Posts Tagged ‘Data’

Trusting Data Versus Trusting Your Gut

March 30, 2012 6 comments

As if the CIO did not have enough to worry about; Cloud, Social, Mobile, along comes Data  (BigData to be buzzword compliant). OK, I might have it a little backwards, Data has been a concern for a long time, but now, because of Cloud, Mobile and Social, Data is an even bigger challenge. The list of issues surrounding data is a long one; growth of, quality of, management of, storage of, interpretation of, access to and last but not least, analysis. Many of these are technological, but the real issue is when data crashes into a human…

Do You Trust Data or Do You Trust Your Gut?

The stakes are real – the future of your business. Leveraged well, data will provide an edge, properly used it is a difference maker.  Do phrases like: ‘My instincts got us here, and we are doing just fine’ or ‘it feels right’ fly around your office? Hyperbole, maybe, but most of us know the type and have experienced at least a bit of it. There is an argument that suggests that some people actually do know what the data says, and their ‘gut’ is right. As for the rest of us, I am not so sure, the answer is that balance is needed. According to HBR (Full source below), that balancing has a name – an informed skeptic:

At one end of the spectrum are the pure ‘trust your gut’ types on the other, the purists (“In god we trust, everyone else bring data”) types. The basis of the HBR article is: even if the data is good, decisions based on that data should be questioned – ie, be a bit of a skeptic. This is interesting and important.

“The ability to gather, store, access, and analyze data has grown exponentially over the past decade, and companies now spend tens of millions of dollars to manage the information streaming in from suppliers and customers.”

From my perspective, it is all about intelligence; using data, properly, to provide you and your business insights to make decisions. That is what you do, right; the data is there, everyone who needs it has access and the entire organization is leveraging it to its full potential? As the article also suggests, IT should spend more time on I, less on T – while it sounds fun, there is a small point there, not as big as the author makes it seem. To question data, to invite skeptics, everyone needs access

Do People Really Know What to Do with Data?

What are the reasons that data seems to scare people. Few will admit to being scared by data, but very few have the real background to argue on empirical terms when charts and graphs and conclusions are put in front of them. An IBM/MIT study (Source 3)  identified three levels of analytical sophistication: Aspirational, Experienced and Transformed, in a Year-to-year comparisons of these groups (which can be seen in the source report) it shows that Experienced and Transformed organizations are increasing their analytical capabilities, significantly.

(note: The IBM/MIT report did not present the information in the format above, I used the article to create an image similar to the HBR article).

“The number of organizations using analytics to create a competitive advantage has surged 57 percent in just one year, to the point where nearly 6 out of 10 organizations are now differentiating themselves through analytics” IBM/MIT

What is unfortunate is that it sounds better than it really is. If you really start to dig deeper into the data (oh, the irony), the story is a bit more complex. While things are getting better, I am not sure I would characterize them as ‘good’. Out of curiosity, I wanted to look at a topic important to me, Customer Experience. Based on my interpretation of 3 sources of information, many know what to do, but are struggling to do it. By my read of the IBM/MIT report, only 1/2 ( 10%) of the organizations who ‘really get it’ (transformational) are using analytics to make decisions regarding customer experience.  Turning that around, 90% are not, scary, unfortunate, reality.

“Typically, an organization’s highest-spending customers are the ones who take advantage of every channel, whether it’s the web, a mobile device, or a kiosk on a showroom floor.8 Unfortunately, these customers are most at risk for experiencing a disconnect in navigating channels that are not yet integrated. A unified multi-channel “bricks and clicks” approach can allow customers to move between website, smart phone app, or an in-store service counter with a consistent quality of engagement.” (Source 1)

The only way to know and really understand something like this is to have the data to prove it! It is not rocket science, but it does take some work. What steps are you taking to share data, train people and leverage what you have right there in front of you?


  • Something as valuable as Data is not a Problem, it is powerful and valuable Asset,
  • Help people to understand data, encourage them to be an educated skeptics (yes, question that Infographic)
  • Gut Instincts are not bad, just keep things in perspective, right place right time,
  • And for goodness sake, start using Data to better understand your Customers!

There is so much more to this story. In writing this post, I have a whole new level of respect for this topic…I hope you do too.

  1. Analytics in the Boardroom, IBM Institute for Business Value, Fred Balboni and Susan Cook
  2. Good Data Won’t Guarantee Good Decisions, Harvard Business Review, April 2012, Shvetank Shah, Andrew Horne, and Jaime Capellá
  3. Analytics: The Widening Divide How companies are achieving competitive advantage through analytics, MIT Sloan Management Review with IBM Institute for Business Value, David Kiron, Rebecca Shockley, Nina Kruschwitz, Glenn Finch and Dr. Michael Haydock

This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet.

