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Monday, September 30, 2013

Apple and iBeacon Location

We examined location intelligence for a long time as it pertained to retail presence.   Notable now in the US are Apples current trials with Baseball.   " ... Baseball's beacon trials hint at Apple's location revolution CNET visits Citi Field to get a sneak peek at MLB.com's location-based services powered by Apple's iBeacon and Bluetooth LE. ... " 

Institute for Large Scale Innovation

The Institute for Large Scale Innovation, and its founder John Kao was recently brought to mind.  After  our introduction to their work quite a while ago.  " ... The Institute for Large Scale Innovation (ILSI) is a NGO whose mission is to help define, coordinate and drive the innovation agendas of regions, nations, and the global system. While the traditional focus of the innovation field has been the private enterprise, countries, regions and cities have struggled to define the innovation strategies in the absence of standards, best practices and stewardship models. Our goal is to refocus attention on the large scale, i.e. societal, innovation agenda. ... " 

Big Data Myths and Misconceptions

I am in the midst of preparing an executive presentation about the use of analytics for companies in our region.    Our group consists of experienced practitioners from academia and industry.  As part of our preparation we have been gathering examples from dozens of years of applications.   I have noticed something interesting, all of the people involved are avoiding the term 'Big Data'.    We all preferred to talk about the improvement of business, then about the data, big or small,  that will make that possible.   Analytics.

But you can't avoid the term, its heavily hyped.    And it makes sense.  If you are gathering huge quantities of volatile data, it makes sense to mine it to find leverage points for your business.  But you have to understand your business process first, or else you are finding solutions for problems you do not have.

The small and medium sized business has a particular dilemma.  They don't have the funding to experiment with their data.   So they have to be focused before they start.   Expensive consultants to carve through the hype is not an option.

I recently heard a 16 minute podcast by Tom Deutsch ( @TomDeutsch) , program director of big data and analytics at IBM.   He also writes in  IBM's IBM Data Mag   In this podcast he addresses recently emerging myths.

I liked his presentation, well done and nontechnical.  I like the content of the talk, and like him I am also a skeptic on hype driven claims for Big Data.   Rather than state the myths, below are the contrary facts as I would state them.

- Although much Big Data work has been on unstructured data like text, video, etc.  It can certainly be used with structured data as well.  Consider it a test bed for trying analytics ideas on any data.

- Big Data does not inherently have quality problems.  Any data must be verified to determine if it is the required quality.  Garbage in, Garbage out.

- Machine learning, often a goal of Big Data efforts, does not eliminate human bias.  Humans still select data,  implement the results of the analytics, etc.  So human bias remains.

- Machine learning does not occur in real time.  These kinds of analytics need to be iterated on, adjusted and ultimately implemented.  Its possible that the results may be implemented in real time systems, when verified.

It seems all of these hyped claims from misunderstanding marketing types.  It also stems from the term 'Big Data' itself, which has magical capabilities attached to it.  That can sell consulting,  I will state it again, if we are completely honest, we should change the term used and call it Analytics.   Analytics that can now be done more efficiently for larger and more varied kinds of data.  Driven by improvements in hardware, software and connectivity.

I further like his statement, always good advice, even when talking to big consulting companies:
"Anyone who makes assertions and is unwilling to engage in a discussion or provide evidence for what they say, is probably someone who doesn't really know what they're talking about. Be very skeptical."

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.

Service Manual AR from Metaio and VW

What is growing as an application for Augmented Reality, the delivery of automobile service manuals for a concept car.   Here for technicians.  GigaOM discusses.  Here is the Metaio press release with many more details. Will this follow with more widely used manuals for other complex consumer goods?

Simpson's Paradox

I recall this coming up on some testing we did, the danger of a lurking explanatory variables.  Is very easy to have conformation bias here.   A visual of description of the paradox.  Which shows how it is important to selectively zoom out and zoom in to data.  A further case for easy interaction with your data.

Concept Maps Delivered on an iPad

Brian Moon of Perigean Technologies helped us elicit knowledge from experts in the enterprise and convert it to the form of concept maps.   He continues to work with my former colleagues to extract knowledge and transform using CMap Tools.   There is an increasing expectation that such knowledge be delivered on mobile tablet tools like the iPad.  In a conversation he informed me that this has been done is and described in the paper: Knowledge Model Viewers for the iPad and the Web

Abstract. Knowledge Models are used extensively by the concept mapping community for a variety of purposes, including  education, organizing content, and depicting expert knowledge. The CmapTools software suite automatically generates Web-based (HTML) versions of Knowledge Models when they are stored in a CmapServer. As a result, Web browsers are often the  tools used to browse Knowledge Models. However, the HTML generated by CmapTools does not take advantage of new  technologies, such as large high-resolution screens and tablets like the iPad. In this paper we present new Knowledge Model  Viewer programs for the iPad and the Web that provide an improved navigation experience. .... 

I have not tried this yet, but plan to.   Also consider using Brian's services:

Perigean Technologies specializes in Knowledge :
Capture, Retention & Transfer –
Analysis & Assessment –
Elicitation, Modeling & Engineering –
Management & Organization.

We service customers who face the potential loss of knowledge, professionals who want to accelerate the growth of knowledge and expertise, and clients who want to learn to make more profitable and effective use of what they and their customers know ...  " 

Sunday, September 29, 2013

15% Unconnected

A remarkable 15% of Americans are choosing to opt out of the Internet.   In a Computerworld article.  " ... according to a study done by the Pew Internet & American Life Project showed that 15% of Americans 18 and older don’t use the Internet or email. ... " 

Understanding the Economics of Media

Google's chief economist speaks on the media.   I can barely remember when we had chief economists in the enterprise.   " ... Hal Varian, Google’s chief economist, talked about the challenges facing the newspaper business in a recent presentation in Italy, and showed that he understands those challenges better than most media executives. ... "

Problems with Big Data Correlations

Short piece that makes good points.  Most telling: People are discontinuous.   Big Data suggests that the more data we have results in better correlations and thus better causal implications.  Not necessarily so.

Google Acquires Nets Research Company

Google acquires Neural net focused company DNNresearch.  We worked with artificial neural nets to replace some statistical techniques for shopping behavior analysis.

" ... Google acquires Toronto University startup focused on neural networks ... Researchers from the startup DNNresearch will at Google apply large-scale machine learning to a variety of domains ...   IDG News Service - Google has acquired a startup from the computer science department of the University of Toronto to get key researchers in the area of deep neural networks.

The Internet company acquired DNNresearch, which was set up last year by Professor Geoffrey Hinton and two of his graduate students, Alex Krizhevsky and Ilya Sutskever, the University of Toronto said on Tuesday. ... " 

Saturday, September 28, 2013

GePhi Open Graphics Blog

Started to follow the GePhi open graphics blog.  Its all about networks, big and small.    Free and open research software.   Examining now.  " ... Networks are everywhere: email systems, financial transaction systems and gene-protein interaction networks are just a few examples. Gephi began as a university student project four years ago and has quickly become an open source software leader in the visualization and analysis of large networks. It is an important contribution to the ecosystem of tools used by researchers and big data analysts to explore and extract value from the deluge of relational data and disseminate a better understanding for people to think about a “connected” world.  ... " 

Asking Questions to Tell a Story

Speculative.   Story-asking? ...  A post by Althouse brought this to mind.  Where she relates the game played in Tom Stoppard's play (and movie) Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead .  This reminds me of the knowledge elicitation techniques we used in expert systems development.   Can this game, or some variant of it, be used to gather knowledge?  And further, can the embedded game dynamics be used to drive a competition?

