MAD Perspectives Blog

Big Data - Is It Worth The Money?

Peggy Dau - Monday, March 30, 2015

Every organization seems to be prioritizing their need for data. Small or large businesses, finance, accounting, sales, R&D and marketing - they're all seeking data. But, are they willing to pay for it. We could argue yes when  IDC predicted Big Data would drive 16.1B in revenue for severs, storage, software and services, in 2014. But that's just the infrastructure. What about the analytics to understand the data? 

Let's consider the use of data as it relates to marketing. Of course, it could be used for R&D, manufacturing, sales and other aspects of business. However, there is an interesting shift in marketing, with CMOs increasingly investing in technology to better under understand their customers and to manage their marketing programs.

Marketing executives all prioritize their need for data analytics to drive smarter campaigns and improve personalization. Yet, when it comes to prioritizing budget, e-Marketer says analytics falls behind digital commerce and customer experience. However, according to the CMO Survey, this is about to change. While marketing analytics currently accounts for 6.4% of the overall marketing budget, this is expected to increase to 11.75 over the next three years. 

It's not unusual for the budget to lag behind the defined need. After all, why spend the money if it's not aligned with your business goals. The interesting thing is that the data analytics could drive more effective digital commerce and/or customer experience investments. The global marketing analytics market is expected to grow to $2.1B by 2019 according to marketsandmarketsThe big question is if that investment is worth it. It comes down to more than analytics, as there must be a human element that capitalizes upon the finding. But, the reason analytics is hot, is the promise that data analytics can improve marketing ROI. 

Here are just a few examples:

  •   - understanding customer use and engagement of different mediums allows marketing to optimize use of channels such as email marketing, social media, webinars
  •   - identifying customer needs allows marketer to develop relevant content at every stage of the buying cycle
  •   - uncovering audience personas and motivations allows marketers to align messaging, agenda and/or sponsorships at business conferences 
  •   - align human effort more effectively 

Marketing budgets represent approximately 10% of the overall corporate budget. Isn't it worth the investment in analytics to uncover the data that will can lead to a tangible increase in marketing ROI? 

What's your perspective?

Consumer Tools Inspiring B2B

Peggy Dau - Monday, March 23, 2015

I've lived in a B2B world my entire career. Sure, some of the products manufactured by my employers end up in the hands of consumers, but my positions were always focused on the enterprise. My concerns were always about how business would deploy and utilize products. My interest was and continues to be how to deliver solutions that solve a business challenge. In the past, many of the technologies developed for business, were adapted for consumer use. 

However, we've moved past a key tipping point where consumer behavior is actively influencing enterprise solutions. I don't mean their buying behavior. I mean the dramatic shift in how we as individuals share and consume content. Social networks evolved as consumer centric platforms to connect students and friends. Each new social network that emerges is focused on what millennials and Generation Z want to share. Is it text, images, video? Where and how do they want to share it? Are they concerned about privacy? Yes? No?

As each social platform emerges (hello Meerkat!), we are exposed to yet another method of communicating. For businesses, the lesson is to understand which of these methods makes sense given their productions and solutions, and most importantly, the needs and behaviors of their audience. Landor predicts 2015 as the year that B2B trumps B2C in social media. In what year will the volume of B2B apps surpass B2C apps?

Enterprise applications, such as CRM or ERP, are all under the gun to become apps. The difference being in how users interface with these enterprise critical applications. New businesses are emerging that offer these functionalities and others as apps. They must be accessible on the employee device of choice (BYOD, yet another sign of the consumer impact on the enterprise) and provide the required information on demand, while also allowing for content upload.

If you think this it is crazy that a consumer centric solution can change enterprise behavior, look at how hiring and recruiting models are being turned on their heads thanks to LinkedIn. Or, how differentiated itself with integrations to Facebook and Twitter and then incorporated social monitoring and sharing.

I've heard arguments that these consumer inspired tools are not relevant. I've heard the statement "oh, i don't need to worry about that - i work in an office." But I will hazard a guess that even with many of the big tech companies pulling employees back into the office, the demand for ease of use, ease of access and ease of sharing, will not dissipate. If you want to know the future of how corporate america will function, pay attention to consumer trends!

What's your perspective?

