Are we entering another dot-com bubble or are retail dot-com properties overvalued because brick and motar retailers are in contraction? What does or could this mean for Brand Companies? A great point of view from the FT!

From today’s FT, “Is this another dotcom bubble? Online luxury retailer Farfetch is the latest London technology start-up to be valued at $1bn” Ravi Mattu of the FT  gives his analysis at whether start-up scene is overheating. My opinion is Farfetch has found a niche for luxury brands unable to build their own e-commerce presence […]

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IBM and Mars announce collaboration on leveraging advanced analytics for food safety

IBM and Mars, Inc. have announced the formation of  the Consortium for Sequencing the Food Supply Chain. Advanced analytics, computational biology and biochemical analyses to develop a baseline for “what is normal bacteria” in the farm to fork supply chain, identification of pathogens and prediction of where they might occur. Think of this as security […]

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Role of the Cognitive Digital Guardian in B2B and B2C Commerce

As reported by  Sky News, the US Department of Defense is investing in the application of Cognitive Computing to digital behavior and biometrics in order to develop a better approach to user authentication and security than User IDs and Passwords.  The work by researchers at the US Military Academy at West Point will build on […]

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Why Manufacturers and Retailers need to cooperate to accelerate local shopping beating online

Recently, Lasetter and Lauster of consultancy Strategy&, have presented in Strategy+Buiness Journal, a very cohesive argument as to why manufacturers and retailers in the grocery industry need to cooperate to address the changing competitive dynamics due to online shopping.  This perspective by Lasetter and Lauster, is backed up by our own research at IBM on […]

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Internet of Things, Smart Clothing, Smart Packaging and The Consumer Experience

Over the past three years, the Internet of Things has become one of the hottest topics in the consumer product industry, especially around wearable devices (smart watches, fitness bands, medical accessories) and intelligent vending systems (Coke Freestyle and Pepsi Spire) but not as much in the clothing and product packaging domains.  Part a function of […]

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IBM moves Cognitive Computing out of the Lab and into the Kitchen and Food Truck

For the past two years, IBM Research has had an ongoing research program in cognitive computing (the science behind Watson) around sensory sciences. At the IBM Pulse Conference last week and for the next two weeks at SXSW, IBM will be moving Cognitive Cooking, aka IBM Chef, out of the lab, onto the Cloud, and […]

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Food security is more than just a tariff regime, it is a grand challenge for our clients and ourselves

One of the grand challenges facing the world, both mature and developing markets, is food and food security. Many countries have focused on the latter through tariff regimes. While that might work short term, the real issue is an effective and productive, but not necessarily efficient, seed to fork distribution network that can operate as […]

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Closing the Gap Between Enterprise Architecture and Business Value

 As I talk with clients across the various segments of the Consumer Products Industry, one issue seems to peculate to the top, the inability to identify sustained business value from enterprise architecture.  It is not that enterprise architecture is...

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Chinese Zodiac, Stock Performance and the art of Analytics

Earlier this year, the Economist, Economist Magazine Tumblr , published an interesting infographic  showing the performance of stocks (returns on equity and stock performance) against years of the Chinese Zodiac.  "this Chinese new year could bring good fortune to stockmarket investors. Between 1900 and 2011, the nine previous dragon years have seen America’s Dow Jones Industrial Average price index increase by an average of 7.7% in real terms."The hypothesis is that Dragon years show better performance than usual, and 2012 being a Dragon year, should see better returns for US stocks.  How does the hypothesis hold? To date, 2012 has been a roller coaster rid with the DJIA flat for the year after swinging up and then down.  That said, the hypothesis might hold since there is still 6 months left to the year. So, what does this have to do with Big Data, Consumer Products and Analytics?  The answer is the art of interpreting analytics results around business events that may seem directly (first or second degree) correlated or even causative, but are simply independent and have overlapping time domains.  For Consumer Products companies this can apply to the complex analytics around determining the effectiveness of various promotion activities for a product. In particular, is the promotion in the digital or social space driving consumer demand or is the more traditional direct (coupon, shelf-display, in-store discount) driving consumer demand or, if both promotions are running at the same time, has a beneficial feed back loop been established where each is driving up consumer demand as consumers tell each other about the promotion (for example, a promotion going viral over Twitter).  If a beneficial loop has been established, then how do I know if I am overspending on traditional promotion rather than taking advantage of the free promotion?  Traditional post-event analysis of the campaign would not provide the insight needed since, by definition, it is run after the campaign is over.  Also, it would not show the impact of consumers self promoting the product over Twitter since that is not part of a traditional campaign effectiveness P&L statement.  At IBM, we believe the solution is combining promotion effectiveness analytics with social sentiment semantic analytics to develop models of what is expected during the multichannel promotion and then use these models to monitor the performance of the promotion while it is being executed, enabling optimization of the promotion across the channels for better effectiveness (sales volume and brand loyalty).  We are working with several different grocery manufacturing clients to further develop our SmartCP solution through execution during promotion campaigns across food, beverage and other grocery products in different parts of the world.  In the process, tuning the semantic models to better understand how consumers speak across blogs, Facebook and Twitter in different languages and cultures, and tuning the promotion effectiveness models for different types of markets.   After all, developing a hypothesis of what might be causing a spike in sales for a product is one thing, it is another to be able to understand what is driving the growth in sales for a product.

