The IBM Software event calendar kicks off next week with IBM Connect 2014. With a focus this year on "Energizing Life's Work," the premier global conference dedicated to social business will explore the ways our increasingly interconnected lives and businesses continue to transform both work and play.
This year, you'll also find the Lotusphere Technical Program and Kenexa World Conference, which give you the opportunity to learn from market leaders and renowned speakers and clients both big and small.
And, as you'd expect, our social team has put together an impressive social program to keep you connected, informed and engaged throughout the conference. Whether you're joining us at the Swan and Dolphin or following along from your desk, there are no shortage of ways to see what's new and exciting.
To find out what your colleagues and peers are doing, you can also join the SocialBiz User Group. I'll be heading down to Orlando this weekend and blogging on the General Sessions and other goings on from both this blog and the Social Business Insights blog, so be sure to bookmark either of them for your regular helping of social business goodness. The first post will be up on Sunday, Jan. 26.
There is a German proverb that says, �The eyes believe themselves. The ears believe other people.�
Londoners are taking this proverb very serious. The London Eye (Ferris wheel), which is one of the most visited attractions of London and the spot where the New Year�s fireworks are sparked off each year, is transforming into a sentiment monitor.
With every Olympics, we get to see the splendor of each host nation. In 2008, China confirmed that it had an ability to stop rain, and now London is turning its busiest tourist attraction into a social media �mood ring,� a partnership between EDF Energy and a group of graduates from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
They developed an intuitive algorithm that linguistically analyses tweets related to the Games. Tweets will be scanned for Olympic-relevant terms such as "Olympics," "Torch Relay," "London 2012," and EDF's own hashtag, "#energy2012."
This initiative rides on the social media wave that the Olympics might be star bursting. This is really cool, but having lived in London for almost a decade, and being involved in social media, I see large loop holes. Just a bit of a pessimistic, "init."
The Olympics represent an incredibly diverse environment � from races to languages to communities. So what are the details behind the analytics on the �Eye�? Is this algorithm going to track sentiment in languages other than English? Moreover, what are the details behind neutral or ambivalent sentiment?
Let�s look at a beautiful example of some noise: On Twitter, Mr. Hancox said that for Londoners, "It's as if someone else is throwing a party in our house, with a huge entry fee, and we're all locked in the basement."
How will the eye in the sky pick up that statement and how will fellow Londoners and the rest of the United Kingdom react?
I would have thought that Boris Johnson, London�s mayor, would have done this in a better way.
Well it comes down to basics, we all learn from our mistakes. So rather than just monitoring the buzz and view how we faired, we need to analyze this social data and take corrective measures to ensure that negative sentiment is minimal, keeping in in mind we can�t please everyone!
Take for example, RTL Nederland, a Dutch entertainment company that produces the �X Factor.� It analyzed the sentiment of more than 71,000 online conversations about the show to understand audience needs and preferences and, based on the online feedback, altered the show for the final episodes to increase viewer satisfaction.
In today�s business environment, no business can survive without analyzing all available data, including social media. A mega event like the Olympics is no different. Social analytics is therefore an understatement.
In the case of the London Eye and the Olympic organizers, I hope their ears are open and are really listening to the feedback so they can take appropriate actions to improve these games, or 2016 in Rio de Janeiro.
For now, let's watch the sentiment on the wheel and then decide.
Guest post from Burke Powers, Managing Predictive Analytics Consultant, IBM Business Analytics
Today, every company of appreciable size has some social media presence. Most companies I speak with are either just monitoring social media or are engaged in �spray-and-pray� tactics that are only loosely tied to corporate goals.
To realize the value in social media it is important to integrate social media into broader customer analytics programs and business decision making.
Too often, companies ask, �What are customers saying about us?�
An objective like this is too vague to direct an analysis and identify actions. What we really need to be able to ask is, �Product XYZ will launch in two weeks. We have done A, B, and C campaigns to create awareness and to position the product.
�What kind of buzz (as measured by D, E, and F KPI�s) has this created around each of our message points?