The game is driven by questions, and penalizes declarative statements.   So could the transcript of the questions then be used to gather the facts needed in a second pass.  Is this story-asking that leads to a coherent story?  Coherent knowledge. In the midst of a couple of projects that could use such a technique right now.   Like to hear your thoughts.

Story Driven Data Analysis

In the HBR blog (Registration required).  A well told story is the essence of analytics.

" ... Great analysts tell great stories based on the results of their analyses.  Stories, after all, make results user-friendly, more conducive to decision-making, and more persuasive.

But that is not the only reason to use stories.  Time and time again in our experience, stories have been more than an afterthought; they have actually enabled a more rigorous analysis of data in the first place.  Stories allow the analysts to construct a set of hypotheses and provide a map for investigating the data.

We recently worked with a department store retailer and a team of analysts looking for creative insights into customer loyalty.  Based on our work with a department store expert, we started out with a storyline, a narrative hypothesis, according to which a customer experiences different journeys through the department store over time and rewards the retailer with a certain level of loyalty. ...  "

Realities of Mind Control

In Mind Hacks:   A discussion of experiments in mind control.  All communications, and most specifically, advertising, are methods of influence.  So we are rightly worried about how easy this will be to do.   With some implications for the connection between EEG readings and thoughts or intent.  Not so precise as some would have you believe.   Good read, as are the linked papers.

Pay Attention Eye Tracking

An interesting concept .... can eye tracking software force you to pay attention during company training? Intrusive, but for some specialized applications. perhaps.   A measure of how often you look away might further measure engagement.   Introduced by Mindflash.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Tesco Plans for 3D Printing in Supermarkets

Tesco as a center for 3D printing, to compete with office services stores, as opposed to printing some of their own products?  But certainly also small parts to add to products, which may be designed to be more repairable than they are now.

" ... 3D printing could soon be seen in retail stores, allowing shoppers to order certain basic items and have them printed out on-demand, according to the IT chief of Tesco.... 

 “It’s still in its infancy, it’s been around for a few years, but it’s getting cheaper, it’s getting a little bit easier, it’s getting a little more flexible than it has been in the past,” he told V3 during an interview at the show. “I think over the next few years you will see 3D printing in shops, because for the missing hose from the vacuum printer, you can print them in the time that someone enters the store, does a bit of shopping and leaves the store. So I can definitely see that being part of the retail offering in the none too distant future. ... " 

Putting Your Data in the Vault

I am not in particular endorsing this company,  EVault,  but was struck by their posing the question of how companies should store and protect their  'Big Data'.  Is the Cloud enough?  We may only discover its value later after new analytic techniques are developed.  In my own experiences we discovered data unavailable when we finally found it needed.

Technology Hype Busting in Advertising

In Adage:  In the Advertising Age meeting, a number of sessions on how various advertising leveraged technologies are over-hyped today.   Including some that have often been mentioned here.

Tableau 8 Guide

Recently released:  Tableau 8: The Official Guide   by George Peck

 I am in the midst of a project that specifies Tableau, and searched for several obscure topics in this book, and found them in this book.   Good sign.   Have used Tableau since soon after its release.   Tableau has an increasingly complex User Interface, because it covers lots of ground.  Will follow with a review as I read further.  The book's site, with sample chapters.  I have now used the files in an accompanying  DVD as instruction support, and they work well with the right pace from introductory to advanced options.   Very good so far.

" ... Present a unified view of complex BI using the entire Tableau 8 toolkit

Create and distribute dynamic, feature-rich data visualizations and highly interactive BI dashboards—quickly and easily! Tableau 8: The Official Guide provides the hands-on instruction and best practices you need to meet your business intelligence objectives and drive better decision making. Discover how to work from the Tableau GUI, load BI from disparate sources, drag and drop to analyze data, set up custom visualizations, and build robust dashboards. This practical guide shows you, step by step, how to design and publish meaningful business communications to end users across your enterprise. ... ? 

Sales and Marketing Misalignment

In E-Commerce Times:    Something I have seen first hand , the solutions shown are simplistic, but also powerful.    " ... For CRM data to be useful, it needs context. Through real-world experience, sales knows what a qualified candidate looks like. That context must be provided to the marketing team, which can then look for leads that fit the profile. Sales needs to realize that its team members make money by selling, not by prospecting; if marketing is doing its job, sales can focus on selling.  ... "

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Mapping Tutorials for Knowledge Capture

From Biggerplate, a set of tutorials on mind mapping.  Also related, from the IHMC site: Concept Maps, their theory and how to create them.   Examining for use in a knowledge capture problem.

Review: Modeling Techniques in Predictive Analytics

Modeling Techniques in Predictive Analytics: Business Problems and Solutions with R  by Thomas W. Miller 

This book does an excellent job of defining prediction, which I have rarely found done well  in a text.  The first chapter: Analytics and Data Science, in a relatively few pages, defines both the value of visualization and the methodology for getting and verifying a prediction.  Nicely and very simply and accessibly described.   The R code for this and every chapter can be found online here.  I have yet to use or test their code, but it seems very well documented.   This book does not teach R. I did not expect it to, ... but anyone who knows coding can follow along after getting an introduction.

Following chapters address specific areas of application:  Advertising and Promotion, Preference and Choice, Market Basket Analysis, Economic Data Analysis, Operations Management, Text Analytcs, Sentiment Analysis, Sports Analytics and Spatial Analysis.  Each of these topics contain a number of foundation problems, and a book of this type cannot cover them all, but the examples used are reasonable starting examples.

I have read the introductions of several of these topics, and the explanations are well done.  Code is printed on pages. and is often long and somewhat hard to read.  I will probably follow it on the online forms.

The text is heavily footnoted.   I like that, but the having the footnotes in the text make it somewhat harder to scan, would have preferred them in the index.

The Appendix contains description of a number of R language packs to support work described in the book.  Using a language like R is all about building on the tested work of others, so this is key. Ongoing work is described, but this will be out of  date quickly.  It may have been useful to have a place for social and formal exchanges and updates.  Think of the book as a nexus for social

Overall,  is very well done,  I expect to use several of the examples for applications. I have talked to two other people that have been reading and scanning it, and they also enjoyed its approach.

" ....  Thomas W. Miller, leader of Northwestern University’s pioneering program in predictive analytics, guides you through every step: defining problems, identifying data, crafting and optimizing models, writing effective R code, interpreting results, and more.
 Each chapter focuses on one of today’s most important applications for predictive analytics, giving you the skills and knowledge to put models to work–and gain maximum value from them. ... " 

Link Rot and Permanent Hyperlinks

We juggled with link rot since the earliest days of the Internet.  As we were trying to build from existing Internet content.  You can point to anything, but that thing can go away without warning.   There is a significant part of the Internet that has disappeared.  MJ Perry on the market for permanent hyperlinks.  We examined approaches like the Internet Archive for making content accessible.  For example, here is the archive for this blog up to May 30 of this year.  He covers some new explorations in this direction to make content selectively more permanent, like Perma.cc, soon to be made generally available and free.

