November 25, 2015
On their blog, MarkLogic announces they are “Eliminating Shopper Fatigue: Making Online Commerce Faster, More Accurate.” Anyone who has tried to shop online for a very particular item understands the frustration. Despite all the incentives to quickly serve up exactly what a customer is looking for, ecommerce sites still struggle with searches that get too specific. Writer (and MarkLogic chief marketing officer) Michaline Todd gives this example: A site that sells 652 different versions of a “screwdriver” returns zero results to the phrase “one-quarter-inch slotted magnetic screwdriver.” You know it must be there somewhere, but you have to comb through the 652 screwdriver entries to find it. That or give up and drive to the local hardware store, where a human will hook you up with exactly what you need. Good for local business, but bad for that ecommerce site.
Todd says the problem lies in traditional relational databases, upon which any eCommerce sites are built. These databases were not meant to handle unstructured data, like supplier-created product descriptions. She describes her company’s solution to the problem, which naturally includes MarkLogic’s NoSQL technology:
“The beauty of NoSQL is that it’s a schema-agnostic data model that ingests data in whatever its current form. Codifyd uses MarkLogic to quickly and reliably merge millions of data points from thousands of suppliers into a product catalogue for each of its clients. By gathering such fine-tuned information instantaneously, Codifyd recommends products matched to specific attributes in real time, increasing customer trust, loyalty and retention. This more precise information also allows retailers to bundle relevant product offers in a set, improving upselling and increasing the average order size. For example, a retailer can serve up the ‘one-quarter-inch slotted magnetic screwdriver’ the customers searched for as well as a toolkit that contains that particular screwdriver.”
Todd notes that Codifyd also dramatically speeds up the process of posting entries for new products, since unstructured data can be reproduced as-is. Launched in 2001, MarkLogic proudly declares that theirs is the only enterprise-level NoSQL platform in existence. The company is headquartered in San Carlos, California, and maintains offices around the world.
Cynthia Murrell, November 25, 2015
November 25, 2015
The article titled Business Intelligence Vendor Yellowfin Signs Global Reseller Agreement with Zinnovate on Sys-Con Media provides an overview of the recent partnership between the two companies. Zinnovate will be able to offer Yellowfin’s Business Intelligence solutions and services, and better fulfill the needs that small and mid-size businesses have involving enterprise quality BI. The article quotes Zinnovate CEO Hakan Nilsson on the exciting capabilities of Yellowfin’s technology,
“Flexible deployment options were also important… As a completely Web-based application, Yellowfin has been designed with SaaS hosting in mind from the beginning, making it simple to deploy on-premise or as a cloud-based solution. Yellowfin’s licensing model is simple. Clients can automatically access Yellowfin’s full range of features, including its intuitive data visualization options, excellent Mobile BI support and collaborative capabilities. Yellowfin provides a robust enterprise BI platform at a very competitive price point.”
As for the perks to Yellowfin, the Managing Director Peter Baxter explained that Zinnovate was positioned to help grow the presence of the brand in Sweden and in the global transport and logistics market. In the last few years, Zinnovate has developed its service portfolio to include customers in banking and finance. Both companies share a dedication to customer-friendly, intuitive solutions.
Chelsea Kerwin, November 25, 2015
November 24, 2015
The article on Kurzweil AI titled IBM’s Watson Shown to Enhance Human-Computer Co-Creativity, Support Biologically Inspired Design discusses a project set up among researchers and student teams at the Georgia Institute of Technology. The teams input information and questions about biomimetics, or biologically inspired design, and then Watson served as an “intelligent research assistant” for a Computational Creativity course in Spring 2015. The professor teaching the class, Ashok Goel, explained the benefits of this training.
“Imagine if you could ask Google a complicated question and it immediately responded with your answer — not just a list of links to manually open, says Goel. “That’s what we did with Watson. Researchers are provided a quickly digestible visual map of the concepts relevant to the query and the degree to which they are relevant. We were able to add more semantic and contextual meaning to Watson to give some notion of a conversation with the AI.”
Biomimetics is all about the comparison and inspiration of biological systems for technological system creation. The ability to “converse” with Watson could even help a student study a complicated topic and understand key concepts. Using Watson as an assistant who can bounce answers back at a professional could apply to many fields, and Goel is currently looking into online learning and healthcare. Watch out, grad students and TAs!
