Food trucks are the latest trend in the United States.
They�ve become a culinary staple in most major cities across the country. In fact, there is a sweet temptress called Flirty Cupcakes that is often parked outside the IBM offices in Chicago.
They are an easy and affordable way to eat lunch or grab high-end sweets during the week�all from the back of a truck. Forget going to a restaurant; now the food comes to you. You just have to know where to find it.
And even more important for the food truck business�you have to know when and where to find your customers. And parking.
They�re always on the go managing inventory, identifying the best geographies, tracking weather patterns, following traffic reports, and analyzing their customers, especially on social networks. And, food truck owners need to be fast on their feet (or wheels) when making important business decisions.
And,it�s not just food truck owners, but everyone is constantly on the move these days. The days of downtime are pass�. Uninterrupted productivity is the new normal, on any device, especially tablets and iPads.
Mobility reigns supreme. (It was a hot topic at IOD11 this week too, especially with the announcement of IBM Cognos Mobile for the iPad.)
In the mobile world, business and pleasure really do mix. Today, users want everything on one device � from music, books, email, social networking, and now the ability to interact � securely � with the same materials (online and offline) they do while sitting in the office.
Consider these facts:
According to a recent report from wireless industry association CTIA, wirelessly-connected devices now outnumber the number of U.S. citizens.
Industry analyst Howard Dresner reported that 80 percent of organizations ranked Mobile BI as a top priority for executives.
In research from Gartner, Inc., 33 percent of all BI is being assimilated on mobile devices.
Simple, Secure & Reliable
In today�s digital world, the appetite for information never stops. Speaking of delicious consumption, let�s get back to the food truck.
Like any organization (especially retail food sales) having a Mobile BI strategy is paramount for its success.
It�s Tuesday morning and the food truck has just departed for its first stop in the city. Using IBM Cognos Mobile, the driver can easily:
Plan the route for the day and drill into the data to understand where the biggest demand will be for each location and at the appropriate time of day.
Equipped with �location-aware� intelligence, the truck can receive reports that are dynamically filtered with location-specific information on planned stops.
Manage inventory levels of supply based on the day�s route and past sales so they can be better prepared to remain longer or shorter at one location if sales are up or down.
After each stop, update the inventory and total sales on the spot to avoid any errors.
Constantly check for updates on weather and traffic for possible delays and the chance of no customers showing up if it�s raining.
Log other dimensions into the applications (such as weather and traffic) to help better identify trends and opportunities through forecasting, planning and analysis.
Update customers via social media of when and where they�ll be and for how long.
Capture customer feedback in real-time through surveys that customers can fill-out directly on the mobile device.
Just remember � the next time you get hungry and see a food truck parked in your city, think of the benefits that Mobile BI offers�and how it could enhance your organization�s ability to make better decisions.
For more information on IBM Cognos Mobile:
Readthe press release announcing IBM Cognos Mobile for the iPad.
Downloadthe new (and free) IBM Cognos Mobile App for the iPad in the iTunes store.
Watcha demo how users on anydevice can have the same rich and visual business intelligence experience they get at the office.
IOD started with kids playing with jigsaw puzzles and ended with naked baseball players.
I dare you to say that analytics isn't fun.
And transformative. And an absolute priority should you want to survive in these uncertain times. Over the past three days we've all seen and learned so much that it's sometimes difficult to recall the key themes. So I've presented them for you here, built as we've gone along learning to turn insight into action:
3. Commit to change, embrace the new: Last year's assumptions and last month's targets are history; focus on what will take you forward. Commitment to change has helped IBM survive for a full 100 years. Billy Beane overturned an entrenched century-old culture to redefine value and change the way his game was played. Your presence at IOD attests to your desire to change, too.
4. Paging Dr. Watson: Hospital readmissions are punitive for the provider and counterproductive for the patient. Incomplete data drives incorrect diagnoses. Medical errors cost real human lives. With our health care partners we've put Watson to work with real-world solutions to reverse these trends and eliminate these errors. With Watson's help doctors can better understand each patient in startling new detail and treat each patient in effective new ways.
5. Don't mess with Billy Beane's mom.If you're writing a book about a baseball GM who swears a lot, be prepared for his mom's withering glare. Her son just doesn't talk like that.
6. No industry is immune from disruption. Urbanization. Changing citizen and customer expectations. Economic uncertainty. Increased regulations. Lots and lots of data. All are interconnected; all are hitting you on every side, all the time. Your task is to quantify the impact, assess the risks and harness the opportunities in new and productive ways. On a planet that is instrumented, interconnected and intelligent there is no domain that is untouched by these forces. There is no domain where analytics - and IBM - cannot help. At IOD you've seen how we're doing precisely this.
7. Jeff Jonas is evil. Just look at the guy. Look at the way he dresses. Luckily, he's the charismatic, smart kind of evil you can't help but listen to, because you can feel yourself getting smarter yourself the longer � and faster - he talks. Frankly, I'm glad he's on our side.
8. Got social? It's time to get serious about social media analytics. There's enough data out there and enough computational power to build predictive customer loyalty models based on blogs and tweets alone. That's along, long way from zip codes. Need the tools to get started? We have them, too.
9. Congratulation, Ginni. Our soon-to-be President and CEO will take charge with IBM operating from a solid foundation and 'at the top of its game.' She's successful, she's thoughtful. She gets things done.
10. It's business, and it's personal.This is the age of the empowered consumer. They're demanding, they're patient and they're in control of your brand. If you want to win their business � and keep them coming back � you'll need to know more about them than where they live. The data to do this is out there and so are the tools. The choice of how and when to use them is entirely up to you.
11. Kudos to the Mandalay Bay staff for keeping us fed and caffeinated. Greeting 11,000 bleary-eyed conference goers with a friendly smile before 9 AM is no easy task; yet to a person you outdo yourselves every single year.
Well, that's it from my end for this year's edition of Information On Demand. As of right now, I'm taking what I believe to be a very necessary vacation. I'll return refreshed and recharged in two weeks. Safe travels, and see you next year.
