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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Waiting for Strong AI

Back in the 80s we were waiting, and expecting the emergence of Strong AI.  Generalized intelligent machines, that would be as intelligent as a human, and do things humans can, but faster and cheaper.  Run our plants lights-off.  Well, that has not happened yet. Neither Watson nor Siri are close.  If it did happen, its implications would be enormous.  So how do we predict that it will soon happen, so we can prepare?  Ray Kurzweil takes the question.  But doesn't answer it.

First Web Site Launched 20 Years Ago

CERN published the first Web site twenty years ago.  Seems like a much longer time ago.  CWorld reports on the event.  Consider how much it has changed how we work and play.   And how many people globally are connected.   Very fundamental change, in a very short amount of time.  Celebrate.  

Problem Framing Through Behavioral Heuristics

This sounds much like what we tried to do when building simulation systems with agent models.  But it seems different when I read the abstract.  Once you have found reliable and accurate human behavior heuristics, derived from expertise or experimentation, there is much you can do with them.

Big Data University

A repository of free course ware on the topic, now in Beta.  Supported by IBM and others.   As they say, at your place and pace.  Many courses now available.  Other places, like Coursera, also have content in this space.

Big Data at The Speed of Business

I was just informed of this online broadcast, done twice today,  4/30. I plan to attend and tweet.

Follow with hashtags #bigdatamgmt and #ibmsmb .... 

 " ... Today, there are exciting opportuniies to take advantage of all data — including data that was once considered too "big" — for faster insights and agile application development, all at reduced costs. Join us on April 30 for a one hour online broadcast as IBM unveils a new generation of data solutions ..... 

11AM – 12PM EST, April 30, 2013 or  9PM – 10PM EST, April 30, 2013
Hangout URL: http://goo.gl/2252N

Bob Picciano - General Manager, IBM Information Management Software
Inhi Cho Suh - Vice President of Product Management & Strategy, IBM Information Management Software
Martin Wildberger - Vice President of Development, IBM Information Management Software
Kent Collins - Database Solutions Architect, BNSF
John Schlesinger - Chief Enterprise Architect, Temenos
Michael Kowolenko, PHD - Principal Research Scholar, North Carolina State University

Additional Background information around IBM and Big Data:  http://goo.gl/aP6Sj ... "

Monday, April 29, 2013

Flattening of Design

A good NYT article which explains this concept which I had heard of, but not understood.  How a number of companies are beginning to use it: " ... “Every so often there is a new fashion that comes about in design for any number of reasons, not the least of which is technology, and now there has been a reaction to mechanistic-looking design where you press a button and get a specific look,” Mr. Heller said. “In response, designers have started to turn to flatness.”... " 

On Demand Marketing

McKinsey and on-Demand Marketing.  A new term, but not concept to me.  " ... Digital marketing is about to enter more challenging territory. Building on the vast increase in consumer power brought on by the digital age, marketing is headed toward being on demand—not just always “on,” but also always relevant, responsive to the consumer’s desire for marketing that cuts through the noise with pinpoint delivery. ... " 

Owning Social Media in the Enterprise and Beyond

Who owns an employee social media account?  In an excellent blog post Debbie Laskey brings up an excellent question that leads me to a number of related questions.  Some years ago our enterprise talked to IBM about how they were developing 'social' methods to improve communications within their company.   Their method took it beyond the organization white pages we had computerized as documents to be searched to find fellow employees with similar ideas and address skill needs.  We had developed an in house advanced email and collaboration system called Confer in the late 1970s, so you could communicate with people, but it was still difficult to find the right people outside of our own network.

At that time Twitter was mostly being made fun of, but we were experimenting with social media like blogs and Wikis, but had not thought about how to tie that all together into the structure of the organization.    Everyone agreed that Email should be informal, but it was usually not so.  When we tried to include personal and informal communications, it was criticized by some as wasting time.

So there was a big surprise when social media like Twitter took off.  It was a new kind of communication;  short and mostly to the point.  It was akin to the 'one page memo', in that it sought  to be as concise as possible.   But often did not include all the points that needed to be made in communication.

We were also surprised when the social media extended over the border of the enterprise and directly to the consumer.  This was unheard of.  There were several issues that did come up based on bridging this frontier.  There was no plan to manage it at first.  People started communicating internally, with suppliers and even directly with consumers.  As Debbie suggests, there should be a plan, even in an informal world.   Who are the stakeholders, who owns the communications, and what do we when communications create problems?  Here I would further recommend Paul Gillins's book: Attack of the Customers ...  for anticipating and answering issues that extend beyond the borders of the organization.  This is even more important for the small and medium sized company.

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.

Critical Thinking about Nanotechnology

A proposal for a defined structure about the technology, to promote critical thinking.  When we examined how it would be useful in product development and R&D, we quickly discovered there were multiple definitions.  You need to start there.

Robert Scoble Reviews Glass

He says it will come down to price, at least initially.  Not too much about the social implications, just the dazzle of being connected even more than we are now.  I can feel myself resisting.

The Best Interface is No Interface

Via Jeff Dyck.  He sends along a note from SXSW by Golden Krishna.  The video of the 'Best Interface is no Interface' is here.  A good overall philosophy.   Also his slides and background material.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Supply Chain and Visualization

I note that a paper I co-authored some time ago has now been re-posted on Linkedin:

Blending OR/MS, Judgment, and GIS: Restructuring P&G's Supply Chain
INTERFACES, February 1, 1997
Milestone project for both P&G and for OR. Restructured P&G's North American Manufacturing and Distribution supply chain realizing over $200 million in annual savings....

Feel free to ask any questions about this effort, which consumed much of my time then.  Need help with related capabilities?  Contact me.   Email address in left column,

Best Time to Share Knowledge?

At first I thought this was hokum.  A connection to circadian rhythms that make us significantly more receptive to knowledge at some times? But thinking back to our own experience with massive tasks knowledge elicitation and delivery, there may be truth in it.  Warning though there is also considerable variation among people.

Sketches Selling Soap

A new Dove video called 'Sketches' now gone viral, seems to show how women's beauty view of themselves differs considerably from the view of others.  It is very entertaining, and seems to make a deep point.  I am not sure it really does that, given the unusual context that is constructed, using an FBI sketch artist.  Also a small sudy, with results selected for drama.    And secondly, the question that is asked of every clever ad: 'Does it sell soap?"   Dove soap?   A mini study described seems to say it does. But I doubt the influence is very deep.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Ivan Sutherland and My History with E&S

CRT Dome Theater
For a number of years we used Evans & Sutherland interactive graphics displays to develop packaging for new products and to determine their compatibility with manufacturing, shelf and consumer.    Previously I had used their engines for Defense Department simulation Applications.   E&S was founded in 1968, and still exists.  Now they primarily develop digital planetariums and cinema installations.  I recently saw one of their impressive planetariums at Northern Kentucky University.  A piece interviews co founder Ivan Sutherland.

Goodbye Posterous

I see today that the simple blogging engine Posterous is soon to be deleted.  I set up Posterous blogs for several people.  It was a particularly easy to use method, and yet largely complete in its capabilities.  Twitter bought it, let it languish for several years, and now is letting it die so they can 'focus on other things'. I understand there were many hundreds of thousands of users.  Too bad.

