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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Excellence in Retailing Prize

The second annual Hub Prize competition, honoring excellence in the retail experience, is now underway and will run through July 31. Honored entries will be featured in the Hub Magazine's November edition. You can find more details and register here: http://bit.ly/q2G2VW 

Last year's victors included Procter & Gamble, Disney, Starbucks, Safeway, Walmart, Walgreens, Coca-Cola, 7-Eleven, CVS, Kellogg's, McDonald's, Kimberly-Clark and ConAgra, among others. Entries ranged from new products to shopper marketing programs to loyalty programs to apps to e-commerce to pop up shops to new retail concepts and more, across every type of retail experience .... 

Cisco Provides Mobile Forecast

Some interesting stats from Cisco on the increasing use of mobile and how it is driving internet traffic.  A tidal wave is rising. " ... The “proliferation of tablets, mobile phones and other smart devices as well as machine-to-machine (M2M) connections” will drive the increased demand for connectivity, said Cisco in an announcement of its new findings ... " .   Specifically Cisco forecasts there will be 2.15 connections per person on earth by 2016.   Yet more opportunity for big data and analytical methods.  Every device connection is a sensor that is generating data.

Bring Your Own Devices

An acronym I have just learned: BYOD, bring your own devices.  The policy of companies allowing employees to use their own devices for internal use.   The practice and the policy has been tested formally and informally used for some time.  We tested it actively for a decade.  Now that companies like MS are planning to provide full office packages for the popular tablet format, it is likely to become even more common.  What are the implications for MS and the idea?

Future of Money

An impressive special report in IEEE Spectrum on the Future of Money.  With emphasis on the near future direction of electronic payment methods.   Are we in the last days of cash?  How will the changes be controlled?   Devices, encryption, privacy and location will all play a big role in the next steps.  Be prepared as a consumer, and as a vendor.

Finding Your Smile

An idea related to previous work at MIT to determine how people reacted to ideas, products and interaction.  We examined this previously to determine how people reacted to specific products and displays in a laboratory store, to create a frustration index.  A non conscious interaction analysis that can be seen as s form of neuromarketing analysis.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Data Science Summit Videos

A  number of videos from the Data Science Summit via Greenplum that are worth examining.   Useful selection from 2011 as well:   The few I have looked at so far are insightful. ".. Data Science Summit brings together thought leaders from academia, the social enterprise, start-ups, and the public sector to help attendees explore and define their path forward in the new, data-driven world. Through data mining, statistics, advanced analytics and innovative visualizations, data scientists are drawing insights from the abundance of structured and unstructured data.  ... ' 

Wearable Computing

In the WSJ:  More on wearable computing solutions like Google Glasses.  A favorite topic based on our own experiments.  Inevitable?  " ... Some computer scientists increasingly envision a world in which people wear glasses-like devices with a built-in camera and use apps that can recognize objects and faces—using technology called "computer vision"—and automatically retrieve information about those objects from the Web or other sources.... " 

Why we Lie

Why we Lie. by Dan Ariely. Why we do, and how he has experimented with methods to increase and decrease the likelihood of the lie.  As usual a thought provoking article.

Grades and Tuitions are Inflated

Data and graphs from Mark Perry on the inflation of grades and college costs.  Are  they related? Hearing more talk about the necessity of a college education.  I remain traditional on this topic.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Evolving Mind Mapping

I worked with concept and mind mapping for a number of years, and use it still for consulting interactions. It is still evolving.  Allowing us to co-create conversations.  And see innovations through other people's eyes. And stimulate our brains by structuring its use.  Good thoughts.

Turing Centenary

ACM Turing Centenary Celebration to Be Webcast Live!

If you can't attend ACM's Turing Centenary Celebration, you can still experience the thrill of rubbing elbows with ACM Turing Award winners—virtually! On Friday, June 15 and Saturday, June 16, more than 30 Turing Award recipients will gather to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Alan Turing's birth with personal remembrances, talks, and panel discussions. And ACM plans to webcast the entire event live! Don't miss this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to learn about computing's past and future, from the unique perspectives of its pioneers and leading contemporary thinkers.

bookmark this site in your browser now: http://turing100.acm.org/webcast

Taming the Big Data Wave

I have been reading: Taming The Big Data Tidal Wave: Finding Opportunities in Huge Data Streams with Advanced Analytics  by Bill Franks.  

I read this in preparation for several invited talks about the intersection of Big Data, visualization and analytics.  This is an excellent, largely non-technical view of this exploding area.   In particular I like how it addresses the integration of analytical expertise to businesses.  That advice can be used whether your data is 'big'  or not.  Also intriguing was his description of an 'analytics innovation center' and how teams can be used to staff and empower this idea.  Good thoughts there .... we implemented aspects of this in the enterprise, where the centers were set up to address particular kinds of data for functional parts of our enterprise.  That was done because the ready access to specific data sources and subject matter expertise was key to making the idea work

This book is a great introduction to the subject.  Managers should read it.  All technology areas like this exist on quickly shifting ground ... but this is a case where the analytics part is not shifting as quickly, and can often be used in a plug-and-play way to address  business process improvement.  So this will be useful for a long time to come, when integrated with other online and vendor resources that keep you up to date.  Also many and varied industry examples.   I will follow up with more points of view from this book.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Petabytes and PetaFlops

In ComputerWorld:  Word of new examples really big data, and at the same time using really fast computers to examine that data at the NCSA. New challenges are emerging every day. " ... The Blue Waters project will create a 1 petaflop supercomputer to handle real-world science and engineering applications. Among others things, it will aid in understanding how the cosmos evolved after the Big Bang, help predict the courses of hurricanes and tornadoes, and play a role in the design of new materials at the atomic level .... "

Predictive Analytics and Medicaid Fraud

A good example of using predictive analytics with medical data.   Here with billing data: " ... "The beauty of this system is that it recognizes patterns of billing behavior that don't fit in with the norm and then takes it a step further by looking for relationships among providers that can point us to a Web of suspicious accounts," Al Delia, North Carolina DHHS acting secretary, wrote in an IBM blog post. ... " 

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Turn any Wall into a Touchscreen

Gestural Surfaces. A look at the Ubi Interactive use of Microsoft Kinect for touchscreen construction. Are we ready for the broader applications of gestures in new ways? I think so. Here relatively low cost, and I see their use of it for advertising displays, an application that is interesting to me.