Big Data Training from IBM and Universities

Educational Collaboration: 
 " ... IBM is hoping to help create the next generation of "big data" specialists through a series of partnerships with universities around the world, as well as influence the curriculum.
Nine new agreements announced Wednesday involve Georgetown University, George Washington University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, the University of Missouri and Northwestern University in the U.S. IBM is also beginning big data programs at Dublin City University, Mother Teresa Women's University in India, the National University of Singapore, and the Philippines' Commission on Higher Education. ... " 

After the Design of Everyday Things

We interacted with designer Don Norman a few times, author of the ground breaking Design of Everyday Things.   This new interview in GigaOM relates well what he is up to.  Including a stealth startup about design in cooking.  A design MOOC to emerge in November.  Thoughts on alternative smartphone designs. And why skeumorphic design is being abandoned, and is that a good idea?   Will he use Google Glass?  Finally what is the most dangerous design out there?   Good reading.

Baby Name Voyager Visualization Again

Some time ago, for a problem we were working on for visualizing initiative data, we looked at the work of Martin Wattenberg.  Probably most famous is his Baby Name Voyager.  This takes social security data of the choice of baby names since the 1880s and cleverly visualizes the results into a highly interactive stacked line chart.  More technical information.  Although we did not use it for the problem at the time, it has come up again as an example for interacting with low dimension,  high volume data.  Worth taking another look, like I did.  Love to hear of other examples of its use.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

On the Small Data in Big Data

In Computing Now:  Video.  Small Data in Big DataAyse Bener, Ryerson University.   From data to knowledge, and leveraging the knowledge to decision. " ...  As data gets big and complex, there is a need for multiscale approaches in transforming data to knowledge. This transformation takes place by joining disciplines to model, analyze, learn, and extract knowledge in diverse domains from biomedicine to environment, engineering, business, software, and banking. This talk will primarily touch upon the relevance of small data in big data, the process (from dataset to the algorithm), interpreting and finding meaning to data, and algorithms to predict and cause the future events.  ... " 

Moose Mobility for CPG Sales Solutions

Spoke today with MooseMobility.  An acronym for
Mobile Out-of-Stock Ordering Sales Electronic Application.   " ... Enabling Solutions for your Mobile Sales Force ... Moose Mobility develops ‘End-to-End’ mobile solutions for use with smartphones and tablets that improve the productivity and profitability of the front line sales teams in the Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) industry.... " .  See much more detail at their site.  Contact for exposure to some very powerful mobile solutions.

Khan Academy and Bank of America

Saw a commercial for this service the other day. Financial training from the Kahn Academy sponsored by the Bank of America.  A partnership.    A nice idea.  If you have not seen or tried it, the Kahn Academy is an online repository of thousands of free video teaching segments, starting with topics like algrebra and physics.  These segments answer some basic financial questions like: What is a Mortgage? Very popular and useful. I have always wondered why other knowledge resources, like the Wikipedia, have not tried this.  Unclear how much the content from the Kahn Academy has been modified to fit the financial goals of Bank of America.

SAP Sensing Real Time Demand

Press release.  Have not examined this yet, but it is of interest. SAP was looking at this forecasting direction over a decade ago.   The question always arises:  What then is your real-time?  The claim looks fairly standard, without much about real-time: " ...  The application captures historical forecast trends, compares and mathematically blends different forecast sources with demand analytics and characterizes demand by analyzing historical forecast accuracy, bias and intermittency trends. ... " 

Improving Customer Segmentation

And the further development  of customer segmenation.

" ... Customer Segmentation Moves into the Fast Lane   ...  It is a common marketing dilemma: Companies know that targeting their customers with greater personalization and timeliness will unlock value, yet customer segmentation strategies often fail to deliver the expected ROI.

The problem is that traditional approaches to customer segmentation are fraught with difficulties. ... "

Predictive Analytic Evolution of R

Have had a number of talks with industry leader about R and its potential. At least they have heard of it now, but are still nervous about how it fits into their needs, except in the most specialized of circumstances.  And how does it interact with common software solutions they already have?  Key questions for the promotion of analytics.   Information Management explores its evolution.

" .. R, the open source programming language for statistics and graphics, has now become established in academic computing and holds significant potential for businesses struggling to fill the analytics skills gap. The software industry has picked up on this potential, and the majority of business intelligence and analytics players have added an R-oriented strategy to their portfolio. In this context, it is relevant to look at some of the problems that R addresses and some of the challenges to its adoption.... " 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Europe and MOOC

European universities start to embrace online teaching and MOOC.  " ... Several MOOC platforms have launched this year in Europe, and a consortium of open universities is offering a database of their MOOCs.  ... " 

App for Oral Health

Procter & Gamble launches an app with Oral-B that promotes oral health.   A novel use of the iPhone as sensor through its mic.  Available on the iPhone store now.  " ... “With sound recognition technology to track how long a user is brushing, a quadrant guide to ensure a user is brushing each area of the mouth sufficiently, and news, weather and oral care tips to keep users engaged throughout their brushing sessions, the Oral-B app allows for a smarter and more thorough clean,” he said. ... Brushing companion ... The app leverages the mobile device’s microphone to pick up on the sound frequency when either an Oral-B Professional or Oral-B Deep Sweep power brush is being used. ... " 

Intellectual Xchange Network

See Chris Herbert's Intellectual XChange Network, been a while since I have mentioned them.   I am a member.  As a a journalist and expert I have covered conferences for them.

" ... The Intellectual Xchange Network or IXN is comprised of a select group of professionals, who through their research, writing and relationships are subject matter experts in their fields. The IXN is sponsored by SAP.

Members of the IXN provide insights, share ideas and help their readers and listeners become better informed on how they and their companies can improve. They do this through podcasts, blog posts and webcasts (live and on-demand).

They are not paid nor are they spokespersons for SAP.

The IXN Network is managed by Chris Herbert, of Mi6 Agency and cofounder of the grassroots technology community Silicon Halton. ... " 

Tesco Does Tablets with the Hudl

Reported in the BBC: A remarkable new step, World class retailer Tesco enters the Tablet market.  They have been a long time leader in retail technology, but this is a new big turn especially since non technology retail companies, like Amazon, have said they are not making money with their tablets.  To me this was like announcing that they decided to make TVs in the 50s, before the technology was completely mature.  I guess they are pushing the envelope again.  I admire that.  Will be watching.  And a UK correspondent suggests:  ' ...  Makes sense in that the web is the modern shop window.  Tesco in UK have also provided self scan and free WiFi for sometime, so no doubt noticing device usage has sought to link both via this device. ... '

From the BBC article:

" ... But what does the arrival of the Hudl - for that is the name of the product the company is launching this morning - mean for the overall market?

What is immediately clear is that Tesco is taking its tablet very seriously. Unlike some cheap Android tablets launched by other unlikely firms - remember Next's attempt? - this looks a competitive and reasonably high-spec offering. It runs the latest version of Android, has a 1.5 GHz processor, an HD screen and expandable storage.

The 7in device looks at first sight like any other small Android tablet - the Tesco content is mostly hidden under a "T" logo at the bottom left. Tapping here takes you to services like online shopping and the Blinkbox on-demand film service, bought by Tesco a couple of years ago. ... " 

Monday, September 23, 2013

Intuit Heads to the Aisle with Aislebuyer

Late to this one, but thought I would close the books on my coverage of the in retail-buying system Aislebuyer, developed by my former colleague Andrew Paradise, and mentioned here a number of times.   It was sold this past April to Intuit. Which will give Intuit some interesting further presence in the retail aisle beyond their other POS system.   Congratulations to Andrew.

