MAD Perspectives Blog

Connecting Live is Still Relevant!

Peggy Dau - Monday, September 08, 2014

I've been writing about connectivity for the past few weeks. I've done this because I believe connectivity is at the root of our human experience. Whether it is our family, friends, business colleagues, or even those who remain nameless, but share a common interest, we are always connected to someone or something. We exist in organizations, be they schools, businesses, clubs, sports teams, religious organizations. We attend and participate for education, exercise, creativity or community. No wonder the advances in communications technologies and services fascinate us.

But none of those technologies can replace the benefit of face to face gatherings. I've been living in the technology, communication and media sectors for the past decade or so. I love technology in how it simplifies and enhances my life. I am able to stay connected to my friends, family and clients from a variety of devices. I stay abreast of industry news via those same devices. However, i look forward to opportunities for valuable face time (and i'm not talking about the Apple video conferencing app).

This summer my family celebrated a few landmark events by enjoying a vacation together. While this may sound like a set up for a tragic comedy, it was a wonderful opportunity for all of us to relax together. While we talk, text, email and FaceTime (yes, this time I am talking about the Apple app) with each other on a regular basis, the opportunity to be together for a period of time was fantastic. It is the same for business. it is why the golf game evolved as such an acceptable and successful business event.

The conversation that occurs over a period of hours or days has depth that cannot be attained as quickly or easily via apps or devices. Sure with the help of social media and big data analytics, we can capture, sift and assess online conversations to uncover trends that impact business. However, it is the conversation with a business partner or client, on the golf course or over dinner, that reveals new opportunities, politics of closing a deal, or challenges to overcome.

I'm attending IBC 2014 this week, a conference service the broadcast industry. I enjoy the opportunity to discover emerging technologies and uncover new opportunities. I look forward to insightful conversations with business colleagues. I am thankful that so many colleagues have agreed to meet with me as our conversations help me gain greater perspective on the impact of big data, cloud, social media, mobility and other trends on an industry that has been in our homes for years. I am connecting live - how about you?

What's your perspective?



The Connected Experience

Peggy Dau - Tuesday, September 02, 2014

What is the impact of our increasing dependency on all things mobile? How is the the connectivity between things impacting our daily lives? Our desire for connectivity is evident in the increased investment in the "internet of things". Simply put, this is the ability for devices to communicate with each other.  This may take the form of alerts to your smartphone or using your smartphone to control other devices.  Much attention has been paid to connecting to devices in the home such as, thermostats, lights, locks, refrigerators or TVs. It is all driven by our addiction to connectivity, but what about the experience?

Examples of machine to machine (M2M) connectivity include being able to verbally unlock the doors of your house by speaking into you smartphone. Future functionality might include asking your TV to find the content you seek - by name, genre or talent. The advances in technology and networks enable this "futuristic" connectivity - similar to what we once enjoyed in the Hanna-Barbera animated sitcom,  "The Jetsons".  we seek experiences that enrich or simplify our daily lives.

We've already proven that we are addicted to devices as evidenced by estimates from eMarketer, that 1.75 billion people will own smarthphones by the end of 2014. That translates to ~ 24% of the global population (as of July 1, 2014 based on estimates from the United Nations). Smartphone adoption is led by China, followed by the United States, with these countries and many others passing the 50% penetration mark in 2014 and 2015.

We've shown that we like to enhance our experiences by using devices. We use the map functions on our phones to guide our explorations. We plan running routes and track calories. We comparison shop and make dinner reservations. Why not connect to other devices and simplify repetitive tasks? 

Devices that enabled an internet connection to our TV entered our homes in the mid-2000s. Today Smart or Connected TVs enable direct internet connections that in turn allow connectivity to OTT providers such as Netflix and Amazon Instant Video, music sharing site Pandora or social media maven, Facebook, and others. The benefit is the enjoy the connected experience via our favorite in-home device, the TV. We choose to  enhance our TV experience with our mobile devices, enriching our experience through simultaneous connectivity to online information related to the program we are viewing, or sharing our experience on social sites or simply multi-tasking.