On Native Advertising

In Techdirt, a good article about native advertising.  Though the definitions vary in detail, it is advertising that is embedded deeply in the content itself.   Not pop outs or pop overs, but ads that so seamlessly embed themselves into content so they are scarcely separable.    Good thoughts here about their philosophy and value.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Advances in 3D Visualization

A recent conversation about how 3D visualization could improve the effect of shelf virtualization.   An overview of current technology in Computer.org.

Advanced Analytics from TDWI

At the TDWI conference, Fern Halper talks about what they call 'advanced analytics', which appears to include most statistical and numerical models beyond simple regression.  She is in the process of building a model for using Big Data best practices.  Including organizational and political challenges.  Looking forward to her reports on these topics.

Drones and Now Nano satellites: Phonesats

Lots of things are getting small and more mobile.   As presented in Computerworld.    What are the implications of smaller and widely ranging sensors? " ... NASA has launched three smartphones into space in what scientists hope will be the lowest-cost satellites ever tested. The smartphones, Google-HTC Nexus Ones running the Android operating system, launched aboard the maiden flight of Orbital Science Corp.'s Antares rocket from NASA's Wallops Island Flight Facility in Virginia on Sunday. The smartphones are encased in 4-inch metal cubes and are hooked up to external lithium-ion battery banks and more powerful radios for sending messages from space. The goal of this mission is to see just how capable these tiny satellites, dubbed PhoneSats, are and whether they can one day serve as the brains of inexpensive, but powerful, satellites. ... "

AT&T Launches Domestic Internet of Things

In GigaOM:  Have been looking for ways that the internet can be more generally and systematically brought into the physical home.   For home control and communications with the external web.  How will this influence how the home interacts with retail?   AT&T takes that step.  " ... AT&T’s home automation and security packages is now available in 15 markets and will appear in more soon. It’s impressive, integrated and AT&T promises it will one day be open.... " .  Much more  information in the link.

Wireless Charging

Have been waiting for this for a long time.  A look at the status of the state of wireless charging in Computing Now.  First to be seen for mobile devices.   " ... Even though wireless charging is only now becoming important, the principal technology behind it has been around for a bit more than 100 years. Back then, Nikola Tesla demonstrated the use of resonators to inductively transfer electricity from a source to a device needing power, said David Baarman, director of advanced technologies for Fulton Innovation, which developed eCoupled wireless-charging technology. ... " 

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Managing Projects Outside Core Mission

Vic Uzumeri wrote about an interesting idea:

I've been working on a project management concept for organizations that need periodic "side projects", but have difficulty organizing and managing activities outside their core mission. They may be overloaded. They may lack specialized skills. They may be fully consumed with a big initiative. They may have a tight budget. I am convinced that there is a new way to handle this type of work. You can see the problem statement in this Prezi:  http://tinyurl.com/cnpmj37
It connects to a second Prezi that outlines a solution: http://tinyurl.com/cytybh8

I am curious what you think. Does this concept make sense? If not, what are the holes? If it does make sense, I am looking for business contacts who have the problem and might welcome a solution. A start-up business? An established business struggling to branch out? An overworked, understaffed business facing new challenges? If you can't use it personally, do you know someone who might?

If you have read this far, I thank you. I hope you will watch the Prezi's. They are fairly short and pretty snappy. If you haven't seen a Prezi before, that may be interesting in itself.... 
Contact: vic.uzumeri@ipov.net

Obsession with Causation

We are pattern matching animals.  Looking for repeatable causes to find leading indicators to ultimately protect ourselves from dangers, or provide us with opportunities.   And like with patterns we often find causation when it does not exist.   Full article.

Big Data for Doctors

In CW World:   Mining for patterns in health care cases.  The trick may well be to provide the right architecture to mine in.    And it does need to be patient, not data centric: " ... "The electronic medical record has become an impediment versus something that was going to streamline your day," Walker explained in a recent interview. "It took the focus away from the patient and put it all on the computer. People are clicking boxes and turning their backs to patients. It's all about jamming data into this thing.".... " .  Just like in business the solution must be decision centric.   Not about the technology behind the Big Data.

Shoppers Want Mobile Empowerment

On the Need for Mobile: " ... While American and European shoppers show little interest in purchasing groceries through mobile devices, a survey by Symphony EYC shows that solid majorities want to be able to use mobile devices for in-store price comparison. Additionally, 72% of Americans and 65% of Europeans say they want mobile services that allow them to share ideas on products and offer feedback ... " .   The ability to provide feedback is interesting .... but very high.  People want the ability, but using the one percent rule ... only a very few would use it.  And what does purchasing mean?  Typical grocery products, or a much broader selection?

Mobile Mind Shifts

Via Josh Bernoff:  yes, have seen this in my own behavior, and its not just about retail.  I now look everything up, including information about what I encounter in the real world.  Its like I have a mega complete encyclopedia rolling along with me, and its just so easy to refer to.  How does this behavior effect my world.

Pingage Supports Pinterest

In BizJournals: Cincinnati based startup Pingage provides analytics support for Pinterest.  " ... Three Procter & Gamble brands are among the first to try out the tool, launched publicly in March. The outdoor furniture company Frontgate is an early customer. With Pingage, the startup health and fitness site for moms called Skinny Mom grew its Pinterest followers from 2,000 to 72,000 in six months and monthly page views from 100,000 to 1.7 million.  ... " 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Data Science of Facebook

In the Wolfram Blog   A very interesting article on data visualization of anonymized contributed Facebook data.  " ... Over the decades I’ve been steadily accumulating countless anecdotal “case studies” about the trajectories of people’s lives—from which I’ve certainly noticed lots of general patterns. But what’s amazed me about what we’ve done over the past few weeks is how much systematic information it’s been possible to get all at once. Quite what it all means, and what kind of general theories we can construct from it, I don’t yet know. But it feels like we’re starting to be able to train a serious “computational telescope” on the “social universe”. And it’s letting us discover all sorts of phenomena. That have the potential to help us understand much more about society and about ourselves. And that, by the way, provide great examples of what can be achieved with data science, and with the technology I’ve been working on developing for so long. ... " 

Risk Exposure Index

Useful, measurement accurate and comparable indices are always useful.  " ... Risk Exposure Index Starting to Gain Traction, Change Supply Chain Thinking, David Simchi-Levi Says ... Concepts being Adopted by Companies Across the Globe; Focus is Often on Reducing Time to Recovery ... ".  In SciDigest. 

Telling a Story with Data

Quite useful view of this interaction.  Data analysis is ultimately about story telling, creating drama and then leading to decision value.  Plus modifying the story to the needs of a particular group.    I like the notion of  'dynamic persuasion', but also 'augmented discovery'  here.   " ... An excellent visualization, according to Edward Tufte, expresses "complex ideas communicated with clarity, precision and efficiency." I would add that an excellent visualization also tells a story through the graphical depiction of statistical information. As I discussed in an earlier post, visualization in its educational or confirmational role is really a dynamic form of persuasion. Few forms of communication are as persuasive as a compelling narrative. To this end, the visualization needs to tell a story to the audience. Storytelling helps the viewer gain insight from the data. (For a great example, how much do you think steroids have influenced baseball?) .... " 

How Good is Facial Recognition?

