Why companies aren't analyzing and responding to patterns in Big Data

 
bigdata

With the recent explosion of data, especially as the Internet of Things (IoT) has emerged as an IT trend sweeping across the business world, 73 percent of organizations are finding analyzing this increase in data a major challenge, according to a new global survey from Software AG. While decision makers understand that greater visibility over internal processes and real-time data analysis could lead to operational improvements, they still lack the support and solutions needed to make it a reality.

Just a dream: Full-visibility and real-time data analysis is still not a reality

The study found that organizations recognize the importance of quickly making operational decisions based on real-time data analysis. In fact, 74 percent of decision makers cited an understanding that greater visibility over internal processes could lead to operational improvements. However, harnessing this capability has proven to be a challenge:

  • 87 percent of respondents find that it is important to make operational decisions quickly, but approximately the same amount (85 percent) are still experiencing issues in doing so because they are unable to use their data quickly enough. Issues surrounding making quick operational decisions include: missed revenue opportunities (41 percent), poor decision-making (37 percent) and the inability to predict future patterns (27 percent).
  • Only one quarter (26 percent) of respondents believe that their IT department is supporting their need for real-time analysis of data.

More, more, more: The incessant need for more data sets, without the ability to use what’s already available

Although organizations want more data to achieve better insights, 97 percent are challenged by data they already have:

  • Just one in five respondents are confident in the reliability, accuracy and completeness of their data.
  • The majority of organizations cannot act on (57 percent), mine (61 percent) or use real-time data (68 percent).

Heavy investments, despite challenges

The study found that, on average, organizations have increased their investment in the collection and analysis of data by 21 percent from July 2013-July 2014. Additionally, by 2016, investments are set to significantly increase by 23 percent

“In order to stay ahead of the competition, organizations have no choice but to continually identify ways to make smarter decisions and provide better services,” said John Bates, chief marketing officer and head of industry solutions at Software AG, in a news release. “Properly collecting, analyzing and making decisions based on real-time data is key to proactively preventing issues and improving procedures. However, without the right solutions, this is virtually impossible—the right solution can make the entire process easy, quick and accurate.”

The survey, conducted by VansonBourne during June and July 2014 and commissioned by Software AG, included 750 global respondents whose organizations have in excess of 500 million dollars in annual revenue. These decision makers were interviewed using a mixture of online and telephone interviewing. Respondents came from nine countries across the globe including the United States, Canada, the UK, France, Germany, Singapore, Australia, Brazil and China. To qualify for the research, respondents’ organizations could be from a range of sectors, including public and private, but their organization must have an annual revenue in excess of $500 million. Due to the range of sectors involved in this research, the results are based on the global average to be representative of the target population. A robust multi-level screening process was used to ensure only appropriate respondents participated in the project. Download the complete report here.

Source: Business Wire; edited by Richard Carufel

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Undercover Boss: MediaMiser Edition

undercover boss

I certainly didn’t (or couldn’t) realize it at the time, but my first job at age 13 set the stage for the rest of my career path. Back in 1987, with my bright yellow Ottawa Citizen bags on each shoulder, I delivered the local newspaper door-to-door after school. Yes, after school…first edition of the day.

And to make me sound even older, I had to collect payment directly from each customer with my little ticket book in hand, and then wait in line every second Wednesday in a parking lot for the Citizen manager to show up in his yellow truck to collect money from the local carriers. I think his name was Pete.

I have a lot of great memories from that first job — mostly the generous tips at Christmas time. But seriously, I learned a lot about the newspaper business and customer service in my time there.

Fast forward to my first real job in PR, with Hill & Knowlton, in 1995.

There I sat at 9 a.m. with a stack of newspapers in front of me with scissors, glue stick, and fax machine at the ready. Yes, this was the state of media monitoring at the time.

Little did I know that eight years later, in 2003, I would help start a media monitoring business called MediaMiser. And being the first employee, I was responsible for delivering important news to our clients, customer service, and collecting money. Sound familiar?