Chelsea Kerwin, November 24, 2015
November 22, 2015
I love diagrams which explain content processing. I am ecstatic when a diagram explains information, artificial intelligence, and so much more. I feel as if I were a person from the Renaissance lowered into Nero’s house to see for the first time the frescos. Revelation. Perhaps this diagram points to a modern day Leonardo.
Navigate to “Marketing Data Technology: Making Sense of the Puzzle.” I admire the notion that marketing technology produces data. I love that tracking stuff, the spyware, the malware, and the rest of the goodies sales professionals use to craft their masterpieces. The idea that the data comprise a puzzle is a stroke of brilliance.
How does one convert data into a sale? Martec, marcom, or some other mar on one’s life?
Here’s the diagram. You can view a larger size at this link:
Notice the “space” is divided into four areas: discover, decide, activate, and automate. Notice that there are many functions in each area; for example, divide includes information delivery, insight real time, and marketing performance. Then notice that the diagram includes a complex diagram with a backbone, a data lake, the Web social media, and acronyms which mean nothing to me. There are like the artistic flourishes on the that hack’s paintings in the Sistine Chapel. The touches delight the eye, but no one cares about the details.
Now, I presume, you know how to make sense of the martec puzzle.
I find this type of diagram entertaining. I am not sure if it is a doodle or the Theory of Relativity for marketing professionals. Check out the original. I am still chuckling.
Stephen E Arnold, November 22, 2015
November 20, 2015
I read a spider friendly, link baitable article in a UK newspaper. You love these folks because each page view downloads lots and lots of code, ads, trackers, etc.
The story was “Can’t Believe It’s Almost Christmas? Technology Is Speeding Up Our Perception of Time, Researchers Say.” Heck of a title in my opinion.
The main point is captured in this quote from Wizard McLoughlin:
long monologue from a ‘real’ book.
‘It’s almost as though we’re trying to emulate the technology and be speedier and more efficient. It seems like there’s something about technology itself that primes us to increase that pacemaker inside of us that measures the passing of time.”
The “it” I assume means the way the modern world works.
I think the idea is valid. A good example is the behavior of search and content processing companies. Although many companies evidence the behaviors I want to identity, these quirks are most evident among the search and content processing outfits which have ingested tens of millions in venture funding.
The time pressure comes from the thought process like this statement which I recall from my reading of Samuel Johnson:
Nothing focuses the mind like a hanging.
The search and processing vendors under the most pressure appear to be taking the following actions. These comments apply to Attivio, BA Insight ,Coveo, and Lucidworks-type companies. The craziness of IBM Watson and HP Autonomy in the cloud may have other protein triggers.
Here we go:
- Big data. How can outfits which struggle to update indexes and process new and changed content handle Big Data? It is just trendy to call a company like Vivisimo a Big Data firm than try to explain that key word search has “real” value.
- Customer support. I don’t know about you, but I avoid customer support. Customer support means stupid telephone selections, dorky music, reminders that the call is being monitored for “quality purposes”, and other cost cutting, don’t-bother-us approaches. Where search and content processing fits in has little to do with customer service and everything about cost reduction.
- Analytics. Yep, indexing systems can output a list of the number of times a word appears in a document, a batch, or a time period. These items can be counted and converted to a graph. But I do not think that enterprise search systems are analytics systems. Again. If it helps close a deal, go with it.
- Business intelligence. I like this one. The idea that a person can look for the name of a person, place, or thing provides intelligence is laughable. I also get a kick out selective dissemination functions or standing queries presented as a magical window on real time data. Baloney. Intelligence is not a variation of search and content processing. Search and content processing are utility functions within a larger more comprehensive systems. Check out NetReveal and let me know how close an enterprise search vendor comes to this BAE Systems’ service.
When will enterprise search and content processing vendors alter their marketing?
Not until their stakeholders are able to sell these outfits and move on to less crazy investments.
The craziness will persist because the time available to hit their numbers is dwindling. Fiddling with mobile devices and getting distracted by shiny bits just makes the silliness more likely.
Have you purchased a gift using Watson’s app? Have you added a Watson recipe to your holiday menu? Have you used a metasearch system like Vivisimo to solve your Big Data problems? Have you embraced Solr as a way to make Hadoop data repositories cornucopias of wisdom?
