Turbotodd

Ruminations on tech, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Archive for November 2011

IBM Benchmark: Cyber Monday Online Spend Increases By 33 Percent Over 2010

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So the IBM Benchmark is in for Cyber Monday’s online shopping extravaganza, and it appears that shopping from the office continues to king.

So much for post-Thanksgiving productivity at work!

Me, the only Cyber Monday deal I bought was a new version of VMWare Fusion for my MacBook Air.  I’m a geek, and I like running multiple operating systems at the same time, what can I say?  It also gave me a good excuse to try out the latest flavor of Ubuntu Linux (11.10).

Online sales for Cyber Monday stayed in line with previous years until a late afternoon surge pushed sales up 33.0% over Cyber Monday 2010.

But I was apparently in the minority.  The U.S. Online retail sector delivered strong growth on Cyber Monday 2011 compared to the same period last year.

Here are the Cyber Monday headlines from the IBM Benchmark analysis:

  • Cyber Monday 2011 Compared to Cyber Monday 2010 (year/year)
    • Consumer Spending Increases: Online sales were up 33.0 percent over 2010, with consumers pushing the average order value up from $193.24 to $198.26 for an increase of 2.6 percent.
    • Shopping Peaks at 11:05am PST/2:05pm EST: Consumers flocked online, with shopping momentum hitting its highest peak at 11:05am PST/2:05pm EST. Consumer shopping also maintained strong momentum after commuting hours on both the east and west coast.
    • Mobile Sales and Traffic Grows: On Cyber Monday, 10.8 percent of people used a mobile device to visit a retailer’s site, up from 3.9 percent in 2010. Additionally, mobile sales grew dramatically, reaching 6.6 percent on Cyber Monday versus 2.3 percent in 2010.
  • Cyber Monday 2011 Compared to Black Friday 2011
    • Consumer Spending Increases: Online sales were up 29.3 percent over Black Friday.
    • The Mobile Bargain Hunter: On Cyber Monday mobile traffic averaged 10.8 percent compared to 14.3 percent on Black Friday.
    • Mobile Sales: Consumer sales on mobile devices reached 6.6 percent versus 9.8 percent on Black Friday.
    • The Apple Shopper: Apple’s iPhone and iPad continued to rank one and two for mobile device retail traffic (4.1 percent and 3.3 percent respectively). Android maintained its position in third at 3.2 percent. Collectively iPhone and iPad accounted for 7.4 percent of all online retail traffic versus 10.2 percent on Black Friday.
    • The iPad Factor: Shoppers using the iPad also continued to drive more retail purchases than any other device with conversion rates reaching 5.2 percent compared to 4.6 percent.
    • The Social Influence: Shoppers referred from Social Networks generated 0.56 percent of all online sales on Cyber Monday versus 0.53 percent on Black Friday. Similar to Black Friday, Facebook led the pack, accounting for 86 percent of all social media traffic.
    • Social Media Chatter: Discussions on social media sites leading up to Cyber Monday increased in volume by 115 percent compared to 2010. Top areas of discussion focused on consumers sharing tips about using price comparison websites while avoiding cyber scams, Cyber Monday deals for international consumers and conversations about Black Friday in-store shopping experiences.

“Cyber Monday was once again the big winner for the Thanksgiving holiday shopping season, with a record number of consumers focused on finding the best online deals,” said John Squire, Chief Strategy Officer, IBM Smarter Commerce. “Retailers that adopted a smarter approach to commerce, one that allowed them to swiftly adjust to the shifting shopping habits of their customers, whether in-store, online or via their mobile device, were able to fully benefit from this day and the entire holiday weekend.”

This news is based on findings from IBM’s fourth annual Cyber Monday Benchmark which tracks more than a million transactions a day, analyzing terabytes of raw data from 500 retailers nationwide.

With this data, IBM helps retailers better understand and respond to their customers – across the organization – improving sourcing, inventory management, marketing, sales, and services programs.

You can download the latest Cyber Monday IBM Benchmark report here.

From Black Friday To Cyber Monday: It’s All In The Clicks

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Well, that day of the year has finally arrived.