�Are there other topics that we did not anticipate?
�Can we setup real-time reporting of the topics so that we can monitor the customer reaction to the product once they begin using it?
�Can we monitor any emerging, unanticipated topics after the launch?�
The objective should focus on an area of the business where you are confident additional insight can lead to quick improvements. The best opportunity might be related to a product, the service level of a critical customer touch point, competitor actions, a specific brand attribute, or a customer behavior.
The sheer volume of social data requires some planning. There are a limited number of data aggregators (major aggregators include BoardReader, Gnip, & DataSift) and each comes with its own benefits and trade-offs.
To choose an aggregator that best fits your needs, decide how important data history is, the cost of hosting the data, and the importance of access to all social media data (full fire-hose) versus sampling.
Secondly, decide whether to integrate additional data sources. Using the same filtering and reporting for social media and survey verbatims makes them more comparable for analysis and reporting. Also, determining whether to include internal social network data from Yammer or Lotus Connections may be a factor.
3) Plan and Execute the Analytics
By its nature, social media data is going to be different from what most business analysts are used to analyzing. It is unsolicited and unstructured and tends to be rich in attitudinal and usage information. It is frequently strongly positive or strongly negative.
But, it provides tremendous value because it has rich customer narratives of every product feature and customer touch-point that no other data source can offer. It brings traditionally dry analysis to life for business decision makers.
Most existing social media analytics tools offer only a limited ability to search and trend terms as well as view some sort of sentiment. Some allow filtering by the source metadata as well. These are necessary elements of any serious analysis, but stop short of offering the tools needed to take the data to an actionable level.
To be truly useful across many parts of the business, the free-text data needs to be understood in context and translated into an accessible format for reporting and analysis. This capability is one of the strongest differentiators for IBM Cognos Consumer Insight.
4) Motivate Actions
Once the analysis is ready, it is time to deliver the information to the decision maker at the right time, in the appropriate context to make a decision, and in a persuasive manner.
Finally, be sure to include a rich narrative quote that illustrate the argument and provides an additional persuasive hook that augments the analysis and builds buy-in from the �gut� of business leaders.
For example, let�s say your company recently launched the �Wonder Widget.� You are preparing the first report on how the product has been received by customers. Include a positive customer quote to support the data and drive the point home.
Ideally, the quote says exactly what your analysis leads to, �I love your new �Wonder Widget,� it is already making a difference. Except for one thing, the XYZ dial has got to be moved closer to the display so that I don�t have to look away. Fix this and I can easily justify ordering more units.�
There are many social metrics that could be used, from numbers of followers or tweets generated, to the ratio of issues resolved, and to issues raised via social channels.
Additionally, you could track the results via click-throughs usingIBM Coremetricsor email campaign response using IBM Unica.
You also might choose to experiment through customer support channels and monitor perceptions via both social media and surveys.
Finally, the metrics and actions need to be tied back to financial metrics either as revenue-generating or cost-reducing. This may require knowing the cost of resolving an issue via a social channel versus contact center or perhaps the cost of a response via one promotional channel versus another.
Identify a New Objective and Repeat
Now that we�ve gone through the process from beginning to end, it can now be repeated again with a new objective. A disciplined approach using these best practices will generate rapid returns on virtually any social media analytics endeavor.
For more information:
Read the whitepaperon techniques for gaining valuable customer insight with social media analytics
Guest post fromHaytham Yassine, Software Engineer, IBM Social Media Analytics
I�m back with the redesign of the call center complaint process. Click herefor part 1.
Before I share, here are some key areas such a process should focus on regardless of implementation:
�Customer� Today�s customers find value in sharing experiences and advice amongst themselves via social media. Companies should accommodate our preference for these channels and come to us as opposed to us going to them.
�Customer value� Customer value and loyalty is attained by resolving requests in a short encounter with high quality and minimal effort.
�Inputs and outputs� Inputs to the process should simply be the complaint/question, a relevant profile summary of the customer and any CRM data to assist the agent in providing assistance. The output should be quality service along with reference points for future engagements.
