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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

P&G AdSpend, Facebook Linked to Layoffs

  This article suggests that a not unexpected round of belt tightening at P&G is being caused by lower cost  online advertising in venues like Facebook and Google.  It does not look like a causal thing.  Just the usual periodic reexamination of available resources and tasks to make business more efficient.

Site Visits and Store Visits

A study linking brand site web site visits and in-store spending.  " ... According to a recent study, conducted by Accenture, comScore and dunnhumby USA, people who visit the websites of consumer packaged goods (CPG) brands end up purchasing 37 percent moreworth of goods from the brand in question in brick-and-mortar retail establishments than people who don’t visit such sites.... "

Chaos of Unstructured Data

From O'Reilly Radar:  Thoughts from a practicing CTO on the chaos of unstructured data.

" ... The heart of data science is designing instruments to turn signals from the real world into actionable information. Fighting the data providers to give you those signals in a convenient form is a losing battle, so the key to success is getting comfortable with messy requirements and chaotic inputs. As an engineer, this can feel like a deal with the devil, as you have to accept error and uncertainty in your results. But the alternative is no results at all.... " 

Private Label Cost Pressure

A good broadly ranging WSJ article.  Private label prices are increasing, but they are being increasingly pushed by retailers.  (Subscription) " ... Every year, U.S. shoppers buy more generic goods, many of them trading down from more expensive, name-brand labels to save money. But consumers are developing loyalty to store brands for reasons besides price, and that could be a problem for food and consumer-products companies as the economy rebounds. In some cases, consumers even pay more for store brands, many of which have been positioned as gourmet or specialty items. ... "

Monday, January 30, 2012

Half of US Shoppers Use Phones for In-Store Research

This look at a PEW report has gotten quite a bit of exposure.  It was an angle we looked at very closely, even well before the Smartphone explosion.  Early on we tracked the use of ordinary cellphones to see if people called their friends to  see what products their friends thought were best, or what the best price might be for a product.    And based on those results, if it made sense to provide text based services like shopping lists and connections to contextual promotions.  It is remarkable that  50% of US shoppers are now engaged with the shopping process using phones.

Text Mining the Voice of the People

In CACM:  Statistical techniques help public leaders turn text in unstructured citizen feedback into responsive e-democracy.... "  Good thoughts, though I worry how easily this could be manipulated.  Simpler people oriented methods are more likely to be secure.

Museum of Mathematics

In New Scientist: Mathematicians have launched an ambitious campaign to raise the profile of their discipline, by opening a museum of maths in the UK. Geoff Wain, who is leading the initiative, points out that every other subject has a variety of cultural and educational hubs for people to visit, so why not maths? “Where would you go to find out about mathematics?” he says. “There’s absolutely nowhere in this country, it’s very sad.” ... '

Good idea, but I would rather have it liked to or within something like Wikipedia, where it is more likely to be found.

Big Data Startups

A look of a number of startups that intend to improve the use of big data.   I have not looked at any of these to date, but some of the plays are interesting and well worth examining,

Gamification Portal

The Community portal for the gamification Wiki has been updated.  A useful place for information about the topic, vendors and examples.  Also a good example of a community updated Wiki.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

A Community of Startups

Just pointed to: AngelList:   AngelList is a community of startups—started by the dudes who do Venture Hacks. Meet the team. Browse startups and investors.   More to follow.

Corporate Blogging Decreases

In ReadwriteEntrprise an article discusses a study on the decrease of corporate blogging.   Have been blogging since 2001.  First inside the enterprise with a group of interested participants, then outwardly facing, and finally independently.   I still think it is a powerful concept, appropriately supported by social networking of other kinds.

More About the Future of Retail

A good piece by Greg Satell in Innovation Excellence on the Future of Retail.  Always an important topic here.  Can we completely reinvent the retail process in engaging ways? 

"  ... What’s the next big thing in digital? Mobile? Social? Online video? Those are things moving fast but the trend with the most potential for significant economic impact is, in fact, retail.
The sleepy, boring business of selling things to consumers is pepping up and becoming a hotbed of innovation. Technology and consumer trends are combining to create a shopping experience entirely different from anything we’ve seen before.... "

Tibco Social Platform

I admit to having been unaware of the Tibco social platform, Tibbr .  I was involved with the enterprise rollout of their Spotfire data visualization package, which is impressive.  Now their Tibbr social network adds geolocation.  I have been examining several cases where companies are using social network dynamics for collaboration and integration, so will take a closer look at Tibbr.  Contact me with thoughts.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Artisan Videos

Link to some fascinating artisan videos.  Just videos of people who are very skilled in what they do, doing it very well.  As  the post says, hard not to watch.  It is something that has always fascinated me, probably because what I do well has always been very abstract, rather than physical.  Have a  deep respect for this kind of skill.

