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Thursday, February 28, 2013

3D Desktops

More from TED:  The next logical step in interface?   Or does this go a dimension too far?  Even a real desktop is flattened, unless you are dealing with 3D architectural models.  It reminds me too of using 3D to present visualization of data.  The third dimension is difficult to present and calibrate or quickly understand.  Perhaps for some specialty applications, like physical system modeling, but otherwise it gets in the way of finding and understanding.  Most of what we work with is finding, understanding and creating.  Which 2D usually simplifies.  Cool looking though.

Txt Speak as Linguistic Miracle

Ars Technica on a TED Talk.   I am still skeptical that our languages will evolve into a simpler, acronym ridden shortening of tokens and meme pointers.   The article and talk think that this is emerging art.

Naked Statistics

Part of my role long ago was to explain analytics to executives.  That included many things, from analytical methods, predictive systems to statistics.  So I was always on the lookout for good introductory books I could hand out.  Appropriately marked up and bookmarked to the right sections.    Just now making my way through one such book:  Naked Statistics: Stripping the Dread from the Data by Charles Wheelan.   No equations, well done descriptions and examples of the reason and cautions for doing the statistics involved. So far nicely done.

Social Marketing Analytics

An interesting set of examples, from GE and others:  " ... Offloading content development has allowed the company to develop an overarching social media strategy that plays to each platform's strength. Marcum considers Facebook as "GE at its most accessible" because it has the most content and fastest response times. YouTube is an avenue to celebrate GE's technology and manufacturing impact with engaging videos.... " 

Revolutionizing Disease Treatment, Research

Via a social network.  Noted in the CACM:  Relates to some of my own writings on health care networks,    " ... The social network PatientsLikeMe plans to build an open science platform that would aid users in measuring the progression of their diseases and sharing the data with medical researchers. Designed for people suffering from chronic diseases, PatientsLikeMe has about 200,000 members, and they use the service to create and share their medical records, often using standardized questionnaires or tests they conducted themselves. ... "

Online Grocery Shopping

Interesting connections that are driving the increasing use of online for grocery shopping.  " ... According to a Hartman Group report, 18% of households purchased groceries online in the past three months, and the market could pass $15 billion this year. To attract shoppers, online grocers must help customers navigate online and break an entrenched attachment to bricks-and-mortar shopping, the report says ..." 

Wednesday, February 27, 2013


Brought to my attention:  GMDC.org   " ... GMDC is the premier non-profit global trade association dedicated to serving Health Beauty Wellness and General Merchandise retailers, wholesalers and suppliers. GMDC promotes critical connectivity to grow and expand member companies by uniting members through business building events and opportunities and enriching their thinking through education and training; consumer and business insights; and information resources....  "

CPGs Replace Likes with Call to Action

In Adage:  " ... RB, Lever Add Interactive Games, Digital Deals to Online Branding Efforts ... " ... After studying effects of brand advertising on e-commerce sites and elsewhere, the U.S. chief strategy and marketing officer for packaged-goods giant Reckitt Benckiser believes that "the return on investment is three times better when you do ... " 

Beyond Supermoms

In Adage:  CPG starts to advertise without the supermom stereotypes. With some examples from recent Superbowl ads.   " ... Advertising's legacy of depicting women in commercials has seemingly veered between two supermom cliches, the 1950s-era "too-perfect" housewife versus "the modern mom" that can easily handle work and family, writes David Gianatasio. But some consumer-packaged goods brands are "making strides in targeting women in novel ways while eschewing stereotypes," he writes. Tide's Super Bowl spot, which placed a husband and wife on a level playing field when it came to rooting interests, and Huggies' "Mommy Answers" campaign aimed at expectant mothers, are among examples listed in this article ... " 

Measuring Stress Levels in an Unmanageable World

An insightful piece in the HBR.  Which came up in a lunch conversation today.   Many of us are managing multiple devices now.   Will the number of devices creep upwards or downwards?  Do we need device free zones?  An unmanageable world that can be best described by the language of addiction and being chained to a (virtual) desk.  Ironically the article also mentions an App that claims to be able to detect your current stress level via heart rate variability.  If successful, this will be another example of why the devices may well prevail.

Amazon vs WalMart Sales

In Wired: Intriguing comparison between Walmart and Amazon.   An indicator for the future?  Pointing to new Walmart activities:  " ... Walmart recently reported net sales of more than $466 billion for its fiscal year 2013, which ended January 31. At its current growth rate of 5 percent, the company still won’t reach a half-trillion next year. That sluggish curve is clearly one reason the Arkansas-based company has started devoting so much time and attention to its Silicon Valley operations. Headquartered just south of San Francisco, Walmart.com is heavily recruiting tech talent. And in some ways its investment is starting to pay off. The company’s wide-ranging experiments in “clicks-and-mortar” retail have put it at the forefront of merging online, offline and mobile commerce.,, " 

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Cheesecake Factory Restaurant Analytics

The Cheesecake Factory delivers an exceptional brand experience with IBM Big Data analytics http://goo.gl/Mfn5c #IBMPWLC

I had yet to see a restaurant application of this type, so it was fun to see the linked to video.  I have eaten at the Cheesecake Factory a number of times, and when in a business I always look for indications of data gathering and process applications. It is always interesting to see how this can be linked to midsize business needs.

Cheesecake Factory is a global company that serves 80 million guests a year, with over 200 menu items, hardly a small company.  How do they deliver a unique brand experience that meets customer expectations?  In  my own visits I was singularly impressed by their process, though I could not see how they used data to achieve it.  Clearly they had dound out how to deliver quality consistently. This short video and provided a look at the data back of the house.   A chef myself, I wanted to see how big data contributed to the experience.