Had followed the technology for some time.  Especially how it had been used in casino applications, to apparently great success.  But under controlled conditions.  So I watched with interest about how it was said to be successful at the recent Boston Marathon bombing  using a combination of mobile cameras and fixed security cameras.  But perhaps not as useful as I thought, writes GigaOM.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Cincinnati Zoo is a MidMarket Engine

In an interesting development our local Cincinnati Zoo has been declared IBM midmarket engine of  the week.   I have been there many times, its a haven for things zoological and also botanical.  Both interests of mine.  It is always fascinating to see how the backroom of any operation works.  And Zoos are no different than others.  They are complex in many different ways.  They are a business, an enterprise with customers and assets, a research facility and scientific repository.

So it is natural that they have to deal with complex data challenges, and have a desire to utilize analytics to make predictions about their systems.  They would also like to be able to market to their loyal customers by tailoring services to them to ensure that the community will continue to visit and support.  You don't typically think of a zoo this way, but in these times all enterprises need to be smarter.

It is a great example of the midmarket enterprise.   All of which have similar challenges.    IBM has worked with Brightstar Partners to build a data warehouse and utilize that data to perform predictive analytic  operations to better solve their problems.  This has led to a 35% increase in food and retail sales.   And an expected increase of 50,000 visitors a year.  Very good for a midmarket operation that has been around since 1873.  I look forward to visiting it again.

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.

Predictive Analytics and the Organization

This article states it once again.  Predictive analytics, and all analytics is predictive, must be permanently connected to important decision process.  That implies that the operation of the business must be open to the influence of analytics.  Which indicates the need for management and executive support for using the analytics method.

Google Glass in the Future

In ComputerWorld.  An outline of the future of the head mounted display and some of the explorations being done today.  I have reviewed just a few examples, and they appear to be little different from smartphone resident augmented reality applications.

Augmented Reality for Real Estate

Walter Riker sends this along.   Augemented reality as a link of real spaces with information.    As an App for ease of installation and use.  Mostly used for retail information today, but this is an excellent example of other uses.   Update:  See also http://www.homesnap.com

Data Visualization and Big Data

Good piece by SAS outlining the value of visualizing data.  As the article suggests, the mere act of showing data and allowing the interactive manipulation of data can provide value in cutting through its complexity.  I always consider it the first step in its understanding.  Leading to deeper analytics as needed beyond.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Mckinsey & Company Documents in New Location

Always interesting.  Now published in a new location.   Lately about big data and related issues.   They write: " ... We work with leading organizations across the private, public and social sectors. Our scale, scope, and knowledge allow us to address problems that no one else can. We have deep functional and industry expertise as well as breadth of geographical reach. We are passionate about taking on immense challenges that matter to our clients and, often, to the world.... "

Kroger Pilots In Aisle Checkout

A piece in Cincinnati.com about Kroger testing their 'Scan, Bag, Go' in aisle checkout system at local stores.  Some good details.  May require registration. Will make a trip to one to try it.   We experimented with many forms of this in the enterprise innovation center.  Including hand scanners, on cart displays and smartphones.  Particularly interesting to see how their loyalty system is integrated and what kind of in store travel is tracked.   I still believe this functionality will eventually be broadly delivered on the consumers own smartphone

New Brands and Innovation Seekers

Drugstore News reports on an IRI study, some useful numbers:  " ... According to the 2012 IRi New Product Pacesetters report, nearly 1,900 brands of consumer packaged goods launched in multiple outlets in 2011 and 2012, with 40 brands ringing up sales of more than $50 million in the first year. The report notes there is value in being new, saying 20% of shoppers are "always" seeking out new products.... " 

P&G Redefining Value

In Adage:  A piece on how P&G, Ford and Wendy's are redefining value. This may also be the time to better define the value involved so it can be readily inserted into both the internal and consumer directed value modeling and interaction decisions.

An App Enabled Innovation Future

A followup on the GE - Quirky open innovation collaboration.  They hold a meeting on the App Enabled Future.   To perform 'Wink Product Evaluations' with a number of innovators: " ... The Eval panel featured a number of special guests, including CoolHunting’s Josh Rubin, Undercurrent’s Aaron Dignan, and Hugo Fiennes and Kevin Fox, co-founders of our Wink technology partner Electric Imp. The GE team sent a strong contingent as well, including Brad Irvine, the CEO of GE Idea Works playing the role of realist-in-residence (love that guy!), Bill Kernick, CTO of Idea Works, and Linda Boff, Executive Director of Global Digital Marketing at GE.ple competing providers. No, this is an open innovation partnership, and so the key question in my mind is. Will it work? ... " 

GE and Open Innovation

Working with Quirky ... " ... Last week GE and Quirky announced a new partnership where GE will make some of its library of patents available as part of Quirky’s new inspiration platform, allowing inventors to use some of its patents in their potentially novel consumer product invention ideas. This on its surface is a very interesting and logical open innovation partnership (no, not crowdsourcing). It isn’t really crowdsourcing because the work product is not well-defined and being sourced from multiple competing providers. No, this is an open innovation partnership, and so the key question in my mind is. Will it work?  If you’re new to open innovation, be sure and check out A Guide to Open Innovation and Crowdsourcing edited by Paul Sloane (free sample chapter), to get a good grounding in the open innovation and crowdsourcing elements of social business.... " 

See also Quirky's blog.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Data Debris

A term new to me.  We re gathering more and more data.  Yet more than half of all data will never have any value to the enterprise.  But we don't yet know the identity of that half,  and one of the ideas behind big data is to save all of it so we can use it for purposes we discover later.  The article discusses the issue and its connection to issues like governance.  Dealing with it ... " ..  by developing an information lifecycle governance program that takes a transparent, enterprise-wide approach to data retention and enables the routine and defensible disposal of valueless data.
... " 

P&G's Global Building Boom

Excellent article in today's Cincinnati Enquirer.  The company is adding factories at a record rate while cutting costs elsewhere.  Includes employee data on 134 plants worldwide, what they make and how fast they have grown.  Good competitive detail.  (May require registration)  " ... Procter & Gamble is saving $10 billion by laying off 5,850 office workers, cutting better deals with suppliers and spending less on shipping Tide, Crest, Pampers and Olay to consumers around the world. It’s also building 20 new factories by 2015 – in the biggest international building boom in P&G history. A target of previous major cutbacks, manufacturing is clearly shielded this time around.... "   Also a rare video of a manufacturing floor.

Bendable Screens

In a broader study of how interactive screens could be used, we looked at bendable screens to improve shopper interactions, using packaging and other modes of communication.  The idea has been around for a long time, but has never clicked, especially due to costs. Might this ultimately lead to better means to provide augmented reality?    Reuters gives an update on the idea.

