Posted by: pauditore | March 26, 2013

Understanding Your Data Sphere: Is Big Data Big Brother?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe age of analytics has arrived.  Now nearly everything you do online and even offline in your daily life is out there and in many cases easily harvested for analysis by nearly any company or organization. And thanks to smart phones and tablets you can be tracked and monitored virtually everywhere. You can be stalked more easily than ever by predators that want your credit and identity or those that have nefarious desires. The good news is they also leave a digital trail. For years retailers have attempted to track our credit card spending, but they still don’t know how to use and leverage the data. In other words, “they still don’t know who we are.” But the age of Internet and now the advent of rich social media peer groups and the modern era of mobile computing  has changed all of that.

Big brother is here now in the form of big data, which is collected in many ways but primarily by search engines, algorithms and sophisticated bots that now watch everything you do online. And that includes all mobile interactions now captured by the telecommunications companies, and by all those applications on your smart phone.

The authorities can now subpoena your phone records, FaceBook, Twitter and LinkedIn interactions. We all love our applications and information, but in the age of big data and analytics all is not necessarily good. Let’s take a look at your digital exhaust and what is obvious in our environments and all the data points that are now collected about your behavior on and offline.

Big Data and Your Data Sphere

  • FICO Scores
  • Purchasing data collected a time of purchase
  • HIPPA and health records
  • Gun back ground checks
  • Videos in your neighborhood:
    • City police surveillance
    • Business surveillance
    • Intersection red light monitoring
    • Personal home surveillance videos
    • ATMs.
    • YouTube
    • Smart Phone Applications that track your location (Lunch Box for example)
    • Yelp (every review you complete leaves a track record)
    • TripAdvisor (the same as Yelp and now they now what hotels you frequent.)
    • Flickr (every photo here is everyone’s)
    • Google, Bing, Yahoo searches (they know all your search patterns)
    • Twitter (you are what you tweet)
    • FaceBook friends (this is the next realm in geo-political insights)
    • LinkedIn connections (profiles nearly all your business connections)
    • Social media enabled traditional journalism (every comment you make on any story is archived and reveals your politics and position on the news.
    • Your blog

Is Google Big Brother?

Yes and no. Google is archiving tremendous masses of data directly related to what you search for and knows more about you than your family and friends. Just imagine the view from the Google nest, they know so much about what is going on all over the world just from searches and search phases that it is down right scary. Think about the implications of this in business and in the geo-political landscape. They are in an amazing position and at this time can probably predict sales of any product or service on nearly a global basis.

Net/Net: This new era of big data and analytics is now hitting like an earthquake, and the seismic wave of data is traveling at Internet speed globally will not be good for all. It won’t be long before Insurance companies will use predictive analysis on your behavior and genome before they decide you are a good risk. This is already happening in financial services where they are conducting serious risk analysis scenarios on their customer base. The problem is they don’t make the effort to invest in enterprise risk analysis on their own investments and business initiatives. When they fail we pay for it as we have witnessed during our great recession, or what Ram Charan calls “a global economic restructuring.” Until next time I wish you great marketing and selling in this millennium.

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Posted by: pauditore | March 22, 2013

Social Media Anthropology & the Social Mind

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Social media networking is dynamically changing the face of human interaction and communications globally. The emergence of new social behaviors and interrelationships between individuals, organizations, thought leaders and influencers are evolving in new and previously unforeseen ways primarily because of social media networks and peer groups. This paradigm shift is a major communications innovation in all markets, which is radically changing the way people and organizations engage and behave online. There is also a strong link between social networking and what might be called “a new global anthropology” that is developing because of these new behaviors, interactions and interrelationships between cultures enabled through social media.

Over the past four years Don Bulmer, Vanessa DiMauro and myself, all Society for New Communications Research fellows, have embarked on a series of research studies to understand this new and evolving communications platform and its impact on social communications and influence.

The New Symbiosis of Professional Networks

The findings predictions from our most notable study, the New Symbiosis of Professional Networks research conducted four years ago, (2009), identified what we called a Social Media Peer Group, (SMPG) this is essentially a Web 2.0 community of interest around a specific topic and/or business in the course of this treatise we will refer to them as Social Media Networks (SMNs).  SMNs, are not always groups of peers, but are enabled by the new social media human computer interfaces and platforms that facilitate easier information sharing and collaboration. And the second New Symbiosis of Professional Networks study (2010) honed in on the changing role of the online influencer and formatively noted the rise of the “crescendo effect” where content creation and curation was being used as credibility builder in online environments.

The Social Mind

The Social Mind research project was designed to explore and understand interrelationships of global communications and how they impact the consumption of information across social media channels and influence flow. Social Mind findings will enable B2B, B2P, B2C or cause marketers to understand the importance and relevance of content – and – its ultimate impact and influence on behaviors, beliefs, decisions and actions. The Social Mind identifies key characteristics and insights into the engagement behaviors of influencers and individuals, and how organizations can maximize reach and influence to execute on what we call the new Principals of Engagement in the Millennium.

We surveyed more than 400 mostly professional and highly educated people in North America who actively participate in social media networks. And nearly 50% regularly create content through blogging, the other half engage and share/create content in social media networks.

Our findings show that social media networks have evolved into trusted expert networks that are testing the trust that people have in more traditional news and information sources. This is a huge shift in information and influence flow as nearly 65% of the sample base indicated that SMNs and professional networks are more trust worthy than traditional news and information aggregators (again remember that these are highly educated individuals.)

We found a significant shift in information flow:

  • The role of the expert is rising in importance on the social sphere
  • And the need for expert content is high among content consumers
  • Journalists are no longer considered authoritative sources, and traditional media is just a leader to let people know what they need to self-educate about on their own
  • Instead, content consumers find greater value in curated content from experts in order to discover the information they need

We found that professionals spend approximately 40% of their time online interacting in professional networks closely followed by friends (31%) and then family at (13%.)