Evolution of QR Codes

Report on the use of QR codes and the rapid changes in their effective use. They evolve along with the increased us of smartphones.   I was at a local Panera today talking  startup strategy, and was amazed again at the number of people gathered to talk tech, demonstrate and look for the next big thing.   All connected in new ways.  I saw someone repeatedly scanning QR codes in a magazine.

Whats Wrong with the Internet?

In the CACM.  Bufferbloat: Whats wrong with the Internet.  A Group discussion with Vint Cerf, Van Jacobsen, Nick Weaver and Jim Gettys.  Good thoughts.Where do we go from here and how will it effect the entrepreneur?  The enterprise depending on the net?

Friday, January 27, 2012

SFI and Big Data at Davos

Interesting piece about SFI and the leverage of big data. I am skeptical, it is about leveraging the data, regardless of size or complexity.

Cisco Simplifying Interfaces

A really good idea.   We worked with Cisco from the early days of their looking at advanced collaboration.  it is good to see them thinking a simplified and unified design.  You often need these capabilities quickly and easily available.  Increasingly we need the multiple person collaboration, screen and context sharing in place as well.  Bring it on.  Contact me for more thoughts about the essential elements.

3D Printing and Virtual Reality

In MIT Technology Review:   When I first read the title of this article I thought:  Well yes, they are very different.  One provides interaction in a digital space, the other delivers physical things.  The article does a good job in taking the comparison further than that and is worth the read.   Virtual reality also has the opportunity to integrate abstraction into 3D as well.  A favorite topic of mine, that aspect has not yet been leveraged enough.  How can we bring data into physical-virtual spaces? 

Lead With a Story: Storytelling in the Enterprise

A former colleague Paul Smith, is coming out with a book on storytelling in the enterprise.  " ... Paul Smith is director of Consumer & Communications Research at The Procter & Gamble Company and a highly rated leadership and communications trainer for P&G’s management training colleges.... ".  I am currently working on several projects that have storytelling components.  It has a powerful engaging capability.  You can preorder the book on Amazon.  

" ... Storytelling has come of age in the business world. Today, many of the most successful companies use storytelling as a leadership tool. At Nike, all senior executives are designated “corporate storytellers.” 3M banned bullet points years ago and replaced them with a process of writing “strategic narratives.” Procter & Gamble hired Hollywood directors to teach its executives storytelling techniques. Some forward-thinking business schools have even added storytelling courses to their management curriculum ...  "

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Visualization Resources

Good post on visualization resources:  " ... This is the fourth part of a multi-part series designed to share with readers an inspiring collection of the most important, effective, useful and practical data visualisation resources. The series will cover visualisation tools, resources for sourcing and handling data, online learning tutorials, visualisation blogs, visualisation books and academic papers. Your feedback is most welcome to help capture any additions or revisions so that this collection can live up to its claim as the essential list of resources.... " .  Good in  my review so far.

Innovation for the Library

In the HBR:   If is clearly a challenge for the library to innovate in a way it will be able to survive.  " ... The dominance of radio, TV, and Hollywood threatened libraries with irrelevance, and now the rise of the internet, smart phones, and ebooks, threaten them with eclipse ....  So libraries are struggling. What can they do in the face of skeptics who say, "Print! Why, in God's name, do we need print? Let the library go the way of the bookstore. Disintermediation is inevitable.  Perhaps the answer lies in the library's physicality. Can the library do something a Kindle cannot?" 

P&G and Safe Drinking Water

P&G Facebook page promotes Children;s Safe  Drinking Water program   " ... In an effort to support its Children’s Safe Drinking Water program, Procter & Gamble is enlisting Facebook users to participate in the program's global efforts.... " 

Technologies Changing the Way we Shop

In AdAge:  On three technologies changing the way that we shop.  " ..... 3D Modeling, Wifi Sensors and Augmented reality ... " 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Mind mapping for Students

Concise Learning explores forms of mind mapping for students. A look at a number of techniques.

Fusing, Visualizing Data About How We Live

Always interesting and ground breaking Ken Karakotsios gives us  a peek into his project about fusing data and visualization.   He says that this will be coming to an iPad near you in 2012.  I believe it. We used him as a valued consultant in the agent simulation space.    " ... Through interactive visualizations you will be able to examine any place, from the smallest township to the entire nation, including where YOU live.... " 

On Predictive Analytics

Good piece in SAS Voices   About conversations with Olivia Parr-Rud on predictive analytics and innovative leadership.   Some of her publications also look very interesting.  Links in the article. 

Agile Business Intelligence

I see that the Tableau Software blog has a piece on agile business development, and a recent Aberdeen Group study, asking the question:  How Agile is your BI Solution?