Alternative to Amazon and Wal-Mart

Hard to see how this would work ... selling things that Wal-Mart and Amazon do not.  But Fab is an attempt.  " ... "We’ll be pivoting towards a new model that we are not yet ready to reveal publicly," Goldberg wrote in his site Betashop in December 2012. "That pivot will be gradual. I can promise you one thing: It will be 100% towards delivering the best customer experience in the world for discovering everyday design. We’ll offer even more unique products supported by an even better experience. The details are scarce, but it sounds like Fab is looking to design and make more of its own products. ... "   Will pure experience work in retail?  What's for sale?

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Social Shopping

In GigaOm:  A mobile strategy for social shopping.  I took a short look at Modcloth some time ago.  Worth taking another look.  " ... what makes Modcloth unique is the way it’s continually married technology with fashion to build a strong social community around the brand, experimenting with everything from crowdsourced fashion to video hangouts with stylists to build the kind of user passion you see with companies like Lululemon or Nastygal.... " 

Embracing Wallowing in the Data

Michael Hurst has an interesting post:   About his team's agile approach to complex data and the need to be  'wallowing in the data'.  He is skeptical about the term, but I like its intent.  One way to achieve a deep understanding of data is to include on the mining team a true expert in the data.  Ideally an expert or experts in both the structure of the data and its business uses.  Or allow the designers to wallow in its complexity in a well connected sandbox.   As he suggests, becoming intimate with the data.  Also much more on his agile framework.

HealthCare Data Secure in the Cloud

Conversations I have had on this topic indicate considerable fear of the cloud, especially in heavily regulated domains.  Here some useful thoughts on the subject.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Neuromarketing Legal and Policy Issues Whitepaper

A Press release writes about a white paper that covers the legal and policy issues around neuromarketing.      Have not read it yet, but sounds like a useful piece to reference.

Google Glass to be Ad Free?

IN Technology Review:  Suggests that Google Glass aims to provide an ad free environment.  It is hard to believe that glass, or likely copycats, will not eventually contain ads.  From the article, what an odd naive view, especially about a company that makes lots of money with online ads:  " ... Ads aren’t cool. And yet we tolerate them at the top of our Google searches. We tolerate them in the wings of our Facebook pages, and in the banners of our favorite publications. We tolerate them on Hulu–and even on Hulu Plus!  But will we tolerate them on Google Glass–soon, or ever? Will we tolerate them on Google Glass even if, or when, the device somehow insinuates itself into our lives in the canonical and enduring way that the smartphone has? ... "  The more successful. the more likely this idea will include advertisements.

Lean Logistics in the Supply Chain

Topic: Lean Logistics in the Supply Chain
Date: Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Time: 8:30 AM - 2 PM
Location: LeanCor Supply Chain Group HQ, 7660 Turfway Road, Suite 200 Florence, KY 41042
Event Weblink: http://www.business.uc.edu/supply-chain
Please attend / help advertise this event, as appropriate. Thanks!
Registration fee is 50$, and registration may be completed online via UC Conference & Event


(You will have to first set up an account with UC Conference & Event Services to register; FYI, the registration website URL is http://cincinnatiuniv-web.ungerboeck.com/reg/reg_p1_form.aspx?oc=10&ct=WEBREG&eventid=5237.)
For more information, contact Tricia Burger, tricia.burger@uc.edu, (513) 556-7140. Further details are provided below and in the attached pdf file, also available online at

Event description:
Lean systems thinking and tools have maximized customer value and minimized waste, while focusing on continuous improvement. Supply chains have fostered unprecedented integration and collaboration along with globalization and specialization. Logistics, spanning material flow aspects of transportation and warehousing, has seen sustained popularity. Despite the attention drawn to each of these areas, their effective combination into Lean Supply Chain Logistics still leaves many avenues for improvement.

Join us to learn about the theory behind lean and to see firsthand how lean principles are applied to logistics and supply chain processes. This workshop will highlight the critical elements and "must know" concepts, and discuss the tools necessary to solve problems, eliminate waste, decrease inventory and lead time, improve processes, and ultimately decrease the total cost of fulfillment.

Experts, Mr. Robert Martichenko (CEO, LeanCor Supply Chain Group) and Dr. Thomas Goldsby (Professor, Fisher College of Business, The Ohio State University), will lead this discussion. Participants will gain experience with Lean Supply Chain practices via tours of LeanCor’s operations & lean fulfillment centers.

The event will be held April 30, 2013, 8:30AM – 2:00PM at LeanCor Supply Chain Group’s Headquarters, 7660 Turfway Road, Suite 200, Florence, KY (transportation will be provided to LeanCor’s Lean Fulfillment Center). Seats are very limited and registration is required. The fee to register for this half-day event is $50. Pre-registrants, as of April 23, 2013, will receive Mr. Martichenko’s book, PEOPLE: A leader's day-to-day guide to building, managing and sustaining lean organizations. ... 

National Digital Public Library

Just launched.  A new open source library of US resources has launched in Beta.  The DPLA.  Some have been talking about how decrepit US copyright laws will influence this effort.  " ... Two years in the making, the DLPA will make available to the public 2.4 million records at its launch, including electronic images, video and audio from America's libraries, archives and museums. It also makes many scientific records available.... "  On twitter as @DPLA

Analysts in the C Suite

Interesting piece, but honestly we were in the C Suite many years ago.  And the denizens of those spaces understood that complex information (their investment portfolio) could be fed to them in real time on a mobile device.  So they demanded corporate data there as well.  The nut to crack was how to neatly embed it into their decision process.  How?  Start with visualization.  Then evolve to more complex analytics.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Big Data Jobs and Interactive Visualization

Tableau Public has posted an interactive visualization of big data jobs around the US.    Covers 3881 jobs,  classified as  Data Analyst, Data Architect, Hadoop or Data Scientist,  With average salaries and a map.  A good simple demonstration of how a data set can be visualized, and distributed.

Google Creative Labs and Storytelling

In Adage:  In particular I like the statement that the storytellers can also influence the product.  Essentially innovation via design.   Closing the loop.  " ... How does Google manage to do some of the most creative advertising around?  Robert Wong, chief creative officer at Google Creative Lab, the internal agency responsible for most of Google's product marketing, told attendees at the Advertising Age Digital Conference Wednesday that it's a combination of understanding the company's own culture and story, and then demonstrating the product in the most empathetic way possible. ... " 

Analytic Bridge Articles

Once again Vincent Granville links to some excellent online articles.    In particular an article about how excel will be able to process billions of records from the cloud.  How fast is unclear.

Risks in Supply Chains

Indeed, this was one of the key issues that were included in consulting I did in supply chain management and design a few years ago.  " ...  Supply chain experts say managing risk is essential to assuring long-term viability in the face of challenges posed by weather, politics and other factors. Establishing systems and standards for measuring sustainability across the supply chain is essential to this effort. ... "  

Remembering Secrets

In Wired:  A discussion of the recording of your secrets in the Siri concierge system.  And questioning how long these communications are being held.   What are our expectations?  It might well be that like the typical conversation, you expect it to be immediately deleted.  But the reality may be very different.  Not much different than many of the mail systems, which do store your mail, and you expect it to be available later.