Finance from Wolfram

And a finance platform from Wolfram Research.  Perhaps an unlikely connection but the possibilities are good.  I like the process-workflow connection;  " ... Algorithmic agility has come center stage in finance. Yet finance tools are often outmoded—failing to use modern, smart computation from other fields. Wolfram Finance Platform injects ultimate computation into finance workflows—increasing your competitiveness in areas as diverse as option pricing, risk analysis, enterprise system development, and interactive reporting. ... " 

Simplicity Isn't Simple

Isn't it?  An interview with Apple design chief.   " ... "Designing and developing anything of consequence is incredibly challenging," says Ive. "Our goal is to try to bring a calm and simplicity to what are incredibly complex problems so that you're not aware really of the solution, you're not aware of how hard the problem was that was eventually solved." ...  "Simplicity is not the absence of clutter, that's a consequence of simplicity. Simplicity is somehow essentially describing the purpose and place of an object and product. The absence of clutter is just a clutter-free product. That's not simple... 

Saturday, May 26, 2012

National Retail Data Monitor

Colleague Mike Robinson of Laverdad Marketing  reminded me of an effort we were involved in: The National Retail Data Monitor.   Which is designed  to detect pharma sales patterns to provide early warning for epidemics and bio terrorism.  Mike did a great job supporting this early form of real time big data mining. Check out his inspired marketing work as well.

Text Analytics and the Value of the Unstructured

In Information Management:   Bottom line is that unstructured data is important.  Unstructured is also more than just text, images and video are becoming increasingly important.  "Organizations differ widely in their management of unstructured data. In some cases, they have spent an exorbitant amount of money to leverage some of their unstructured text data – by investing and then reinvesting in search engine after search engine – hoping to improve the relevance of retrieved information. At the other end of the spectrum, many organizations are ignoring their unstructured data altogether, continuing to use only about 20 percent of their total data, that which is structured only, to drive their business. Others have not begun to analyze their unstructured data because they believe that data must be perfect before applying analysis to it. They are waiting to derive new insights while their competitors leap forward .... " 

Simple Charts Tell a Story

In Flowingdata.. An illustration of my favorite precept, that simple is better. It is true that visualizaton can make very complex things appear simpler. But the part that you are observing at any one time should be very simple and clear. The observers attention should be directed and discerning. Some good, and simple, examples.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Big Data and Health Care

An interesting example using the case of sleep apnea contributing to car accidents.

P&G Wins Effie

P&G tops the list of the ten most effective advertisers.  " ... IBM and Microsoft, tied with EA, come in at No. 2 and No. 3, respectively. “Effectiveness” is defined as success based on a mix of brand-specific metrics and goals including ROI, sales growth, brand awareness, and spurred action, as assessed by Effie jurors.... " 

Intuit Using Big Data to Delight You

In GigaOM:  Some months back I gave a talk at Intuit on the leveraging of data resources.  This is not an outcome of that, but an intriguing direction that they are taking.    How do you construct 'data for delight'?  Of course the phrase is not dissimilar from what we worked with in the consumer goods industry.

" ... That, Intuit Senior VP of Big Data, Social Design and Marketing Nora Denzel told me, was the reaction of one of her co-workers after getting a view of her personal finances using Mint.com. Company bias aside, the story is telling of how individuals might expect to directly benefit from analytics today. Large companies use big data techniques as methods to simultaneously increase revenue and save operating costs, but the most-direct benefit to consumers is usually a targeted advertisement or a list of possible social networking connections. That’s pretty lame. A consumer service that actually cares about your bottom line…? Well, that’s something. ... " 

Target Connects to ShopKick

In an interesting development Target has connected to the ShopKick rewards program.  I spent some time looking at ShopKick and was impressed by the approach. " ...  Target guests nationwide can earn points for shopping at Target that can be redeemed for a variety of rewards. “We’ve learned from our guests that they appreciate being rewarded for doing what they already love to do -- shopping at Target,” says Bonnie Gross, Target VP marketing and guest engagement. “In our test launch, Target guests in seven cities had the opportunity to experience shopkick at Target and we received rave reviews. Now guests nationwide can start earning valuable points just by shopping our stores.”

Game Dynamics of Customer Loyalty

Good piece on the topic. Gaming principles applied to customer acquisition using virality and examples in a number of current systems. Good to answer client questions about where this can work now.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Crowd Modeling and Simulation

Crowd Modeling and Simulation. A favorite topic as we examined in store behavior. This takes it much further, but the elements of simulation are useful.

Mindshare and Unilever

Mindshare retains Unilevers 1.38 billion US advertising business.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Google Knowledge Graph

In ReadWwriteWeb: A look at how Google is reoriented search to include more semantic knowledge. And provides a connection to related knowledge.

Wolfram System Modeler

Newly announced by Wolfram Research a System and equation modeling tool based on Mathematica. Have not looked deeper yet, but this appears to be quite impressive. The post linked to here has quite a few details including visualizations. Worth a much closer look. See also their system modeler web site.

NFC Use Expands

In Computerworld. NFC is a wireless transmission method, operating over a few centimeters, that is typically used for payment from smartphones. It is now being seen for broader applications. We explored it for tethering laboratory sensors. Expect to see further application.

Future of Gamification

Detailed PEW report on the topic of gamification. Useful overview.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Scaling and Power Laws

Good examination of power laws in the newly revived Exploring Complexity blog. An important idea that is introduced clearly here.