As every chef knows, its all about the quality assurance of what goes into the food.   They also seek to make the experience as consistent as possible, regardless of the location of the restaurant.  IBM and partner N2N Global  have put together a strategy that provides " ... ERP, Tracebility, Quality and Food Safety, and Business Intelligence Software integrated in a single solution for the Food Supply Chain. ... " 

This is by its nature a big data problem. Multiple sources of supplier information about key ingredients that is being updated constantly. Volatile data because it needs to address such questions as traceability and food safety.  Usage information in each region to assure the highest quality ingredients to meet restaurant specifications.  Feedback from the users of the ingredients to assure continued quality.   Consistent  analysis of costs to assure profits.  That's lots of data, and lots of places where that data can be used to streamline the process. Analytics.

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. I’ve been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.

Partner World

IBM colleagues inform me that Partner World has started.

The agenda  can be found here.  You can also watch sessions online.  Twitter hashtag #IBMPWLC

Lots of interesting work that connects with analytics, will report on some of it here.

I see that colleague Paul Gillin, who consults on social media for IBM is speaking.  See my post on his excellent new book.   On the attack of the customer.

Upcoming Free Seminars

I intend to attend these:

 ... University of Cincinnati's research seminars organized by the Operations, Business Analytics, and Information Systems (OBAIS) department at the Carl H. Lindner College of Business. Please reply to uday.rao@uc.edu to get more information about these talks ...

The OBAIS department invites you to attend the following two research seminars on Tuesday March 5, and Friday March 8 morning. 

Date & Time: Tuesday, March 5, 2013, 10:30 AM in Lin 608 (Carl H. Lindner hall, sixth floor)
Speaker: Dr. George Polak, Wright State University
Talk: A Generalized Minimax Portfolio Optimization Model

Date & Time: Friday, March 8, 2013, 10 AM in Lin 108 (Carl H. Lindner hall, first floor)
Speaker: Dr. Detmar Straub, Georgia State University
Talk: Native Theories in Information Systems .... 

Unilever Spending, Partnerships Up

In AdAge:   This looks to be a considerable development:  " ... Unilever has struck global partnerships with Samsung, Sony's Arcade Creative Group and EA Sports as the packaged-goods giant looks to expand its universe of deals on the heels of a nearly 40% increase in digital spending last year. ... Programs are still in development, but the Samsung partnership will involve advertising and content creation for smart TVs, smart appliances and mobile applications. Initial projects will involve Axe and Hellmann's, said Gail Tifford, Unilever's senior director of media for North America. ... " 

HP Tablets

In an interesting development HP plans to be planning to deliver a family of tablet style devices.  Recall the fiasco that HP had when they acquired the Palm OS.  Lots of catching up to do here.

Attack of the Customers

Colleague, correspondent and former co-fellow of mine at  SNCR Paul Gillin has written a book on customer attacks using social media:

Attack of the Customers: Why Critics Assault Brands Online and How To Avoid Becoming a Victim  by Paul Gillin with Greg Gianforte.

I have started to read this excellent book. I discovered that the first chapter included a detailed example from my former enterprise, Procter & Gamble.  I was especially intrigued because I had been peripherally involved with the early use of social media in the company.  Just how do you address customer attacks? How do you detect them before they start to steamroll?  What are the ideal reactions?

As they state:  "This book is about how to anticipate, prepare for and defend your organization against customer attacks, but more importantly its an argument for building an orgaization that values critics as allies ... " 

The example is about the 2010 rollout of the Pampers Dry Max line.    The new disposable diaper product was mercilessly criticized in the social press as allegedly causing serious diaper rashes in babies that used it.  It was also claimed that the supply chain was already substituting the product well before it was being identified in the marketing.    Thus giving customers no chance to make a clear choice.

Historically P&G, as a large consumer products company, has experienced this kind of rumor explosion before.  But this newest example is beyond the era of the mimeograph machine.  Social media like Facebook and Twitter change the volatility and speed of both exposure and reactions.  The chapter covers the role of social media in the start of the rumor, how it spread, and how P&G reacted.  Gillin makes the point that P&G did not make perfect decisions, but could quickly see what worked versus what did not.   Nicely documented.

Books themselves are often too slow a medium to address activities like Twitter.  Gillin has done a good job of extracting excellent examples that deliver key examples of the new world of the customer in social media and how to prepare for attacks online.

I will follow with more commentary about the book as I progress. Nice approach which includes many dissimilar case studies.  So far an excellent read about how a very big company reacted to customer social media.

You can read part of the Dry Max chapter in CMO magazine.   And here is the book's Facebook page.

Monday, February 25, 2013

On the Rise of the Swarm

Our enterprise did a number of analytics projects based on swarm technology, also called Agent Based Modeling.  We brainstormed warehouse compliance swarms.  Now,  A new survey of work underway, empowered by swarm robotics.  The components of the swarm are simple with minimal intelligence, but as a collective swarm they can do impressive things.

Data Driven Culture for Analytics

Good piece in a new newsletter I get.  Business driven analytics, commentary by three analytics managers.   The federated org structure sounds the most familiar to me, although we experimented with many methods:  " ... To get the most value from your people and culture, you need the right organizational structure. I prefer a federated organization in which a central team supports the activities of embedded data developers and analysts while giving them ample opportunities to collaborate and share knowledge. Here, data developers sit side-by-side with the business people they support. As a result, they become immersed in the business and more effective at what they do. In a federated organization, you align first with the business, and then optimize technical functions.  ... " 

Excel and Big Data

In GigaOm:   Walter Riker sends along this link about MS Excel and Hadoop.   A surprising amount of analytical work is done in Excel, and it is natural to see links to Big Data capabilities.

Team Blogging Practices

When I ran a multiple internal blog operation in the enterprise, the goals were knowledge retention, sharing and collaboration.  We did both internal and external facing work.  This new article looks at the practices involved.  In particular as it addresses team operation.  We used a wiki style architecture for permanence.   Largely obvious, but worth the review.