Twelve years later, this fledgling startup has over 50 employees and provides media monitoring and analysis for hundreds of clients, and some of the biggest brands in the world.

You could say that things haven’t changed that much since my first job, but this is where the story takes a sharp turn. Media monitoring isn’t anything like it was for me in 1995, or 2003.

I had the pleasure of seeing this firsthand recently in something I call Undercover Boss, MediaMiser edition.

A few weeks ago I arrived at our headquarters at 5 a.m. to take a closer look at how we tackle media monitoring these days. And while the goal is still the same — delivering 100-per-cent relevant news to our clients — the process has completely changed, and much for the better.

When I sat down with media analysts Julia, Sheena, and Carolyn, I was immediately impressed with how strategic and nuanced our editorial review process has become.

While our technology does the heavy lifting of pulling in content from a variety of social and traditional sources, putting in the right editorial review process can be the difference between an average and outstanding program. Seeing this process again up close, reminded me of the uniqueness of our solution.

Most clients we work with have very specific requirements, and in most cases our media analysts deliver content direct to senior executives. The content must be 100-per-cent accurate, actionable, and easy to consume. The only way to deliver on this model is by pairing our clients with dedicated analysts who in essence become an extension of the PR teams we work with.

And just like others on the TV show ‘Undercover Boss’, I realized just how much our company has evolved, how important our people are, and how outdated my skills are for the media monitoring world of 2015.

There is a tremendous amount of skill, knowledge and passion that goes into our daily work, and it was very humbling seeing our team in action. It serves as a great reminder for any company founder or executive to revisit every department in the business to truly understand what makes your business tick.

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Why your business should stop ignoring Tumblr

 
tumblr-2

Traffic more than doubles since Q4 2014

The platform that describes itself as “easy to use and hard to explain” is no longer just the domain of angsty teenagers and fandom, according to a recent report from a leading web company.

The sometimes-dismissed Tumblr — which allows users to share all kinds of content from text, photos, GIFs, videos, audio and links — is skyrocketing in popularity, and brands should take notice.

According to Bit.ly’s most recent web index, traffic for Tumblr (a Yahoo company since 2013) has more than doubled from the fourth quarter of 2014 to the first quarter of 2015. The microblogging service’s biggest increase is among desktop users, while Bit.ly says Facebook’s desktop use is on the decline.

It’s something of a breakthrough for a platform that’s always been mobile-first: a 2013 CNN article stated that more than half of Tumblr’s users accessed it with its mobile app, and that that crowd did so “an average of seven times a day.”

With 420 million users, 237 million blogs and 111 billion posts (and counting), this wonderfully addictive platform is rapidly gaining new converts every day — even the White House has an account. That’s a lot of eyeballs on your content, and some of its communities have grown so massive they’re becoming subcultures in their own right (kind of like Reddit).

But here’s the thing: while all of the top 100 global brands are on Twitter and Facebook, according to Contently, only 31 of those same brands are on Tumblr.

Some in the past have said Tumblr isn’t a great platform for business, but that hasn’t stopped several companies — including Calvin Klein, Coca-Cola, Disney and Lexus — from pioneering the business value of the social platform.

Granted, Tumblr’s sheer flexibility presents communicators and marketers with its own set of challenges—which is why Social Media Examiner threw together this handy how-to list for business on Tumblr.

And as the platform’s authority expands and its user base continues to diversify, Bit.ly’s latest index is just more quantitative proof for brands: time to think outside the Facebook box.

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BNN’s The Disruptors: From Beats to Health to Frost Free Windshields & Shopify’s IPO

 
BNN

This week’s The Disruptors kicked off with online shopping solution Shopify’s IPO and a quick interview with Chief Platform Officer Harley Finkelstein. However, the majority of the show focused on startups looking to disrupt the marketplace.

