Let’s discuss: The closer you think you are, the less you’ll actually see

1968 Dodge Charger R/T - 2560x1600 Desktop Wallpaper Black Background What sort of search engine magic does a company like Google work to deliver results meant to please and satisfy those who use its services? Truth is, it isn’t magic at all, and neither are the finer points of accomplishing this perceived magic very magical.

Google’s Search Magic Revealed

Details obfuscate purpose, and correlations can often obfuscate the bigger picture: causation.

When you try to determine how best to entice and engage customers, the search engine optimization tactics you employ have a way of distracting you from what is most important. So many correlations, so many microscopic examinations of efficacy, so much attention to a surfeit of arcane SEO advice can lead to a myopic view of how customers want to interact with you. Like a magician’s slight of hand, these tactics redirect your own attention from the true magic that is happening elsewhere. In essence, the closer you think you are, the less you’ll actually see.

When a business focuses on an over-abundance of ‘expert’-recommended small stuff, it typically misses the point, which is: How can you provide the best product for your customers? How can you satisfy, even delight, your customers? How are you going to make each and every customer feel you are there just for them?

The goal of your efforts shouldn’t redirect the attention of your customers. It should be based on moving beyond mystification to deliver the experiences your customers actually want and tailor those experiences to each customer, one at a time. ‘Big data,’ that merger of lots of data points with a variety of data sources and real-time delivery, is your best opportunity to move beyond correlation and into the big-picture realm of causation: If you understand more of what your customers want, you are in a better position to deliver it. The secret both you and your customers are looking for, the secret a company like Google has long since discovered, is customer-centricity.

Is slight of hand the answer? Hardly. Once you understand the magic behind the magic, you learn how to identify the reasons why your customers should care about you and buy from you in the first place. Then you don’t have to deliver the magic of magic; you can deliver the magic of value.

Image: by Barry Wetcher, SMPSP – © 2013 Summit Entertainment, LLC. All rights reserved

Blowing a Lot of Hot Air Over Big Data

Break freeShopycat. A feature for scanning the social media preferences of a customer’s Facebook friends and suggesting gift ideas sold on Walmart.com’s website. While Walmart has never shied from using analytic technology, it sort of missed the use-the-data digital boat when it came to focusing primarily on the customer experience. It isn’t alone. Difficultly integrating channels is an omni-channel challenge for many businesses with a brick-and-mortar arm. But Walmart is planning to make the shift to a data-driven organization (in fits and starts; selling certain items only online is not a great idea.) Walmart is hoping eighty-seven newly hired “engineers and coders” are going to help turn around the game it’s currently losing playing catch-up with (don’t lose more customers to) customer-centric Amazon.

Why Walmart Is Worried About Amazon

Let’s automate data prep; let’s ditch the internal chain of command that strangles experimenting with new ways to gather and use new data sources; let’s look at AI technology so resulting information and insight is built into the reporting process. That creative, forward-thinking analysts wish for intelligent tools to benefit a company is a clue they’re not just data jockeys and might be deserving of some attention. Big data tools now exist, or are in development, to answer most of the wishes. One thing is missing. Guess what.

Analytics Wishlist: Five Tools, Capabilites Analysts Wish Existed

Big data technologies are helping humans identify their own health troubles and find solutions. It makes sense that those with beloved barking companions wish for a similar technology geared to their four-footed buds. Now, your dog can wear a little ninety-nine buck device called Whistle. Whistle monitors your pet’s activity and compares the data to a large pool of other data to help you spot problems before they become serious. Score one for big data. (Warning: seriously adorable puppy alert)

Whistle Uses Big Data to Help Keep Your Dog Healthy

Is Verizon your telecom provider? If yes, did you know that since April 25 and until July 19, under a court order based on the “so-called ‘business records’ provision of the Patriot Act, 50 USC section 1861,” the NSA is collecting lots of personal datafrom your phone usage. Some folks mind the kind and quantity of personal data they are handing over, sometimes without even knowing they are doing it. Others accept that privacy in the big data world is becoming extinct. That’s a good thing, right? Up until it’s a bad thing.

