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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Contacting Me

There have been a big increase in comments sent to this blog lately.  I approve all comments, usually within 24 hours.  Comments MUST add to the topic, or will be ignored.   I also cannot ensure that anything from 'anonymous' will be read at all.   You will have a higher probability of getting read if you include a real name.   If you just want to contact me, say that in the comment, include an email address, and I will get back to you, and will not print the comment.  Alternatively, and probably better, contact me via ordinary email to my address on this page.

Happy New Year.


Qualcomm Gimbal Developer Network

Includes technical specifications and explanatory video:

Context Aware (Gimbal)

The Gimbal™ context aware and proximity platform utilizes geofencing, micro-location, interest sensing, beacons enabled with Bluetooth® Smart technology and consumer privacy controls. It allows developers to design mobile apps that drive consumer engagement, sales, and loyalty by providing real-time context and location awareness in apps for brands, retailers, and venues. ... " 

Road to Xavier Gamification for Student Engagement

Gamifying student experience.  Local Xavier University is using gaming dynamics to engage both Candidate students and Freshmen to the experience of the University.  Nice example of dynamic gamification using badges.

In Cinci.com: " ... Last year, it added a game, spiking interest in the site by allowing future Musketeers to earn points for creating a profile, checking out their classmates’ profiles or reviewing their financial aid package.  The game is an example of how colleges are looking for any way possible to engage students so they will stay on campus.

For this year’s freshman class of more than 1,200 members, activity on the website more than doubled compared with last year, with March and April the busiest months as students neared their final college decisions. ... "  

Criticisms of Big Data

Some good cautions and criticisms of the big data world.  Instructive piece that is worth a read.   " ....  in the race to unlock this promise, many enterprises now find they have more data than they are capable of handling. Here’s how CIOs, data warehouse managers and others can build the business case for data volume management to help them more effectively manage this data deluge. ... " 

Jobs in an Always-on World

In Adage: 

Time to Reinvent Job Structures to Survive an Always-On World

Marketing Is About Making Your Brand as Relevant as Possible, and Now You Need to Do It in Real Time

How do you keep your brand relevant in today's "always on" environment?
For one thing, you've got to be very, very nimble. Tony Pace, Subway Restaurants CMO, said marketing is like Peyton Manning calling an audible at the line of scrimmage. In the past, over 80% of the marketing plan "would be executed the way you originally planned," he told the ANA's fall conference. "Now, it's like 20%, so you better be agile." .... '

Quantum Co-Acceleration

More on D-wave quantum computing, which we have followed for some years.  There remain very difficult analytical problems that we need computer speed to solve routinely.   " ... quantum computers are best suited for other types of jobs, such as discrete combinatorial operations, Monte Carlo sampling and machine learning, he said. ... " 

Monday, December 30, 2013

Appliance Makers and the Internet of Things

More on the Internet of Things consortium, connecting appliances:

" ... Home appliance makers connect with open source 'Internet of things' project
The AllSeen Alliance is working on an open source framework that it says can be used to connect almost anything to the Internet .. "  Home appliances, cars and computers could soon be talking to one another thanks to an open source framework that has the backing of consumer electronics manufacturers in a new industry alliance. The AllSeen Alliance is supported by the Linux Foundation. Its members include Cisco, D-Link, Haier, LG Electronics, Qualcomm, Panasonic and Sharp. ...  "

MindMeld Again: Focusing Employee Work

Early this year I mentioned MindMeld,  which was meant to monitor your conversations and give helpful advice.  Now MindMeld is here as an App.  We looked to methods like this to help focus employee work.  The focus ended up being formed by focusing key available tools and required data.  The delivering that on a mobile App.    Adding an intelligent scan of communications would add another useful capability, but the semantic intelligence to do this well is still hard.   Technology Review gives it a mixed review.   Will give it a try and report on its applicability to this task.

Recall I also looked at Zakta as a solution.

Update: Read the comments on this App.  It is not what I had been expecting, to help provide work focus.  Appears to require Facebook.  Security an issue?  Still plan to take a closer look.

Smart Watch from Qualcomm

I have been watching companies like Qualcomm and their activities outside of the typical.    Posts on that here.  Now new report on their Smartwatch capability in Engadget.  (A promotional post, but it provides details of interest) " ... With the Qualcomm Toq, you can leave your smartphone in your pocket or purse. The Toq receives instant updates from your smartphone via Bluetooth wireless. With a flick of the wrist, the device displays notifications for calls, texts, email and more. Using Qualcomm's own AllJoyn technology, the Toq does run its own apps. But the smartwatch is meant to sync with Android smartphones and can be customized to display just the information you need. ... "   Still unclear if the Smartwatch will significantly erode smartphone use.  Also, how will this change the kinds of data gathered from held or worn devices?

Discovery Driven Prototyping

In Computing Now:     An area we examined.  Here an abstract of the paper at the link:

" ... A new prototyping technique uses discovery-driven prototypes to let users control what they can and would like to do with new technologies. The authors describe this technique and examine its effectiveness, reviewing a series of in situ user studies.

It has always been challenging for designers and developers to readily pinpoint potentially viable opportunities for emerging technologies in people's daily lives. In ubiquitous computing in particular, the uncontrollable dynamics of a user's context makes this issue even more prominent. In this article, the authors assume they can't hypothesize what users of new technologies will desire. To address this challenge, they developed discovery-driven prototyping, which lets users control what they will do with new technologies. Here, the authors describe DDP and its effectiveness through a series of in- situ user studies. .. " 

Invisibility Ideas Discussed

Because invisibility captures the public imagination, and the physical approach can be readily described, it has gathered some intense discussion.   Obvious and scary military and law enforcement implications.  New Scientist interview about its implications beyond clothing.  " ... Physicist John Pendry talks about the profound physics obscured by his invisibility cloak and how metamaterials could help realise the perfect lens ... " 

Digital Taste Buds

A long time interest that we explored with several research groups.  Virtual taste has huge implications.  Was relevant when we were still selling foods.  It also linked to related work in generating aroma.  In Fast Company, new work in the area.   With an element, as the article suggests of 'reverse engineering'.  " ... But now there is an electrode that can mimic the tastes of sweet, salty, bitter, and sour. It can potentially help people with diabetes who want desserts, but should not have them; cancer patients who experience decreased sense of taste during chemotherapy; and people hooked on sugary drinks. Also, the next time someone has a great meal and wants everyone in their social media circle to know, they don't have to depend on Instagram--they can potentially email a link that mimics the deliciousness. ... "

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Interactive Time Geographic Data Visualization

I like this very simple example of how to visualize time based geographic data.  An example in the Tableau Public Gallery.  Click on it and play with the interaction.   " .... Graham Douglas of The Economist shows us how food availability measured in kilo-calories has changed since 1961. Use the slider to pick a decade and then hover over countries to see the food calories available per person. ... " .   I often browse the examples in the gallery.

Machine Learning Mastery

I was just reminded of the blog Machine Learning Mastery, which gives technical but non mathematical advice about machine learning.   Most recently an item about improving learning results by getting information from multiple techniques.  This is a not uncommon strategy in analytics in general.   Check out the author: Jason Brownlee's site, where he provides more information, his motivations and goals.  I intend to follow more closely now.