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Who Owns Social Data?

April 21, 2010 3 comments

Martin Schneider (CRMOutsiders) asked this question – Who Owns Social Data? to a panel at the recent SugarCRM conference, held in San Francisco. Sameer Patel, Esteban Kolsky, Jeremiah Owyang and Diogo Rebelo participated in the panel. Since I was in the room, and organized the track, I threw my $.02 in every once in a while (sorry guys). I followed up via email with Sameer and Esteban, and Jeremiah started a whole thread on data and data ownership on the scrm-pioneers Google group.

Please keep in mind that I am looking at this question from the company perspective. I know, how very non-social of me and of course Inside-out. In fairness, companies knowing more about people is a good thing, it can aid in more Social CRM types of activities – I understand your privacy concerns, but let’s not go there just yet.  The idea I threw out at the conference was simple “Data owned and Data borrowed”. My meaning was/is simplistic, there is some data that will be managed by the company and then there is data managed by someone else (maybe even me). An example of this is the data that a company has because they asked me for it, core demographic (Email, Address, Phone) and then there is the data that they try to find out about me and my company by taking the core demographic data and looking elsewhere (Hoovers, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Radian6, Gist).

So, on to my thoughts…

The following taxonomy (a bit of an obnoxious word, apologies) which I forwarded to Sameer and Esteban looks like this:

1 – Data owned – The system in question is the canonical source for the information
2 – Data copied – The system has a copy (synch maybe) of a piece of data
3 – Data borrowed – The system is either pushed a piece of data or it pulls it and it can act on it logically but does not keep a copy
4 – Data displayed – Think UI mashup, the system itself is basically unaware of the presence

(With friends as witnesses, this article was well underway prior to the SalesForce announced intent to purchase Jigsaw. What was once ‘borrowed’ or displayed data – as we will see – might now be managed data, if this becomes a trend, the equation may change)

Esteban, in typical fashion, started with “I like your taxonomy, but…” Esteban suggested a slightly simpler approach “Created, Stored, Used”, which is a little simpler, as borrowed and displayed are combined. While the majority of the world seems to enjoying bickering (me too sometimes) on minute details, I am perfectly fine with the suggestion (no “but”). Esteban’s most valuable point to me is the following:”..the true value is not in the creation or storage, is in the proper use.” I like that, as long as the use within the terms specified by the owner. Going into data ownership is beyond this post, (and I will quickly get in over my head), as the Terms of Service seems to be a little different for various data sources.

Now, on to some feedback from Sameer. Sameer struggles with my suggested taxonomy as well, and he has a right to, as I was unclear in my email to him. Was I intentionally ambiguous, no, but I tried not to lead the answer either. Thinking out loud if you will hoping to get others to think as well. Sameer flattened my taxonomy as well, but he combined copied and borrowed. This is an interesting perspective and I cannot disagree with his logic either: “Where it used to be that the money was in the aggregation, now its in the network facilitator who in turn gets to sell the fire hose or the data to be manipulated into intelligence.”

Operational versus Analytics, it makes a difference

If the system is looked at from a purely operational perspective; meaning people trying to make decisions based on atomic changes (versus masses of data) the approach needs to be one way. If you would actually like to understand trends and behaviors (you know, Analytics) then you would actually need a copy of the data I referred to as borrowed.  In reading back through my own words, I suppose the question is not really “Who Owns Social Data?” (As I believe Sameer said on the panel “Who cares?”) it is more important to understand what you would like to do with it – what you need, when you need it.

In the end, I might suggest to keep the more detailed taxonomy, and you can feel free to condense or expand as necessary. I believe that for their described uses of data both Esteban and Sameer are correct.  I also know that Sameer does not just focus on Analysis, nor does Esteban just focus on operational use – my point is specifying the use upfront is important.What are your thoughts? Is the taxonomy too simple, too complex – or just plain old unnecessary?

I would like to thank them each of them for their time. Each has their own blog, and you should pay attention to them there!

Esteban Kolsky is a customer strategist. He advises organizations of all sizes how to approach their customer initiatives to succeed. Esteban believes strongly in analyzing data from carefully thought out research. Esteban also likes to tackle the sticky issues that the rest of us avoid – calling a spade a spade if you will.

Sameer Patel helps leading organizations accelerate employee, customer and partner performance via the strategic use of social and collaborative approaches and technology. He shares his thoughts on this, as well as the software vendor landscape and on occasion, a healthy rant or two about unrelated stuff that’s on my mind.