�Performance measures� Key measures are customer effort, customer satisfaction, quality of engagement, number and ratio of successful engagements, capacity of the system, channel flexibility and obviously cost.
You will see from the diagram below how most of the issues mentioned earlier can be resolved via a social media solution.
So what are the key improvements to take away from this redesign?
�Reduction of customer effort to a single activity
�Perception of shorter service encounters by pushing most aspects of the process into the pre-encounter phase
�Elimination of duplication by utilizing customer�s social media profile as input, as well as CRM data when available
�Educated (and empowered) agents provide more sophisticated responses by utilizing analytics and suggestions offline
�Proactive quality control integrated into process workflow by incorporating a review activity
�A multiple workstation approach is still employed, where customer requests are distributed across agents
Here�s an end-to-end scenario:
If I have a complaint or question about your product, I�d share my thoughts through a social media channel; let�s say Twitter for simplicity�s sake, but it could be via a blog (similar to the one I�m writing now), board, forum, etc.
Using a social media analytics solution, such as IBM Cognos Consumer Insight, a scheduled hourly query would pick up the post (and many others) and run it through its analytics dictionary and the XYZ-defined model.
Based on geography, demography and other user attributes, the analyzed post is pushed to the designated agent�s backlog.
The agent accesses the backlog from within a reliable social media management dashboard such as HootSuite. The workflow can define the priority in which complaints should be answered, be it the influencer score of the customer, time of request or a combination of both.
The agent sees my post dissected to portray opinion, product mentions and other analytics:
The agent then assesses whether this post is worthy of a response. Maybe it should be addressed by the developer of the EFG application or better yet, maybe it has already been answered by other users in the same social network.
User specific analytics (preferences, prior engagements, etc.) would be brought up to assist the agent in providing the appropriate response. If my profile can be mapped to the company�s CRM, internal data would be loaded as well. The agent would then formulate the response, get it reviewed by their social media manager and then share it.
So how does this implementation fair compared to the current one?
I can�t claim to have done an assessment so I�ll leave it to your company to implement a pilot project and test it out. However, I�ve already proven that quality, effort, capacity, and flexibility are far more superior in the proposed design.
Please ensure you measure successful engagements in absolute and relative terms across the two processes. A reliable social media analytics solution would measure the impact of your engagement efforts over time.
There are also numerous considerations to keep in mind prior to migrating to this process design, most notably, your customers� demographics and their presence on social media.
I do realize that it won�t be easy to get over your call center�s sunk costs. Don�t worry; I�m advising a gradual transition. Pilot this system in parallel.
The cost of a social media analytics solution is mere change compared to the millions and millions you�ve already spent on that call center.
Please let me know if you have any feedback or comments. I would love your input.
Larry P. Ritzman, Lee J. Krajewski, Manoj K. Malhotra & Robert D. Klassen. Foundations of Operations Management (third Canadian edition). Toronto: Pearson
This semester I have a new challenge. In my Operations Management class (MBA5280B), I was tasked with an assignment to analyze a process and improve it.
I�m not a big fan of call centers and I firmly believe businesses should stop imposing their traditional models of service and start utilizing market-driven media of conversation for their business processes.
Just last month, I read arhetorical blog posted by Brian Solisfrom Altimeter Group. It really intrigued me, particularly because theExtreme Blue(IBM's internship program for students pursuing software development and MBA degrees) project we planned out for the summer heavily addresses this space.
Solis� blog helps highlight, in an exaggerated fashion, the frustrating traditional process of reporting a product or service complaint. I highly recommend reading this post as it provides a great introduction to the process reinvention I�m putting forth.
Not only that, the format I�m adopting in my blog takes the shape of a response to the original �Dear customer� tagline.
Although I would love to explore numerous processes that could be improved by using social media analytics, I will limit this article to the following: analyzing the call center process for reporting a product complaint and improving it by transposing it onto a �smarter� social media engagement workflow.