Further now Andrew has started a multiplayer gaming site called Skillz.    An article about Skillz here. And a further explanatory video.  " .... Skillz Says Real-Money Betting in Mobile Games Is Paying Off ... ".  Intriguing idea which dances around the definition of games and betting.   Will follow up on this.  Good luck Andrew.

Smart Meters and the Grid

In the WSJ:  Learning from the use of smart meters.  Very good overview of what they are and the opportunity of their inclusion in the grid system.  We participated in related brainstorming sessions at GE's Smart Grid innovation center in Atlanta.

Sponsored Content

In AdAge: How news organizations will work with sponsored content.  Sponsored content has existed for a long time.  But now it become less clear who is sponsoring the 'news'.   Even a very small operation like this blog has occasional articles sponsored by much larger groups, like IBM.   A small and unsophisticated example of what is going on.   The article provides lots of examples.

Big Companies Supporting Startups

For years I worked with startups as part of our innovation centers.   They frequently asked us for the potential of funding, support or endorsement of their ideas.   Even simply including our name in their list of clients could produce value.  We were rarely in a position to do this.  The few examples where we had were case studies of failure.  So this overview in the HBR is of interest.  But then which startup?  And engaging in potential intellectual property battles?

Lets UnBundle Bloated Big Social

Makes much sense.   Was just thinking about this effect.    Good discussion to start.  While I use Facebook primarily for family and friend communications, many are still using it for business.  I use Linkedin for that.  It's a waste of time and attention. It has a difficult time providing specific capabilities.   Of course all of the big social conglomerates want to use their people network equity for advertising and thus fund generation.  Is this the only way to solve this and unbloat big social? The introduction of new startups to split off pieces of the social pie? And there are G+ and Twitter too, which attempt to be everything services as well.

DunHumby Maps Price Sensitivity

In Research:  " ...According to new research from Dunnhumby, a consumer’s sensitivity to price greatly influences their response to advertising tactics and the channel of delivery. Justin Petty, vice-president of media solutions, explains what this might mean for marketers and decision makers.... " 

Sunday, September 22, 2013

How iPads are Transforming Retail

In TheNextWeb:  Nothing very revolutionary here.  The examples work for all tablets. Still a good reminder of the basics of what can be done.  I don't see enough about how strategic problems by management in retail can be solved using tablets.  How can management in retail use tablets creatively?   I note of interest, the last example, which is a touch of novelty for IOS7:   " ... iBeacons  ... Apple has included a feature called iBeacons within iOS 7. They enhance location services by using Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) which has been included in iOS devices since the iPhone 4S. Using BLE devices can be set up to introduce a new range of geofencing and location capabilities..... " 

Printing Food

In the NYT:   At very least the form of the food, or perhaps also adding the intermixing of flavors as well.  Another example of the rush to 3D printing.  Still appears to be an artsy and niche angle. We looked at the remote delivery of other sensory, such as aroma and flavor, but the technology was too imprecise.

Enterprise and Big Data

In Readwrite:  Well thought out piece. Have seen this same behavior in many hype cycles.  Large enterprises, who can afford it, accept the use of technologies like Big Data.  The emphasis should be on business need, but that is not sexy enough to get the attention of innovation money.   But it should.  Solve the problems, not the need for hype adoption.

Digital Marketing is Dead: Says P&G Branding Boss

Not exactly what was said, but rather that digital has just become part of the accepted mix of techniques and our creativity should focus on brand building rather than technology emphasis.

American City Business Journals/Cincy Biz Blog/Cincinnati 
"  ...  Digital marketing is now so ubiquitous it can simply be called brand building, said Marc Pritchard, global brand-building officer for Procter & Gamble. He said launching some campaigns online first is "freeing up our minds on building creative ideas that come to life through the mediums that we engage with every single day -- search, social, mobile, PR, and yes, even TV. ... " 

Reviving Artificial Intelligence at MIT

More on MIT's new center.   Is AI and its application to business back?

" ... A new interdisciplinary research center at MIT, funded by the National Science Foundation, aims at nothing less than unraveling the mystery of intelligence.

Artificial-intelligence research revives its old ambitions

The birth of artificial-intelligence research as an autonomous discipline is generally thought to have been the monthlong Dartmouth Summer Research Project on Artificial Intelligence in 1956, which convened 10 leading electrical engineers — including MIT’s Marvin Minsky and Claude Shannon — to discuss “how to make machines use language” and “form abstractions and concepts.” A decade later, impressed by rapid advances in the design of digital computers, Minsky was emboldened to declare that “within a generation ... the problem of creating ‘artificial intelligence’ will substantially be solved.” ... '

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Turning Numbers into Knowledge

Long time collaborator and colleague Jeff Camm at the University of Cincinnati is featured in this recent Lindner College of Business article.  I have been on the OBAIS board for several years.

" ... UC business analytics professor turns numbers into knowledge.

Most people don’t like listening to other people’s problems. Jeff Camm, professor and head of the Department of Operations, Business Analytics and Information Systems (OBAIS) in the Carl H. Lindner College of Business, is an exception to the rule.

Problems are his forte. Specifically when it comes to gathering and analyzing data in pursuit of solving real-world business dilemmas... " 

Advances in 3D Printing

In Techdirt:  A good overview of printing and scanning advances to support remote manufacture. Links to a number of vendors and projects underway of interest.

Social Analytics Delivered

Gib Bassett passes along an article on a purveyor of social media analytics: Infinite Analytics.
" ... a cloud-based big data startup that uses the social graph of consumers to provide personalized recommendation. They have developed SocialGenomix, a tool that merges data from major social networks to create, as they like to call it, a “segment of 1”. The objective is to provide a complete and detailed overview of the customer based on his or her complete social profile. ... " 

Big Data Strategy and Hype

Forrester on Big Data Strategy.  A useful cautionary view on the floods of hype.  " ...  Don't Have A Big Data Strategy Yet? Good. ... Big data noise has reached the point where most are reaching for the ear plugs. ... " 

Saving Barnes & Noble

Barnes & Noble continues a spiral downwards, apparently unable to link its Nooks and coffee shops to a profitable experience.  Books as experience goods and the power of samples, and some examples of bookstore experiences that strike home.  In Bloomberg.  Some ideas about serendipity and samples.

Measurement as a Path to Success

A favorite topic of mine.  Improving measurement can lead to better results, even if you don't apply advanced analytics to the measurements.  Because measurement leads to control.

 " ... Measuring Your Way to Success in Procurement and Supply Management
“Measurement is the first step that leads to control and eventually to improvement.” – H. James Harrington, CEO of the Harrington Institute.

Across the years, companies have traditionally and exclusively measured their success in terms of financial achievements. In the rapidly emerging business world it appeared the need for a much broader range of measures, in order to keep companies and organizations on track into achieving their goals. This is how the fulminating interest in dashboards, scorecards and KPIs can be explained, and Procurement and Supply Management is no different. .... "

Friday, September 20, 2013

Innovation and Science Fiction

In the Atlantic:  Inventors need to read more science fiction... "  ... MIT researchers Dan Novy and Sophia Brueckner argue that the mind-bending worlds of authors such as Philip K. Dick and Arthur C. Clarke can help us not just come up with ideas for new gadgets, but anticipate their consequences.... "  I agree in part, but inventors also need to be better connected with real industry and markets.  Pure fantasy is not enough.