MWC2015 Where Mobile and Media Collide

Peggy Dau - Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Mobile World Congress is not the train wreck that the title implies. In fact it's the long awaited convergence of two industries. 15+ years ago telecoms, or communication service providers, began readying themselves for the delivery of video content. The focus was on the deployment of content delivery networks, enabling the caching of popular webpages at the edge of the network to ensure rapid deliver to consumers.

Fast forward to 2015 and the default expectation for video of the internet (OTT). We would be lost without Netflix and our annual binge viewing of House of Cards. And, its consumption on devices not imagined 10 years. But, the real sign of industry convergence is happening this week in Barcelona, Spain. I'm not attending, but I've been to Mobile World Congress many times. What began as an event designed to bring together the technology ecosystem relevant to the mobile industry, has broadened its appeal over the past several years. Whether it was intentional or accidental, or perhaps a bit of both, it is an acknowledgement that mobility is all about the content. Just as TV and internet have been all about content since the their respective inceptions.

The mobile ecosystem used to be limited to network equipment providers, IT company with operational and business support solutions, telecom providers and device manufacturers. Then Apple introduced the iPhone. I was in Barcelona that year. I remember how many iPhones surreptitiously crossed the Atlantic to find homes with colleagues who did not yet have access to this miracle device. Apple solidified a concept which had been bubbling for years - that of apps residing on the phone. With their closed ecosystem, this concept finally took hold. And, content enablers, social media innovators and hollywood execs started showing up at MWC.

For me, this was the tipping point for media colliding with telco. Now, content creators were interested in MWC. Now there was talk of managing increasing data volumes on wireless networks, not fiber or copper. Today we watch video on our smartphones. tablets or fabulist, video chat with friends and family, and capture pictures and video with phones with image quality as good as point & shoot cameras. We share content from our phones via messaging, email and social networks.

App development is a big business now. Whether it is for games, health, business, finance, sport, lifestyle - there is an app for that. Major media companies have developed apps for accessing their content just as the service providers enabling delivery of that content. Social networks must have a mobile strategy or the markets will punish them.

This year's event addresses all the hot trends: wearables, the Internet of Things, devices, and all of the BIG data related to all of those topics. What is the result of the collision between telecom and media? Flexibility. Accessibility. Freedom. Creativity.

What's your perspective?

Big Data Loves It When You Get Emotional

Peggy Dau - Tuesday, February 17, 2015

You know the saying, "it's either laugh or cry". We've all been in those situations where we choose which emotion to express. In fact, in business it's considered poor form to be too emotional. However, those emotions are at the heart of all this big data that's floating around. In the media space, where companies large and small are collecting, aggregating, analyzing data in order to pontificate about the likes and dislikes of their audience, emotions are critical. It's not enough to have 23 million viewers. It's better to understand what they enjoyed or hated. 

The media industry has always been focused on making an emotional connection with its audience. Just look at the run-up to and the aftermath of the SuperBowl. We all know this is not just a game. It is big business for advertisers. GoDaddy created an ad that generated a lot of negative feelings. Whether it was planned or not, they pulled the ad and replaced it with another ad - equally annoying in my opinion but successful in making me take note of their brand. Budweiser continues to tug on our heartstrings with their puppy + Clydesdales storyline - to further cement the position of the brand as a warm and friendly.  

The benefit of the data coming from social networks is that it reveals sentiment. Sophisticated algorithms have been developed to assess whether a statement is positive or negative. Data scientists extrapolate terminology and identify trends. While social media and online behavior provide context in data analysis, that context is more than about what might have influenced a tweet or other social update. It is about the emotion expressed in those updates. 

Live programs are evolving to incorporate audience sentiment into their conversations. Real-time decisions can be made to abandon discussions or investigate "hot" topics more deeply. Reality and scripted TV benefit from the stories portrayed on screen as audiences develop emotional connections to the characters. While data analysis allows producers to better understand audience emotions and subsequently guide their social engagement and promotion strategy. 

Face to face we can read body behavior. Online it can be difficult to detect emotion, which can lead to misunderstandings. This is one reason why the emoticon has become so popular. Aside from being a fun way to quickly express an opinion, they help others understand our moods. 

Consider the ongoing quandary at Facebook about adding a dislike button. We've all wanted a dislike button, especially when we want to reinforce a friend's negative opinion of something. The challenge is understanding the business impact of clearly expressing a dislike. 

