02/19/14

The path to Big Data: Challenges and Opportunities

Big dataThe New Jersey Institute of Technology’s Online MBA program sent me this infographic entitled “Data Mining and Decision Support Systems“, in which the university describes big data and data mining as the new way of carrying out market research. As a matter of fact, data mining isn’t new – I first heard about it in the 1990s when it started to become fashionable, namely in the Banking industry – and it is not directed at “new  data” but “existing data” as is described in the infographic.

If data mining (or even Big data for that matter) per se isn’t innovative, massive open databases, and unstructured data like those gathered by Facebook and Google actually are the new kids on the block. NJIT even heralds these new giants as the future major players of the data mining industry. To an extent they already are.

And true enough, data mining is bound to become, at last, a major player in the Marketing field for the years to come: when it comes to clients … and prospective customers alike (that’s the real novel aspect of it, we can now gather information about clients to be).

Challenges related to big data implementation

Yet, many challenges will have to be overcome by businesses which want to benefit from this new wave of market research brought by the big data era : improving data quality is one (this is why the retail industry is ahead of the game: check-out data is massive and squeakily clean), allowing time and resources is another, not to mention knowledge and training and, last but not least, internal limitations as to how data can be shared across departments. No wonder that 1% only (according to Information builders) of company information is used at the moment.

Now here’s the challenge, and only those who are able to overcome it will be able to reap the benefits from these new marketing opportunities.

Big data

NJIT New Jersey Institute of Technology – Online MBA

12/10/13

Google Plus Engagement Leaves Big Data Experts Nonplussed

Today’s selection …

Is this piece in Adweek about Gigya’s insights regarding Google+ and the fact that, although it is said to be the second biggest social network in terms of users, engagement on Google’s social platform is still low and even at its lowest. I have been very critical of Google’s efforts to mimic Facebook over the years and even though some of these efforts haven’t paid off I, as an amateur photographer, am beginning to witness changes in engagement in G+ as I am shoving more and more of my pictures into “communities”. And bingo! it works. It’s true that engagement is low in profile pages and posts, but communities, and mostly photographers’ communities like “landscape photography” or “street photographers” is now clinching it. It has taken its time but maybe Google+ has found its niche… Yet, those guys from Gigya are less than extactic:

image

depending on what pictures I choose, I can get up to 30 or more +’s and a few shares on individual photos; not bad for an individual I’d say and better than most platforms (including Facebook)

Google Plus Shares Least Among Social Networks | Adweek

It’s the second most popular social network by some measures, but when it comes to sharing, Google+ has the least reach compared to its rivals, according to the latest data from the social media tech firm Gigya.

Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn all incite more sharing on their networks than Google+, per Gigya, which claims to measure how 1.5 billion Web users share content each month.

In fact, Gigya manages the sharing functionality for more than 700 partners online. According to its data, just 3 percent of all social sharing went to Google+ from July to September.

By comparison, 41 percent of users shared content on Facebook; 20 percent shared on Twitter; 20 percent posted to Pinterest; and 4 percent to LinkedIn. Google+ counts more users than all of these platforms except Facebook because any user of Google services has a corresponding Plus account.

via Google Plus Shares Least Among Social Networks | Adweek.

10/17/12

Google’s Page lashes out at Facebook for lack of openness

Today’s selection is…

Miguel Helft’s piece for Fortune Tech about the recent and much awaited appearance of Larry Page, the new yet not so new CEO of Google, in which many things are debated including his vocal cord problems. However, the most important passage from that story is as conclusion in which page lashes at Facebook for not being open enough and pledges openness of social data. Now you’re talking Larry! I’m almost in love with Google plus again. Let me find my old password…

[is Facebook – and other social networks – gearing towards a closed Internet?]

After long silence, Google’s Page speaks

[…] After extolling the virtues of Googles multi-year effort to develop an accurate digital representation of the real world with its mapping services, he said the company was “almost there.” In a clear reference to Apple’s embarrassing rollout of a mapping application that was riddled with errors, he added: “We are we are excited that other people have started to notice that we’ve worked hard on that for 7 years.”MORE: Facebook vs. Google: The battle for the future of the Web. He said it was “likely” that Google would try to make its maps available on Apple devices, despite its lack of control over how they would appear or be distributed.