Data Held Hostage

From Stephen Few.  He makes some good points about the Big Data craze:

" ... The Big Data marketing campaign distracts us from our greatest opportunities involving data. As we chase the latest Big Data technologies to increase volume, velocity, and variety (the 3 V’s), we will never resolve the fundamental roadblocks that have been plaguing us all along. I’ve written a great deal over the last few years about the fundamental skills of data sensemaking and communication that are needed to evolve from the Data Age in which we live to the Information Age of our dreams. It is essential that we develop these basic skills, but we must face many other concerns and resolve them as well before collecting more data faster and in greater variety will matter. I recently wrote about one of those concerns in a blog post titled Big Data Disaster about the problems created by credit bureaus that shroud their scoring ... " 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Metaio makes Hardware

Well  known German Augmented reality company Metaio opens a hardware innovation and development  facility in Dallas:

Metaio Opens New Office to Ramp up Augmented Reality Hardware R&D
Dallas, TX – April 17, 2013: Metaio today announces the opening of an all-new office in Dallas, Texas as part of a company-wide initiative to invest resources into research and development of Augmented Reality (AR) core technologies. At this year’s Mobile World Congress, Metaio announced the AREngine, the first-ever hardware IP dedicated to accelerating new Augmented Reality hardware interfaces, such as Google Glass.
Metaio and its network of clients and developers already benefit from an award-winning R&D team in its headquarters in Munich, Germany. As an expansion to the existing research efforts, the opening of the brand-new office in Dallas, Texas, will focus entirely on advancements and platform research in order to engineer the next generation of Augmented Reality software and devices.... "

A Cautionary Data Tale

Colleague Wim Vandevelde from Brussels passes along this note and link, 
make sure you have your models straight:

" ... How biased selection and pre-processing of data, and an 
(unintentional ?) Excel reference error  yielded a much 
contested macro-economic ‘insight’ into 
the relationship between country debt ratios and economic growth – 
and how that correlation (if there was one to start with) 
was mistaken for causation... "  

Applied Visual Analytics

Attended the Tableau Software's roadshow this morning to get an overview of Tableau 8.   Nicely done update,  especially with the ability to do more complex operations and even visual editing mobilely on tablets.  And new support for social interaction.   I was also pointed to Michael Cristiani 's website.  He is a great promoter of Tableau as a data visualization method.  Great examples there.

UC Analytics Summit 2013

" ... Analytics Summit 2013  will be held on May 31, 8:15AM-5:00PM at the University of Cincinnati. Analytics Summit 2013 is the premiere analytics event of the year sponsored by the Center for Business Analytics in the Carl H. Lindner College of Business at the University of Cincinnati. The theme of the event is "Real-World Impact from Business Analytics." 

The Summit will feature a keynote presentation by renowned thought-leader Tom Davenport, best-selling author of Competing on Analytics. The event also includes day-long tracks in the specialized areas of Consumer/Retail Analytics, Finance & Insurance Analytics, Healthcare Analytics, HR Analytics and Supply Chain & Logistics Analytics. Track speakers include representatives from Procter & Gamble, Fifth Third Bank, dunnhumby, Kroger Co, Mercer, Cincinnati Children's Hospital, and many more. 

To register for this event, please visit: http://www.regonline.com/analyticssummit2013. The website includes details on location, lodging options, agenda, etc. 

For more information, please see the website linked above or contact Tricia Burger at tricia.burger@uc.edu or (513) 556-7140.

Morphological Analysis for Wicked Problem Solving

A morphology is a set of structures that are used to define a category.  It is often used in one of my interest areas: Botany.  See the image on the right, where it defines leaf structures. It turns out that it can also be used to define and solve difficult, 'wicked' problems that are numerically or statically ill defined.    Problems that include choices among consumers, or policy definitions, or strategic choices.   I was recently re-introduced to the idea by Tom Ritchey and discovered that the method was more mature than I thought.  Useful for problems that are hard to quantify but whose solution spaces need to be explored.  I am further examining, if you have any comments, please pass along.  In a recent paper: 

General morphological analysis (GMA) is a method for structuring and investigating the total set of relationships contained in multidimensional, usually non-quanti´Čüable, problem complexes. Pioneered by Fritz Zwicky at the California Institute of Technology in the 1930s and 1940s, it relies on a constructed parameter space, linked by way of logical relationships, rather than on causal relationships and a hierarchical structure. During the past 10 years, GMA has been computerized and extended for structuring and analysing complex policy spaces, developing futures scenarios and modelling strategy alternatives. This article gives a historical and theoretical background to GMA as a problem structuring method, compares it with a number of other ‘soft-OR’ methods, and presents a recent application in structuring a complex policy issue. The issue involves the development of an extended producer responsibility (EPR) system in Sweden:    Journal of the Operational Research Society (2006) 57, 792–801.

An overview by Tom Ritchey and a link to his excellent book on the topic.
WP definition of morphological analysis.
A lecture video on the method.
And the Swedish Morphological Society.

Via Swedish Morphological Society
Ritchey Consulting LLC
Dr. Tom Ritchey
Email: ritchey@swemorph.com |  www.ritcheyconsulting.org

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Measuring Advertising

From the Penn Customer Analytics Initiative: Innovative Approaches to Measuring Advertising Effectivness.  Includes some of my favorite topics, like emotional response measurement. On May 16.

Diagnosing Expression

In CACM: On diagnosing Depression.  " ... Automatic systems that analyze gestures and facial expressions might improve the challenging task of diagnosing depression. One such system, SimSensei, is a digital avatar that interviews people to determine their state of mind using facial-recognition technology and depth-sensing cameras integrated with Microsoft Kinect to capture and analyze body language. University of Southern California researchers identified characteristic movements that signal possible depression by interviewing non-depressed volunteers and those who had been diagnosed with depression or post-traumatic stress disorder. ... " 

Interaction Between Robots and Jobs

Do robots net create or remove jobs?  What are the classification of jobs that are lost and won?  " ... A new class of industrial robot is appearing. These robots are smart, affordable, and safe enough to work alongside humans, and they can do many tasks that human workers perform today (see “This Robot Could Transform Manufacturing”). But does that necessarily mean there will be fewer jobs left for humans to do? ... " 

Ericsson Acquires MS Mediaroom

Interesting because I have worked with variants of the media room idea for years.  Much more at the link.  " ... Mediaroom is the leading platform for video distribution deployed with the world's largest IPTV operators. This strategic acquisition positions Ericsson as an industry leader thanks to the skills and experiences of the talented people of Mediaroom combined with Ericsson's end to end service capabilities" Borgklint concluded. The total media solution portfolio of Ericsson in the TV and video space combined with a further increased focus on consumer needs will be the foundation for providing services to end users. The importance of video distribution capabilities for the customers and their consumers will be increasing as more and more LTE networks are deployed and filled with smartphone users. .... " 

Monday, April 15, 2013

RFID System Tracks Shopper Flow

In RFID Journal :   Have tested a number of related ideas.  Notably much work by Herb Sorensen's group that was reported in his excellent book : Inside the Mind of the Shopper.  (Image on the right is from his paper) " ... ' Following a 2012 pilot of a radio frequency identification-based solution to temporarily track customers' movements via tagged shopping carts moving through a Toronto supermarket, Moxie Retail is now preparing the solution's installation for two additional pilots with Canadian retailers this year. The technology was developed for Moxie in 2011 by the Academia RFID Centre of Excellence, and was piloted last year for 10 weeks by the Toronto retailer, funded by two consumer-product brand owners. The system has since been installed at another store owned and operated by the same retailer. Later this year, Moxie plans to install the technology to cycle through two stores for another national supermarket chain, as well as at 10 locations for a third retail company. ... " 

Cisco and GMills Open Innovation

How Cisco and General Mills use Open Innovation. In APQC.  Views based on physical and virtual site visits.    Examples of how to bring in external innovation.