Here we go�
Dear customer relations manager at (fictional company) XYZ,
I am writing to express my dissatisfaction, not with your products and services, but with the process you employ for people like me to voice their concerns about these very products and services. You emailed me recently asking that I go through the standard call center process for reporting a complaint or asking a how-to, and here I am instead going through the �very standard� social media channels.
Why, you ask?
It�s because I�m one of the millions of consumers out there who have grown fond of using social media for gathering buying decision information and venting experiences and reviews in return. It�s a vicious cycle, you know. Oh, and by the way, I hope you have a reliable social media analytics solution in place to pick up this blog; I won�t be picking up the phone and calling your hot line.
Your process is not only inefficient and painful, but it�s also missing on countless opportunities in the social media space. I�ll start off by analyzing the current process. Below is a simplified chart that highlights the various activities involved.
The process can be categorized as a service shop, where high customer involvement meets moderate-length service encounters and immediate delivery is expected at the end of the process.
I�ve highlighted in red the most problematic activities in the process chart and, as you can see, most of the complexity lies in the customer space. You�ll notice I�ve excluded transfer activities from the chart to make things simple; in reality, these do exist and they add to the encounter�s length and the customer�s frustration.
Here is a list, by no means exhaustive, of the issues I see with the current process:
� Increased customer effort in various activities, complicating the interaction
� Customers have to actively wait in queues for service, extending the service encounter
� Duplication and inefficiency � same inputs being requested/processed at multiple phases
� Multiple transfers may be required
� Potential peak capacity concerns
� Under utilization during low periods
� Agents pressured to provide quality output based on unknown inputs on the spot
� Lack of proactive quality control on process output
� Lost opportunities in customers hanging up
Of course, like a traditional call center, I�m not here to just offer my complaints. I do have a solution.
Please stay tuned for part 2 of my article when I describe the suggested process redesign.
�Analyzing people�s behavior instead of what they claim their behavior is tells a completely different story about that individual,� said Baker. �Most of the time people will say something that is designed to make you feel better and make them feel better about themselves.�
Online people have an array of personas that might fluctuate depending on time of the day, their physical location and mood.
Baker is speaking at the upcomingIBM Finance Forum (May 9) and IBM Performance (May 10) events in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, and cautions that organizations need to take into account that a lot of what is said online is for public consumption, to impress friends and brand themselves.
�It might be important to know that someone is proud of liking some type of music and that may have an impact, but that person might only listen to it when with friends,� said Baker.
Leveraging social media analytics, while important to understand customer behavior and sentiment, is only one piece of the puzzle. Integrating social media data with demographic, purchase history and other unstructured data (e.g., call center notes, emails) will provide a holistic view of the customer and a better recommendation of how an organization might interact with them.
Baker suggests this now allows organizations to focus on what is happening today or five minutes ago.
�The combination of big dataand real-time analytics allows organizations to make the most of the current moment with a customer who is at the cash register or on the phone, and optimize that interaction. One of the most important things organizations have is their relationship with the customer and the customer data,� said Baker.
All this data is turning organizations into scientific laboratories. Analytically mature organizations are now testing their hypotheses endlessly and allowing the data models to keep churning out the best possible scenario � such as ROI to a marketing campaign.
This could be why �data scientist� is the popular analytics job description de jour.
And, while data analysis is a means to an end, it�s an end that continuously changes so the analysis is a never-ending process (which is good for the analytics industry).
�The amount of data is going to keep rising exponentially, and soon we're going to be surrounded by sensors and the rise of artificial intelligence and more machines likeIBM Watsonthat will bring written and spoken knowledge into business opportunities,� said Baker.
A good example of this, according to Baker, is in the healthcare industry. Aging societies are going to push for more electronic sensors so those people can stay in their homes and their activity can be monitored. Then, any changes in patterns can be detected and doctors can intervene sooner than later, turning the nature of medicine from reactive care to preventative care. Ultimately, societies will save money and not bankrupt themselves as the population grays.