IBM Predicts Smarter Things

Not Surprising.   Technology trends IBM has been touting through their excellent 'smarter' series. Most interesting are the links embedded as examples.  We all want things to be smarter, making any one of them better helps with the others.  Starts by mentioning one of my favorite quotes: " ....  When technology pioneer Alan Kay said “the best way to predict the future is to invent it,” he might as well have been talking about IBM, whose innovations include Silicon Germanium chips, relational databases and most recently, Watson.  ... ".   Worthwhile short read.

Internet of Things v Beer Game

Have played the MIT beer game a number of times for demonstrating supply chain applications. Even used it as a simulation base for gamification tests.  Now can it be part of the internet of things?   In the Cisco Blog. 

Data Sonification

A space I looked at for our information innovation group.  A way to use other senses, including sound, as an interface to deliver data and its patterns.  AT&T had done some experimentation in this area.  In the simplest approach, alerts can be transmitted with sound, and the use of pagers in manufacturing spaces were tried.  Today's smartphone can link calls to specific rings. Taking this forward, to delivering more precision describing data with sound, is more difficult.  Can you get your data to scream out to you?   Today it is likely that this method would be used in conjunction with visualization techniques.  A link to more recent work at Drexel University.  See also, Drexel's Excite Center, which looks at innovative interfaces.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Business Models for the Data Economy

Just brought to my attention, It's the 'other' way of monetizing big data, a topic I am examining:

Business Models for the Data Economy by Q. Ethan McCallum and Ken Gleason
Free Kindle edition.  A 29 page brief survey.  Just examining. They write:

" ... Business Models for the Data Economy: Description You're sitting on a pile of interesting data. How do you transform that into money? It's easy to focus on the contents of the data itself, and to succumb to the (rather unimaginative) idea of simply collecting and reselling it in raw form. While that's certainly profitable right now, you'd do well to explore other opportunities if you expect to be in the data business long-term. In this paper, we'll share a framework we developed around monetizing data. We'll show you how to think beyond pure collection and storage, to move up the value chain and consider longer-term opportunities. .... 

Sharks in the Internet of Things

Sharks triggering tweets in at Australian Beach.  A clever idea.  Sensors providing warnings in the narrow bandwidth of tweets.  This may provide some hints as to how to integrate other entities in the IOT.  Worth following.  Note here that the tags are on the shark, so untagged sharks could be a problem.  " ... Scientists have tagged more than 300 sharks in the area with transmitters, according to Sky News. Each time one of the tagged sharks swims around 1 kilometer (0.6 miles) from the beach, signals trigger a tweet to automatically publish on Surf Life Saving Western Australia's Twitter account (@SLSWA). ... "    From Mashable.

Old Grocery Lists

I worked for some time on the psychology and technology of the simple grocery list.  Now it has emerged, Michaelangelo's handwritten grocery list.  How much have we generally evolved since the sixteenth century? I wish I had this for an example years ago.

Big Data v Spreadsheets v Visualization

From the very beginning I have been involved in leveraging data for value.  If you examine what companies have done over the years, starting with the invention of the spreadsheet, many companies today are doing analytics.  Simple to complex.   I see spreadsheets every time I examine what companies are doing today.   How will Big Data influence this?

In Forbes.  As the article suggests data visualization is always a good place to start.  Confusion does exist because the ability of packages like Excel to do data visualization has improved greatly in the last few years.  So you can patch your legacy spreadsheets in this way.  But this is not a good idea, data visualization packages still have a great edge to leverage data, big and small.

Computers and Society

Recently talked to Lisa C. Kaczmarczyk about her interdisciplinary computing blog.  And her book site: Computers and Society - Computing For Good.

" ... Computers and Society: Computing for Good contains in-depth case studies with extensive, thought provoking end of chapter questions and is appropriate for a wide-variety of undergraduate and graduate majors in areas such as Computer Engineering, Computer Science, Computer Information Science, Information Technology, Health Information Science, Business Management, and Political Science as well as many others majors. The complex nature of the case studies allows them to be used in a stand-alone social and professional issues course, a capstone issues course or as individual case studies that may be woven into a variety of computing or business courses. ... "    See a recent interview. And her book.

Kaczmarczyk’s book contains a unique and fresh look
at how people from a variety of disciplines use
computing and how the use of computing impacts these individuals as well as society. ... "  - Carol L. Spradling, PhD

More iBeacon Rollout Details

More on the iBeacon.  Details of the rollout. Recently took a closer look at similar approaches, and how the data being gathered could be used for tailoring promotions.  We will see more about this in the coming years.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Step by Step ROI Innovation

Doing it step by step is key:   In Forbes: " .... Do you have a great idea for improving your industry? For most people, inventing a new product is foreign territory. There are multiple steps (and costs!) involved in bringing an idea to life—like market research, product design and prototyping, patent and legal fees, and marketing, just to name a few. .... "

March on: Cost of Bad Online Experiences

A good piece in CIO Insight, with some very useful points.  But I have some issues again with the format.   The slide show.  This is getting more common, apparently to provide more space for advertising.  Discussed it with my colleagues.  The reaction is universally negative.  It stretches out the real content into a long train of information.  Akin to multi-quintuple spacing document and then adding mostly irrelevant pictures in between the text.  Reminds me of some of Edward Tufte's work on the march of slideshows.   At very least a sloppy cognitive style.  Sad here because the content is actually good, the format just degrades it.  An example of a bad online experience itself.  Fix it.

The Big Picture of Big Data

Good overview interview of the state of big data, with a number of industry examples that I had not seen before.  There is much more in this blog on the topic, including a number of books and other resources.

Wikipedia's Data Trove for Trends

I have talked to several people who are using the Wikipedia as an ontology of knowledge. Surely there is much more data to be mined there. But what statistics exist about its operation? What trends there are that are indication of markets?  How does that differ from other social media?  The data is freely available.  More  In an article from Wired:

" ... There are websites, and then there’s Wikipedia. The internet behemoth boasts 30 million articles written in more than 285 languages, tweaked by 70,000 active editors and viewed by 530 million visitors worldwide each month. As mountains of information go, it’s Everest. Teasing out trends from the open source encyclopedia’s archives is a task few would even attempt. Yet Erik Zachte did just that.