Information Dashboard Design

Newly arrived to support a project:  Information Dashboard Design: Displaying Data for At-a-Glance Monitoring  by Stephen Few. I will review in the future.  Their description:

" ... Stephen Few exposes the common problems in dashboard design and describes its best practices in great detail and with a multitude of examples in this updated second edition. According to the author, dashboards have become a popular means to present critical information at a glance, yet few do so effectively. He purports that when designed well, dashboards engage the power of visual perception to communicate a dense collection of information efficiently and with exceptional clarity and that visual design skills that address the unique challenges of dashboards are not intuitive but rather learned. The book not only teaches how to design dashboards but also gives a deep understanding of the concepts—rooted in brain science—that explain the why behind the how. This revised edition offers six new chapters with sections that focus on fundamental considerations while assessing requirements, in-depth instruction in the design of bullet graphs and sparklines, and critical steps to follow during the design process. Examples of graphics and dashboards have been updated throughout, including additional samples of well-designed dashboards. ... "

Business Technology Strategy Template

Well thought out template for business technology strategy from Forrester Blogs.  " .... What is it that almost every organization believes it needs, many organizations have, and few organizations use? The answer is an IT strategy.  ... "

At first I thought the template was free, but it is not.  Just reading the justification for it is worth the click.

Augmented Pixels

Recently brought to my attention this augmented reality delivery company: Augmented Pixels  (Formerly AR3D )  For advertising, sales and entertainment implementations.  With development offices in the Ukraine and Russia.   Their Blog.  An interesting interview with their CEO in Forbes USA on augmented reality.  A library of over 100 use cases developed using AR.  I found this latter slide share very intriguing for use with potential customers in the space.

National Identity By Smartphone

The curious observation that national identity varies by phone type.  And the Asymco article and supporting data and visualizations.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Tibco Spotfire Acquires Extended Results

TIBCO Software Acquires Extended Results
TIBCO Software Inc. (NASDAQ: TIBX) today announced it has acquired Extended Results, a privately-held provider of mobile business intelligence software and services. Extended Results makes business intelligence personal by presenting up-to-date key performance indicators on virtually any mobile device, whether online or offline.

Extended Results' operational monitoring capabilities are a powerful complement to TIBCO Spotfire® as well as to TIBCO's event-enabled infrastructure, cloud, loyalty and social software platforms..... 

Fewer Skeuomorphs

Brought to mind after loading the new flat design IOS7, which contains fewer skeuomorphs.  Which are:

  A skeuomorph /ˈskjuːəmɔrf/ is a derivative object that retains ornamental design cues to structures that were necessary in the original.[1] Examples include potteryembellished with imitation rivets reminiscent of similar pots made of metal[2] and a software calendar that imitates the appearance of a binding on a paper desk calendar.[3]  ....     http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skeuomorph

An unexpected example is the woodie clad stationwagon at the right from the WP:

Getting Millennials to Love and Share your Product

In Adage:  " ... How to Get Millennials to Love and Share Your Product ... This Generation Wants to Be Engaged and Feel Good About Themselves ... "

Rescuing Infographics or Making them right

Readers here know my impatience with what are called infographics.  More set up to look graphically impressive and clever than to inform.  I don't think they can be rescued in their current form.  Do give me a clutterless line chart when it truly informs.  This article looks at efforts in the 40s that were meant to do both.  " ... I think one of the key missing pieces is analytics. Most of today's infographics seemingly are a result of treating data as flowers to be arranged. There is little analytical thinking behind what the data mean. Incidentally, that is why the new NYU certificate is not called Certificate in Data Visualization--we wanted to emphasize the importance of analytics next to datavis. ... "  I believe that all data visualization should be the base form of analytics ... if it can't be used for that, it is wrong.

On the Millennial Consumer

In Time:  More intent on Browsing than on Splurging?

" ... The millennial generation is easily the most studied demographic since their parents, the Baby Boomers. This is not only because Americans are always fascinated by youth culture, and that millennials are growing up during a period when technology and economic forces are changing rapidly, but also because—to put it bluntly—Gen Y represents big bucks. Roughly 80 million American millennials spend $600 billion annually, and by 2020, it’s expected this generation’s spending will hit $1.4 trillion per year, or about 30% of all retail sales....

America's 80 million millennial consumers are on track to account for about 30% of all retail sales by 2020, but the group can be a tricky demographic when it comes to figuring out what they'll choose to spend on, according to recent studies. Gen Y consumers love to shop but make fewer purchases than their older counterparts, according to NPD Group, in part because they love a bargain and in part because many of them have less money.... " 

Long Range Strategic Planning

In HBS Working Knowledge:  A quick look at long range strategic planning. I say that regardless if the work is not predictive, the path to achieving it is still of value.    " ... How Relevant is Long-Range Strategic Planning? ... If competitive advantage is no longer sustainable, then what? Jim Heskett examines the latest thinking from Rita McGrath, who attacks aging strategies for long-range planning. What do YOU think? ... "

Branded Google Glass Apps

Presenting Branded Google Glass Apps.  Another move forward?  " ... Google Glass may have just 10,000 users, but that hasn't stopped a handful of brands from developing apps -- or "Glassware," in Google speak -- for the wearable computer.

Advertising is banned from Google Glass apps, per the terms of service for the Google Mirror API that lets developers build experiences for the device, but that prohibition doesn't extend to branded apps.

A cross-section of brands are now dabbling in Glass, starting with the usual suspects. During the Google I/O developer conference in May, a big batch of "Glassware" from tech companies like Facebook and Evernote and media entities like Elle and CNN was introduced. ... "

Office Design

Over the years have been involved in looking at office design.  Sometimes leading with advanced tech design, sometimes not.  Today, for the first time for a while, I was in a pretty standard box cubicle office.  Little boxes in a larger box.  Boring but, neat and functional.  No distractions. Not even much decoration by the inhabitants.  Then I happened on Awesome Google Offices Around the World.   Very impressive, very fun, but does this really make a difference?  For creativity or for just plain work? Could a controlled experiment be done to show a value?   Or will offices even continue to be relevant?  Or ....

" ... Imagine working in an office that looks like a spaceship, or perhaps one that’s part rainforest. Just think of the ideas you could come up with while lying in a bathtub filled with foam, staring at dreamy-looking fish tanks. It may sound too good to be true, but for Google employees around the world, imaginative and unusual designer workspaces are a daily reality. ... " 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

P&G and Predictive Analytics

Nice example of the use of Predictive analytics by my alma mater.   " ... By converting to a smart building system that uses predictive analytics to detect building performance abnormalities before they occur, we not only achieved energy savings in our corporate real estate portfolio, but we also improved building equipment reliability and the physical comfort of our employees," says Larry Bridge, Global Facilities and Real Estate Governance manager at P&G. "This pilot program confirmed that by using IntelliCommand, we can significantly improve the productivity of our buildings and employees. ... "

Y&R Says Consumers Lie

Not unexpected, but the details are impressive.  Full presentation.