And in a pointed criticism at Facebook refusal to open up its data to outside parties, including Googles search engine, he said the Internet worked best when essential data was shared across companies. Speaking specifically about social data, he said: “I would love to make use of that in any way we can.”

via After long silence, Googles Page speaks – Fortune Tech.

06/19/12

Horowitz recognises Google+ is late to market but announces growth

Where is Google+ at nowadays. Barely a year after its launch in Summer 2011, Bradley Horowitz, President product management at Google gave us an overview of where they are at and where they are heading … and evaded a few questions too ! [this post was originally written live from Le Web 12 in London on behalf of the live.orange blog]

“Google search had a very short-lived memory and Google+ has been introduced to change that. Google+ is helping us understand our users betters and provide better services to them” Horowitz said as an introduction. As a proof of how Google wants to improve the user experience of its social media platform, he pointed out that Google Local has been made a part of Google+ for a couple of weeks. “The idea is for Google to improve existing services by enhancing them with the power of sharing”.

“We recognise being late to market”

When pressed with questions by Loic Lemeur, he replied: “We recognise being late to market but this offers opportunities to do things differently and enable users to have different kinds of discussions with different kinds of users”.

bradleyhorowitz

[Google’s Bradley Horowitz live on stage at Le Web 12 in London]

The strategy is not to have people wishing happy birthday”. What we have is hangouts. “Every kind of user, from music artists to politicians are using hangouts” he said. This is a differentiator and we are only getting started. A very effective demonstration of a live hangout was delivered introducing participants in a multicast presentation from all around the world (Canada, US, UK and France) and remote users were able to ask questions to Bradley Horowitz who answered them. In essence, this isn’t very different from traditional Web conferencing as it has existed for over 10 years, but the fact that it is linked to a social platform should “change the world for users to interact in the same way that Youtube did” Horowitz added

hangoutpresentation

[a live demo of a Google+ hangout at Le Web 12 in London]

numbers?

“170 million users have upgraded their accounts, have updated their profiles. Getting 200 million users in just eleven month is a real challenge and we will be announcing new numbers soon and they are really good”, Horowitz said. “our best days are ahead of us”. One example of the good things they have introduced are the mobile clients which were launched on IOS and Android, more graphical and much more emotional. This has led to a dramatic increase in mobile usage (but no precise numbers were given despite Loic Lemeur’s insistance). Similarly, the number of actual users wasn’t unveiled by the Google exec.

“We have tried to compress a decade of social networking into 11 months! and now I am “happy to announce that Google is opening to another partner “Flipboard” and it will be opened as soon as it is safe for our users and is debugged” the Google exec added. But “we are admittedly moving cautiously” he added, before taking this to the next level.

Sonia Carter from Kraft Foods explained how they are using Google+: Chocolate is the main subject, but also sponsorships that the brand is involved in, because they realised “that people were already talking about this”. Bonin Bough who runs advertising for Kraft foods explained that the introduction of social media wasn’t about the shifting of budgets but the shifting of mindset.

10/17/11

Google+ (plus?) dwindling, Google Buzz going and Diaspora begging for money

social media clones? - photo http://bit.ly/picasayann

last week was quite eventful with regard to the social media landscape … 

One of Forbes’s contributors, Tim Worstall (profile here) , has this story about Google+ and its supposed demise, in which he shows that in fact, Google’s network is still growing. That seems to be the case, as shown by Larry Page’s announcement of 40 million users last Thursday. It has yet to be proven how many actually use it though. Last week, there were more comments about how an engineer screwed up with the sharing mechanism, than about the actual number of users of the platform; by the way, the said engineer argued that this was not a platform and that the problem was there. Last but not least, mashable took a stab at Google’s Execs about the fact that they weren’t eating their own dog food. Maybe they feel a bit iffy about having to discarding their Facebook network and starting all over again? I know the feeling. Last but not least, all diaspora “users” received an email last week in which the new social media star was begging for money. Off to a bad start it seems. I personally opened my account, understood the principle but saw no added value in it I’m afraid. I know that it is said that Google+ mimicked their interface and not the other way round, but yet … By the way, as Worstall mischievously points out, is this Google plus ou Google+? He may not be a social media guru, but he asks very valid questions (excerpts per below and link to main Forbes article). At any rate the shift towards Google+ is now complete, due to the phasing out of Google Buzz (and that was revealed only a few hours ago). At least one  thing is clearer this week in the world of social media!