Show Me the Numbers

I have been fully reading Stephen Few's book: Show me the Numbers: Designing Tables and Graphs to Enlighten.  (Second Edition).  In part for preparation of some data visualization design choices, and also because the topic of linking strong, accurate and well designed data visualization to business decisions has always been an interest of mine.

First of all bravo to this book.  Beautifully written and formatted. An excellent and easy to read book on the subject.  I rarely recommend reading such a 'how to' book in its entirely.  In this case it is well worth the actual time.  Few's teaching capability comes across quickly.

Also notable is his immediate linkage of visualization to analytics.  His chapter 2 outlines the simple statistics most often encountered in such work.   It's particularly useful to those without formal stat backgrounds.  It is by no means all the analytics the user should understand, but is an essential start.  The clear exposition that will get you 90% of what you need to support visualization.

Also unusual is the book's inclusion of an examination of the comparative use of tables and graphs.  Depending on the decisions being made, one or the other form of data display can be best to deliver your point clearly.  Its all about using the simplest design possible to minimize the work needed to get results.  It is remarkably similar to user interface design.   Few does not show designs for specific computer packages, but makes the case that many of the simpler approaches can be produced by packages like MS Excel.  He does criticize Excel as introducing too many obscuring concepts.    He also shows a number of Tableau Software visualization examples.

Later in the book he discusses the role of visual perception in graphical communications.  Then he looks more broadly at variations in graphical design, including geographical information examples.   Also an excellent section on the neglected topic of component level graphical design.  Lots of illustrations too,  which makes the latter chapters easy to scan for examples.  The book does not compare business intelligence packages broadly,  but deals with the design of data visualization.

A mild criticism is that the book does not deal with the process of end-user interaction design with data visualizations. Perhaps that is another volume.  I would like to see that examined further.

Later chapters include thoughts about how to tell compelling stories with numbers.  And also the interaction of standards and innovation in the visualization space.

Read it, it is very good.    See also Stephen Few's blog which covers related topics.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Sephora Haul Addiction

Ann Althouse examines the 100,000 videos entitled "Sephora Haul' on Youtube.    Quite an interesting view of what might be called cosmetics addiction and ultimately cosmetics in retail.   Despite my former  involvement in cosmetics CPG, I was unaware of this social direction.    Jezebel also comments.  A problem that has no name?  At one point it would be interesting to try to extract insight from these 100K videos.

Making Time For Innovation

In Innovation Excellence:  A former CPG innovation manager Kevin McFarthing,  talks about how people collaborate for innovation  in the big enterprise, spinning scenarios that sound very reminiscent of my own experience.  Good read. " ... First, if you are serious about innovation, time must be found to do it properly, with a clear link to strategy, a strong understanding of priority areas to attack, a process that’s well understood and targets to reach. There is no point allocating an hour in the management meeting agenda and saying, “right, it’s innovation time, let’s have some ideas.” And please, don’t start an innovation initiative with a suggestion scheme. ... " 

Android Robotics

A good overview, with lots of pictures, of progress in android robotics in Japan.  For care giving and beyond.  The empathic and human aspects are still to be determined.

Secrets of Data Visualization

Erica Driver writes about data visualization.  Some practical and often very true thoughts.The best secret of all that I can contribute is that you have to have an online and dirt easy to use method to do visualization always  available.  Too many packages that exist have gone through much  feature creep.    Then ponder your font sizes.   I like her finishing paragraph:    " ... Visualizations are just the tip of the iceberg, if the iceberg is a person’s understanding of the data. To be able to derive meaning and insight from data, especially complex data sourced from multiple systems, the user requires not only well-designed, clear, concise data visualizations, but the ability to explore the full dataset on their own. They need to be able to ask and answer their own streams of questions without having to go back to an expert for a new visualization every time they have a follow-up question. This, in a nutshell, is the difference between a standalone data visualization tool and a Business Discovery platform.... " 

Saturday, February 23, 2013


A very simple App for saving ideas and recommendations that I am currently trying.  Simple is good.   Is it more simple than using a basic note taking function?

Empathic Design

The term was a new one to me.    I do agree that users are people, and you have to consider their needs to make a system that supports their decisions.  Thus all design should be empathic.  I have seen many designs that are non empathetic and non rational.

Why BI Fails

I agree with some of the commenters.  Tools may be necessary these days, but they are not sufficient.  Your BI project will mostly likely fail not because features you have in the latest tool, but because you do not understand the business process being modeled.  Especially the case as more in depth analytics are included.
The article is worth a scan.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Safeway Avoids Print

In Adage: Safeway looks at a world without print ads, moves digital.   " ... Safeway is doing its best to eliminate print advertising in favor of more personalized digital ads. The fifth largest grocery player in North America spent $20 million on newspaper ads through November of 2012. That's consistent with 2011, though a big drop off from the $33 million spent on newspaper ads in 2010. ..."

iPad Addiction

In Baseline Mag:  Some thoughts and statistics about how people are getting addicted to the tablet format. Retailers and marketers should notice this.

How to Create a Mind

A piece on Ray Kurzweil's  (now at Google)  latest book: How to Create a Mind: the Secret of Human Thought Revealed.  Always fascinating, sometimes over the top views of a very technological future.  I have yet to read  in full any of his recent books, but have scanned sections closely.  Good at the very least for scoping the possibilities.   Less so in scoping unintended consequences.

On the Cost of Suspicion

An interesting HBR case study of the cost of suspicion in the enterprise.  Refreshingly different piece.  Also hints at how this can go beyond just the usual personnel trust/suspicion domains.   In particular about the general concept of asserting control to better understand what might happen next.  To what degree should you suspect that the model is inaccurate?   What are the analytical model implications?   Worth reading.

