Adam Gartenberg's Blog

Business Analytics and Optimization, IBM and Social Marketing

Watson Analytics in Action (demo)

Do you want to see how easy it is to add data and see the resulting analysis from Watson Analytics?  

Here's a demo of how a fast food chain could analyze the impact of different marketing campaigns they tried out in test markets.  

Last Day! Insight (IOD) 2014 Early Bird Registration

Don't forget that early bird registration for Insight 2014 (formerly IOD) ends today.

You can register here to save $300, but you'll need to do it soon.

Introducing Watson Analytics: Analytics for Everyone

When you've got a new solution being compared to the transformational power of the spreadsheet and the iPhone, you just might be on to something.

From Steve Lohr in The New York Times:

Developing technology is one thing; democratizing it is another. The latter involves finding the innovation that opens the door to widespread adoption with usefulness and usability.

In the personal computer era, it was the spreadsheet that transformed a hobbyists’ plaything into a must-have machine in corporate America. In mobile computing, it was Apple’s iPhone that brought the smartphone to the masses, establishing a new model for the gadgets as both smart and easy to use. In the era of big data, start-ups and big companies are in hot pursuit of a similar breakthrough, a vehicle to bring modern data analysis and prediction to the rank and file of business.

IBM thinks it has an answer, called Watson Analytics, which it announced on Tuesday. The offering is a software service, delivered over the cloud. As its name suggests, Watson Analytics is a result of a collaboration between teams from IBM’s data analysis group and its Watson unit, which has been built into a business in the three years since Watson beat human champions in the question-and-answer game “Jeopardy.”

At its heart, Watson Analytics is designed to let the average business person pose questions in plain language (e.g., “What high-value customers am I most likely to close sales with in the next 30 days?” “Which benefits drive employee retention the most?”) and get back results as automatically analyzed by the Watson Analytics software, presented through a user-friendly visualization (see below for some examples).

Because getting data into a typical analytics system is often half the battle, Watson Analytics will come with connectors, allowing end users themselves to connect with or upload data from Salesforce, Google Docs, Oracle, Box, Cognos or from spreadsheets.  

Now, let's get the buzzwords out of the way:  
  • It's cloud-based (delivered on IBM's SoftLayer platform), which means you don't need to harangue your IT department to find a server, provision software, and get it up and running.  No delays - just sign up and get going.
  • It's freemium, which means that you don't have to first start by trying to scrounge up a budget.  Start using it, see the value firsthand, and then take your business case forward should you want to extend beyond the included capabilities.
  • It's all about helping you make sense of Big Data, which should be a given, with IBM's deep history and research in this space.

I was at a marketing analytics seminar last month and during a break struck up a conversation with someone in a similar role to mine at a mid-sized manufacturing technology company.  He shared that he was jealous that as an IBMer I would naturally had access to tools like Cognos and SPSS.  His main holdbacks?  No Ph.D.s to help him develop analytic models, and no budget to buy the software.  All I could say at the time was stay tuned....

Watson Analytics will be available in beta this month, with general availability planned for November.


Watson Analytics in action:
 (Additional images on Flickr)
watson analytics sales
watson analytics predictive
watson analytics by brand

Your Participation is Needed: 6th Annual Analytics Survey

IBM's Institute for Business Value is currently collecting responses for the 6th annual IBV Analytics survey, and needs your participation.

The survey, the largest of its kind in the industry, will investigate how organizations can create a competitive advantage with big data and analytics.

Responding will only take 15 minutes, and all responses will be anonymous.

If you opt in to register (your contact data will be disassociated with the survey data to ensure privacy), you will be sent the global study on launch day in October 2014 -- an option only open to survey participants.

Please click through to the survey here: 

$600 Early Bird Discount for Insight 2014 (formerly IOD)

Register now and save BIG!. Register by July 31st and save $600 off the regular rate. Register Today
Early bird registration for Insight 2014 (formerly Information on Demand) is now open.  Registering now will save you $600.

The call for speakers is also open, so if you've got a topic you'd like to present, please go ahead and submit it.

You can learn more about the conference curriculum and see highlights of past conferences here.

Register today!