The connected experience is one that is constantly evolving as our definition of connectivity and tasks that can be enabled expand. Our expectations are limitless as behemoths like Apple and Google invest in enabling technologies while also defining ecosystems that may include traditional manufacturers as well as entrepreneurs. It is safe to say that the manner in which we connect and communicate, one-to-one, one-to-many, many-to-many, or thing-to-thing will be quite different five years from now. And, it is the focus on our connected experience that will drive this market evolution.

What's your perspective?




Connected Awareness

Peggy Dau - Monday, August 25, 2014

Last week i wrote about our addiction to connectivity, which when thinking about it further led me to consider what we could call connected awareness. With our addiction to devices and their apps, we have a heightened awareness of our friends likes or dislikes, to the behavior of celebrities (which broadly include movies stars, musicians, athletes, business leaders, politicians, etc.), entertainment trends (Hollywood, social media) and news. If not for social media, connectivity and awareness, ALS would not have raised $80 billion, yes that's a B!  This is a great example of connected awareness. The ground swell of ALS awareness has been astonishing as anyone from a friend, neighbor or family member to celebrities happily dumped buckets of ice and water overt their heads. Thanks to our addiction to connectivity where we scan the news or social sites while waiting in line or traveling, we are more aware than ever before.

There's a downside to connected awareness. This is exhibited by online bullying, lack of sensitivity (consider Zelda Williams's experience after her father's suicide) or  mis-statement of facts, to name a few. With a potential for groupthink mentality to set in, connected awareness can lead to negative behavior. Hopefully, that will be the exception. Brands, non-profits and politicians hope to capitalize on increased connected awareness.

The media and entertainment sector is and industry that's quite open about its goals to optimize on the connected awareness of its audience. In the TV space, a lot of attention has been paid to Social TV, the second screen and OTT consumption. Nielsen reported earlier this month that 25% of TV viewers were more aware of programs due to social media interactions. The second screen is used to become more aware of product advertised on TV, actors in the program being watched, statistics related to a live sporting event, or to engage with friends. Connected awareness is driven by tweets and Facebook posts.  

In fact, Nielsen has begun measuring the reach of these platforms. Awareness is not about the person sharing content, it's about who sees that content. Looks who's tweeting and what content is driving their activity. It's not wonder that advertisers are actively seeking insight from social networks.

Our connected awareness is influencing our thoughts and actions. We are stimulated by opinions from others about about TV shows, movies, concerts, vacation destinations, restaurants and more. We seek input from others either socially or via text or in some cases, email (which many consider of very old school communication tool). In any case, we are often doing so via our mobile devices with an expectation for immediate response. This expectation is borne from our connected awareness. We anticipate that our friends are accessible, online and ready to influence.

I anticipate that, very soon, we will see some type of connected awareness barometer. It's about measuring more than tweets or Facebook updates. It's more that a Klout score. It's understanding where we connect to obtain content and what action we take upon its receipt. Imagine that as we enter the next presidential campaign cycle, broadcast networks and campaign advisors will be seeking every advantage to understand and to influence the connected awareness of the voting populace. 

How are you connected?  When are you connected?  Where are you connected? And, what do you choose to connect to? Our very connectivity allows for collection and measurement of data. That data leads to a different kind of awareness, but awareness that is still driven by our connectivity.  How has your connected awareness shifted with increased access to smartphones or tablets?

What's your perspective?



Addicted to Connectivity?

Peggy Dau - Monday, August 18, 2014

Connectivity. Engagement. Data. Anytime. Anywhere.  These are the buzzwords that surround those of us in the communications, media & entertainment sector. We check the stats about the adoption of Smartphones and Tablets, using them to justify investment in new solutions and product updates. We track likes, hash tags, influencers and market trends. We use data to understand how customers, consumer or business, are accessing content and information. But, do we pay attention to how we access all that content, information and data?  

