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Monday, June 30, 2014

Watson Assists with Recipes

A strong area of interest of mine as well.  Note again the assistant mode of expertise delivery:

" ... IBM has found a new partner for its supercomputer called Watson: Bon Appetit magazine.
Together the companies are introducing the beta version of a web-based cooking app on Monday that taps Watson, which beat two human contestants on "Jeopardy" in 2011, to create a new recipe every time someone uses it.

"We get into ruts cooking the same thing over and over again," said Adam Rapoport, editor in chief of Bon Appetit, which is published by Conde Nast. "This helps free up our minds. It's someone to collaborate with as a home cook."

The app, called Chef Watson with Bon Appetit, will be limited to invited users at the start, though Mr. Rapoport said it will "hopefully go live to the general public at some point down the road." ... ' 

And in Bob Appetit An article on the App.

Resources: Wolfram Programming in the Cloud

Last week I posted about Wolfram's in the Cloud implementation of what they are calling 'Knowledge-Based Programming'.  I have been asked by a client to explore this.  Just received this from Wolfram, which I thought I would pass along to other explorers.  This is free for exploration.

" ... For more than 30 years, I've been working to create a new kind of
programming environment--in which as much as possible is
automated, and as much knowledge and computation as possible is
built in. ... What's the best way to get started? There are several:

* Watch the video:
* Read my Fast Introduction for Programmers:
* Visit the Wolfram Language home page:
* Check out our Code Gallery:
* Go to Things to Try:

Or just open a new notebook and start writing Wolfram Language
code! ...  Let us know what you think, and tell us you what you do with
Wolfram Programming Cloud--either at this address, or on the
Wolfram Community at: http://community.wolfram.com

Happy knowledge-based programming!   ... " 

Flexible Loyalty Systems Needed

Makes a very good point.  My own interviews with consumers in the earlier days of loyalty programs showed that there was clearly loyalty segmentation.   More difficult to communicate and effectively execute.  Opportunity here.

Retail View of the Future

What we attempted to do, for a while at least, in innovation centers.  Like what I see here.

RETF Offers Glimpse Into the Future of Grocery
Tesser, a San Francisco brand strategy and design firm, was tapped by FMI to lead a creative exploration with grocery CEOs and industry/tech innovators on what key drivers/trends to expect in the next 10 years. With its team of strategists and designers, Tesser created the Retail Experience of The Future  More.

Uses of Thermal Cameras

Why do you need one on your camera phone?  Popular Mechanics looks at some examples.

USAA Marketing Analytics

Keys to marketing analytics, a good case study of the process.   United Services Automobile Association  USAA, In the Financial, Insurance, Marketing space.   Good, logical detail provided.

 " ... Which Insights Would Promote Data-Driven Decision Making?
As you design your measurement plan with stakeholders, the first things to ask are, “What are you trying to accomplish? What is success?” It’s crucial to get your stakeholders to clearly define this. Some stakeholders may say they want to generate responses or sell more products. These types of general answers should stimulate additional questions that can provide better answers about what insights are needed. So, for example, you could ask what types of responses they’re looking for – such as phone calls, website visits or other responses. And you should ask the stakeholders to clarify what counts as a response. ... "

Sunday, June 29, 2014

In Car Facial Recognition

In Motor Authority: A means to determine who is in the drivers seat.  Security, safety?  Insurance? " .... In order to expand the capabilities of in-car tech, Ford is working with Intel to bring facial recognition to the dashboard. The joint research project, called Project Mobil, will allow engineers to see how inward-facing cameras can be integrated into a car's existing systems to provide useful features. Ford Motor Company  already believes the technology can help improve privacy and give parents a way to monitor their kids as they drive. .... "  

Phone as Quake Detector

Thousands or possibly millions of smartphones can create a new kind of monitoring network, according to "Community and Sense Response Systems: Your Phone as Quake Detector" (cacm.acm.org/magazines/2014/7/176219) in the July 2014 Communications of the ACM.
See video: http://vimeo.com/98781340

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Apple Wearable Strategy

An interesting piece.  A few weeks ago I saw a presentation about the Disney Parks arm bands and how the data from them was being gathered and leveraged.  I was also struck how Apple was moving in a similar direction.  I have not yet been to Disney Parks since their implementation to get the experience.  This article provides a good view of their use.  My impression:  Give out a tailored wireless device that optimizes real time experience, navigation and purchasing while also gathering precise long term data about behavior.  Use that data to mine optimal experience.   Makes lots of sense to tailor future promotion and experience.  

Nanotechnology Update

Been a while since I looked at the Foresight Institute's nanotechnology update.  We used it as a means to stay up to date on new materials we might want to use in product development.

Fierce Retail IT

Newly brought to my attention, newsletter and blog:

Free Retail IT Industry News Brief
Whether it’s mobile payment fiascos, PCI security changes, E-Commerce hiccups at your largest rivals or new CRM legal hurdles you now need to clear, FierceRetailIT lets you know first. Sign up for our free weekly email newsletter today! ....  "

Social TV, Syncing Social and TV

Recently started to use a system that included what was called 'Social TV'.   Which aimed to show a social feed from the other people watching.   But there was almost no activity there.  And no synchronized offers for me.  I have tried to follow some hashtag based twitter feeds for TV events.  Is it an on demand future?  I recall that social shopping did not work.   How do we become social on TV?  What can it be synced with?   Interesting piece from the Altimeter group blog.

Real-time content synchronization between offline and online media has become the darling of social TV, frequently serving as its very definition for companies looking to marry traditional and digital marketing experiences. Take Target, for example. Prior to the 2013 release of Justin Timberlake’s “The 20/20 Experience,” Target promoted the album synchronously on social, mobile, and TV. Its Facebook video post offered an exclusive pre-order of the album, and appeared simultaneously in fans’ news feeds while the commercial was broadcast. More.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Virtual Banking Assistance

In Engadget:  Seeing an increasing interest the assistant idea.  It was a big emphasis back in the AI days. The area here, in personal banking and financial, where people often start confused, is an ideal area.   I wonder if some of the caution is in the liability that exists in the assistant recommendations.

Measuring Goosebumps in Real Time

In CACM:  A particular kind of sensory -emotional measurement I had not seen before.   How does this compare to galvanic skin response, which it seems to be related to?

 " ... The system works by recording a drop in the sensor's ability to store an electrical charge, known as capacitance, caused by it being deformed by the buckling of the skin's surface.

Previous research has shown that goosebumps can be used to deduce changes in a subject's emotional state brought on by music, movies, and other causes. "In the future, human emotions will be regarded like any typical biometric information, including body temperature or blood pressure," says KAIST professor Young Ho-cho. .... " 

Birthday of the Barcode

The Barcode is 40 years old.  Like with many computing anniversaries, the age seems small.  My enterprise was involved with its development, standardization and use in manufacturing and retail.  I tested packaging designs against code reading machines.  We also tested a broad number of potential replacements, none of which have taken over for general identification use.    More at the link.  " ... Forty years ago yesterday, a cashier at a Marsh Supermarket in Ohio scanned a pack of gum and the Uniform Product Code (UPC) took its first step to becoming the standard for tracking merchandise at retail. ... " 

Mining Data in this Blog: Old Links

Had cause to help several people use this blog to mine efforts in the area of Big Data applications of value to Retail.  We found a number of interesting applications that existed before the term was invented.  This also reminded me to present this caution.  Links in this blog that are not controlled by me cannot be guaranteed to be 'live'.  In some cases I can reproduce the content of old, non functioning links, but in others not.