" Secrets & Lies” Study from Y&R Reveals
the Hidden Side of Global Consumers 
A New Consumer Mainstream Emerges – “Generation World”

NEW YORK, NY September 18 -- Are consumers hiding their most important desires and motivations from marketers – and maybe even from themselves? That’s the key question explored in “Secrets & Lies,” a new global research study from Young & Rubicam. ... "

Who Wins in the New Economy

In Small Business Labs by Steve King

Outlines Who may  win in the new economy.
Noted economist Tyler Cowen's Who Will Prosper in the New World discusses what type of people he thinks will win and lose in the new economy.  He defines this new economic order as "the machine economy", which he describes as a world where increasingly intelligent machines take over more work and life tasks. ... " 

Sensors as Teenagers

In the Cisco Blog:  An excellent piece by Bill Franks of Teradata.  See his book I reviewed here: Taming the Big Data Tidal Wave.  About the Internet of the things and how it will operate, and about the information it will generate.   Some excellent points, good read.  " ... The primary issue for you to consider isn’t the way that our things will communicate directly to us the important facts they find. Rather, it is how they will communicate to each other as they identify those important facts. The connected things may very well end up being much more like a gaggle of teenagers than anything else. By that, I mean that they may chatter on incessantly about topics that few others find remotely interesting or important. Just as we grownups filter out the giggling teens at the mall, we will also have to filter out much of the chatter generated by our things. ... " 

Tracking Things

Received several offers about the Tile App.  A little tag you can put on things and then track and locate with your smart phone.   About $20 each.  Available by end of year. Track the usual things like computers and luggage.  At first I thought this would track at any distance,  like a GPS beacon, but you have to be within a few hundred feet of devices that are close to their phone network, which is not extensive yet.   Now the general tracking would be very interesting.  Imagine it placed in a car surreptitiously.   Or in someone's pocket?  I worked with a company that was doing this kind of work with elements of the supply chain:  Track America.  Their system dialed the telephone network periodically to report location. Consumerizing this at a low cost would have interesting privacy implications.

Monitoring the Future of Cloud Computing

Recorded Future uses their novel Web semantic analysis methods to look at the future of Cloud computing.  Visually answering questions like: " ... As businesses continue to modernize, technological innovation accelerates. Cloud computing is a relatively new trend in this modernization which has been growing swiftly since its inception in 2007. Companies such as Amazon and Google are front-runners in cloud computing platforms, but what other companies are innovating in the field? ... " 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Nestle Uses Photo App

In Mobile Marketer: A cute use of photo-taking in a smartphone to build brands.  A simple but a potentially useful idea.  Will it usefully engage?   Who will download it without real value?   Have the motivations been mapped.  " ... Nestlé is tapping into the hot mobile photo-sharing market with an application for Nesquik that makes the photo upload process more interactive. .... The chocolate milk brand has rolled out a new app called Bunny-fier that uses a device’s built-in camera to let consumers upload and share photos. The brand has a significant opportunity to hook consumers, but may find it challenging to persuade consumers to download it without additional features.... " 

Your E-ZPasses are Not Just Read At Tollbooths

In Forbes:  Are privacy conditions implied to just occur at locations where we expect a device to read our location?   This is probably disclosed somewhere deep in the signed agreement with E-ZPass tollbooth charging system.   A Hacker determines the truth.

Hands Free Car Manual on Google Glass

Metaio's press release on their prototype augmented reality car manual, mentioned here before.    I note that this was precisely the area we explored, using 3D location to be able to do machine maintenance, by overlaying diagrams and physical spaces.   I think there are lots of opportunity in industry.   Includes a video of use at the link.

" ... The hands-free interactive car manual prototype developed by Metaio will be the first time that augmented reality on wearable computing will be shown to be productive and commercially viable.

Metaio R&D developed this new prototype as a proof-of-concept of the capabilities of its AR platform on wearable devices. A new type of 3-D tracking and recognition technology engineered by Metaio utilizes CAD models to recognize and overlay 3-D content onto the real world counterpart. Since no markers, GPS or point clouds are required, the stability of the augmented reality experience increases dramatically, while remaining almost immune to variable lighting, glare, position, and other environmental factors that tend to interfere with vision-based experiences ... " 

Why Private Brands Fail

In MypBrands: Why private brands fail.  " ... Most brands fail. In fact, some estimate that 70-80% of new brands launched each year flounder and eventually flop. But do Private Brands fail? Do they follow the same sobering failure rate as other brands?... 

Private Brands fail differently than manufacturer brands. And because of this, tracking failure isn’t as obvious. Failure is not a word often used in reference to Private Brands, and yet there are clear ways retailer owned brands can fail in today’s marketplace. To become better brand builders, launchers and managers, we must become students of why Private Brands fail. ... " 

Value of Your Big Data and Packaging it

What is the value of your big data?  Have talked to two startups recently that are addressing that. The promise of big data is to be able to leverage your own data with analytics, but also package and sell it for the use of others.  That packaging could include analytical preparation. Using something as simple as focused visualization for an industry.   More in ClickZ about the value angle.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Prosperity Institute

The Prosperity Institute, out of the Rottman School at the University of Toronto.  Via  Roger Martin.  I like the interesting geographic focus.  " ... The Lloyd & Delphine Martin Prosperity Institute is the world’s leading think-tank on the role of sub-national factors – location, place and city-regions – in global economic prosperity.We take an integrated view of prosperity, looking beyond economic measures to include the importance of quality of place and the development of people’s creative potential.  ... " 

VisiRule: Sharable Know-How

I am repeating part of a post from last year below, based on my reexamination of expert systems style applications:

" ... expert systems to understand and improve complex business processes.  I mentioned a package called Visirule in this blog a number of times.   Also outlined some of our enterprise experience with expert systems in the 80s. These systems were used for years to make our processes more efficient.   Visirule and other offerings of their company LPA deserves a look.  See also a detailed powerpoint presentation on how it works.  An article on the visualization of process logic.   And another related example article.

I think it is time for the use of Expert systems, combined with quantitative analytics and the availability of increasing amount of available data,  to lead to better business solutions ...

" ... VisiRule can help you build rules-based systems to model and automate decision-making processes. The business logic is identified and represented as a sequence of familiar graphical icons and links. The underlying logic-based inference engines help ensure a high degree of compliance and accuracy. This makes VisiRule ideal for building regulatory compliance systems, financial decision-making systems, and validation systems.

Shareable Know-How
The expertise and 'know-how' captured in a VisiRule chart is immediately shareable with colleagues and collaborators. VisiRule charts can be exported in industry standard formats, there is no need for internal or external reviewers to buy or install any additional software. All the relevant logic and business rules underpinning business decisions is immediately visible within a chart in a simple and coherent manner. This helps people work collaboratively and improves group productivity without increasing costs. ...  "

Tiny Robotic Recon Drones in Industry

The grist of many a science fiction story, tiny flying robot drone that can capture information.  Studied these for information capture tasks in remote plant and warehouse locations. While that was fantasy just a few years ago, its much closer now.  Military and law enforcement applications lead, but there are credible industrial applications too.  Another source for more data, and driving that data for better analytics.   Reuters article on the topic.

Apple Indoor GPS System

A general description, and praise for their indoor location system plan.  I was heavily involved in these kinds of approaches for retail use and tested several in our labs.   Though have not yet closely looked at this plan. " ... Why Apple's 'indoor GPS' plan is brilliant ... Apple's iBeacons system will enable purchases, contextual marketing, automated check-ins and much more. And it's closer than you think ... " 

When Core Values are Strategic

Received via the P&G Alumni Network, to be read, their description below.