Not really. While we actively select our broadband and wireless carriers based on our needs, we take it for granted that that connection will be there when we need it. We increasingly use free Wi-Fi to access rich content on the go because we don't want to eat up the data in our data plans. We can do this because…free Wi-Fi is increasingly available at places beyond Starbucks and McDonalds. Anytime I’m traveling, especially internationally, I pop into such places to download email, check social updates and gather business news. I admit it; I'm addicted to connectivity.

Who supplies that connectivity? The telecommunications companies around the globe. They are AT&T, Verizon, BT, T-Mobile, Vodafone, Telefonica, Telecom Italia, NTT DoCoMo, and the list goes on. We expect these service providers to provide us with the connectivity that allows us to be informed, entertained and engaged. But, do we understand how it works? Do we care? Yes, we care in so much as when the network doesn't work, we are disgruntled. We may even tweet about it.

These communication service providers (CSP) have worried about becoming commoditized pipes. It's a fair concern, given that the motto, "Content is King" has never been more true than it is now. However, how would we access that content without network connectivity? How would all those big data companies scrape the Internet for social insights, search queries, opinions and recommendations, to augment internal, system driven data, without network connectivity? 

OTT content consumption has raised eyebrows for broadcasters, cable operators and the FCC in the United States. Why? Not simply because it changes the business model for content, but because it consume a LOT of bandwidth. Bandwidth provided by CSPs such as Verizon and Comcast. As wireless networks continue to improve and networks in general become more flexible due to evolving technologies, the bandwidth and services they can provide become more advanced. We are already enjoying content on the TV screen while using Wi-Fi or wireless networks to access incremental data related to the show we are watching, or to see what our friends our saying, or to check email or to [fill in the blank]. What happens next is dependent on the evolution of those wireless technologies enabling our connectivity.

Network technology is the secret sauce connecting our 21st century world. While CSPs are certainly not perfect in how they manage connectivity, they are persistently working to improve their capabilities. And, we are all addicted nonetheless.

What's your perspective?






Trends Proving True in 2014

Peggy Dau - Monday, July 14, 2014

I love this info graphic as it was created earlier this year and uses data to support its definition of the trends I've seen in 2014. I've been writing about them and their application for the media & entertainment and telco industries. It's a nice mid-year reminder that the trends are also the realities for clients as they invest to improve their storytelling capabilities.



What's your perspective?



The Marriage of Data and Storytelling

Peggy Dau - Tuesday, July 08, 2014

A few weeks ago I wrote about finding the story in the data. This relationship between data and storytelling continues to evolve as increasing amounts of data are available to us. Domo released an enlightening info graphic that exclaims that Twitter users tweet 277,00 times and that Apple users download 48,000 app severy minute of every day. These are just few examples shared in the infographic, which reflects that data never sleeps. With its chronic insomnia, data provides an unending source of stories to entice, educate, elucidate, engage or enrage readers. 

Even as big data is on the cusp of entering the trough of disillusionment phase of Gartner's Hype Cycle, data will continue to be the source of validation for all levels of business strategy and the stories we tell to explain those strategies. Our stories take the form of quarterly earnings, product announcements, R&D proposals, go-to-market programs and customer experience initiatives. The data, that we collect from internal and external sources, structure and unstructured, serves to support those stories. Data and story are intrinsically bound until death do they part.

Of course in any marriage there are supporting cast members. At this wedding, the maid of honor is social media. She provides context in the form of voluntary updates. She can be emotional, repetitive, succinct, and pragmatic. She adds color to the story and sometimes is the instigator of the story. On the other side of the aisle is mobility. He is the enabler of location based data, subscriber data and usage data. He provides a different kind of context to big data, delivering the insight that allows big data and storytelling to target their efforts even more specifically. By bringing these players together and consolidating the value each of them provides, we move closer to the using data prescriptively. Understanding the context of the data is, for now, the secret sauce. This allows our stories to not only share what and when something is happening, but why. We will be able to suggest better solutions for our customers because we will more fully understand the issues that are enablers versus those that are inhibitors to healthy relationships.

Stories have been a key element of all business, from those that introduce a new norm (Ford), found a business segment (HP, IBM), challenge the norm (Apple, Google) or provide new ways to connect (Bell Labs, Facebook). All stories have a common foundation, data - about the market, the product and the opportunity. Data can exist without story, but its value would not be appreciated. What's your story?