So the Mail on Sunday tells us, that traffic on Google Plus (or Google + maybe?) is down 60%.

[... ]

Well, if traffic was 100 when Google plus was invite only, then opening it up to all comers led to a 1,200 percent raise in traffic, then we’ve got traffic of 1,200. A 60% decline from 1,200 leaves us with traffic of 480 (doesn’t matter whether this is users, page views, visits or whatever, the math is the same). So, what the report is actually saying is that in less than a month traffic has risen 480%, or 4.8 times.  Which isn’t, really, all that much of a failure.

Now for myself, I don’t really understand this social media stuff: I get the business models, I understand what people are doing, I’m just not sure why  [...]

via Google Plus Traffic Down 60% – Forbes.

09/13/11

Diaspora, the open project to rekindle social media (not to kill Facebook)

Diaspora: the new social media platform

Diaspora isn’t about killing Facebook or Google+“, the people behind the new social media project claim on their newly opened wall, “it’s about reinventing the social web“. I was very lucky to be granted access to Diaspora, in alpha version, thanks to an invite sent by our fellow Like Minds Alumnus James Barisic. At first sight, Diaspora looks very much like Google+ with its “your aspects” links on the left-hand side, which link to Friends, Family, Work relations and acquaintances.

Skiormas Istraidės, a new Diaspora user spotted it: “it’s a little bit more elegant than G+. However looks very similar yet” he posted for all to see. But the real issue lies beyond the graphical user interface. It’s about the open Web and tearing down these walls (as well as respecting privacy maybe). Here was  Diaspora’s Yosem Company‘s answer, which I am sharing with you: 

“Yosem Companys – 7 days ago – 101 reshares

I’m re-posting this comment I wrote, as some folks said they’d like to reshare it:

The media has painted us as the David that will either slay or succumb to Goliath. (Insert FB or G+ for the Goliath, depending on the media’s narrative.)

It’s also a function of competitive differentiation. You only know what something is by comparing it to something else that exists. The media has chosen to compare us to FB & G+, which is understandable.

The better comparison, however, is AOL vs the WWW. When AOL appeared on the scene, it was the only commercial email provider. You couldn’t send email to Prodigy, for example, from AOL, and vice versa. AOL would force you to navigate the Internet through AOL’s portal. Then the (free or open-source, use your preferred term here) WWW came on the scene. Soon thereafter came communication protocols that enabled different email providers to connect their users with each other. AOL clung to their walled garden approach and slowly over time was transformed from a monopolist into just one of many actors on the open web.

Fast forward to today, and you find a similar situation. FB doesn’t allow its users to message G+ users, and vice versa. FB forces all applications to use their API, thereby losing the richness of the larger web, forcing applications to conform to FB’s development environment.

D* is not trying to kill FB or G+. Like the WWW before it, D* is trying to reinvent the social web from one that relies on walled gardens to one that is open to all players. We believe the world will be better when users own their own social data and decide with whom to share it with, regardless of where these users are online. There is no reason why you shouldn’t be able to communicate with G+ users from FB, and vice versa. There is no reason why you should be forced to use pre-approved FB apps instead of any web app available online in its native environment.

D* wants to enable you to own your own data and enjoy the open web in a social way. It’s not about killing G+ or FB. It’s about enabling users to own their own social data and have the choice to use any service they want, which will force the walled gardens to provide better services, lest their users leave and take their own data to other services online that provide these for them.

08/31/11

the Google+ Circle ease-of-use mystery

are Google Plus Circles so easy to use?

baro-largeNow that the dust has settled a bit on Google Plus and that there are – supposedly – more than 25 million users, or at least registered not-so-active users, of this service, I am still trying to figure out what I could do with it. Bloggers blogging about bloggers – of which I am I suppose  – are using it almost automatically (because one has to!) whereas other users are still few and far between (see text at the bottom). However, when asked, most users point out the ease of use of Google Plus Circles  when it comes to explaining why the service is great and why it might succeed. However, I must admit that I am still puzzled by that feature. As you can see from the screen dump per below, I have dragged so many of my contacts in my business contact circle (not to mention the “interesting people” circle”) that it is almost impossible for me to maintain this circle by editing or deleting any of the profiles in there, even if they were added by mistake. So why it is deemed user-friendly by certain users is a wonder to me.

google

excerpt from the “Google Plus” Welcome page

– An important note about Field Trial –

You’re part of a small group of people who are helping to test Google+. When you share something with people who are not yet able to use Google+, they will receive it via email but won’t be able to comment or engage with the content like other Google+ users. They’ll be able to join Google+ as we let more users in over time.