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FT Publishes the 2012 BrandZ Global 100 – Top Brands by Global Value

 The Financial Times today published the 2012 BrandZ Global 100 ratings, a list of the top 100 brands by value.  Actual surprises were few, most of the well known global brands (Apple, IBM, McDonald's, Coca-Cola) continue to thrive while seve...

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The Untethered Enterprise – What does LTE mean for the Enterprise?

In a recent article in the Economist, correspondents in the Babbage column (Economist commentary on Science and Technology), reported on the rapid emergence of LTE, Long Term Evolution, as the defacto industry standard for broadband wireless and the implications of LTE in the marketplace. While the focus of the article, as shown below, is the impact of LTE on the general marketplace, “Promising download speeds of 100 megabits a second or more, and peak rates of up to 300 megabits a second, even early versions of LTE wireless were fast enough to challenge fixed-line connections to the home—whether copper, coaxial cable or even optical fibre. No carrier in its right mind would then dig trenches to lay fibre to individual residences when it could beam data cheaper and just as speedily to all and sundry from cell towers.” LTE does change the horizon for the use of wireless technologies in Retail, Consumer Products and Transportation industries, including finally bringing to reality the promise of an early RFID commercial from IBM, touting how “the boxes told us you were lost”.  LTE removes the problem of how to deliver high speed broadband connectivity to the end user, it removes the "last mile" problem that has been plaguing high speed networking since the earliest days of dial-up and ISDN. For Consumer Products companies, LTE could allow companies to standardize on one networking technology for mobile devices, from smartphones to laptops to tablets to inventory management and DSD devices. Besides simplification of device management, global LTE adoption could herald the arrival of a single global device specification, meaning that companies could deploy a single device for a given application globally with minimal dependence upon local carrier preferences. This is a radical change from today, where broadband wireless connectivity is highly dependent upon local carrier coverage and technology; where companies work around these dependencies by choosing a device and then deploying carrier specific broadband docking device in the store, truck or warehouse. Long term, as with consumers, the wide adoption of LTE by carriers could herald a fundamental disruption of existing practices for LAN, Wireless LAN and IP Telephony within the four walls of the enterprise. This is because LTE has the promise to resolve the most vexing issue in networking...the “last mile” problem. Once ubiquitous LTE-based connectivity is available, the discussion of how to deploy networking within the enterprise can shift to a discussion of buy the service rather than buy and build out the capability. If you can acquire as a managed service high performance wireless technology that can be used both inside the firewall and outside the firewall or four walls of the enterprise, any company will be pressed to justify why building traditional networking infrastructure is justified. This mirrors the current discussions around build vs. buy for computing infrastructure (aka Cloud Computing Infrastructure as a Service). The exploitation of LTE could enable all enterprises to obtain the promise of Unified Communications without the capital expense associated with the conversion to IP Telephony and implementation of end-point device Video Conferencing. Instead of building UC, companies could obtain from the service provider of their choice UC as a Service to any type of end-point device, not just the devices tethered to the enterprise's network.  As the Economist asks, "No carrier in its right mind would then dig trenches to lay fibre to individual residences when it could beam data cheaper and just as speedily to all and sundry from cell towers", one has to ask "what Enterprise would expend the time and effort to build and deploy a wired network when they could piggy-back on the capabilities of LTE provided by wireless carriers?".  The only question remaining, once the capability is there, will be “can the enterprise I/T organization overcome it's engineering heritage and embrace not engineering, building and owning the network?”  That will be the challenge that I/T and Business Executives in CPG companies will need to address.

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Are we entering a Post PC world and the impact for Consumer Products companies

 There is a very interesting on-line debate underway this week at The Economist, on whether we have entered the post-pc era given the explosion in the use of mobile devices.  The gist of the positions are, on one hand, the PC will always be a...

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