Supply Dynamics

Recently visited:  Material Demand Aggregation: Your Solution for Better Supply Chain Performance
Leverage aggregate demand WITHOUT consigning material, installing software, modifying ERP systems or redeploying personnel. 

Occasion-Based Marketing at Coke

In CPGMatters:   A classic approach to quantifying  in-store behavior.  Coke finds some insight along the way:

Occasion-Based Marketing Triggers Coca-Cola's Solutions 
Understanding shopping occasions and trip missions to the grocery store has always been important for Coca-Cola. But these insights took on greater meaning when research found that nearly six of ten trips (57%) are occasion based with shoppers looking for solutions ...  “If we can put those two together – trip mission and consumption occasion – that’s very powerful,” he said, adding that understanding how shoppers move through the store can help Coke offer products grouped into relevant solutions at key engagement points along the path to purchase. ... "

Monday, May 21, 2012

Mobile Grocery Shopping

Are you ready?   Catalina's acquisition of Modiv media.  What will the outcome of this be?  Are consumers ready to broadly utilize in-store scanning?  Based on our research this has advanced for years, and it is inevitable.  " ... More mobile apps are popping up as tools for shoppers to find manufacturer deals and make lists as they trawl the supermarket aisles.... "  And there are specific implications for grocery: "... Since few shoppers can wait for Amazon to ship their gallon of milk, smartphone usage in grocery stores is an entirely different beast than in big-box and electronic retailers, where the "scan and scram" phenomenon of price comparing runs rampant.... " 

A Business Intelligence Tool

I have worked for a number of small and medium size business intelligence applications.  When a business has to address these kinds of problems without a consultant it is often an issue to properly scope out the problem.  or at least find a starting point to outline the approaches available. .  In a recent search for tools I found this complimentary tool from IBM that addresses typical problems found in this area.  And determines the achievable ROI available As they state it:

Can your organization optimize queries? Do you use data cleansing technology? Is there strong executive support for business intelligence? The answers matter. Now find out what they mean for your midsized business. Sometimes you don’t know what you don’t know. It can be difficult to gauge your company’s use of business analytics compared to the competition. Are you using the right tools? Are you doing enough?

It is also useful to understand that what you are doing adheres to typical standards in use.    This approach also lets you scope out analytics that connect to the problems you are addressing.  Without a connection between data and methods, it is hard to get started.

The tool assigns a rating of how your company's approach compares to the best-in-class performance of a company your size in each of the business analytics categories that you identify as a concern, and then clearly outlines steps your company can take for continued improvement in key areas of business analytics. At the end of your personalized report, you will have access to Aberdeen's Research Reports on business analytics.

The Aberdeen report lets you figure out how to take the next steps utilizing business analytics.  I am reviewing that now for a specific application.  A useful approach to getting started for the small or medium size business.

This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines  of a smarter planet. More on that here: goo.gl/VQ40Cg 

Smarter Commerce for the Mid Size Business

Good futures piece on this topic.
To help companies understand the Smarter Commerce Institutethe SMB Group and CRM Essentials are working on a series of posts discussing how technology is empowering today’s customer, and why companies have to change their approach in order to build strong relationships with them. This is the final post in the series ... 

Curse of Innovation

In Innovation Excellence:  Enumerating the curses of innovation. Regarding Intellectual property, and of course the patent system.

Semantic Smarts in Search

A report on how Google is adding new semantic smarts into its search." ... Reportedly spotted by several users, the search pages are now displaying semantic data nestled to the right of the regular results. Such information tries to tie in relevant facts related to the subject of your search rather than just providing links to external Web sites.... "

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Synthetic Biology Accellerator

I have heard the term 'synthetic biology' used many times.  Most recently in the funding proposal for a startup.   It is usually is misused in odd ways.  These folks seem to have it right.  It is about simulating biological processes.  From low level to high level models.  Those simulations can be useful in understanding them. It combines engineering and biology.  It can be used to extend the process design beyond existing biology.   It is not about making  living things.

Tailoring Billboards

Onstar patents a system to tailor billboards to individual drivers:

" ... Like the billboards Tom Cruise encountered in Minority Report, the OnStar-linked ads would be tailored to passing motorists based on personal information they’d shared with their telematics service. Perusing the patent’s text, nightmare scenarios flooded our thoughts. Kids in the backseat? Be prepared to see ads for Happy Meals and nearby amusement parks. Headed to the doctor’s office? A friendly reminder to schedule a colonoscopy, in flashing 40-foot letters.

The most alarming aspect of the patent is how it proposes gathering personal data. Expectedly, the patent covers the use of location-based information from OnStar’s turn-by-turn navigation system. But more intrusively, it also includes the use of in-vehicle cameras to determine unspecified demographics of vehicle occupants. Even power seat positions could be used to estimate the age of a driver.... " 

Working Styles

Mindjet has an interesting document on workings styles. Surprisingly without any registration required.   Good overview with useful links,

Saturday, May 19, 2012


A long time interest is about the way computers have been sold in media.  The Computer History Museum has an online exhibit of brochures that sold computers with the same advertising principles that sold soap at the time.  I remember seeing some of these, somewhat after that time.  Of course you were not selling to the individual consumer at that time, but providing support to a salesman that would visit.   It was a different context, but the words and explanation provided is instructive.  In my own enterprise, computers that did payroll and inventory were called 'electronic brains', and proudly displayed behind glass walls in public lobbies.