That day where we all slink into our offices after four nice, long, official holidays where (mostly, we hope) people stay away from their computers and mobile phones and tablets and God knows whatever other else connected devices just long enough to make it feel like you got some real rest (even though many of you were probably dealing with unrelated, but similarly frustrating, realities —you know, like screaming kids and antagonizing in-laws).

And all you could do was think about how nice it would be to come back into the nice peaceful and quiet office on Monday so you could get back to…shopping.

Yes, boys and girls, cyber Monday has arrived.

But judging from the results of the IBM Coremetrics Benchmark Black Friday e-retailing analysis, you really need not worry about coming into the office anymore just so you can get yourself an extra slurp of broadband.

This is 2011, yo, all you gotta do is break out that iPad and you’ll be standing in front of Macys women’s wear or Best Buy’s electronics section in seconds!

But while you’re out there figuring out your Cyber Monday strategy, I’m going to hit the highlights reel for the weekend in e-shopping.

E-Retail Shopping: Hit ‘Em Early and Often

U.S shoppers apparently took great advantage of early sales this holiday, driving a 39.3 percent year-over-year increase in online Thanksgiving day spending while setting the stage for 24.3 percent online growth on Black Friday compared to the same period last year.

Here’s a quick snapshop of the other key trends:

  • Consumer spending increases. The aggressive shopping we witnessed on Thanksgiving Day this year carried over into Black Friday, with online sales increasing 24.3 percent annually.
  • Mobile Bargain Hunting. Black Friday also saw the arrival of the mobile deal seeker who embraced their devices as a research tool for both in-store and online bargains. Mobile traffic increased to 14.3 percent (compared to 5.6 percent last year).
  • Mobile Sales On the Getgo. Sales on mobile devices surged to 9.8 percent (a tripling from last year’s 3.2 percent).
  • Apple’s One Stop Shop. Mobile shopping was led by Apple, with the iPhone and iPad ranking one and two for consumers shopping on mobile devices (5.4 percent and 4.8 percent respectively). Together, the iPhone and iPad accounted for 10.2 percent of all online retail. Apparently, it ain’t easy bein’ an Android on Black Friday.
  • The iPad Factor. Shoppers using the iPad led to more retail purchases more often per visit than other mobile devices, leading one to wonder about the real estate to deal closing ratio. The bigger the device, the larger the average order value?  Possibly, but this number can’t lie: Conversion rates for the iPad were 4.6 percent, compared to 2.8 for all other mobile devices. The iPad was this weekend’s e-shopping mobile king.
  • Social Influence. Shoppers referred from Social Networks generated 0.53 percent of all online sales on Black Friday, with Facebook leading the pack and accounting for a full 75 percent of all social network traffic.
  • Social Media Chit Chat. Boosted by a 110 percent increase in discussion volume compared to 2010, top discussion topics on social media sites immediately before Friday showed a focus on the part of consumers to share tips on how to avoid the rush. Topics included out-of-stock concerns, waiting times and parking, and a spike in positive sentiment around Cyber Monday sales.
  • Surgical Shopping Goes Mobile: Mobile shoppers demonstrated a laser focus that surpassed that of other online shoppers with a 41.3 percent bounce rate on mobile devices versus online shopping rates of 33.1 percent.

This data came from findings of the IBM Coremetrics fourth annual Black Friday Benchmark, which tracks more than a million transactions a day, analyzing terabytes of raw data from 500 retailers nationwide.

With this data, IBM helps retailers better understand and respond to their customers — across the organization — improving sourcing, inventory management, marketing, sales, and services programs.

You can get more background on the study here.

Black Friday: U.S. Online Retail Up 20% Year-Over-Year!

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I had absolutely nothing to do with shopping today, online or off.  But I seemed to have been a minority, and for those retailers looking to the holiday season to help bolster an otherwise anemic year, they will be excited by the news delivered today by the IBM Coremetrics e-retailing Black Friday Benchmark Report.

No flies on those guys! Apparently they were too busy counting everyone else’s clicks to pursue any of their own.