Why do leaves change colors?

October 4, 2009 8 comments

We are smack in the middle of my favorite time of year, autumn in New England. Cool crisp mornings, right temperature days and a painted landscape. Thinking that I needed to contribute to my blog, I wanted to figure out how to best work in (and share) a New England landscape.

mitch lieberman - champlain valley fall 2008

In an attempt to keep up on my reading, I find it difficult to escape the cacophony of ‘advice’ about how you (as a business) must jump on the Social Media bandwagon and of course how you should go about it as well. I do believe in the power, but these initiatives do have a cost (people, technology…) What seems to be lacking are the scientifically based details which illustrate the return on these investments of time and money.

Yes, there are some proof points (the exciting stories which everyone points at), and we all have a visceral sense on where things are going – but each business is different. As we undertake these ventures (adventures?), we need to be sure which ones are working, and why they are working and make mid-course corrections as necessary. Anecdotal evidence will only get us so far…

Putting the two together

Autumn in this part of the world is quite colorful, nature puts on quite a show. The question is why do leaves change colors? Allow me 30 seconds to make sure we are all on the same page, in regards to what is actually happening:

During the growing season, chlorophyll (responsible for energy production and the green color) is continually being produced and broken down by leaves. In the Autumn, the chlorophyll production slows down and then eventually stops altogether. Other pigments, which have been present all along, now have a chance to show themselves.

Why does this happen?

If you look at the first chart, it is clear that it must be because the temperature gets colder which causes the production of chlorophyll to slow, then stop.  Here is a chart (scientifically done in Photoshop)  that shows a graph of the average daily temperature in October (for Burlington, VT) against the percentage of leaves which have changed color (Peak being 60-100%):

Proof, right?  There is a clear and direct correlation between the daily high temperature and amount of colors displayed by the leaves.  But, wait, what about the chart below? I did a similar exercise (equally scientific)  charting the amount of daylight, as the calendar moves through the month of October.

The amount of daylight hours against the percentage of leaves which have changed color:

The real answer is believed to be that hours of daylight is the determining factor, but that temperature plays an influencing role. But, this was not really the purpose of this note.

Causality and correlation are where many of us get ourselves in trouble. The first chart shows a correlation between temperature and the leaves, as does the second chart – but only after further experimentation which isolates one from the other can you determine cause and effect – causality. You can find many examples of correlation, some presented in a joking manner, some trying to actually show proof of cause and effect.

As you begin to experiment in Social Media, or Social CRM – be very clear on what you are measuring and what other variables might be impacting your assessment. 100% proof may or may not be attainable – if this were the barrier, we might not try anything, this is not my point. My key point is to go in with an open mind, but clear and measurable objectives.

In Order to realize Social CRM, get your Enterprise 2.0 in Order

September 29, 2009 9 comments

We have all pushed; each other, as much the world around us, to try and wrap our head around the changing nature of a customer’s relationship with a company.  We discuss what they want, changing expectations, immediacy, co-creation, loyalty….there are many opinions, not what I would call agreement. The one topic where there is some level of consensus, is that CRM in its current form is simply not equipped to handle the change. With respect, I am personally, not ready to throw in the towel on what we have called Social CRM.

The Best Defense, is a Good Offense

As I suggested a few weeks ago, Enabling Social CRM is a convergence of Enterprise 2.0 and CRM, Prem also made some compelling arguments in his post – SocialCRM v Enterprise 2.0 Fight or Tango – While the arguments made do have validity, we need to go one level deeper. We need to lay of the foundation that supports the premise of my thinking:  Social CRM within an organization can not be fully realized until the core principles of Enterprise 2.0 are realized. Yes, I am hedging a bit because not all businesses are large enough to fully realize ‘true’ Enterprise 2.0. In smaller organizations, I believe it is acceptable to ‘get it done’ however it needs to get done. Many small businesses are in fact MORE social, with respect to their relationships.

Enterprise 2.0 is the use of emergent social software platforms within companies, or between companies and their partners or customers.

In the context of Social CRM, Enterprise 2.0 meets the specific technology needs which not only enable a company, but mobilize the workforce and facilitate information sharing (ie no more silos) required to support Social CRM. In my previous post, Social CRM is a Journey, as well as Esteban Kolsky’s the Slow Path to SocialCRM, we both suggest that this is not an overnight occurrence, and companies must take baby steps in order to get there. Many tried to extend the metaphor, and asked what vehicle – I am not sure, but maybe paving the road is the first step?