Midmarket Business and the Cloud: Reshaping the World of Business

Participated in this conference call yesterday. Reshaping the World of Business  Nicely done.  The speakers brought their experiences forward.   I followed with a number of tweet and retweets at #SMB4cloud which were spread through my network. Key benefits of Cloud to the Midmarket:  Improved efficiency, quick links to external resources and expertise, Ability to prototype and quickly develop from shared data and methods.  The authors give some excellent examples.  Hosted by former colleague: Paul Gillin. Worth listening to for anyone in the midmarket with uncertainty about the value of the cloud.

See the whole video and follow through the twitter stream, see below.

" ... IBM is hosting an intimate, virtual event via Spreecast convening a select group of about 15-20 influential leaders from the business, entrepreneur, technology, academic, business partner and developer communities to discuss how cloud can enable SMBs to build businesses from the ground up, level the playing field to compete with multi-billion dollar companies, build brand loyalty, and increase sales. Panelists include IBM GM, Midmarket Business, John Mason and Entrepreneur Samar Birwadker, the CEO and Founder of Good.co among others.

The goal of the event is to foster insight sharing, brainstorming, and engagement while stimulating provocative thinking and discussion about short and long-term opportunities for SMBs in the cloud.

Spreecast link: http://www.spreecast.com/events/cloud-reshaping-the-world-of-business
Hashtag: #SMB4cloud

Spreecast prep: http://about.spreecast.com/additionalresources/spreecast-101-for-audience/

Replay for Cloud: Reshaping the World of Business  bit.ly/1rEaB09 #smb4cloud #ibm

Full video: http://www.spreecast.com/events/cloud-reshaping-the-world-of-business  ..." 

This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I’ve been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Supply Chain is a Step to Profit

A key to increasing Profit.  In Industry Week.

" ...Supply chain optimization and supplier management are important steps toward boosting profit. Companies can get more value from supplier relationships by negotiating lower costs on commodities. They also should optimize inventory and streamline their supply chain "touch points," Andrew Miller writes ... " 

Essential Hadoop Tools

Some essential Hadoop tools.  An introductory slideshow, which is useful for the beginner. And a useful explanatory overview " ... .While many refer to the entire constellation of map and reduce tools as Hadoop, there's still one small pile of code at the center known as Hadoop. The Java-based code synchronizes worker nodes in executing a function on data stored locally. Results from these worker nodes are aggregated and reported. The first step is known as "map"; the second, "reduce."

Hadoop offers a thin abstraction over local data storage and synchronization, allowing programmers to concentrate on writing code for analyzing the data. Hadoop handles the rest. The job is split up and scheduled by Hadoop. Errors or failures are expected, and Hadoop is designed to work around faults by individual machines. ... " 

What Does Math Look Like in 3D?

In Wired:  An early interest, probably the first thing I wrote about, long before blogs, always hoped there would be practical applications, but never found one.  My first computer project was was doing projections of equations.  But now visualizing is much easier than using scissors and paste.

Intel Capturing Mood

In CW: I have been introduced to some efforts by Intel in the retail interaction space, this has interesting applications in engagement and interaction.   More in this blog on Intel and imaging.

Intel's RealSense 3D tablet cameras will determine whether a person is happy or sad based on its analysis of a face. The RealSense camera chip has technology to recognize a face, analyze the shape of lips, eyes and cheeks, and then draw conclusions about facial expression. ...

 ... The camera was developed as part of Intel's "perceptual computing" effort to make human interaction with computers more natural and interactive. The camera chip is 3.5-mm thick and will be built into the bezel of tablets. The chip has its own image co-processor to analyze video and 3D data points, and processing loads will not be offloaded to CPUs or graphics cores.

New kinds of streaming data?

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

IARPA Seeking Brain-like Algorithms

In CACM:  Interesting take.  I am always skeptical when a requirement to be 'brain like', is included.  It is an option, but not the only option, or even the best inspiration:

" ... The U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) wants to develop technology that will enable computers to think like humans. ODNI's Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) believes algorithms that utilize the same data representations, transformations, and learning rules as those employed by the brain have the potential to revolutionize machine intelligence. ... " 

Where are the Retail Data Scientists?

I would like to see more coverage in the retail data world.  We had and still have many practitioners, just not called 'data scientists'.  Some very good points on where the data is coming from and how it is being used today.

Solving Word Problems

We used this as a test problem while teaching textual language AI, has it progressed? At least from my very cursory look at the examples, yes.  But is it good enough to be practical in natural language problems?  At MIT:

" .. Researchers in MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, working with colleagues at the University of Washington, have developed a new computer system that can automatically solve the type of word problems common in introductory algebra classes. ... " 

No Such Thing as Unstructured Data? Define it With Care.

Right,  the term is broadly used.  It really means in many cases 'not structured enough for the purpose at hand'.  In a recent architecture project fo BI it meant 'not in a corporately managed database'.  In other cases it means 'free text data'.  And in other examples image data.   Or  'not in an established database field'.  It is a good idea to understand what it means in your example.  TDWI makes some related points.

Stealing Data from Phones

In Wired:  A disconcerting piece about how law enforcement and governments are gathering data directly from mobile phones.   " ... Newly uncovered components of a digital surveillance tool used by more than 60 governments worldwide provide a rare glimpse at the extensive ways law enforcement and intelligence agencies use the tool to surreptitiously record and steal data from mobile phones.  ...  ".  

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Need a HoloDeck?

Via Metaio.  " .... Metaio, the world leader in Augmented Reality (AR) software and solutions today revealed its 6D Holodeck technology that places virtual environments directly in the real world allowing smartphone users to explore them with their on-board cameras. Metaio is today releasing the source code for the technology to developers so that they may build immersive and interactive experiences like next-generation Augmented Reality games. ... "   Video

Ad Agencies Want Innovations

In Adage: Ad agencies are now seeking more than just Ad ideas. For additional revenue streams " ...  Ad Ideas? RFPs Morph Into Requests for Innovation, Products ... "

Cyber Defense Requires Culture

In CACM:  Former NSA chief says culture not technology key to cyber defense.  I really don't see our culture going that way.   If anything a sense of personal responsibility is diminishing,  edged that way by technology.    Links to the  WSJ.

Looking for Indoor GPS

A long time goal.  Some of the research generally  described here.  Completely personalized navigation indoors is still not here. Coming to an office this morning it took fifteen minutes to get a Wifi connection.  Useless for shopping or alerting.  Beacons won't be everywhere soon.  And you wont need satellites: " ... Labs in the U.S. and U.K. are working on next-generation GPS that’s so cool, it won’t even use satellites. It will instead take location cues from subatomic variations in the earth’s magnetic field .. " 

Downside of Personalization

Interesting view.  Via Linkedin.  To what degree are we benefited versus being exploited?  Most of this is obvious, but the measures of each are not there. I would like to see it better understood.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Sensors in Lamp Posts

Have followed the idea of placing sensors in existing infrastructure for some time.  Starting in retail environments.  Here Chicago steps into the approach.   A source of yet more data.

