Business Think and the Social Media

January 31, 2013

I read “Which Social Media Work?” I get the dead tree edition, which is getting thinner and thinner it seems, of the Wall Street Journal. The story appears on B8 in the January 31, 2013, issue. You may be able to find the story online at www.wsj.com.

The main point of the write up is that the Wall Street Journal’s professionals have researched the subject, done a survey I think, talked to gurus, and produced a league table. Big finding: Small business is sort of on the fence. The “working” social media service is LinkedIn. The Losers include Google’s properties and Pinterest. Stuck in nowhere land—that is, the middle—are Facebook and Twitter.

Okay. Let’s assume the ranking is correct. The write up asserts:

Six out of 10 small business owners say they believe social media tools are valuable to their company’s growth—but most aren’t impressed by Twitter Inc.

I am not particularly social. I think I pay a paralegal to be “me” on social media. I am not sure because, I don’t talk to the paralegal. Remember. I am not social.

My take on the social media angle pursued by the Wall Street Journal is that using it is probably less of a challenge than tapping phones or performing some other interesting actions to get information.

However, the league table raises some questions for me:

First, isn’t LinkedIn a haven for job seekers, consultants trying to build a footprint, and marketers who are pushing every possible button to make a sale? I find that the baloney which flows to my email from LinkedIn is essentially useless. If I don’t “participate” in a group, I get told, “Hey, goose, you aren’t using this service. You’re out.” I feel like Heidi Klum is saying, “You aus.” Free LinkedIn, I believe, is different from for fee LinkedIn. Since I don’t pay, I am not 100% certain of this difference, but I am not looking for a job nor am I trying to create an impression in the social snow bank.

Second, isn’t Twitter a gem for the 20 somethings who live in Silicon Alley and Silicon Valley. Twitter does not do too much here in Harrod’s Creek. Ergo: Perhaps the value or perceived value depends on the tweeters’ location? Just a thought.

Third, Google is in the process of requiring people to join Google Plus. YouTube is on the path to monetization. Will Google charge for premium social services? Will Google just buy LinkedIn and get it over with? My point is that in terms of utility, Google probably deserves to be in the vast wasteland of the middle of the pack. I am not sure small business knows what Google’s trajectory is. If small business owners were clued in, there might be a different perception. Until then, Google is a solid C according to the write up.

Fourth, Facebook is near the top. But Facebook is only “sort of” for small business or any business. Facebook wants to sell ads. I am not sure if Facebook wants to serve small business with anything other than an invoice for messages pumped to the 800 million or more Facebook users.

Net net: Silly stuff because Google and Facebook are the big dogs. The other outfits in the league table are biscuits to be eaten or ignored. Honk and quack.

Stephen E Arnold, January 31, 2013

Google: The Empathetic Ad Vendor

January 31, 2013

Yowza. I just read “Google’s No. 1 Asset Is Its Ability to Empathize with Its Users through Design and Product Development.” You must read this remarkable assessment of Google’s most important strength.

The main point of the write up is that Google is a into design in a way that makes the Project Runway hopefuls seek digital inspiration from Mountain View. Here’s one passage I noted:

What I’ve [Drew Olanoff] also learned while covering Google over the past two years is that it has an uncanny ability to put itself in the shoes of its users, almost to the point where they can leverage data and feedback to build, in essence, the perfect product. When I say perfect, I don’t mean flawless. I mean that when you use Google products, you’re in essence a Googler, too. Google takes the concept of “dogfooding” to unparalleled levels, putting current and new products through such rigorous real-world testing cycles, that it’s impressive that things ever see the light of day. When you scrutinize something so much, it’s easy to scrap it because you’ve fallen out of love with it after seeing it all the time. Not Google, because it has a system in place to get feedback from both employees and outside users. The system makes the go-to-market plan a near bullet-proof approach to launching products, because there’s a good sense that it’s something that people will want to use, and use a lot.

The article uses the word “legacy” to describe Google’s contributions. I wonder who else has used that word? Oh, I remember. I did in my 2004 The Google Legacy monograph, which is now out of print. I heard that the PDF is available on a download system, or you can send me an email and I will send you a copy.