I will repeat my rallying cry “It is not about technology, but about the best use of technology. It is not about the platform, but about the people who are the platform.” If tools and technology can be used to leverage the knowledge within and across the Enterprise, if the Enterprise is able to adapt and communicate efficiently, then  meeting the needs of the customer will be that much easier; Then SocialCRM can be realized.

I believe that we need to figure this out, from the inside out.  Therefore,  In order to realize Social CRM, get your Enterprise 2.0 in order.

In the weeks to come, I look forward to exploring just how to accomplish this large task? What are your thoughts?

Enabling Social CRM is a convergence of Enterprise 2.0 and CRM

September 9, 2009 15 comments

Before my peers from the Accidental Community slap me silly because of the technology focus of this post, I completely get that any Enterprise initiative, especially CRM, is People, Process, then technology. The focal point here is that the people and process do need a supporting infrastructure in order to truly provide Social CRM. For the purposes herein, Social CRM will use the Paul Greenberg definition:

CRM is a philosophy & a business strategy, supported by a technology platform, business rules, workflow, processes & social characteristics, designed to engage the customer in a collaborative conversation in order to provide mutually beneficial value in a trusted & transparent business environment. It’s the company’s response to the customer’s ownership of the conversation.

A friend and collaborator Prem Kumar Aparanji (@prem_k) has put together a initial take (with good explanation), from an architectural footing, and my objective is to take that one step further. Even as I write, Esteban Kolsky, someone whom I have the utmost respect, has written the history of the world (CRM world), which is an important read. What is important to note, is that as time passes, we are all diving in a little deeper. It is too easy to “wax poetic” at the 50,000 foot level, but we need to help figure out exactly how to do the things we are talking about. Prem even did a little crystal gazing and wrote the prequel to this post Enterprise 2.0 v SocialCRM – Fight or Tango (thanks Prem) – the answer is… down a few paragraphs….

The core of my suggestion:

There is no reason to reinvent the wheel and as technology advances we (business leaders in the CRM arena) should absolutely take advantage of it. There is also no reason, therefore, to ignore the great work being done in the Enterprise 2.0 arena. I am a huge fan of Dion Hinchcliffe – not just one of his posts, a great many of them (cool graphics too). Especially interesting to me are a few recent posts: the August 18, 2009 (Using social software to reinvent the customer relationship)

The elimination of decades of inadequate communication channels will suddenly unleash a tide of many opportunities, as well as challenges, for most organizations.

and September 2, 2009 (Enterprise 2.0 Finding success on the frontiers of social business).

….there is something fundamentally unique and powerful about social computing. Though not all uses of social tools result in rapid adoption or instant results, those that establish an early network effect can and do push existing IT systems

Finally, Dion also spoke of a crucial component of making it all work, citing him one last time (today) the Data obviously a crucial element;  August 5, 2009 (The future of enterprise data in a radically open and Web-based world)

Exposing data — whether it is internally within an organization or outside to partners, or even the whole world — is a way of thinking about the very nature of the business, more than it is about achieving a one-off end goal. This is because open data seems to create immediate, close, and powerful relationships between the publisher and the consumer of the data, and leads to a series of unexpected outcomes.

(I thought about posting his great artwork here, but that would not be proper and would not do the articles justice, so take a look when you have a few minutes.)

Here is my line of thinking – Enterprise 2.0, by definition is “the use of emergent social software platforms within companies, or between companies and their partners or customers.Andrew McAfee,  May 2006 and given the definition of Social CRM above, should it be such a leap to suggest that in order to truly engage the customer, we should invite them into our Enterprise? What better tool set to do this than Enterprise 2.0 tools?

There are lots of very smart people who can solve the technical challenges which will certainly arise – security, access control – just two of I am sure a dozen more. The larger challenges will certainly be on the people and process side – you know, that 80% of the real effort. If we are truly going to be ‘Transparent‘, and foster ‘Trust‘, in addition to one of my friend Graham’s favorite topics  Co-Create then we need to treat the customers and partners like family, and invite them into our home.

Graham’s article is certainly worth reading in its entirety, here is one of the key points:

Use just enough collaborative social technologies – Technologies, particularly those that support ‘social networks’, provide the backbone for collaboration between a companies and increasingly, with customers. This doesn’t mean a technology-first approach. But it does mean selecting the right technologies (and only the right ones) to enable effortless collaboration. (0ne of 11 bulleted points which are part of the article, seemed fitting for inclusion here)

In order to accomplish these goals, we really need to think of the customer as an extension of the Enterprise

As we invite the customers into the Enterprise, into our home, it is no longer an ‘us’ and ‘them’ – Customers are no longer managed, rather data is managed, analyzed to and for the benefit of the customer, the company and greater good – Customers are embraced.