Is there business value to being emotional? Yes, there is! So, go ahead get emotional.

What's your perspective?

And the SuperBowl Winner Is...

Peggy Dau - Tuesday, January 27, 2015

…DATA!! Ha! You thought i was going to predict the winner of the big game. Well, i don't claim to be enough of a football fan to even make an attempt at that prediction. I'll leave that to the Las Vegas bookies and the legions of fantasy football leagues. But I can predict that we will see a LOT of data as we approach the game , during the game and directly after the game.

After all, it's more than a game. We will watch the competition on the field, digest a slew of statistics, and debate the merits of ads costing $4M for 30 seconds or $8M for 60 seconds (yes, that's my obligatory pice of data and it doesn't include the cost of producing the ads). We will post social updates about various plays, but also about Katie Perry's halftime performance, our favorite snack food recipes and drinks, what we are wearing, and the weather.

We will seek, find and share videos and data points about past super bowls. In fact, the NFL is makes it with their new Game Rewind service (P.S. free trial access expires February 2, 2015). There will be #hashtags a plenty trending on Twitter - some promoted by the NFL, Patriots and Seahawks - others inspired by on screen events (football related or….not).

Oh, and yes, this is the event that still drives live TV viewing. Sure we will use second screens to enhance that TV experience (and there will be tons of data after the event to reveal what devices, platforms or apps we did actually use), but we will gather together for the original social experience, a party with friends, to enjoy the big game. We will watch the game on HD and UHD TVs. NBC will appreciate the ratings bump.

Yes, we're going to consume a LOT of data. We will debate the merits of each team, player by player, position by position, by salary, by location, by owner and head coach. And, we will create a LOT of data that will be aggregated, analyzed and spit back out to support various perspectives about the birth, death or sustainability of live TV, second screen, social media, and advertising.

Enjoy the game!

The CES Barometer

Peggy Dau - Monday, January 12, 2015

The Consumer Electronics Show is the annual event that sets the stage for the coming year's technology conversations. While the name indicates a focus on consumer electronics, there is a lot of big business mojo in play. Sure there are gadgets and "toys" for us to get excited about, but as many of the journalists attending the show this week indicated - it's just as much about the technologies that enable these gadgets.

To be hones, I've only been to CES once - about 7 years ago. It was an interesting experience for a professional who had previously attended large enterprise events in and around the high tech industry. I walked away thinking that every man i know should attend CES at least once. Now with the rise of the Internet of Things this is truer than ever. Whatever the interest - healthcare, finance, lifestyle, gaming, entertainment or sports, there is something there is always some "bright shiny toy" that will appeal.

But what about what makes all these toys work. Many of them would not be possible without advancements in wireless networks, software development, and plain old creativity and innovation. Having spent a large part of my career in the technology space, focused on telecommunications and media, I appreciate the ongoing efforts to deliver entertainment to greater numbers of devices. I remember trying to watch the World Series on a PC at the 2003 ITU Telecom World in Geneva. Video streaming over the Internet was still pretty sketchy. The connection was persistent, but the quality of the video was low with high pixelation and pauses as the stream re-buffered.

Today we take internet video streaming for granted, as evidenced by the rise of OTT consumption of TV and movie content. Announcements from HBO, CBS and ESPN reflect the shift in consumer behavior. Where TV has been considered the lean-back" experience of enjoying sports, comedy, drama or news, tablets and smartphones are actively intruding. Thanks to improved streaming, compression and network technologies, we can enjoy whatever content we want, wherever we are.

So as we read about the excitement of CES, consider the implications and continuous investments in:

  •  Wireless networks - 4G and LTE are just the latest iterations of network capacity and its ability to an increasingly wide assortment of content.
  • Video cameras capable of capturing content in 4K, 6K and 8K. What's the point of those UltraHD television sets if there is no high quality content programming.
  • Software development - Cloud computing has changed the way in which we access and design enterprise and consumer applications. The concept of apps will only evolve to something even more easily distributed and accessed. It could be virtual.
  • Batteries - All these advanced capabilities, controlled by smartphones, placing increasing demands on battery power. Solutions to "charge-on-the-go" must evolve, if only to eliminate the number of back-up devices that must be carried.
  • Data analytics - The availability and adoption of wearables creates even more data points from which consumer and enterprise can benefit. We willingly share our behavior via social networks, apps and devices. Imagine the insight gained that will enable our devices to anticipate our every need.