Moneyball author Michael Lewis and Moneyball pioneer Billy Beane closed out Information On Demand 2011 in a rollicking conversation with event host Katty Kay. Among the topics were challenging a century-old business culture with business analytics, the risks of standing still and why it's never a good idea to mess with Billy Beane's mom. Turbo's already done a great summary, so I've distilled their conversation into a few key quotes.
On the meaning of Moneyball: 'The number crunching was less interesting than what it exposed about the markets people operate in. The people running baseball considered themselves player experts because they'd been doing things the same way for 150 years. And here was Beane recruiting people the market perceived as defective. He was building a juggernaut out of defective parts. This was riveting to me.'
On bias: 'People tend to overvalue things that are flashy and easy to see. And they tend to undervalue things that are more difficult to see. You need to understand the forces that are clouding your judgement.'
On Beane and his players: 'He had tremendous credibility with the players because he was a great athlete. Being bigger than them also helped. The players were physically intimidated. It was kind of the law of the jungle in the clubhouse � reason imposed by violence.'
On offending Beane's mother because he left in Beane's profanity: 'She said, 'My son doesn't talk like that.' After the book signing I invited her to a two-hour dinner. It was the most awkward conversation I've ever had. I laid on as much charm as I could and got nowhere. She was just as angry with me at the end as at the beginning.'
On the need for change: 'For us it was out of necessity. Where were we going to get the best return on our dollar? We weren't in a position to trust emotion to run our business. We couldn't invest in the romance of the players. We had to be disciplined card counters.'
On taking risks: 'We didn't think it was risky because the math told us we'd be successful. Over enough games we knew we'd weed out the randomness. There was certainly resistance, but there was more risk in not doing it. Going with our gut would have been the most irrational thing to do.'
On Lewis revealing the secret: 'You could see the market was going move. It was just a matter of time. There was already momentum � you could feel the rumblings. You couldn't ignore the fact that the data was everywhere. The secret now is to keep your expertise in-house.'
On outcomes: 'I believe the best teams make it to the playoffs, but the best team doesn't always win the World Series. Small events in a short series can have a bigger impact; we never try to make decisions based on short-term results.'
On being played by Brad Pitt: 'You tend to hold your breath while they're casting the film. When you hear it's Brat Pitt, you exhale.'
There's a line that's been forming over the past few years � a line dividing what technology did and what it will do. A line dividing the certainty of the past with the uncertainty of the future; a line between those who will lag and those who will lead the way on our instrumented, interconnected and intelligent planet.
Today, IBM made that line clear and present for all to see.
We saw that line in today's news that Ginni Rometty will succeed Sam Palmisano as our President and CEO. An exceptional leader, a forward-thinker as steeped in our values as she is committed to our customers, Ginni will lead IBM into its second century fully aware of its ability to change the world. She knows that a company focused on the future must never stop changing.
We saw the line in this morning's general session, in which Steve Mills led us through a litany of success stories across such volatile industries as retail, financial services, energy, telco and energy. In each example, we saw how organizations use IBM analytics technologies and expertise to manage and master the overwhelming volume, variety and velocity of their data.
We saw the line in Frank Kern's address, in which he outlined - with startling clarity and candor - the ways in which analytics-driven organizations distinguish themselves and outperform their peers. On a Smarter Planet, data is fast becoming our most abundant resource. But while everyone has access; only the bold can draw insight. Only those with vision and commitment can move confidently with speed, at scale, and with precision. Only those who commit to building an analytically driven and fact-based culture will be able to forecast the impact on their profits of changing customer demands and new regulations, or their detailed exposure to strategic risk.
In our massively interconnected marketplace, one failure can lead to hundreds of others. Strategic risk represents nearly 70 percent of market cap declines. Analytically transformed organizations implement risk analytics into every decision they make. Rather than closing off entire aspects of their business, they identify, isolate and manage their risks to move forward with confidence. In our age of the empowered consumer, the balance of power has shifted. Consumers are in charge. Their ranks are growing. More and more, they want personalized service, on their own terms and on their own schedule. Their loyalty is fickle because other options abound. Analytically transformed organizations know they cannot meet these expectations using names, numbers and zip codes. Now they invest in the ability to discern their customers' needs and aspirations.
Watson will help humanity
We saw the line in the Watson and the way it embodies the IBM commitment to research, innovation and vision. Mike Rhodin and Manoj Saxena showed us how, working with partners who share our vision, we are putting Watson to work solving the biggest, most pressing and more difficult challenges we face as a society. Perhaps the biggest transformation is how Watson moves us away from absolute certainty and toward greater probability. Yet in facing a future in which nothing is certain, these probabilities - drawn from a wider span of knowledge and presented in the way we really speak - will be vastly more effective in increasing our collective confidence in determining which actions to take. The pace of IBM innovation is staggering: in February few thought Watson was ready for a real-world deployment. Yet less than nine months later it is being put to use. We chose healthcare as a first application not because it would be easy, but because we know our solutions must serve a greater good. We and our partners see Watson transforming for the better the way healthcare is delivered, managed and paid for. With Watson's help, doctors will know more about their patients, know more about symptoms and possible treatments to help people live longer, happier lives.
Big data, big value, big steps
IBM has identified big data as a key theme of this conference. In your comments, blogs and tweets you've confirmed the importance of that theme. You understand its potential to drive better outcomes for your organization � provided you harness it in the the right ways. You know big data and analytics are part of a journey of discovery, insights and continuous learning.
This morning Steve Mills said we are ready and willing to go with you on that journey. Kern, Rhodin and Saxena laid out the capabilities we can offer and a vision for where we're headed. Ginni Rometty is positioned to lead you � and us � into a fascinating second century.
Today, IBM redrew the starting line, with the best outcomes yet to come.