What is fascinating about the write up is the peek into the future. The author asserts:

As we change, Google will change. Google learns from us while we learn from its products. It’s a nice give-and-take relationship that Google has sustained since its inception. Most of us can’t understand exactly what Google does or how it does it, so the only way we can really grow our trust for what they do is to feel really good when we use their products, and that has everything to do with design. The fact that most products under Google’s massive umbrella are getting a refresh is a testament to that understanding. We never knew what we wanted from Google, and now that we have it, we have no idea how we want it to look.

Yep, Google is the future and Google will do exactly what its users want.

Now my view is just a bit different.

First, Google is in the ad business. After more than a decade of trying to generate significant revenue from “controlled chaos” product development, Google is focusing on monetization. So the big shift is not to the user. The big shift is to monetizing the user. There is a difference, in my opinion. The purpose is ad revenue or any other type of revenue as the stakes in online grow higher.

Second, Google’s number one asset is its getting a free pass to do whatever it wants to do. As a result, Google is showing more moxie. For example, Googlers and child went to North Korea. The European regulators are getting smiles and Google mouse pads. Nothing is in place to stop Google. That’s a big plus.

Third, Google has a sense of desperation fueling the company. Management is mortal. Competition looms from Samsung, Amazon, and—dare I suggest it—Facebook.

Fourth, Google has plumbing. The pipes and valves are aging but the embrace of old timers like the singularity person and the founder of Inktomi show that technical ideas are needed. But Google has lots of technology. Google has lots of engineers.

Net net. Google has some strengths. I just don’t think that empathy is number one or even in my top four. I would ask, “Empathy?” Mathematicians and engineers and scientists. Not the word I would choose.

Stephen E Arnold, January 31, 2013

Business Decisions No Longer Guess Work with PolySpot Solutions

January 31, 2013

In a naturally chaotic world, having a penchant for theorizing answers about the fundamental mysteries of the world and less serious daily issues has always aided people in successfully navigating the world around them and their companies or organizations. A recent article from Wired theorizes that big data may bring about the end of theory as we know it in a thought provoking article called, Big Data, Language and the Death of the Theorist.

People like Kalev Leetaru, who found clues pointing to Osama Bin Laden’s hiding location through publicly available data (after Laden’s death), predict that forecasting future events is possible and currently enabled.

The article discusses the intelligence aspect of big data analytics that is even applicable to language:

For scientists and mathematicians, working with supercomputers makes sense — their information is numerical. It already exists in a language that machines can read. The interesting thing here for historians and sociologists and literature critics, and everyone else who works with language and the vagaries of the human condition, is that we’ve reached a point where supercomputers are fast enough to crunch that data just as easily as anything else.

Both the inherent power of language associated with semantic enrichment in business intelligence solutions such as those from PolySpot and their library of connectors that enable enriched information access across the enterprise will aid organizations to make better decisions in real time. In the areas where the paradigm of the world changes, the same goes for business.

Megan Feil, January 31, 2013

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Beyond Search.

Expert System Partners with Solr

January 31, 2013

Expert System is a semantic software company that has recently announced integrating Apache Solr into their Cognito Semantic platform. Their goal is to increase both precision and recall over traditional systems. The full press release can be read via MarketWire in their write-up, “Expert System Announces Integration With Apache Solr for Enterprise Search.”

The article begins:

“Expert System, the semantic software company, today announced the full integration of its Cogito® semantic platform with the Apache Solr™ open source enterprise search platform. Through the integration with Cogito, organizations using Solr will be able to enhance their technology investment by delivering faster, more precise access to big data and enterprise content. Cogito exceeds the limits of traditional search and provides a deep understanding of words by fully understanding their meaning in context.”

Expert System may have a good product, but it is new. There are other more seasoned options when it comes to Solr integration. For instance, check out LucidWorks Search. A trusted enterprise solution, LucidWorks (formerly Lucid Imagination) has been a go-to in the industry for years. Their newest offering, LucidWorks Big Data, tackles the newest challenge in content management and search, Big Data.