The show looked at Montreal-based Stingray Digital, a provider of multiplatform music products and services; Subpac, another company in the music space looking to disrupt how music is delivered; Neverfrost, a solution to change the way people deal with auto windshield issues; and finally League, a health care and wellness solution, which included a ono-on-one interview with League and Kobo founder Michael Serbinis and co-host Bruce Croxon.

Maybe because of the brutal winter we all just endured, it shouldn’t be a surprise most of the tweets were about Neverfrost. However, the league was a close second. Having a well-known founder, such as Michael Serbinis will always help when it comes to exposure and that should bode well for League.

BNN

You catch the show Thursday nights at 8:30 PM ET on BNN or watch the recap on the BNN website.

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How the Fiskars’ PR team unleashed the Fiskateers to increase online conversations by 600% and double their sales

 
Fiskars

Walt Disney may have had Mouseketeers, but the PR team from Fiskars have the Fiskateers. And they’ve helped to propel Fiskars’ online conversations and consumer sales to new heights.

Fiskars, a 366-year-old global supplier of consumer products for the home, garden and outdoors, understands the power of consumer loyalty. Its customers swear by its products, whether it’s a unique gardening tool or its trademark orange-handled scissors.

This loyalty, cultivated over centuries, gives Fiskars a unique PR and marketing tool — their clients.

In fact, their customers have helped Fiskars double their sales.

Other brands such as Maker’s Mark Distillery and Microsoft have also harnessed customer loyalty to increase sales.

For more in-depth analysis on Fiskars’ strategy and outcomes, as well as other well-known brands, please download our free Brand Advocacy whitepaper.

 

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Should small businesses invest in social media?

 
small business

Manta Survey Shows SMBs Think Facebook Returns the Most Value

A new survey from small business consultants Manta reveals more than half of small business owners (59 percent) don’t see a return on investment from their social media efforts. The usual lineup of social networks—with Facebook at the forefront—are actively courting small businesses for advertising revenue, but the study results clearly suggest that social networks need to communicate real value to small business owners.

“At first glance, social media may seem like a magic bullet for small business owners, offering free or low-cost access to new customers, new partners and a large community,” said John Swanciger, CEO of Manta, in a news release. “However, while Facebook has a solid head start, none of the social networks have convinced small business owners that it’s worth a significant investment. Budget allocations indicate an atmosphere of testing among small business owners. As networks find ways to prove value, we might see social spend go up.”

Facebook Stays No. 1 While Twitter and Others Lag Behind
The study finds that Facebook is the top choice for small business owners, validating Facebook’s recent announcement that the majority of their advertising revenue comes from small businesses. Benchmarked against Manta’s 2013 social media survey, 53 percent of respondents ranked the social giant as returning the most value to their business, up from 29 percent in 2013.

However, the value of other leading social networks for small businesses dropped significantly. Google+ comes in second with 15 percent, followed by LinkedIn(11 percent), while Twitter and Pinterest trail behind at five and two percent respectively.

Nearly half (47 percent) of small businesses that see ROI on social media report receiving less than $100 each month, so it makes sense that nearly half (49 percent) of small business owners are unwilling to spend money on social media promotion.

New Customer Goldmine or Virtual Rip-off?
When it comes to managing social media accounts, the percentage of small business owners with plans to increase time spent on social media has slowed to 34 percent, compared with 49 percent in 2013.

Still, small business owners continue setting social media goals. New customer acquisition hits the top of the list (37 percent), followed by driving awareness of or marketing for their business (17 percent) and generating leads or referrals (15 percent). While small business owners are clear on what they want out of their investment in social media activities, it’s not always easy to decipher how to accomplish their goals.

With this perspective in mind, Manta offers a few tips to help small business owners get the most out of social media for their business:

  • Follow the 80/20 rule. Use social media to talk about your business 20 percent of the time, but beware: Going overboard with self-promotion can sink your social media credibility. Stay afloat and engage followers by talking about things other than business 80 percent of the time.
  • Don’t put all of your social eggs in one basket. There are endless places to engage with potential customers, so mix it up. Most business owners rely heavily on Facebook, but each social channel caters to a different demographic. Customize messages to fit the platform and think about how your audience uses different social networks to consume information.
  • Keep it fresh. No one wants to read the same post again and again. And since you should limit your words, think about the impact of each one. Keep messages persuasive and active.