Customer Centricity

We worked with Professor Peter Fader of Wharton in the enterprise.  His book on Customer centricity essentials is now out in its second edition.    "  ... Despite what the tired old adage says, the customer is not always right. Not all customers deserve your best efforts: in the world of customer centricity, there are good customers…and then there is pretty much everybody else. Upending some of our most fundamental beliefs, renowned behavioral data expert Peter Fader, Co-Director of The Wharton Customer Analytics Initiative, helps businesses radically rethink how they relate to customers. He provides insights to help you revamp your performance metrics, product development, customer relationship management and organization in order to make sure you focus directly on the needs of your most valuable customers and increase profits for the long term.... " 

Charmin App Improved

Charmin App Updated: " ... Procter & Gamble brand Charmin has introduced the SitOrSquat: Restroom Finder application for mobile devices, which lets users rate public bathrooms. Charmin launched a similar application in 2008, but the new version has a simplified rating system and a Spanish-language option....   " 

Friday, May 18, 2012

The Data Breadth of the Supply Chain

Today I gave an invited talk "End-to-End Supply Chain: Innovation, Design and Development" at the University of Cincinnati.  I emphasized the integration of Big Data methods and Analytical capabilities.   From Marketing to the Store Shelf.  Integrating data sensors of many types to deliver decision making capability.  The talk was well received and has started to make me think more about this topic and how it can be delivered more simply and widely.   Thanks to Oracle and Teradata for providing some of the slides and support.    Want to help support further thought about this topic?  Let me know.

Solving a Data Science Problem

Vincent Granville on ways to solve a data science problem. An interesting case study that uses a number of common analytic methods.  Well described:  " .... Here we discuss four approaches to solve the following marketing problem: identify, each day, the most popular Google groups, within a large list of target groups. You want to post in these groups only. The only information that is quickly available for each group, is the time when the last posting occured. Intuitively, the newer the last posting, the most active the group. There are some caveats such as groups where all postings come from one single user - a robot - for instance groups that focus on posting job ads exclusively. They should be in your black list.... "

SAS and Teradata

On SAS and Teradata joining forces.  More appliances:  " ... Over the years SAS has worked with many data warehousing vendors. In particular, in the recent past it has collaborated with a number of database vendors to support in-database analytics. However, as far as I am aware the recent announcement of the "Teradata Appliance for SAS High-Performance Analytics - Model 700" is a first, not just for SAS but for any two companies that are respectively in the warehousing and analytics arenas.....  " 

Graph Databases

A recent piece led me to Philip Howard in Bloor on Graph Databases.  An introduction. Which led me to the WP article on the same.   Obvious application of directed labeled graphs, which has a long history in analytical methods.  I can construct these with a package like CMap Tools.    Can I relate the resulting graph to a database?

Reviewing the Buying Brain

An interesting review of The Buying Brain.  Very positive.   Overdone I think, there are aspects of neuromarketing methods that although useful in conjunction with classical methods, remain unproven.

Thursday, May 17, 2012


Via David E Goldberg    Who we worked with in the enterprise on genetic algorithm methods.

ThreeJoy Associates, Inc. is a leadership coaching firm and change consultancy established to serve individual and organizational clients in higher education to help them grow and develop to better align with the creativity imperative of the 21st century.... " .

See their blog.

What is in-Memory Analytics?

Bill Franks provides a good overview.    Read the whole piece, well put.  " There’s been a lot of noise lately about the concept of in-memory analytics.  As a recent example, if you followed the press around some major conferences in late April, you’ll notice that a lot of messaging was present around in-memory analytics products.  Many people have been asking questions about how in-memory can fit into their mix and how it relates to other options like in-database analytics.  So, what’s up with in-memory analytics? .... "

It is about volume, speed and complexity.  And with increasing data availability, we need more power to transform data into business value.

Wal-Mart Localizing Stores

Wal-Mart is Localizing its stores with Facebook.  I recall this general idea proposed during the early days of web sites being commonly available.  Long before Facebook.  A very good idea to promote local ties to stores.  This could also lead to new kinds of local behavioral data.

Tasting Jams and Dating Sites

Match making online. Head versus heart.   A dated WSJ article which led me back to some of our matching work for many other purposes.    But does it work for matching of products and needs?  Or products and associated products?   This still remains a challenge for retail analytics that has produced insights but not necessarily exact solutions.

Texting Increases Truth

A study seems to show texting increase truthfulness.  Less shading of the truth.  I wonder if this is caused by the limitation of the size of the message? Less ability to shade the truth.  Less time  required, and thus the ability to spill the thought more quickly?  Do Tweets have the same effect?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Organizing Your Business for Innovation

In Innovation Excellence:  A favorite topic, when added to constructing innovation rich contexts.  " ... Innovation is the process of linking an invention to satisfy a specific need in a business or social context. The people who work on finding ways to do this are called as innovators. The people who take the existing technologies and package them together and commercialize it as an offering and build organisational structures to support this, are called entrepreneurs.As I explained in my other blog “Why companies need innovation? A market competition perspective”, innovation is not a choice today for any company rather it is a must for sustainable growth in today’s marketplace.... " 

Intel Employee Magazine

IQ by Intel is a Flipboard like design, with bright graphics, using social measures to promote the Intel brand to younger demographics.  More in Adage.

Wearing Health Devices

In Technology Review:  On wearing small health devices.  Small monitors have been around for a long time.  The challenge may be how to deal with the data and the analytics needed to provide value.

Byron Sharp and the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute

Byron Sharp, professor at the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute, University of South Australia, has been a long term correspondent.  My former enterprise is a major sponsor.  So I continue to get his mailings.   Note in particular his excellent book: How Brands Grow, mentioned many times here.  Also his TEDx talk.  He adds in this recent mailing that he is now tweeting, so you can follow him here.

He also links to a special issue of the Journal of Advertising Research: on Empirical Laws in Advertising that he edited. Subtitled:  What We Know About Advertising: 21 Watertight Laws for Intelligent Advertising Decisions.  This came from a 2008 conference at Wharton. A comprehensive and excellent document on the topic that I am just going through. Great content.

Also, his excellent blog and a publications list.

If you are interested in Advertising, Brands and the science of engagement, his work is a must follow, or consider sponsoring his work.