03/9/10

Will Google Wave and Google Buzz follow on the heels of Google Answers?

yet another craash from Google?Hindsight isn’t always available with the Web. Things move faster and faster, and bloggers tend to shoot out reviews as if they were in the wild wild west. At a time when it’s customary to announce the demise of Yahoo! I found an “old” post of mine dated June 2006 (like ages ago in Internet years) about Google Answers. Here is what it said:

People-powered search engines are not really new. Internet old timers like me can remember pre-bubble attempts such as Webhelp (turned into an “old-economy” service provider now). Now and then, another firm is having a go at that concept. I suspect that it will end up working eventually … who knows? This time, it’s Yahoo’s turn to launch its beta Yahoo! Answers service.And of course, Google could not be outdone and they created (guess what name they chose?) … Google answers!God only knows who fired first. But maybe it doesn’t matter at all after all?

Less than 4 years later, that prompted me to go and have a look at that long forgotten attempt at reviving the Q&A collaborative concept popularised by Yahoo! And guess what the site says:

Google Answers is no longer accepting questions.

We’re sorry, but Google Answers has been retired, and is no longer accepting new questions. Search or browse the existing Google Answers index by using the search box above or the category links below.

This is just to show that even the best innovators do screw up from time to time, even though it seems that Google is doing a lot of that at the moment, what with the launch of Google Wave and Google Buzz. Will those last 2 services be brought to an end too? your thoughts much appreciated:

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09/18/09

popular myth about duplicate content debunked by Google

SEO-search-optimisationas stated in my previous SEO piece, there are quite a few myths flying around the Web and namely about what Google does and doesn’t with your data. Webpronews has this story about “duplicated content” and God knows there are many people tallking nonsense about that subject. A must-read:

[...] Greg begins by clearing up a popular myth about duplicate content, and that is that Google penalizes sites for having duplicate content. This is not the case. That’s not to say that duplicate content can’t have a negative impact on your rankings, but Google itself is not penalizing you for it. [...]

03/23/09

8 Tools For Online Reputation Management (ORM)

Managing one’s online reputation has become a must. It is absolutely unthinkable for anyone who wants to make a professional appointment to leave a photograph on one’s facebook profile in which he or she is holding a glass of champagne and assuming weird poses (and God knows I came across quite a few counter examples). Many chances are that the person with whom you are about to have an appointment has just gone straight to ‘Google’ your name on the Internet. This is what is called online reputation (or online identity) management (abbreviated ORM), that is to say your image as it is showing online through Internet and social media exposure.

In this article I will list 8 kinds of tools which could help you work on your own online reputation, or check upon other people’s online presence.

