and women in the US.   For full disclosure, I have done consulting work for Buyology Inc in the past.   They are positioning this as a first annual analysis, so like the Sands superbowl ad study, are positioning this as a yearly splash event.  The classification is described broadly:

" ... Neurotypes™ (non-conscious relationships) quantitatively determine which of sixteen relationships a brand or business currently has for a given target audience and the relative strength of the relationship, or signal strength, relative to competitors and other, beacon brands who, although they may be outside the category, have successfully established similar relationships ... ".

I agree that a number of rankings presented are non intuitive, to put it lightly.   Yet the approach, based on methods like electroencephalography and eye tracking, can be thought of as a way to understand the relationship between people and brands in an entirely new way, based on non conscious interactions.  Many companies are today examining these ideas seriously.

I also like the idea of constructing a classification that can be tracked over time to determine changes in brands and how to consequently adapt marketing messages. I do wish it could be standardized more broadly, so that many companies could use the method and add to the data gathering. 

Another good overview of this is in Neuroscience Marketing. Also a related article in Forbes on the rankings.  I plan to follow with more comments here.

Developing Mobile Apps

Interesting piece in Computerworld:

Escape the App Store: 4 ways to create smartphone Web apps By Peter Wayner
" So you want to get your software in the hands of the hundreds of millions of smartphone users around the world. Perhaps your boss said "mobile" is the new buzzword. Perhaps you're worried that some are saying the PC's time in the sun will be over soon.
It doesn't matter why you want to develop mobile apps. The problem is that following through is still pretty tricky. The iPhone and iPad want code written in Objective-C, and that language remains a bit obscure. Plus, once you're done coding, there's a distinct possibility that Apple will slam the door to the App Store right in your face for some unknowable reason .... "

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Wikipedia Now 10 Years Old, and it Works

Everyone has problems with the Wikipedia, now over ten years old, but it does work and it is often the place to go first for encyclopedia style information.  With all it's flaws, it works.

The Shelf Life of Great Ideas

In VentureBeat/Entrepreneur Corner: Some interesting startup lessons and ideas.  These are the kinds of ideas that aim to set the stage, and are to a large degree, not directly usefulin getting things done.  " ... advises would-be entrepreneurs to look for business opportunities that weren't even possible three years ago. If you're just trying to improve upon an existing model, "it might not be different enough to make a lot of people care," he says ... "