Zachte used his statistical intuition to create “Wikistats,” an online statistics package that’s more than a trove of charts and graphs for data geeks. It’s the most direct measure yet of Wikipedia’s success in achieving its central objective: making the sum of all human knowledge available to everyone everywhere. ... " 

Examining Online Returns

In Retailwire:  A discussion of online returns.  Easy returns are becoming a big issue for online purchases.  How can they be better addressed?   " ... With free shipping and other lenient return policies becoming common practice, as much as a third of all online sales gets returned, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal. ... Interviewing retailers such as Rue La La, QVC and fashion retailing startup Modnique.com, the article explored many ways e-commerce companies are trying to reduce returns based.  ... " 

Dell and Dropbox

A interesting interaction. In my own experience I am seeing more people using Dropbox as a standard tool,  working well on all the standard devices.    I often suggest it as a standard way to begin detailed interaction.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Showrooming at Best Buy

I had not realized I was part of BestBuy's showrooming strategy.   I was there for the first time in months last week.  But they did not ultimately convert me. In Adage:  But did their approach work? " ... Best Buy's showrooming strategy is likely paying off through increased store traffic but more could be done to encourage shoppers to actually buy its products, new research based on social-media data suggests. Best Buy in late October launched its first specific showrooming campaign via a spate of ads featuring actors Will Arnett, Maya Rudolph, Jason Schwartzman and LL Cool J. At the time, the company said it hoped to show consumers there is a better way to research and buy electronics via its "low price guarantee" and the ability to order online and pick up in store. ... " 

NFL Tackling Big Data

In our recent executive briefing we used the work by the NBA using video imaged game recording for gathering big data to understand the detail of game and player behavior using analytics.  An excellent example.  Colleague Walter Riker points out that the NFL is not far behind.  Here reported on in CNN/Fortune.  With the addition, it seems, of sensor devices to gather data beyond the video recording used by the NBA.   This is becoming common.  Gather all the data,  you will find analytic purposes for it in the future.

Showrooming and Webrooming

A retail story,  Inspired by a post by correspondent Herb Sorensen.  I relate our experience:

 .... We were recently in local Costco buying a relatively expensive piece of electronic equipment. Aided by a knowledgeable sales person there and a smartphone.  I scanned the barcodes on several items in the big stacks of product, aiming to do a comparison.  We had a half dozen criteria.  Price was there, but not the major criterion.  Online support for the understanding the specifications were good.  We talked to, lost and then reeled in the salesperson as needed. He seemed very knowledgeable  and objective.   Individual models also included a tag which contained star system peer reviews, like you see online.  More Web-rooming.  We had done our research before, the whole process took about twenty minutes.  The sale was made in the store, the price on line was very close.  Item was big and we wanted immediate gratification. ...

Data Engines

Data Engines.  A reminder of this topic, which I had forgotten about.  You want to perform some analytic process, but where is the required data?  Often a big issue.  A list of examples.  Including Quandl, a new one in the mix.   " ... A while back, I wrote for some time on this blog about 'data engines' - search engines dedicated to online (statistical) data sets. ...  "  writes Matthew Hurst.

Too Many Images

Very useful ideas, especially when we have more happening on mobile and thus smaller spaces.

Online Shopping Choices: Less Is Sometimes Better Than More
Online shopping sites trying to reel in customers this holiday season may be tempted to cram their web pages with a plethora of images of gift choices. It’s the wrong strategy, according to new Wharton research. ...  "

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Role of Intuition in Analytics: Abductive Reasoning

Intuition, creativity, even directed randomness are parts of analytics.  And thus also part of what we are now calling 'Big Data'.   Now how we do implement the use of intuition?  By setting up easily used sand boxes that allow us to test alternative solutions easily.  In the design world this is called 'abductive reasoning'.  It uses simulation methods to perform testing.  Worth examining. On this topic Tom Davenport writes in   The HBR and discusses further.

   " ... Many people have asked me over the years about whether intuition has a role in the analytics and data-driven organization. I have always reassured them that there are plenty of places where intuition is still relevant. For example, a hypothesis is an intuition about what’s going on in the data you have about the world. The difference with analytics, of course, is that you don’t stop with the intuition — you test the hypothesis to learn whether your intuition is correct. ... " 

  Well said.  We have been doing it for years.  Consider also adding a gamifying process to both evaluate the results and varying their application.

Bosch and the Internet of Things

In CWorld:  With a special emphasis on Sensors and MEMs.     We experimented with several early developers in the smart appliance space.

" ... Bosch says the future is the Internet of Things  By Patrick Thibodeau

German appliance maker creates separate firm to design sensors for its own products and for the market as a whole ...

 Bosch, a company best known as a maker of appliances, including stoves, dishwashers, washing machines and coffee makers, is increasing its focus on the Internet of Things.
Germany-based Bosch has created a new firm, Bosch Connected Devices and Solutions, "for the Internet of things and services. ...

The Internet of Things will deliver its benefits gradually, one appliance upgrade at a time.
Sensor rich devices monitoring Web-enabled apps can put the worried homeowner at ease. 'Did I remember to turn the stove off before leaving the house? Is the refrigerator door open?' The Internet of Things will provide the answer.Bosch says the future is the Internet of Things
German appliance maker creates separate firm to design sensors for its own products and for the market as a whole ... " 

Mood Sensing Interfaces

Affective computing, and a mention of Clippy.  we were there testing it.  Is it an essential part of AI?

    " ... Nearly a decade after its retirement, the advice-spewing "Clippy" remains one of technology's most hated characters. As part of Microsoft's Office Assistant help system, the paperclip-faced avatar proposed help based on Bayesian probability algorithms: start a word-processing document with "Dear," and it offered to help you write a letter. Express exasperation, and Clippy would gleefully continue pestering you: it could not sense your mood.

Perhaps Clippy would still be with us if it had employed affective computing, a growing field that attempts to determine a user's mood or emotion through visual, auditory, physiological, and behavioral cues—cues that comprise one's "affect." An affect-enabled Clippy might see your look of disgust and make itself scarce; conversely, it might pop up sooner when you furrow your brow in confusion. ... " 

What Should be Done With Dark Data?

In CWorld:  This is always an issue, in the past we often reviewed data being gathered and either stopped gathering it or aggregated it.  Often aggregating to uselessness. Now do we know what we could use in the future?   That is the problem of dark data.  Is such data a liability when it is stored? Or an investment for future value?  Today we error toward the latter.

" ... Dark data - one of the latest trending discussions in data and analytics - is currently defined as data that a business creates and saves, but isn’t used to run the business. I’d like to offer up an addition to that definition: Dark data should also include data that a business creates but does not currently save. 

The question many people are asking is: What should be done with dark data? Some say data should never be thrown away, as storage is so cheap, and that data may have a purpose in the future. ... " 

Inventing and Nurturing the Joke

Who invented the joke? Famed classicist Mary Beard claims it was the Romans.  A joke is an explosive, minimal point making story connecting with our emotions in a memorable way.  It works in many advertisements. So it should be specially nurtured as part of story telling.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Creating Reality Distortion Fields

My former P&G boss Bob Herbold,  writing on leadership, talks about reality distortion fields.  A term new to me.    " ... In summary, when there are big opportunities, don’t shy away for all the usual mundane reasons — create a reality distortion field. ... " .  Bob Herbold is the former chief operating officer of Microsoft Corp. and author of the recently released book “What’s Holding You Back? Ten Bolds Steps that Define Gutsy Leaders.”  His blog on leadership can be found at BobHerbold.com.