Emily Rae Aldridge, January 31, 2013

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

ArnoldIT to Roll Out Electronic Medical Record Publication

January 31, 2013

In the next three weeks, ArnoldIT will make available a new information service focusing on a specific aspect of electronic medical records. The publication will be similar to Beyond Search and combine elements of our other information services. We plan to tailor the content and approach to the needs of the professional who wants to extract maximum value and minimize the risks often associated with EMRs or electronic medical records. An important part of the EMR team is Jeannene Manning. You can get a detailed profile at http://goo.gl/CGa3e.

Jeannene Manning, a former colleague of Mr. Arnold at the Courier Journal, has worked for more than 20 years in various health and medical related disciplines.

Manning has seen healthcare marketing from both sides of the street. She was a top executive at Humana, the health insurance giant with interests in Medicare, Medicaid and commercial insurance businesses, as well as at Caretenders, a pioneer in home health services. Then she left the corporate side to be the senior vice president at Finelight, an advertising agency with clients in both health insurance and health services, to work in strategic planning, business development, branding and product management targeting both business-to-business and direct-to-consumer.

She said:

Very few marketers have learned how to cut through the acronyms and government jargon to deliver understandable messages to consumers on complex topics,” Manning said. “You have to know your audience and how it’s changing.

An interview with her appears in HighGainBlog, an ArnoldIT information service which reports on business innovation. The full text of her interview is at http://goo.gl/F9smG.

Stuart Schram, January 31, 2013

Sponsored by Verdenoce, the gourmet craft spirit

Ten Twitter Types

January 31, 2013

As with any technology, different people use Twitter differently. Forbes breaks this diversity down into “The 10 Types of Twitterers and How to Tame Their Tweets.” To set the stage, writer Steve Faktor explains why it is a mistake to label Twitter a social network:

“Though it looks social, it’s more hyperactive than interactive. Of the billions of tweets sent, 71% get no response, only 36% are worth reading, and a majority is generated by a tiny fraction of users. Twitter is a personal announcement system that captures the collective pulse of a world screaming for attention – or revolution, or discounts, or Kanye. Twitter is a tiny, evolutionary step towards a ‘global mind’. Making sense of that mind has spurred a gold rush of mind-readers trying to sell you shovels, pans, and a donkey.”

With that, the article launches into the Twitter-type descriptors. On one end of the scale, you have what Faktor colorfully calls the “undead,” those 60 percent of accounts that were created but remain inactive. “Organizations,” large corporations that Faktor calls Twitter’s big spenders like Starbucks and Zappos, are at the other end. It seems that most businesses, though, have so far failed to recoup big bucks this way. In the middle are such characters as “chirpers,” “scouts,” and “stars.” It is worth reading through his astute descriptions.

The write-up also lists three types of incentives that motivate tweeters: The tangible, like discounts or job leads; the perceived, psychological rewards like respect or convenience; and the informational, actionable data that feels rewarding. Will other incentives manifest? Twitter is still an evolving medium, and its use is a continuing experiment. I wonder what a list of user types will look like five or ten years from now.

Cynthia Murrell, January 31, 2013

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

Business Users and IT Pros View Things Differently

January 31, 2013

No wonder there are clashes between users and their enterprise systems. Network Computing ‘s “IT Perceptions, End User Realities” examines a recent report from InformationWeek that revealed a bit of a schism between IT pros and, well, everyone else. In the perception study, end users and IT personnel expressed divergent views on IT’s role and how well its members have been performing.

The study (available here, free with registration) asked survey takers IT-related questions, and broke answers down into those of IT and non-IT professionals. While 60 percent of the techies saw IT as integral to their organization, only 43 percent of the rest agreed. And though only 34 percent of the IT folks saw their department as “not especially innovative,” 42 percent of other respondents held that disparaging view. The survey also found that only half of business users were at all satisfied (“moderately,” “very,” or “completely”) with the performance of their IT divisions, and 20 percent reported being not satisfied at all.

