Big Data and New Business Models


This recent Big Data Article from the Mckinsey Global Institute focuses on three key themes – some or all of which will impact every company in the future.

  1. Big Data will increasingly form the foundation of competitive advantage for years to come.
  2. Big Data will drive new business models across every industry.
  3. Decision processes will forever be changed.

A company’s use of Big Data will increasingly be driven by competitive pressures from those that effectively leverage its insight. As these companies mature in their use of data, they will shift from competitive response to competitive advantage. Decisions will improve, driven by an ability to simulate and model various scenarios that enable optimal outcomes.

The really interesting aspect of Big Data – and the analytics that help us derive insight – is the potential impact on complete value chains. This article provides some good examples of this phenomenon at work. In essence, data will drive new business models. Members of a value chain that own data may have an ability to monetize it. Those that have a proven ability to deliver insight from this data can monetize a core competence. Some companies may find themselves driving revenue from a business model that was never envisioned.  

Whether it is new business models, better decisions, or enabled actions, the effective use of Big Data requires a level of analytic excellence that few companies have with any level of scale. This Mckinsey article echoes an earlier report that identifies a scarcity of analytic resources as a key obstacle to Big Data success. As I talk to companies about their digital strategies, I continue to focus on Big Data as the centerpiece of the strategy.

A New Kind of Intelligence


The explosion of data and content is not limited to social media and represents a top of mind issue for many companies.  The opportunity exists to create unprecedented business value – but there are significant hurdles like greater risk exposure, more complicated risk management, and difficulty extracting relevant insight from large volumes of data. 

As volume grows, automation is critical. For example, social media monitoring is a common practice today, one that becomes increasingly ineffective and costly as the social web expands. Monitoring tools that enable the analysis of dialog on social networks like LinkedIn, FaceBook and Twitter provide a basic level of insight. But a deeper level of insight still requires a manual process, where irrelevant content is filtered before finding meaningful insight. Information management is therefore a growing challenge.  

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From Social Listening to the Prescriptive Enterprise


I find myself talking a lot lately about the slow evolution from basic social listening to a more robust use of analytics to truly gain actionable business insight. I have long felt the evolution was inevitable – of course I often think these things and they take years to materialize – a story for a different day. This Recent Forrester Blog Post touches on the notion of moving from social listening, to integrating social and customer data. It also presents a roadmap for how to move through the crawl-walk-run-fly stages.

I am sure the authors realize that although this is a piece of the evolution, there are other steps along the path to actionable business insight. I’m already seeing the movement from basic social media monitoring to the broader use of text analytic platforms. Companies that started their journey focused on brand mentions are evolving to new use cases that deliver considerable business value. One of the signs that we are reaching an inflection point can be found in a growing move towards evaluating text analytics software for a broader set of use cases.

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It Comes Down to Excellence


As I reflect upon a month full of customer discussion, it becomes clearer that future and sustained competitive advantage hinge on excellence in two critical areas: collaboration and analytics. The need for a relationship-based enterprise becomes more apparent as we look at the critical need to:

  1. Re-invent customer relationships
  2. Leverage the collective knowledge and talent of our organization
  3. Partner to facilitate operating dexterity

This relationship imperative makes collaboration excellence a critical success factor; and a key enabler is social computing. I don’t mean Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or YouTube (although they play a role) but rather the use of social technologies to drive effective collaboration and communication. This evolution to social business moves the enterprise up the collaboration axis as described in the diagram below.

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Disruption


In a recent presentation, Forrester describes the uniqueness of our current business environment as a perfect storm of technology innovation. In the past, technology cycles were driven by one major innovation (mainframe computing, personal computing, networked computing). The current environment sees a perfect storm of cloud computing, social business, mobile computing, advanced analytics and smart computing. This latest cycle begins a period of accelerated innovation, and introduces a larger potential for disruption than in past cycles.

