Peter Farago and Sean Byrnes gave a juicy and surprising presentation about Flurry‘s mobile app analytics at the SDForum Business Intelligence Special Interest Group meeting on 10/19/2010 in Palo Alto. The title of their presentation was: ”Your Company’s Mobile App Blind Spot” and it provided both business and technical insights.
Flurry made a big splash in the news when Steve Jobs got pissed off at them and called them out by name in an interview because they outed Apple’s iPad when it was still a closely guarded secret. (See a short video outtake of the interview at VentureBeat.) Apple responded by changing legal agreements to exclude some third party analytics and some advertising.
Salesforce’s CRM analytics architect, Donovan Schneider, presented an overview at the SDForum BI SIG meeting on May 18th, 2010. Salesforce’s view of analytics is that it should deliver insight that is accessible to mere mortals, real-time, and trustworthy.
James Taylor, CEO of Decision Management Solutions, gave a talk on “Performance Management and Agility” at the monthly meeting of the SDForum BI SIG on Tuesday, April 20th. He argued that traditional BI and performance management result in dashboards that measure and monitor like instrument clusters in cars. But what is needed is something more like the cockpits in airplanes: there should be buttons and levers and so on that enable the “pilot” to act on the information presented by the dashboard. James argued for combining performance management with decision management (a term he pioneered) so that information supports decision-making that leads to action.
The panel on “Analyzing Big Data” at the SDForum Analytics Conference on “The Analytics Revolution” included representatives of two companies that analyze data on a petabyte scale (Joydeep Sen Sarma, Facebook and Joshua Klahr, Yahoo!) and two software companies that stand behind open source infrastructure components that are often used to build analytics platforms (Amr Awadalla, Cloudera/Hadoop and James Phillips, Northscale/Memcached and Membase). The moderator, Owen Thomas of VentureBeat, started off by asking the panelists whether “big data” is a Silicon Valley phenomenon that will soon spread to the Fortune 500 and the rest of the world.
Ronny Kohavi (Microsoft) started out by telling a famous true story about Greg Linden’s experience moving a recommender to the shopping cart at Amazon. A Senior VP of Marketing vetoed Greg’s proposal fearing that it would distract customers from checking out and paying for the items already in their shopping basket reducing conversion. This is where the “HiPPO” in the title of Ronny’s presentation comes from. It stands for the “Highest Paid Person’s Opinion” and sometimes for the person (e.g., the VP) holding the opinion. The Amazon story had a happy ending because Jeff Bezos had established a corporate culture that allowed for experiments to be run so Greg was able to run an experiment to test the hypothesis of the HiPPO. It turned out that conversions did indeed drop but the increased revenue due to customers purchasing recommended items was substantially greater than the loss.
Peter Norvig focused on a major lesson learned at Google and elsewhere in recent years and gave a fascinating keynote presentation on “The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Data” at the SDForum conference on “The Analytics Revolution” April 9th, 2010. The lesson is that data can be surprisingly effective: it can be used to get better performance improvements than one can get from improvements in algorithms.
Jaap Suermondt (HP Labs) talked about how his lab uses analytics to support operations at HP. Jaap started with an example of procurement of disk drives. HP ships two PCs per second and buys more disk drives than anyone else so they have to have accurate estimates of demand. This is roughly equivalent to predicting how the economy and stock market will do. But by combining genetic algorithms and economic and statistical models, HP was able to predict that the economy would improve and demand would improve by five percentage points more than others predicted. This was the subject of a Business Week article and video in 2009 that talked about how earlier genetic algorithms work was revived and applied to this problem.
Jeffrey Kreulen emphasized the question “What is the business problem that you have to solve?” and noted that IBM likes to hire “T-shaped people,” with breadth and depth and also with experience in business as well as technology. Kreulen showed several interesting examples of the work of his group at IBM’s Almaden Research Center. One example involved corporate brand and reputation analysis implemented in a system called COBRA. The system is used by IBM’s global professional services group and parts of it will be included in Cognos. The system uses sentiment analysis and taxonomies and text analytics plus influence analysis to listen to how people are talking about brands.
Sanjay Poonen gave a presentation on how SAP is “Leading the Analytics Revolution” at the first SDForum conference on analytics: “The Analytics Revolution” on 4/9/2010. Sanjay claimed that although SAP is a large corporation, like Gerstner’s IBM, ”the elephant can dance.” SAP is a leader and the largest vendor in the analytics space and considered by Garner to be the most visionary. Their approach is to focus on helping businesses solve their business problems rather than focusing on technology. (continue reading…)
The “New Frontiers” panel at the SDForum Conference on Analytics on 4/9/2010 was moderated by Brett Sheppard (BigDataNews.com). The panelists included Jie Cheng (Acxiom), Vispi Daver (Sierra Ventures), Peter Farago (Flurry), Tom McLaughlin (Accept Software), and Jeff Minich (Calm Sea).