Thanks Byron.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

International Institute for Analytics

Bill Franks has a number of interesting posts at the International Institute for Analytics blog.  Like a recent post on in-memory analytics.  " ...  At IIA, we study how leading enterprises use analytics to dominate their industries. This focus allows us to go deeper than other multi-disciplined research firms. We are the market leader in benchmarking analytical capabilities and we specialize in supporting executive leadership by industry and function.... "

Hadoop Education for Big Data Analytics

A good view of the need for specialized training and experience for the use of the package Hadoop for Big data problems.  I recently saw an overview of this approach, and I agree.  Think of Hadoop as a data preparation and batch delivery mechanism.  It is even more important to know the specifics of the analytics required to make a big data analytics approach be useful.

Managing Digital Marketing Solutions

In AdAge:  it is becoming clear that the problem is becoming too big. And Agencies themselves are looking to build out their own solutions.  It is clear though that they will need help to do this.  Accenture is a recent example: " ... Tech consultancy Accenture has a head start. It has longtime relationships with chief information officers, who usually buy tech systems. So when marketers needed a system of their own, the firm launched Accenture Interactive in 2009 with flagship client Procter & Gamble. The consulting giant doesn't intend to cede ground to competitors. ... " 

Revolutionizing Trade Strategy: Science and Shopper

I recently happened on an article by DemandTec on trade strategy.   Five ways to revolutionize your trade strategy.  A well put set of suggestions that emphasize the analytical aspects of addressing strategy.  Notable in particular was the idea that companies need to increasingly 'use science' to deliver more precise solutions.   In this discussion I emphasize two areas, this aspect of science, and the goal of really understanding the shopper.

We live in an era where there is an increasing amount of behavioral data about how shoppers interact with shelf, promotion, and ultimately buy.   We even have increasing amounts of data about when the shopper is in new locations, like when they are on the move with their own devices.  We can even infer when the shopper is just thinking about purchases,  while looking for reviews, or scanning for alternative prices.  I did a study of of this kind of consumer behavior during the early days of smart phones.  In the lab and then in real stores.   Did this new behavior empower the shopper or embarrass them?  This spectrum has been steadily evolving.

This sets the stage for both strategy and tactics for retail decisions.  And another item that is mentioned:  Getting shopper centric.   The shopper centers themselves upon much more than just the latest promotions.  They are part of a household, and keenly sensitive to their needs.  They see ads on TV,  on the Internet, and increasingly on their mobile devices. Flyers come to their home, often tailored to the purchases recorded on their loyalty card.

As they walk through a store, they are attracted by in store fixtures and  new product announcements.   Digital screens on the shelf and above them on the wall and ceilings attract their attention.  Increasing numbers of choices are displayed.  Announcements of new products are also interleaved between this exposure in the aisle. Inserting new brand decisions among a flurry of old thoughts.  Can I use that in a recipe?  Will this fit my budget?  Will my household like this new thing?  Three hundred and sixty degrees of decision making in an increasingly tailored retail environment.  The complexity and depth of this new decision making is considerable.

As the article suggests, the 'nuances' of these interactions can be recorded in new ways to allow the tailoring these preferences locally, and leading to better strategic decisions.   New data and larger databases will allow the continued tailoring of the experience.   Newly derived Big Data methods will make this easier to do.  It is a challenge I will be following.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Smart Phones Spread Fast

In Technology Review:  Are Smart Phones Spreading Faster than Any Technology in Human History?   A good historical view that compares them with the spread of other technologies.  It certainly seems so.  The hardware surely.  And even the software, spread by the novel notion of cheap, focused,  almost throw away Apps.   It used to be that software lagged far behind, but this simple modularization idea has sped this up too.

Apps for IOS

I was just introduced to FileMaker.  Have not tried it, but it looks interesting. " ... The FileMaker Platform is a complete software suite used to create, deploy, and manage data-driven business apps for the iPad and iPhone. ... " 

Kraft Foods on Marketing Content Strategy

Good view of foods packaged goods approach.  " ... When you think of “killer content strategy,” do you think of Kraft Foods? For many people, when they think of Kraft, they think of cheese. In fact, Kraft represents a lifestyle. That lifestyle stands for easy-to-make, family-friendly food and recipes.

Kraft has actually been at the forefront of content marketing since long before that term was ever coined. They launched kraftfoods.com back in 1992 – years ahead of the time that many of their competitors would launch websites. This website has grown over the years to include a host of recipes and food-related content. They followed up on their web content with a printed publication, food & family magazine in 2005.... "

Upcoming Retail Supply Chain Presentation

Join me!

End-to-End Supply Chain, Innovation, Design & Improvement

Franz A Dill,

Consultant in Technology, Retired from Procter & Gamble
Thirty years of using data, modeling, design & forward looking innovation to improve the operation of the supply chain, from the raw material supplier to the plant to the store shelf. Where have we been & where are we going? How have methods like optimization & simulation been used? What will visualization of big data mean? What will new kinds of data say & how can it be leveraged in new ways?

Friday, May 18, 2012                                          
11:30 A.M. Presentation & 12:30 P.M. Pizza Reception
Room 110, UC Carl H. Lindner College of Business

Sponsors: UC INFORMS Student Chapter – Institute for Operations Research & the Management Sciences, www.INFORMS.org
Department of Operations, Business Analytics, and Information Systems
Carl H. Lindner College of Business

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Training Your Customers How to Behave

New author interview from HBR:  How Starbucks Trains Customers to Behave: " ... Anne Morriss, managing director of the Concire Leadership Institute, explains how the coffee giant increased efficiency and satisfaction by treating customers like employees. She is the coauthor of Uncommon Service: How to Win by Putting Customers at the Core of Your Business.... " 

McKinsey on Big Data

An excellent long pdf by the McKinsey Global Institute  on the present status and future of Big Data.  In the process of reading, but a very well done document for reference.  Thanks again to Chris Herbert for the link.