Sure CES is entertaining. But, it's also exciting in getting a read on the pulse of innovation and development. Sure, not everything at CES will make into the mainstream. But, it is a barometer tracking the evolution of consumer influence on technology development.

What's your perspective?

Data Lessons Learned From Sports Broadcasting

Peggy Dau - Wednesday, December 17, 2014

I attended the Sports Video Group Summit with a client this week. SVG as indicated by its name, focuses on the business and technology of creating and distributing sports content. Everyone is a sports fan at some level. That doesn't mean you participate in fantasy leagues or count down the moment until the next SportsCenter broadcast, but it does mean you might have kids participating in soccer, swimming, gymnastics or even fencing and archery. 

Sports is all about the statistics. Sure, you thought it was about athleticism. But think about it - avid sports fans can reel off volumes of statistics in the form of batting averages, rushing yards, split times, win/loss records, etc. Those stats are data. Sports is flooded with data and those fans who participate in fantasy leagues, live for the data. However, what about those fans who just want to enjoy a game on TV? Do they love the stats? Do they love seeing their screen covered with mounds of data?

This was part of the conversation at this week's SVG Summit. As live sports producers consider the technology available to them (e.g., 4K cameras that allow them to show you the sweat on the lineman's brow) graphics is a big part of how  sports broadcasting has evolved. Graphics highlight boundaries, player movements, optimal trajectories, and they are the tool to portray data (aka statistics) on air.

It's no wonder that large screen TVs are popular, you need a large screen just to incorporate all that data! The question is - does all that data enhance the fan experience? Is the data complementary or intrusive? Producers have to make decisions about how the event is portrayed. Directors make decisions about camera angles. Producers own the look, feel and context. Yep, context.

Sports broadcasting is storytelling in a, usually, fast paced environment.  Decisions are made about how to add data that provides context to a given moment. This is contextual data. In the retail space this is data about where you might be as a consumer about to make a purchase. In sports productions, this is data that illuminates the viewers understanding of what just happened (or is about to happen) on the field of play. 

The challenge is to avoid crossing the line where the data becomes intrusive and no longer enhances the experience. This is a lesson we can all learn from, data is fantastic when we have a well-defined reason for collecting and analyzing it. Data for the sake of data is overwhelming, and perhaps a bit boring. When there is intention and context, data becomes insightful, helpful and hopefully - actionable.

What's your perspective?

A Data Driven Christmas?

Peggy Dau - Wednesday, December 10, 2014

As we enjoy the holiday season and prepare to enjoy time with friends and family, we also struggle to find the perfect gift. We seek suggestions, rack our brains from creative ideas, and sometimes default to the ubiquitous gift card. What we are seeking is the data to support our decisions.

Whether we are shopping in-store or online, we want validation that we are selecting a gift that will please the recipient. Our intent is to create joy. However, sometimes we mis-fire and our seemingly perfect gift falls flat. Could a data driven gift selection process improve our "win ratio"?

E-commerce sites are investing in big data to improve the consumer experience, to expedite your purchase decision by providing recommendations, and to drive revenue. In-store promotion seek to attract buyers with heavy discounts, but recommendations are absent, unless shopping with a friend. Many of us seek to avoid the physical shopping experience due to lack of time or distaste for crowds. More of us are shopping online as noted by the lackluster Black Friday figures. Yet overall spending both online and in-store declined by 32% from 2013, per the National Retail Federation. There are a variety of reasons for the decline, but perhaps better marketing driven by an understanding of customer need would result in a smaller decline.

Amazon has long been noted for its recommendation engine. Not that it's perfect, but it does gather a lot of information about consumers and it has the ability to recommend products that are similar to those we have viewed, purchased or queried. But, what if we are seeking something completely different than any prior purchase? Amazon, or any other e-commerce site, would struggle to recommend an interesting item. Without incorporating data that reveals our goal, recommendations fall flat.

Big data is the combination of internal data, such as Amazon has collected in it internal databases, plus the combination of external data collected from the internet. It includes data from online searches, social networks and other publicly available sites. It is this unstructured data that does not reside in an existing database that begins to reveal the intent or motivation of the buyer. With an understanding of intent, recommendations can become more relevant and actually influence consumers to take the desired action of buying a gift.