Source: MarketWired; edited by Richard Carufel

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What is preventing companies from seeing the full value of Big Data?

Modern technology in business analysis

While companies are racing toward implementing Big Data initiatives, a recent Xerox study says there are significant issues slowing the capture of value. Business executives said there are a wide range of challenges in implementing Big Data strategies, including data security, privacy and data quality. The commissioned study conducted in Europe by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Xerox also found that the lack of user training and inadequate change management are hindering the business transformation that big data solutions offer.

“Executives see the potential of data-driven intelligence taking root, but the soil is still quite rocky in spots,” said Craig Saunders, director of Xerox’s Analytics Resource Center, in a news release. “The ecosystem is full of challenges.”

The study, based on a survey of 330 top-level executives from across Western Europe paints a portrait of the Big Data business journey, describing in detail how factors such as “big data maturity” and poor data quality impact the enterprise.

It cites three key trends underlining the state of big data in the enterprise today:

  • Big data is key decision-driver for 2015: Three fifths (61%) of organizations said decisions made during the next year are likely to be based more on data-driven intelligence than factors such as gut feeling, opinion or experience.
  • Inaccurate data proving costly: But 70% of organizations are still encountering inaccurate data in their systems and 46% believe it’s impacting negatively on their business, requiring re-calculation or totally unusable data sets.
  • Data security and privacy: 37% of respondents rated data security and privacy as one of their biggest challenges when implementing big data strategies.
    “Despite the challenges, the large majority of companies are moving forward with big data technology across a wide range of different use cases,” said Saunders. “But there’s also a wide range of issues that keep executives up at night.”

Challenges affecting the potential future success of big data strategies varied from country to country:

  • 48% of German firms are challenged by data quality issues –more than the European average (34%)
  • Germans are also more likely to experience data security and privacy issues (47% versus the average of 37%)
  • Belgium is particularly concerned about a lack of user training (39%) and C-level support (36%)
  • France’s primary concern is the lack of access to client / third-party data (39%)
  • 36% of UK respondents feel lack of user training will impact their ability to implement their big data strategy
  • In the Netherlands, lack of access to internal data (due to technical bottlenecks) is the top challenge (36%)

“Datarati” Pull Ahead

The study found only 20% of respondents show high competence in dealing with big data, defined as ‘Datarati’, while 31% are shown to be clearly lagging behind in their approaches (‘Data-laggards’). Most (49%) were categorized in between these two groups, and defined as ‘Data-explorers.’

Big Data Maturity Groups:

  • 20% strong big data competence (‘Datarati’)
  • 49% mid-level big data competence (‘Data-explorers’)
  • 31% low big data competence (‘Data-laggards’)

There is a marked difference between the Datarati and Data-laggards in terms of data quality. Nearly two-fifths (38%) of Datarati say that they never or rarely find misleading or inaccurate information within their data sets, while only about a fifth (19%) of Data-laggards said this.

A third (33%) of the Datarati have complete trust in big data analysis when making executive decisions, compared with only 17% of Data-laggards.

Partnerships Remove Roadblocks

Company aspirations around big data remain high despite the presence of inaccurate data. Overall, adoption of big data solutions are expected to transform businesses through providing closer engagement with customers (55%), better engagement within internal teams (54%) and supporting greater employee productivity (54%).

“The majority of executives anticipate ROI soon, but realize that many organizational silos need to be broken in order to achieve that vision.” said Saunders.

Over half (55%) of respondents in the study declare that they lack strong enough processes to ensure true data quality. To this end, 33% of respondents plan to hire more data engineers over the next 12–24 months, and 30% will also be looking to hire data governance developers and data scientists.