Court Limits Software Patents, But Stops Short

Glad at least some progress was made here.  My opinion is it should have gone further to enhance  net creativity.   It may well have some economic repercussions. In Mashable: 

  " ... A unanimous Supreme Court narrowed the reach of software patents June 19.

The Court ruled that simply involving a computer in an idea doesn't mean it's patentable. The justices tossed out several patents belonging to Alice, an Australian financial services company, and the ruling could invalidate other similar patents.

But the Court didn't go as far as many patent critics had hoped, declining to strike down all software patents. Critics argue that a rise in litigation (especially over software patents) is suppressing innovation and limiting consumers' access to technology. ... " 

Wolfram Programming Cloud

Attended today the announcement of the Wolfram Programming Cloud. This embodies the ability to create public and private clouds using the Wolfram programming language.  It uses the Wolfram Alpha AI and natural language capabilities, plus the knowledge databases already included in the language.  We examined its use for use inside the company.  In particular to implement certain kinds of AI with corporate data.   So this is AI embedded in programming.  A powerful idea, quick for prototypes.  For production, I am unsure.

Steve Wolfram gave a short demo that was impressive and  informative.  It also showed clearly that this is a powerful, compact programming language, which requires skill and training to use.  The code looks more like math than sequences of instructions, and that is scary for many.  How easy is it to get these programming skills in the market?  In schools?    He pointed out an included an Introduction to Knowledge Programming for he says, easy training.  Some 5000 + functions are included with many machine learning and analytics capabilities.  Graphics are a deeply included capability.  Interaction is directly provided.

Most interesting, the system is free to play with in the cloud.  Only when you ultimately go production will it cost. I got the impression that will allow for in depth training and testing of ideas.

Overall impressive.  Press release  and example overview.

Business Intelligence and Analytics

A Complementary Strategy.    My view:   I really see them as the same thing.  You should always consider the simplest methods first.  Starting with just understanding the data that supports and is created by your business decision process.  Look at it ...  and today there is no excuse to not visualize it using many forms of easy to use software.

Business Intelligence then means to systematize that examination process.  This includes both the data and simple, understandable measures that can be derived from it.  Get other people, both experts and novices with a fresh view, involved as well.  Then, strongly consider analytics, advanced pattern recognition techniques to take the next steps.  You will then be well armed to provide new value.

Real Time App Features

Mindmeld writes about real time App features.  I remain interested in their APIs which augment App capabilities.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Future of Hadoop Tweetchat Overview

I see that IBM sponsored Tweetchat on 'Hadoop, Where it's been and Where it is Going'  is nicely summarized in this blog.  I listened in by invitation, contributed, and though I am no deep Hadoop expert, I provided some questions from the enterprise data and analytics aspects of its use.

Analytics for Decision Makers Needed before Autopilots

Ultimately all analytics is about decision making.  From the most simple yes/no, to the most complex management of risk portfolios.  Decision making usually includes the decisions of humans, based on the assistance of computing devices.  True, process control applications do close the loop to create 'autopilots' in every manufacturing environment today, but there are many, many challenges before we close all the loops. One will be to get analytics into the hands of the human decision makers, remarkably rare, even these days.  It can be done, starting with the Cloud.

Links Between Humans and Machines Blur

Hail Cyborg's:  Still don't think this is true in any reasonable, practical sense.  We are on the verge of making them useful assistants in a human knowledge sense.   It will happen, and there is much to prepare for, but let's be serious.

On Technology and Library Users

A view of Pew research on the users of (physical) libraries. And a quiz to show if you are a library lover.  I still admit to being one.  Interesting findings are buried in the statistics.

Google Nose

Transmitting aroma was a task we examined for years, most notably for coffee applications, but for a number of others as well.    Can you accurately deconstruct, store, select and transmit a smell digitally? Once you can do that it becomes a powerful more leverage-able asset. Its a holy-grail type challenge. We never saw it done well, now has Google cracked this?    An Odor Phone? More of my writing here on the topic.

Programmatic Buying and Creativity

Does programmatic buying decrease creativity?  This was brought up in a number of analytic realms very early on, because they tended to use only a single measure, like cost or profit to optimize with.   But such methods can usually be devised to include multiple human choices that are creative.  Directly including creativity measures is also possible, but more difficult.  More here I have written on the topic of programmatic (automated) buying.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Pinker on Writing in the 21st Century

Favorite writer Steven Pinker on Brain and Language writes in the Edge. And Video.

" ... What are the arts but products of the human mind which resonate with our aesthetic and emotional faculties? What are social issues, but ways in which humans try to coordinate their behavior and come to working arrangements that benefit everyone? There's no aspect of life that cannot be illuminated by a better understanding of the mind from scientific psychology. And for me the most recent example is the process of writing itself.  .... "

Statistics and Big Data Science

A Statisticians View on Big Data and Data Science ...  Good thoughts in a slide share via colleague.  " by Diego Kuonen, CEO, PhD in Statistics, CStat PStat CSci at Statoo Consulting .... Abstract:  There is no question that big data have hit the business, gov- ernment and scientific sectors. The demand for skills in data science is unprecedented in sectors where value, competitiveness and efficiency are driven by data. However, there is plenty of misleading hype around the terms ‘big data’ and ‘data science’. This presentation gives a professional statistician’s view on these terms, illustrates the connection between data science and statis- tics, and highlights some challenges and opportunities from a statistical perspective. ... " 

Friday, June 20, 2014

Gesture App to Produce Spoken Language

Turing sign language into spoken language in real time.  In Mashable.  Under development: " ... The app — called Google Gesture — is paired with a band worn on the forearm that analyzes muscle movements made when signing — a process known as electromyography. These movements are then sent to the app, which translates them into audible words as they are signed. ... " 

Internet of Behaviors

Was pointed out to me.  Admit I wince when think of all the 'Internet of X' alternatives we may have to expect.    Still it is an interesting way, for now, to express other aspects of data generating things and their activities.

Building Knowledge Graphs for Assistants

The MindMeld API:  With an interesting mission.  Leading to more intelligent voice?  " .... Social physics is a big data science that models how networks of people behave and uses these network models to create actionable intelligence. It is a quantitative science that can accurately predict patterns of human behavior and guide how to influence those patterns to (for instance) increase decision making accuracy or productivity within an organization. Included in this course is a survey of methods for increasing communication quality within an organization, approaches to providing greater protection for personal privacy, and general strategies for increasing resistance to cyber attack. ... " 

Hawking and AI

In CNet News: Not sure its that funny, but the caution is understood. Eventually we will need to deal wit this, but it may be some time away. " ... In a hilarious appearance on John Oliver's HBO show, the famous physicist muses that robots could "outsmart us." ... "

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Mobile Apps for Professional Development

Good overview of continued professional education using mobile Apps.  A nice idea.  In particular this talks about a nursing education series.

Business Innovation Technology Lunch

Thanks to all who attended my business process innovation lunch today.  I enjoyed it and learned much myself.  Stay connected with me to continue the process.  Always interested in thinking new possibilities.

Building Anticipatory Supply Chains

In Industry Week:  Any company with a robust supply chain must anticipate problems.  " .... Toyota got a wake-up call in March 2011, when an earthquake registering 9.0 hit northern Japan, unleashing a massive tsunami. The human toll was devastating and the rebuilding task a monumental challenge. Later, for Toyota, it became evident how dramatic and far reaching this natural disaster was for its global business. ..."