Disruption in many different forms is not just possible, but likely. Business models across many industries are already under attack. The Information Technology (IT) function itself will see considerable change over the next several years. As the workforce and business leaders play a bigger role in technology selection, the role of IT will evolve. What IT looks like in the future is anyone’s guess, but change is almost certain. The current outsourcing model that so many companies have embraced over the years, will change as cloud computing widens its footprint. The way companies build and deploy applications will change, as mobile apps and app stores shift from the consumer world to the enterprise. The way companies interact and communicate with all stakeholders will change, as social media evolves to social business.

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Google Plus Making Noise


Update 8/3: This Article  by Jay Greene summarizes the results of a recent survey of mobile application developers. This quote captures the key message from these results: “The new quarterly survey of mobile application developers by Web development tool maker by Appcelerator and market research firm IDC found that two-thirds of the 1,621 respondents to the question “Can Google+ catch up to Facebook?” replied yes. The reason: more than 68 percent of the respondents believe Google’s other assets–search, YouTube, and maps, among others–trump Facebook’s social graph lead”.

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Social CRM in the Insurance Industry


I recently participated in the writing of an article on Social CRM for the Insurance industry. The piece is now available online via the Insurance Networking News. The Insurance industry is showing a great deal of interest in social business – and I hear it in most discussions with industry executives. It is clear that the industry is beginning to understand that insight from social channels can drive better decision making. Companies like Farmers Insurance are driving new growth, new product development, and customer retention by sharing information from Twitter, FaceBook and LinkedIn with their network of Agents.

A recent study indicates that 56% of companies are planning future Social CRM initiatives, while Gartner indicates that 30% of companies will extend their Social Networking efforts to Social CRM processes within the next two years. As I note in the article, social computing will enable a powerful sales, marketing and customer service platform that improves the customer experience and elevates brand identity. The full article is a worthwhile read, and provides some insight into the future use of Social CRM in the Insurance industry.

Digital Strategy 2.0


I have visited with companies over the last couple of months and the term “Digital Strategy” has come up many times. It started me thinking about the last time the term was very popular – the late 1990s and early 2000 time period. I saw a reference to Digital Strategy 2.0 last week and thought it was a perfect way to describe this latest phenomenon. Several factors are driving this renewed focus on digital strategy: 

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Predictive Analytics in the Insurance Industry


This very good Article by Anand S. Rao discusses the growing use of predictive analytics in the Insurance Industry. I believe Mr. Rao is right on the mark – although I continue to emphasize the expanding role of Text Analytics in the analytic value equation. In this article, he identifies some of the drivers of predictive analytics adoption.

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Now We’ve Got Social Vending Machines?


So here’s an interesting example of the world growing more instrumented: A Social Vending Machine. Text messages and videos are being sent by a vending machine. Just more fuel for the data explosion fire. Innovative companies like PepsiCo are generating ideas that we could not imagine even a year ago. Still doubt the staying power of this social phenomenon? Still think it’s a passing fad? Vending machines just went social. Think of all the other social business scenarios on the horizon. All the while, the volume of insight bearing unstructured data just continues to grow. It gets more interesting by the minute.

Interesting Social Media Information


I came across a very nice visual that describes the Social Landscape. The visual, courtesy of CMO.com, takes a look at the various social media platforms across four categories: customer communication, brand exposure, traffic to your site, and search engine optimization. The diagram provides a lot of information on one page. In addition, this Article provides some perspective on which sites are the best across each of these categories.

Evaluating Listening Platforms


In this report – The Forrester Wave Listening Platforms – Forrested evaluates several listening platform vendors. Using 76 evaluation crtieria, Forrester found that Converseon, Nielsen, and Radian6 are the leading vendors. As the need for social intelligence intensifies, companies will continue to invest in listening platforms, while expanding the number of use cases addressed. In evaluating nine vendors, Forrester focused on the strengths and weaknesses of each vendor. The key areas of focus were: user experience, dashboards, data quality, consulting, text analysis, data source coverage, and social media outreach tools.