" ... Aberdeen has illuminated the need for agile BI as a means to equip business users to get the information they need, when they need it. When subject matter experts have tools to help them answer their own questions, everyone wins. Better, faster decisions are made for the organization because the people who know the data best are empowered to ask – and answer – their questions as they go... "

Maps in Data Visualization

Examples of the use of geographical maps in visualizations.   Examination of the types is useful. " ... Maps are probably the biggest subsection of visualization types. There are many variations on map types, each with its own strengths. These variations can be combined with each other, and many can be tweaked even further to produce new types of maps. Here’s an overview of some of the common types and what they are good for.... " 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Customer Loyalty Data as Asset

I was recently introduced to Aimia:   " ... a global leader in loyalty management offering a full suite of services including coalition loyalty proprietary loyalty and loyalty analytics ... " .      I  think there are some excellent associative analytical techniques that can be effectively applied to this space that have not been exercised yet.

Mainstream Gamification

Computerworld piece on gamification.   Some useful statistics and definition of terms.   We used many of these game dynamics ideas. These are pretty simple user interface and engagement ideas.  The kind of 'games' usually pointed to as successful are usually much more complex, visual and interactive.  And are thus much more expensive to create.  That remains a dilemma of gamification in general.  To play you have to be willing to invest your time, so the entertainment-style reward has to to be there as well.  It is surprising what people are willing to do with very little entertainment value.   But sometimes there is not enough to make it engaging.  As the article suggests, measuring the impact is key.  Analytics again.

MapQuest Vibe

MapQuest Vibe shows you where the hot neighborhoods are.  I like the idea of clicking directly to local information via a map.

Vint Cerf on Innovation

We had him speak to us several times and it was always useful.   In Innovation Excellence.  An early innovator that brought the Internet to the table.   As the article suggests it is like talking to Gutenberg about printing.  Insightful views.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Atlantic on Big Data

A good, general article on the increasing use of big data in science.     In The Atlantic.   We can apply some of those same methods of transformation in science to business problems.   Good examples are visualization, pattern recognition, descriptive statistics....   The internal form of the data has to considered.   Structured or unstructured.   Quantitative, geographical, temporal or semantic meaning ...

Branded Apps

Consumers Don’t Like Shopping Via Branded Apps.  Understandable, at very least, today's consumers want at least an illusion of choice.   A really overloaded infographic,  expressible in a far simpler way.

Crowd Sourcing Wal-Mart Product Selection

In TechCrunch: How do you get your new product on Wal-Mart's shelf?  WalMart labs sponsors a contest to make it happen.  Get more people involved in the search for consumer rich products.    See their Getontheshelf site, which is quite engagingly designed.   I also see that WalMart labs has updated and added new information to its site.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Bone Marrow Markets

MJ Perry reminds us of this issue.  I researched the general area of organ and tissue selling during my Health systems research days.    Glad to see this brought up again.  It makes no sense,  under appropriate physician board review, to restrict this process.

Using Phone Behavior to Determine Credit Worthiness

In Slashdot.  The use of a number of phone behavior measures to dive  heuristics that influence credit score. 

CardMunch Tested

I just tried out the business card scanner from LinkedIn called CardMunch. Loaded the App on my iPhone and scanned a few cards. I have tried other such scanners and they often require editing the contact data afterwards. CardMunch was perfect the first time, apparently because there are people analyzing it on the other end. Complaints in the reviews say it can take too long to do this, but mine came back in a minute or two via notification. Automatically links to LinkedIn if you want to. Loads the contact on your phone. Simple interface, good experience so far.

Update: You cannot get a card into this system easily unless you have access to a physical card.  Also you are relying on Linkedin to keep this data safe, so I am not quite ready to throw out the physical cards.  Also the syncing between the entries on multiple devices seems haphazard.  Still waiting for some to happen ...

Update 2:  Hours later now I still have 5 business cards 'in process'.  Slow indeed.  But you could say that this is sufficiently fast for recording a card,  I probably do not need the data immediately.  I can get nearly instant image character recognition with other Apps, but I usually have to edit that.    Several commenters suggest that they use Amazon's Mechanical Turk to read the scanned cards.  Which could be a cause for the delay.

Update 3:  It seems the problem I was having were due to publicity and thus server or analyst overload.  My cards are returning in less than 15 minutes now.  If that continues, CardMunch is an excellent product.

SmartBooks are Approaching

The very moment we saw the first hyper links in documentation, around 1985, we saw that the textbooks of the future were not just about text, but about many different kinds of media.

GigaOm writes in an excellent article:

"... As we predicted, Apple on Thursday introduced a new toolset for publishers and authors to create and distribute digital textbooks. That wasn’t too much of a surprise. But what’s become more clear after hearing Apple’s pitch, which is aimed at K-12 school teachers, school districts, homeschooling parents, publishers and students themselves, is that the future of textbooks is not a book at all....  "

But what about their unprecedented and greedy license agreement?