What's your perspective?




Mobile at the Intersection!

Peggy Dau - Monday, June 23, 2014


Mobile is changing the face of business as we know it. It sits at the intersection of cloud, social and big data. While much focus in the mobile phone market is about devices and apps for the consumer, I would argue that Microsoft's decision to finally release it's Office suite as apps for both iPhone and IPad is a true barometer reflecting the increasing use of these devices for business purposes. Why is mobile so important? Aside from the flexibility that it provides users, mobile is driving use of cloud based services as the device itself does not function in a typical client/server fashion. These devices are the route to success for social networks as proven by Facebook's continued investment and focus on mobile. They are changing the shape of industries from healthcare to media to financial services. 

How? Healthcare is perhaps at the forefront of the M2M conversation with the ability for devices to share critical patient data with other devices. Or with the ability to simply encourage users to live healthier lives through wearables and apps capturing and tracking cardio activities or comparing healthy food options. Mobile solutions for healthcare also include patient appointment reminders and medication alerts. Doctors can provide virtual consultations and use software based diagnostic tools that incorporate a patient's medical history to make health recommendations. In the background this is all enabled by cloud, big data and social networking concepts.

The financial services sector has adopted mobile for banking, payments and brokerage transactions. Not only can we review account balances, we can deposit checks, transfer funds, research investments and perform transactions. And, the mobile payments industry (which perhaps is as much about e-commerce as it is financial transactions) is still maturing as companies like Square, Dwolla, Google Wallet simplify payments via your mobile device. The amount of data that is now available to financial institutions thanks to mobile banking allows banks to customize their marketing efforts, creating both efficiencies and new business opportunities.

The media and entertainment industry has been turned on its ear by mobile. Everything from cameras to media workflows to ad sales and advertising itself is going mobile. On the operational side, mobile solutions are lowering costs for broadcasters providing coverage of sport events like the FIFA World Cup. Mobile has also forced significant shifts in media workflows as multichannel consumption is now the norm, not an option. This means content producers must consider HOW they will enable content to be distributed and consumed on a wide variety of devices. Mobile allows social sharing of content, opinions. It is the second screen for entertainment. Media is social. It generates consumer data and content data - all of which is beneficial for operational and financial purposes. And, it is all increasingly happening in the cloud.

The industry at the heart of all? The industry without which none of this could happen. No, its not Apple or Google or any of the device or operating system providers. Its the telecommunications industry. they provide the bandwidth, be it 3G, LTE or WiFi, that allows our devices to connect to their networks and access the information, entertainment or people they desire. Not only does mobile "validate" the existence of communication service providers, it offers them new business opportunities. Companies like AT&T and Verizon, offer a variety of services to help businesses, large or small, develop and/or capitalize upon the use of mobile apps. They provide device management solutions to help businesses address the "Bring Your Own Device" desire for many employees. They provide data analytics services to visualize how, when and where users are accessing information.

That brings the final piece of the puzzle to the table. Data. Lots and lots of data. Data about the subscriber, where they are, what they do. Patterns can be illuminated. Browsing habits can reveal new opportunities. Data about devices and networks. How much data is being transported across networks. What type of data is it?  Structured? Unstructured? Is it related to entertainment, social media, sports, financial services, health, e-commerce, travel? It's no wonder that big data analytics vendors are squarely focused on mobility and the ecosystem that exists around it.

Our mobile devices are our most important accessories. How many times do we double check to make sure we have our devices with us when we are laving the house. They are our link to FINDING information -  about products, competitors, customer service, market trends, industry insights and more. They improve our productivity. They save business a lot of money through time saved. They help business invest in new markets and new solutions, through the use of time saved elsewhere. Mobile devices have changed the way we live and the way businesses will evolve.

What's your perspective?