Partnering with external experts is one way executives hope to make progress. The study showed 30% of respondents plan to partner with external providers to bring big data projects up to speed in the next 12 months. Three-fifths (59%) of respondents would choose to contract with two suppliers working in partnership, where one brings deep industry knowledge and the other is a specialist analytics firm.

Top 2015 Information and Communications Technology Priorities:

  • Big data solutions
  • Real-time business or customer analytics
  • Achieving single view of customer
  • Understanding product performance
  • Web analytics/Location specific insights

“To make the most of the opportunities that big data and data analytics presents, organizations need to make the right investments in their big data ecosystem – people, culture, systems and processes, as well as good partnering choices,” said Saunders.

Source: Business Wire; edited by Richard Carufel

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Media Relations in the Clickbait Era

clickbait

They’re everywhere. In your inbox, on your newsfeed. Clickbait headlines have consumed digital publications and social channels, but where did the concept come from? Why are media outlets using them? And what impact do they have on media relations?

Back in the 1890s, during the Spanish-American war, William Randolf Hearst (New York Journal) and Joseph Pulitzer (World) began focusing on melodramatic, exaggerated, sensationalist headlines to get attention.

These stories would often have little to no factual merit, but the content was so emotionally and visually stimulating that it piqued the curiosity of readers. As the media war between Hearst’s New York Journal and Pulitzer’s World escalated, their sensationalist tactics gave birth to what is now referred to as “yellow journalism.”

Clickbait is the Internet’s yellow journalism. With the number of digital publications on the rise, players in the digital media world are constantly warring with one another for impressions. Websites resort to using sensationalist headlines to increase page impressions, seemingly increasing the desirability and advertising value of their websites.

Though the value placed on number of impressions a website receives has become less significant than unique visits and qualified leads it produces, for some reason high impression counts still equate more advertising dollars.

This need for impressions also heavily impacts public relations activities. After all, the higher the AVE (Advertising Value Equivalency) of an article, the more successful the article placement is considered to be.

Here are some examples of types of clickbait headlines digital publications are throwing into the fray:

Bait and Switch—Headlines that make the article appear to be about something that it’s not. At all.

Curiosity Gap—Headlines that pique the interest of a reader because they feel like they may not know the answer, or to validate that they’re right. An example of this is “she mixes baking soda and vinegar and you won’t believe what happens!” (We all know what actually happens)

You’ll never guess what the next big thing in PR is!

Rage-lines— Headlines purposely crafted to instill rage in readers, thus enticing them to click and comment. These headlines tend to be more political in nature and typically evoke strong, negative emotions in readers.

How does the public feel about clickbait?

Many readers are generally aware of clickbait, and can easily identify it. So if a publication is consistently employing clickbait tactics, readers are less likely to see that publication as a valuable resource (or are less likely to click on articles).

This means that journalists also need to fight to develop creative, compelling headlines that are not only intriguing to click on, but won’t make the reader feel short-changed. This in turn could lead to negative feelings, which may increase the number of bounces a web page receives, or could even garner a lot of negative feedback and backlash in the comments.

Of course, there are always exceptions to this rule (see: http://www.buzzfeed.com and http://www.upworthy.com.) Some people will willingly give in to clickbait because they find the content to be amusing.

What does clickbait mean for PR and journalist relations?

Journalists can lose credibility
Clickbait doesn’t only affect a publication as a whole. Public relations professionals may be wary of pitching to a journalist in fear that it may impact their client’s credibility. Or it may become difficult to conduct esteemed interviews if the journalist’s reputation is already tarnished. Reputation is incredibly important to journalists, and using unjustified sensationalism can have a deep impact on their credibility and relations with other media professionals.

Public relations professionals need to pitch compelling stories, not headlines
Public relations professionals still need to prove to the world that they aren’t spin doctors, and that they have compelling information to share with the public. That’s why when pitching to journalists, PR professionals need to provide compelling information that doesn’t need sensationalism to be interesting.

Journalists should be mindful of PR professionals and their clients when crafting articles
It goes both ways. Journalists need to be mindful of how they choose to present a PR professional’s story, and to make sure that they uphold the integrity and credibility of the agency and/or company.

