Turbotodd

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

Archive for June 21st, 2012

A New Style of Analytics: Making Sense of Data Overload

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If you’re in the business of making decisions…or if someone in your business supports you through decision making…then you’ll probably want to take note of an announcement IBM just made to help bolster decision making capability using analytics technology.

“Big data” is the digital convergence of structured and unstructured data. Those organizations that can capture and analyze their data, regardless of what type, how much, or how fast it is moving, can make more informed decisions.

Yesterday, IBM announced new predictive analytics software that automatically correlates and analyzes big data to help clients embed hyper-intelligence into every business decision.

In addition to generating insights on internal data in a matter of seconds, the software measures the impact of social networking channels and factors this information into organizational decision making.

The software represents a new class of “decision management” capabilities that revolutionizes the way organizations gain, share and take action based on information gathered as part of business processes such as marketing, claims processing and fraud detection.

In these, and other data-rich areas – where anywhere from a thousand to five billion decisions are made daily – the software will put forward the next best action to front-line employees ensuring optimal interactions and outcomes.

Driving Repeatable Results With Fewer Resources

Companies across all industries are increasingly under pressure to drive immediate and repeatable results with fewer resources, react more swiftly to rising customer demands, and gain faster insights on business data.

These pressures are challenging organizations to strengthen their approach to decision making, and forcing organizations to act not only corporate policy and gut instinct.

For example, according to a Columbia Business School Center Global Brand Leadership report, 90 percent of senior corporate marketers believe that successful brands use customer data to drive marketing decisions. Yet 50 percent say that a lack of sharing customer data within their own organization is a barrier to effectively measuring their marketing efforts.

Compounding these challenges is the variety, velocity and volume of big data which is growing at record rates. According to IDC, the decision management software market is expected to exceed $10 billion by 2014.

“In today’s marketplace, when a customer says they’re not happy, companies must decide how to react — not later that day, or in an hour, but instantly,” said Deepak Advani, vice president business analytics products and solutions, IBM.

“With these new technologies, winning organizations can embed analytics into under-served areas of their business, empowering all employees to make information based decisions.”

IBM Analytical Decision Management Software

The new Analytical Decision Management software, part of a series of IBM Smarter Analytics initiatives, helps clients apply automated, real-time analytics into any operational data no matter where it resides, and instantly analyze it to uncover trends and expose hidden paths to growth.

As a result, insights can now be automated, socialized and used for predictive decision making.

In a single platform, IBM has combined the power of business rules, predictive analytics and optimization techniques through intuitive interfaces that allow users to focus on specific business problems. The resulting decision can be consumed by existing pre-packaged or custom-built applications, including many applications on the mainframe.

The platform also takes advantage of IBM InfoSphere Streams technology where big data can be analyzed and shared in motion, providing real-time decision making in environments where thousands of decisions can be made every second.

Entity Analytics: Making Sense of Data Overload

IBM is also extending the powerful analytical functionality with the inclusion of its newest entity analytics capabilities. For the first time, businesses can take advantage of entity analytics as part of the decision management platform.

This feature, especially well suited for big data environments, is a unique analytics engine that enables identification and matching for all entities – people, places, or things – making systems smarter as more information becomes available.

Unlike traditional methods, the IBM entity analytics capabilities are context based and accumulate knowledge, resulting in a more accurate picture, better models, and better outcomes. This ability to understand how the data is related delivers higher quality models and helps to ultimately produce smarter decisions.

Understanding Social Relationships and Influencers

A new social network analytics feature enables companies to take sentiment analysis a step further by analyzing who the influencers are around any given topic, who exactly is listening, and why people should care.

This feature enables decision makers to factor in how customers behave, what they say, and how big their sphere of influence is in a social network.

For example, which other customers does this person know? Does this person influence others in their social network? The ability to incorporate social network analytics into the predictive models used in analytical decision management helps organizations identify social leaders who can influence behavior.