Having dipped a toe in the IT field, I can sympathize. Hardware and software and, especially, the intersection of the two often fail to perform as expected even for the most seasoned technician. The challenge of tracking down a problem within an eclectic system is a process only those who have closely observed it can begin to appreciate. On top of that, IT is one of those jobs where people tend not to notice your work until something goes wrong. Still, IT pros used to get more respect. What changed? Writer Kevin Fogarty suggests:

“In the past, IT held the technology trump card. If the marketing department asked for a new application and IT said no, there was no chance a rouge team was going to sneak into the data center, rack a server, run the cables and fire up the software. Now those who chafe under restrictions from find themselves with easy, relatively inexpensive access to applications and services online. . . .

“Unfortunately for IT, this state of affairs enforces the notion that hot new technology comes from outside the company, while IT faithfully keeps the old, busted stuff alive inside the company. It’s an attitude that the technologists theoretically responsible for moving the company into the future are, in fact, anchoring it in the past.”

So now, IT departments must find new and exciting ways to justify their existence while simultaneously maintaining finicky legacy systems. Many, I would add, must do this with staffs that have been gutted over the last few years.

There is one hopeful point for IT in the report: 59 percent of the non-IT personnel think internal IT will become more important over the next two years. Maybe they don’t like the IT department very much, but at least they know they still need it. At least a little bit.

Cynthia Murrell, January 31, 2013

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

Google Is Not a Monopoly

January 31, 2013

The latest U.S. Web-search market rankings from comScore may surprise some. The data-analysis company issues such rankings each month, and Newoin.net reports, “Bing Makes Gains on Google’s Market Share in December 2012.” That article emphasizes how hard Microsoft has been fighting on behalf of Bing, with ads targeting its great nemesis as a privacy malefactor whose results are secretly influenced by paid advertising and are not as good as Bing’s, anyway. Whether Microsoft’s campaign was the cause, we may never know for sure, but Google’s desktop product did experience a slip at the end of last year. Writer John Callaham states that comScore’s report shows:

“. . . Google with 66.7 percent of the market, down 0.3 percent from November 2012. Meanwhile, Microsoft’s US search share is shown at 16.3 percent in December, up 0.1 percent from November 2012.

Yahoo came in third with 12.2 percent for December 2012, again up 0.1 percent from the month before. Bing is the basis for Yahoo’s search engine, which effectively means that Microsoft gained 0.2 percent of the Internet search market in December.”

It was, in fact, the fourth straight month Google slipped, we learn from Business Insider’s “Google’s Core Business Is in the Middle of a Fundamental Shift.” It is important to keep a sense of scale here; while Bing and Yahoo did gain ground, Google remains securely atop the heap, with well over half the traffic. Still, the figures demonstrate what we’ve known all along– that Google is not a monopoly. Business Insider’s Jay Yarrow notes the results may even have helped convince the FTC of that crucial detail.

The Business Insider piece also points out an important tangent: desktop search as a whole is becoming less and less important in the face of mobile devices. Google is ready to dominate mobile, too, being the default search engine in not only its own Android OS, but on the iPhone as well. Meanwhile, Microsoft focused its search-related energy on tailoring Bing for the desktop. Yarrow writes:

“The big picture is that Microsoft burned billions fighting for the desktop search market right when the world was preparing to abandon desktop search.”

Yes. I don’t think Google should worry about the competition from that quarter any time soon.

Cynthia Murrell, January 31, 2013

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

Exclusive Interview: Miles Kehoe, LucidWorks

January 30, 2013

Miles Kehoe, formerly a senior manager at Verity and then the founder of New Idea Engineering, joined LucidWorks in late 2012. I worked with Miles on a project and found him a top notch resource for search and the tough technical area which was our concern.