Click image to enlarge. Black Friday e-retail sales in U.S. were up 20% over the same period last year, with consumers turning to mobile devices like smartphones and tablets for their e-shopping efforts more than they ever have.

E-retail sales at major online retailers were up 20 percent as of 3 P.M. EST this afternoon, compared to the same time on the Friday after Thanksgiving last year.

The survey monitors some 500 major U.S. Online retailers, and the 20 percent is in line with the 20 percent year-over-year increase IBM was reporting mid-day yesterday.  However, apparently lots of folks are holding out until they’ve allowed the turkey trytophan to kick in and the evening football games to start, because full-day online Thanksgiving sales ended 39 percent up over the holiday last year and they soared Thursday evening.

Mobile devices also played a much bigger role in online shopping this year, according to the benchmark.  Shoppers are making 9.73 percent of their purchases from mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, about the same as Thanksgiving day. And, as much as 17.37 percent of traffic to e-retail sites is coming from mobile devices, higher than even the 15.2 recorded yesterday.

Following are some other key highlights from this afternoon’s report (again, as of 3 P.M. EST):

  • Consumer spending increased: Online sales were up a healthy 15.9 percent, with consumers pushing the average order value up from $170.19 to $190.80 for an increase of 12.1 percent.
  • Luxury goods are making a comeback. Jewelry retailers reported a 17.6 percent increase in sales.
  • Social shopping. Consumers appear increasingly savvy about their favorite brands’ social presence, and are turning to their social networking friends for information about deals and inventory levels. 
    • Though the percentage of visitors arriving from social sites is fairly small relative to all online visitors — nearly 1 percent — it’s gaining momentum, with Facebook dominating the space.
  • Surgical shopping. Consumers know what they want and where to get it. People are viewing 18.0 percent fewer products on sites than they did last year, suggesting they are shopping with a specific item in mind and quickly moving up. (My kind of shopping! Surgical strike, indeed!)
  • Mobile shopping. Consumers are embracing mobile as a shopping tool, with 5.6 percent of people logged onto a retailer’s site using a mobile device on Black Friday (a jump of 26.7 percent compared to last Friday!)

The report also provided some color commentary on the types of retail categories and products that are especially sought this year:

  • Department stores.  They’ve become the research engine of choice for consumers looking for Black Friday deals and product promotions. As a consequence, shoppers are spending 17.7 percent more time year over year on department store sites.
  • Health and Beauty. A reported rise of 73.1 percent in the number of new consumers completing their first purchase on their sites and a 53.4 percent jump in the number of visits in which consumers completed an order.
  • In-Store Sales for Consumer Electronics and Appliances. These are expected to increase 3.5 percent this year compared to last, with consumers spending a larger-than-usual share in November, according to an analytics-based forecast from IBM’s Global Business Services division.

U.S. consumers have been increasing their savings relative to disposable income, from 2 percent in 2007 to nearly 6 percent today, which has led to strong pent-up demand for consumer electronics and appliances, both of which are typically seen as necessities in today’s economy.

Stay tuned here on the Turbo blog for other upcoming reports on the holiday season’s retail tidings.  It’s still Black Friday, we still have the weekend, and Cyber Monday is a full three days away!

Social “Star Wars”: The IBM Software Social Intelligence Team

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During my recent visit to Bangalore, I shot the attached video with my almost-new Canon S95 digital camera.  This was a meeting we were having with our new “social intelligence” team there, a crack team of young, but very bright, social media listening superstars.

For far too long, I’ve been putting off learning how to use iMovie, but now that I have my handy MacBook Air 11″, complete with 128GB SSD drive and 4GB RAM, I decided it was time to put the Air, and myself, through the video test.  

To demonstrate how easy it is to learn how to use iMovie, I walked into the tool this afternoon with virtually no real experience to speak of, and arrived at the product below about 2 hours later.  Watch out, Spielberg and Scorcese, the Turbo knows (well, almost) how to produce a video now!

Thanks to the great team in Bangalore for patiently smiling into the camera as we made introductions to our WW team who were situated back in the States during this meeting. 