Big Data Making the Connection

Peggy Dau - Monday, June 16, 2014

With all the buzz about big data, the primary assumption is that it will help companies better understand their customers. This is not wrong, but is is just one aspect of what big data can do. In his recent conversation at HP Discover, Brian Kraznich CEO of Intel, spoke about how big data can help us uncover "known unknowns and the unknown unknowns". For example, we know we can uncover data that will help us understand consumer preferences. It's just a matter of aggregating and analyzing the data from multiple sources. But, what about making the connection between various data points that reveals something we never imagined?

Industries from financial services to oil & gas to telecommunications & media are all using big data to improve their businesses. How big is Big Data?  It's big enough that there is now a data visualization award at this week's Cannes Lions event - the "Oscars" of the advertising industry.  It's important enough that data scientists are paid more than business analysts at financial services firms.

We've all read about Netflix's use of its subscriber data to influence its production of the hit series "House of Cards". However, Netflix is also using data to identify the impact of Quality of Experience (QoE) on the subscriber behavior. For example, what is the rebuffer rate? What is the bitrate? What is the network capacity? One benefit in correlating this data is that it allows Netflix to make smarter decisions about where and when to cache content, usually near the "edge" of the network, to better server their customers.

Netflix is not alone in its focus on the network. Cable operators and telecommunications providers have long been monitoring and measuring network performance. They capture data from across their networks in order to provide a better a subscriber experience, but also to reduce their operational costs. They have adopted big data analytics solutions to address concerns such as extracting data from call data records and comparing it to network alerts with the goal of  improving customer service. The analysis may reveal that a small number of network nodes are responsible for the majority of customer issues. The service provider can then pursue options such as providing online self-service tips, performing proactive network maintenance or performing network equipment upgrades. The results include reductions in the volume of calls to the call center as well as reduced on-site visits, improved customer service margins and happier customers.

A benefit for all service providers is the ability of big data analytics to unify systems for network monitoring, management and troubleshooting. With a variety of hardware and software in the network and at the subscriber premises,  aggregating disparate data is a challenge. Big data solutions enable capture, aggregation and analysis to:

     - measure network usage

     - reduce network equipment costs

     - perform fraud analysis

     - uncover bandwidth issues

Getting ahead of the curve on these issues will allow cable operators, telecommunications providers, wireless carriers and OTT Players to manage their networks more efficiently, which ultimately allows them to serve their subscribers more effectively. Big data provides the insight to prepare them for the increasing demands on the network to provide connectivity, deliver high bandwidth video and enable interactivity.

What's your perspective?



Finding the Story in the Data

Peggy Dau - Monday, June 09, 2014

Batting averages. Market share. Global warming. Presidential front-runner. What do all of these statements have in common? They are statements based on data. They are the beginning of a story. Whether it is a journalist reporting or an analyst writing or a brand positioning, the basis of the story is in the data. It's little wonder that big data analytics has become the catchphrase for every marketer (myself included!).

We've always been data driven. The only difference now, is that we have MORE data. It has always been able to find the data to support any type of debate. However, now individuals are voluntarily sharing their thoughts and opinions on the internet and social networks. It is the power of this unstructured data, especially when combined with existing structured data from existing systems, that is attractive to brands. They have the opportunity to tailor a story to meet specific, self-defined customer needs. But the challenge lies in how to sift through all that data.

Enter - big data analytics. Analytics is now big business. Every IT company has jumped on the bandwagon. IBM and its Watson supercomputer are positioned to provide personalized advice to doctors, financial analysts or online shippers. While HP Vertica is sifting subscriber data at telecommunications companies around the globe and analyzing social data feeds for NASCAR.  Not to be outdone, Teradata is providing greater customer insight to the hospitality industry and food suppliers.  Each of these vendors is providing the 'secret sauce' to help their customers connect with their customers by telling the most relevant story. And, it all comes from the data.

A report from Columbia's TOW Center for Digital Journalism, speaks to data-driven journalism. But, hasn't journalism always been data driven? Yes, but instead of having staff researchers manually scour files and reports, or spend hours online searching for the right data, there are an increasing number of tools to help them uncover the data to create or support the story.  They are not alone. The term data scientist has gained great cache in the past few years. Whether it is for advertising firms or for financial services, the value of data has never been higher. 