Who’s Watching You? Not Just the NSA.

And Now for Something Completely Different

The art of air in motion: a real-time data visualization.

Wind Map

photo by: aussiegall

Four Not-to-Miss Data Stories- June 3rd, 2013

not-to-miss-linksUse your mobile phone. Use your tablet. Use your electricity. Use the internet, the ER, a medical laboratory, a gym. Generate lots of data all about yourself. Who can use that data? Well … probably not you.

If My Data Is an Open Book, Why Can’t I Read It?
(For a cooperative effort toward mutually beneficial solutions, check out #wethedata: for the people, by the people. For a list of companies supporting greater transparency in privacy, see Future of Privacy Forum supporters.)

Facebook tells a visual story of how members exchange music. It’s an amazing, artistic topography of music shared–and think of the mountains of data that went into creating it. Is there a clever marketing way to use this data? Folks are hoping so. Maybe you have a suggestion.

Facebook’s Mesmerizing 3D Music Map: Can Artists, Brands & Developers Use the Data?
(Nothing’s wrong with your speakers; there’s no audio track.)

Mapping Music on Facebook from Facebook Stories on Vimeo.

Back to Google’s “honest” maps. Suppose the only maps you see are based on what you are most likely to choose? Google Maps plans to serve up personalized maps that don’t show every feature–say, something you might want to do on an adventurous day–because that’s not what you normally choose based on all the data Google has on you. It’s a brilliant use of data for the purpose of targeted advertising. But some wonder what happens to your experience of life when the use of your data offers up thirty-six flavors of ice cream where one’s vanilla, the flavor you tend to pick, and the other thirty-five are … vanilla?

My Map or Yours? Google’s plan to personalize maps could end public space as we know it

Personality profiling gives businesses a far better idea what potential customers will respond to. But giving every potential customer a personality test is not feasible. What’s a business to do to improve conversion rates on advertising campaigns? Turn to Twitter.

No Hiding Place: A Plan to Assess Your Personality From Your Tweets

Not-to-miss links for 5/27/13

not-to-miss-linksMicrosoft Xbox gets the living room?

With Google Fiber currently installed (or installing) in select places and Google Glass in the works, can anyone doubt who will win in the long term? For just about any room you name? Well, hopefully not one. Besides, if you’re going to fork over your data, it’s easier to do so when there isn’t a face recognition system continually connected in your living room.

Creepy much?

The Xbox One hears all, sees all, and steals Google’s dreams

Cartography used to be biased; now it’s ‘honest’?

Maybe. Debate aside, Google wants to make sure when it processes massive amounts of data, it delivers one of big data’s most attractive promises–an instantaneous, intimate digital experience tailored just for you.

Why the new Google Maps is the most honest form of cartography

Overcoming our ideas of Privacy

The more we participate in the digital world, the more public our lives become. Unprecedented deceasing privacy is the cost. It’s not just an ethical matter, it also affects personal identity. Where do you draw the line in your life?

How technology redefines norms

Will your job be replaced by a robot?

Worry a little more whether big data and robotic technologies are going to leave people jobless and role-less. Once you are done worrying, remember that economies always cycle when new technologies create a new playing field and people architect their futures.

Driverless cars, pilotless planes … will there be jobs left for a human being?

Use the Data Roundup: May 20th 2013

not to miss links for the week1. Love the line about running up to the line with privacy and how Google Now was scary last year but applause-worthy this year.

Google Sensors Are Data Mining I/O Attendees – And They Don’t Care

2. Think about how companies who collect your data get it for free. At least one person isn’t happy about that.

A Bit(e) of Me

3. An issue-conscious app can help you decide which companies you might prefer to buy from or boycott. Let your conscience (and lots of data) be your guide.

Soon, You’ll Know As Much About What You Buy As the Company That Made It

4. A change in size leads to a change of state. A change in quantity leads to a change in quality. More is not just more; more is different, and the way we live and the way we think are about to change. Watch an interesting presentation to get a thinker’s grasp on big data.

The Economist’s Data Editor: Big data may be too hyped, but here’s how it will change the world
The video is about 30 minutes long.