IBM ExperienceOne - personalizing customer engagement

Another important announcement for anyone looking to help their marketing, sales and service (e.g., front office) teams better understand their customers and engage with them in a more personalized way.  

IBM ExperienceOne, announced at last week's Smarter Commerce Global Summit, brings together capabilities from across the IBM Enterprise Marketing Management, WebSphere Commerce and IBM Customer Experience portfolios, as described in the press release:

IBM ExperienceOne draws on innovation from IBM research as well as more than $3 billion invested in organic development and acquisitions such as Sterling Commerce, Tealeaf, Coremetrics, Unica, DemandTec, Xtify and most recently Silverpop, a provider of cloud-based personalized marketing solutions. It is delivered with market-leading consulting, agency and system integration services from the IBM Interactive Experience practice, as well as the company’s $100 million investment to open 10 IBM Interactive Experience labs and add 1,000 employees to help clients deepen engagement through data-driven design.

As part of today’s news, IBM added new and enhanced software capabilities that support three of the new engagement solution sets:
  • Understand Your Customers: At the heart of this solution set is IBM’s newly integrated Digital, Behavioral, Social Media and Predictive Customer analytics offering to help clients identify real-time trends based on internal and external customer data. It features new mobile analytics that can replay individual user sessions on both Android and iOS device apps, enabling marketers and commerce professionals to pinpoint the exact moment when a customer decided to browse, buy or abandon a transaction.
  • Maximize Sales, Profit and Loyalty: This solution set helps clients quickly act on insights and maximize customer value using IBM's enhanced omni-channel merchandising capabilities. It enables merchandising professionals to automate price optimization, maintain real-time transparency and competitive pricing across all physical and digital channels to deliver the right offer to the right customer at the right time.
  • Deliver Empowering Digital Experiences: As the gateway to each customer touch point, this solution set is supported by enhancements to IBM’s customer digital experience software. Marketing, sales and service professionals now can more easily leverage dynamic customer, pricing and performance analytics by embedding real-time offers into their mobile, social and rich media experiences. The real-time offer engine automates personalization across the customer experience at scale, increasing engagement, satisfaction and sales.


Putting analytics into the hands of decision makers

As far as analytics has come in recent years, there are still challenges around making sure that the data and analysis gets into the hands of the people who need it most in a timely and easy to understand fashion.

At the IBM Vision conference today, IBM made announcements that will bring us one step closer to making the notion of "analytics everywhere" a reality.  The new technologies previewed today include:

  • An analytics offering now available on the IBM Cloud Marketplace that can manage the increasing volume and complexity of processes and tasks, support an increasingly mobile workforce, and emphasize social collaboration as an integral part of decision making.
  • A new analytic discovery and visualization tool that lets everyday business users visually interact with and apply advanced analytics to big data without needing the specialized skills of a data scientist.
  • Risk and governance software that allows businesses to develop a comprehensive compliance and risk management strategy across a variety of domains, will be available as a managed service on SoftLayer.

From today's press release:
IBM Concert is now offering new cloud-based analytics software available on IBM Cloud Marketplace that can manage the increasing volume and complexity of processes and tasks, support an increasingly mobile workforce, and emphasize social collaboration as an integral part of decision making. By accessing this technology in the cloud, business users can now easily view, understand and interact with specific performance insights to more easily determine what actions to take and when. Remote employees can also contribute and update data immediately via mobile devices, improving accuracy and providing real time planning and forecasting.

For example, a sales manager looks at the Concert dashboard and sees that sales for one product line are running behind plan for the current quarter. The manager immediately recommends an additional sales incentive for the quarter, attaches a few comments, and asks for senior management approval as part of an established process. The CFO, who is out of the office, can use a smartphone to access the expense alert, read all the comments, and review in-context metrics to approve the request.

IBM also previewed Project Catalyst Insight, a new analytic discovery solution that automatically builds predictive models and presents those results as interactive visuals with plain language descriptions.  And IBM announced plans to make its OpenPages enterprise governance risk and compliance family available as a managed service on SoftLayer cloud infrastructure. OpenPages allows businesses to develop a comprehensive compliance and risk management strategy across a variety of domains including operational risk, financial controls management, IT risk, compliance and internal audits. 