  • Twitter and blogs are equally important as the company or organizational website which ranked 2nd in importance to Twitter. This in contrast to research from just three years ago where a majority of respondents indicated that websites were the most important source for information, followed in close second by social media channels.
  • Twitter emerged as the most important social network for professional interaction.
  • Facebook was the friend network.
  • Email was indicated and the preferred channel network for family.

Summary

The Social Mind research study clearly defines the characteristics and behavior of social media influencers within social media networks that impact the brand, reputation and potentially the sale of products. Organizations that are social media savvy will and are recognizing the value and enhancements that can be derived in the areas of customer service, CRM and customer experience through social media networks. This is becoming a significant competitive advantage for many companies and organizations as social media networks evolve and grow globally.

In a 2012 survey I conducted on the use of social media and business intelligence tools, I found that 50% of 700 companies in North American and Europe indicated they are monitoring open SMNs. And only 30% of those organizations are currently monitoring proprietary social media networks (SMNs), which means they have yet to build their own social media network. Most importantly, 75% of the overall sample base are not collecting data from proprietary and/or open social media networks. If you are in CRM this is where the gold is.

I also asked about business functions and to no surprise they align with the findings of the Social Mind, as business is monitoring experts and social media influencers.

Sales/marketing, PR-Communications and customer service are the top business functions employing SMN data monitoring, collection and business intelligence analysis.

Top Business Initiatives Supported

  1. Brand-Reputation Management
  2. Marketing Communications
  3. Customer Service
  4. Customer Experience Management
  5. Sales
  6. CRM

Top Metrics Employed

  1. Customer Satisfaction
  2. Overall Buzz
  3. Brand Experience
  4. Advertising Campaign Performance

In their blogs Vanessa and Don report on the insight gained in the Social Mind around expert communities and their educational aspects along with the characteristics of social media influencers. Until next time I wish you great selling and marketing in the millennium.

Posted by: pauditore | March 22, 2013

The Decade of the Social Predator Has Arrived

predator

You can’t see me but I am hidden here in the social media jungle. New weapons and mobile devices now allow me to relentlessly attack your customer experience and rip apart your brand if I decide. If you think you can get away with shabby products and services think again. I can focus directly on your weaknesses and expose them for all to see. It doesn’t matter if it’s your product or service, if I don’t have a good experience I will magnify it for all to see in your ecosystem. If you wow me and my experience is wonderful all will know, and in fact 80% of my Yelps last year were positive. But I have moved to a taller tree with a bigger swamp this year because there will be more and more brands in the swamp that don’t meet my expectations.

You can’t escape my arsenal of apps now on multiple mobile devices. I can find you anywhere. It doesn’t matter what business you are: auto repair, surgeon, dentist, restaurant, bar, hotel or piercing parlor. You don’t own your brand anymore, I do. You will feel me but never know it until business drops into the abyss.

 

  • My smart mobile devices now include an IPad and the IPhone.
  • AroundMe gets me to more of you than ever and knows where I am.
  • Yelp gets me instant gratification when I am happy and not so happy.
  • My TripAdvisor reviews will be excellent, good, brutal and fair.
  • Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are extensions of my ecosystem.
  • My latest thought: a Social Media Response Index & Score

Several years ago  I became a Social Predator (http://thesocialcustomer.com/peterauditore1/32103/social-predator) and was amazed at the chaos I created at hotels, restaurants and bars. Even online I had a strong reaction to this blog, one professional customer service person was outraged by the power of one and thought it was absurd, but that is the reality of the world of social media. Even my own company thought the Social Predator was too aggressive and censored it. Guess why I am no longer at that company?

Those companies that get it like Starwood, UPS and others figured it out, reached out and took very good care of me. Only a few brands ended in the swamp below my tree, but I intend to increase that number this year. I have become more proactive and now have thousands of followers thanks to social media. They follow me on Twitter, Yelp, TripAdisor, and Facebook. My 21 reviews on TripAdvisor have been read by 20,000 and on my 75 reviews on Yelp are now shared with my Facebook friends and have been viewed by thousands. This year I plan to Yelp everywhere I go relentlessly on a path to find the best of the best, because I have the simplest of taste I only want the best.

Enter The Social Mind & the Power of One

Many businesses are not prepared for the social predator and don’t pay attention to sound of social media, they still think social media doesn’t matter. But that is slowly changing now as even some restaurants are reaching out to me and asking me to Yelp. In the course of a year I went from hundreds reading my reviews to now thousands. There is no question now about the power of social media, and its impact on business and government. But the reality is this is just the beginning, to understand this massive shift in modern communications I have teamed up with several colleagues from the Society of New Communications Research to understand the interrelationships and new dynamics of behavior in the social media world.

The Social Mind Project

Interrelationships between individuals, organizations, thought leaders and influencers are evolving in new and previously unforeseen ways thanks to the advent of social media networks. This paradigm shift represents a major communications innovation in all markets, and is radically changing the way people and organizations engage and behave online.

The Social Mind research project is being conducted by Society of New Communications Research (SNCR) Fellows, and was designed to explore and understand these interrelationships and how they impact the consumption of information across social media channels and influence flow. Social Mind findings are enabling B2B, B2P, B2C or Cause marketers to understand the importance and relevance of content – and – its ultimate impact and influence on behaviors, beliefs, decisions and actions.

The Social Mind research has identified many key characteristics and insights into the engagement behaviors of individuals and social media peer group and provide new insights into how organizations can maximize reach and influence to execute on what we call the new Principals of Engagement in the millennium. Until next time I wish you great selling and marketing in the millennium.