Information on Demand 2011 is in full swing, bringing with it approximately 11,000 customers, employees, business partners and vendors, all packing into the Mandalay Bay Conference Center to get a peek at the very latest from IBM in Information Management, Business Analytics and Enterprise Content Management.
At the Business Partner Summit, IBM also revealed the 2011 Business Partner Award winners for Business Analytics, Predictive Analytics, Enterprise Content Management, Information Management categories. Here's a look at this year's winners:
IBM Business Analytics Business Partner Awards
North America Business Partner Excellence Award: Newcomp Solutions
Europe, Middle East and Africa Business Partner Excellence Award: Inca Software
Asia Pacific Business Partner Excellence Award: Cortell Australia
Latin America Business Partner Excellence Award: CTI Consultores Asociados
Worldwide Application Specific Licensing Business Partner Excellence Award: Sungard Higher Education
Application Specific Licensing Business Partner Achievement Award: Forcea
ISV Achievement Award: SpotOn Systems
Financial Analytics Business Partner Achievement Award: QueBit Consulting
Global Technology Alliance Excellence Award: Esri
Solution Provider Achievement Award PerficientMidmarket Business Partner Achievement Award: ICit Business Intelligence
IBM Predictive Analytics Business Partner Awards
North America Business Partner Achievement Award: TechXtend
Europe, Middle East and Africa Business Partner Excellence Award: ACREA
Asia Pacific Business Partner Excellence Award: Data Solutions
Latin America Business Partner Excellence Award: SPSS Chile
IBM Enterprise Content Management Business Partner Awards
$10 Million Dollar Club Award: Imagine Solutions
Business Partner of the Year Award: Imagine Solutions
$5 Million Dollar Club Award: Avrio
$5 Million Dollar Club Award: Integro
$1 Million Dollar Club Award: Cenit
$1 Million Dollar Club Award: CGI
$1 Million Dollar Club Award: Ascendant Technology
$1 Million Dollar Club Award: enChoice
$1 Million Dollar Club Award: Genus Technologies
$1 Million Dollar Club Award: Prolifics
$1 Million Dollar Club Award: Tritek Solutions
$1 Million Dollar Club Award: The Dayhuff Group
$1 Million Dollar Club Award: VSS
IBM Information Management Business Partner Awards
Information Management Solution Excellence Award: Perficient
CTO Innovation Award: Kingland Systems
Rookie of the Year Award: Advent Global Solutions
Congratulations to all of the Business Partner Award winners!
Ever been instantly sure something new was a good idea? Recently, this happened to me at a friend's house during dinner. She had concocted a new quesadilla -- duck and roasted tomato and apple -- that struck me as a winner right from the description.
Now, granted, I have little knowledge of quesadillas. I have not studied at quesadilla academies. I am not a mover and shaker in the quesadilla world. Nor am I the heir to a quesadilla empire created by my grandfather, the Quesadilla King of Mexico.
Even so. Duck + roasted tomato + apple = world-class quesadilla. No doubt in my mind.
Well, this week I had much the same sort of reaction watching a presentation from the New York Business Agility Executive Forum by IBM WebSphere VP of Worldwide Sales, David Farrell. This presentation discussed what's standing in the way of business agility, and what IBM can offer to improve it.
And just like that duck-tomato-apple quesadilla, Farrell�s presentation struck me immediately as a winning combination of ingredients.
�Business agility,� of course, is a term that's defined in different ways by different folks. So I'll define it, very casually, like this: the power to change, quickly and effectively, to suit changing circumstances. To create new services, new products, new strategies, and do so in the least time, using the least resources.
This is not a little thing. This is a big thing. And it's a thing that pretty much every company, in every industry, is struggling with, to at least some degree.
Farrell put it rather bluntly like this: �There's a graveyard of failed companies who have failed to adapt, who have failed to recognize what was happening and deal with it in a proactive way. So the stakes are pretty high going forward.�
If you want a specific example of the kind of stakes he's talking about, you don't have to look very hard to find them, either. For instance: following Napster and the rise of digital music and music piracy on a mass scale circa 1999, there were basically two available roads to take:
1. Adapt to the new world and become Apple
2. Stick to the old business model and don't become Apple
Turns out that Apple had it right.
So, in my opinion, does IBM. Business agility is a complex area; really improving it means both understanding it at a deep level and having the range of capabilities needed to deliver a better outcome. And I don't think there's any single organization on the face of the Earth as well positioned in terms of capabilities, in both categories, as IBM and IBM Software.
Said Farrell: �We're all observing the same thing -- a tremendous amount of change and volatility in the marketplace today. How do we harness all of this change and turn it into a competitive advantage vs. headwind?�
Here, in short, is the IBM answer to that question.
Smarter decisions: See what's coming and do the right stuff in the right order
Business success stems, ultimately, from the decisions the business makes along the way -- large and small. But all too often, that decision-making happens without full consideration of the best available data.
This is particularly true in the case of service delivery -- how services are rendered to users, customers and business partners via IT architectures. The goal should be to replace guesswork with analysis, detect and utilize trends and patterns that guide decision-making, and wherever possible, proactively address problems before they even have a chance to manifest.
This may sound like common sense, but it's not -- at least judging by the way services are typically monitored and managed today. While most organizations have monitoring capabilities, they're still essentially handling outages in a reactive fashion.
A typical pattern: service goes down -- service outage is detected -- root cause is detected -- root cause is fixed -- service comes back online.
Let's compare that to this: service is predicted to go down -- IT takes steps to prevent that -- service never goes down.
You can improve on that still further by adding prioritization to refine the middle stage: IT takes preventative steps in the order that makes the most business sense, based on the anticipated business impact of downtime in different scenarios.
This is not a trivial improvement, but a dramatic one. And it makes the business as a whole much more agile.
Smarter processes: Connect the dots, simplify, and help your people collaborate better
Is there similar room for improvement in the way business processes typically work? You bet there is.
For instance, think of what happens when new software is created and rolled out -- software of the kind that drives all kinds of services to paying customers. This is usually a pretty clumsy process, and those paying customers are at the receiving end of the clumsiness.