Death of the Tablet Magazine

In GigaOM:  I don't follow this closely, but have experimented with methods like Flipboard.   Overall this surprises me.  With particular criticism of the Apple IOS7 newsstand.  " ... The death of the tablet magazine has been heralded for months, but here’s how publishers need to rethink their digital offerings for the tablet age.  ...  Publishers must break free of the Newsstand and InDesign/PDF trap and invest in their publications as stand-alone, real, honest-to-God apps – or find their titles even more neglected within a vestigial folder that will be inevitably reside inside yet another folder. ... "

Tracking You Everywhere

Google Is Testing A Program That Tracks You Everywhere You Go, in the Business Insider.    Pointing to a report in DigiDay.

Informs Conference on Business of Big Data

I see that Bill Franks of Teradata will be the keynote speaker at the Informs conference on The Business of Big Data.  San Jose, June 22-24.  " ... Putting Big Data to Work ... At Teradata and throughout his career, Bill Franks has focused on translating complex analytics into terms that business users can understand and then helping organizations implement the results effectively within their processes.  ... "   More details here.  I wrote about Bill Franks excellent book on the subject here previously: Taming the Big Data Tidal Wave.  I like the elements of data concepts, Big Data and business analytics being combined in the conference.  Hope to attend.  More information here as the date approaches.  More information about Bill Franks in this blog.

Japanese Robot Dominates DARPA

Contrary to other reports.  In CWorld. " ... Japanese robot crushes rivals at DARPA challenge
Researchers advance state of the art in humanoid robot competition ... "  The humanoid aspects intrigue me.  Is it necessary to have androids primarily because they will interact with humans.  And what are the implications of them having that form?

Sunday, December 22, 2013

DARPA Robot Challenge Viewed

MIT Technology review provides a number of still shots from the DARPA robotics challenge.  Another note says that Google's Robot 'recruits' dominated the activity.   Not sure quite what this means for both innovation in the space and its application.

Retailers Embrace Digital Coupons

Via Steve Frenda, Managing Director, The Path to Purchase Institute  in Linkedin

Well done piece authored by Google's Zavers

The Tipping Point: Retailers Embrace Digital Couponing.
Lots of interesting statistics and background in this article.

" ... Over the last two decades, technology has helped put security and distribution controls in place to  build the online coupon system that we see today. With the rise of smartphone usage, we see an  even more dramatic shift for consumers away from traditional clip-and-save paper coupons and  towards digital coupons. In a recent Google survey, 59% of consumers said they have loaded  coupons onto a loyalty card (from mobile or web).1  To understand the digital coupon mindset of retailers, Google commissioned Retail TouchPoints to  survey nearly 150 retail executives. .... " 

The link above is to a Dropbox Download.

Collaboration for Process Improvement

Part of my IXN Innovation Exchange Group, in the APQC Blog: by Holly Lyke-Ho-Gland  A good statement of what is often a big issue in the enterprise.  How do I improve complex processes?   " ... Organizations are steadily moving away from command-and-control cultures and business silos to collaborative cultures that employ cross-functional planning and work groups. But why the shift? Is this because of the growing impact of millennials on business? Is it a ripple effect from the ever-growing presence of social media and the “share” culture it engenders? Or is it simply because collaboration helps us break down silos, which has its own benefits?  ... " 

Decision Making Science

New and of interest:

Thinking: the New Science of  Decision Making, Problem solving and Prediction.
CONTRIBUTORS: Daniel C. Dennett, Philip Tetlock, Gerd Gigerenzer, Daniel Gilbert, Vilayanur Ramacahndran. Timothy D. Wilson, Sarah-Jayne Blakemore, Bruce Hood, Simon Baron-Cohen, Gary Klein, Simon Schnall, Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Alva Noe, Daniel L. Everett, Jonathan Haidt, Joshua Greene, Sam Harris, Roy Baumeister, Paul Bloom, Daivd Pizarro, Joshua Knobe, Daniel Kahneman

"Thinking is excellent and mind-expanding in its entirety. Complement it with Brockman's This Will Make You Smarter: New Scientific Concepts to Improve Your Thinking, one of the best psychology books of 2012."
--Maria Popova, BRAIN PICKING

"For ... readers interested in keeping up with what serious thinkers are thinking about thinking, this book offers nourishing food for thought".  (Kirkus Reviews)

Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Missing V in Big Data

Often ignored after the 'volume' and  'variability' of big data, its velocity is becoming important. And it's not just about interacting in real time with customers. It is about how elements of the internet of things interact with each other and with their context.  Included in that velocity is the speed of the analytics needed to react.

In GigaOM:
" ... In order to respond to customers in a timely manner, it’s important that businesses focus on data velocity–the speed at which data can be generated, collected, processed, and analyzed ... " 

Battle of Basic Utilities

What utilities make a system complete for real work?  What turns a tablet or a phone into a PC?   I still have to drag around multiple systems and would prefer not to.  Competition is brewing between several selections.  In Computerworld.

Seeking Delivered Aroma on Demand

One of our longtime interests.  Can you deliver tailored aroma digitally?  On demand and mobile?   There have been a half dozen attempts, none very successful.  Here is another example, delivering popcorn scent to your smartphone with a dongle.  Not what we were attempting to do, simplisitic, looks mainly to be an attention ploy, but another example.  Read more written here about related work.  " ... Hey, My iPhone Smells Like Popcorn! ...  Pop Secret's limited-edition gizmo is an olefactory breakthrough ... " 

And also about scent, Nissan invents the scent of the future.

Big Data and Robotics

In Smart Data Collective: Robotics and their sensors gather data,  real-time analytics aids their decisions, and AI can make them more autonomous.  All adds to the challenge.

" ... Put together robots with big data analytics and you have a powerful mix that could challenge us for most of our jobs. Big data analytics allows us to leverage large amounts of structured and unstructured as well as fast-moving data such as real time conversations on text, email and social media, video images, photos, data from location sensors in our phones, etc. Put this ability into a robot and they will not just threaten to replace lower-skilled jobs such as assembly line workers or supermarket personnel but now they have their eyes on doctors, pilots and journalists too! ... " 

Disasters in Supply Chains

In Industry Week:  On disasters in supply chains.   We addressed this same question before and during Hurricane Katrina using supply chain architecture.  More broadly, this is about profiles of risk and how they are dealt with.  A supply chain is a complex system than first needs to be modeled effectively.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Robots Create Jobs

A Video:  " ... Robots are at the core of manufacturing throughout the industrialized world. They are playing an even bigger role as robots enter service industries. What will this mean for jobs? What are the implications for society? We'll explain .... " 

IARPA: Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity

Have been involved with DARPA in the past.  I just recently had cause to look at IARPA, a much newer agency.  Only since 2006. They describe themselves:

" ... The Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) invests in high-risk, high-payoff research programs that have the potential to provide the United States with an overwhelming intelligence advantage over future adversaries. IARPA works very closely with the various members of the Intelligence Community to ensure that its programs address relevant future needs and to facilitate the transition of demonstrated capabilities. However, IARPA is not an operational organization, and it neither collects raw intelligence nor produces and disseminates intelligence analyses. To ensure organizational agility, IARPA focuses on long-term, 3-5 year programs rather than the short-term time horizons.

IARPA tackles some of the most difficult challenges across the intelligence agencies and disciplines, and results from its programs are expected to transition to its IC customers. IARPA does not have an operational mission and does not deploy technologies directly to the field.