Posted by: pauditore | March 21, 2013

Top Ten Reasons CEOs Should Care About Social Media

Flying Barbies Vienna, Austria

Flying Barbies Vienna, Austria

Social media networks are the new word of mouth marketing platforms of this millennium. They enable a new channel of influence for many experts and thought leaders that can play an important role in the purchase decision-making of many products and services. Customer service, satisfaction and experience are of growing importance to many organizations in the aftermath of the great recession and social media networks are rapidly becoming the voice of the customer, both happy and unhappy. Many PR-communications professionals are following and identifying influencers in social media networks in an effort to improve customer service, protect brand and to better understand customers. This all leads to an opportunity for companies to gain competitive advantage over competitors ignoring social media, and/or not effectively leveraging in business critical processes such as CRM and now Social CRM.

Nearly a year ago I conducted a social media and business intelligence study of 700 companies in North America and Europe and more than 100 CEOs and line of business professionals participated. The bullet list below represents what CEOs and business professional’s thought was important about social media networks. In the coming discussion I highlight the important insights garnered from our survey questions as they relate to social media and business today. More importantly this discussion provides a broad perspective of what companies are doing today to  leverage social media for competitive advantage.

Top Ten Reasons Cited By CEOs

  1. Social media is now part of our sales and marketing efforts.
  2. Social media is a vital part of our PR and communications.
  3. Brand reputation is now all about social networks.
  4. Customer service is easily measured for social customers.
  5. Add campaign performance is more easily measured than ever.
  6. Social customer satisfaction is also easily measured.
  7. Customer knowledge and understanding is enhanced.
  8. The customer experience can be improved through this knowledge.
  9. New strategies for product and service innovation can be identified.
  10. And now we can easily identify “the social predators.”

I architected the survey to first understand the IT landscape in an effort to determine the state of social media data collection, and secondly to understand the business side of social media. From the information technology side, the monitoring, collection and building of social media data stores is a very new information technology and business discipline that is all about the customer.

  • Only 30% of organizations are currently monitoring proprietary social media networks (SMNs), and nearly half indicated that they are monitoring open SMNs.
  • Most importantly, 75% of the overall sample base are not collecting data from proprietary and/or open social media networks.
  • Plans to monitor, collect, stage and analyze SMN data in the next year, 1-2 years and 3-5 years, clearly reflects a nascent or early adopter market, with early majority, late majority and laggards following a classic bell curve in evolution.
  • Slightly more than half of the organizations plan to increase SMN monitoring and data collection and analysis in the 1-2 years
  • More than half expect to increase investment SMN Business Intelligence tools in the next 1-2 years.

Information Technology Net/Net

From the technology perspective this is a nascent market, however, small and medium companies now have a great market opportunity to leverage new cloud platforms and databases designed to handle social media data. The opportunity lies in the creation and integration of best practices for conducting social media and business intelligence processes and analysis into business processes.

The Business Side of Social Media

Most survey respondents indicated that the top business functions supporting social media data gathering and management revolved around brand, marketing, and customer service. The following series of questions highlights responses to what I call the state of the state of social media in modern business.

Top Business Initiatives

  1. Brand-Reputation Management
  2. Marketing Communications
  3. Customer Service
  4. Customer Experience Management
  5. Sales
  6. CRM

Brand-reputation management (46%), and customer service (44%) were the number one and three business initiatives supported closely followed by marketing communications (45%).  Customers are king in the SMN world and this is reflected in this data set as customer experience management and CRM related business processes are now being supported by a significant number of organizations.

Fewer organizations overall are using SMN data collection and analysis for competitive intelligence, identifying influencers, product testing and price testing. Unlike some IT respondents, CEOs and line of business respondents indicated that they are using SMN data analysis to support identification of influencers and competitive analysis.

Brand & Reputation Monitoring of SMNs

More than half of the companies surveyed are not currently monitoring brand reputation in social media channels. These laggards are slow to recognize the power of social media networks and the speed of information flow along with the importance of word of mouth marketing in this environment.

Metrics Employed in Measuring SMN Monitoring

Top Metrics Employed

  1. Customer Satisfaction
  2. Overall Buzz
  3. Brand Experience
  4. Advertising Campaign Performance

Nearly half of the overall sample base indicated none of the above for this question, which is consistent with the overall data indicating that this is an early adopter market. Influencer identification ranked fifth in overall importance followed by net sentiment analysis and Geo-tracking.

Organizational Plans to Leverage Social Media Metrics Into Business Processes

One quarter of the overall sample base has plans to leverage social media data collection and analysis into business processes, while nearly on third indicated they are giving preliminary consideration to this. Almost half of overall respondents indicated that they have no plans to leverage social media into business processes. Ignorance is dangerous in this case, as winning companies will, and/or already know the importance of social media to gaining competitive advantage here is a no brainer.

Monitoring of SMNs Changing Business Process

The majority of the overall sample base indicated SMN monitoring and data collection has not changed business processes, MBOs and KPIs in business units. One quarter of the sample base indicated that preliminary consideration is being given to this and a small number indicated that SMN data collection and analysis was changing business processes and measurement of them. Again this reflects an early adopter nascent market that is ripe for innovation, products, services and best practices by industry.

Customer Engagement Through Social Media Channels

One third of the overall sample base indicated that they are actively engaging with customer through SMN channels and the remainder (68%) indicated that they are not. However, CEOs and LOB professionals contrasted information technology respondents significantly as (50%) indicated that they were engaging and (50%) were currently not engaging customers directly.

LOB professionals are generally closer to the customer than IT; therefore I would be cautious about the extrapolation of the data from this question, (from mostly IT professionals) it may not reflect an accurate view of the overall market. However the data has trended very consistently from the beginning reflecting and early market, even with some LOB professionals.

Employment of Social Media BI Platforms to Respond to Brand Crisis

The majority of the sample base indicated that they do not employ social media business intelligence platforms in responding to a brand crisis and only (25%) indicated that they currently do. Many organizations are not taking social media seriously and are not prepared to deal with a crisis in social media channels were the only barrier limiting information flow is time zone.