When Core Values Are Strategic: How the Basic Values of Procter & Gamble Transformed Leadership at Fortune 500 Companies Hardcover by Rick Tocquigny

" ... What do legendary leaders from Disney, GE, GM, Johnson & Johnson, Boeing, eBay, Microsoft, Time Warner, LensCrafters, Chiquita, Walmart, Pepsi, and Saatchi+Saatchi have in common? They all learned the critical importance of core values as managers at Procter & Gamble. Many of these leaders have remained members of the P&G Alumni Network and now you can share in their powerful lessons learned with The P&G Alumni Network's When Core Values Are Strategic. 

This practical resource for emerging leaders offers no-nonsense insights into why values really are so important, and identifies practical ways to propagate, strengthen, and act on them. Bringing together contributions from influential P&G alumni worldwide, it offers a legacy to future leaders across organizations of every type and size. 

Discover why core values are timely, universal, and the secret to long term success and learn how top executives were shaped at P&G to make historic change in energy, aviation, technology, government, transportation, entertainment, healthcare, consumer packaged goods, and other industries. Find out how to build a learning culture that increases shareholder value, see why values and marketing initiatives are inseparable, and much more.... " 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Retailers and Private Label Packaging

In Foodprocessing: " ... As retailers put more emphasis on private-label products, they are relying on packaging that sets their merchandise apart, instead of mimicking national brands. Target, for example, has created an identity for its Simply Balanced brand that uses whimsical photography, clean lines and nutrition information ... " 

Food Inflation in US

A piece by MJ Perry on Food Inflation and Prices in the US.  Inflation in food has been down considerably since the 70s.  Further instructive statistics about food as a portion of expenditure.

Army Visualization

The US army / SAIC is using Tableau for Data visualization.   This appears to be a descriptive visualization, as  opposed to an analytic example " ... "We have all this equipment that has accumulated over all those operations and they're sitting over in Afghanistan and we're coming out," said Driessnack, who was speaking at the Tableau Customer Conference in National Harbor, Md., on Monday.  Tableau Software specializes in making data digestible through visualization systems, and works with both the private and public sectors. An example of SAIC’s visualization program is a map that shows how many Army ambulances are at locations around the globe ... " 

Project10X: Semantic Research

Brought to my attention. Semantic analysis work is always of interest.  " .... Mills Davis is founder and managing director of Project10X — a research consultancy specializing in next wave semantic technologies and solutions. The firm’s clients include technology manufacturers, global 2000 corporations, and government agencies. .... " 

Saturday, September 14, 2013

GEPhi Graph Visualization for Exploratory Data Analysis

This method was brought to my attention my a colleague.  We had looked at it some time ago and it has come back as a possible exploratory solution.

The Open Graph Viz Platform
" ... Gephi is an interactive visualization and exploration platform for all kinds of networks and complex systems, dynamic and hierarchical graphs .... 

Runs on Windows, Linux and Mac OS X. Gephi is open-source and free.

Gephi is a tool for people that have to explore and understand graphs. Like Photoshop but for data, the user interacts with the representation, manipulate the structures, shapes and colors to reveal hidden properties. The goal is to help data analysts to make hypothesis, intuitively discover patterns, isolate structure singularities or faults during data sourcing. It is a complementary tool to traditional statistics, as visual thinking with interactive interfaces is now recognized to facilitate reasoning. This is a software for Exploratory Data Analysis, a paradigm appeared in the Visual Analytics field of research.... " 

On the Movement of Queues

In Mind Hacks:  Why the other line in a queueing situation always moves faster than yours.  A good example of how perception beats out rational thought.  In my early days we worked on many industrial simulation problems that deal with this perception.  I note that this perception problem has been covered with a number of links in this blog.

Portfolio as Innovation Dashboard

In Innovation Excellence:  We used exactly this approach in the enterprise new product development world.  Its very useful if you have many competing efforts: " ...As I’ve written before, the portfolio is the pivotal tool for innovation. It provides the link to corporate strategy; ensures the desired balance across different innovation horizons; enables and communicates priorities; and with the appropriate communication it reports progress towards innovation goals. It is this final point that I would now like to explore. ... " 

Smarter Cashless Vending Machines

Cashless Vending machines are now smarter. We examined machines like this in Japan that could adapt to supply chain and demand problems.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Engaging Social and Mobile Consumers

In the coming weeks I will be passing along some of the excellent work by correspondent Phil Hendrix.  

Three-part Series on Engaging Social and Mobile Consumers  (link to download ZIP file with most recent reports)

Philip E. Hendrix, Ph.D. Director, immr and GigaOm Research analyst
phil.hendrix@immr.org  |  770.612.1488 (O)  | 678.294.8017 (M)  |  www.immr.org | Twitter: www.twitter.com/phil_hendrix

Big Data and IBM

Not unexpected view and direction by IBM.  Riding the hype wave, with their own considerable analytics resources.  Those put together can provide a formidable capability:

" ... IBM wants to help IT managers apply company policies to their big data analysis projects. The company will be introducing new products and features to help organizations manage their new big data systems with the same rigor that they manage other IT operations, said Bob Picciano, general manager of IBM information management. .... 

IBM will add new features to its InfoSphere line of information integration and management software. It has also announced the general release of PureData System for Hadoop, a system configured for running Hadoop workloads.... " 


SAP buys a fairly well known predictive analytics company, KXEN.   Have followed SAP in the past with its other related acquisitions, like Khimetrics in 2005.   Historically it has taken a long time to integrate these companies into its offerings.

Remembering Douglas Engelbart

Ted Talks on his visionary work.

" ... One of the pioneers of the Internet and graphic user interfaces, Engelbart is perhaps best known for inventing the computer mouse. Above, watch him lead what’s been described as the “mother of all demos” in 1968, when he showed off that first mouse and demonstrated how to “jump to a link” using it.

Engelbart was one of those people who imagined the possibility of the Internet as a place where people could work together and push humanity forward. He was ahead of his time not only in what he invented, but in how he thought about the process of creation. Digital collaboration, crowdsourcing, group innovation — these are concepts Engelbart championed 60 years ago that are still relevant (yet, importantly, not a matter of course) today. ... " 

More about my own interaction with Douglas Engelbart.

The Influence of Showrooming

Lots of fears regarding the influence of 'showrooming' in driving place of purchase ...

" ... But a study released Thursday from Columbia Business School and loyalty management firm Aimia aims to “bust” what it calls “myths” surrounding showrooming.

The researchers surveyed 3,000 consumers in the U.S, the U.K and Canada and found that while a majority of shoppers said they are guilty of showrooming, mobile phones can actually improve the odds of an in-store purchase. ... " 

GigaOM Reports.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Macy's Using Data and Showing Restraint

From the D2 Conference in Cincinnati via AdAdge:   " ... Macy's sees plenty of value in data-driven marketing and believes consumers should hear more from marketers about the benefits. But that doesn't mean the retailer will be secretly tracking shoppers by their mobile phone signals and linking the data with their transactions and home addresses.