House Key as Tool and Technology

In the NYT:  The simple house key, how little it has changed, and a look at the number of recent technological attempts to replace it.  I like stories about how technologies replace each other, and how our digital world evolves.  Will the Internet of things change this?

Building an All-Star Team

In the HBR:  by Michael C. Mankins  Though our typical view of being 'all star', is often skewed by many existing operational agendas , which is why this is hard to do in the enterprise.


Also recently brought to my attention, Big Data Lens,  examining. " ... Custom Big Data Algorithms and Predictive Analytics .... "

" .... Bringing together human-like comprehension of web pages, advanced analysis, and cloud based processing for first time, Big Data Lens creates high scale, high speed algorithms that connect, conclude and predict what happens next. 

We are a group of technologists, intelligence specialists, statisticians, & mathematicians who are passionate about the practice of Big Data.  For us, methods and technologies have come together for the first time that solve some of the thorniest problems in information science and ones we have been wrestling with for years.  We get excited everyday that we get to apply these new techniques in creative and innovative ways on your behalf. ..... "

Natural Language Conversations

Some believe this problem has been completely solved.  Not so, a fascinating piece addressing the challenges.  In Computing Now.  In particular for the domain of personal assistants, an area heating up quickly.

The Road to Natural Conversational Speech Interfaces
Charles L. Ortiz, Jr. • Nuance Communications

To realize truly conversational speech interfaces for applications such as virtual personal assistants, a number of technical challenges must be addressed.  This article presents a brief overview of the relevant research literature,  which will allow user interface developers to temper their assessments of  this technology for a particular application with a realistic appreciation of 
the challenges. ... " 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Cojoin Analytics Startup

New colleague Thomas Ciszek points me to Cojoin.com:  In Beta, you can request access.

 " ... We are a team of agency, web and science data veterans who grew frustrated with enterprise sales and wanted to simplify data warehousing and data analytics. Cojoin is the result of that effort. Through Cojoin’s highly-visual, customizable dashboards, sharing data with colleagues has never been easier, making data-driven decision-making more meaningful and efficient.

Even with the power of “big data,” an incomplete analysis often leads to incorrect assumptions about what to do. By automatically joining and synthesizing data from multiple sources, and providing master data sets, Cojoin helps marketers gain the ultimate perspective on their campaigns.

Founded in 2012, Cojoin is a privately-held company based in Santa Monica, California.  ... " 

Replacing Power Plants with Batteries

In IEEE Spectrum: Mostly as a demand leveling device,  not unlike methods still used, pumping water into uphill reservoirs to store energy.   Some of the statistics are interesting, some power plants, built to address urban peak needs, have been used as little as 29 hours per year.

" .... High costs have limited the use batteries in the electricity grid, but emerging technologies will make batteries a more compelling way to supply power during hours of peak demand. And they'll do it soon, say battery firm executives.

Utilities and energy project developers are now considering batteries as alternatives to traditional grid infrastructure, such as substation upgrades and natural gas-fired “peaker” power plants that only run a few days a year, according to industry executives who spoke at the Utility of the Future conference in Washington D.C. last week. Once the price of energy storage goes below US $300 per kilowatt-hour, batteries could transform how power is delivered, they said. ...  "

Intel Interested in Wearables

Intel, apparently drawn by the opportunity of many more chip bearing devices, is closely examining the Wearable computing market.  Here an overview their interests.  " ... The chipmaker is developing several platforms -- Edison, Galileo and Jarvis -- that will be incorporated into wearable electronics ... " 

Big Metadata

Via Robin Bloor.   I will note here that the term metadata has multiple functional definitions,  but this still has some useful thoughts.

Does Big Data Mean Big Metadata?
Why is there so much metadata?

Maybe you don’t think there is, but there is. Metadata is the data that defines the structure of data records in files and databases. For some files, such definition data is buried in program code somewhere and only the program knows for sure what the data structure is. That’s a problem if you want to share the data – and that’s why we have databases: so we can. ....  "

[ I don't like to quote Information Management Articles, because they are soon archived and you will be required to register, so be warned the link may soon not be less useful ... ]

Sparseness of Linguistic Big Data

Interesting comment that we can confirm, but it's not unlike many events, statistically rare events are often problematic.  In Language Log:    At first I disagreed, we generate huge amounts of textual content every day.  But consider:   " ... Big data is at its best when analyzing things that are extremely common, but often falls short when analyzing things that are less common. For instance, programs that use big data to deal with text, such as search engines and translation programs, often rely heavily on something called trigrams: ..... " 

Careers in Statistics Evolve and Expand

In Science Magazine:

" ... Workers with statistics backgrounds have long been in healthy demand for academic, actuarial, pharmaceutical, or government jobs. Those traditional statistics jobs aren't going away anytime soon, as long as society continues to need workers who can advance statistics theory, assess drugs' risks and efficacy, or do any of the other things statisticians have done for years.

But, as several statisticians and analysts tell Science Careers, the range of statistics jobs is expanding, and many traditional jobs are changing. As technology proliferates, the mathematical methods at the heart of the discipline are reaching into new fields. Personal electronics, the Internet, scientific instruments (notably in genomics), and e-business are spitting out troves of data that are crying out for analysis, spawning a "big data" revolution. All that new data has the potential to provide new insights for businesses, new research possibilities for scholars, and new information that policymakers can draw on, among many other possibilities. It also means new jobs.... " 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Hypothalamus as Brain Operating System?

In Technology Review:
Coordinating sensory inputs, making sense of them, and coordinating response.  Have seen this mentioned before, but we should be cautious about using computer inspired models.  The article points to come recent models we reacted to in recent years.  Much work is still being done based on those models.  But how simplistic is that?  I like some metaphorical thoughts from the article: 

" .... In the same vein, Caltech’s Anderson points out that the public and scientific infatuation with functional MRI studies over the last two decades has created the impression that certain regions of the brain act as “centers” of neural activity—that the amygdala is the “center” of fear, for example, or the hypothalamus is the “center” of aggression. But he likens fMRI to looking down on a nighttime landscape from an airplane at 30,000 feet and “trying to figure out what is going on in a single town.” Optogenetics, by contrast, has provided a much more detailed view of that tiny subdivision of cells in the hypothalamus, and thus a much more complex and nuanced picture of aggression. Activating specific neurons in that little town can tip an organism to make war, but activating the neurons next door can nudge it to make love. ... " 

China AliBaba in US

In Retailwire: Some interesting Chinese movements into the US:  " ,,, Being China's largest e-commerce company means that Alibaba is no slouch. But that doesn't mean the company's first site in the U.S. will roll over the likes of Amazon and eBay either. .. ."   See also Hualian. 