Written by turbotodd

November 23, 2011 at 12:46 am

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IBM And Scripps Foundation: Crowdsourcing A Cure For Malaria

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Consider this: In 2006, 247 million people became infected with malaria.

Nearly 1 million deaths are caused by malaria each year and 85 percent of those are children, who die from the disease at a rate of one every 30 seconds.

In fact, malaria is the leading cause of death in Africa for those under age five.

According to the World Health Organization, malaria is both a disease of poverty and a cause of poverty; survivors are often subject to impaired learning, school absences, lost work and increased economic distress. Where prevalent, the disease can account for 40 percent of all public health costs.  

There is no reliable cure or vaccine for the prevention and treatment of all forms of malaria — particularly the drug-resistant strains caused by Plasmodium falciparum, which kills more people than any other parasite and is of particular interest to the researchers.

Crowdsourcing A Cure For Malaria 

IBM’s Watson computing system broke new ground earlier this year when it defeated two celebrated human competitors on the “Jeopardy!” game show.

Now, The Scripps Research Institute is hoping to do something equally novel but more critical to human health with part of the prize money from that tournament: Find a cure for drug-resistant malaria.

And it’s asking for the public’s help.

Scripps Research and IBM are encouraging anyone in the world with a personal computer to join World Community Grid (WCG), a sort of “supercomputer of the people” that will crunch numbers and perform simulations for “GO Fight Against Malaria”—the project that Scripps Research and IBM have launched. 

World Community Grid is fed by spare computing power from the nearly 2 million PCs that have been volunteered so far by 575,000 people in more than 80 countries. 

Now that’s crowdsourcing!

Breaking It Down Into Wee Bits

WCG gives each PC small computing assignments to perform when the devices aren’t otherwise being used by its owners, then sends the results to scientists seeking a faster way to cure disease, find renewable energy materials, create clean water techniques, or develop healthier food staples.

Or, in this case, perform simulations for the fight against malaria.

Scripps Research, which has already used World Community Grid to discover two promising new inhibitors of HIV to advance the treatment of multi-drug-resistant AIDS, is now taking on the malaria project as well.

By tapping into World Community Grid — which turned seven years old just this past week — Scripps Research scientists hope to compress 100 years of computations normally necessary for the effort into just one year.

The scientists will use this resource to more quickly evaluate millions of compounds that may advance the development of drugs to cure mutant, drug-resistant strains of malaria.

Data from the experiments will then be made available to the public.

Elementary, My Dear Watson

Earlier this year, scientists for seven World Community Grid projects received half the $1 million first-place prize from the “Jeopardy!” game show tournament that saw IBM’s Watson computing system compete successfully against two former human champions.

Watson, named after IBM founder Thomas J. Watson, was built by a team of IBM scientists who set out to overcome a longstanding scientific challenge—building a computing system that rivals a human’s ability to answer questions posed in natural language with speed, accuracy and confidence.

“Working on malaria started as a hobby that I advanced during nights and weekends for a couple years, when I wasn’t working on FightAIDS@Home,” said Alex L. Perryman, Ph.D., a research associate in Scripps Research Professor Arthur Olson’s lab. “With persistence and a lot of help from IBM and from fellow Scripps Research scientists, we are now ready to launch the largest computational research project ever performed against drug-resistant malaria.”

The team at Scripps Research successfully proposed a project whose design and development would benefit from the winnings.  Perryman, who describes the malaria project in more detail here, explained that “Without the funding provided by some of the money that Watson won on “Jeopardy!,” this Global Online Fight Against Malaria project would not have been possible.”

Background: World Community Grid

World Community Grid is one of IBM’s exciting philanthropic initiatives. Founded in 2004 and running on Berkeley Open Infrastructre for Network Computing (BOINC) software, it provides computational power available to scientists who might not otherwise be able to afford the high speed computing they require for timely research.

To date, 19 research projects have been hosted on World Community Grid, spinning off 30 peer-reviewed papers.