One only needs to look at the history of US presidential elections.  Remember the predictions Dewey defeating Truman in the 1948 US Presidential election? Newspapers had determined that they had their story and went to print with "Dewey Defeats Truman" on the front page. Perhaps access to more data would have prevented that now famous error.  Today's pollsters have many more tools available to them today as proven by Nate Silver's eerily accurate predictions in the 2012 US Presidential race.

Brands are learning how to tell their stories with a deeper understanding of their customer base. Dove has hit home runs with their ads reflecting real women rather than models. Telecommunications vendors are modifying their marketing outreach to reflect the knowledge they have about subscriber consumption. Advertising conglomerates, perhaps the kings of storytelling, have invested in analytics to improve ROI for their clients. Big Data Analytics is not a passing fad, it is a logical step on the journey for meaningful, measurable communication between individuals and businesses. Have you found your story in the data?

What's your perspective?




Twitter is #Indispensable

Peggy Dau - Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Twitter.  Everyone knows what it is. Everyone has an opinion as their future viability.  The company went public with much fanfare. The stock opened at $26, climbed to the $70 range and sunk back to $30.  It's now stabilizing, but the question remains - can Twitter hang in there for the long haul?  I'm not a power user of Twitter, nor do I have any financial stake in Twitter. Yet, I find Twitter to be more and more compelling.  

Here's what i like about Twitter. It has taught all of us how to communicate concisely. It's that simple. We've all had to learn how to communicate in 140 characters or less. And that includes any url links or hashtags! I just listened to a report on how to make sure your email is read. In short (pun intended), be direct, be clear, be succinct. It sounds liked Twitter is influencing email.

Twitter is enabling and influencing more than individuals.  It provides personal context to the topics of our day. Twitter has changed the shape of news, politics, sports, TV viewing and business communication.

News:  Twitter has become the source for breaking news. It is so much an accepted force that broadcasters and journalists not only own their own twitter accounts. Twitter is not only incorporated into their reporting, it is now used to get the news out and track audience opinion and interest. It is used to determine the level of reporting associated with breaking or ongoing news topics.

Politics: Then candidate Barack Obama may arguably have been the first politician to capitalize on the power of social media, but the role of Twitter in politics is now, not only acknowledged, it is embraced - until it becomes embarrassing (remember Anthony Weiner?). Twitter helped power the Arab Spring uprisings of 2011. It is such a recognized communication tool that some countries have banned Twitter.  These countries include Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, China, and North Korea.

Sports:  Most professional leagues/teams and college sports programs (e.g., MLB, NFL, NBA, ChampionsLeague, FIFAWorldCup, USOlympics, GoDiplomats, etc.) have active accounts, as do over half of professional athletes. However, the real power of Twitter for sports is in the hands of the fans. The largest spikes in Twitter use surround big sporting events like the SuperBowl, Olympics and the upcoming FIFA World Cup.

TV: This may be where Twitter's influence leading to revenue generation. As Twitter prepared for its IPO, it announced deals with the NFL, Comcast and Nielsen. Twitter, through its acquisition of Amplify, can distribute videos.  However, Twitter users can also click on the "See It" button for certain programs and obtain more information, or watch content on their device.

Business: Twitter has forever changed the nature of business communication. Is there a company, large or small, that does not have a Twitter account? It used to be that a website was the requirement for proving you had a business. Now, it's about both the website (many times as a repository for longer form content) and Twitter. Both B2C and B2B companies tweet to share information, invite engagement, encourage participation and measure customer experience. 

Twitter has become the norm. It is as institutionalized as email when it comes to a form of communication. The difference is that the data in Twitter is extractable and has value. Thus Twitter's acquisitions of Blue Fin Labs and Gnip among many others. Twitter's revenue potential is dependent on monetizing data for advertising, for customer intelligence, for market trends, for consumer insight.

While Twitter subscriber growth is slowing and usage is down (likely due to user inability easily sift through the "noise" to find the "right" content), what other platform has insinuated its way into our daily lives in so many ways? 

What's your perspective?




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