The Impact of Social Media Data Collection on Customer Engagement

A small portion of the overall sample base indicated that social media data collection had significantly changed customer engagement models and only one third indicated that it had changed customer engagement slightly. Nearly (62%) of the overall respondents indicated that social media monitoring and data collection had no impact on customer engagement in their organization. Many organizations still do not realize the power of social media networks and don’t know how to engage customers and influencers in the social media space. There is great opportunity to grow market share, enhance brand and customer service through social media engagement.

Organizational Concern About International Data Security Laws

Only half of the overall sample base is concerned about international data security laws, (24%) indicated they are not and (23%) don’t know. International data security laws vary by region and country and are probably not well known, especially in organizations that are not global.

Top Business Processes Leveraging Social Media Data

  1. Understanding Customers
  2. Enhance the Customer Experience
  3. Innovation of Services
  4. Innovation of Product and Service Delivery
  5. Implementation of Social CRM

Winning companies are leveraging social media monitoring, collection and analysis to better understand customer needs and requirements. Winning companies are taking the next steps and practicing Social CRM and innovating customer service, product and other services. Social media data and business intelligence tools enable organizations to profile and understand customers more intimately than ever before, if you want to get closer to your customers social media networks are the place.

Net/Net 

Social media networking is dynamically changing the face of human interaction, communications and consumption of products and services globally. The emergence of new social behaviors and interrelationships between individuals, organizations, thought leaders and influencers are evolving in new and previously unforeseen ways primarily because of social media networks and peer groups. This paradigm shift is a major communications innovation in all markets and it is radically changing the way people and organizations engage and behave online. There is also a strong link between social networking and what might be called “a new global anthropology” that is developing because of these new behaviors, interactions and interrelationships between cultures enabled through social media. Winning companies will understand this paradigm shift and leverage it for competitive advantage. Until next time I wish you great selling and marketing in this millennium.

 

 

Posted by: pauditore | March 21, 2013

In-Memory: Big Data Innovation for the Millennium

innovatoinIs In-Memory database technology the next major innovation in the world of business intelligence? Is it the game changer that will provide the unfair advantage that leads to the competitive advantage that every CEO wants today? There is certainly a lot of hype around this (not new technology) and many vendors are touting it as the next greatest advance in the business intelligence tool chest. In the course of this treatise I will avoid the technobabble of In-Memory computing, but instead look at it from a practical business perspective. One of the most amazing experiences of my enterprise computing career has been when technology optimizes business processes and In-Memory has great potential to enable real time decision making in many aspects of business, especially operational business intelligence and performance management applications.

What is In-Memory?

There are many definitions of In-Memory but I like Wikipedia’s Definition the best:

“An in-memory database is a database management system that primarily relies on main memory for computer data storage. It is contrasted with database management systems, which employ a disk storage mechanism. Main memory databases are faster than disk-optimized databases since the internal optimization algorithms are simpler and execute fewer CPU instructions. Accessing data in memory reduces the I/O reading activity when querying the data which provides faster and more predictable performance than disk.”

The real magic here from my perspective is the ability to replicate and OLTP database even on multiple nodes, this enables lighting fast analytics performance and will be a major enabling technology for running data centric enterprise applications in the Cloud.

In-Memory is here now in various forms:

  • As a standalone diskless database.
  • As an appliance with built in analytical modules, IBM-Netezza, SAP-Hana, Oracle Exalytics.
  • Embedded in many ERP systems and other business applications that are data intensive.
  • Embedded in business intelligence platforms.
  • Embedded in data centric Cloud applications and infrastructures.
  • Open Source: WebDNA7
  • Strong set of analytical tools and modules integrated with In-Memory often optimized for industries and business functions such as operational reporting.

The ability to replicate, store and perform analysis on real time data even from OLTP systems enables organizations to make “real time decisions” on nearly all aspects of business operations that have been digitized. Way back in 1999 when I ran the BI/DW Research Program at Survey.com, our research and surveys found that business intelligence managers wanted the ability to data mine real time transactional data bases; In-Memory now makes this is a reality.  However, the rigorous disciplines of business intelligence like extraction, loading and cleansing of data in addition to the appropriate application of analytical tools still remain. Remember the old business intelligence adage of the 1990’s garbage in garbage out, decisions made on unreliable or incomplete data sets lead only to bad decisions, real time or not.

The Business Value of In-Memory

The inherent business value of In-Memory revolves around the ability to make real time decisions based on accurate information about seminal business processes. An Oxford Economics study (www.businessinrealtime.com) of 500+ C-level executives conducted in the spring of 2011, focused on real time business in the oil and gas, retail, consumer products, high technology industries. This research had some great findings and insights about how companies can gain competitive advantage with a real time business approach enabled by In-Memory:

  • “At an operational level: by speeding up data capture and simplifying

processes executives can reduce inventories, minimize business risks, lower

  • operational costs, accelerate speed to market, foster productivity and better

meet customer needs.”

  • “At the management level: by accelerating decision-making and planning

executives can exploit market opportunities faster, identify competitive

threats sooner, cope with market shifts more quickly and transform stagnating

businesses.

There are a significant number of academic researchers studying In-Memory in North America which I would like to mention for reference: they include, Sam Madden at MIT, Ousterhout at Stanford, Abadi at Columbia, Mack Franklin at Berkeley and Peter Weil at MIT’s CISR, as well as Tom Davenport at Babson. Outside of Davenport, however, the majority of the research focus is on the technical aspects of In-Memory and not the business application and value.  Davenport authored another interesting article related to In-Memory: “How Fast and Flexible Do You Want Your Information, Really,” MIT Sloan Management Review, Spring 2011.