Neural Networks Retooling the Android

We used so-called artificial neural nets (ANN) in the enterprise over a decade ago for specific kinds of focused analysis of consumer data.  Inspired by the brain's infrastructure, but not attempting to use the form of real biological neurons.  The method works well, especially if you want to embed the learning in systems or devices.  Here a piece in Wired about how this influenced Android design for the delivery of voice recognition.   It is mentioned that the neural methods were used elsewhere on the Android as well.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Evidence Tablets are Eroding PC Market

In GigaOM:    Even a cursory observation in any airport waiting room will demonstrate this. "  Naysayers may continue to ignore the trend, but tablets aren’t toys and the tablet market isn’t a fad, as 2012 shipments show. This year, tablets could surpass both desktops and laptops. So it turns out this tablet market isn’t quite a fad after all. Research firm IDC has numbers to prove it, publishing on Thursday the reported 2012 shipment figures for smartphones, tablets, laptops and desktops. It won’t surprise you that smartphones continue to be the tops among these devices, but it may surprise you that tablet shipments have nearly caught up with those of desktops ... "

Crime Prediction with Selective Data

In GigaOm:  Overview of a recent paper on crime prediction using Big Data.    Nicely done, good example that whose principles can be reapplied in other domains.    But again I would suggest that this more about visualizing selective existing data, rather than have very large and complex data sets.

Augmented Reality Chipset

Metaio announces bringing this idea to market today.   A good idea for prototyping applications of AR.  I also see specialized applications of augmented reality that will combine AR with data analytic applications based on the data in/from a given location.  Riffing on the term 'Big Data', lets call this 'Reality Data',which will blend in data from specific aspects of time and space.  The experimenters will still have to figure out which slices work best to useful decision augmentation.  Is this finally a way to experience your data?  Video overview.

... ... Metaio today announces an agreement with ST-Ericsson, a leader in wireless platforms and semiconductors. Under the terms of the agreement, ST-Ericsson will integrate Metaio’s Augmented Reality hardware IP, the so-called “AREngine,” into the next generation of ST-Ericsson mobile platforms resulting in the first application processor accelerating Augmented Reality performance on mobile devices. ... Metaio’s cutting-edge technology inserts nearly any 3-D and virtual content into the real world by recognizing images, objects and entire environments. In a mobile future that clearly requires smart devices to be ‘always on’ and connected, the Metaio AREngine drastically reduces power consumption making all-day AR experiences possible ... " 

Price Chopper and Vine

In an interesting retail/CPG example.  Twitter owned Vine is being used by Price Chopper for marketing with six second videos.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

P&G Finds Goldmine in Analytics

In the WSJ Blogs: Thomas H Davenport describes some his findings after meeting with Procter & Gamble.  Exploring P&G's long time use of the analytics technology space. I was involved with its development and use there since the late 1970s.  Most every part of the company used analytics with data that was big (for the time) to improve process.  Sometimes spectacularly.  Usually fundamentally.  Davenport lays out the land about how the goldmine will look in the future, with the ability to use bigger, granular and far encompassing data.  See also how he positions the changes as Analytics 3.0.

Preparing for Analytics 3.0

I like Thomas H Davenport's concise description of what he calls Analytics 3.0.  Much as I dislike the numerical indexing of the approach.  It is largely about what has mostly been called 'Big Data' recently, but taken from the proper decision improvement side.  A long time practitioner, I believe it is about the decision, rather than the data, big or otherwise.  Bravo.   He concludes: " ... Even though it hasn’t been long since the advent of big data, I believe these attributes add up to a new era. It is clear from my research that organizations—at least the big companies—are not keeping traditional analytics and big data separate, but are combining them to form a new synthesis. Some aspects of Analytics 3.0 will no doubt continue to emerge, but organizations need to begin transitioning now to the new model. There is little doubt that analytics can transform organizations, and the firms that lead the 3.0 charge (like Procter & Gamble, which I wrote about last week) will seize the most value. ... " .   Many of us are preparing for the transition.   See also about how P&G has used and is preparing for Analytics 3.0.

Google Reveals their Glass

Today more about features and directions of the vaunted 'Google Glass' eye wear style interface.  Now including voice commands.   If this becomes popular it will very radically alter the public face of the use of computers. I believe there then may be a number of unintended social consequences.

CIOs Are Building App Stores

In Forbes:  We saw it coming and it will progress.  Apps are becoming part of the consumerization of data and process improvement via systems.   Like the moves where management expected to have their personal data available on Smartphones.  They are expecting all their data there now too.   Their processes and analytics will follow.  See more on that direction here. 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Human Robot Relationships

A good overview piece.  A review of some of Sherry Turkle's work.   We examined this when we looked at Japanese work on robot companions and help mates.   The idea continues to evolve.  Are we ready to integrate the emotional components?  Old Outer Limits TV shows come to mind.  This also overlaps with gamification  principles. 

Internet Limit

In SCiam:  When will the Internet reach its limit, and what are the implications?  " ... The number of smartphones, tablets and other network-connected gadgets will outnumber humans by the end of the year.... " 

Gartner Quadrant for Business Intelligence

I was sent a copy of Gartner's Magic Quadrant publication for business intelligence and analytics software.  A simplistic view, but always a good place to start when trying to understand players in a field. I like the idea that they have integrated 'analytics' beyond just 'intelligence'  here.   A natural intergration I have always promoted.

The dominant theme of the market in 2012 was that data discovery became a mainstream BI and analytic architecture. The market also saw increased activity in real time, content and predictive analytics.  Market Definition/Description ... 

Gartner changed the name of this Magic Quadrant from "Business Intelligence Platforms" to "Business Intelligence and Analytics Platforms" to emphasize the growing importance of analysis capabilities to the information systems that organizations are now building. Gartner defines the business intelligence (BI) and analytics platform market as a software platform that delivers 15 capabilities across three categories: integration, information delivery and analysis.

Attack of the Customers

Colleague, correspondent and former co-fellow of mine at  SNCR Paul Gillin has written a book just brought to my attention.