TL;DR: PR professionals and journalists need to work together to minimize sensationalism to maintain the integrity of media relations and to decrease the use of clickbait-headlines.

More reading:

http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2014/11/clickbait-what-is/382545/

http://www.buzzfeed.com/bensmith/why-buzzfeed-doesnt-do-clickbait#.sjKYqoMbD

http://www.poynter.org/news/mediawire/258985/the-real-problem-with-clickbait/

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How crowdsourcing has altered our views on corporate intelligence

crowd sourcing

Most would agree the Internet is probably the most disruptive technology of the 20th century, if not all time.

Why? Because it facilitates ideas and communications in nanoseconds, along with mass collaboration. And it’s this mass collaboration that has turbocharged the pace of innovation.

This collaboration — commonly referred to as crowdsourcing — has turned entire industries on their heads overnight.

Uber and other ridesharing technologies are changing the way people view transportation and even food delivery. Google’s accessible technology has allowed business teams in both small shops and larger companies to work on business-related documents collaboratively, at the same time.

Other platforms, such as 99designs, have even allowed companies to rapidly create corporate branding in days as opposed to in months at a fraction of the cost.

But what about business intelligence?

At MediaMiser, we generate our own business intelligence by leveraging media data and our own technology.

We have both manual and automated processes to ensure almost nothing escapes our attention. But there are of course times when information may be missed, simply because we live in a time where technologies and even rules can change overnight. Somehow, companies have to account for this change.

This is where firms can leveraging crowdsourcing techniques.

You don’t even have to be a technology company to do this, because crowdsourcing is not necessarily all about technology. Rather, technology facilitates lightning fast communication in collaborative environment.

Rather, crowdsourcing is more of a way of thinking: A good, well-oiled team can outwork and outthink an individual no matter how smart any one person is, or how hard they work.

The diversity of thinking within a crowdsourced team allows it to rise above that of most individuals.

“The power of crowdsourcing always remains with the crowd, not the technological implementation.” – Jay Samit, CEO of SeaChange International

Having said all this, it’s crowdsourcing that allows MediaMiser’s media intelligence gathering to adapt to a rapidly changing landscape. On the flip side, it’s the technology’s job to bring information together and help organize such a vast array of viewpoints into useful business intelligence.

For example, a salesperson in our company recently crowdsourced some media intelligence that was used to help determine the direction of some of our technology. This kind of intel would typically come from our research and development team, but that’s the advantage of leveraging the diversity of a collective — you never know where ideas (or in this case, intelligence) will come from.

Everyone has different experiences and perspectives, and it’s this fundamental understanding that is creating mass change in both business and technology.

We’d love to hear your views and experiences on crowdsourcing. Feel free to contact us to share stories or learn more about our own crowdsourcing experiences. 

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CAA’s Ontario’s Worst Roads: GTA, Timmins drive record participation

CAA worst roads

When complaining to coworkers about your commute, the latest data from CAA’s Ontario’s Worst Roads campaign may give you more cred—and mitigate any soul searching that stems from Jekyll and Hyde fits of road rage.

For the second year in a row, MediaMiser partnered with the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA) on an infographic raising awareness for “the need for repaired or improved roads” in Ontario communities.

More than 2,000 of the province’s bumpiest roads were nominated in a contest that saw a 26-per-cent year-over-year increase in participation. CAA also introduced a slew of regional top five lists this year, to accompany the typical top 10 list that appears each year.

And the result? The GTA and Timmins appear to be home of 2015’s roughest commutes, with Algonquin Blvd West in Timmins beating out Toronto’s much-maligned Dufferin St—the reigning champion for the last three years.

MediaMiser used its Enterprise monitoring and analysis software to drill down into both traditional and social media mentions of the initiative, including audience reach, total articles and circulation.

Almost half of the top 10 have appeared on the provincial list at least four times previously.


Download the infographic!

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