Read the article, very well worth it as an introduction to the future of 'text'books.

Marsh Brand Partners

I see that Marsh is now Marsh Brand Partners.   They have redesigned their web site, changed their name and focus.   A company that I have had the pleasure to interact with for several years.  They state in their philosophy:

" ... Have you ever noticed that things look a little more interesting close up? A deeper perspective can reveal something new—the beauty of the details or a perspective we didn’t see before. At Marsh Brand Partners, our curiosity keeps us looking beyond the obvious. There’s something deeper, something more meaningful waiting to challenge the status quo. We mine for those revelations, and bring them to life .... 

What Does it Mean to Create Desire?
Lust. Envy. Passion. The deepest drivers of behavior are often unspoken. However the effort to tap those desires pays deep rewards. Connecting on emotional and even primal levels with consumers creates relationships that demand engagement...  " 

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Tough Visualization Questions

Some tough questions in Excelcharts.   Food for thought, these are not unexpected answers either.  Worth considering the answers.

Health and Social Networks

Health and Social Media.   A recent area of exploration.  Will this work if there  is too much communication or if the message is unwelcome?  What can make the message engaging and welcome?

P&G Working with Couponing Startup MoBeam

In the local papers:   P&G  is working with a west coast startup called MoBeam, and a company called Ecrio. which I originally brought into town for tests several years ago.  I have mentioned their methods a number of times here.   Part of the effort invoved here was to do the consumer analytics to see what the response of the shopper was to these new methods.   See also an earlier press release.

" .... Snipping coupons from the Sunday paper, stuffing them into a wad and producing them at checkout is a weekly ritual for millions of shoppers.

The current technology is not easy to use, Baker says. The shopper must present the phone to the cashier, who then must key in a number, as shoppers waiting in line grow impatien

 The opportunity is growing, but it’s a long way from being a mainstream technology used by a large segment of the population,” he says.

 That’s what P&G and Mobeam are hoping to fix.  “If couponing can be easier, faster and less costly for shoppers and retailers, we want to help bring it to life,” said Jeff Weedman, vice president of global business development at P&G.

P&G and other manufacturers are banking on projections that 50 percent of the population will own a smart phone by 2015. Thirty percent currently own the phones, creating a demand for systems allowing them to easily cash in their coupons anywhere.... "

Friday, January 20, 2012

Tablets as an Educational Tool

Interesting Study.  In particular as an aid to education.  How much different are they in effectiveness than using a laptop?

Developing Vision Without Sight

In CACM:  Continued developments of the replacement and augmentation of human vision. Will the blind be able to see?

Tablets as a Shopping Device

In GigaOM. Tablets as the ideal shopping device? Will we start seeing everyone with a Ping pong paddle style tablet as they course through brick and mortar? Or will the phone evolve just somewhat larger? Good piece to make you think about the potential evolution of format and usage in multiple contexts.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Second Economy: a Neural Model

Aspen Root Systems and a neural system for a second economy.   By W Brian Arthur, who we worked with at the Santa Fe Institute and applied in the enterprise.   It is all about better understanding complexity.   Many real world systems are very complex and in the early days we started with industrial simulations as models to find patterns. Many new techniques, by Arthur and others, are helping us to simplify these sim  models enough to make them usable.  Thanks to colleague Delaine Hampton for pointing me to this.

-  W Brian Arthur is a visiting researcher with the Intelligent System Lab at the Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) and an external professor at the Santa Fe Institute. He is an economist and technology thinker and a pioneer in the science of complexity. His 1994 book, Increasing Returns and Path Dependence in the Economy (University of Michigan Press, December 1994), contains several of his seminal papers. More recently, Arthur was the author of The Nature of Technology: What it is and How it Evolves (Free Press, August 2009).

Algorithms That Changed the Future

Being a long time practitioner of the practice of developing and applying algorithms,  I found this book to be very interesting:   Nine Algorithms that Changed the Future: The Ingenious Ideas that Drive Today's Computers.  by John MacCormick.    Send a copy to place on my review list.

Turbo Tax Goes Mobile

Intuit reports that their flagship Turbo Tax package, which I have used for years,  is now available on iPhone, iPad and Android.  The package can be used to both prepare and file taxes. Nice development as we increasingly go mobile.

Odor Destroying Robotics

In IEEE Spectrum:  An interesting idea.  Deodorants for the home applied by autonomous agents?  Over complicating the idea,   but worth understanding.  Perhaps in retail applications.