See if this sounds familiar. The development team comes out with a build; the ops team deploys the build; customers try the new software and soon report that the build has problems. Then the development team comes up with a new build and the cycle starts all over again.
Well, so far so good, but the problem is that there's usually not much collaboration between the dev team and the ops team. Perhaps a new build requires a new set of Java libraries -- are the ops guys aware of that? If not, well...oops.
Similarly, if customers report problems to ops, is that information really getting back to the dev guys as fast as it could? Does that transfer of information resemble a cheetah? Or a glacier?
A much, much more agile process emerges when the dev guys and the ops guys share their information collaboratively, at all times, so that they're both aware just what's needed to render a better experience to customers. Which, really, is the whole point.
Smarter service delivery: Use the most efficient, scalable technologies
Here, we're talking in large part about delivery platforms themselves: the actual infrastructure that renders services to the people who use them.
If you've paid any attention to IT journalism in the last five years, your mental predictive analytics might tell you where I'm going next: cloud. That's because the improvements in agility you can get via cloud computing are absolutely stunning.
If you want a clear example, just look at provisioning times for cloud-based virtual servers. Manual provisioning, in a distributed architecture, typically takes days or weeks for a server cluster. Automatic, policy-driven provisioning in a cloud? Not weeks, but minutes. And every one of those virtual servers will be set up in exactly the right way -- no inadvertent mistakes. This is about as agile and accurate as you can get.
Mix and match to suit your needs
Now, in the course of trotting out my arguments, I have simplified things quite a bit. So let me add that there are a lot more capabilities, in each of these three areas, than the ones I've discussed.
And let me also add that if you work with IBM Software to improve your overall agility, you're basically able to order as if from a Chinese menu -- any capabilities you want, in any of the three areas, selected to address your particular needs and goals.
But any road you take, I think you'll struggle to come up with anybody but IBM who has all the experience, and all the solutions, you're going to need.
And that's why I say IBM is simply better positioned to help organizations improve their business agility, regardless of their specific context, than any other single IT provider you can name today.
About the author Guest blogger Wes Simonds worked in IT for seven years before becoming a technology writer on topics including virtualization, cloud computing and service management. He lives in sunny Austin, Texas and believes Mexican food should always be served with queso.
At the start of the day, IBM Senior Vice President, Software Middleware, Robert LeBlanc asked you a simple question:
Is your information strategy bold enough?
Are you ready to deliver the outcomes your business is demanding?
Are you applying the right technology?
Do you have a proactive relationship between business and IT?
Have you made an investment in innovation, skills and IT efficiency?
Has your organization made a lasting commitment to strategic and cultural change?
Looking back at that question now, at the end of the day, I'd like to propose a question of my own:
Are you bold enough?
Are you bold enough to define how your organization uses analytics?
Are you courageous enough to take a leadership role in putting that vision into production?
Are you persistent enough to overcome the cultural, process and organizational barriers that stand in your way?
Think about it:
The systems we've created are generating more data now than at any time in recorded human history. 80 percent of it has no structure.
By 2020 we'll have 44 times as much of that data as we do now.
Think about it.
There are now seven billion people on this planet. Nearly one in seven is on Facebook.
Consumers now control conversations about your company your brand.
Twitter processes one billion tweets per week.
Think about it.
Our world is becoming increasingly interconnected, instrumented and intelligent. Yet the global economy remains fragile.
The pace of business and the pace of change is now faster than our ability to keep up.
CEOs, CMOs, CFOs all cite data volumes and increasing complexity as their key challenges to overcome.
Think about it.
The gap between organizations that excel in analytics and those just getting started is growing ever wider.
This morning, Robert Leblanc said analytics isn't a set of tools. It's a capability that's infused into your business processes.
This morning, IBM Senior Vice President, Software Solutions Group Mike Rhodin said analytics helps your data work for you, not against you.
They were right.
The time for analytics from IBM is now.
The time to turn insight into action is now.
Think about it.
With analytics, you have the power to embed intelligence into every process in your organization � to make them smarter, faster, more efficient. To improve outcomes for both you and your customers.
With analytics you have the proven power to outperform your peers and your entire industry, if you choose to adopt them.
With analytics, you can make sense of what you're learning � as you learn it.
With analytics you can build a culture that values clarity and that acts on insight.
With analytics, you can master volume, variety, velocity and veracity.
With analytics, you - and your entire organziation � can turn insight into action.
There's no denying it. The time is now.
Are you bold enough to take that first step?
The tools, technology and people you need are all around you.
'Last night's Itchy & Scratchy was, without a doubt, the worst episode ever! Rest assured that I was on the Internet within minutes, registering my disgust throughout the world.' - Comic Book Guy
Hollywood may seem an unlikely place for analytics to have a starring role, but according to IBMers Richard Maraschi and Kevin Drost � consultants both within the media and entertainment practice of IBM Global Business Services - they're more than ready for their close up.
Hollywood is not immune to disruption
With good reason. Hollywood studios have been buffeted by the same disruptive forces currently transforming every other industry on the planet. Much like retailers must now pay more attention to consumers changing needs and increased influence through social channels, empowered media consumers are exercising a similar influence over their media and movie choices. The result? A dramatic erosion of the famously iron-clad control that Hollywood exercised over its processes and its product.
Increased Connectivity: Through 3 billion entertainment devices like the iPad, consumers now have near limitless access to entertainment products and the ability to share them instantly with the world. Watch a movie on the Netflix iPad app and it's shared automatically with your friends on Facebook.
Increased Influence: Word of mouth and social channels are supplanting, if not replacing, traditional marketing as the core driver of discovery and discussion. Nearly 45% of consumers consult friends on potential purchases before making a decision on what to buy and what to watch.
Increased Choice: New platforms and an ocean of both new and long-tail content give consumers endless viewing options. Half of the bandwidth in North America is consumed by content streaming. Nearly 60 percent of digital news consumers view content through an aggregator.