Attack of the Customers: Why Critics Assault Brands Online and How To Avoid Becoming a Victim  by Paul Gillin with Greg Gianforte

I will write more as a get a chance to review.  Send along any comments you might have,

" ... Customers don't suffer in silence anymore. Today they make their gripes public on the branded websites of the very businesses they attack. Online customer attacks have struck some of America?s biggest brands, and the volume and scope is growing dramatically. You no longer have the luxury of time to respond. An attack can go global in a matter of hours. Attack of the Customers shows how social media can be used to destroy as well as to build. It provides actionable strategies to prepare for and prevent disaster from striking your company. And it shows you how creative engagement can turn critics into raving fans. As this book shows with fascinating real-world examples, customers complain because they care. In these pages, you'll learn how to respond effectively and how you can grow your business in the process. ... " 

Mining Feeling Bionic Hands

Haptics are a favorite topic.  We sought to gather large amounts of data about how hands interacted with products. Then mine that data for specific usage capabilities.   This sounds like an opportunity to do that. 

Monday, February 18, 2013

Reinventing the Hospital, The Game

From my long time favorite collaborative future consulting group:   Insititute for the Future (IFTF).  A favorite topic, reinventing health care.  I know of a number of related trials underway, lets do more.

It's Official: Over 4,500 Ideas for Reinventing the Hospital
On January 8—9, IFTF ran the 24-hour Future of the Hospital game on Foresight Engine, our collaborative forecasting platform, to help reinvent the community hospital. .... "

The Separation of Web Pages

Back in the 90s we visited mathematician at the Santa Fe Institute, and learned to soon to be iconic statistic that people were separated on the web by a remarkably low number of clicks.  (You can still join the SFI's complex systems course, now in progress).  At the time we hope to use this statistic for marketing connections.  Now a new study, mentioned in Mashable, says that there is a maximum of 19 clicks between pages on the Web.  Not sure how we might have used that, except for knowledgeefficiency measures,  but still interesting.

Data Mining in R: Introductory Resources

The DataMining Collective sends along links to Data Mining in R.  Fairly well done as an introduction, of both the power and complexity of using the Package R.   Includes slides and audio.  A  50 minute  description of R as groups of algorithms, community and interface.  These are libraries of functions,  most useful for scientists who are used to coding, and not in general end users.    See also the presenter David Smith's blog which covers R, Data mining and related topics.

Big Data Will End Segmentation and Long Analysis Times

IBM CEO makes a clear statement about how big data will influence two key areas of marketing measurement an analysis.   And makes a clear challenge:  " ... Big data will spell the death of customer segmentation and force the marketer to understand each customer as an individual within 18 months or risk being left in the dust, according to IBM’s CEO Ginni Rometty. Speaking yesterday at the ‘CMO+CIO Leadership Symposium’ in Sydney, Rometty outlined three paradigm shifts marketers are poised to go through, giving the industry 18 months to sink or swim. .... " 

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Tamagotchi Emerges Again in Gamification

More than a dozen years ago we looked at Bandai's Tamagotchi pets as a potential model for consumer engagement.  The basic idea was an early look at what we now call gamification.  Or using gaming principles in improve interaction between people and machines.   Looking back at my notes of the time, the Tamagothci model, and the principles we lernde, were not far wrong.   The idea worked well and powerfully in carefully focused areas. Much less so in others.  I think there are still some excellent gamification learnings to to gained from them.   I had  lost track of their popularity or even availability, but it turns out they are now back, not unexpectedly as smartphone Apps.  Thinking of them as Apps is a useful, compact way of taking the experiment further.  How will this work differently from the way they were delivered then?  That will provide new ways of comparing physical versus virtual emotional engagement.  Has Bandai looked at this?

Google Retail Coming?

Mashable reports that Google retail stores are rumored to be on their way.   At the very least a carefully selected group of Google stores could provide a wealth of information for comparison to on-line shopping and promotion.  Google has a CPG blog where some of this could play out.

Watching You Watch Data

Was briefly involved in a constituent project to this idea.   So thinking about the kind and volume of data is very intriguing.  Along with closing the loop of interaction here.  Suppose we would watch people watch data and adjust that visualization based on how many people interact?

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Combating Showrooming With Rebates

Good piece by Theresa Wabler.     " .... They key to combating the shopper trend of showrooming is finding creative approaches that serve the consumer and benefit the business, not hurt it. If all consumers care about is lower price, retailers must figure out how to deliver the milk without giving away the cow for free, so to speak. Rebate strategies can respond to these low price demands while also generating loyalty and ongoing relationships with consumers. It is possible to give in to the value-seeking shopper that is here to stay while also growing value for the business. ... "

Getting the Value of Big Data

Perceptive colleague Jason Terry sends along a link to a good overview piece on this topic in ZDnet.  Winnowing good data from the junk is part of the reason it is not used today. I write to him that  " .. businesses will 'get it' when they can readily see and use it and value it ... thus the value of Business Spheres  +  Interactive Data Visualization  +  Analytics  ... " 

Unintentional Data Innovation

In Technology Review:

Why were the recent Russian meteor fall observed by so many cameras?   It turns out there is a large incentive, for insurance purposes, to install a dash camera in Russia.  As a result there are many such cameras pointed in a given direction there.    A re purposed accidental interface that will gather much additional scientific information about meteors in the atmosphere.  It should lead to new kinds and volume of related data.   A example about how data innovation in one area can result in new results in others.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Drinkable Cosmetics

In Cosmeticsdesign: 
Popular in Asia, "nutricosmetics" could start to make a splash in the West, trend watchers say. The beauty drinks, some of which contain antioxidants, collagen and other good-for-the-skin ingredients, haven't yet taken hold in the U.S., but market research from NPD Group suggests the potential is there.

Analytics IQ

Fascinating piece on consumer financial intelligence:  Analytics-IQ launches industry's most accurate predictor of household economic profiles with "consumer financial intelligence"  Quantitative, measurable results are always a great place to start.