Right. The stuff may not work as one hopes. Time is running out. Quickly in real time and in imagined time.
Stephen E Arnold, November 20, 2015
November 20, 2015
IBM has created a free Paper.li blog that features information about the company: IBM’s InfoSphere Master Data Management Roundup. Besides the general categories of Headlines and Videos, readers can explore articles under Science, Technology, Business, and two IBM-specific categories, #Bluemix and #IBM. If you love to watch as Big Blue gets smaller, you will find this free newspaper useful in tracking some of the topics upon which IBM is building its future.
Oddly, though, we did not spot any articles from Alliance at IBM on the site. Some employees are unhappy with the way the company has been treating its workers, and have launched that site to publicize their displeasure. Here’s their Statement of Principles:
“Alliance@IBM/CWA Local 1701 is an IBM employee organization that is dedicated to preserving and improving our rights and benefits at IBM. We also strive towards restoring management’s respect for the individual and the value we bring to the company as employees. Our mission is to make our voice heard with IBM management, shareholders, government and the media. While our ultimate goal is collective bargaining rights with IBM, we will build our union now and challenge IBM on the many issues facing employees from off-shoring and job security to working conditions and company policy.”
It looks like IBM has more to worry about than sliding profits. Could the two issues be related?
Cynthia Murrell, November 20, 2015
November 19, 2015
If you need help communicating with the higher-ups, see “Sales Pitch: How to Sell Your IT Strategy to the Board” at SmartDataCollective. Writer Simon Mitchell points out that, when trying to convince the higher-ups to loosen the purse strings, IT pros are unlikely to succeed if their audience doesn’t understand what they’re talking about. He advises:
“Step out of your technological mindset. Long presentations on subjects outside your audience’s core competence are a waste of everyone’s time. Don’t bore the board with too much detail about how the technology actually works. Focus on the business case for your strategy.”
The write-up goes on to recommend a three-point framework for such presentations: focus on the problem (or opportunity), deliver the strategy, and present costs and benefits. See the post for more on each of these points. It is also smart have the technical details on hand, in case anyone asks. We’re left with four take-aways:
“*Before you present your next big IT initiative to the board, put yourself in their shoes. What do they need to hear?
*Review how you can make tech talk accessible and appealing to non-technical colleagues.
*Keep your presentations short and sweet.
*Focus on the business case for your IT strategy.”
Mitchell also wisely recommends The Economist’s Style Guide for more pointers. But, what if the board does not put you on the agenda or, when you make your pitch, no one cares? Well, that’s a different problem.
Cynthia Murrell, November 19, 2015
November 18, 2015
I wonder if you will become involved in this modest dust up between the Big Data folks and the text analytics adherents. I know that I will sit on the sidelines and watch the battle unfold. I may mostly alone on that fence for three reasons:
- Some text analytics outfits are Big Data oriented. I would point modestly to Terbium Labs and Recorded Future. Both do the analytics thing and both use “text” in their processing. (I know that learning about these companies is not as much fun as reading about Facebook friends, but it is useful to keep up with cutting edge outfits in my opinion.)
- Text analytics can produce Big Data. I know that sounds like a fish turned inside out. Trust me. It happens. Think about some wan government worker in the UK grinding through Twitter and Facebook posts. The text analytics output lots of data.
- A faux dust up is mostly a marketing play. I enjoyed search and content processing vendor presentations which pitted features of one system versus another. This approach is not too popular because every system says it can do what every other system can do. The reality of the systems is, in most cases, not discernible to the casual failed webmaster now working as a “real” wizard.
Navigate to “Text Analytics Gurus Debunk 4 Big Data Myths.” You will learn that there are four myths which are debunked. Here are the myths:
- Big Data survey scores reign supreme. Hey, surveys are okay because outfits like Survey Monkey and the crazy pop up technology from that outfit in Michigan are easy to implement. Correct? Not important. Usable data for marketing? Important.
- Bigger social media data analysis is better. The outfits able to process the real time streams from Facebook and Twitter have lots of resources. Most companies do not have these resources. Ergo: Statistics 101 reigns no matter what the marketers say.
- New data sources are the most valuable. The idea is that data which are valid, normalized, and available for processing trump bigness. No argument from me.