Today's media consumer demands relevant, personalized content that's accessible on any device, at any time, offered with a range of price points. That's provided consumers are willing to pay at all. Content piracy is also a growing concern, particularly for sports programmers, whose "of the moment" product has no shelf life. These trends have repercussions on the way Hollywood goes about its business.
Enter business analytics
Maraschi and Drost outlined three specific areas of their business where media companies can - and are � improving their outcomes.
The first is content acquisition and production. Studios spend vast sums of money investing in new content, whether it's through original programming or purchasing it from other companies. But very few understand the public demand for that content; fewer still are able to predict it. As a result, producers struggle to answer big questions: Of the 7,000 films screened at Sundance, which have story lines that will be relevant to our viewers? Of the 150 treatments we read each day, which ones will get the green light?
Analytics can help studios find, finance and produce the right content for the right audience at the right cost. Through demand forecasting, studios can better predict the marketability and playability of an unreleased film. They can prioritize their acquisitions and forecast the profitability of each acquisition. Even one of these activities can bring much-needed clarity to the production process and help studios be better equipped to make those multi-million dollar decisions.
The second is Marketing. For a typical film, traditional marketing tactics � print, TV, radio � typically cost between $30 and $60 million. Blockbusters typically cost more to market than make. Movie and media marketers need greater certainty that their campaigns will generate ROI in excess of their costs many times over. They also know that word of mouth trumps the biggest ad buy once the movie hits the screens. As a result, they must optimize their marketing spend in the critical windows before their content is released. Analytics can help movie producers better understand their audience and understand what it wants.
Releasing trailers, clips and previews on social sites such as Facebook provides internet-scale feedback on features in production in near-real time, while there's still time to make changes. Analyzing news feeds and industry publications can help them forecast a movie's ROI by market and channel and build a predictive model to optimize their marketing plan. Increased insight into real-time chatter helps them adjust their marketing spend in real time.
The third area is Sales and Distribution. Consumers have multiple channels at their command to access content. Most major film studios have thousands of movies in their libraries. But what is the most profitable channel for each film? How long after a movie's left the theaters should the DVD come out? Which network gets first pick when a movie is ready for broadcast on TV? Again, the intersection of consumer segment, channel and media product creates thousands of possible answers.
Again, however, analytics can help. Studios and media companies are now exploring the possibilities provided by Release Window Optimization, which helps them determine consumer behavior and price elasticity. It helps them project window sequencing and returns based on predictive events and data thresholds. And when possible, it helps them optimize the timing of a release into each channel.
Structured and unstructured data
To do all of this, media companies can also make use of both structured and unstructured data. Finance data mixed with consumer sentiment. Customer data mixed with Facebook and blogger buzz. Through advanced analytic tools such as Hadoop, predictive analytics and social media analyis from IBM, Smarter Hollywood can move as quickly, as effectively and as smartly as the smartest retailer.
The approach for a Smarter Hollywood will be achieved by integrating descriptive, predictive, and prescriptive analytics. Descriptive data � reports on product performance, sales and customer demographics will continue to play a role. Predictive analytics driven by social chatter and external data will help Hollywood make smarter decisions about where to invest and the returns they can expect. Prescriptive analytics � the new, third element � will move the entire industry toward a more cost-effective and profitable approach that makes the best use of an ever-shifting data landscape to better serve the new, empowered media consumer.
This year, nearly sixty percent more organizations said analytics drive better business outcomes than said so in 2010, according to a soon-to-be-released report by the IBM Institute for Business Value and the MIT Sloan Management Review.
Analytics: The Widening Divide will be released November 8, but attendees to the kickoff session of the Business Leadership Forum within Information On Demand were treated to a sneak preview of the study's main findings. You can register to receive your copy here.
Fred Balboni, Global Business Services Leader for IBM Business Analytics and Optimization presented the findings, which were based on interviews with 4,500 executives, managers and analysts in 30 industries and 132 countries.
The three key findings are:
The competitive advantage gap created by analytics is widening.
Competing successfully on analytics requires a mastery of three key competencies.
Companies are pursuing two paths to analytic sophistication.
The widening gap
The study groups companies' analytical maturity into three major categories: Transformed, Experienced and Aspirational. Transformed companies saw their ranks grow by 25 percent in the last 12 months, while the ranks of the Asiprational saw a decrease of five percent. The biggest growth, happily, was in the Experienced grouping, which grew by 66 percent.
'These companies are pedaling faster and harder to catch up,' said Balboni.
With good reason. The study also shows that organizations that deploy analytics are more than twice as likely to substantially outperform their industry. Quite simply, early analytics adopters are outpacing their less experienced competitors and leaving everyone else in the dust.
The majority of organizations now rely on analytics and data to manage key financial and operational tasks, said Balboni. But these are the table stakes; and even within Transformed companies there's still lots of room to improve.
Here, the IBM-MIT survey provides some guidance. Now, leading analytics-driven organizations are turning their attention to specific lines of business including customer management and HR management. Better insights into consumer sentiment, employee performance, retention and recruitment strategies are all fertile grounds for actionable insights that yield increased competitive advantage.
Some companies are doing some of this, Balboni said, but no company is doing all of it.
Three key competencies
Balboni then expanded on the three key analytical competencies an organization must master to drive better outcomes:
Manage the data: If people don't trust it, they simply won't use it. Establishing a solid information management foundation of standardized data management capabilities that make insights accessible and available is an essential task for any successful analytics deployment.
Understand the data: Organizations need a robust set of analytical tools and the people with the right business and technology skills to use them effectively, whether to conduct analyses on their own or to embed them into business processes.
Act on the data: Actions drive organizations forward. Analytics-driven organizations move forward more quickly and efficiently because they foster a data-oriented culture and encourage fact-driven leadership.
Two paths to get there
Most organizations pursue one of two types of paths along their analytics journey, Balboni said.