�Watson is an incredible tool to be used by us and not replace us,� said Baker. �We used to have to know and hold a lot of facts in our heads and dig through it to come up with answers. And now machines, like Watson, are taking over more and more of the work. I�m very interested in how we're going to reorganize our own minds in order to work well with these machines.�
That is why, Baker argues, that using analytics can reveal truths that aren�t seen and get us to think more deeply about what is really happening.
Just over 15 years ago, authors of a book entitled, �The Discipline of Market Leaders,� asserted there were three (and only three) ways for a company to lead their market(s).
Their thesis is not complicated: invest in unmatched value (best product, best total solution, or best total cost) in the core marketplace, while meeting minimum standards across other measures of value. Focusing the entire enterprise on improvement in the chosen value to customers will result in growth in shareholder value over time.
We're seeing that increasingly "best total solution" is the value proposition of choice because of global changes over the past 15 years. Competing on "best product" is very difficult today as the horizon on an innovation-led technology advantage is shortening all the time. The market penetration for televisions 60 years ago to reach 50M users took 12 years. The internet took four. Tablet computers took just two years.
Competing on "best total cost" is a global undertaking where massive scale is frequently the core economic requirement. By its very nature, this strategy limits the field of competitors to a select few who drive globally integrated supply chains as a core competency.
So, in today's environment "best total solution" is where so many enterprises are focused.
But, it requires an intimate understanding of the customer, the customer's customer (sometimes) and the context in which they make their purchase decisions.
With the advent of social networks, we can define the "best total solution" by thinking of the social web as a massive focus group. Enterprises who lead in "best total solution" today are Social Businesses who mine insights and analyze them to precisely understand how customers feel.
Today's leading enterprises apply scientific methods to their social business activities � continuously harvesting the data associated with the process of establishing & maintaining relationships across the customer-set.
This data is priceless to compete effectively today because customers are expressing their needs in the context of their ongoing social network activities. All enterprises need to do is listen � scientifically � to separate the proverbial wheat from the chaff and uncover the core insights that lead to happier customers.
IBM has been working on applying scientific analysis to the petabytes of social network data. We are focused on enabling businesses to become more socially skilled as they engage the "massive focus group" that is the social web.
The "data exhaust" from social business engagement is the input to sophisticated Social Analytics which interpret customer sentiment, evolving topics of discussion and unmet needs.
We are working closely to help our customers improve their capabilities in Social Analytics. Many feel less well-prepared for these challenges than they would like.
Consider recent results from the IBM Global Study Chief Marketing Officer study of what CMOs feel unprepared for. Notice that the top four areas involve social analytics because it's about huge data-sets, social web content, new social channel options and a diversity of ages & geographies to consider.
I will be doing a webinar tomorrow, March 22, 2012, entitled, �Social Analytics is Key to being a Social Business,� and will be discussing how enterprises can get started on the topics above and it touches on all four areas of unpreparedness. You can register here.
One theme you'll see me strike is how our clients are focused on adding their social analytics insights to the larger corpus of datasets that they use to run their business today.
Consider this view of the typical "360 Degree Customer View." We have tried-and-true behavioral and descriptive data, and a lot of interaction data. But, the attitudes our customers have are more elusive.
We have to conduct costly, time-consuming surveys to capture their sentiment � the "Why" behind the "How, Who and What."
So, as our clients serve the needs of their clients better, it's largely through the predictive lens which comes from blending two key things:
�Scientific interpretation of social business interactions (The "Why")
�Modeling of traditional datasets, including the attitudinal data from social media and surveys
For more information:
�Listento the webinar I recently did with BrainYard and InformationWeek, "Social Analytics - Putting the Science into Social Business." A replay is available here and the presentation is available on SlideShare here.
�Watchthe video below for a strategic viewpoint from Deepak Advani, vice president of products and solutions at IBM, on social analytics and why it�s so important today
IBM has beenpreachingthat customer intimacy is the new intellectual property. The more insight an organization has on its customers, the better opportunities it will have to sell them more stuff, retain the best ones, mitigate risk or even identify possible cases of fraudulent activity.