A Renewed Focus on Voice of the Customer




Understanding the customer in the world before Web 2.0 was a relatively straightforward task – but the emergence of Web 2.0 has brought an explosion of social channels including blogs, wikis, forums, social networks and an array of social media. Today, customers have a loud and clear voice where they openly share ideas, perceptions, and problems about products and companies. They create trusted communities and powerful, influential constituencies. The voice of the customer (VOC) is therefore expressed in different forms through different channels. These channels are insight rich, with a wealth of untapped customer intelligence. Traditional technologies are unable to access or decipher the unstructured content upon which today’s customer conversations and insights are built.

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A Familiar User Interface


This Article by Michael Hugos titled “Social Media front ends plug into enterprise applications” touches on one of the evolutionary social business paths that I believe is inevitable. Mr. Hugos describes a scenario where social media such as FaceBook and Skype become the user interface and connect to appropriate in-house systems using SOA. He states: “People already know the user interface for these social media platforms so the learning curve is not hard. And the new system runs on all sorts of mobile devices like iPhone, Android and iPad, and it stays current as new devices come out because the social media vendors (FaceBook and Skype in this case) do that job for us”. 

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Thoughts from the Collective Intellect CEO


In this Recent Article, Collective Intellect CEO Don Springer talks about social media and text analytics. Mr. Springer provides some industry research: 

  •  127 million people, or 57.5% of Internet users, visited a social networking site at least once a month in 2010.  Not only is the number of users growing quickly, but also the audience demographics continue to widen. 
  • The growth of unstructured data is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 62% through 2012.

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The Social Phenomena


This social phenomena that started with Web 2.0 and accelerated with the explosion of FaceBook, LinkedIn and Twitter, is at its core a platform for communication, interaction and relationships. It will usher in a new era of innovation. Terms like crowd sourcing, the wisdom of crowds and collective Intelligence, all speak to the notion that innovation is not an organizational function, but the ideas of an organization, community, or society.

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Decisions at the Point of Interaction


After defeating the two biggest Jeopardy champions of all time, people are buzzing about IBM Watson. Reactions range from excitement over the possibility it represents, to fear over the potential impact on society. Count me among those who believe that this technology will have a positive impact on business, Government and humankind. With every new game changing innovation, there is always fear over the potential impact on humanity. However, a machine will never have wisdom. It will never have the ability to invent, have empathy, or match the knowledge and ability to reason of a smart, experienced human being. But this form of advanced analytics will help us perform better. 

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The Retail Industry Turns to Analytics


In a recent Blog Post titled Where is Business Analytics Going? I describe the compelling reasons for the growing use of advanced analytics – and the challenges that organizations face in realizing value from their efforts. The Retail Industry may be the poster child for business analytics, as they face some very compelling reasons to expand their analytic footprint. Ventana Research believes that the retail industry is going through a transformation, as volumes and sources of data continue to expand. They state that “Retailers are just starting to realize that understanding and influencing customer conversations on the Internet in social media channels is a necessity and that it requires a new type of analytics that can process text and phrases that reveal consumer sentiment and opinions of their brands”. 

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Where is Business Analytics Going and how do I take Advantage?


Business Analytics will continue to gain traction in every industry, and several key factors make this a foregone conclusion: 

  1. The expanding universe of data and the opportunity and risk that it represents
  2. The growth of social channels
  3. The growth in mobile interaction and resulting need for analytics
  4. The critical need for customer intimacy
  5. The growing need for differentiation through innovation
  6. The rapid escalation of complexity that surrounds business today
  7. An increasing focus on value creation, growth and revenue generation
  8. The critical need for smarter decision making
  9. A continued increase in computing power that makes real time analytics viable
  10. The continued delivery of new and improved advanced analytic capabilities
  11. The movement to make advanced analytics software business user friendly

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