The first is the Collaborative Path, which sees organizations taking a broad-based approach spanning multiple business units who work together to master their data and share insights. The second is the Specialized Path, in which a single line of business pursues specific business outcomes, connecting new stakeholders according to business needs.
Balboni said the credit crisis and ongoing market jitters have driven many companies to taking the Specialized Path: 'Most organizations are in no mood for large-scale projects.'
This doesn't mean that you must abandon your long-term goals; rather, said Balboni, you need a series of programs that delivers results in three- to six-month intervals. Each program must build on the previous steps.
Three steps to take
To close, Balboni outlined three steps organizations can take to start or accelerate their own analytics journey. The first is simple; the other two demand a longer-term view.
Assess your current analytic sophistication: Step on the scale with both feet and face up to the number. The IBM Business Value Assessment tool will help you get started. If you're here at #iod11, we have an entire section of the third floor devoted to helping you. Schedule a meeting with one of our experts or take a live tour of our solutions in the Touch Zone.
Work to develop the three key competencies: Establish your foundation, develop the skills and tools, and create the culture that takes action.
Tie your approach together with an Information Agenda. Unlike your application agenda or IT Strategy, an Information Agenda helps you focus on the kinds of decisions you need to make now and the ones you'll need to make down the road. 'It's an external artifact that brings both IT and the business together on investment,' said Balboni.
'All of a sudden you have people talking back and forth. Those are the most fun.'
User groups are a powerful, effective and, yes, enjoyable way to get more out of your software investment. But building a successful user group takes patience, passion and a more than a small degree of persistence. Luckily, In a pre-conference session led by IBM ChampionSusan Dean, four top-notch user group experts were on-hand to share their insights into what works. Even better, they highlighted steps you can take right now if you�re here at #iod11.
Many of the insights revolved around the twin concepts of relevance and convenience. Here�s a summary:
Scheduling: Avoid scheduling meetings at the beginning or end of the quarter, when your finance and other teams are particularly busy. Also, avoid holding meetings on Mondays or Fridays, when people are either gearing up or winding down. For most panelists, the ideal time was mid-week and mid-morning, after rush hour. Start with half-day meetings until the group finds its footing and expand from there for special topics.
Vendor/partner involvement: Vendors and partners can provide direct access to product experts or specialized domain knowledge, but your group members may prefer to meet directly with fellow users. Panelists agreed that some members appreciated vendor input, while poaching and overt sales pitches are generally frowned upon. As an organizer your job is to provide members with a beneficial and valuable experience; find out their comfort level through a free survey tool such as SurveyMonkey and draw up explicit guidelines about the level of involvement you�ll accept from vendors and partners. Establish a steering committee and charter with guidelines if need be.
Meeting flow: Be clear about the flow of your meetings, the types of activities you�ll cover and how much time you�ll dedicate to each. Is there time for networking? Announcements? Be sure to include breaks during longer meetings.
Content: Live demos, member presentations, case studies and success stories are perennially popular. The same goes for tips and techniques, new product features (provided you allow vendors to participate) and stories about how you solved a particular problem. �Customers learn from customers,� said Dean.
Funding: Most groups need a small amount of funding for refreshments, name badges, giveaways, even meeting space. So do you charge a fee? The only right answer is the one that makes your group successful. Sometimes the vendor or partner is willing to take on some of the funding. Again, it�s up to your members.
Ongoing communication: It�s important to keep your group on your members� collective radar in the weeks or months between meetings, so be sure to build and maintain a reliable web presence. Keep your database current and provide your members with a regular cadence of news and information about upcoming events. These communications are also great tools to recruit new speakers, explore new topics and even drive new membership. A variety of free tools (EventBrite and eVite spring to mind here) and LInkedIn communities are ideal vehicles here.
Steps you can take right now:
Visit the Customer Reference Lounge in the EXPO to learn more about user groups that are available to you and how to join.
Add session BDS-2466a: to your agenda. The title is, "CAB & User Groups and How the Help."
T-minus eight hours before I'm off to the Mandalay Bay, so I'll make this one short and sweet.
One thing to watch
We've just released a new video called 'From Information to Analytics: The IBM Story.' It outlines our history of helping you wrangle and make sense of your increasingly messy data and features most of the IBM Software Executives you'll see on-stage next week.
Two things to read
The first our research report, 'Analytics: The new path to value' produced by our Institute for Business Value in partnership with the MIT Sloan Management Review. Its findings propose solutions to the different pieces of your information-and-analytics value puzzle, based on surveys of nearly 3,000 executives, managers and analysts working across more than 30 industries and 100 countries.
What's better than starting your day with bacon and a muffin?
How about bacon ON a muffin?
Yep, that's much better, indeed. The muffins were courtesy of Cara Rowlands; fuel, so to speak, for a speaking opportunity at Social Media Breakfast Ottawa organized by Simon Chen, Rob Lane and Ryan Anderson. Some months ago, this august trio had asked me to share the IBM perspective on social media. Specifically, how was a century-old company grappling with such a sea change in communications? How does IBM see social media affecting the way IBM develops and markets its products? What was my role in all of this?
Yesterday, I presented to about 100 Ottawa-based social media practicioners based on the following abstract:
Can Elephants Tweet? Building the Social Business at IBM
It's OK. We know "IBM" and "social media" probably aren't too closely linked in your mind. Truth is, though, Big Blue is incredibly social -- and incredibly successful because of it. From tip sheets and tagging to worldwide jams, IBMers are rapidly redefining the way they engage with customers and prospects, and they're driving the business forward as a result. Join Delaney Turner as he outlines the rationale and tactics IBM uses to transform itself into a social business and shares stories of some recent big wins. You'll discover:
Why IBM encourages employees to "get social"
How IBMers are making their marketing programs more social and interactive
How to build an enablement and education strategy for your own organization
All my life I've felt a little "different" from others. Odd. Atypical. Now, thanks to National Geographic, I have proof that I'm right. The society analyzed the faces in 190,000 of its photos and came up with a composite image and statistical rendering of the most "typical" person in the world.