The business intelligence arena is strewn with acronyms from hell, which most business people don’t understand and that unfortunately it is the language of computers. Line of business people, managers and even CEOs will derive the most business value from In-Memory and could care less about the technology and the BI acronym jungle. There are many business processes and business intelligence applications that will be innovated with In-Memory, such as query and reporting, online analytical processing (OLAP), predictive analytics, scenario planning, simulation, price optimization and planning and budgeting for example.

Key Areas Where In-Memory Delivers Business Value

  • Finance
  • Performance Management
  • ERP Systems
  • Operational Business Intelligence
  • CRM
  • Mobile Business Intelligence

Finance & Performance Management

In my view these are the most important application areas that can benefit from In-Memory enabled business intelligence. Many organizations spend a great deal of time running financial queries and reports on accounts receivables for example, queries can take hours or even days depending on their complexity. One In-Memory vendor touts that it reduced an account receivable query from 77 minutes to 13 seconds. The ROI on this is somewhat debatable, would waiting an hour for a query to run vs. getting it in seconds make that much of a difference in decision making? Business analysts often spend 90% of their time running queries and significantly less time doing actual analysis. Faster queries, more time for analysis should ultimately lead to overall improved business performance.

Innovation in ERP

In-Memory is a huge innovation for all ERP customers (and a boondoggle for ERP vendors) who have been waiting decades for real time access to transactional ERP data, vendors will undoubtedly target industries with large embedded ERP systems that deal with huge volumes of data such as:

  • Retail
  • Manufacturing
  • Financial Hedge Funds, Brokerage, Insurance
  • Energy
  • High technology
  • Telecommunications
  • Consumer Product Goods
  • Cloud Infrastructure Service Companies

CRM

The ability to know and understand the customer experience is paramount in the new millennium as organizations strive to improve customer service, keep customers loyal and gain greater insights into customer purchasing patterns. This has become even more important as a result of social media and social media networks that are now the new “word of mouth platform.” In-Memory enabled BI tools will provide real time data not only from transactional systems, but will allow organizations to harvest and manage unstructured data from the social media sphere.

Mobile Business Intelligence

Demand for access to data from mobile devices is exploding especially in the retail industry and IT is hard pressed to deal with it. In-Memory databases, especially in the Cloud domain will play an increasing role in delivering on the promise of real time data, anywhere anytime. There are a number of new mobile business intelligence applications with easy user interfaces that will greatly benefit from this potentially game changing technology.

Net/Net

In the age of big data, In-Memory is a welcome addition to the business intelligence arsenal and it will undoubtedly significantly change and optimize many business processes. More importantly, it has the potential to allow organizations, line of business managers and the C-suite to spend more time on simulations, scenario planning and analysis, and less time on building and waiting for queries. This is important in the age of the Internet where information travels at a business velocity slowed only by geographical time zones. In-Memory will come at high cost for many organizations, more than $150,000 for a single implementation, not counting costs of data migration and the issues around failover and redundancy. Until next time I wish you great selling and marketing in the millennium.

Posted by: pauditore | March 20, 2013

Enterprise Business Intelligence

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Our society has evolved into an analytic one, it seems like everything we do revolves around some kind of analysis, whether it’s baseball statistics and predictions or the analysis of the recent debates. Analysis can also lead to what I call “analysis paralysis” and unfortunately much of our analysis, especially that of the “analysts” is rear view mirror. Now there is big data, which will drive the creation and innovation of analytical tools and interfaces to new levels of visualization especially on the plethora of new innovative mobile devices that are overwhelming the market.

The business intelligence market defies the laws of technology market evolution where several large vendors normally dominate the landscape holding 70-80% market share within a ten year or so period. The business intelligence market is like the energizer bunny, it keeps going (innovating) and going (innovating) and seems like it will never stop. We have all read Geoff Moore’s famous high tech marketing  book, Crossing the Chasm and remember the maturity bell curve, but the BI market in many ways has not followed this pattern. In the last ten years a number of new vendors have come to market all with new semantic layers that appeal to business users that are frustrated with information technology departments, and also the difficult and non-intuitive user interfaces of legacy business intelligence analytical tools.

This special interest group was graciously hosted by Agilent Technologies and Method 360, a local BI services integrator. Several case studies of business intelligence and data warehouse implementations were discussed and the most interesting insights were presented by Intuitive Surgical a local robotics company.

During the course of this meeting guest speakers focused on:

  • Enterprise wide business intelligence implementations and issues associated with delivering BI tools to a wide spectrum of business users.
  • Developing and implementing an open source BI implementation.
  • And the state of Social Media monitoring and business intelligence.

Intuitive Surgical provided the group with excellent insights into the challenges they encountered when deploying enterprise wide analytical (mostly query and reporting) business intelligence tools.  Their hope was to deliver self- service business intelligence to approximately 1200 users in the organization and classified non-IT users or line of business users as “super users.” IT developed the data models and extracted the data from relevant data sources for business analysis. During the first phase they asked business how many employees wanted to be “super users” and had an overwhelming response.  Their hope was that self-serve BI would allow users to do analysis without going to the IT department; it didn’t work out that way.

They ran into an interesting set of challenges in this effort and learned quickly from that not everyone is a scientist and has an analytical mind. This is not surprising because business intelligence tools are statistical in nature and many users have no clue about data models, ETL tools and/or universes.

Key insights from the enterprise-wide BI implementation

  • Ended up with a proliferation of redundant data sets and redundant universes that exceeded 200.
  • Ended up with the wrong people, with what they called the wrong aptitude, not everyone was a “Super User.”
  • Many of the infrequent report writers didn’t develop the skills because they weren’t using the tools frequently enough.
  • User’s blamed the current BI tool from SAP-Business Objects and looked at other tools like Tableau.
  • They needed an easy to understand abstract layer and a common terminology across data sets.
  • Advanced Excel users where more likely to successfully become a super users

Net/Net

In learning from their initial approach of classifying everyone as a super user the IT team decided to divide “super users” into distinctive groups depending on their knowledge and use patterns:

  • Guru
  • Expert
  • Super User
  • Consumer

This was well received and enabled the IT department to better serve and train business users.  Business intelligence tools have been inherently difficult to use since the early days of SAS and SPSS, two of the early computer software programs that we used at Woods Hole in doing statistical analysis of oceanographic data and fisheries populations dynamics for example; but then again we were all scientists and accustomed to the rigors of the scientific method.