Managing Brand and Corporate Reputation

A conversation reminded me again of the company Neputation, who's technical people I had the chance to talk to recently.  Impressive methods being used to address the problem, beyond just doing lots of Web searches.  at the marketing level:   " ... Marketing Agencies cannot grow and sustain their business without effectively managing their client’s public image and reputation in today’s “socially networked” world. Customers are turning to the web and social media to voice their opinion, learn what others are saying, and engage in meaningful discussions. As a Marketing agency, you and your clients can no longer rely on traditional methods of measuring the brand reputation and customer experience. Embrace the new paradigm shift and exploit to your fullest advantage in light of the following marketing challenges: ... " 

Air Force Social Radar

The idea of air force social radar sounds much like neuromarketing efforts underway today, but some more seriousness involved.   Reading minds all the way down to the intent level is still some time away.  Thoughts like those expressed could result in DARPA like developments that could be spread back into the marketing context.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Wolfram Educational Portal

The Beta of the Wolfram Educational Portal has been released.   Great effort.  " ... We are happy to announce the launch of the free Beta version of the Wolfram Education Portal. The portal comes equipped with a dynamic and interactive textbook, lesson plans aligned to the common core standards, and many other supplemental materials for your courses, including Wolfram Demonstrations, widgets, and videos. The Education Portal currently contains full materials for Algebra and partial materials for Calculus, but will continue to grow and improve with your comments and feedback ... "

Cool BI Innovations

In TDWI:  Some expected examples that are worth reviewing.   I think much more can be said here.  Some of the innovations will take considerable evolving to be useful.

AI Past and Future

Some notes on AI, Past and Future, in the ACM.   Another favorite topic.  Most recently I have seen some of the IBM Watson work, which nicely brings expertise based systems back to life.

Future of Gaming

I continue to be intrigued by the use of game dynamics as part of user engagement.   Did a number of related projects in the enterprise: Here some further thoughts in Innovation Excellence.

" ... The Future Of Gaming report presents key trends emerging within the gaming space that brands, non-profits and communities can leverage to build engagement and motivate their target audience towards achieving a desired goal or outcome. It is designed to inspire anyone tasked with creating compelling user experiences, whether that be on a digital screen, in the real world or somewhere in between.... "

Disjunctive Mapping of Consumers

From Informs: A presentation on Advances in understanding human behavior: Disjunctive mapping.  Exploring further.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Gap Analysis

Good post on the topic by the Burghard Group.  " ... Gap Analysis is an assessment tool to help a place (community, region, state) compare its current economic success with its future potential. The summary document prepared for a Gap Analysis also includes a discussion of the obstacles to achieving desired economic growth and an Action Plan for overcoming them. It is a structured way to identify and correct the gaps between desired place performance and actual performance in job growth and wealth creation.  This tool is one of the most conceptually simple to understand and practically difficult to implement. But, done well it is a powerful tool to define and lead change. It has been one of my “go-to” tools for creating strong and sustainable brands..... "

Consumers Want More Communications from Retailers

Not that much of a surprise, providing the communication is truly useful. " ... according to the IBM Institute for Business Value 2011 Retail Industry Study, released today at the National Retail Federation's NRF Annual Convention and Expo. More than 28,500 people from 15 countries were contacted for the survey, which found that 76 percent of people think retailers do not communicate with them often enough. Only 24 percent said they are contacted too frequently. ... ".   In Convenience Store News.

Marketing via a Virtual Pinboard

A simple and clever approach.  Using a virtual pinboard metaphor to market and promote a site.   The enabling site is called Pinterest, which I had not heard of before.   Key may be to include images that are engaging enough to make this work.  The Compete blog link above includes some interesting stats on the site about how it can generate retailer traffic.

Software Quality in the Global Supply Chain

In ECommerce Times:  Part of a conversation I have been having recently on supply chain design.  How is the right data brought together in the quantities required to support the analytics required?   " ... Successful processes create value for both parties involved. For a company purchasing software components, implementing quality assurance methods can improve and support the brand by ensuring that externally sourced code is held to a high standard. For a supplier, it's an objective way to represent the quality of the product and strengthen the relationship with the customer ... " 

Monday, January 16, 2012

Accurate Robot Essay Graders

an interesting effort. . As the article asks, the end of multiple choice questions? This does delve into the nature of semantic meaning. A friend suggests it could be used as a new kind of UI. though in that case would require careful construction to produce natural language.

Visualization of the History of Personal Computing

A visualization of personal computing via graphs of units shipped,  from 75 to the present.  From lumbering desktops to the very fast emergence of tablets.

Branding Chatter

See Ed Burghard's paper.li online paper Branding Chatter. He is a former Harley Procter Marketer at Procter & Gamble who has lots of insightful things to say on the subject.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Developing Successful Brands about Places

Ed Burghard sends along his blog post on developing brands about places.  Thoughtful. 