See the press release for full details.

Press Release:  New IBM Cloud Technology Puts Analytics Into the Hands of More Decision Makers Across The Organization
IBM Concert 
Video:  IBM Concert (Registration required)

Amtrak Writer’s Residencies - Social media done right

Via @austinkleon (Link to his post with more detail).  Excellent job, @Amtrak.

Amtrak writer’s residencies

Image:Amtrak Writer’s Residencies - Social media done right

Here’s what went down: in his PEN Ten interview@AlexanderChee was asked where he best liked to write:
I still like a train best for this kind of thing. I wish Amtrak had residencies for writers.

That’s it. Two sentences. And then this happened:

Image:Amtrak Writer’s Residencies - Social media done right

IBM Predictive Analytics to Detect Patients at Risk for Heart Failure

More great work coming out of our analytics group, working in partnership with leading healthcare providers and IBM Business Partners.

ARMONK, N.Y. - 19 Feb 2014: IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced that Virginia health systemCarilion Clinic has indentified 8,500 patients at risk for developing heart failure in a pilot project that could lead to early intervention and better care for these patients. 
The pilot was completed in collaboration with IBM, Epic and Carilion Clinic. The results were achieved through predictive modeling of data in Carilion Clinic’s electronic medical record (EMRs), including “unstructured” data such as clinicians’ notes and discharge documents that are not often analyzed. Using IBM’s natural language processing technology to analyze and understand these notes in the context of the EMR, the inclusion of unstructured data provides a more complete and accurate understanding of each patient. The pilot applied content analytics and predictive modeling to identify at-risk patients with an 85 percent accuracy rate. The model identified an additional 3500 patients that would have been missed with traditional methods. Each of these patients might benefit from targeted preventive care.  
IBM’s natural language processing technology – also used in the IBM Watson cognitive system – can understand information posed in natural language and uncover insights from vast amounts of data. Coupled with advanced predictive modeling, the pilot at Carilion Clinic using IBM Advanced Care Insights marks another example of IBM’s leadership in advancing predictive care and prevention.  IBM Advanced Care Insights combines predictive modeling with healthcare-specific content analysis.  

Press Release:  IBM Predictive Analytics to Detect Patients at Risk for Heart Failure

Quantified Athletes: Reducing Injuries through Analytics

Those of you who attended the IOD conference back in 2011 were treated to an interview with author Michael Lewis and Oakland A's general manager Billy Beane, of Moneyball fame (amongst many other achievements).

One comment that's stuck with me was a question tossed in at the very end of the interview.  Billy Beane was asked how it's possible to still get a competitive advantage from the type of statistical advantages he discovered, now that everyone was on to the approach (and, as he commented, now that the Yankees have 21 statisticians on staff.)  He commented that an area he was going to be looking into was injury management.  Just like he discovered that the best way to make use of the precious few 3 outs a team gets each inning was to get as many players on base as possible, a team's players - and their health - is another limiting resource.  Making sure that your players spend as little time as possible on the disabled list can work out to be a big competitive advantage.

Now I will say up front that I have no idea whether Billy Beane is actually pursuing this avenue.  But I did come across an interesting post over on the Smarter Planet blog that highlights how IBM is helping the Australian Rugby NSW Waratahs team minimize their injuries.

Rugby is nothing if not a physically demanding sport, and as Haydn Masters, the Athletic Development Coach for the team notes, it's typical for 1 in 4 players to be injured at some point in the season.  The team is now collecting between 100-250 data variables per player and analyzing it to find patterns of preventable injuries.

This data comes from multiple sources.  A GPS tracker is fitted to each player to measure and monitor intensity levels, collisions, and fatigue during training and matches, and is combined with data from medical screenings, wellness reports and player stats.
Analyzing this data allows us to build a clear picture of what’s really going on; finding patterns of where preventable injuries occurred; identifying the early warning signs; and how we could prevent them. These predictive insights give us a critical opportunity to anticipate an injury and change the variables, including modifying the training regime, or resting a player, to make the chance of injury much less likely.