Solving the Problem of Customer Attacks II

Colleague, correspondent and former co-fellow of mine at  SNCR Paul Gillin has written a book on customer attacks using social media.  I posted about it once before and now continue my look at it:

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

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.

Later chapters detail a number of very useful ideas.  In chapter 5, the kinds of attackers you are likely to see are categorized and how they are likely to respond to engagement.  Good examples are given.  In chapter 7, about peer reviews, statistics and the nature of online reviews are outlined. Emphasized is how each peer review system has different means of checking (or not checking) the legitimacy of reviews.  Some of the examples given and the effect of reviews surprised me.

Chapter 9, about preventing an attack and chapter 10, about how to handle an attack, are particularly on point.   These chapters should be read by everyone with a web social presence.  Finally chapter 11 addresses building a attack resistant organization.

The book is very readable, has many recent examples, some of which I knew about and some not. It should be on the shelf of every company of anyone with social web interest.  Any company, especially if you are large, will eventually have to deal with these issues.

See the book's web site at Attackofthecustomers.com

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

Dieticians at the Supermarket

In AdAge:  Good piece on another example of linking related expertise to the retail interaction.  This may be an area where the personal touch could work well.  The article has excellent detail.

JC Penney and Pricing

Economist MJ Perry on the complexity and psychology of pricing.  Referencing an NYT article" ... how the “everyday low pricing” model at J.C. Penney’s seems to have backfired. One explanation is that many consumers don’t necessarily want “fair prices” or “everyday low prices,” they instead want the thrill of getting a great deal when something is on sale, to feel that rush of “consumer surplus” running through their bodies!  ... "

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Storytelling and Design

Good GigaOhm piece on sortytelling driving product design.   Been in a number of design projects that have allowed us to start from simple panel, day in the life of design structures to creative results.  An excellent place to start.

Diagramming Sentences and the Power of Morphology

The Language log Blog brings up diagramming sentences.  Very familiar and mostly disliked activity in early education in the US.  I remember being much intrigued by the application of this method to determine the structure, or morphology, of something like our own language. A first step in managing the knowledge that exists in language.  The article points out that the method is still in use and there are many resources that exist for it and are easily accessible.  Stripping a difficult problem down to its morphology can be a powerful way to solving it. I will follow later this week with a post that shows how morphology can address the wicked problems of today.

Ray Kurzweil's Life

In the WSJ:  The intersection of the life of inventor Ray Kurzweil and health technology.   Good to see.    He is extrapolating some information about how life expectancy is increasing every year.  A dangerous thing to believe. I recall back in the 80s some people claiming they had solved the death problem.  We will know soon enough.  " ... But be warned: There is no magic pill. Mr. Kurzweil submits to a relentless series of blood tests to monitor his efforts to reprogram his body chemistry against aging and against inherited propensities for diabetes and heart disease. "I'm reasonably confident that I will make it," he adds. "But it's not guaranteed. There are still many diseases we don't have an answer to, though I do have some good ideas about cancer and heart disease." If diagnosed with a life-threatening illness, he adds, he already has plans to put aside his other projects and develop a cure. ... " 

Agile Organizations

Some good, very general thoughts on agile organizations and management.  You are always dealing with changing context, so you have to be ready for it.  But can you predict the nature of that change?

Brain Tracking the VW Commercial

Sands Research provides a video of brain activation from their recent Superbowl ad study.  Here the one from award winning ad: The Force by Volkswagen.  Agency: Deutsch, Los Angeles.  This short video is a good example of what neuromarketing studies aim to do via physiological measurement.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Neuromarketing and Buying

Sands Research points me to a largely non technical article on their work in UK's Daily Telegraph.

 'Neuromarketing': can science predict what we'll buy?
Advertisers have long used science to peer into consumers' brains; today 'neuromarketing' has given them the power to delve into our subconscious, finds Alex Hannaford ... 

Techniques in Sentiment Analysis

In CACM:   Excellent overview piece on the subject.  The abstract itself has interest: " ... Sentiment analysis (or opinion mining) is defined as the task of finding the opinions of authors about specific entities. The decision-making process of people is affected by the opinions formed by thought leaders and ordinary people. When a person wants to buy a product online he or she will typically start by searching for reviews and opinions written by other people on the various offerings. Sentiment analysis is one of the hottest research areas in computer science. Over 7,000 articles have been written on the topic. 

    Hundreds of startups are developing sentiment analysis solutions and major statistical packages such as SAS and SPSS include dedicated sentiment analysis modules. There is a huge explosion today of 'sentiments' available from social media including Twitter, Facebook, message boards, blogs, and user forums. These snippets of text are a gold mine for companies and individuals that want to monitor their reputation and get timely feedback about their products and actions. Sentiment analysis offers these organizations the ability to monitor the different social media sites in real time and act accordingly. Marketing managers, PR firms, campaign managers, politicians, and even equity investors and online shoppers are the direct beneficiaries of sentiment analysis technology .... " 

Paper vs Screens

Sciam writes about the differences between reading on screens vs paper, provides some interesting resources, suggesting that " ... When it comes to intensively reading long pieces of plain text, paper and ink may still have the advantage. But text is not the only way to read. .. "  But weakens the position by mostly giving examples where the difference comes from the way text writing was originally designed.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Mayo Clinic Center for Innovation

A connection pointed me to the Mayo Clinic Center for Innovation lab.   A very broad mix of capability areas.   Reminding me of similar work at Procter & Gamble since 2000:  " ... see how the Center for Innovation was established; how it uses the innovation discipline called "design thinking" to transform how health care is delivered and experienced at the Mayo Clinic; and case studies of successful Mayo Clinic projects. The Center for Innovation has completed more than 100 projects working in close collaboration with departments throughout the Mayo Clinic. The center's projects are focused around three primary goals: Redesigning Practice, Community Health Transformation, and Care-at-a-Distance. Its projects with its Mayo partners to date include innovations in health care delivery via digital communication platforms; community health care; patient safety in hospital intensive care units; redesigning exam rooms, electronic medical records, medical devices; and more ... " 

Always interested in plays in the innovation lab space.  Want to talk one?  Have a good example you want to have improved or marketed?  Connect to me at the address on the left.