C Spire: Predicting Customer Behavior

IBM client C Spire, a leading telecommunications service provider, is using IBM analytics to get closer to their customers by better predicting customer behavior and intervening before a problem ever arises, making their service and experience more personalized.

“The benefits we are able to see from using this advanced IBM analytics technology will give us the ability to put the right message in front of the right customer at the best time and in the best channel,” said Justin Croft, manager marketing campaigns and promotions, C Spire.

“We will now be able to deliver true personalization, giving the customer exactly what they need, without having to ask for it. Not only does this improve the customer experience, it also positively impacts sales and customer retention.”

This recent announcement builds on the recent release of IBM’s operational decision management software, and represents the first time that both analytical and operational decision management are provided to clients jointly on one platform.

IBM: Laser Focused on Business Analytics

The news is part of IBM’s larger focus on business analytics and optimization, which spans hardware, software, services, and research. IBM projects $16 billion in business analytics revenue by 2015.

To meet that target, the company has established the world’s deepest portfolio of analytics solutions, growing its business and industry expertise to approximately 9,000 business analytics and optimization consultants and 400 researchers, and created global analytics solution centers in Berlin, Beijing, Dallas, London, New York, Tokyo, Washington and Zurich.

IBM has acquired more than 30 companies to build targeted analytics and information expertise and continues to expand its ecosystem, which today consists of more than 27,000 IBM business partners. IBM has also secured hundreds of patents a year in analytics.

These investments have enabled IBM to develop breakthrough technologies like IBM Watson, a new class of industry specific analytical capability that uses deep content analysis, evidence-based reasoning, and natural language processing to identify relationships buried in large volumes of data that can be used to improve decision making.

Go here to learn more about IBM’s Analytical Decision Management technology.  You can also following the ongoing discussion around IBM and entity analytics on Twitter via the following hashtags:  #smarteranalytics #ibmbigdata and #decisionmgmt.

IBM Survey: Marketers Face Tech Dilemma

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IBM just got the results in on yet another of its boundless surveys, this one concerning my favorite, the marketing industry.

Click to enlarge. While new social media and mobile devices are vital, the recent IBM “State of Marketing” survey revealed that 41 percent say keeping pace with the growth of these channels and device choices will be their biggest challenge over the next three to five years. This finding follows IBM’s 2011 CMO study where 65 percent of CMOs stated that they are under prepared for the growth of social and online channels such as Facebook and Twitter and new device choices including smart phones and tablets.

The lead: CMOs and CIOs must partner to connect with today’s elusive consumer across new channels (including mobile and social).  

Sounds obvious enough, but fully 60 percent of marketers point to their lack of alignment with the company’s IT department as the biggest obstacle to reaching today’s consumers.

On the mobile front: Mobile marketing seems to be working well, according to the findings, but marketers are preparing to move beyond coupons and deliver mobile advertising that reaches customers on smartphones and tablets.

34 percent of respondents stated that in less than 12 months, they intend to deliver mobile ads, the highest rate of new marketing tactic adoption in the five-year history of the study.

Overall, 46 percent of respondents are currently using mobile web sites followed by 45 percent mobile applications, up from 40 percent and 44 percent respectively since last year.

Social Media Growing Pains

While the mobile channel is thriving, marketers lack this same clear consensus on how to best utilize social media, which will result in ongoing experimentation with these channels.

When  looking toward the remainder of the year, 26 percent intend to launch applications on 3rd party social network sites, 24 percent plan to incorporate user-generated content into their social media efforts, and 23 percent are looking to launch social media ads or share links in email and web offers.

Dipping their toes in the water, checking things out, but not necessarily diving in.

IBM digital marketing consultant Todd “Turbo” Watson provides his own response and recommendations concerning the results from IBM’s 2012 “State of Marketing” study.

The State of Marketing 2012

This IBM “State of Marketing 2012” study surveyed more than 350 marketing professionals across a wide range of industries and geographies.

