New InfoWorld Data Insights post: make sure your data is housebroken

Chien_errantMore new content on the InfoWorld Data Insights blog:

Make sure your data is housebroken

And here is the teaser:

You’d never come home with a dirty, pest-infested and untrained puppy you randomly pick in the street. So why would you bring into your systems unclean, ungoverned data of dubious origin?

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Monitoring shopping with good (old) new methods

droneThis coming Friday is marking the kickoff of the 2014 holiday shopping season. After feasting on turkey and pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving and watching a football game, many shoppers in America will rush to the stores at the wee hours of the morning to snatch the best discounts of Black Friday or will wait for midnight by their computers in order to beat other shoppers to Cyber Monday’s best deals. In other countries, where we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving this week, holiday shopping is following a similar pattern anyway.

And of course, financial analysts who are tracking the performance of the retail sector will be watching every move. The official numbers may not be out for several months, between consumer spend indexes and quarterly earning reports, but traders want to buy their way into advance information to get an edge. And they do this with a combination of good old practices – and new, advanced technology. Continue reading

The segment of one

DimplerI was at Strata + Hadoop World in New York last month, but did not notice this presentation in the agenda (FWIW, I don’t think O’Reilly’s conference agendas are easy to read nor attendee-friendly). But then, I somehow stumbled onto this excellent piece by Virginia Heffernan on Backchannel: Big Moose Is Watching You. It tells the big data customer segmentation story of Maine-based outerwear retailer L. L. Bean. Obviously Virginia is better at navigating the conference agendas than I am, and was able to relate this story told at Strata.

I won’t repeat what’s in the article, which is definitely worth a read. Just maybe summarize the conclusion: your marketing is much more efficient if you are targeting the customer with the exact products they like and are interested in. It’s “know your customer”, but elevated to the power of 10. This reminds me of another story I have heard of fine-grain customer segmentation. Continue reading

Big data: a means or an end?

plastic_bottlesIf we had to pick one technology that has been capturing the attention of everyone lately, I think Big Data would qualify. But what is big data, and more importantly, why do we care so much about big data?

A lot of focus today is placed on the data itself, and on the tool chain that enables big data (the cost-effective and innovative thing). One can’t help but wonder: is big data an end in itself? Sure, Hadoop is cool, but what is it really used for? At the end of the day, why are we collecting, storing, processing, analyzing all this data? Have we become data collectors? Continue reading

The perfect storm

perfect-stormI started toying with the perfect storm idea and how it applies to our space, back at the end of 2013 when I was working on a time-honored exercise: predictions for the coming year (see this article in IT Briefcase: The Perfect Data Storm, Fueled by Big Data & Hybrid Cloud, Looms for 2014).

It takes a blockbuster movie to explain a scientific concept to the public (I’ll probably talk some day about Moneyball). But the meteorological phenomenon known as the perfect storm was revealed by the namesake movie featuring George Clooney. Then a Bostonian, I knew a thing or two about nor’easters, so the movie struck a cord. Continue reading