As it turns out, the most typical person in the world is a right-handed 28-year old ethnically Han Chinese male. With a cel phone.
I come nowhere close to this guy, or the 9,000,000 guys just like him. But, the findings did lead me to think: In the West at least, 28 is just on the cusp of one's prime earning years. China has the world's fastest-growing economy. There are a lot of consumers over there. IBM recently published a major survey of global CMOs that shows shifting consumer demographics as a pressing - and perplexing - issue. They're looking to analytics - the kind you'll see demonstrated on-stage at next week's Information On Demand - to help them figure all of this out. I don't know about you, but I see a lot of interesting dynamics in this mix.
This may or may not be my last post before heading down to Vegas, so be sure to watch for tweets with the #iod11 tag to keep in touch with all the news and fun.
Guest post from Erick Brethenoux, Executive Program Director, Worldwide Predictive Analytics at IBM
In 1978, an emotional and dramatic award-winning documentary film was released titled �Scared Straight!� It profiled troubled teens who were taken into maximum security prisons to stand face-to-face with inmates who �explained� the harsh realities of life in prison.
The goal, according to the documentary, was �to keep at-risk teens from becoming tomorrow�s prisoners.�
Consider this an analytic scared straight moment.
We have a serious skills gap in the analytics field�and it�s getting worse.
A recent McKinsey Global Institutereportindicates that over the next seven years the need for highly skilled business analytics workers will exceed the available workforce by as much as 60 percent.
And by 2018, an additional 190,000 "deep analytical talent" workers plus 1.5 million more "data-savvy managers and analysts" will be needed to take full advantage of big data.
In conversations with customers and prospects, it has become apparent that there is a significant widening of their overall performance � both in terms of increased revenue and lower operational costs. It�s amazingly disproportional and not linear.
Organizations that are outperforming their peers, through the use of analytics, are making quicker progress, capitalizing on their growing experience while monopolizing an increasing amount of analytical talent.
This creates a wider gap, making talents even more difficult to secure for those companies jumping on the analytical bandwagon � therefore delaying their progress.
These are the harsh realities of analytical life. It�s time to make a change�and soon. Those organizations that don�t will be forced into a life of using Excel spreadsheets. Talk about doing hard time.
Spreadsheets, while fine for certain tasks, aren�t the answer to keep up with the ever-growing amount of data being created and the more and more complex decisions that have to be made.
Nor are they capable of handling the pressures of customer demand. The ability to respond to customers at the right place and right time, and with the right offer based on a customer�s current mood and sentiment, is a job for those that know how to navigatedecision management solutions.
It�s becoming an arms and skills race segmented among �The Haves,� �The Have Nots,� and the �Never Will.�
��The Haves�� These commercial and government organizations have taken the time to understand the value of analytics, hired the right people, received the proper training, identified the business issues, and deployed business analytics technology to create opportunities to drive the business.
They have been doing it for a number of years and will only keep advancing.
��The Have Nots�� These organizations are just beginning to implement analytics, or will soon. Unfortunately, they will also have to spend more money to catch up, in terms of services, training and domain knowledge. But, at least they are getting into the game.
The pool of analytics talent, however, is rather shallow at this point�either already hired by the �Haves,� or on the verge of retirement, so analytics projects will be limited or outsourced to technology vendors.
��Never Will�� These organizations will soon be destitute and on the street struggling to find anyone with basic statistics knowledge.
By the time these organizations even think about an analytics solution, even IBM might not have the resources and services to help them. The market will be so desolate that what even looks like a mirage won�t have any water. And what few professionals are available won�t come cheap.
But, all is not lost. There is hope as many of you will learn at theIBM Information on Demand(IOD11 and BAForum) conference next week in Las Vegas (Oct. 23-27).
There are many programs already in place to help ensure that organizations will reach their full analytic potential:
�Over the past five years,IBM has initiated academic programswith leading universities around the world, includingYale,DePaul,Ottawaand others, to provide analytics technology and training resources so students can be prepared for 21st century jobs in analytics.
�IBM is continually innovating to make analytics technology easier to use, such as the aforementioned decision management. Business professionals can now build a predictive model in just three clicks.
�Even business intelligence solutions are made-to-order nowadays�for everyone (from the individual to the mid-market to the enterprise�and anywhere (with the newCognos Mobile for the iPad). It�s true analytic freedom.
�And, IBM�sGlobal Business Servicescontinues to expand its pool of talent as it will have almost 9,000 card-carrying analytics experts by the end of the year.
Become an Analytics Champion
Engage today. Don�t wait. IBM has been helping organizations deploy analytics and get the most from their data for almost half a century. We would love a chance to discuss, and then we can advise on the right training and education.
And if you need a quick start to find out how mature your organization is with analytics�take ourAQ quizthat will guide you through the steps needed to continue on the analytics journey.
IT professionals -- and I say this with compassion, having been one myself -- tend to think way too much about the T, and not nearly enough about the I.
What do I mean by that? I mean that while technology certainly drives business services, it is not, ultimately, the most valuable player on the IT team. Information -- data -- is.
Data suggests new strategies, quantifies their success or failure, and informs virtually every operational decision (whether it's made by a person or a processor). It's probably not going too far to say that, in a large sense, the fundamental mission of IT is get the best possible use from data throughout its lifecycle.
Think of all those Word files, presentation decks, spreadsheets, and PDFs. Think about case notes written up hastily during a phone call; they may never make their way into a database, yet can contain incredibly powerful information. Think of the sum total of data created daily in internal communities, forums, wikis and other collaborative social platforms -- an area that's certainly hot and getting hotter by the day.
Is the enterprise really getting, as I put it earlier, the best possible use from that data?
The answer is almost certainly no, and the consequence is almost certainly diminished agility, creativity, innovation and responsiveness -- all key for the enterprise to succeed.
