The Data Age

Big Data and Living in an Age of Data

The Data Age - Big Data and Living in an Age of Data

Predictive Analytics and Big Data Conference

I just spent the day at a great conference at Medtronics, where the topics included predictive analytics aka data science and big data. There was a great turn out with about 500 people attending.

It was great to meet people from various companies like SAP, IBM, Target, and Netezza. We had some very enjoyable conversations about social and how analytics can help improve customer insight. Some of the takeaways for me were the final screen, which is everything. Soon we will be using anything as a device. I do think this is coming; it is only a matter of time.

Another point was the different between private data and pattern data and how consumers will have lockboxes for private data and give permission that can be revoked to pattern data. Pattern data are things like click streams, not really private but data that can help a company provide better personalized services to customers.

A big topic was collaboration. How collaboration is going to be the new normal. I totally agree, it is how I do business and more and more we will see people look to this model as a way to interact with customers.

I enjoyed things so much, I talked to the sponsors to try and get the conference on retail and consumer products to be hosted at where I work. That will take some effort on my part, but it would make sense.

The End of E-commerce or the End of Silos

I saw this great article on the End of E-commerce.  I wanted to give my opinion on this as well as it is something I get to spend a lot of time thinking about, although in a very different way.  It isn’t really the end of e-commerce but the end of silos that needs to take place in retail.


Having cut my teeth in start ups during the dotcom era, I heard all kinds of comments about how e-commerce was going to kill the malls.  Well, most malls are still around.  In fact the one near my house got even bigger since the dotcom era.  The net did not kill physical stores, if anything, they made them more relevant.  I remember during the dotcom era, I was into the way under reported movement of cross commerce.  That was, taking the elements of the net and brining them into the retail space.  We knew the technology was not there but it would be in about 10-15 years, aka, right now.


When I look at retail today, I see tablets and phones that bring the web right into the store location.  What is an online sale and what is an in-store, there is almost no different now.  People do research online and buy in-stores and vice versa.  What smart retailers get is that you can’t have separate groups anymore, one handling the stores and the other handling online.  These are one in the eyes of consumers.


Think about it, when you shop at Walmart or Target, you don’t think, “gee, I’m dealing with the online team now, I should think differently about my consumer experience and realize it is not like the stores.”  Nobody thinks that way.  They see Target and think; it should be the same as the stores, same products and same brand promise.


For some retailers, this concept is revolutionary, but for the consumer, it is evolutionary.  The best companies in the near future are going to be the ones that are able to bridge all their channels in a seamless experience, both front and back.  And to be honest, nobody has done that to a truly evolutionary level.

Was it a Smart Move to Open Early on Black Friday?

It has been nearly a month since the Thanksgiving Day early opening making it Black Thursday for some instead of Black Friday.  So the question that everyone is asking is, was that early open a smart move?  It is a fair question and one that the numbers may answer.


We saw some numbers showing that consumers were very much in a deal hunting mood this year.  Fair enough, the economy is still tough.  So the next question is, did those deals help?  For some companies it did improve market share but at the cost of profit performance.  We already know what happened to Best Buy, and chances are it is going to be the indicator of what the rest of the sector will show us.  However, one company to watch will be Sears.


Sears bucked the early opening and as a result, it may show us what next year will have in store for us in terms of opening hours for Black Thursday/Friday.