Nine of the projects it has hosted have generated particularly promising results that are being further researched, or followed up with a second phase on World Community Grid.

If it were a physical supercomputer, World Community Grid would be one of the world’s 15 fastest such machines.

Go here to learn more and to participate in this important new research effort and help the global fight against malaria.

Written by turbotodd

November 22, 2011 at 5:25 pm

Lotusphere And Connect 2012: Making New Connections

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Greetings.  I meant to say in my post from earlier today a big congratulations to the U.S. Team which held on to golf’s President’s Cup after a week of turbulent golf down under at Royal Melbourne in Melbourne, Australia.

Lotusphere 2012 will be held January 15-19, 2012, in Orlando, Florida, and will feature the two-day "Connect" event for those looking to go deep and long on social business.

Despite the controversy around U.S. Captain Freddy Couples “captain’s choice” of Tiger Woods, who hasn’t exactly been at the top of his game of late, it was Woods who, two President’s Cups in a row, clinched the cup in a singles match Sunday against Aaron Baddeley.  Woods won 5 and 3.

Tiger Woods is back.  Yay for golf!

And as professional golf in the U.S. fades further into the sunset of winter, not to be fully awakened until early January, we do know what happens in Orlando, Florida, in mid-January: Lotusphere 2012, and this year’s sister event, “IBM Connect.”

For those not in the know from years past, Lotusphere 2012 is a five-day technical conference that covers a broad array of topics focused on social business, ranging from strategy and best practices, adoption and deployment, to capabilities and solutions. As usual, there will be the familiar session tracks, labs, and the Solutions Showcase.  And of course, yours truly, along with my developerWorks livecasting guru Scott Laningham, will be in attendance conducting interviews and covering the event tidings for the blogosphere.

But, there’s more.  This year, the larger event will also be hosting an “event within the event,” in the form of “Connect 2012,” a two-day social business conference that will provide a venue for company leaders and IBM experts to share strategies, challenges, and best practices (not to mention a few Twitter IDs) for exploiting pervasive social technologies to achieve tangible advances in company performance.

So, if you have a few business leaders that you’re still trying to get on the social cluetrain, IBM Connect could be just what the doctor ordered — make sure you get them the invite info.

Here’s a breakdown of the topline “tick tock” for Lotusphere and IBM Connect 2012:

  • Business Partner Development Day (Sunday, January 15)
  • Connect 2012 (Monday and Tuesday, January 16-17)
  • Lotusphere 2012 (Monday-Thursday, January 15-19)

Here’s a link to everything you’ll need to know to register and make sure that Lotus Knows you’re planning to attend Lotusphere and Connect 2012.  Until December 2, 2011, Lotusphere registration is a mere $1,995 (U.S.), but goes up to $2,295 on December 3rd (Connect 2012 is $995 U.S.)

So register while there are still seats available, and know I’ll be sharing more details as we get closer to the two events.

IBM Helps U.K. Retailer Marks & Spencer In Digital Multi-Channel Evolution

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If you’ve ever gone shopping in the U.K. (And perhaps even if you haven’t), then you’re well aware of U.K. Retailer Marks & Spencer.

World renowned U.K. retailer Marks & Spencer (M&S) is using IBM software for Smarter Commerce to transform its Web site into a global marketplace where customers can seamlessly shop from any country, device or channel regardless of whether they are calling, viewing, surfing or walking in from the street.

M&S has recently partnered with IBM to improve its online shopping experience.  Specifically, M&S is now using IBM software for Smarter Commerce to transform its Web site into a global marketplace where customers can seamlessly shop from any country, device or channel regardless of whether they are calling, viewing, surfing, or walking in from the street.

Now that, my friends, is a true multichannel retail experience.

Here’s how it works: The IBM software provides integrated purchasing, order management and customer service capabilities across all of M&S’ sales channels. This helps them capitalize on the growth of mobile, social, and multi-channel purchasing by customers in the digital age.

They hope to appeal to these increasingly online audiences domestically and establish a global customer base for its online store.

With 64 percent of consumers making a first purchase because of a digital experience, it’s critical that retailers understand this online behavior and refine their marketing and ecommerce activities appropriately.