" ... I started the article off with a definition of place branding. At the time I remember being intrigued with the idea that a sub-set of branding existed to describe what I was trying to accomplish in branding the state of Ohio. I defined place branding as a strategy to position a location (or “place”) so it can effectively compete for capital investment. Since 2007, I have come to understand that there are actually a number of terms that are used in the industry to describe place branding. It is sometimes called nation branding, city branding, Regional branding, community branding or destination branding (not an exhaustive list). 

This is important if you are looking to use Google to learn more about the subject. I now find that I search all the listed terms to ensure I don’t miss something important. The definition I used in 2007 is still valid today. However, now I differentiate between place marketing and place branding. I describe place marketing as managing the image of a place. It focuses on “what is true today”. I describe place branding as managing the desired identity of a place. It focuses on “what needs to be true tomorrow”. As a consequence, when I lecture on place branding, in addition to marketing I also speak about long term strategic planning focused on place improvement (asset creation, infrastructure investment, public policy reform).... " 

One Bit Can be Stored in 12 Atoms

A report on research at IBM that has decreased the number of material atoms required to store a single bit of information from about a million iron atoms to only 12.  A very considerable increase in efficiency.  It is not usable practically yet, but expect it to radically change what we store and how we store data.  A picture of the future.

Web Search and AI

Matthew Hurst makes a good point about the ubiquity of Web search slowing the development of artificial intelligence.  I saw this repeatedly in the enterprise.  We were developing AI systems for specific intelligence applications.  But is was too easy, but not always accurate, to just search for an answer.  It is time to try again.

Listening to Your Customers

In Innovation Excellence:  This good article mentions the (possible) Henry Ford quote: “if I’d asked people what they wanted, they’d have said a faster horse”. And does a good job of declaring if necessity is the mother of invention or the other way around. The key, I think, is to be ready for either case.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Kroger Robotic Convenience Store

A Robotic Convenience Store.
We saw an early prototype of this idea several years ago.  A device that contains hundreds of items for ready vending.  Was seen as particularly useful in college areas. Similar specialized vending walls are already common in airports. 

Thinkvine gets Funding

Local Firm gets Funding. "... US— ThinkVine has closed an $8m Series C round of financing to support sales and development of its marketing planning and sales forecasting software...." ... Have always liked their simulation inspired methods.

Future of BI in the Organization

Mark Montgomery of Kyield writes. He cites a Forrester report: " ... One of the main themes in the report concerns expanding the use of BI throughout the organization, which essentially follows a proven management philosophy and strategy I have advocated my entire career due to a combination of logic, experience, and testing in many real-life cases.  In a broad sense this issue speaks to organizational awareness, or as too often has been the case; the lack thereof.... "

Sculpting Your Own Profession

In the HBR. design your own profession. Depends upon the local culture as to how successful this will be.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Facebook Allows Data Analysis

In ReadwriteWeb: Fascinating description of how Facebook is allowing the aggregate and statistical use of its data. What is described here is unstructured textual data, used for such applications as political sentiment tracking. The potential leverage of such wide ranging data is considerable. An example of the monetization of unstructured social data. Expect to see more about this.

Business Intelligence Requirements Gathering

Somewhat obvious but useful examples of who and what to get together to better insure the success of a BI effort.

Eames Documentary Online

Worth a look. We worked with Herman Miller on innovation projects: PBS Eames documentary now online:

If you're at all inter­est­ed in design and archi­tec­ture of the 20th cen­tu­ry, you're like­ly famil­iar with the work of hus­band and wife team Charles and Ray Eames, who are respon­si­ble for some of the most famous fur­ni­ture designs of the mod­ern era, many of them for Her­man Miller. PBS's Amer­i­can Mas­ters Series has a full episode (nar­rat­ed by James Fran­co!) ded­i­cat­ed to the duo, which you can now watch online. We sug­gest you do, if you haven't seen it already...."

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Gartner View of IBM DemandTec Acquisition

A short post by Gartner on the proposed acquisition.. Some of the usual watch-outs with any acquisition. Certainly it is a means of bringing very specific retail and manufacturer analytics to cloud based big data. And at the same time integrating social based solutions to help multiple players in this space interact effectively. From what I have seen since first being exposed to Demandtec methods at our Innovation Centers, this could be a magical way to improve business analytics.

Kaggle: Data Science as a Sport

Crowd sourcing prediction.. " ... Participate in competitions ... is an arena where you can match your data science skills against a global cadre of experts in statistics, mathematics, and machine learning. Whether you're a world-class algorithm wizard competing for prize money or a novice looking to learn from the best, here's your chance to jump oooin and geek out, for fame, fortune, or fun. ... ."
. Thanks for pointer to Walter Riker.