Essentially, it�s a better way to create an ongoing and meaningful dialogue with customers. This is especially important as the power has shifted from the organization to the customer.
And, those organizations that are serious about delivering a better overall customer experience should seriously consider hiring someone who speaks the customer�s language, is concerned about their well-being, can drive profitable interactions through all channels, and can accomplish that elusive task of bringing all customer focused functional departments together with a common goal. This new strategic asset is otherwise known as the Chief Customer Officer (CCO).
To help in your quest to deliver a better customer experience, we have created a job description for a CCO to streamline your efforts.
If you see anything that you might change or add to the description, please let us know. We would love your feedback.
The ACME Corporationis seekinga highly experienced customer experience professional to fill a newly created Chief Customer Officer (CCO) position. This executive will provide a comprehensive and authoritative view of the customer and create corporate and customer strategy at the highest levels of the company to maximize customer acquisition, retention, and profitability.
Key responsibilities include, but are not limited to:
� Provide managerial oversight while implementing strategic focus and tactical direction to the sales, marketing, strategic alliances, market development, and customer support business units
� Drive profitable customer behavior through the creation of initiatives such as profitability segmentation, customer retention, loyalty, satisfaction, and improving the overall customer experience
� Design, orchestrate and improve customer experiences by ensuring consistency across all channels of customer interaction
� Identify customer pain points, define and monitor service standards, enable easy customer navigation across the organization and create new ways to enrich the buying experience
� Foster direct and meaningful relationships with customers, acting as a mediator between the customer and the corporation, especially when service shortfalls or special needs have surfaced
� Develop an overarching customer-centric corporate strategy with the ability to iteratively execute on smaller, manageable goals
� Serve as a liaison between the IT organization and the business units to ensure that systems and business processes are aligned on the customer experience
� Institute a formal process for capturing, analyzing and acting on customer feedback, including leveraging social media channels to better respond to customer needs/requests
� Create cross-functional customer service processes, resulting in a seamless hand-off from marketing to sales to service and support
� Educate, instill, and motivate a broader cultural desire across the corporation to focus on the customer, with the objective of consistently improving customer experience metrics
� Balances the C-suite and Board of Directors with their traditional focus on cost cutting and revenue-growth
� Cultivate meaningful mutually beneficial relationships with corporate partners / associations to deliver enhanced benefits to ACME customers, thus extending ACME�s own value proposition
� Ensure the company's PR and marketing message reflects the company's service delivery capabilities
Ideal criteria for selection includes, but is not limited to:
� Possess strong operational, marketing and financial background as well as political savvy to bear on critical customer-related issues
� Prior executive or VP level experience leading highly successful marketing, sales and customer service business units
� Proven ability to break down corporate and departmental barriers in order to pave new paths, which may often be in direct conflict with existing corporate culture
� Previous boardroom / shareholder experience with the ability to demonstrate tangible value to all stakeholders
� Highly skilled in building cohesive cross-functional teams
� Highly skilled in a variety of enterprise software tools including CRM, ERP, and POS systems, as well asBusiness Analyticssoftware (business intelligence and predictive analytics)
We've all turned into spooked ostriches with our heads stuck in the ground.
As Matthew Broderick eloquently re-stated in a Super Bowl commercial reprising his famous Ferris Bueller role, "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in awhile you could miss it."
In the world of social media, it seems everyone is buried in their mobile devices these days reporting on the minutiaof their lives. In fact, it was reported that tweeting records were set during Super Bowl XLVI with 13.7 million total tweets sent during the game and 12,233 tweets per second by the end of the game.
I wonder if anyone really watched the game?
Unknowingly, Twitter has turned us into play-by-play announcers, bad stand-up comedians, "Negative Nancy's,� and critics. We share everything. Is it really necessary to tell everyone what you had for breakfast, what you liked most (or for Boston fans, least) about Tom Brady's performance, the coffee shop you just checked into on Foursquare, your opinion of that Matthew Broderick commercial, or what movies and actors you predict will be Academy Award winners?