In summary, not everyone is an analyst and/or thinks like a scientist with a statistical view and perception of reality.  This is a primary reason that the new wave of BI tools, like Clickview, Pentaho, Pivotlink, Tableau, RoamBI, Yellowfin and others has resonated with the line of business community and beyond traditional business analysts.  As the world moves to mobile BI interfaces and ease of use will become even more paramount. Until next time I wish you great selling and marketing in the millennium.

 

Posted by: pauditore | March 20, 2013

The Consumer Genome

The Data Dog Smokes

The Data Dog Smokes

This is one of my favorite blogs and its a little dated, but still very relevant in the grand scheme of things where nothing is really FREE. Whether YOU know it or not every time YOU share information on Facebook, Twitter or Google YOU are fueling their add/growth engine in addition to any business model innovation they may or may not tell YOU about. These social media networks have become the “ultimate real-time” market research platform and the myriad of information they have about YOU on a global basis is daunting.

Facebook’s revenue of approximately $3B at the time of IPO can only be increased through sustainable profitable growth. Some recent rumors are that they will create a Facebook phone. In the meantime that growth is all about YOU, and everything thing they do now is all about getting YOU to share more information. What do you think time lines are all about? And the more they know about YOU the more they will sell it to their ecosystem and advertisers on a global basis. They don’t tell you that they are mining your data and profiling you just like the FBI profiled serial killers in the early 1990s. All this information is being used to target YOU with products and services that match your profile. When I was single every day I got two add for dating services, so this is really viral mass marketing on a global scale.

According to a recent NY Times article Acxiom now touts them selves as the worlds largest consumer database, but I don’t buy it because Facebook and Google are. Axciom says it processes 50 trillion data transactions yearly and that it has information on 500 million active consumers worldwide and that they employ 1500 data points to map consumers. They call this “the consumer genome” and it is sold to many financial services and retailers (see NY Times June 17th 2012.) Think about the privacy issues especially from a health perspective if you list yourself as diabetic pregnant or you are a smoker and drinker. This information is most likely being sold to health insurance companies who will undoubtedly adjust your premiums accordingly.

Although Axciom promotes itself as “a global thought leader in addressing consumer privacy issues” its executives declined to be interviewed for this article. That reflects that they are on the bleeding edge of consumer privacy and international data protection laws.  But think about this, Axciom is sniffing old digital exhaust in some cases 40 years old. Google at the same time has “instant data gratification” because they know what nearly everyone is searching for almost globally; this is extremely powerful given that they can harvest data on any product and service and employ predictive analytics to forecast sales of products and services by product and service on a daily basis.  One word “scary.”

The Good the Bad and the Ugly of Facebook & Twitter

And of course now Facebook has become a rich hunting ground for all kinds of scammers and stalkers, and along with LinkedIn it’s the new hard rock mining platform for sales people. During one recent weekend I met several people that outright said they hated Facebook. Why? In one case Facebook had facilitated the termination of a twenty-five year marriage because suddenly the high school sweet heart was back and had connected with his former love and she left her family and children to go back to him. This would have never happened “most likely” if Facebook weren’t in our lives. The sad part of this tale is that the woman’s children are now watching here Facebook posts about how lovely her new relationship is. This is chilling and sad all at the same time. All Facebook content is easily discoverable and the lawyers are having a heyday collecting content to support family law cases.

In our new study, The Social Mind, we found that the majority of educated Americans use Facebook primarily for friends and not family. This may change in time depending on the success of Facebook to keep its membership, most recently Facebook began losing members and some major advertisers have pulled out including GE. Culturally, some people are too private for Facebook and I have many friends and family that don’t participate for a variety of reasons.

Twitter on the other hand is a bellwether for news and information and it also can get you into trouble fast. Here is a good example of what not to do on Twitter, true story. A friend of mine’s nephew got caught in a sting operation in a New Jersey high school selling weed to an undercover cop. Yes they are still in the dark ages in New Jersey. Well the story takes a turn for the worse with Twitter. After coming home from the police station the teen tweets that he is going to go “Columbine” on the police department he is so angry. Another teen following him shows her mother the tweet and she calls the police station. An hour later the swat team shows up at the teen’s house and he is taken into protective custody for mental evaluation after the house is searched for guns.

Net/Net

Be careful about what you say in any social media environment and understand that by providing more information about your self is not necessarily a good thing, and that all information is discoverable not only by lawyers and police but also your HR department. Until next time I wish you great selling and marketing in this millennium.

Posted by: pauditore | March 20, 2013

Big Data Boot Camp May 21-22 NYC

The Data Dog

The Data Dog

 

Come meet me at the Big Data Boot Camp and check out the awesome cast of speakers we have selected. Big Data Boot Camp is a two-day intensive dive into the tsunami that has become big data. The advent of social media and its impact on “customer everything” has left many companies awash in a sea of big data that is difficult to collect, manage and act on.  Big Data is creating confusion in the IT industry and is expected to significantly increase IT spending in the BI and data warehousing market segments according to leading market research companies. Information is data, and many organizations are concerned about how this new “data management paradigm” will impact, and/ or disrupt their business model. Big data is presenting new challenges to the traditional data warehouse and information management platforms and their managers, as organizations are demanding that more data points are incorporated into business decision-making.