Future of Pharma Information Tech

In the Recorded Future Blog. A good look at IT in Pharmaceuticals using the temporal search engine Recorded Future. This search engine semantically analyzes future oriented statements and visually displays and analyzes their influence. I have been tracking this effort for corporate competitive use for some time. Great insightful piece here for the Pharma sector.

Image Sensors for Multiple Contexts

In Engadget: A concept for compact 360 degree image capture. Always interested in new sensor capture devices. What came to me immediately was the possible use in merchandise stocking and location environments. I am sure there are other applications.

Future of Shopping

Via Darrell Rigby of Bain Company:

" ... Digital retailing is headed toward 15% to 20% of total sales globally and is already highly Profitable. But what seems like a dream come true for the shopper—an abundance of information, near-perfectprice transparency, a parade of special deals—can feel more like a nightmare to retailers. Digital information already influences about 50% of store sales, and that will soon make it hard even to define e-commerce, let alone measure it. For retailers, the key to engaging customers in this newenvironment is "omnichannel" retailing: a mashup of digital and physical experiences.... "

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Ivory Does a Brand Refresh

Nice Forbes article on the Back to Basics Ivory brand refresh. As I have said before, it is the first Procter brand I was closely connected to, so there is a nostalgic connection with technical emphasis. Good to see it is being paid attention to again.

Why Writers Should Tweet

In ReadWriteWeb:. I could think this to be more aptly titled: Why writers who can't write otherwise should Tweet ... I tweet to support my blog posts, but should we be using an abbreviated language to express ourself? The post makes the case but I don't find myself agreeing.

Unilever Wants to get to the Future First

In Ad Age: Unilever's Keith Weed at CES on their view of the future. " ... Global CMO Talks About New Technologies and Why Apple's iAd Is Still In Unilever's Plans. ... "

Applying Business Intelligence to Geospatial and Business Process

A long time investigation of ours. How do you link location and business? On the front or the back end? How do you evaluate it's application?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Tablets to replace Laptops

A study shows that a considerable percentage of consumers, 46%, think that tablets will replace laptops for common applications. Tablets are likely to also evolve to become more laptop like.

Digital Signage, Part II

More Commentary by Keith Kelsen on the future of digital signage. One of my favorite retail innovation center topics. Engaging the shopper with technology.

Brain Lectures

Mind Hacks points to some excellent neuroscience lectures. They’re presented by psychologist Bruce Hood and they’re packed with excellent demonstrations that use everything from cutting edge neuroscience technology to stuff you could find in your house ....

Monday, January 09, 2012

Digital Signage in 2012

Keith Kelsen, colleague and author of the excellent book "Unleashing the Power of Digital Signage .... ", which I am reading now, has released his Digital signage predictions for 2012.. Essential.

Yammer Unites Grocery Brands

Interesting social idea." ... SuperValu, a grocery chain with more than 2,400 stores, has found enterprise social networking in the cloud valuable as a unifying force. .... ....".

New Work Policy

In 2012 I am introducing a new method of engagement for any new work.  My time is valuable, as is yours, and I have a number of clients engaged.   I prioritize via payment.   I have over 30 years of experience in business and predictive Analytics, which has resulted in millions of dollars in value to Procter & Gamble.  Contact me at (513) 405-7387 or at this address to chat about the specifics of an engagement.  I will often do a first face-to-face visit on expenses only and then follow with a specific negotiated fee.   I can also be retained for an ongoing consulting fee.   Contact Me!  

Gaming Groceries

In the WSJ:. ..... California resident Teri Gault created a website, Grocery Game, that alerts users to items on sale at competing stores. She said visitors to her site can shave their grocery bill by two-thirds if they stock up on products on sale. "Everything goes on sale about once every 12 weeks," she said. "The only things you can't invest in is fresh produce and milk." ...

GE Innovation Summit

I participated in the GE innovation summit a few months ago . I see that Sammy Haroon has posted some information on that very thought-provoking session. Check out the link for more information and videos on the topics covered. More details will follow here.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

3D iPhone printer App

This hardly seems practical or cost efficient, but it is an interesting first baby step in remote manufacture. I am awaiting more.

Efficiency vs Innovation

Nicely put.. In Innovation Excellence, which I find increasingly useful. I largely agree, though there are ways to think of how more innovation can be developed and then more efficiently analyzed. Determining quickly how proposed innovations can be evaluated with limited 'fail fast' methods is key.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

A Critical View of Coke Freestyle

A critical look at Coke Freestyle. We saw and followed this from the beginning. The criticism is premature. The acquired data will be the proof of its value.

Data Science Blinks

Data science skepticism, Steve Miller opines ...

I don't think you'd get much argument from the data science community that the emerging field involves components of business, technology and statistical science. “Veteran” DS'ers will also note both inquisitive and skeptical dispositions as keys to success in the discipline.