M&S aims to become the U.K.’s leading multi-channel retailer, growing sales to between 800 million pounds Sterling – 1 billion pounds by 2013/2014, up from 543 million pounds in 2010/2011.

But M&S needed to capture its customers’ behavior accurately in order to be able to personalize its communications with them and to provide the same level of service to shoppers, regardless of their mode or channel of interaction.

M&S selected IBM Sterling Order Management for its ability to provide inventory visibility across all channels and for its transaction scalability needed to meet seasonal requirements.

M&S also chose IBM WebSphere Commerce, for its comprehensive personalization capabilities and because it can be deployed worldwide in different ways across all sites to serve different brands, regions or targeted groups of customers.

“The explosion of personalized data now accessible to consumers through social media, online and mobile interactions is causing fundamental changes in the way retailers operate,” said David Hogg, commerce solutions lead, IBM.

“It requires a new approach — which IBM calls Smarter Commerce – that puts the customer at the center of its business. With the new software now in place, M&S can take action based on a consistent view of a customer’s order across any of the sales channels they have chosen. In this way, customers can continue to enjoy the high levels of service they have come to expect from this major U.K. retailer, while M&S can expand its business by increasing sales worldwide.”

IBM’s Smarter Commerce initiatives draw on its market-leading WebSphere Commerce platform and a $2.5 billion investment in on-premise and cloud-based software from IBM’s acquisitions of Sterling Commerce, Unica and Coremetrics.

And IBM Global Business Services is expanding its consulting and solutions capabilities with 1,200 dedicated practitioners for Smarter Commerce.  Over 2,000 of the world’s top brands rely on IBM to help improve their brand and marketing execution.

Go here to get more information on IBM Smarter Commerce solutions.

Written by turbotodd

November 21, 2011 at 3:21 pm

New TurboTech Episode: Scott and Todd on IBMers Tweeting About Stuff IBMers Say…& The IBM 2011 Tech Trends Survey

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So Scott Laningham and I haven’t seen one another lately, seeing as we saw so much of one another at Information on Demand 2011 in Vegas that, well, we probably just got plain sick of one another. Actually, that’s not true, but it makes for good drama as you try to figure out just why we hadn’t done a TurboTech episode lately.

There really was no good reason, except that we’ve just both been so busy with our “day” jobs that we hadn’t gotten in touch.  Well, that all changed yesterday, when one of our colleagues started a trending theme on Twitter called “StuffIBMerssay” that probably witnessed a $200 million productivity hit to the IBM company as hundreds of we IBMers, former and otherwise, stopped what we were doing and stared in fascination as the hilarious Tweets about being an IBMer scrolled by. I’m guilty as well, having provided several contributions.

Just use the hashtag #stuffibmerssay and I’m sure some doozies are still rolling by.

We also just haven’t had much to say, Scott and I, but with the recent launch of the 2011 IBM Tech Trends report, that all changed.  So, click on the play button below, and you, too, can lose 15 minutes of your day.

But you also might just learn something….that’s doubtful, of course, but there’s always the possibility.

What To Do With Those Jimmy Choos

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IBM determined the median heel height discussed online by those identified as important shoe mavens in the social media universe. The median height discussed peaked at seven inches in 2009 and declined to two inches this year.

You never know what you’ll find when you get out there and start monitoring the social media.

Take a recent computer-based analysis of billions of social media posts that IBM recently conducted.  The analysis suggested a major change on the horizon in women’s shoe fashions: Heel heights, which are currently in nosebleed territory, are poised for a decline.

Quick, somebody get Anna Wintour on the phone!

This is one remarkable example of how the predictive capabilities of social media analysis can serve as a source of valuable and actionable insight.

As for me, my heels are generally flat, except for when I wear my cowboy boots or my rollerblades.  But I’m not your typical target audience for Jimmy Choo or Ferragamo.