It is about taking real risk
It is not about "quick wins", "low-hanging fruit", or "sure things"
Failure is completely acceptable as long as...
It is not due to failure to maintain technical and programmatic integrity
Results are fully documented
“High-risk/ High-payoff” is not a free pass for stupidity
IARPA brings the best minds to bear on our problems
IARPA sponsors full and open competition to the greatest possible extent
IARPA will not start a program without a good idea and an exceptional person to execute it
IARPA’s cross-community focus ensures its ability to...
Address cross-agency challenges
Leverage expertise from across the community (both operational and R&D)
Work transition strategies and plans with agency partners
High standards of technical rigor
All IARPA programs are structured according to the Heilmeier framework
Technical excellence and technical truth are the hallmarks of all IARPA programs ....  " 

Making a Face Memorable

In MIT News:   Never forget a face .... 
New algorithm uses subtle changes to make a face more memorable without changing a person’s overall appearance. .... 

Two examples of faces that have been modified from an original photo (center) to look more (right) and less (left) memorable without altering their identity, attractiveness, age, or gender. 

Do you have a forgettable face? Many of us go to great lengths to make our faces more memorable, using makeup and hairstyles to give ourselves a more distinctive look.
Now your face could be instantly transformed into a more memorable one without the need for an expensive makeover, thanks to an algorithm developed by researchers in MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL). ... " 

Commercial value of the idea?

Interactive Story Telling and Decision Models

On interactive story telling:

A paper I was pointed to that presents an expertise plus simulation based method for smart energy demand management ... With similarities to an example that we presented at an executive meeting.
Working on a somewhat related interactive storytelling problem that uses Prolog to model the decision process.  It came to mind that we should do more of that ... Add a decision model into a quant model.  Thoughts?  More on the topic. and   Here is the decision model method used.

So What is Hadoop?

Forrester has a short video that explains, at a very general level, the technology behind the idea. Good as a broad description of the idea, but not something I would give to the C-Suite.  It does not cover the analytical aspect of why you would care.   Worth adding to the growing example of these attempts, use it appropriate to the audience.

Classifying Data Scientists

How do you classify data scientists?  A taxonomy of sorts.  Which is usually a good thing to agree on if you can.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

AI as Our Final Invention

In the WP:  A perhaps scary look at what AI can ultimately lead to.   This has been discussed for a long time.    I am inclined to be optimistic here.  Sure there will be problems, perhaps even disasters, but the checks will be built in as we proceed.  " ... lately I’ve become obsessed with an issue so daunting it makes even the biggest “normal” questions of public life seem tiny. I’m talking about the risks posed by “runaway” artificial intelligence (AI). What happens when we share the planet with self-aware, self-improving machines that evolve beyond our ability to control or understand? Are we creating machines that are destined to destroy us?  ... "

Leveraging the Supply Chain

In Logistics Viewpoints:

Ways to best leverage supply chain as strategy, cost center 
When collaborating with shippers, companies should first consider how they view the supply chain, whether as a strategic function or as a cost driver, writes Jason Nurmi, vice president of technology services at LeanLogistics. In this article, Nurmi recommends measures for managing the supply chain based on its perceived role within a company. These can include measuring supply chain initiatives by their effect on customer service, or improving relationships with carriers to gain better service ... " 

Four Words of Persuasion

More from Roger Dooley:    " ... Want to double your success in persuading people to do as you ask? Four simple words, and even other phrases with the same meaning, have been shown to double the success rate in dozens of studies worldwide.  ... " 

Google and Robotics: iRobots view

In Mashable:  Notably Google did not buy probably the best known MIT robotics spin off: iRobot. What is iRobot's take on that?  " ... Why iRobot's CEO Welcomes Our New Google Robot Overlords ... If you were a founder in any industry where Google just snapped up eight of your competitors, and you wanted to remain in that business, you might expect to feel a little nervous. Not Colin Angle. ... 
Angle (pictured above) is the founder and CEO of iRobot, the company that makes the Roomba autonomous vacuum cleaner, its cousin the Scoomba, and many more besides. And he is so far beyond thrilled that Google is showing such an interest in the market, he's actively rooting for the big guys.... " 

IBM on Big Data

Following is interesting, just starting to ingest:

Blueprints for Value:
This is Part 1 in a 14 part series that is my attempt to present, in small easily consumable bites, findings and text from IBM Institute for Business Value’s latest study and paper - “Analytics: A blueprint for value - Converting big data and analytics insights into results”. 

See also part 2.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Wiley Big Data and Analytics Title Sampler

Brought to my attention, you can get this for the usual registration information, usually the first several chapters of each book, which can be helpful:

Data Mining, Statistics, Big Data, and Data Visualization
Wiley Big Data & Analytics -- Free 182 Page Sampler

Tips and Tricks to Grow Your Business. 

This Wiley Business e-book sampler includes selected materials from seven recently published titles in Wiley's Marketing, Tech, Design, Management, and Business lists. The material that is included for each selection is the book's full Table of Contents as well as a full sample chapter.

Titles include:
Predictive Analytics by Eric Siegel
Data Points by Nathan Yau
Infographics by Jason Lankow, Josh Ritchie, and Ross Crooks
Too Big to Ignore by Phil Simon
Optimize by Lee Odden
Measure What Matters by Katie D. Paine
Social Media Metrics by Jim Sterne .... 

Download the Full 182 Page Sampler Here: http://bit.ly/BigDataSampler

Neural Nets Maturing

In ComputerWorld: Very broadly biologically inspired, yes.   Often replacing analogous statistcal methods.  We used them in a number of useful applications in the mid 90s.  So the success is not new.  But I don't see much more than incremental changes here.  A few of the interesting applications done with these are outlined.  Neural chips are not the same thing as artificial neural nets.

Amazon Does Screenplays

Storytelling has a thread in this blog, from an investigation for a startup. Now Amazon has put up a Beta for doing screenplays.  It is called Storybuilder.  Not exactly the same thing, but with some similar goals.

Knowledge Management is Broken

Unfortunately in an information minimizing slide show, but the topic is important.  " ... Five Reasons Knowledge Management is Broken ...  Knowledge management is an increasingly important focus for companies to tap their collective knowledge for insight and efficiency. In a recent survey conducted by Coveo and the Technology Services Industry Association, 65 percent of those surveyed said they feel like they are always working on a knowledge management initiative. Here, we look at the reasons many companies fail at their knowledge management initiatives and common pitfalls to be aware of and avoid... " 

Perfect Data and Perfect Predictions

An obvious conclusion: you never get perfect answers.  Analytics depends upon the correctness if the data in context, AND the power of the model being used.  Bill Franks covers some of the landscape:  

" ... Many organizations attempt to achieve “data nirvana” by having 100% complete information for any given business decision. In the customer analytics space, this is sometimes referred to as a “360 degree view of the customer.” However, we really never know everything about our customers. What we call a 360 degree view is really just the most complete view we have at any given time. All of the information we are missing must be inferred or assumed through analytics. The more complete our picture, the less we have to infer, but realistically we are usually inferring far more information than what we have in our possession. ... " 

I further suggest that your success from the value of the results you get is dependent on what you do with the always somewhat incorrect results that you get from the model.   This often depends on how the results are integrated with the decision model. I point again to my simple decision circle model.  Its
not a 360 degree view, its how it all fits together.