- Keep your eye on the ball by focusing on how customers view you. Right. The customer is king in marketing land. In reality, the customer is a code word for generating revenue. Neither Big Data nor text analytics produce enough revenue in my world view. Sounds great though.
Will Big Data respond to this slap down? Will text analytic gurus mount their steeds and take another run down Marketing Lane to the windmill set up as a tourist attraction in an Amsterdam suburb?
Nope. The real battle involves organic, sustainable revenues. Talk is easy. Closing deals is hard. This dust up is not a mixed martial arts pay per view show.
Stephen E Arnold, November 18, 2015
November 18, 2015
When I read “IBM Watson’s New App Predicts the Must-Have Toys and Gifts,” I wondered if dead tree catalog makers would embrace Big Blue’s approach. The idea is intriguing. IBM Watson crunches data and generates outputs that guide the person looking for a toy for a grandchild or a gift for an office secret Santa party.
The iOS app surfaces suggestions in a number of categories, like tech, health and toys and shows products that it thinks will be the most popular in each section. It also aims to predict trends so you can see whether an item will be popular throughout the holidays or if it will be a passing fad. Behind the scenes, Watson analyzes the conversations around products from social media, blogs, reader comments, product reviews and ratings to determine what will be the most on-demand items. It also takes sentiment (remember Watson’s personality identifier tool?) into account to detect exactly why something may be popular.
I thought about this. Amazon tries to suggest products, and it works once in a while. What confuses Amazon is that my wife purchases books and products which interest her. I use the same account. You can imagine the recommendations that combine math and ancient history books with mysteries written by depressed Scandinavian writers. The personal products recommendations are sometimes downright bizarre.
Microsoft also does the prediction thing with Bing. I wonder if Microsoft used Bing to determine how users of Windows 10 would respond to the “you have no choice” updates that are shoved down the Internet tubes?
For IBM, my reactions went in three directions.
First, IBM marketing and PR professionals are trying to make Lucene, acquired technology, and home brew scripts do something useful. In my own gift buying experience, I keep my eyes open, listen, and then use that information to purchase a personalized gift. For other gifts, I write a check. I am not going to fiddle with a mobile phone app. IBM is obviously aiming at a niche, which for IBM’s sake, finds this approach to buying useful.
Second, IBM Watson is not yet on my radar as a viable solution for search and content processing. IBM may be tallying huge sales, but I don’t hear about them. Even more telling is that my system for monitoring news about search and content processing snags wild and crazy assertions about how wonderful Watson is in curing cancer, making recipes, and, of course, selecting gifts. I find this difficult to believe. The sheer range of applications and capabilities attributed to Watson are difficult for me to believe.
Third, IBM has to find a way to generate substantial organic revenue. Reducing full time equivalents, buying back stock, and losing money for the Buffet machine are not inspiring confidence.
Perhaps IBM Watson will select the perfect gift? Amazon uses its recommendations to generate revenue for Amazon. IBM uses its Watson to generate public relations. Which is the better approach?
Answer: the one which makes money. I do not include the revenue IBM generates for its marketers and PR advisors.
Stephen E Arnold, November 18, 2015
November 18, 2015
Patent information is available to peruse via the USPTO Web site and Google has an accurate patent search (that is significantly easier to use than USPTO’s search), but this does not tell the complete story of US patents. GCN announced that the USPTO plans to remedy missing patent information in the article, “USPTO Opens The Door To Four Decades Of Patent Data.”
With the help of the Center of Science and Innovation Policy (CSSIP), the USPTO launched the new tool PatentsView:
“The new tool allows individuals to explore data on patenting activity in the United States dating back to 1976. Users can search patent titles, types, inventors, assignees, patent classes, locations and dates. The data also displays visualizations on trends and patent activity. In addition, searches include graphic illustrations and charts.”
People will be able to conduct the equivalent of an “advanced search” option of Google or an academic database. PatentsView allows people to identify trends, what technology is one the rise or dropping, search a company’s specific patents, and flexible application programming interface to search patent information.
The USPTO wants people to access and use important patent and trademark data. It faces the issue that many organizations are dealing with that they have the data available and even with the bonus of it being digital, but its user interface is not user-friendly and no one knows it is there. Borrowing a page from marketing, the USPTO is using PatentsView to rebrand itself and advertise its offerings. Shiny graphics are one way to reach people.
Whitney Grace, November 18, 2015