Don’t Get Caught Flat-Footed On Social Media Analytics

All platform shoes aside, such findings do demonstrate how social media analysis can be put to practical business use, which apparently needs to be reemphasized over and over and over again.  That’s because IBM’s recent Chief Marketing Officer study suggested that CMOs around the world need to embrace social media in their business, as only a small minority of them today actually factor information from blogs and other forms of social media into their strategic business and marketing decisions.

So why the downturn (literally) in high heels?

“Usually, in an economic downturn, heels go up and stay up – as consumers turn to more flamboyant fashions as a means of fantasy and escape,” said Dr. Trevor Davis, a consumer products expert with IBM Global Business Services. “This time, something different is happening — perhaps a mood of long term austerity is evolving among consumers sparking a desire to reduce ostentation in everyday settings.”

Flat Shoes Never Went Well With A Flat Economy

A look back at the last 100 years of shoe fashion trends reveals that heel heights soared during the most prominent recessions in U.S. history.  Low-heeled flapper shoes in the 1920s were replaced with high-heel pumps and platforms during the Great Depression.

Platforms were again revived during the 1970s oil crisis, reversing the preference for low-heeled sandals in the late 1960s.  And the low, thick heels of the 1990s “grunge” period gave way to “Sex and the City”-inspired stilettos following the dot-com bust at the turn of the century.

In a potential deviation from the long-term trend, Davis continued, an analysis of the last four years of social media showed that discussions of increasing heel height peaked towards the end of 2009, and declined after that.

For example, key trend-watching bloggers between 2008 and 2009 wrote consistently about heels from five to eight inches, but by mid 2011 they were writing about the return of the kitten heel and the perfect flat from Jimmy Choo and Louboutin.

This is not to say that the sky-high heels have gone, rather that, as the economic downturn has wore on, they are discussed as glamwear and not for the office or shopping trip, Davis said.

While heels on women’s shoes are still high – as a visit to any shoe store will confirm — the IBM analysis points to a change in trend. This datacould be used by shoe manufacturers and retailers looking for insight into the kind of shoes to, respectively, manufacture and sell in the coming season.


Here’s how the analysis was conducted:

  • First, IBM used special analytics software to search billions of social media posts to identify individuals discussing shoes. This initial category contained tens of thousands of posts.
  • Next, the software narrowed the list down to those who are key online influencers in the area of footwear – bloggers, for example. The software relied on special algorithms that rated the popularity of these influencers by zeroing in on the ones who sit in the center of large social networks – that is, writers of blogs that many other blogs link to and which in turn link to many blogs. These bloggers aren’t traditional “experts” – they don’t work in the footwear industry, for example. But they are passionate footwear enthusiasts with large followings.
  • Finally, the software analyzed the content of the social media sites, looking specifically for discussions of shoe height.

Putting Social Media Analytics Into Work In The Enterprise

The IBM project illustrates how sophisticated analysis of social media could be used by manufacturers in planning future products, by retailers in choosing which products to stock, and by marketers in planning advertising campaigns.

It could also help a city or government better serve its constituents. The ability to analyze social conversation in real-time can help officials see how constituents are responding to policy decisions or how outreach could be varied across different channels to get the word out about specific events.

Social media analysis could also serve as an early warning system for governments around special events and unexpected occurrences. For example, public safety officials could use this technology as part of a rapid response system for flooding, earthquakes and other natural disasters; or to identify areas of public services delivery that need improvement.

To learn more about IBM social media analytics visit www.ibm.com/bao. You can also follow the high heel conversation on Twitter at hashtag #blueheels and #IBMBAO.  And if you’d like to discuss these trends with some IBM retail experts, join the Smarter Retail group on LinkedIn.

Written by turbotodd

November 17, 2011 at 6:01 pm

IBM’s 2011 Midmarket CMO Study: Sustaining Brand Loyalty With Today’s Social Consumer

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IBM is on a roll recently with its market research, and this go ‘round centers on the concerns of chief marketing officers (CMOs) in the midmarket (small-to-medium sized businesses).

CMOs from midsize firms are striking a better balance today between investing in solutions that drive efficiency and those that improve decision making, foster collaboration, and enhance customer relationships.