Big Data Solutions

At the enterprise we were an early and big implementor of SAP solutions.   I am in the midst of gathering representative examples of big data analytics.  Correspondent Chris Herbert sends me an article about some of their solutions for retail:   " ...  Today’s retail business is a real-time, information-driven enterprise. Every customer interaction and movement of a product through a distribution network is measured and used to refine pricing strategies, update inventory decisions and tailor customer incentives on websites, email and mobile devices ....  "

Also, related, he sends along a link to a recording of their recent HANA webinar. Password is:saphana

On Who and Whom

In the Language Log:  On Who and Whom.  I had read somewhere else that the distinction between these two are disappearing, based on written word  analyses.  Here he reprints an article in the New Yorker that has James Thurber discussing, humorously, the distinction and how to deal with it.  Language is fun.

Name Wizard is Back

I was reminded of Mark Wattenberg's Name Voyager.   Has not been around for a while.   Perhaps due to some licensing issue?   The site also contains other interesting visualizations.  We examined it for some internal visualization needs.  It deserves another look.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Multiple Location Augmented Reality

Augmented reality to provide 3D remote interaction:

"Microsoft is developing an augmented reality system that allows users in different locations to work together on a tabletop and share and handle objects. Demonstrated at a conference in Austin, Texas, the MirageTable deceives the eye of users into believing they are using a seamless three-dimensional (3D) shared task space  .... "

On Big Data

Paul Hofmann, formerly of SAP, now with Saffron Technologies has a presentation on Big Data.  Good short overview with examples that is worth reviewing.

High Performance Computing Clusters

Was just introduced to HPCC Systems.  As an open source solution to a 'Big Data' problem to support a large scale enterprise simulation.  Well worth a look for those interested in the topic.  More to follow.

Patterns in Everyday Numbers

Cool numbers.   A site to investigate the patterns in everyday numbers.The kind of site that would be good to show to children to get them interested in the patterns in numbers and lead them to a love of math.

Camera Phone Tech

A recent project has me looking at the value and limitations of camera phone technology.  So it was good to see this instructive article on the subject in ComputerWorld.  An introduction.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Faster Pharma

Novartis speaks of continuous manufacturing in pharmaceuticals.  " .... the CEO of pharmaceutical giant Novartis, Joseph Jimenez, suggested big changes are in store for the way his company makes drugs. A new, experimental method for producing pills could drastically reduce production times, increase revenue, and improve quality, he said.... "

Costco Pushes Mobile Apps

And additionally pushing social networking.   I have worked on Costco projects, and am still a frequent customer, so I look forward to more of the details here:

Costco makes plans for boosting its online sales
Costco.com already sells about $2 billion worth of goods, but it lags far behind Amazon and Wal-Mart in online sales. The Issaquah-based chain plans to introduce new mobile apps this month in an effort to significantly expand its online business .... " 

Shopper Decisions Made In-Store

76% Purchase Decisions Made In-Store
New Study Released By POPAI Explores The Changing Behavior & Purchasing Decisions Of Today’s Grocery Shopper ...

Sands Research adds:   " ... Building upon a long line of major shopper research trend studies, dating back to 1965, POPAI's 2012 Shopper Engagement Study once again paved the path for in-store research by adding a combination of groundbreaking EEG and eye-tracking technology to attitudinal findings and shopper interviews in-store. The Study found, from both pre- and post- intercept interviews and EEG with Eye-tracking, that today's shopper is making more in-store decisions on what to buy than ever before. Today's in-store decision rate has reached an all time high of 76%, which is a six percent increase over POPAI's landmark 1995 Study ...  " 

Tapping the Power of the Feature Phone

I was recently pointed to the idea of using voice interaction to provide intelligence in the still 63% of cell phones today that are not 'smart' but are dubbed  'feature phones'.  An interesting idea.   More on this video.  Via Almira Labs. Will the prevalence of smart phone become universal, or will there always be room for simpler phones?  It does sound anti technology progress, but I think there is real room for this idea.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Tribute to Moms on Mother's Day

An update to P&G's tribute to Mom's on Mothers day.  Just received through the P&G alumni services wire.

Employee Loyalty

Employee loyalty has declined for a very long time. It used to common for people to stay with firms for many years.  But now companies do not in general provide any assured pensions or retirement rewards.  Often people sign on only to get lines in their resume, and lesser still, specific experiences and skills.  Knowledge@Wharton addresses recent studies in employee loyalty.


I was recently introduced to MobileRQ by a correspondent and its developer Tyler McKinley.  Some nicely thought ideas of how to use multiple streams of data to drive travel experiences:

" MobileRQ Traveler is a “big data” mobile analytic platform that enables airlines, hospitality and the larger travel ecosystem to increase traveler touch points, strengthen traveler loyalty, and drive revenue. Most importantly this all happens within your own mobile app.

MobileRQ lets you engage your customer with your own contextually relevant mobile messages.
This rich new mobility platform establishes a traveler’s context through unstructured data analytics and delivers your own high relevancy mobile offers to them. Today’s connected traveler constantly seeks ways to experience, explore and stay up to date. As the travel provider you can meet these needs directly through the mobile phone with high relevancy messaging before, during and after their trip.... "

Gamification of Processes

Brainyard overviews Gartner statistics on the gamification of processes.  Pointing to a continuing trend.  I like the idea well applied, but have often seen it poorly done.  I am not convinced that 'badges'  work well in many contexts.  Playful perhaps, but meaningful?  It also has to take into account the cultural setting in which it is employed.  I like the idea of using some game dynamics for knowledge sharing:  ' ... . "[You can design a program so that] instead of just replying yes or no, I have to give an answer as to why it's yes or no. I have to put my reasoning behind it. And you, and 20 other people who are part of my game group, might look and see what my rationales for making my decisions are. It's a sharing--they get to see what my thinking is--but it's also a feedback on my decisions in the game. So, that element of sharing knowledge and coming to a decision about what might be a best practice is used a lot in our game design." ... '  

History of Data Science

A short but informative history of data science.  I lived through lots of this history and recall its effect on the enterprise.    Good resource.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

On the Economics of Information

In the WSJ:   An examination of the value of information, using the Facebook IPO as an example.  Their take, you are worth about $81 to Facebook.