Businesses, B2C or B2B, must define their own intention for using big data. Then, they can create the strategy to collect and analyze the right data to help them achieve their goals. Then, they can provide the context that will motive at customer to take the desired action.

Each industry's buyers and sellers have unique influences driving their behavior. Acknowledging and identifying these drives, helps big data become more relevant and allows big data to lead to measurable actions. Perhaps next year will be a data driven holiday season. For this year, the data is informative but not inspiring or influential.

Will you have a data driven Christmas ( or Hanukkah or Kwanza)? Has data streamlined your gift buying and giving?

What's your perspective?

Are We Too Dependent On Data?

Peggy Dau - Monday, December 01, 2014

I'm a fan of the rise of data analytics and am enthusiastic about it's potential to deliver greater insight that subsequently allows individuals and companies to better serve others. However, I wonder if we are becoming too dependent on that data, or perhaps on the promise of the data.

Regardless of industry, every business thrives on data - whether it is in the form of sales revenue, expenses, headcount, volume of customer service calls, mean time between equipment failures, number of Twitter followers, crop yields, or trading volumes. Publicly traded companies provide Wall Street analysts with lots of data every quarter. Said analysts then pontificate on the virtues or shortcomings resulting from the announcement.

Companies talk about making data driven decisions. Netflix has been the poster-child for this way of thinking, in the media space, as exemplified by their investment in original content creation and choices in what content is promoted subscribers. Fortune 1000 companies make decisions about new products, pricing, go-to-market strategies, customer service, supply chain, hiring, firing, and just about every element of their business, based on data. In many cases, managers and individual contributors are penalized if they do not have the right data at their fingertips.

The challenge is, that some decisions have to be made in the absence of data. The ability to make those decisions is typically born from past experience. But, what happens if a generation of workers has been wholly subjected to data-driven decision making? What if they have not been allowed the autonomy to pursue a strategy that makes practical sense, but is not 100% supported by the data? And, what if that same strategy has minimal cost impact on the organization, but could provide a significant return? Many would say, yes, pursue the strategy for a period of time but measure the results carefully. Yes, that means find the data to support the activity. Others would say, no, there is not enough data to support the limited investment. There are better ways to spend the money.

The billions of dollars being spent on big data are pointless if the data cannot be analyzed and used to support innovation. The challenge remains, how to use the data to drive some type of action. The data is useless without understanding the impetus for acquiring the data. The desire for data should acknowledge that hard earned experience, market awareness and gut instinct are part of discovering the right data and the subsequent analysis of the data. Data taken out of context can lead to misunderstanding and potentially unintentional actions.

Let's be aware of the data, but add in a healthy dose of common sense and human assessment of the data. Let's use data to test our instincts, not replace them.

What's your perspective?

A Season To Be Thankful

Peggy Dau - Monday, November 24, 2014

Inspired by this week's upcoming Thanksgiving celebration and Jimmy Fallon's thank you notes (but without his innate humor), I am grateful for:

     - Amazing colleagues who never cease to feed my desire for knowledge. I've known some of you for years and others only a short time, but every conversation reinforces my love of technology and how it persistently changes the way we live our lives.

     - HP remembering what innovation is! Having spent a significant portion of my adult life as an HP employee, i will always be interested in what this company does.  This year, they made three announcements which proved that they've still got what it takes to compete.  In case you missed them, those announcements were The Machine, Sprout by HP, and 3D Printing.  Good luck HP in bringing all three solutions to market - each of them will shift existing paradigms.

     - Seeing that the media & entertainment sector is finally adopting all the technologies that my old team at HP believed in. We were ahead of the curve, didn't earn or have the confidence of the industry, but we were passionate about how IT-based solutions were going to shift the business of media. That transition is still underway, but it's nice to know we weren't completely wrong!

     - For clients who create cool technology and allow me to help them tell their stories.

     -  The power of networking. As an independent consultant, networking is how business happens. Anyone who follows my blog posts, knows that I'm a big believer in the benefit of social networks - particularly LInkedIn. However, face to face meetings will always win out. They allow for a human experience, a gut instinct, an offhand comment that uncovers a bigger idea - or just a friendly, wow it's great to see you, hug.  Social networks extend and reinforce those human relationships, but hopefully will never completely replace them.

What are you thankful for?

Happy Thanksgiving!



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