Competing in a Digital Age

McKinsey piece that has some excellent statistics and specific examples.  What does it mean to go digital?  How does it help you compete?  " ... Strategic principles for competing in the digital age
Digitization is rewriting the rules of competition, with incumbent companies most at risk of being left behind. Here are six critical decisions CEOs must make to address the strategic challenge posed by the digital revolution. ... " 

Linked Data for Gathering Knowledge

I was referred back to the use of what is called Linked Data:   In the WP: 

" ... In computing, linked data (often capitalized as Linked Data) describes a method of publishing structured data so that it can be interlinked and become more useful. It builds upon standard Web technologies such as HTTP, RDF and URIs, but rather than using them to serve web pages for human readers, it extends them to share information in a way that can be read automatically by computers. This enables data from different sources to be connected and queried.[1]
Tim Berners-Lee, director of the World Wide Web Consortium, coined the term in a design note discussing issues around the Semantic Web project.[2] ... " 

Curse of Dimensionality

Nicely done piece on classification using multiple features, the dilemma of dimensionality.  I will not use the word curse here.    It can be a challenge of course.

Monday, June 16, 2014

88 Percent of Shoppers Webroom

Some useful statistics in Retailwire.  " .... The act of webrooming, or the process of researching products online then buying them in store, has become the new norm for today's connected consumers. In fact, 88 percent of shoppers regularly webroom while only 76 percent showroom, according to a recent study from Interactions. .... "

MediaCrossing and Advanced Programmatic Ad Buying

Happened on former collaborator William Lederer and MediaCrossing.   They have created a short animated infographic that does an excellent job of demonstrating both the power, value and speed of the idea. That further integrates the general process of media buying.  While we experimented with aspects of this idea, we never took it this far. Very instructive and Highly recommended! Connect with them for a further demonstration.

" ... MediaCrossing presents 200MS: The Life of a Programmatic Ad Impression, an educational video accompanied by an infographic that shows you exactly how ads are bought and sold in real-time. The two shine light on a complex world of auctions, bidders, advertisers and publishers that are all vying for the right to serve you an ad.

Programmatic advertising is on track to be a 12 billion dollar industry this year – a number estimated to triple within the next 3 years. Watch and learn how ads are being traded faster than you can blink or snap your fingers. .... " 

Difficulty of Robot Challenges

In CWorld: Robots have been able to do some very impressive things lately.  But it is often hard to make them do specific tasks that human can do autonomously.  In a recent challenge:  " ... NASA officials and roboticists were disappointed, but not shocked, at the less-than-spectacular results at yesterday's NASA robotics challenge -- even though researchers from the likes of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) and Oregon State University had worked on the fully autonomous machines. ... "  

Computer Science as a Science

In CACM:  It has been suggested that Computer Science is more a technology than a Science, and not rigorous enough to be a 'Math'.  Is that worth arguing about?    Is that a harmful distinction?

Internet as Revolution in Business

Thomas Malone .... In Technology Review: 

" .... an excerpt from Thomas W. Malone’s 2004 book, The Future of Work: How the New Order of Business Will Shape Your Organization, Your Management  Style, and Your Life. Malone, the Patrick J. McGovern Professor of Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management, is among the speakers at the April 9 event Open Mind: How The Internet is Changing Our Lives  co-hosted by BBVA and MIT Technology Review ... 

We are now in the early stages of a revolution in business that may ultimately be as profound as the American and French revolutions in the late 1700s. Like the democratic revolution that changed the role of government, the revolution in business is leading us to a world where people have more freedom, a world in which more and more people are at the center of their own organizations.  ... " 

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Remote Sensors for Pulse and Beathing

In the MIT News:  I would expected this could have been done remotely for some time, but it can be difficult.   Has any work been done for blood pressure, which would be seem to be yet more difficult? See the wireless center, part of MIT's Csail effort.  Also note the concept of very subtle movements being being interpreted as gestures.

On the Architecture of Work

A favorite topic that we dabbled with in innovation spaces.  Is the starting piece of the quote below still correct? Reviewing, in the WSJ: " .... How you work depends in large part on the spaces in which you work. This big theme is taken up by Nikil Saval in “Cubed: A Secret History of the Workplace.” There is in fact nothing “secret” about this history; from the Civil War on, as the white-collar world grew, managers and designers thought out loud about where workers should sit, the furniture they should use, the walls and windows that should surround them. ... " 

Business Models for the Data Economy

Just finished Business Models for the Data Economy by Q. Ethan McCallum and  Ken Gleason amzn.to/Hd67f6   A free book/paper. " ... You're sitting on a pile of interesting data. How do you transform that into money? It's easy to focus on the contents of the data itself ... " . Nicely done, non technical, not a how-to, but rather a list of possibilities.  I would say anyone in the business would know about 75% of these examples, but it is worth seeing them all in one place

Driving Talent for Innovation

How do you build talent to drive innovation?  Some insightful thought here.  Spurred by an APQC survey.

Big Data Taking over the Public Sector

Not a trend I have generally seen, but perhaps in Australia, here reported in the Guardian.  " ... Big data: how predictive analytics is taking over the public sector From predicting emergency department admissions to identifying tax fraud, the Australian public sector is putting its mountains of data to work ... " 

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Smart Machines

Just completed this book.  And had a conversation with Steve Hamm, one of the authors.  A very good, most nicely non technical introduction to work at IBM research that led to Watson.  Over the years have had a number of connections with IBM Research.  In the 90's we talked to people there that were working on AI related topics that led to Watson, as we built our own AI efforts.

The similarity in investigation and direction is striking.  I am now in the process of doing a deeper dive into Watson and its current and future capabilities.   This book is a good start into the history and direction of the work.  There are many more details to work before its use is common, they have started the journey.

Smart Machines: IBM's Watson and the Era of Cognitive Computing (Columbia Business School Publishing) by John E. Kelly III , Steve Hamm  

HP Claims New Computer Architecture

In BusWeek:  The Machine, they call it.    Admit had not seen this, but intriguing. But sounds like its different implementations of the parts, rather than a new design.  Have spent some time with HP Labs.

" ... That’s what they’re calling it at HP Labs: “the Machine.” It’s basically a brand-new type of computer architecture that HP’s engineers say will serve as a replacement for today’s designs, with a new operating system, a different type of memory, and superfast data transfer. The company says it will bring the Machine to market within the next few years or fall on its face trying. “We think we have no choice,” says Martin Fink, the chief technology officer and head of HP Labs, who is expected to unveil HP’s plans at a conference Wednesday. .. "  

Dell Labs comments.

Establishing Your Moral Structure via Video Games

Edward Snowden makes the claim.  It should be interesting to see what this moral structure actually looks like.  Speculated on in the piece.  " ... What is the morality learned from video games? I'm afraid of the new generations that will take on power in the real world based on this particular artificial experience. It's not that I feel good about all those other artificial experiences that inform an individual's morality. But it seems especially dangerous for young minds to develop within such a pervasive sensation of alternate reality. ... "   

Friday, June 13, 2014

Building Proximity Applications with iBeacon

New book, available in early pre edit form.  Building Proximity Applications with iBeacon - O'Reilly    " ... Information on pinpoint locations can be extremely useful for mobile application developers, but that precise level of detail is difficult to achieve, especially indoors, where GPS signals and cellular service might be weak or unreachable. With this practical book, you’ll learn how to use iBeacons with your applications to determine a user’s location within a few inches and deliver timely, relevant information. ... " 

Viewing the Needs of the CIO

On the needs of the CIO.  I say just often just making sense of data, process and business. to make them effectively work together.