Turning Data into Smart Data

In Information Week:   Fundamentally agree, but it's really more about turning raw data into smarter decisions. I have not lapsed into call everything 'Smarter', because of typically the involvement of human decision makers.  You can make some things smarter by themselves, but those things as usually not the big and very complex things. You can come to that realization and then realize, that is starts with the data, smart or dumb.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Recipes and Components

Online grocery start up HelloFresh raises 'millions' in funding from Rocket, Kinnevik and others.  More details.   As an amateur cook I like the idea of task lists like recipes, and required component resources, mixing with the tacit knowledge in cooking skills ... creating the processes   I think there are things we can earn from these ideas outside of cooking.  

Saturday, February 09, 2013

Delete All EMails Simplifies Communications

In ComputerWorld:   In a review of the new Blackberry phone the idea of a  'delete all' email button is mentioned.  I remember that capability when I used a Backberry phone.  I now use an iPhone. You could quickly wipe clean the phone of new emails. They would remain archived in your laptop.  A simple idea like this would make it much easier  to have a 'working' list of important messages.  Nice idea, would like to see that on other OS's.   Lets see more simplifying eMail ideas.

Friday, February 08, 2013

Taleb on Accepting Uncertainty and Volatility

Nassim Nicholas Taleb reviewing his new book on Accepting Uncertainty, Embracing Volatility  in  Knowledge@Wharton.    Over the years I have talked to many vendors that believed that they could directly solve the uncertainty problem, despite the obvious volatility of the data about world we live in.  Once again Taleb does an excellent job of describing this space well.  I am still looking for something I can use directly to better simulate the volatile world we live in.   " ... The day before a big game, regardless of the sport, a team's coach or star player is often asked, "How will you stop the opposing team tomorrow?" The answer typically goes something like this: "We can't worry about the other team. We just have to play our game." That, in a very simplified nutshell, is the essence of Nassim Nicholas Taleb's highly polemical, always thought-provoking new book, Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder. Here, though, the opponent is not another team's slugger, quarterback or point guard, but the future and change ... " 

Big Data Startup to Solve Healthcare

Vincent Granville looks at a way to have big data fix healthcare.  Even if Data Science does not solve the whole problem, the exercise might be valuable.  An interesting proposal with some good comments.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

P&G CEO Drives Steps for Analytics

In InformationWeek:    More from P&G's CEO on the relevance of analytics.  He gives key steps in making analytics work in the large enterprise:  Putting it at the center of how business is done ....  It has been key at P&G for a long time, but much more can be done ...

" .... CEO Bob McDonald makes the case that analytics needs to move from the periphery of operations to the "center of how business gets done."

Procter & Gamble CEO Bob McDonald is very clear about the critical role for technology at P&G: He thinks better data analytics is at the heart of how P&G will improve productivity and make more innovative products. To McDonald, the change that's coming is a "cultural revolution" -- instead of reacting to historical business results, P&G is trying to use more real-time data and predictive analysis to make better decisions. "We have to move business intelligence from the periphery of operations to the center of how business gets done," McDonald said.

But to do that, companies need better analytics software. And that's why McDonald spoke Wednesday night at P&G's Cincinnati headquarters to a gathering of a few dozen top IT leaders from companies including Boeing, BP, Disney, FedEx, GE and Goldman Sachs. .... "

Business Analytics in Retail: The Book

Large companies can afford the ability to use consultants who can help them understand such terms as 'Business Intelligence'. 'Predictive Analytics', "Big Data'  or 'Data Mining'.  But the small to medium size company often needs some basic help with the terminology, which is often changing quickly.  One approach is to read blogs like this, which cover the terms, methods and vendors that play in these spaces.  This also gets you access to many years of experience in the broad area of 'business analytics'.

But where do I get a basic introduction to this space at minimal cost?  I just had the opportunity to read a book created by IBM: Business Analytics in Retail for Dummies  " Read this ebook to learn how analytics can improve every aspect of your business... "     You can get the book free here.  You just have to provide some basic registration information.  You won't get a call or spam unless you ask for it

Despite cringing at the 'Dummies' label, we know you are not one, you are an expert at your business. This free, short 75 page e-book does a very good job of defining the terms and giving some excellent examples of the use of analytics.  Well written and concise.  Although the examples are all about retail, it is worth reading for some of the definitions.   Pointers to IBM software, of course, but there are other places to go as well.   I think this book should be on everyone's e-shelf.  Use the definitions and examples with your employees for hints at for where to apply business analytics.  Save money and increase profit as a result.

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 here.  

Force Feedback for Smartphones

Research ongoing to produce force feedback that could ultimately be used on a smartphone.    This opens some interesting new sensor applications, on games certainly, but also in other areas.

Making Internal Collaboration Work

McKinsey Quarterly interview with Don Tapscott:   " .... The author and strategist describes why effective knowledge management within enterprises requires replacing e-mail with social media. ... "   But I add it does have to be more than the current flavors of social media.  Here is one advanced option, called Zakta. 

An Internet for Manufacturing

In Technology Review: Each product will remember and record how it was made, and what raw material components made it.   That is a powerfully useful stream of information for manufacturing and marketing.  It was an idea we often brought up during RFID discussions in  innovation reviews.   This article is a view of how GE is using the idea.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Junaio Augmented Reality on the Second Screen

Recently received and of interest.   Adding Augmented reality information to the TV screen.  I hope to watch this.  Note that the TV show is in German.  Will attempt to get a video demo of this.