  • ORM tools #1: metasearch engines (i.e. an aggregator of all search engines) for social media such as http://samepoint.com , will help you check whether you are popular online or not. Samepoint will combine results from various sources such as social networking sites (facebook, mybloglog, linkedin, typepad, wordpress.com, blogger etc.), wikis, bookmarking sites such as delicious and others. I used my own example and I found out my samepoint request could produce up to 1000 results. This is not very surprising in fact, because this is the effect of my online work for the past 15 years. Internet presence takes time to develop, even though impressive results can be obtained very rapidly if you are committed to working on it. What is interesting too is that samepoint shows whether your documents contain ‘positive’ or ‘negative’ keywords. Very few ‘negative keywords’ were found in my case and this is not coming as a surprise either, as it has also been my choice from day one not to communicate online on anything negative or overly critical. Another example of a metasearch social media engine is http://socialmention.com which also deduces a social ranking from the results although it is difficult to relate that ranking to the quality of your work. Social media pundit Guy Kawasaki has reached a ranking of 89/100, and he certainly raises the bar very high given his frantic online activity (Guy has 77,916 followers on twitter as of today),
  • ORM tools #2: blog search engines such as technorati or http://blogsearch.google.com make up the second kind of tools which you can use to manage your online reputation. Obviously, the more your write on blogs, including other people’s blogs of course, not just your own, the better your chances to increase your online reputation. Eventually, you will establish the credibility through your writing. For instance, many a CV-related issue in job-seeking can be circumvented in that way (here’s the result of my research on ‘marketing & innovation’ which shows that my blog comes in pole position, just above my Belgian friends from future lab). Thus, writing in blogs can actually position you on top of search engine results without having to pay for anything (this is commonly described as SEO i.e. Search Engine Optimisation), but it also means that you are producing content on a regular basis, not just from time to time,
  • ORM tools #3: news search engines such as Google News which are not only scouring the Net for information from newspapers and press releases but blogs too – as long as they have been deemed reliable sources by the Google people. For your blog to be taken into account by Google you would have to go through the manual process of getting your blog registered. Finding the right place for you to submit your URL can be a bit tricky, so here’s the link which will make you save time. Please note that not all blogs are allowed to join the Google News list of reliable sources and that it is a manual process. Within hours of my main blog being accepted by Google News I received a phone call from the people monitoring employee blogs in my company to congratulate me for being registered,
  • ORM tools #4:some other search engines look for comments you may have entered on social media sites. http://www.backtype.com for instance, shows a relative low number of comments in my case. This can be explained by the fact that I’m rarely using my own name in comments, even on my own websites and blogs (I prefer to use my brand name so as to enhance the reputation of my website on search engines),
  • ORM tools #5: forum search engines. They are a good example is available at bigboards or Google Groups. In my case, little or nothing is showing through search engines for I very rarely go to forums (if I do wish to enter a personal comment on any of them however, I usually don’t enter my name in full for the particular reason that I don’t want it to show. Comments in B2C forums can sometimes be pretty direct and they don’t always provide real value with regard to your online reputation. As to expert forums and technical forums however, they can be very instrumental in publicising your expertise). One thing is worthy of note: comments in forums are online for a very long time, hence the reason why you should be very careful about them. Here’s an anecdote about that: I once entered a comment about Internet set-top boxes on a consumer forum in 1996, which I later regretted, and it took me at least 5 years to make it disappear. In fact in never really disappeared, I merely added more comments on top of that one. Actually, Google Groups will still show comments I made way back 1996, and my former e-mail address – no longer in use fortunately – is also showing through Google. As a conclusion, traces are left everywhere on the Internet, one should be very careful about that,
  • ORM tools #6: the next category is micro-blogging search engines such as http://search.twitter.com which scans the most popular micro-blogging engine www.twitter.com. that’s how you can recap on someone’s tweets or even trace those who forwarded or commented on your tweets or blog posts,
  • ORM tools #7: this category consists of social network aggregators such as Yahoo’s outstanding Mybloglog social website which enables you to link your blog to others and make friends with other bloggers and promote your articles,
  • ORM tools #8: this is the final category of online reputation tools which I’d like to present here, and it is that of people-centric search engines. I would namely recommend http://www.123people.com. One of the biggest issues with social media is that you are entering profile information in all sorts of different places and cannot point people to a single page which merges all this data from various sources and delivers an executive summary. This kind of search engines just does that for you. It will mix all the sources of information from the Internet – including multimedia files – which are related to you and merge them into a mash-up. You can have a look at my own 123people example here. Sometimes results are a bit weird because they show photos of other people which have nothing to do with you. One may actually prefer another tool such as zoominfo which can show more accurate results. In zoominfo, once you have signed up, you will be also able to claim ownership of your profile (through the “reclaim profile” option), which will give you an opportunity to gain control over it. My zoominfo profile can be seen by clicking here.

As a result, you now have evidence that you are leaving traces about yourself all over the Internet. To a large extent, in the past 4 or 5 years (mostly since 2004), social media has even exponentially increased that issue. Now you also have the means – with this very simple toolbox – not just to evaluate your current online reputation but to actually do something about it, as well as communicate positive information about yourself and actually shape your online image.

Down to business now, and remember that there is no erase and rewind button on the Internet!