If Twitter is a never-ending barrage of babble and nonsense, does it really matter?
You�re damn right it does.
Consumers have become a force de nature in the Twitterverse. Their opinions are unfiltered and unadulterated, yet unfortunately, still quite underrated when it comes to using the data to enhance customer experience. As MTV�s �Real World� once promoted, �It�s time to stop being polite, and start getting real.�
Twitter is raw, real and in your face. Businesses have it easy these days. No longer do they have to go through the formal process of focus groups and lengthy analysis. Want to know what someone is thinking, log onto Twitter.
No dodging the mighty consumer these days.They have become increasingly influential, especially as their opinions travel faster and to a wider group of consumers.
Accountability and honesty reign supreme. If consumers don�t like an organization�s strategic business decision (e.g. Susan G. Komen), new product (Netflix/Qwikster), or advertisement (Groupon/Tibet), there�s no dodging the verbal arrows.
The organizations, however, that decide to take action and analyze the millions and millions and millions of data points created in the socialsphere will own the competitive edge and be able to respond that much quicker. It�s just a matter of separating the noise from what really matters, the consumer�s thoughts, opinions, sentiment and behaviors.
Enter social analytics, the latest in noise-cancelling devices that deliver insights into what people are thinking, why they are thinking it, and most importantly, what organizations can do about it. By eliminating the minutia, social analytics helps businesses understand positive and negative sentiment,pinpoint top influencers, measure the volume of commentary and identify the geographic origin of comments across multiple channels.
Getting back to the Super Bowl�think about the value buried inside of those 13 million tweets � for advertisers, for psychologists, for the city of Indianapolis, for the NFL, etc.
And as the Twitter feed flies off the charts with major sporting events, one can only predict the same activity for the upcoming Academy Awards, especially with the commercials, the fashion faux pas, the glitz and glamour, the acceptance speeches and most importantly, the winners and losers.
Speaking of which, IBM, The Los Angeles Times and the University of Southern California Annenberg Innovation Lab have created the Oscars Senti-Meterto establish a model for measuring the volume and tone of worldwide Twitter sentiment to better understand moviegoers' opinions and customer trends.
So yeah, I guess Twitter matters. It might be noisy, but it�s chocked full of yummy goodness.
If businesses don�t check into Twitter and look around once in awhile, there�s a lot they could miss (and a lot of customers they could lose).
In this edition of �Ask the Industry Analyst,� we sit down with Howard Dresner, Chief Research Officer of Dresner Advisory Services, and a well-known authority and author in the areas of Business Intelligence (BI) and Performance Management (PM).
Howard also recently was a guest on our monthly webcast, IBM Tech Talk, discussing best practices and trends in Mobile BI. The webcast is available on-demand here.
As we�ve seen, organizations today are looking for new user experiences that expand traditional BI solutions with planning, scenario modeling, real-time monitoring and predictive analytics. Using a limitless BI workspace supporting how people think and work � in the office, on the go and even offline � decision makers want to quickly search and assemble all perspectives of the business.
Below we chat with Howard about upcoming trends in BI and PM, the �operationalizing� of analytics, results from his 3rd Mobile BI Market study and what to expect in 2012, including cloud, collaboration and mobile.
You've been around the BI and PM industry for many years, what changes have been the most significant for customers?
At a macro level, BI has become very mainstream and the adoption of BI across large enterprises and SMBs is substantial. It has always been a high priority for users and management alike, however, now the technology is approachable for more average types of users. Vendors are now designing their products for end users in mind and not IT. This is especially true in the mobile world.
We are also starting to see customers using BI as part of their business applications (e.g. ERP or CRM) from the beginning. Customers are thinking of BI and analytics at the outset and the value this analysis provides, rather than processing the data and then waiting for someone to come up with an idea of how to analyze it.
Can you talk more about the mainstreaming of analytics?
Moving forward there are several things that are really important to customers. Topping the list is pushing BI and analytics further down into the operations of organizations to professional line management roles.