Bar Code Ticker

A Wired Article reminded me of the nonprofit organization GS1, which I worked with for years.  Among many other things they establish bar code standards.  The work started in Troy Ohio in 1974 when cashier Sharon Buchanan rang up a 10 pack of Juicy Fruit at Marsh Supermarket.  Although somewhat before my own time, I worked at the Pentagon then, my later enterprise was instrumental in supporting the effort.  The rest is history.   Now About 40 years later GS1 has established a ticker that shows live how many bar codes are scanned every day.  Today - 3.4 billion and counting.   Quite an accomplishment.

Big Data Applications Survey

Interesting survey of applications. " ... While most companies intend to invest in big data technologies, a lack of human resources and know-how keeps them from gaining deeper insights. Thirty-eight percent of the respondents associated big data with Teradata and Teradata Aster, placing the company among the most popular vendors. BARC is a leading independent software industry analyst firm based in Germany. .. " 

IBM and Flash Memory

IBM reports that it will invest $1 Billion in Flash memory development.  In particular, this can point to fast analytics solutions for Big Data Applications.  " ... "The economics and performance of flash are at a point where the technology can have a revolutionary impact on enterprises, especially for transaction-intensive applications," said Ambuj Goyal, IBM's general manager of systems storage. "The confluence of Big Data, social, mobile and cloud technologies is creating an environment in the enterprise that demands faster, more efficient, access to business insights, and flash can provide that access quickly." .. " 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Technologies of Touch

From a recent TED:  A look at the technology of Touch.  We did a number of experiments with touch interaction with products.  The attempt was to include other senses in retail interaction.  Smell, Sound and Touch were experimented with as examples beyond the usual kind of interactions.   This is beyond the use of a touch screen, but the use of touch for deeper and more precise engagement beyond just indicating a place on a screen. Its good to see that others are still carrying this work further.

Effective Data Visualization

periscopic_gunsIn Greenplum: Procter's now classic data visualization dashboards compared to other approaches like Infographic style producer Periscopic.  I have problems with both.  Periscopic is very slick, but from them I get the impression that a conclusion has been prefabricated.  The graphic artists have provided very pretty displays, emphasizing pattern .  Dashboards are more engineer oriented, more 'objective', but give little space for pattern recognition.  The display is small and cluttered.  Difficult to interact with, if they were ever designed for that.  Even the control room of a nuclear power plant does not clutter the gauges of key measures this way.  I continue to look for good ways to mix the engineering and the graphic, with the ability to do simple touch mobile interaction with the graphics.  See the tags below for much more information on these topics.

Data Science

In the NYT quoting the HBR:  On the sexiness of data science.  Its still structure, logic and quantitative analytics.  Hardly sexy to most.    Well described.  " ... The field has been spawned by the enormous amounts of data that modern technologies create — be it the online behavior of Facebook users, tissue samples of cancer patients, purchasing habits of grocery shoppers or crime statistics of cities. Data scientists are the magicians of the Big Data era. They crunch the data, use mathematical models to analyze it and create narratives or visualizations to explain it, then suggest how to use the information to make decisions. ... " 

P&G and Shopper Marketing

In Adage:  P&G regains top slot in shopper marketing.  Based on a survey of agencies.  No direct indication of innovation.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Office on Tablets

An Infoworld article about the suggested schedule for MS office on iOS and Android.  I have talked to several clients recently who have been awaiting this.  Will a suggested late 2014 release date be too late?

Time Series Back Again

An article suggests that Time Series are Back.  Not they have ever been gone.   Used them every day in the enterprise.   Yet as we gather more time stamped data its natural to think abut how to use it.  Using it to detect periodicities and patterns of all sorts.  Better prediction of the future from the past.  But lots of challenges to do this well.

Boredom Drives Creativity

In Fastcompany.  Is boredom a key part of creativity?  And do our new devices keep us from getting bored and thus stifle our creativity?  I suggest that boredom is not the impulse for everyone, and depending on the focus of your activity it can drive creativity as well.  Or does our obsession with cellphones and games use up the energy we would have used for creativity?

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Robotics Week: Free Robotics App

IEEE Spectrum tells us that this week is National Robotics week.  In honor of that they are offering a free App that covers many aspects of Robotics research and application.  Great way to get up to speed/ I paid a few dollars when I get this months ago.  Well worth this new price.   More about the offer here.

Data Driven Programming

In Adage:  An emerging era for data driven programming.  Programming media, not programming computers.  Not really new, we explored this for decades, optimizing the application of ads to TV, then to online experiences.  The article admits there is no complete algorithm for the process, and I agree.  But as more data becomes available, mining that data for patterns, and then choosing best patterns will become the algorithm.

A Plan for Big Data

In McKinsey Quarterly:  A good piece about planning for Big Data projects and value.   The detailed article makes a considerable  parallel to strategic planning methods.    I quote only a final paragraph:  " ... When a plan is in place, execution becomes easier: integrating data, initiating pilot projects, and creating new tools and training efforts occur in the context of a clear vision for driving business value—a vision that’s unlikely to run into funding problems or organizational opposition. Over time, of course, the initial plan will get adjusted. Indeed, one key benefit of big data and analytics is that you can learn things about your business that you simply could not see before... " 

Monday, April 08, 2013

Mobile Business Intelligence in Contexts

An area I am currently exploring again here a  Good overview article.  As the article suggests, there are benefits and barriers.  In early tests, we sought to have methods that could scan an item at shelf edge and do visual product forecasts in context of the aisle they were in.

Zero TV Homes

I lived in such a home through graduate school.  Even in the early days of working at a large company whose business was built directly through TV media.  Of course its not the same thing today.  It seems most of these people still watch what we called TV, but using a different kind of box.  More selectively perhaps.  I do remember having the time for many more things by not being in front of a screen.   When I became spouse-less I quickly bought a TV.   Now there are just more and different kinds of screens to be in front of.

Keep the Data Scientists Happy

Whatever they really are.  This is not unusual for more creative employees.  You have to balance focus with creativity. And seek creative ways to measure it.  I would add the ability to collaborate internally and externally to drive results.

Visualization Apps for Office 365

Overview of their recent Visualization Apps development.  A friend had mentioned to me that there have been considerable updates for Excel data visualization.  Used Excel that way for years since the data was typically already there.  Clients in the enterprise asked for advice on choice of Excel vs external packages.  We emphasized ease of use and integration.  The basics were there, but mostly for those already experienced in Excel.

Bring Your Own Device to Work

This article and slide show touts it as the new normal.  We experimented with the concept for years. Security issues remain. It still makes the IT groups nervous, as all lack of control does.  Though it has become more common, my observation is it is not yet 'normal'.

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Data Democracy for the Little Guy

In GigaOM: It points to two items mentioned here.  Intuit's pushing the idea of an era of big data for the little guy.  And also data visualization techniques that aim to make understanding data easier. and thus analytics easier to do.  like Tableau.  Their catchphrase of visual analytics for everyone. Their IPO now awaits.  There are certainly many more democratized sources of data available today.  And some evolving, cheaper and simpler to use tools.  A good direction to watch and try to influence.

Hacking Design

My favorite UK correspondent points me to a BBC World News video.  ' ... "Hacking" has become a little-known, but fast-developing trend in the design world, involving online design communities interacting to reinvent and create new objects. The Culture Show's Tom Dyckhoff finds out how it could revolutionise the way products are made.... ' 

He also points out that this draws the term 'hacking' back to its original meaning, which was not negative, but a term describing clever, positive skill and creativity.