McKinsey on the Future of Work

The suggestion that the decrease in employment and hiring in the recent recession was unique.  Because of the explosion of technologies in the years before the recession, many jobs, now replaced by technology solutions, will never return.   I have already seen the strong reluctance of companies to hire.  Full report here.

Analytical Ecosystems Explored

Just brought to my attention: 
Alan Greenspan, marketing manager at Teradata,  is quoted: " ... When business justification calls for more than one system, organizations need a way to manage, monitor and control all aspects of the analytical environment—from the hardware and software components to the process and flow of data. This level of management keeps the complexity of the ecosystem low while providing high value to the business.... "

Free Data Science E-Book

I was reminded of the free, in-progress data science e-book again.  Only 86 pages so far.  An interesting example of crowd sourcing technology information.  Downloadable here. A very nice idea, with lots of useful and relatively simply put how-to's are included.

" ... Our Data Science e-Book provides recipes, intriguing discussions and resources for data scientists and executives or decision makers. You don't need an advanced degree to understand the concepts. Most of the material is written in simple English, however it offers simple, better and patentable solutions to many modern business problems, especially about how to leverage big data.

Emphasis is on providing high-level information that executives can easily understand, while being detailed enough so that data scientists can easily implement our proposed solutions. Unlike most other data science books, we do not favor any specific analytic method nor any particular programming language: we stay one level above practical implementations. But we do provide recommendations about which methods to use when necessary.... " 

Monday, May 07, 2012

Driverless Cars Licensed for Test in Nevada

Google continues its test of driverless automobiles.   A view of the future,  when this will become common? Or will the idea be thwarted by accidents?    For this test a million dollar bond has to be posted and two people must be in the car at all times.

Big Data can Show Large ROI

Intriguing piece with some case studies about how big data can lead to ROI.  By examining the real relationships in the data.  This points to may potential opportunities.

Virtual Peapod Store in Chicago Tunnel

The approach uses simple smartphone scanning.   " ... A Chicago "L" station is about the last place you would think of to pick up a carton of milk. But online grocer Peapod has turned a busy CTA station at State and Lake streets into a virtual supermarket aisle, enabling commuters to use their smartphones to scan and buy any of 70 items.... " .

Nice thought for quickly doing shopping on the way home where Peapod is already established.  I could see this being implemented in many such locations for advertising and shopping in new contexts.

3D Vision Allows Group Drone Flying

From the Fraunhofer Institute:    In continued development of advanced imaging and control, this development is added to the broader development of drone sensors.  Multiple, simple even disposable drones,  could be a novel solution to sensor problems.  We may live in a different world then.

" ... They can be deployed as additional surveillance resources during major events, or as high-resolution 3D street imaging systems. Intelligent swarms of aerial drones are a universally useful tool for police, crisis managers and urban planners. Special 3D sensors developed by Fraunhofer researchers ensure fl awless aerobatics and prevent collisions. ... "

Mobile no Longer Optional for Visualization

Notes In Znet:  I largely agree.   Tablets have become the new normal for viz.  I don't think I would acquire a visualization application that I could not display on, and interact with, on at least one common mobile device.  I am doing that with a mobile application right now.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Mind Mapping Expertise

From the Biggerplate mind mapping library blog:   " ... Liam meets mapping expert Philippe Boukobza: 
Last week I was extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to meet with mind mapping expert Philippe Boukobza who runs a number of excellent blogs for mind mappers, including the excellent "Visual Mapping Blog" ...  '

I had not seen the visual mapping blog before.   Looks to be a very good source.

Front Line Workers Need to Innovate

I much agree. It is ultimately essential.  But in real life experience the effort is often seen as wasting time.   Real rewards for it are often slow in coming.  We are still attached to the focused, one task, assembly line mentality.

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Data Philosophy vs Science

In data management.   More akin to social science versus physics.   There is science involved, but it is of the statistical rather than the precise law kind.   It can be useful either way.

Orange Ads Work Better on Facebook

Tailoring ad effectiveness.   Makes sense to look at this analytically.

Not Unlike Continual Improvement Processes in Factories, CPG Giant Taps Data to Constantly Refine Digital-Ad Effectiveness

Digital is consuming more of Procter & Gamble's media budget and has become so important that the world's biggest advertiser is fundamentally changing how it creates those ads and applying what it learns to other parts of the marketing mix ... "

Friday, May 04, 2012

Mobile Clorox

Clorox meets moms in the aisles with smartphones.  Emarketer article about how the CPG company is using mobile marketing.   ' ...  "We are always asking: Is this really demonstrating a true understanding of who the mom is and what she needs at that moment? And what value are we actually providing?" ... '

Image Analysis Game

A crowd-sourced image analysis game.    I worked on several image analysis systems that had crowd-sourced and gaming components, so the details here are interesting.  " ... Analysis and related diagnosis of medical images, regardless of the source and imaging modality, are tasks that require a great deal of expertise, demanding significant training of medical practitioners prior to being able to accurately interpret and diagnose such images. This is particularly true in analysis of microscopic data, creating challenges in resource-limited settings and developing countries, where properly trained health-care professionals are difficult to find..... "

Wal-Mart Shelf Winners

The winners of the Wal-Mart crowd sourced product selection contest have been announced.   Bottled water, eyeglass repair and food storage were the category winners.    By my view,  the actual crowd-sourced innovation displayed was yawn-inducing.   The event site.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Analytics is not that Complex

In Forbes:  I agree, it is not rocket science.  It is, in its best form,  as simple as possible.  Best if originally sketched out on the back of an envelope. Or on a tablet with a concept or process mapping program, after an interview  with the right business people.