It is not about technology, but about the best use of technology. It is not about the platform, but about the people who are the platform (how web 2.0 of me). It is not about one vendor either (I work for a vendor, full disclosure), it is about a solution that can provide the ROI and validation that Enterprise 2.0 is looking for – let’s call it Social CRM.

I do like how Esteban ends his blogs – “OK, I am done now.  Let’s open the floodgates of criticism and praise.”

Everything I know, I learned from an ‘accidental community’?

August 27, 2009 7 comments

OK, a slight embellishment, I did learn a few things in Kindergarten.

So, that is 2 for 2, call it a home run and and a double (Paul Greenberg will like that) for Brent Leary. He originally created the Social CRM hashtag, #scrm on Twitter, and he also gets credit for the “accidental community” description. Brent tweeted this, this morning in response to a question regarding what he gained from DestinationCRM (I think I have that right).

What is interesting here, is that it was really not an accident at all. The #scrm ‘community’ had all of the correct ingredients to make it a success. I bet some of my peer group could review history a bit (Prem), but the more interesting topic here are what can we learn from the evolution and pass on to the Social CRM community – outside of this small peer group.

In the beginning, we had/have a few champions (Brent and Prem Kumar, followed by John Moore and Josh Weinberger), some true thought leaders in the space (Paul, Brent, Graham Hill) – Some additional thought leaders joining later – Like Natalie Petouff Jesus Hoyas, Esteban Kolsky, Brian Vellmure and Wim Rampen. I am sure the community will grow, it already has!

What is really interesting is that all the roles I described above, switch on a weekly basis (or so). If people do not have time to blog, or write, there is absolutely no issues with people playing the championing role and pointing out the great content of others. This is Social CRM in action – the product is knowledge and payment is time. Members reach out beyond this smaller group and learn from others, sharing links, information and knowledge.

Equality, Trust and Value – sounds like a great community to me.

Michael Krigsman made a great statement this morning “Folks have yet to realize that Social #CRM is not a “tool.” It’s a focus point for a constellation of actions.” I am sure that we all have some thoughts on what those activities are, or should be, no? My hope is that the future conversations will focus on the actions, and proper execution of those actions.

Brent, there is plenty of time in game, looking for a single (that should be easy for you) but as I am sure Paul would say, the tripe is probably more impressive than a home run, so the bar is set! It was great to meet many of you at DestinationCRM – turning the accidental community into a real-live face-to-face meeting of peers. For those not in attendance, I am sure we will meet soon, talk on the phone or have a video chat (highly recommended)

++++++++++++++Updated March 30, 2010 to add some important members of the community ++++++++++++++

Friends Mark Tamis and Mike Boysen have added a tremendous amount to the conversation, and their earlier omission is nothing more than me going back and adding people. I have learned a lot from both Mark and Mike. Further, Kathy Herrman and Michael Fauscette have pushed the thinking forward as well!

My lists above were done in haste, if I missed anyone (lots and lots of people could be added I am sure), no intent meant. look forward to the future conversations on the execution steps we all learn and are willing to share.

What would you teach, what can we learn?

August 10, 2009 5 comments

No matter how many years I have been out of school myself, mid-August always feels ‘academic’. Aside from the standard ‘ Oh, $h#T I slept through my final exam’ dream, it is a fun time of year. Often, I feel as though I need to run out and buy some back-to-school stuff. This year is a little different around my house. My oldest will embark on his college education, and my middle one is entering HS. As for me, I am lucky to be teaching again this fall, as I always learn more than the students. It has also been great to learn from the folks on #scrm, and while some friends jest and call me “prof” it is ‘tongue and cheek’, as we are all students, some simply admit it, and some do not.

Back to the simplistic question of the day: If you had to define SocialCRM to an incoming college freshman, what would you say? How about a high school student? What metaphor would you choose? I know that we have all seen the demographic profile of Twitter users, as well as the other social media channels – but what does it mean? Do you think that anything taught today (in the SocialCRM realm) will have any relevance in 5 years?

What I find really interesting is what we can learn. The way in which this demographic interacts with the world around them is certainly an early indication of what we will see in a few years. Example – texting, without a doubt lead by teenagers a few years back – and now we are all using it (come on, admit it). If you had a group of college students for a day, what would you want to know? Is it really the YouTube generation?

Don’t worry Glenn, I promise not to even mention technology until week 2!

Comments welcome, encouraged even!