On the Internet of Cars

We will see the internet of automobiles before we see the Internet of things.  An overview in ReadwriteWeb.  The future of transportation will take us to the net.   Cars will be talking to us, to other cars and to the Web.   Perhaps surprisingly, regulation is driving these efforts.

Smartphone Penetration

The global smartphone penetration continues to increase.  Up to 60% by 2019 says this report.  

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Use Cases for iBeacon and Estimote

In Wired:  I continue my look at the use of in store location and communication.  Something we thought a lot about in the innovation lab, but never had the technology to make it work.  Is it ready now?  

" 4 Reasons Why Apple’s iBeacon Is About to Disrupt Interaction Design ... You step inside Walmart and your shopping list is transformed into a personalized map, showing you the deals that’ll appeal to you most. You pause in front of a concert poster on the street, pull out your phone, and you’re greeted with an option to buy tickets with a single tap. You go to your local watering hole, have a round of drinks, and just leave, having paid—and tipped!—with Uber-like ease. Welcome to the world of iBeacon. ... " 

And a Forbes article with current specifications and features.

See also Estimote.   " ... Real world context for your apps.
Simply stick our tiny sensors in any physical place,  such as your retail store and your app users will benefit from personalized micro-location based notifications and actions when they walk in to your venue or interact with your products. ... "  What is an Estimote Beacon?
An Estimote Beacon is a small, wireless device, sometimes also called a 'mote'. When placed in a physical space, it broadcasts tiny radio signals to smart devices.  Think about it as a very small lighthouse. Smartphones that are in range are able to 'hear' these signals and estimate their location very precisely, as well as communicate with the beacon to exchange data and information. ... " 

Financial Uses for Quantum Computing

We were asked early on:  What is the value for quantum computing?  Here a look in particular at the financial industry.  With mention of our contact in quantum computing: D-Wave. " ... Are Banks Ready for Quantum Computing? ... Vern Brownell, who for eleven years was chief technology officer at Goldman Sachs, is excited about the potential for quantum computing in banking. ... "I saw the best of all the new technology there was, but I never saw anything that could potentially change computing dramatically in the entire time I was at Goldman" the way quantum computing could, says Brownell, who is now CEO of Vancouver-based quantum computing company D-Wave.... " 

On the Evolution of ETL

In Information Management:  Extract, Transfer and Load (ETL) is a key process  for the use of information to make it ready for analytics.  It's changing to make it ready for new volumes and volatility.  What does this look like?  Good thoughts on the changes occuring:

" ... In today’s world, data is generated and collected faster than ever before. In the past, most data was generated by humans, typing data into application forms, ringing up purchases at point of sale machines and so on. Now, the majority of the data created is machine generated, collected in application logs and produced by sensors. The verbosity and sampling rate of these sources has exploded as computing capacity has expanded, storage has become cheaper and the business value of this data has increased. ... As experience tells us, just putting the data somewhere is not the goal. Extracting, transforming and loading this data to an analytic system is what brings true life and enablement to the data we have collected. For this purpose, we have our trusted workhorse, the ETL platform. But it, too, must evolve in order to serve in this challenging new world. ... " 

Big Data: Risks and Implications

Review of:   Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work, and Think by Viktor Mayer-Schonberger, and Kenneth Cukier.   Strongly recommended, for reading through or browsing.  Part III.

I continue my look at this book. Finally looking at the sections on implications and risks.  Here too the authors do an excellent job of outlining, with a number of good and recent examples, the risks of relying on Big Data to understand the world.

First are the implications for privacy.  As more data is gathered, it is not only the primary direct use of the data, but also the derived implications that can violate privacy.   A very non private world can be created.

The the authors suggest that the quantification of systems have led to their dehumanization of our world, using as a primary example McNamara's Quantification of the Vietnam War.   The enterprise I joined early in my career was a very quantified entity.  Even in recent years they are attempting to 'digitize' their operation in more complete ways.   I was brought in specifically to do analytics, and by doing that, optimize the enterprise operation.   It worked well.  So I am defensive about this angle.

This comes back to the main point of the book, that Big Data is about What rather than Why.  We now have the data to record and potentially keep ALL the cases pertinent to its operation.   Even when these data are varied and rapidly changing.    Which leads then to the ability to rely on correlation rather than causation.    Much easier than figuring out the causal drivers, but potentially risky in its inaccuracy.  While getting causal results can be useful,  with Big Data they are not needed to get value.

So in a number of ways the chapter on risk argues against the earlier chapters which strong argue for the value of Big Data.    Can these two worlds exist together?

Again, an excellent book that lays out the argument of the dilemma.

Age of Outsourcing

In CIOInsight:   Good piece on the topic, which I have not covered in a while.      " ... The biggest business driver of outsourcing has always been cost savings. And while cost continues to influence decision-making in the IT and business process outsourcing markets, increasing and expanding demands on IT organizations are compelling them to seek more from their service providers. ... As mature enterprises enter into the next generation of outsourcing deals, they are embracing new—and sometimes risky—models to achieve more than the old-fashioned "your mess for less" value proposition. ... "

Monday, December 16, 2013

Self Study Machine Learning

An interesting guide to self-study machine learning.   This introduced me to a number of resources I had not heard of.    Good to browse.  I still think that there are some basic statistical methods that should be understood up front. Its not quite as easy as it might seem from this.  Still bravo for the compendium of resources.  Its a blog, so I assume there will be more.  I will follow and sometimes point there.

Facebook and Wal-Mart on Facial Recognition

In Adage:   Piece on the interests of retailers and the social media on facial recognition.  Not very surprising, given recent research in this domain.   " ... Facebook, Walmart to Help Write Rules On Facial Recognition Technology ... Retailers and Advertisers Hope to Use the Tech to Identify Consumers ... Facebook, Walmart, and other companies planning to use facial-recognition scans for security or tailored sales pitches will help write rules for how images and online profiles can be used. ... " 

Survey of Consumer Goods IT Strategy

In GroceryHeadquarters: Survey shows there are lots of opportunities, but spotty adoption:

" ... Based on extensive surveys of 27 leading CPG companies, the report looks at how much money companies are spending on IT and how aggressively they are adopting new technologies, such as social media, Software as a Service, and advanced analytics.

As expected, companies with low IT spending tend to limit themselves to deploying mature technologies, taking a cautious approach to new and less proven technologies. But 42 percent of the companies surveyed, despite spending significant sums on IT, were not quick adopters of new technologies, either. Another 8 percent of participants had constrained IT spending, yet managed to invest in new technologies—a strategy that may not be sustainable in the long term. ... " 

CPG Cuts Jobs

Large CPG continues to cut marketing and other jobs. My own personal observation is that I have seen many of my former colleagues now out on the job market.

Dynamic Pricing at Wal-Mart, etc.