Notably in the study, 51 percent of respondents who identified their companies as high-performing indicated they have good relationships between marketing and IT, 10 percent higher than other companies.

This figure validates the importance of the marketing and IT alliance which gives top performers greater responsibilities for the products and services, price, place and promotion (the 4Ps), and communication across the purchasing cycle.

As a result, marketers from these higher performing companies are nearly three times more likely to be pro-active leaders in driving their organization’s customer experience across all channels.

“This research indicates that as new channels continue to mature and consumer habits evolve, marketing and IT have no alternative but to emerge from their traditional silos and form a strong partnership that puts the business in a position to succeed,” said Yuchun Lee, Vice President, IBM Enterprise Marketing Management Group.

“CMOs and CIOs, an ‘odd couple’ in some respects, will be the catalysts in forging this union and enabling the types of personalized multichannel brand relationships that today’s customers demand.”

Here are some other interesting results found in the survey:

  • Marketing and IT Lack Integration: While 48 percent of respondents believe that improved technology infrastructure or software will enable them to do more, nearly 60 percent indicated that lack of IT alignment and integration are significant barriers to the adoption of technology. This void further reinforces the notion that CMOs and CIOs must forge stronger, more aligned relationships that put the business in a position to succeed.
  • Marketing and IT Lack Unified Vision: While 71 percent believe integration across owned, earned and paid channels is important, only 29 percent are effectively integrating these different channels. When asked why, 59 percent said that existing systems are too disparate to integrate these channels. This is most evident in areas such as mobile and social where only 21 percent and 22 percent of respondents run these tactics as part of integrated campaigns with the remainder conducting them in silos, discretely and on an ad hoc basis, a practice which inhibits their ability to deliver effective cross-channel campaigns.
  • Marketers State Social and Mobile are Biggest Challenges Moving Forward. While new social media and mobile devices are vital, 41 percent stated that keeping pace with the growth of these channels and device choices will be their biggest challenge over the next three to five years. This finding follows IBMs 2011 CMO study where 65 percent of CMOs stated that they are under prepared for the growth of social and online channels such as Facebook and Twitter and new device choices including smart phones and tablets.
  • Marketers Ignore Social Media Insights: While marketers continue to experiment with social media channels, 51 percent are not using this data to inform decisions about marketing offers and messages. This may represent a missed opportunity for marketers looking to best meet the needs of today’s customer.
  • Marketers Fail to Turn Data into Action. When asked how they are using online visitor data, 65 percent of respondents are doing the basics, reporting and analyzing their data. Despite that number, only one third are using this data to target one-to-one offers or messages in digital channels and less than 20 percent are using this online data to make one-to-one offers in traditional channels.

The Recommendations: Let The Customer Lead and Tear Down Those Walls

So, what’s a poor, social-media starved, completely unintegrated, IT-deficient CMO to do?

Lead with the customer experience.  Collaborate with your other business functions and work to expand the role of marketing throughout the purchasing cycle.  Make marketing everybody’s job (because they should all have a stake in its outcome), and use business analytics with agreed on core KPIs that helps convey to everyone your progress (or lack thereof).

Break Down Those Walls…And Silos. Think about your customer experience from their perspective, map your engagement with them, and then figure out where the gaps and inconsistencies are. You can have the best TV ads in the world, but if your customer service rep hasn’t been enabled to address that wonderful Facebook campaign you were running, no amount of apologizing can make up for such basic gaps and gaffes.

Embrace a tech marketing platform. Use technology to your advantage. Stop practicing the art of southern engineering (using chewing game and baling wire to build your campaign). Partner with IT to more aggressively eliminate silos and integrate and bring on board those new technologies that will help you automate your marketing. In the process, learn how to speak to your CFO in their terms, and be increasingly prepared to explain the value of your marketing in (numerical) terms they can appreciate.

You can download the full study results on SlideShare.

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