Traditionally BI has been a really valuable barometer providing a strategic perspective on the historical performance to date. As organizations continue to amass varying data sources � and more of it � they have to have an easy way to push this intelligence to tactical areas of the organization so quick decisions can be made as opportunities present themselves.
For example, it�s becoming increasingly important for retailers to correct something minor at a store level before it becomes a significant issue. I talked to one retailer who was alerted because a popular SKU was not selling well on a particular day as opposed to other days and compared with other stores. This information was passed to the store manager in real-time, and they learned that there was something physically in front of the display preventing customers to see the product.
Bottom-line: A minor course correction multiplied by thousands of stores can be extremely significant.
This is very similar to what we found in ourWisdom of Crowdsstudy in May 2011 along with advanced analytics (data mining), in-memory analytics, collaborative decision-making and mobile.
The world is changing, so fasten your seatbelt. Mobile (e.g. tablets) continues to have a huge impact on business and the way decisions are being made. For a number of individuals going forward this will be their primary device, especially younger employees who have never actually used a computer.
In a number of customer or patient-facing industries, mobile is just far more efficient and ideal. It also has a psychological aspect that makes the device far more approachable and creates a better conversation versus someone talking over a computer.
Tablets also holdcach�and a cool factor. And, executives are the number one consumers because of that factor, as well as the fact they provide tremendous value. Once the executives adopt them, then you will see a huge proliferation in the devices. This is very different from what we saw last year.
What were the major changes in the results of this survey over the last one you did?
From 2010 to 2011, executives jumped 12 percent as the primary targets, followed by middle management, who were the biggest jump for the primary focus of Mobile BI. It�s interesting to see executives get excited about Mobile BI as most of them own a tablet.
There was also a big increase in penetration and deployment plans. Globally last year, 73 percent said deployment would be under 10 percent, but now it�s 58 percent. Looking out even further, there are very ambitious and aggressive plans to deliver Mobile BI more broadly.
North America and smaller organizations appear to be leading the charge towards Mobile BI. North America because they tend to be early adopters and smaller organizations because they can most readily integrate and benefit from new technologies.
Finally, 65 percent said exclusive Mobile BI use wouldn�t be less than 10 percent over the course of the next two years. That sounds like a paradigm shift. It�s changing the way we work.
What is some advice that you can give to customers who currently have a Mobile BI solution or are thinking about deploying one?
If you are not doing mobile now, begin a proof of concept as soon as possible. This technology is not standing still. If you wait, you'll never do anything. There are huge direct benefits to the organization, which at the minimum are efficiency and effectiveness, especially for those in operational roles. Dragging your feet is not an option.
Secondly, you need to ask yourself, �What do I want to automate?� Anyone who is moving from their desk to somewhere � across campus, to a manufacturing shop floor, or the traditional road warrior � is mobile. So pick your targets. In fact, those people might already be out there and using their devices for business. Go find them and automate those people and their processes.
What are some of the key BI trends moving forward that will create opportunity for customers?
There are three key foundations of BI moving forward: Cloud, Collaboration and Mobile.
�Cloud� Today, smaller organizations seem to think that BI wasn�t made for them. That is untrue. They won�t have the technological staff or resources, but they will have an internet connection. BI can, and will, happen in the cloud for those who want ready-access to applications and data. And, more vendors continue to invest to make this technology a success.
�Collaboration� We have fewer expert resources and truth be told, email doesn�t really help us as much as we need it to. So, if I have a collaborative engine that is supporting my functional area, I can focus all the interactions in one place increasing the ability for structured and workflow collaboration. But, this will only be successful if the organization supports a collaborative culture.
�Mobile� Contrary to what IT and finance might want to believe, Mobile BI is going to shift the industry. The insights now follow you around and with more eyes on the data, organizations can better align their employees with the overall mission and increase the confidence in the decisions. It also creates a better culture of accountability and transparency. Eventually an organization will turn on its afterburners when the culture aligns with BI.
For more information:
�Listento the recent IBM Tech Talk with Howard Dresner
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.