Machine Learning and Econometrics

Some excellent points being made here.   Wth links to the talk and slides. " .... Hal Varian is the chief economist at Google and gave a talk to Electronic Support Group at EECS Department at the University of California at Berkeley in November 2013. The talk was titled Machine Learning and Econometrics and was really focused on what lessons the machine learning can take away from the field of Econometrics. ... " 

Virtual Assistants are Watson

ComputerWorld looks at the virtual assistant mode for Watson.  As we discovered in the 90s, its not about replacing people but making them more effective.  All the systems we wrote did that.

NASA Robot Challenge

In CWorld: An interesting view of challenge vs failure. " ... At NASA's robot challenge, don't mistake trouble for failure ... Teams struggle in autonomous robotics challenge but advances are made ... "

Thursday, June 12, 2014

On the Key to Future BI

Gartner and Spotfire on Future BI:   It is a key point, what is the data worth, now and in the future?  " ... Many business intelligence (BI) vendors and CIOs have positioned big data analysis to focus on data reporting. They then collect and store as much data as they can hoping someone, a data scientist or a team of specialists, can analyze the data and make sense of it. However, the industry hasn’t been very good at deciding what data to keep and what to throw out. ... "

Molecular Self Assembly

A  new kind of scale up?  How practical could this be for electronic manufacturing applications?  

" ... Finnish and Italian researchers have developed a way to align molecular self-assemblies from nanometers to millimeters, an alternative to conventional top-down lithography approaches for creating electronic devices. ... Molecular self-assembly, a concept derived from biology, leads to spontaneous organization of molecules into more complex and functional supramolecular structures. ... " 

Tech Wearables

In Retailwire:  Going mainstream, it says.  I still think there will be delay due to the un developed link between fashion statement and communications.  It is not quite the same as holding a device, which we have all gotten used to it.  Wearing it is different.   They are moving to the mainstream.

Compact Nuclear Power

IEEE,  A perhaps unexpected small power source:

" ... Boston-based UPower Technologies thinks it can reinvent nuclear power by going small and ditching the predominant light-water design. Its reactor, whose contents would fit inside a shipping container, turns out between 1 and 2 megawatts of electric power, compared with about a gigawatt for a full-size nuclear power plant. And instead of submerging fuel rods in constantly circulated water to keep the core from overheating, UPower’s closed-cycle design uses a liquid that evaporates when exposed to the heat of fission, but then condenses when that heat is used to turn generators. For foolproof safety—a heightened concern after the Fukushima disaster—it can dissipate excess heat and avoid a meltdown through natural convection. But will UPower’s intent to quickly commercialize its miniature nuclear power plant be frustrated by a U.S. licensure and regulation regime built around evaluating light-water designs? ... "

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Instacart Shared Economy

Instacart brings "sharing economy" model to the supermarket.  In the NYT.

Instacart is bringing a business model of the "sharing economy" to the supermarket, using a mobile application to connect customers with individuals who are willing to go to stores and load shopping carts, make the purchases and deliver the goods. Unlike other sharing economy startups, Instacart has the support of the industry it's trying to disrupt, with supermarkets seeing the company as a means of expanding their customer base and competing with other online services such as AmazonFresh ... Their FAQ: 

Instacart is a grocery delivery service that delivers in as little as an hour! We connect you with Personal Shoppers in your area who pick up and deliver your groceries from your favorite local stores.

What stores are supported?

Our Personal Shoppers shop from local stores in your area. These can include Whole Foods Market, Costco and many other stores. Instacart is an independent business and is not necessarily affiliated with, or endorsed or sponsored by Whole Foods Market, Costo, Kroger or other retailers mentioned on this website. ... " 

Learning How Memories are Made

We continue to slowly  learn how memories are planted in the brain.  This could further lead to the stronger interaction between brain and machine. In Nature: 

 " ... Neuroscientists can breathe a collective sigh of relief. Experiments have confirmed a long-standing theory for how memories are made and stored in the brain. Researchers have created and erased frightening associations in rats' brains using light, providing the most direct demonstration yet that the strengthening and weakening of connections between neurons is the basis for memory. ... " 

BOI Solutions at Ten Years and Beyond

I have now worked with them for years. BOI Solutions brings together expertise in IT, Multi-media components, content delivery technology, networks and automated control to integrate a solution for any application.

From boardrooms to retail, surgical suites to critical care, Wall Street to the manufacturing floor, and even into outer space with NASA (AAC), BOI Solutions is dedicated to serving all collaboration technology needs. .... "

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Chatbots Tricking You

In the BBC:  This is not new, has been going on for some time, but there is a new level of sophistication being seen.   This is also related to the recent Turing Test announcements.  A system that seeks to win that test is a bot, whose goals can be less than benign.  It also relates to any system that seeks to engage online.  A good non-technical look at progress in the area.

Dell Diversifies the Supply Chain

I have not looked at Dell Computer for some time, was reintroduced to some of their high performance computing offerings.  And here, more about their supply chain.   " ... As a business diversifies, it may need more than one supply chain. Here’s how Dell addressed that challenge. .. " 

Strategic Digital Principles

In McKinsey: Digitization is rewriting the rules of competition, with incumbents most at risk of being left behind. Here are six critical decisions CEOs must make.  ... 

Monday, June 09, 2014

How Will Big Data Grow Up?

In the HBR.  Not unlike other heavily hyped technologies.  Have ridden several.  It's also finding itself attached to a new kind of user: An Internet of Things. The numbers are larger, the variety is growing, the potential velocity is astounding.  The article makes a good case for how we can make all this grow up in a maximally useful and efficient way.  Very well put.  But to make this all work together, we need to grow up with it. How will we make that happen?

Tablets Become More Important than PCs Were

Some interesting statistics and graphs.  Well, yes, for convenience.  But if we were to normalize this with the stats of the emergence of the smartphone as well?  Take away all the same things that can also be done with the smartphone that don't need a bigger screen.

Diabetics App with Image Analysis

In CACM:   An innovative diabetics App.  " ... A smartphone-based system developed by researchers at the University of Bern makes it easier for diabetics to plan their meals and control their blood glucose. .. "  By taking photographs of meals eaten and using image analysis.

Turing Test Breakthrough, Could Mr Clean do Better?

The Turing Test is the classic test for AI.  Can a machine consistently fool a person into thinking it is a person rather than a machine?  Article claims that just this weekend a milestone has been passed.   Not a technical source, so its hard to place complete reliance on this reporting.  Update: Some skeptics ...  See also the WP article on the Turing Test here. The article does give a nice non technical overview of the test and related issues.  I would not worry that this in particular warns of a dangerous future, machines can already fool many people most of the time, even when they have their guard up.  That has fascinating implications for marketing.  See my notes on The Media Equation.   See also my notes on how we tried to make Mr. Clean beat the Turing Test.

Enterpise Mobile Apps

In BaselineMag:  The tradeoff between using enterprise developed apps, nicreasingly provided in large companies and consumer available applications.   Slide show presentation: " ... For example, nearly six out of 10 employees at large and midsize businesses abandon the mobile apps they're supposed to use at work, according to industry research from Mobiquity. To address the issues, DMI recently published a whitepaper, "How to Succeed With Enterprise Mobile Apps," which details the many pain points, as well as prescriptive best practices to address them. ... " 

Sunday, June 08, 2014

Reliably Teleporting Data

In the NYT:   Considerably commented on. Still a simple example, but an indication that quantum physics can be the basis for action at a distance.