First get the right data.  Then design some simple dashboards designed to support and alert the decision makers. That can often be enough.  Proceed from there to improve the processes.   Yes, sometimes it does need to get complex, because businesses can be complex.  But starting simply is always the best approach. It is a set of tools and resources you can use.  Starting with a simplest and most straight forward, and ending with complex machines.

Alan Turing Bio

An interview with the biographer of Alan Turing.   A pioneer of computer science, artificial intelligence, codebreaking and the modeling of biological systems.  All topics of interest that will continue to improve our knowledge of intelligent advisory systems.

Journaling Productivity

Using a journal to increase productivity.   “One of the big reasons to keep a diary is to record small wins that otherwise might slip through your memory,” she says. “You can leverage the progress principle and allow yourself to get that boost from realizing you are making progress. And it’s also helpful to record major setbacks – or minor ones that recur – so you can think about how to get rid of inhibitors blocking your progress.” Here are four tips from Amabile on how to start improving your productivity today.... " .   We discovered that this approach could be integrated with knowledge management as well, but it did not fit with culture and was never broadly implemented.

Targeting Men in Retail

Retailers and manufacturers  react to increasing percentage of men shopping.  Nielsen stats and the establishment of  'Man Aisles'.

Augmented Reality on Tablets

A dated article that came up recently, how the augmented reality (AR)  company Metaio is looking at the use of AR on tablets.  See their site for interesting recent applications of AR.   Initially I thought of the ideal context of AR as on the more portable smartphone,  but once you start of thinking of enhanced packaging, AR advertising, and the more general at home uses of tablets for shopping, the view changes.    The increased screen view of the tablet also naturally increases the possibilities.

Myths of Predictive Analytics

With brief registration, a reasonable look at the topic.  I would prefer first a better definition of the topic as well.   All analytics aims to be predictive, but like any forecast, it is not perfect.  It has been done for many years.  " ... Predictive Analytics is powerful, it can help you predict an event or a behavior at a an individual customer level. It can help you spot golden nuggets from the deep-wide-big data ocean; But is also one of the techniques which is not very well understood. With all the recent buzz about Predictive Analytics, it does seems like a new technique in the tool box. Is that so? Is it a crystal ball? Does it always work? In this white paper, we will ground ourselves in the reality of building and maintaining an impactful Predictive Model and exploring these and other myths ... "

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Enemies and Innovation

Enemies sparking innovation.    Martin Lindstrom writes an interesting piece about competition producing the need to innovate.   Coke - Pepsi and Apple - Microsoft are covered as examples of this kind of hyper competitiveness. " ... to this day, retired executives at both beverage companies claim that the real reason why their brands achieved world dominance was, in the fighting words of one executive, "Every day we went to work, we went to war." Had Pepsi and Coke not had each other, the chances that their brands would spread to more than 100 countries around the world would have been very slim.... " 

Data Discovery

Data discovery is not a term I have heard much recently.  We experimented with the topic as part of a broader artificial intelligence program.  It linked well with what was also called 'case based reasoning' and 'associative memories'.  Saving the experiences and interactions of the company in data form. For examination and re-use later.   Bottom line:  How do we get useful patterns from data?  Now we have lots more usable data, from increasing sources.  So it makes sense to revisit the topic.  Good non technical introductory view here from the HBR.  Emphasizing how it can be integrated into the organzation.

More Open Source Courses

Students respond to yet another example of free online courses.  This prototype example from MIT on Electrical Engineering.  The knowledge is starting to spread, the form of education is changing.  But can only the elite well-endowed universities afford to do this?  And how will learning of this kind be valued by employers?  I welcome the availability.

Operationalizing Business Analytics

A piece from the SAS blog on operationalizing business analytics.    An important topic I am just working with " ...  Business analytics is maturing – and so is its role in forward-thinking organizations. Once mainly used in traditional batch-type environments, it's now being embedded into real-time business decision operations and processes to create immediate and significant value.... " 

Slashdot's Business Intelligence

The iconic Slashdot site has opened a new portal: SlashBI  that focuses on business intelligence. " ... SlashBI is designed to offer the latest news and expert commentary on everything related to business intelligence. We encourage feedback, commentary, and a thoughtful debate ... " 

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Gmail Meter

I used Google's Gmail Meter for the first time today.  If you use Gmail for significant quantities  of mail, it is an excellent way to understand your email uses.  It creates a standard business intelligence report and mails it to you.  It also creates a spreadsheet of your data, so you can create your own tailored report.  Been looking for something like this for some time.   Nicely done.

Health Chain Solutions Wins Innov8

I mentioned in a recent post that I had a conversations with Health Chain Solutions LLC:   It was reported today that  " ... they have been selected as the innovative business model in the recent Innov8 For Health 2012 Business Concept Expo, which was held on Friday April 20, 2012 at the Metabolic Disease Institute at the University of Cincinnati.

The intent of the Expo is to identify innovative companies which have the ability to solve health care issues related to the Triple Aim of Better Health, Better Care, at Lower Costs. Based on the established criteria, the participants were judged by a panel of industry experts from Healthcare, Business Management and Investment Banking.... " 

Well deserved, read the link above to the full press release with more details, and my other posts on this company.

Catalina Acquires Modiv Media

We worked with early forms of Modiv Media in store scanning devices and location oriented processes.   Even provided some design adjustments when it was being delivered by Symbol.  Now they have been acquired by big merchandising promotion provider Catalina.   This continues to be a new means of delivering increasing amounts of data for shopper behavior analytics.

Being an Analytic Entrepreneur

Analytics Entrepreneur.   Vincent Granville is highlighted and interviewed.    An interesting concept that is detailed here. I think it makes sense to think of it that way.  Like any entrepreneur, you need to bring together people, resources, software, markets and leading edge concepts to make the capability happen.