MJ Perry compares dynamic pricing at Wal-Mart, Amazon and Delta Airlines.  Intriquing view, which takes us back to how markets operate in contexts.  Prices are volatile, but trending.  Points to the online global price intelligence company Profitero as the source of the data.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Analytics in the Real World Delivery Cycle

Much agree with the general premise below.  But I take it a step forward structurally.   I have given several talks in the last thirty days which have emphasized how analytics in general needs to be connected dynamically with the real world.

I represent that with the circle diagram shown here.   You can start your journey at any point: Data, Decisions ....   You then travel around the circle to deliver, improve, test and further adapt.  Even dynamic delivery becomes important. You know the data will change, so this is a continuous experiment.

Why not include this same kind of structure in the test benches and 'sand boxes' being constructed today?

"Analysis: Unlocking the secrets of data requires real-world experimentation 
With the rise of enterprise Big Data, more businesses are turning to data science to give them new insights into the behavior of markets and customers, but experts say analytics is not just about asking how things happen but why they do. According to commentator James Kobielus, this means parlaying findings into real-world experiments that unlock secrets hidden behind the numbers ....  "

3D Printed Artificial Life Art

Via colleague Mark Lacy, more art than life, but I like the complexity that is shown here.  Includes video.  " ... Theo Jansen's Strandbeests have found a way to multiply by injecting their digital DNA directly into the Shapeways system. From now on several small strandbeests are available from his shop. Next to being a great abstraction of the inspiring work of Theo Jansen, these Strandbeests are also an example of what 3D printing is ultimately capable of. Right after birth from the 3D printer these  models will work straight away and do NOT require any assembly. ... '

 3D printing is very suitable for rapid design changes, and as time goes by the Beests will evolve and new types of DNA will be added to the store, while others are removed. Expect more evolutions and variations in the future, with possible variation in size, shape, material or means of propulsion. ...

Nielsen Consumer Neuroscience

Nielsen on it Neuroscience offerings.  This was pointed out to me by a colleague a few weeks ago.  Shows how this is taken seriously today.  The whole site is worth reading closely " ... Our patented technologies and proprietary techniques measure consumers’ neurological reactions to stimuli providing highly accurate and deep insights into consumer behaviors. Nielsen NeuroFocus is a global leader in neurological testing for consumer research. We bring world-class experts in neuroscience, consumer research, and marketing to develop innovative methods for understanding consumer thought, emotion, and behavior. We are developing the world’s first wireless, dry, EEG headset, which will expand testing environments beyond the lab and into the home or in the store. ... " 

Another Look at Mirror Neurons

Perhaps the most written about topic in popular neuroscience a few years ago: Mirror Neurons.   It was a very popular concept that we have built in empathy systems to help us in group understanding.  Wired examines the hype.  It was particularly popular in the Neuromarketing world because of the implications that you might be able to influence these structures.

Sustainable Innovation Management

In Innovation Management:   " ... The Results Are In: Product Leaders Report a Need for Speed and a Roadmap to Sustainable Innovation | Innovation Management ...   Findings from the Fourth Product Portfolio Management Benchmark Survey ... "

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Code Academy Python and more

The recent Hour of Code activity was interesting.  Here a professional observes the activity in a Middle School classroom.  In the past I did professional programming. I also had to adapt some Python code relatively recently.    I have always been intrigued by what it takes to train or retrain people in the process of computer coding.  The example of the Python Code Academy is given as a structured method to be introduced to a new coding method.  Worth examining and pointing out to students.  Other coding languages are also covered, such as Javascript and Ruby.

Big Data for Real World Problems

Forbes writes about a number of real world problems solved by Big Data solutions.   Some good very non technical examples.    Ends with a set of general suggestions about making the method work in practice.

Watch the Date and Patience Please

Forms of this blog have been around since 2001.  Now, some 8300 plus posts.   It covers both my thoughts, history and sometimes breaking news in information technology.  I had several messages recently where people reacted to years-old messages as if they were breaking news.  Also, I frequently link to outside resources, and sometimes the target of these links will go away.  So please have patience with that, and pay attention to the date of the post.

Now Let's Put Watson to Work

More on IBM's Watson AI ecosystem.  I have enrolled.  recall I have talked about our own work in this area, which mirrored IBM work in our enterprise.  See much more about that in this blog.  See their 5 steps to a Watson powered application.   And more about innovation using Watson.  Their logo at the right.  " ... History was made when the Watson Ecosystem launched in November 2013. The program is designed for ISVs whose business or application can benefit from Watson’s cognitive capabilities, specifically those looking to dramatically disrupt and transform an existing market. Partners can leverage the Watson Developer Cloud to develop their Powered by Watson prototype application.  ... " 

Google Buys More Robotics

They buy Bigdog robot makers.  An MIT spinoff.  Another interesting development, see their site which shows some impressive and even scary avatars. Recall Google has always been interested in advanced AI and analytics.  The combination of physical and logical can mean some real power.  " ... Remember Atlas, the terrifying/astonishing humanoid robot being developed as part of a big DARPA research project? That's a Boston Dynamics machine--part solider of the future, part utility droid that could find use in post-disaster scenarios. ... " 

Wal-Mart Defying Gravity

In HBS Working Knowledge:     Some interesting points on dangers to Wal-Mart's future.   How can these risks be managed? " ...  How much longer will Walmart's business model be sustainable? Will it be endangered by its size, increases in the minimum wage laws, or other business and social trends that have plagued nearly every other large company in history? Is a company this large manageable? Is Walmart defying economic gravity? What do you think? ... " 

Friday, December 13, 2013

Engagement AI Goes Public in the UK

Not really AI, as I read it, not autonomous, but tele-operation, and the researching of how people would act and interact with local avatar robotics.    What would these avatars be acting as: Police, workers, security, information providers?  The simple reaction of people to robotics in public is not clear.   Can they project authority?  What are the legal implications?   A natural extension of large scale UK CCTV networks: Making them mobile and interactive.  A stunning view of the future.   Full article in LaboratoryTalk: 

At the right a picture clip of Robothespian, one of the avatars mentioned in the article. It is not implied that this is the form of the robots being considered.

" ... Researchers from leading UK institutions are working on a £2m project designed to look at how remotely operated robots could enable people to take part in public spaces - without them actually being there. Alongside researchers from the Universities of Bath, Oxford and Queen Mary University of London, experts from Exeter University and Bristol Robotics Laboratory (BRL) will look at how using remotely operated robots might enable people to participate in public spaces.

The £2 million three-year project, Being There: Humans and Robots in Public Spaces, funded by the Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and led by Exeter University, will examine how robotics can help to bridge the gap between the way we communicate in person and online. The aim of our research is for the robot to be an avatar for a remote person

The project will seek to look at the social and technological aspects of being able to appear in public in proxy forms, via a range of advanced robotics platforms. The robots will be controlled remotely - a method called tele-operation and a tele-operator will be able to see through the robot’s eyes and speak through its mouth, while directing where it looks and how it moves. .... "

IT as a Growth Engine for CPG

New from the GMA:

" ... BCG and GMA study: CPG companies can benefit from viewing IT as a growth engine  A large proportion of consumer packaged goods companies are following a less than optimal approach in their information technology strategies, according to a new report by the Grocery Manufacturers Association and The Boston Consulting Group. The report, GMA Information Technology Benchmarking 2013: The New Mission for IT in CPG, is available for download.... " 

Plots for Cyclical Patterns

A method that is new to me, in Stephen Few's Perceptual Edge blog:  Cycle Plots.  " ... A cycle plot is a type of line graph that is useful for displaying cyclical patterns across time. Cycle plots were first created in 1978 by William Cleveland and his colleagues at Bell Labs. We published an article about them in 2008, written by Naomi Robbins, titled Introduction to Cycle Plots. Here is an example of a cycle plot that displays monthly patterns across five years ... "     Includes a link to an Excel template that I will try.