LinkedIn's Monica Rogati observes that data scientists are at the intersection of Columbus and Columbo – “starry eyed explorers and skeptical detectives.” Amazon's John Rauser opines “A healthy dose of skepticism comprises the fourth dimension of the data scientist. If you have a healthy skepticism, you will look as hard for evidence that refutes your thesis as you will for evidence that confirms it.” ....
. Food for data thought ...

How Gaming is Changing Healthcare

A Three part post on how Gamification can change health care. An audacious idea? Surely health care should be kept serious? But the dynamics of the game can be used to encourage engagement with very serious topics. Excellent example.

Friday, January 06, 2012

Deeper Semantics Needed in Web Search

interesting examples about why Web search can work very poorly. There is little semantic understanding.

Planning for Big Data

Good overview. Yes, as the article says, Big data is more than just about analytics. But I believe that everything has an analytical element. In most cases that element resides in the mind of the decision maker, but the leverage, how it is used, embodies an analytical decision element.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Semantic Rules for Determining Social Interests

In ReadwriteWeb. Google acquires IBM technology that determines personal social interests. Even a flow chart is included. I took a look at a similar idea that leveraged content analysis years ago. It's fun to see where others have traveled down related paths, turning data into useful knowledge.


I was recently introduced to AlixPartners, a group that uses analytical and executive expertise to solves business problems. " ... Our service expertise reaches across four main disciplines: enterprise improvement, corporate turnaround and restructuring, financial advisory services and information management services.... " . The link above goes to some interesting work of theirs with overcapacity in the Middle East petrochemical industry.

Predictive Trade Planning in the Cloud

Press Release:

Unilever Selects DemandTec for Predictive Trade Planning in the Cloud
Global consumer goods leader drives more effective retail trade plans with predictive analytics

SAN MATEO, Calif. –December 7, 2011 - DemandTec, Inc. (NASDAQ: DMAN), the collaborative analytics cloud for retailers and consumer products companies, today announced that Unilever has selected Customer Trade Planning , a predictive trade analytics app on the DemandTec network.

By leveraging DemandTec, Unilever is empowering business users to create unified pricing and promotion plans that more effectively invest trade promotion funds. The predictive app will allow Unilever to better understand consumer demand to achieve brand objectives and support a more strategic level of collaboration with retail trading partners .... "

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Google Analytic Metrics

A simple view of Google Analytics metrics. Useful guide, especially for beginners in Web analytic methods.

People Centric Sensing

The rise of people-centric sensing. Another example of how data gathering is increasing. " ... Technological advances in sensing, computation, storage, and communications will turn the near-ubiquitous mobile phone into a global mobile sensing device. People-centric sensing will help drive this trend by enabling a different way to sense, learn, visualize, and share information about ourselves, friends, communities, the way we live, and the world we live in. It juxtaposes the traditional view of mesh sensor networks with one in which people, carrying mobile devices, enable opportunistic sensing coverage. In the MetroSense Project’s vision of people-centric sensing, users are the key architectural system component, enabling a host of new application areas such as personal, public, and social sensing.... "

Control Algorithm

An Algorithm that estimates who is in control based on speech patterns. Sounds obvious, but there are likely subtle semantic details involved.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

The Poor State of US Public Domain Laws

Techdirt Post on how public domain laws are preventing access to works that should surely be available to all by now. A situation that needs to be corrected soon.

US to Become Paperless?

Polls say no. we examined this for years. Paper will always be here, but in reduced amounts. I think tablets will push the gap closer than it had been.

Data Tech Trend

Data will be a defining Tech Trend. Based on several trips I took in December to clients, it is clear that companies are looking for ways to leverage their huge stores of data. The need for clever Analytics and visualization will increase. I am ready for this trend.

Monday, January 02, 2012

Maps of science

In Flowingdata: An interesting map that shows the interrelationships of scientific fields based on published papers. This kind of visualization is more useful for prodding thought than finding specific connections from useful connects. It constructs an interrelationship taxonomy.

Changing our Relationhip with Technology

Will AI do this?. An Intel director comments. Yes I have believed that since our work in the area in the 80s. It is a matter of timing. We were too optimistic then. I can see the creep forward happening in areas that are less narrow than before. Even analytics has started to show the right directions to pursue. It will happen in encouraging and sometimes scary ways.

Joy of Quiet

On the joy of quiet. Getting away from the deluge of data. On a current trip I have been juggling three devices and when one of them failed found myself feeling disconnected. Link via Paul Sonnier, in his comment on my recent post on wearable computing. Good thoughts.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Media and Children

On media and children. Effects positive and negative. In particular on games and children. With lots of references to studies on the topic.