I was able to interview Miles Kehoe on January 25, 2013. He was forthcoming and offered me insights which I found fresh and practical. For example, he told me:

You know I come from a ‘platform neutral’ background, and I know many of the folks involved with ElasticSearch. Their product addresses many of the shortcomings in Solr 3.x, and a year or two ago that would have been a coup. But now, Solr 4 completely addresses those shortcomings, and then some, with SolrCloud and Zoo Keeper. ES says it doesn’t require a pesky ‘schema’ to define fields; and when you’re playing with a product for the first time, that is kind of nice. On the other hand, folks I know who have attempted production projects with ES tell me there’s no way you want to go into production without a schema. Apache Lucene and Solr enjoy a much larger community of developers. If you check the Wikipedia page, you’ll see that Lucene and Solr both list the Apache Software Foundation as the developer; Elastic Search lists a single developer, who it turns out, has made the vast majority of updates to date. While it is based on Apache Lucene, Elastic Search is not an Apache project. Both products support RESTful API usage, but Elastic requires all transactions to use JSON. Solr supports JSON as well, but goes beyond to support transactions in many formats including XML, Java, PHP, CSV and Python. This lets you write applications to interact with Solr in any language and with any protocol you want to use. But the most noticeable difference is that Solr has an awesome Web Based Admin UI, ES doesn’t. If you’re only writing code, you might not care, but the second a project is handed over to an Admin group they’re bound to notice! It makes me smile every time somebody says ES and “ease of use” in the same sentence – you remember the MS DOS prompt back in 1990? Although early adopters enjoyed that “simplicity”, business people preferred mouse-based systems like the Mac and Windows. We’re seeing this play out all over again – busy IT people want an admin UI – they don’t want to spend all day at what amounts to a “web command line”, stitching together URLs and JSON commands.

I found this comment prescient. I learned about a possible issue triggered by ElasticSearch in “Github Search Exposes Passwords Then Crashes.”

I pressed Mr. Kehoe for key points of differentiation in open source search. I pointed out that every vendor is rushing to embrace open source search. Some do it with lights flashing like IBM and others operate in a lower profile manner like Attivio. He told me:

Just as we have different products and services for our customers, we can customize our engagements to meet our customers’ needs. Some of our customers want to have deep product expertise in-house, and with training, best practice and advisory consulting, and operations/production consulting, we help them come up to speed. We also provide ongoing technical and production support for mission critical applications – just last month an eCommerce site ran into production problems on the Friday afternoon before Christmas. We were able to help them out and have them at full capacity before dinner. Not to dwell on it, but what sets LucidWorks apart is the people. We employ a large number of the team that created and enhances Lucene and Solr including Grant Ingersoll, Steve Rowe and Yonik Seeley. We also have significant expertise on the business side as well. At the top, Paul Doscher grew Exalead from an unknown firm into a major enterprise search player over just a few years; my former business partner Mark Bennett and I have built up deep understanding of search since our Verity days in the early 1990s.

Important information for those analyzing search systems I believe.

You can read the full text of the interview on the ArnoldIT Search Wizards Speak series at http://goo.gl/31682. Search Wizards Speak is the largest, no cost, freely available collection of interviews with experts in search and content processing. There are more than 60 interviews available. You can find the full series listing at http://www.arnoldit.com/search-wizards-speak/ and http://arnoldit.com/wordpress/wizards-index/.

Stephen E Arnold, January 30, 2013

Sponsored by Dumante.com

Data Quality and Delivery Ensured By Over One Hundred Connectors in Solution by PolySpot

January 30, 2013

Information Management discusses how businesses can be a part of “Revealing Big Data’s Secrets” for their own gain in this recent article. The article explains that too much has been covered in the media in regards to big data that discusses the what and why of the matter. How is the weak link in this inherently necessary triumvirate of information to help businesses in beginning deployment of big data technologies.

Businesses who have found out why they need big data and what it is are perfectly poised to gain competitive advantage from big data if they take the next steps to utilize the right technologies.

The article states:

Our research into operational intelligence found that the use of events is a critical part of the big data environment. At the same time the skills of master data management and data governance do not go away, and in fact become important to address the business accuracy question that inevitably pops up when more data becomes available to be utilized. Our research into product information management has found that the drive for data quality is changing organizations’ approaches.

Data quality and integrity is very important to businesses as they work to churn insights out of data. One solution we have seen from PolySpot offers more than one hundred connectors to ensure that data is delivered in the proper form.

Megan Feil, January 30, 2013

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Beyond Search.

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