Scientists in the Netherlands have moved a step closer to overriding one of Albert Einstein’s most famous objections to the implications of quantum mechanics, which he described as “spooky action at a distance.”

In a paper published on Thursday in the journal Science, physicists at the Kavli Institute of Nanoscience at the Delft University of Technology reported that they were able to reliably teleport information between two quantum bits separated by three meters, or about 10 feet ....  :"

Companies with Top Global Supply Chains

By peer review in Gartner.   Having been involved in the design aspects of these for many years, it's good to see the short section on the aspects of the exceptional supply chain, and how it links to the rest of an enterprise.  Reading that alone should provide value.  " ...  The top five-ranked organizations in 2014 include four that topped the list last year — Apple, McDonald's, Amazon and Unilever — plus another familiar leader, P&G. Two new companies joined the Top 25 this year with Seagate Technology (No. 20) appearing for the first time and Kimberly-Clark (No. 21) re-emerging after a year's hiatus. .. "

Saturday, June 07, 2014

Programmatic Buying at P&G

Programmatic Ad Buying.  A means of digitizing a key aspect of CPG enterprise operations.  As I have mentioned before we did this kind of thing as early as the 1980s, to great success.  Because then it was aided by analytical methods that sought to optimize the return and minimize the overall cost.  This is called Prescriptive Analytics.  Is that still being done?  Sounds like an opportunity.

Tour of Machine Learning Methods

Very nice overview.  Suitable as a starting point for talking to management.  This includes both a description of the algorithm, and the underlying method for using them for a decision.  Which I think is a useful distinction.  Also a basic view of how you can determine how well a method is working. Practitioners should know how to use examples of all these tools.

Tetris at 30, Simplicity and Engagement

The game phenomenon called Tetris is now only 30 years old.  We were shown it as as an example of simplicity combined with engagement.  An interview with the creator in Time.

Comparing Wolfram Alpha and Watson

A conversation recently led to discussion of the differences between IBM Watson and Wolfram Alpha. So what are the differences?   Our own experiences with 'expert systems', made us think about exactly this.    Every corporate systems deals with varied, large, rapidly changing databases.  Now we would like to get more out of them by leveraging them against specific paint points.  A view from Wolfram.  A now dated, but fascinating piece.

Friday, June 06, 2014

Google Nearby

The idea of 'nearby' is a classic locational switch.  Google rumored to integrate it into its abilities.  Similar to iBeacon capabilties? Likely as the need to advertise based on contextual information.

Robotic Hands that Can See

Had seen this proposed a long time ago.  Now reported in New Scientist.  Not so much hands free as hands augmented.   And with multiple seeing hands we could readily create complex 3D models.

Big Data and Value for Retail

I have heard relatively few retail examples of big data value.  Here is a take on that.

" ... According to research by Wipro, 78 percent of retailers are collecting and storing location-based information on their shoppers, and 64 percent are gathering and studying data generated by social media. That's on top of the already voluminous amount of information that a POS system generates simply in the course of doing its job.

Most of the time, when we talk about big data, we're talking about its potential uses: How can it improve marketing, how can it improve the customer experience, how can it improve product availability. We view it as an asset to be manipulated and put to work for us. .. ." 

Data Science Research Center

Launched this week by Data Science Central.  Of interest.  Examining it now.  " .... Data Science Central launched this week the Data Science Research Center, a public online resource for practitioners to read, download or publish high quality papers. .... ",  The site already contains a number of sample papers and white papers.   Will describe what I find of interest.

ACM Fellow Leslie Lamport

Have followed the ACM for years.  I try to read some of the the work of each Turing Award Recipient.

Welcome to the Digital Edition of the June 2014 Communications of the ACM.  ...   For the Digital issue click here.

ACM A.M. Turing Award recipient Leslie Lamport's work and accomplishments are featured in this month's issue. Cited for his fundamental contributions to the theory and practice of distributed and concurrent systems, Lamport's impact is explored in "General Agreement" by Neil Savage, discussed in "Divide and Conquer," a Q&A by Leah Hoffman, and displayed in an original video on the CACM website at cacm.acm.org. Together, they suggest the importance and scope of Lamport's contributions. ... " 

Thursday, June 05, 2014

Coaching Versus Managing

In The HBR Blog:   " ... Ask 100 people if they have good common sense, and more than 95% will tell you they do. Ask them if they are good coaches, and almost as many will say yes. Executives we talk to assume that if they’re good managers, then being a good coach is like your shadow on a sunny day. It just naturally follows. ... This would be good news, if it were so, since more and more top executives are expecting managers to coach their subordinates. In fact one at Wells Fargo announced that he expects the bank’s managers to dedicate fully two-thirds of their time to coaching subordinates. ... " 

P&G, Pepsi Try Foursquare Swarm

In Adage: Looked at Foursquare in its early days.  Interesting that some giants in marketing space are trying the new functionality. " ... Now the company is calling them "place-based ads," a rebranding that mirrors its current efforts to distance itself from check-ins. The new Foursquare -- which executives say will launch this summer -- will dispense with check-ins altogether and focus on discovery of nearby venues tailored to users' tastes and will take  ... " 

Big Data, Charted, Noted

A Gartner hypecycle view of Big Data, among a number of other technologies.  And Google live search summary.  Interesting, but the meaning itself is largely overblown.     " .... The Global Language Monitor site has labeled big data the Top Tech Buzzword That Everybody Uses But Don’t Quite Understand, and a lot of people hate the term. ... Among other things, critics point out that “big data” has been around for a long, long time. Here, for example, is a Google Books snippet of a “Marketing Communications” journal in 1913: “the reports and catalogues were there, but they were not arranged to give up the kind of information wanted.” ... " [See the Link]

Nestle Moves Towards Science

In Reuters: Seems everyone is moving away from food and towards health products.  Which they oddly call science here.  There is science about food products too.

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Personal Power Plants

In IEEE Spectrum:    Fascinating direction.   " .... Smart and agile power systems will let every home and business generate, store, and share electricity. ...   "

EU Robotics Program

A new Civilian Robotics program in Europe.    " ... This initiative is expected to create over 240,000 jobs in Europe, and increase Europe’s share of the global market to 42% (a boost of €4 billion per year). The European Commission will invest €700 million and euRobotics will invest €2.1 billion. ... ". A number of interesting links to details.

ISSIP: Services Innovation in an Interconnected World

Newly brought to my attention:  ISSIP:  Providing Service Innovation for our Interconnected World: " ... Service innovations improve the quality-of-life of individuals and the wealth of institutions, from businesses to nations that are increasingly dominated by service revenues and economics. Advances in information technology and policy support the rapid scaling of new service innovations in health, education, government, finance, hospitality, retail, communications, transportation, energy, utilities; even in advanced agricultural and manufacturing systems viewed as socio-technical systems, in which community-oriented recycling behaviors improve the economics, sustainability, and resilience of these human-serving systems. ... "     https://twitter.com/The_ISSIP

MOOCs and Traditional Business Education

In Knowledge@Wharton:  Talk and transcript.   Interesting points are made.  Changes are occurring, but the speed and extent are still debatable.  Certainly the breadth of influence is far greater than the traditional business school.  To what extent with the end users of the knowledge,  the hiring companies, accept the knowledge being transmitted?