Second Screen’ is one of the buzz words of our time. It describes the parallel use of a smart device and a TV in order to interact with additional digital content available for the TV Shows, Movies or commercials the audience is currently watching. Back in 2011 junaio together with the German TV Show Galileo (Pro7Sat.1 TV GmbH) made history by introducing the world´s first mobile Augmented Reality TV Show - 'Galileo Smart'. Viewers could participate by simply pointing their smartphones to the TV screen using junaio.  Exactly two years and 15 shows later, we are taking the Galileo Augmented Reality experience to the next level. Tomorrow at 7 PM (CET) the Galileo viewers together with the junaio fans from Germany, Austria and Switzerland will be able to participate in the next quiz. For the first time viewers can compete with users from different states and regions. The results will be available right after the show. All further information about Galileo Smart (German only) can be found here: www.junaio.com/galileosmart   ...  Your junaio team:   www.junaio.com

IBM PureSystems

Had cause to take a look at applications that could do pattern recognition and was pointed to IBM PureSystems, mentioned here.   " ... With the new PureSystems models, IBM says even organizations with limited IT skills and resources can sift through massive data  volumes to discover business-critical trends. The new tech also promises to help organizations develop cloud-based systems by making it easier to provision, deploy and manage a secure  cloud environment.  ... " . Check out the link for an example of how the Nielsen Co.tested and utilized the system.

Digital Disruption and Engagement Relevance

In Adage: Digital Disruption Can Make TV Ads More, Not Less, Relevant : How An Era of Direct Relationships Will Give New Life to TV Ads  By: James McQuivey of Forrester.   And then what analytical methods can be used to make this connection work better, based on information about the content and the viewer?

Abolish the Patent System

Two economists argue in this paper that the patent system should be eliminated.  I agree, most of what I have seen in that system system has been garbage, and just adds cost to the system.

Analytics Skills

A fairly good list of things that are useful to be a successful analytics provider. Some of these are more generally good consulting skills.  In particular, I emphasize and they cover, always learn the business that you are attempting to analyze.  Allying yourself with an internal person who has lived the business is always useful.  Someone you can call anytime to ask questions.  Ask lots of questions.  Map the process and show them the map.  Get agreement on what the decision process looks like.  Often knowing the data that is being generated and how it is now used is also key.   Ally yourself with at least one key decision maker who will be using the results you will come up with,  and get their support on any prototypes you do.

Fitness Gamification

Again, what would appear to be an ideal application to embody in an engaging game.   And with an App to be taken anywhere.  And gather data. Wharton discusses:

From Fitbit to Fitocracy: The Rise of Health Care Gamification
These days, anyone with a smartphone can download a variety of games designed to make users healthier, whether that means sticking to an exercise routine, losing weight or managing a chronic illness. While experts have dubbed this trend "the gamification of health care," it has already presented a unique set of problems, including how to protect consumers' privacy and how to keep users engaged enough to show positive results.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Cloud As Innovation Enabler in Consumer Goods

A set of observations about what is going on in Consumer Products from Smarter Planet.  Some good examples of innovations to follow from the use of the Cloud.   " ... In fact, recent research by IBM indicates that while 16 percent of the global sample of business leaders surveyed were already using cloud capabilities for sweeping innovation (such as entering new lines of business or reshaping an existing industry) within the next three years, 35 percent intend to use it to transform their business models.

To explore this further, The Consumer Goods Forum has collaborated with IBM on a new study that looks at how cloud will drive innovation in the consumer goods space. In conjunction with IBM we presented a preview of the findings at our recent CGF Paris Conference which focused on marketing, IT and supply chain issues, and have now published the full study.  .... " 

Choosing a Pie Critique

Most of us who do data visualization know that the Pie Chart form is rarely a good choice for displaying comparative data to promote understanding.   Though I have seen it being used more often recently as sheer artistic relief within the 'infographic' format. Some recent papers seem to have supported the value of the Pie form..  Stephen Few critiques this research.

Robots Influencing Jobs

In IEEE Spectrum:  How will robots effect the of market of 2045?  An interview.     " ... Automation has displaced a lot of workers in the last 50 years, and it’s set to displace a lot more of them—taxicab and truck drivers, once vehicles drive themselves; much of what remains of manufacturing and assembly work and maybe even a lot of construction labor; fewer lawyers and doctors, once Watson-like software is perfected; teaching, except for the few people making the videos that everyone else learns from. Will we even need waitresses, or just people to bring out the food that we’ve ordered ourselves, once iPads replace menus? ... ' 

Coke War Room in Action

In Ad Age:  A look at the Coke war room during the Super Bowl.  Quite an interesting case of the real time, manual manipulation of a digital event.  What kind of support is needed in this 'War Room' to make it useful and efficient.  Questions we are asking in a broader way now.    " ... Super Bowl Sunday was filled with ups and downs for Coca-Cola and its agencies -- even before kick off. The team kicked into high gear with a morning conference call as soon as Pepsi Next's spoof of its Super Bowl ad "Mirage" went live on Funny or Die at 9 a.m. "We knew we had to respond, but we had to keep it lighthearted," said Pio Schunker, senior VP-integrated marketing at Coca-Cola North America. "We wanted to keep it in the vein of imitation is the sincerest form of flattery." ... '

Monday, February 04, 2013

Stream Browsers Introduce Time Dimension

Yale prof David Gelernter on the 'Stream Browser'.  " ... Gelernter recently predicted the end of current Web and search technology as the focus shifts from a space-based Web to a time-based "worldstream." "By adding together every timestream on the net — including the private lifestreams that are just beginning to emerge — into a single flood of data, we get the worldstream: a way to picture the cybersphere as a whole," Gelernter says. ... "

This sounds to me what companies likerecently examined  RecordedFuture are attempting to do from outside search.   I recently created a 'lifestream' that recorded what I had done in the realm of executive information systems.  For my own benefit.  It helped understand how technology, and people and time were inter connected.

Big Data and Operational Intelligence

In Inside Analysis:   The end game of all analytics, Big Data or otherwise,  should be the way that it plugs into decision making.  If you don't know how you make decisions it is tough to insert it where it is needed. So I agree:  Operational Intelligence is the End Game for Big Data ... because Operational intelligence drives decision making.

Superbowl Ads

Ad Age links to all the 2013 super bowl ads in one spot.  Convenient for review purposes.