Participants will hear from a wide range of data and database experts including: information architects, database consultants, innovators, legal experts, database and analytics vendors and information technology professionals (peer practitioners) that are addressing many of the issues that big data encompasses today. Attendees will also learn about how organizations are leveraging big data for competitive advantage, where is their smart data is and how they use it, and most importantly the legal issues associated with collecting, managing and archiving big data.

Who Should Attend Big Data Boot Camp?

The content of this conference will appeal to nearly all Information technology professionals involved in the management and use of data including: CIOs, CTOs, IT directors and managers database administrators, data warehouse architects, data architects and any IT professional involved in systems administration, storage management, business intelligence, analytics and cloud related technologies. LOB managers, business analysts and those involved with CRM will also benefit in understanding the origins of big data and the technology and legal issues associated with managing it.

Why Attend Big Data Boot Camp?

Big data is new and actionable information about your customers, products, services and even your competitors. Many leading organizations and your competitors have already begun big data projects and are leveraging the information to improve many seminal business initiatives including: brand reputation management, marketing communications, customer relationship management, customer service, and sales. The agenda of Big Data Boot camp has been designed to bring together a cadre of thought leaders and practitioners that will identify important emerging technologies in the areas of business intelligence, data warehousing and provide case studies and best practices in big data management. Learn how to address the challenges of big data management so that your organization can enrich its decision making with relevant and actionable smart big data. Big Data Boot Camp will help you navigate the big data jungle with real world insights and knowledge to help your organization gain competitive advantage and avoid the myriad of legal issues that may be encountered in the gathering and management of big data.

Check out the agenda at:

Humans are a community-oriented species; this behavior has been crucial to our evolutionary success over the last 4.5 million years. The fact that many of us are now engaging with Web 2.0 enabled communities is not surprising, but how do we interpret the future of this trend? As Liam Fahey so aptly said during a recent meeting I attended, “it’s not the data, but how you read it, and the actions you take away from it.”

When I entered the technology industry in 1989 I was shocked by what market research companies called research. I called it “market art,” primarily because of its lack of statistical discipline, vision and strategy.  The most disturbing thing about market art is that the data is collected but not fully analyzed to extract its future strategic value. Today I call this research “stating the obvious” and it is really “rear view mirror analysis.”

Market researchers today provide little advice on how companies should plan future strategies and how to leverage trends to gain new market share, innovation and/ or competitive advantage. The majority of market researchers today provide CAGR extrapolations of market growth; (box counting) based on rear view mirror analysis.

Last week I attended the Society for New Communications Research (SNCR) conference in Cambridge MA, and spent the day absorbing social media research and how various universities, nonprofits and industries are engaging in this new form of human collaboration. The majority of the research at this conference, as is the case with most conferences today, was “stating the obvious.” Absent from most of the presentations was what I call “data visioning”, an interpretation of the data as it relates to the future.

I welcome your comments on this discussion, and would really like to know how market research has helped your business.

3 Questions to ask about the stating the obvious are:

  1. What does this research mean to my business now and 3-5 years from now?
  2. Is the research reliable and relevant to my customer base?
  3. Can it deliver:
    1. Innovation?
    2. Competitive advantage?
    3. Increased market share?
    4. Offer opportunities for new products and services?
    5. Can it help establish my brand in Social Media Peer Groups (SMPG)?

Perhaps the most important research presented at the conference was The New Symbiosis of Professional Networks SCNR Study. Co-sponsored by SAP, this study revealed that the era of professional Social Media Peer Groups has arrived; information and influence will travel at business velocities never seen before.

5 Ways SMPGs impact business and provide more value to customers:

  1. Content sharing and distribution in the SMPG environment will be pervasive.
  2. This is a major change in peer group communications and their interaction which facilitates easier and faster information exchange.
  3. SMPGs represent an inflection point and disrupter in marketing communications.
  4. Information flow in SMPGs will operate at Internet business velocity and become almost instantly global.
  5. The only factor that will slow information exchange and interaction in SMPGs will be time zones.

5 Key Challenges Marketers Face Managing SMPGs:

  1. Overall managing influence will require an entirely different approach.
  2. Managing and influencing independent content will be the major challenge.
  3. Control of organizational and corporate placed content will be another challenge facing marketing communications.
  4. Managing consistent messaging and content across the social network and traditional corporate communications pathways will be difficult.
  5. Understanding and measuring the tonality and effect of social media content is evolving.

This is my analysis of the Symbiosis study and this is what I call “reading the data,” and “visioning-out” the impact of the new disruptor of communications, the SMPG. As I have said many times before the social media groups are the new word of mouth marketing platforms. Startup companies need to pay close attention to this major trend in communications, which may level the playing field with competitors large and small. Startup companies that react to the market are generally the losers, those that act, win.

Again, I welcome your comments.  This week’s Personality of Fish looks at Fish Schools, the Social Media Peer Groups of the ocean.

Personality of Fish: Communities of Fish

At some point in their existence most species of fish join a community and begin a migration, salmon are anadromous, eels are catadromous, and herring, shad, mackerel, anchovies, sardines and even tuna spend most of their lives in schools together.  There are various reasons for schooling or shoaling together and most revolve around reproduction, feeding and avoiding predators. Schooling fish employ highly sophisticated means of communications to stay together in tight schools that provide a confusing mass to predators in the open sea or estuary.

The communications platform that enables this comes from a lateral line that runs down the middle of the fish. Lateral lines are thought to provide electro and olfactory sensory apparatus, in addition to the ability to sense movement and vibration such as we discussed in earlier posts about sharks. In the shark, lateral lines are also thought to sense magnetic fields and we discussed this in detail earlier this year (the Ampullaee of Lorenzini). As with many of the ocean’s creatures lateral lines in fish have been generally understudied.