" ... e question keeps educators up at night: Do free, massive open online courses cannibalize enrollment at traditional schools? The results are finally in, part of a new study co-authored by Wharton professor Ezekiel J. Emanuel. Rather than poaching traditional students, MOOCs reach new audiences that business schools, at least, want to target. ... " 

On Big Data at Work

Not a bad generalized overview of how Big Data is being used today, including some useful corporate examples.  No details, but might be useful for an executive introduction of what people are attempting to do, rather than actually doing.  Reviewing Thomas Davenport's recent book:

" ... In sum, Big Data and analytics help smart companies lead in the market rather than just react. Companies can start off with the data and see what insights it reveals, or start off with customer needs and see how to respond via data solutions, or both. They can be aggressive in their Big Data strategy (to be ahead of disruption), moderately aggressive (expanding on existing analytics) or conservative (rich data is not yet readily available). The author demystifies a number of terms in the field: high-performance analytics, digital smoke signals, analytical blanket, and social analytics. He also raises concerns about transparency of data gathered from customers, and some of the legal and ethical issues that arise.  ... “It’s not how much data you have but what you do with it that counts,” the author concludes ... " 

Character Animation for Story Telling

In the CACM: On animation, rately used, but can be powerful for making points with process and data.  Or for producing a story board of human behavior (abstract)  " ... The use of prerecorded motion clips has been a standard building block for producing the motion of virtual characters for use in film, games, and interactive simulations. Of course, it is impossible to capture every motion a person might perform, and so animation methods attempt to do as much as possible with the limited movements that one might be able to record using either a motion capture setup or handmade animation. ... "

Internet Technology v Brand Loyalty

In the HBR: Fundamental question, with an interesting discussion.  " ...  Does Internet Technology Threaten Brand Loyalty? ... Does the ability of consumers to easily access product and company information via the Internet makes brands stronger or weaker? James Heskett says the answer may call into question all we think we know about marketing. ... " 

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Robot Butlers

A long followed topic.  Doing common home tasks is very difficult to do robotically.  The classic 'robotic butler' task has been much talked, but rarely delivered on.

More Cheaply Done

MJ Perry describes an example where an individual has been much more efficient than the government.  Here scanning documents. Many more examples like this exist.  We have infrastructure and technology now that make it very possible.  So why not?

Augmented Cosmetics Reality at Sephora

Have seen this idea tried many times.  Give consumers the ability to have a mirror that shoes how cosmetics will look on their face.  'The 'magic mirror' idea.   Here a new example at Sephora.  An example of augmented reality.

Monday, June 02, 2014

Dark Stores for Fulfillment

Had not heard the term 'dark stores' for some time, but experimented with the concept some years ago. It also allows experimentation with the structure of the store as well.     Then becomes a hybrid of store and warehouse.

In Retailwire: " ... Although online grocery shopping hasn't yet taken off in the U.S., it's quite popular in the U.K. Orders are fulfilled at a nearby store and delivered by truck. Pickers are given a large cart with separate bins for separate orders, and they use a tablet to efficiently navigate the store. With enough orders, you can imagine those customers slowing down the pickers. The grocery store layout isn't really conducive to both types of foot-traffic. Thus the dark store was born.

Just as you might expect, the dark store has no customers and is used strictly for picking and fulfillment. Its location and layout are similar to traditional stores, but there are no price tags, no endcap advertising, and no checkout lines. It's a neighborhood warehouse, complete with fresh, frozen and dry goods.   ... "  

Augmented Walls for Offices or Living Spaces

Augmenting walls to create enabled office spaces is something we experimented with. Had innovation sessions with office furniture makers.   Fastcompany relates some recent work.  Not sure if this works as well for living rather than working spaces.   But have certainly seen the need for employees in compressed living places like Japan.

Ironically, I am sitting here at a client drop-in spot, and the only change in the cubicle farm environment is that the walls are lower than they would have been twenty years ago.  My laptop is my wall.

I still like the idea of focusing work through data.  And placing that data front and center.  And making sure its wherever you are.  Written about that here many times.  Though lots of people like the idea, have yet to see it implemented well.

Social Media Analysis Resources

Nathan Gilliatt connected and mentioned he runs a blog on social media analysis that I had missed.  " ... The Business of Monitoring, Measuring and Understanding Social Media ... " .  Nice concise resource in an area I have followed for years.  In particular a directory of companies working in this space.

Social TV, A Study

In Knowledge@Wharton.   Video podcast and transcript.

As social media grows more popular, it’s increasingly becoming a way for industries, companies and brands to figure out what the cultural zeitgeist is thinking — and from there, to recommend other things consumers might like.

Wharton operations and information management professor Shawndra Hill has extensively studied how social TV — i.e., people contributing or consuming commentary about their favorite programs — can be used by Hollywood and advertisers to better reach their target demographics. In this interview, she discusses her method and findings, and also responds to a recent announcement by Nielsen that it will now include demographic information as part of its Twitter TV ratings service. That service offers data that gauge which shows are generating the most chatter on the social network. ... " 

A View of Rebel Statistics, But What Were we Using?

Vincent Granville in Data Science Central:  Data Science Has Been Using Rebel Statistics for a Long Time.  Makes some fascinating comparisons between data science and classical statistics, while fashioning a view of 'rebel statistics'.  I learned my statistics to make the industrial engineering work.  I have never been a statistics insider, academically or in business, but have always felt there was a shakiness to the whole business that depended on a few too many assumptions.

  In statistics there were always too few observations, or a special distribution was assumed to make the math come out right,  or the complex software never warned you about all those assumptions or a forecast never included probable error or correlation was quickly assumed to be causation.

Still it was the bedrock of so much of what we did, and a Phd statistician was always on call, who could always cleverly  justify the method used.  Criticizing it sounds like blasphemy.  But now has 'Data Science' changed all this?  Or do we just have a new set of assumptions and 'bigger' data?  Good read that makes you think.

Sunday, June 01, 2014

Networks Are Needed for Innovation

Becoming a network needed for innovation. In GigaOM.  I heartily agree.  A network that bridges multiple context technologies and partners.  I am part of a broad one myself today.  New strong evidence of it just this week.   It doesn't always work, it can be blocked by cultural throttles, but it's better than trying to innovate everything yourself. How does information technology utilize multiple personal networks?

Virtual Reality Visualizing Big Data

Beyond eye candy, and permitting in space interaction.  This has been done before, but not very usefully.   See some of our minor investigations.  Now another approach:

In Silicon Angle: " ... the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) have the answer. We recently reported on its experiments with Oculus Rift, the virtual reality headgear recently acquired by Facebook, which are a fine example of the way VR can help us to better understand data. DARPA has modified Oculus Rift in such a way that futuristic cyberwarriors can visualize three-dimensional network simulations – in some cases with the goal of better targeting them for attack..... " 

Good background piece.  Now does this really add significantly to the modes of interaction and pattern discovery?

Digital Path to Purchase Data

In Consumer Goods: Don't agree with the beginning premise in the statement below. but more of the data is being stored than ever before.  Making sense of it is still a very big challenge.  And combining the digital patterns and expertise to human expertise:

" ... The consumer packaged goods company has never really known its shopper. Today, it can. Shopper and customer data is available in near real time through the different technologies. While it sounds enticing, it is hard work. Here are some tips for preparing your organization for digital path to purchase. .. "