Julie Bernard, senior VP-customer strategy, marketing and advertising of Macy's Julie Bernard, senior VP-customer strategy, marketing and advertising of Macy's Speaking at the D2 Digital Dialogue conference in Cincinnati Sept. 11, Julie Bernard, the retailer's senior VP-customer strategy, said marketers should speak up more often and forcefully to defend data use and counter negative media coverage. But she said they also need to show restraint. ... " 

Instant Entrepreneurship

From the Front End of Innovation: Is Instant Entrepreneurship the future?  More importantly, what precisely is it?   Was the first I head of it:

Interview with  Shelby Lee Walsh, Shelby is President at TrendHunter:

" ... This is the notion that making a business to serve a growing niche is becoming easier and easier as a bunch of products and services are being launched to help connected like-minded people with a single click (not to mention that it's easeier to fund these ventures with online platforms such as Kickstarter and RocketHub).  The digital age has revolutionized the accessibility of starting your own business and competing with big brands. .... "

Ahalogy for Content Marketing

Brought to my attention, formerly Pingage, now Ahalogy.  Previously I wrote about Pingage.

" ... We're building Ahalogy (formerly Pingage) to solve one simple problem: making content marketing as easy and effective as possible. That's it.

We started developing the Ahalogy technology as internal tools to improve the marketing of one of our previous startups, but once we showed other companies what we were building, we soon learned just how common—and dire—this need was for other brands. So in October 2012 we founded Ahalogy to fix content marketing for brands across industries and around the world.

Along the way Ahalogy has become a fast-growing startup backed by incredible investors. We call Cincinnati home, with more brand marketers than any other city in the world, and with a second office in New York focusing on agency and media partnerships.... " 

Linking Small Business to Innovation

In Innovation Excellence:  How can small business spot innovation and connect to it?  " ... Our businesses evolve and go through so many changes on a regular basis. How do we know what ideas to stick with and which to move on from? Is it possible that we’re staring innovation in the face and we don’t even know it? Despite today’s turbulent economy and ever-changing technology, consider how your business can stop and smell the roses in an attempt to cultivate innovation in your company’s culture. ... " 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Managing Customer Experience

An impressive writeup about how companies like McDonald's are attempting to manage customer experience.  Can it really be optimized, as they say, when people are involved?

" ... McDonald's customer experience management (CEM) is a good example of what companies can strive to achieve. SAS Customer Intelligence expert John Bala says McDonald's special sauce, so to speak, is that the customer experience is always at the center of its business, and the company keeps it there using an analytically-driven optimization process.... " 

" ... "Preference research, consisting of both qualitative and quantitative studies, can help organizations gain insights on customer shopping, pricing, product usage, and service support preferences," KPMG suggests.
"This critical first step is not about creating a new segmentation scheme." Instead, the focus needs to be on a number of of customer-centric variables, such as gaining insights regarding (1) how prospects hear about new products; (2) the factors that influence where they shop and for what; (3) onboarding needs and expectations when prospects turn into customers; (4) how customers and prospects like to get help when issues arise; and (5) the perceived value at specific price points, and how these relate to market trends and competitive offerings ... "

The Nature of Book Reviews Here

I review books here from time to time.  If you have a book that has anything to do with the content subjects seen here, and want to have it reviewed, contact me in the comments to send me a copy.

What I usually do is post something immediately as 'just received', without critical comment.  Then follow with a more detailed review when I have read it.  At your request I can also post that review or part of it on Amazon books. I may be critical, but do not condemn anything.  I control all editorial content.

These reviews are often followed with links to my other networks, like Twitter and Google Plus, and are seen by thousands of people.   If I think the content is of particular value I will make sure key connections see the review by personal message.  This is free marketing to influential decision makers in business and academia.

I can also pre-review a book in process.   This can range from providing a look at a concept, outline or first draft, to full analyses.   Sometimes free,  but depending on the work involved, contractually.

Limits of Fingerprint Security

The reported inclusion of fingerprint authentication in new iPhones means we will see this approach being used commonly.  It is very convenient, but has its limitations.  Bruce Schneier, security expert provides details about the issues with its use.   Most importantly: " ... Biometric systems are seductive, but the reality isn't that simple. They have complicated security properties. For example, they are not keys. Your fingerprint isn't a secret; you leave it everywhere you touch. ... " 

Cerf On the Age of Context

Vint Cerf interview on the Age of context.  His role as evangelist at at Google, and how the times are changing to adapt in a connected world.    " ... “I think it’s attractive to have this certain fantasy that the virtual world that we live in is somehow hovering over the real world and isn’t connected to it. But the fact of the matter is that the way we create that virtual world is with pieces of equipment, hardware and software that exist in the real world. So we realize the virtual world in various geographic locations. So there is certain inescapable jurisdiction associated with that. ... " 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

L'Oreal and E-Commerce

In AdAge CMO Strategy  What looks to be a rational way to think about e-commerce, as opposed to pure hype.    Contains detail about what L'Oreal and competitors are doing in e-commerce.

"L'Oreal Attacks Fast-Growing E-Commerce Space

New Business Models Are Intended to Boost Sales, Nurture Loyalty and Gather Data for the After years of boosting spending on digital media, L'Oréal is now looking for more direct payback with a bigger and multifront focus on e-commerce .... " 

McKinsey is Bullish on Digital

McKinsey provides a broad report from a survey and much statistics on the topic.

"Bullish on digital: McKinsey Global Survey results

CEOs and other senior executives are increasingly engaged as their companies step up efforts to build digital enterprises. ... 

... They report, for example, that their companies are using digital technology more and more to engage with customers and reach them through new channels. What’s more, growing shares report that their companies are making digital marketing and customer engagement a high strategic priority. Nevertheless, there is more work to do: most executives estimate that at best, their companies are one-quarter of the way toward realizing the end-state vision for their digital programs.... " 

Interview on Big Data and Analytics for MidMarket

Friend Paul Gillin runs a Big Data Google Plus Hangout on the use of Big Data methods for Midmarket and beyond.  The 37 minute stream brings together current users of these ideas.    As a practitioner myself it has always been intriguing to see how this is now playing out at all levels of use.  In the past it was companies like Procter & Gamble and IBM, who could make these solutions work, now the possibilities have increased considerably.

The interview brings together three practitioners  of the use of analytics for improving business. Two areas of often mid market applications are discussed.  Biometric data in hospitals and marketing data to improve sales operations.

I mostly deal with is commonly called advanced analytics, so it was good to see the examples discussed here that use relatively simple, often just visual methods to get to solutions.   And emphasize the understanding of how companies make decisions.   Again I emphasize starting with the most simple methods.

Another topic discussed was how the Internet of Things is starting to create large amounts of data, in particular in health systems, and leading to big and complex data to be mined and leveraged.  In the case of hospital systems, the Internet of Things can include patients, monitors and diagnostic devices and a complex array of data types including imagery and quantitative measures.   Part of this system would be unstructured data such as text, such as doctor's observations that need to be assembled and attached to more structural data.

Once the data has been captured and simply presented  you can start to consider specific mining techniques to look for deeper points of value.  Every business has value opportunities.

In the final part emphasis is made of getting away from the need for data specialists.   Instead using tailored systems for particular industries, and then selling the analysis as a service.  Even suggesting that intelligence systems like Watson could drive the analysis,

Good piece to listen to to see what is happening in the field today that is important to the small and mid market company.  With pointers to the future.    This blog also covers the topic.

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.  #MidsizeIBM