Fisheries Management of Schooling Fishes

Before the advent of modern fishing methods, such a seines, purse seines, gill nets and Yankee otter trawls, hundreds of millions of American shad, herring, sardines and anchovies could be seen and harvested off our coasts. The schooling of these fish meant the beginning of the end for many species including the Northwest Atlantic Herring, shad, and the Pacific coast’s anchovies and sardines. In my home town and where I live now huge fisheries industries where built on these species, however, fishing pressure and lack of government and industry regulations has in some cases irreversibly destroyed these precious stocks.  The last great stocks of schooling fishes include the tuna and swordfish, both these species are under serious pressure from continued mismanagement by the National Marine Fisheries Service, state and local government agencies and the industries that can’t police themselves. As I have said before there is nothing sustainable about fisheries management in this country or the world for that matter. Until next time I wish you great selling and marketing in the millennium .

Photo Caption: Wooden Sculpture of the endangered Giant Blue fin Tuna, September 2009 Captain Kid bar Woods Hole, MA.

Customers will have higher expectations in the future from all business small and large, and the recession has created a mindset that will demand more business value from your products and services than ever before. I call them the lean customer. How will you adjust to this new reality and maintain your competitiveness, employees, pricing and unfair advantage in the market? Understanding the voice of your customer will be king and adjusting to the new market conditions will be seminal to your success. In my view, we have endured more than a recession, we are experiencing a global economic restructuring and survival depends on strategy, innovation and knowing your customers; your lean customers.

In the New Lean Reality

  • The way people do business will be leaner
  • You can’t expect revenue streams to return to normal
  • Lean business is king and people like lean businesses
  • Agility and the ability to adapt to new market conditions is seminal
  • Customer focused businesses succeed over the competition

During my vacation I had the opportunity to spend time with three small business executives, the CFO of Charles River Apparel, the owner of The Last Stop and the owner of the Sunbanque Tanning Salon in my home town of Gloucester, MA. All three businesses experienced very significant drops in revenue during the recession, and in some cases as much as 30% overall. A revenue drop of 30% is catastrophic for any small business and in today’s environment one executive told me he thought small business owners were in a “schizoid state of mind these days,” meaning that they did not know what to expect in the future from their customers or the market. Schizoid, paranoid or not they should be concerned about their market and customers overall, but more importantly they should be concerned about what expectations their customer base when they return, because there will be no normal return to business.

I recently joined the Institute for Study of B2B Marketing (ISBM) at Penn State’s SMEAL College of business and attended the annual meeting at State College. I can tell you that almost every company that attended was in a paranoid state about their customers and what their demands would be after the economic restructuring has ended. Liam Fahey, a fellow of ISBM and author of an impressive suite of books on competition including, Outwitting Outmaneuvering and Outperforming Competitors, made a statement during the conference that I would like to share, Dr Fahey said “We are all caught up in the now and are not looking at the future and strategizing about what to do in the future.” This corresponds my last post about Peter Drucker’s “understand the future that has already happened.” The future that has already happened is that many customers, (not all of them,) are going to consume your products and services differently than they did before the economic storm.

Lean Customer Behavior

  • They may consume less of your product and/or services and many will never return to previous consumption levels.
  • Many will begin the quest for a sustainable brand as global weather deteriorates.
  • Some will be looking for more value/less cost and may consider competitors.
  • Some may eliminate the need for your product and/or services completely.
  • They will seek price that is equated with value, the staunch consumer.
  • Many will consolidate travel to one location for multiple products and services.
  • Some may collaborate with others and share best practices

Nothing is forever, and change is certain. This sea change in business is both an opportunity and a challenge for small and large business alike. Understanding your customer’s needs both stated and unstated is the key to survival in these market conditions. Be careful in understanding customer needs, in my view, it is important to understand when customers needs/demands are going to take you down a rat hole.  What I mean by that is, when you are convinced by customers, suppliers and/or friends that you need to add products and/or services that go beyond your core competency, they may not provide you with sustainable profitable growth. A bad decision here may kill your brand and eventually marginalize your competitive advantage and will often challenge your business model.

The Personality of Fish: Climate Change & Lean Consumers

In my last post I talked about the sad state of fisheries management worldwide, this week its global warming. I guess the good news is that we have a new administration in office that actually believes the world is warming and the oceans are rising. During my visit to Woods Hole on vacation I spent the night with some of my old scientist friends and asked them directly about global warming and its potential impact in our life time. What they said was that global warming is happening, however, it had been incredibly over hyped by Al Gore and his movie, The Inconvenient Truth. By over hyped, they meant that Mr. Gore and company had indeed taken many of the worst case possible case scenarios from the computer models instead of the most probable, or those with medium or low predictability. Global warming models were created to predict the impacts of global warming such as, sea level rise, slowing of seminal ocean currents such as the Gulf Stream and global rainfall. According to my scientist friends these models predicted a low, medium and high level of predictability for such events; however, like most models there are always unpredictable parameters that can’t be quantified.

When asked about Katrina, they said, “well wasn’t there one called Camille in 1969 that broke the wind speed record, and then there was also Andrew.” Their points were well taken, but they did agree that there is a strong correlation between CO2 and global air temperature rise. And that we are in a global warming period and that Artic sea ice is certainly melting much faster than anyone expected. There is also a very strong possibility that climate change may occur much faster than expected and early indications are that we may have significant global warming impacts within a decade vs. what was predicted to happen in a century. This is certainly the case with Artic sea ice.

Net/Net

For the fist time our administration will not classify Artic Satellite Imagery as top secret and will push a sustainable agenda across all government agencies, and begin to enforce compliance with new regulations within our industries. The great news is large corporations are now on board with sustainability efforts and I am involved with communications efforts around SAP sustainability technology and solutions. Like it or not, being sustainable is already and important part of your company’s brand experience and many of the largest companies mandating sustainable products and supply chains from their partners and suppliers. Sometimes becoming more sustainable is so simple you can’t see it, and there is no question about its impact on the bottom line. Until next time great selling and marketing in the millennium.

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