Bots Make up Most of Net Traffic

In BBC Tech:   About 61% of net traffic is by bots, the study says.  Of course bots do different things.  One might be reading this blog, another might be part of Internet of Things.Some might implement tracking mechanisms of other kinds.  They are not usually malicious.

Common Cognitive Traps in Innovation

In the HBR:  (Requires free registration):   Key point being made is that estimation error can be a key element for building on innovation.  Always try to build numerical estimations of facts, then verify them with reality.  " ... Which is the more likely cause of death — shark attack or falling airplane parts? The answer to Nobel prize winning psychologist Daniel Kahnemann’s question is surprising; falling airplane parts. (In fact, you are 30 times more likely to die from a piece of falling airplane than you are at the jaws of a shark.) We have tested this query with senior executives across multiple continents, and they inevitably get it wrong. Why does this happen? Events are perceived as more likely to occur if they are easier to bring to mind. We have the TV special Shark Week and movies like Jaws to remind us of the danger of sharks, but there is no Airplane Debris Week. With unfamiliar, low probability events,  disproportionate media coverage can lead to gross estimation errors. ... "

GS1 Consumer Goods Newsletter

We were long time participating members of the standards body called GS1.  I now only sometimes read their writings.  Beyond standards they often talk about retail data, environments and technologies.  Their November newsletter looks interesting:

GS1 Retail & Consumer Goods Newsletter - November 2013
Today’s consumers are inundated with information when making a purchase decision, but delivering accurate product data that consumers can trust is a challenge. They shop in stores, online, or via their Smartphones, and want easy-to-use solutions that satisfy their lifestyle needs and preferences. In this issue of the Retail and Consumer Goods Newsletter you will learn how industry is focusing on providing its customers with a truly seamless shopping experience and access to better data across multiple online platforms – and how GS1 is helping to enable this. ... " 

" ... GS1 is an international not-for-profit association with Member Organisations in over 100 countries. ... GS1 is dedicated to the design and implementation of global standards and solutions to improve the efficiency and visibility of supply and demand chains globally and across sectors. The GS1 system of standards is the most widely used supply chain standards system in the world.... " 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Redefining Supply Chain

As part of a century and a half old,  very successful enterprise, we had a supply chain group from well before I arrived there.  It is essential to make the modern enterprise work.   In Forbes:

Redefining the Supply Chain
" ... Although supply chain groups have become prevalent among companies, the supply chain is still an isolated function and problem for some companies, rather than a component of their solutions, writes Lora Cecere, author and founder of Supply Chain Insights. As a result, companies are having a hard time meeting their desired margins and need to "redefine the term supply chain to fulfill its original goal of defining processes from the customer's customer to the supplier's supplier," she writes. They also should align supply and demand, create effective horizontal processes and utilize data in decision-making to succeed, Cecere recommends. .. "

Flavor Delivery

A classic problem, can flavor be delivered with digital stimulation?   Research has been going on for a long time.    Getting to the Bottom of a Digital Lollipop - NYT Bits   " ... While it might sound complicated, the technology is relatively simple. When the lollipop, which is made of a silver electrode, touches the tip of the tongue it reproduces four well-known tastes: salty, sweet, sour or bitter. Together these flavors can create different simulations close to the real thing. ... "

Sensors are Impacting the Supply Chain

Yes, they have for a long time.  My domain for many years.   But many new methods  are now influencing the space. GigaOM explores.   An extensive report I am reading now.

    " ... Collecting information is no longer the most pressing concern for today’s organizations. Now the challenge is turning the data into useful information that can be acted on by all members of the organization. When equipped with powerful smartphones, employees, suppliers, and customers can constantly collect and share information. Additionally, billions of sensors, a part of what we call the “internet of things,” collect massive amounts of data. The impact of these sensors affects all parts of the organization, but this research report will focus on their direct impact on the supply chain. Innovative companies that respond to data in real time will enjoy improved throughput times, will be able to better meet customer demand, and can reduce stockouts and maximize revenue. Exceptions, delays, and discounts will be reduced, but when they occur the details will immediately be shared with other departments to minimize the overall impact. ... "

Predictive Analytics Evolution in R

Good, general non technical piece from Ventana Research.  It is an evolution, with many people not understanding the issues in its use.   " ... R, the open source programming language for statistics and graphics, has now become established in academic computing and holds significant potential for businesses struggling to fill the analytics skills gap. The software industry has picked up on this potential, and the majority of business intelligence and analytics players have added an R-oriented strategy to their portfolio. In this context, it is relevant to look at some of the problems that R addresses and some of the challenges to its adoption.  ... " 

Tableau 8.1 and R Introduction

In exploration for a project that requires the use of some advanced analytical methods developed in R which would then provide access to the results interactively,  I was looking for a method that could provide both capabilities.   I was well acquainted with Tableau for interactive dashboard development and delivery, but it had no way to directly connect to the analytics.  Version 8.1 has changed this:

" .... In this 2nd in a series of posts about the upcoming 8.1 release, I get to introduce one of the most exciting new features in Tableau 8.1: R integration. R has been a very popular language among statisticians but in the past few years, it has become the language of choice for a much broader group of data enthusiasts. .... " 

This is followed by a good introduction to the use of R with Tableau 8.1  With a simple example of classification.  That capability is not available within Tableau, so going out to R makes sense.  Nice addition.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Simulating for Success

In Fortune:  My early work with analytics was building simulations systems at the Pentagon.  This article describes well how this is done in Defense.  And its improved much since then.  It has been attempted in the enterprise, but not done very well.

The header of the article makes an excellent point:  " ....  Simulating real-world scenarios, and talking about what went wrong, can vastly improve performance. ... " .  The phrase implies the use of techniques like the After Action Review (AAR), which takes the time to understand failures to keep from repeating them.  Rare in the enterprise.  

And it's about culture too:  " ... Business leaders would be wise to learn from the military world, which has created a culture that emphasizes the value of simulating difficult situations and learning from the results, writes Geoff Colvin. For this to work, leaders have to be humble enough to realize that there is always room for growth and learning, he writes ... " 

Visualizing Cell Phone Signals

Had always wondered what the RF space would look like.  Here an attempt at visualizing how complex the coverage of RF looks like today.    Some of the commenters suggest it is a big simplification. Even before Marconi there were radio frequency waves from other sources, such as from space. But now it so utterly full of information.  Its a big buzzing cloud of confusion out there, with patterns waiting to be interpreted.