First, the headline: Building and sustaining brand loyalty is the top concern for midmarket CMOs, yet 72 percent of them are not sure how to effectively build this loyalty.

Additionally, 70 percent of these CMOs are concerned about data explosion, as they are tasked with making sense of highly complex information generated constantly from a variety of sources such as consumer blogs, Tweets, mobile texts, and videos.

Calgon, take me away!

The report also suggests that today’s CMOs need to be better prepared with an empowered consumer that is impacting brands instantly on Twitter, Facebook, and other social channels (Look no further than this week’s challenge that Bank of America faced when its Google+ channel was “brandjacked”!)

Sixty-one percent of midmarket are struggling with how to transform this shift into a business opportunity. Many CMOs are focused on understanding the markets versus understanding the individual consumer in order to shape marketing strategies.

Only 40 percent of midmarket CMOs are taking the time to understand and evaluate the impact of consumer generated reviews, blogs and third party rankings of their brands!

What’s the Problem?

The proliferation of social media and mobile devices is creating a new breed of consumer that is digitally savvy and is able to quickly compare and evaluate which products and services they want to buy.

Mobile commerce is expected to reach $31 billion by 2016, yet 62 percent of midmarket CMOs are not prepared to capture the business opportunity mobile commerce presents. This increase in the mobile shopping trend further increases marketing challenges, complicates data collection and analysis, and threatens both customer service and customer retention.

Like their peers in larger organizations, midmarket CMOs are also being held more financially accountable to their organizations to produce business outcomes at a faster pace.

The study also revealed that while midmarket CMOs believe ROI on marketing dollars spent will be the most important measuring stick for determining success of their business by 2015, the survey noted 72 percent of CMOs are unprepared for the plummeting level of brand loyalty.

Aside from current economic conditions, there’s an even bigger factor impacting brand loyalty.

Innovations in technology and the spread of social networking have provided buyers with new tools for discovering, comparing, evaluating, choosing and experiencing brands.

With the growth of social networks and a need for transparency, trust and personal exchanges between the consumer and the marketplace are now forming the cornerstone of small and midsize marketing efforts.

Everyday consumers are creating 2.5 quintillion bytes of data with 90 percent of the world’s data created in the last two years alone. Savvy marketers are gaining insight from social media and incorporating it into their strategies.

The key is predicting what consumers will want and then adapting marketing strategies to give them the right product when, where, and at what price they want it.

Today, retailers are embracing technologies such as analytics to make sense of massive amounts of data consumers are generating every single second to effectively target the individual consumer and enhance the shopping experience.

IBM Case Study: Lee Jeans Teams Works to Understand the Individual Consumer

Lee Jeans, one of the most recognizable apparel brands in the world faced the challenge of capturing and analyzing the huge volume of information being generated by a variety of sources before any merchandising decisions could be made on its website, Lee.com.

By adopting analytics technology, Lee employees now have the capability to quickly make informed decisions that will improve the consumer’s shopping experience.

Now, all the information that merchandisers need such as how well items sell, what is currently in stock and what consumers are saying through social media channels is organized into simple visuals that are shown over product thumbnail images on the Lee website.

With this visual layout that mirrors Lee.com, the merchandisers can easily move products around based on popularity and availability.

Merchandisers are able to see which products are being viewed most often and most importantly, which ones are being purchased most often. This ultimately allows the Lee team to display the site in a way that provides the best shopping experience for consumers.

Lee is now also able to obtain all product view data, online sales, abandonment rates and conversion rates to give Lee merchandisers a quick snapshot of product performance.  Lee is also capturing consumer sentiment data generated from social media channels such as Facebook and brand rating website Bazaarvoice.

Facebook ‘Likes’and Bazaarvoice ratings are also included in the tool at the product level and these insights are used to help with marketing and merchandising decisions.  Using social media and analytics Lee can now make faster and more informed merchandising decisions targeted at its customers with a simple click of the mouse

Go here for more information on the IBM Mid-Market CMO Study.

You can also register for the IBM Smarter Commerce webcast on Nov. 17 at 10am ET to learn more.

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