Router Details you Don't Need

Mashable on how a Router Works.  Its fun to see the internal details of things we use every day and take for granted. And in this case there is history too,  about the integration of the ARPANET concepts, which I have  also used since its early days.   And it is all still working.

Data Company Emerges from Stanford Math

In BusinessWeek:
With today’s powerful data analysis systems, users gather a ton of information—a breakdown of Wal-Mart Stores’ (WMT) sales in the U.S. or things people “like” on Facebook (FB)—in one place and then run queries. The questioner typically comes in with a preconceived idea of what he’s looking for or at least a set of preconceived biases that determine the questions he asks.  

  The Ayasdi software, which customers including Merck and Raytheon have been testing for several months, runs dozens of algorithms and then illuminates patterns and relations between the data points. BN ImmunoTherapeutics, for example, has turned to the software for research help on Prostvac, a prostate cancer vaccine that is undergoing clinical trials. The researchers compare genetic markers, people’s ages, medical histories, and other factors to figure out which patients will most likely benefit from the vaccine. “In the past, we would form a hypothesis and say, ‘We think these three biomarkers are important,’ ” says Amanda Enstrom, a research scientist at BN ImmunoTherapeutics. “With Ayasdi, we really allow the data to show us what the important biomarkers are.”  ...

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Biological Simulation

In CACM: New progress in sources of data, and simulation analytics, and better and more complete models of biological systems are leading to better simulated systems.

Questions about Conversations with a System

My thoughts and questions prompted by an article today In the NYT:  As alert systems and devices start having extended conversations with us, can we expect them to be affirming?  Critical?  Congratulatory?   I am working on a system that will provide groups of users with critique of their work.  To what degree should that system do these things, even in a subtle way?  You can think of a congratulatory response as a form of gamification, especially when there is competition involved.  But how about affirmation?  Or criticism?  How are memory or trending included in such an assessment?  And, are we already at this point, or should we wait until the sensors can do a better job of inferring quality?   Thoughts welcome.

Saturday, February 02, 2013

Smart Cities Critique

Think of Smart Cities as extremely complex version of process control.  With the added complexity of a mix of difficult to predict people.  It also reminds me of algorithm based AI systems we developed.  SimCIty also inspired us to look at systems that would control enterprises.  That kind of effort continues today.    I liked seeing this article which looks at a critique of the Smart City 'movement'.  There is a long way to go.  The article links to a manifesto that contrasts smart city to smart citizen.

Failed Resource Predictions

Some examples of failed resource availability projections.  In many cases some huge misses despite the apparent sophistication of the models.  Forecasting models are often wrong, the question is how wrong.

Building Better Products

Thoughtful piece in GigaOM:   About the process of coming up with new products and extensions.  Starting with knowing what has been done before.    This article derived from experiences at Google and Microsoft. There is almost no excuse for doing that well anymore, with search and data being universal. But especially in cases where multiple people are examining a space, collaborating on product development can be chancy.  See for example recent ways to address collaborative interaction with structured, unstructured and tacit knowledge, in Zakta.com.

What Search Graph Means to Retail

What Facebook Search Graph Means to Retail. In POPAI:  " " ... Basically, the bigger a brand’s fan base and, more importantly, the more active they are, the more they’ll likely reap the benefits. And, in addition, if a big brand goes to the trouble to really work the local angle–for example, like some big brands have already done on Facebook, create local pages for stores, then when a user searches for “the best pizza in Chicago, IL”, big brand chains will have more of a chance of popping up alongside local retailers and merchants, who, on the flipside, benefit from that same local spin gained from a users’ local connections. ... "  ... '

Data Waves for Fast Device Communication

New to me in New Scientist:   " ... This type of electromagnetic wave stays at the interface between the surface of an object and the air, rather than travelling through open space. Radar systems have used them to see around the curvature of the Earth, but communicating in this way is a first.  Janice Turner and colleagues at Roke Manor Research in Romsey, UK, have created a demonstration system that uses the waves to send high-definition video over a short length of material. It has a bandwidth of up to 1.5 gigabits per second, making it almost three times faster than Wi-Fi. The signal does not travel through the material but rather over its surface for a few centimetres. ... "

Friday, February 01, 2013

P&G Acquires Minority Stake in Verix

Reported about " ... Verix, Inc., a designer and developer of enterprise performance management and analytics solutions for the pharmaceutical industry. ... ".  see also Verix.com.  They are also looking for a VP of R&D.  That request gives further information.

Reducing MapReduce

Vincent Granville on What MapReduce can't do.    " ... We discuss here a large class of big data problems where MapReduce can't be used - not in a straightforward way at least - and we propose a rather simple analytic, statistical solution. ... MapReduce is a technique that splits big data sets into many smaller ones, process each small data set separately (but simultaneously) on different servers or computers, then gather and aggregate the results of all the sub-processes to produce the final answer. Such a distributed architecture allows you to process big data sets 1,000 times faster than traditional (non-distributed) designs, if you use 1,000 severs and split the main process into 1,000 sub-processes..... " 

Memory Irrelevance and Tagging

Oliver Sacks, in the NRB on the emergence of memory, and the curious way that too many connections between irrelevant items in our memory can be a problem.  And indifference to what we read and its sources is an enabling process.  Thought provoking.

Facebook Pays Attention to CPG Marketing

In Adage: Imagine the potential data generated here.  " ... Facebook held its first CPG Summit Jan. 17, and has hired Erin Hunter, formerly of Procter & Gamble, as its new chief of CPG Marketing. "It's very important to us to talk to our clients in a voice they can relate to," she said. "We moved toward vertical solutions and talking to marketers with someone who has experience in the industry ... "

Facebook, call me about the rich potential data connections here that are specific to CPG marketing.

WiFi Thermostats

In Technology Review:  An update and overview on an obvious idea.  We will see more about this.  And of course the objections to one more erosion of our privacy.