This is the heart of the argument for Enterprise Content Management (ECM) solutions. By acknowledging the crucial importance of unstructured data, and leveraging it for as much value as possible, organizations can put themselves in a much stronger, more informed, more competitive position going forward.
ECM solutions must evolve with the changing times
Not all ECM solutions are created equal, though. And not all ECM solution providers have the depth of insight, or provide the mature capabilities, that the enterprise will need for best results.
I recently had a chat with Craig Rhinehart, Director of ECM Strategy and Market Development for IBM, (check out Craig�s ECM blog) and he agreed on that point, calling out that IBM has been developing leading ECM solutions for nearly 30 years and first published research on the topic in 1957, over 50 years ago. That�s longer than most IT professionals have even been alive.
And as enterprise infrastructures, content types, strategies and goals continue to evolve, he told me, IBM Software is continuing to evolve its ECM capability and portfolio in parallel, keeping close pace with the changing times.
�Actually, ECM has never been more relevant than it is today,� said Rhinehart. �These solutions can drive value in an organization's most valuable processes. Think of insurance claims, for instance, they're really the make-or-break center of everything an insurance organization does. And claims processing typically revolves around many forms of unstructured data in the context of case management. All driven from the need to deliver better service to their customers in a highly competitive market. So our ECM solutions are a perfect match.�
That's a value proposition that's becoming more and more applicable over time, too. As unstructured content continues to expand in volume, and diversify in nature, major challenges for enterprises emerge in managing it all -- challenges that will often demand a new approach to ECM.
Five great ways to squeeze more value out of your unstructured data
�These challenges really come down to five different areas where we're seeing customers have problems,� explained Rhinehart. �It's within them that content management gets applied and customers are seeing value.�
One such challenge is document imaging and capture -- basically, grabbing data from non-digital sources, like faxes or snail-mail, then sharing it and managing it in all the ways that digital solutions do best.
This is the sort of thing that can really generate tremendous value if it's done right. I once worked at a state government office where a team of more than 50 lawyers was chartered with responding to all snail-mail questions in two days or less -- no matter how complicated those inquiries might be. Given a turnaround time like that, efficient imaging and capture tools were critical to getting the job done, both right and on time.
And that's just scratching the surface, according to Rhinehart. �There's a global logistics company using IBM ECM production imaging technology to process 600,000 pages per day,� he said. �They expect to process 4 million per day when the rollout is completed. And already, they move shipments across borders with 30 percent fewer resources than before. Really, any company has too much paper -- it's a great opportunity for enterprises to reduce cost and risk.�
Social content management is another area where ECM capabilities can pay off in a major way -- partly because most of this content is extremely unstructured by nature. Collaborative platforms have typically been developed with a focus on empowering user communication, and rightly so, but it's important that all their content still be connected effectively to the organization's repository of record.
�It's the Wild West right now,� said Rhinehart. �If customers don't have a social content strategy today, they need to get one pretty soon. And we at IBM are certainly investing in that area. We think of it as a sea change in business and we plan to continue to lead the way.�
Information lifecycle governance is a third area where ECM solutions can play a hand. Here, the focus falls on how information is managed throughout its lifecycle, in accordance with its business needs and other variables such as regulatory and legal obligations.
For instance, by identifying information of lower priority, then moving that to storage infrastructure of similarly lower cost -- migrating it from, say, disk arrays to tape or optical media -- organizations can preserve what they need, yet drive down the associated operational overhead. It also becomes possible to identify what isn�t needed at all, eliminating it from the complete information infrastructure and freeing up much needed storage resources in the process. Rhinehart adds that �our solutions help our customers dispose of information in a defensible manner. You can�t just hit the delete key�
ECM solutions can add value by automating and optimizing those processes that are content centric. This is Advanced Case Management (ACM). According to Rhinehart, �ACM helps by addressing the ad-hoc, exception-oriented business processes where collaboration is key and where getting the right decision made is the desired outcome. Traditional BPM solutions aren�t the right approach for these processes. You wouldn�t want to use a shovel to drive in a nail. ACM enables a more dynamic solution development process avoiding many of the issues that make rolling out new applications a lot slower, harder and costlier than it should be.�
Some organizations may describe ACM solutions as dispute management, customer service resolution, care coordination, interventions or even claims processing. These cases are not a typical straight-through process. They involve invoices, contracts and other forms of enterprise content and tend to be customer centric. We have a major retailing chain that's doing this and they're now saving US$2.1 million a year in their call center on labor savings alone.�
Finally, content analytics can provide some of the most interesting, and potentially explosive, possibilities for unstructured data in the enterprise today. Just as traditional analytics tools focus on database-driven content, ECM analytics capabilities focus on unstructured content -- surfing through it for patterns or trends, that (once implemented as strategies) can create new business value.
Rhinehart seems particularly impressed with the strides IBM has taken in this area in recent years, as exemplified by the success of the Watson project -- best known for having defeated Jeopardy champions in head-to-head, real-time competition.
�Watson uses IBM Content Analytics technology that is commercially available today for natural language processing. It�s being used to leverage and exploit enterprise content by understanding business insights currently trapped in content. Content Analytics is being used to detect fraud, solve crimes, improve healthcare research, find new business opportunities, understand the voice of the customer and more. Think Business Intelligence for content.�
I share his appreciation on both Content Analytics and Watson. Watson not only comprehends natural language queries, but also leverages many different analytics algorithms, running in parallel, to arrive at answers deemed likely to be accurate. This is well beyond the scope of ECM, or even enterprise IT as a whole, as it exists today.
�When you can pose questions to a computer in natural language, that's just a whole new ballgame --that�s something IT has never even tried to do before,� said Rhinehart. �I've heard it said that every computer before Watson is nothing but a big calculator. And I think there's a lot of truth in that.�
About the author Guest blogger Wes Simonds worked in IT for seven years before becoming a technology writer on topics including virtualization, cloud computing and service management. He lives in sunny Austin, Texas and believes Mexican food should always be served with queso.