A Second Digital Economy

W Brian Arthur at PARC via the Santa Fe Institute , who worked with us in the 90s to look at consumer behavior complexity simulation.  In a 65 minute video: Signalling the Second Digital Revolution   " ... a Palo Alto Research Center video presentation, SFI External Professor W. Brian Arthur explains how technology advances are signaling the emergence of a second digital economy that will change the complexion of culture and business forever.... " 

Google's Changing View of Link Abuse

In Search Engine Watch:  An instructive look at Google's changing view of link abuse.  hat is, the use of links in a site that are sued to primarily influence Google's sorting algorithms, rather than primarily act as a clear footnote to indicate source or origin.  The test is instructive.  I have been offered a number of 'infographics' to add as posts.  Infographics attract attention, so look like a good thing.  But when I looked at the details of the offered  post, it was rife with links that pointed to sites that were irrelevant to the article.  A classic example of 'link abuse'.   If you do too much of this, your site will be banned from the algorithm.  Search engine priority failure.  Google is in the midst of changing how they address this, and the article give some directional indications.

Data Scientists

From the receont TDWI conference.  A short video by Krish Krishnan on the need and nature of the data scientist.  I agree in general, the data scientist includes three roles:  A data analyst, a business analyst and a statistician.    In some cases these can be combined, or need to be full individual teams,  or need to be outsourced,  but knowledge in all these areas is key.   Finally, there should be at least one in the team that emphasizes simplicity and practicality.  Ideally that should be the business expert.  

Saturday, April 06, 2013

Community Managers and Equity

In Word of Mouth Marketing Blog:  A resource I have just started to cover, some good thoughts about being a content and community manager. Reminds me of conversations I had with (unofficial) brand equity managers in the enterprise.    Seems to be an interesting conversation starting.  Links to the documents mentioned in the full article.    " ... social media practitioners from an array of organizations came together for two and a half hours to create one document: The Community Manager Manifesto. The goal of this first ever summit meeting was to create a document that would exist as an aspirational set of ideals for community managers. The resulting six-theme manifesto reveals a common aspiration across all its declaratives: As a community manager, it’s time to become a much more strategic asset to your organization at the highest levels. “Marketing” as a theme was not included. Should it be? .. " 

User Interface and Launch

In UX Magazine:  A real-life view of how a startup can be killed at launch by not paying attention to its user interface.

Sankey Diagrams for Balance Visualization

Though I had seen this form of visualization many times, I had never heard it called the Sankey Diagram.   Often used for energy and resource balances.  Recall Charles Minard's map of the diminishing soldiers in Napoleon's Russian campaign, made famous by Tufte.   It also embodies a specific form of storytelling.  More interesting description on its uses from an innovative colleague to soon follow here.  And more instructive examples of Sankey diagrams.  A list of Sankey diagram software.

Disruptive Innovation

Useful thoughts on the topic in a short post.  And the start of a conversation:  " ... What are the secrets of companies that manage to bring disruptive innovation to market? I often argue that you cannot plan for disruptive or breakthrough innovation, but you can definitely create the right framework and conditions for this to happen. But what if there is some secret sauce that can inspire others? What would this look like? ... " 

Friday, April 05, 2013

Predicting Images in Dreams

In the Smithsonian Magazine.  Apparently we can now predict to some degree what people are seeing with a combination of fMRI and EEG sensors.  I observed a number of fMRI sessions that sought to determine consumer reactions to commercials.  Now can we reverse adapt the dreaming idea to load people with dreams of our products?  Hopefully not.  " ... Although it’s only capable of relatively crude predictions, the system demonstrates something surprising: Our dreams might seem like subjective, private experiences, but they produce objective, consistent pieces of data that can be analyzed by others. The researchers say this work could be an initial foray into scientific dream analysis, eventually allowing more sophisticated dream interpretation during deeper stages of sleep.... " 

Data Visualization and Story Telling

Gib Bassett sends along a link to an article compiled by Erica Driver.  Data Visualization: Storytelling, Skills and Utility.  Just this topic came up in a recent client discussion.  Storytelling is a form of direction and persuasion.  Data visualization is a form of presentation.  Integrating them makes lots of sense.  Imagine a panels of a simple story.  Would data visualization be within the panels, or run parallel to a story  Or could they be effectively combined?  The article has brought up some additional thoughts.  More to follow.  More in this blog about storytelling.

Social Wicked Problems

An interesting technical look at the application of 'wicked problem' techniques to social problems.  We used the term to indicated difficult to formalize and solve problems of many kinds.  Even this abstract is too convoluted, but here goes:  " ... If you work in an organisation that deals with social, commercial or financial planning – or any  type of public policy planning – then you’ve got wicked problems. You may not call them by this  name, but you know what they are. They are those complex, ever changing societal and organisational planning problems that you haven’t been able to treat with much success, because they won’t  keep still. They’re messy, devious, and they fight back when you try to deal with them. This paper  describes the notion of wicked problems (WPs) as put forward by Rittel & Webber in their landmark article “Dilemmas in a General Theory of Planning” (1973). It presents the ten criteria they  use to characterise WPS, and describes how general morphological analysis (GMA) can be used to  structure and analyse such problems complexes. ... " 

Thursday, April 04, 2013

How P&G Presents Data to Decision Makers

In the HBR:  This effort started long ago as a method to deliver data and models to executives, and has evolved much more broadly for many employees.  And has finally resulted  in what they call the Business  Sphere.  Note also the emphasis in using data visualization to simplify pattern recognition for users.  Later versions included the ability to include simple analytic methods like regression, clustering and forecasting.    Tom Davenport writes:

" ...if you work in a large organization and want it to make better use of data visualization, I'd argue that commonality is more important than creativity. If you can establish a common visual language for data, you can radically upgrade the use of the data to drive decision-making and action.  The best case I can cite for this argument is Procter & Gamble, which has institutionalized data visualization as a primary tool of management. Working with visual analytics software vendor Tibco Spotfire, P&G has put visual displays of key information on desktops — over 50,000 P&G employees now have access to a "Decision Cockpit" ... " 

The heat map shown is an interesting choice to emphasize.  See the article link for a full readable version. In general, heat maps distort comparisons between data, so they are readily scan-able, but are not a good means for interacting with complex data.  Other graphics shown in the article are more typical dashboard visualization styles.

On Collaboration for Reliable Data

Very true:  In the end it is all about the decision processes themselves, equally important to the correctness of the data that drives them.  Collaboration drives that correctness:

" .. Business competitiveness and agility are increasingly dependent on decisions that are informed and fueled by business intelligence (BI), reporting and analytics. For example, in an emerging “age of the algorithm,” operational applications and processes are often enhanced as a result of business analytics. Meanwhile, power-user analysts explore various business scenarios by combining multiple large data sets, in many cases containing both structured and unstructured information.  As this dependence on BI grows, it should not be a surprise that business analytics users must have an implicit trust in their decisionmaking processes, which implies a reliance on having trustworthy data available to them. .. ."