Semantic Technology Is Not Only For Data Geeks

Michele Goetz

You can't bring up semantics without someone inserting an apology for the geekiness of the discussion. If you're a data person like me, geek away! But for everyone else, it's a topic best left alone. Well, like every geek, the semantic geeks now have their day — and may just rule the data world.

It begins with a seemingly innocent set of questions:

"Is there a better way to master my data?"

"Is there a better way to understand the data I have?"

"Is there a better way to bring data and content together?"

"Is there a better way to personalize data and insight to be relevant?"

Semantics discussions today are born out of the data chaos that our traditional data management and governance capabilities are struggling under. They're born out of the fact that even with the best big data technology and analytics being adopted, business stakeholder satisfaction with analytics has decreased by 21% from 2014 to 2015, according to Forrester's Global Business Technographics® Data And Analytics Survey, 2015. Innovative data architects and vendors realize that semantics is the key to bringing context and meaning to our information so we can extract those much-needed business insights, at scale, and more importantly, personalized. 

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Build More Effective Data Visualizations

Boris Evelson
Industry-renowned data visualization expert Edward Tufte once said: "The world is complex, dynamic, multidimensional; the paper is static, flat. How are we to represent the rich visual world of experience and measurement on mere flatland?" He's right: There's too much information out there for knowledge workers to effectively analyze — be they hands-on analysts, data scientists, or senior execs. More often than not, traditional tabular reports fail to paint the whole picture or, even worse, lead you to the wrong conclusion. AD&D pros should be aware that data visualization can help for a variety of reasons:
  • Visual information is more powerful than any other type of sensory input. Dr. John Medina asserts that vision trumps all other senses when it comes to processing information; we are incredible at remembering pictures. Pictures are also more efficient than text alone because our brain considers each word to be a very small picture and thus takes more time to process text. When we hear a piece of information, we remember 10% of it three days later; if we add a picture, we remember 65% of it. There are multiple explanations for these phenomena, including the fact that 80% to 90% of information received by the brain comes through the eyes, and about half of your brain function is dedicated directly or indirectly to processing vision.
  • We can't see patterns in numbers alone . . . Simply seeing numbers on a grid doesn't always give us the whole story — and it can even lead us to draw the wrong conclusion. Anscombe's quartet demonstrates this effectively; four groups of seemingly similar x/y coordinates reveal very different patterns when represented in a graph.
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AT&T Delivers Its Network On Demand

Dan Bieler

I believe that network-as-a-service-type offerings — where customers can control the provisioning and characteristics of their network transport services — will have a long-term impact on those enterprises undertaking digital transformation. Businesses that fail to recognize the significance of quality network infrastructure will undermine their digital business strategy. Secure, stable network connectivity is a prerequisite for using cloud, mobile, big data, and Internet-of-Things (IoT) solutions. As the business technology (BT) agenda gains momentum, CIOs are looking to technologies like virtualization and cloud that create agility by dynamically responding to business conditions. Network infrastructure has been a laggard on this score — until now.

AT&T has unveiled its solution, Network on Demand. It’s the basis for a new category of services aligned with customer requirements, including self-service access, control, and configuration of network bandwidth and features like security, routing, and load balancing. Network on Demand:

  • Gives customers control of network services. Network on Demand offers a completely different customer experience regarding network provisioning. Near-real-time provisioning via a self-service portal makes the customer’s network responsive to business needs.
  • Is a real game changer in the realm of connectivity solutions. As on-demand networks take off, products have the potential to become features on an access pipe that customers can turn on and off rather than remaining standalone "silo production".
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Why IBM Bought The Weather Channel: My Quick Thoughts

Ted Schadler

Today, IBM "has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire The Weather Company’s B2B, mobile and cloud-based web properties, including WSI,, Weather Underground and The Weather Company brand." This deal does not include The Weather Channel programming.

I spent my early cable TV years watching Jim Cantore and his colleagues tell us which storm was about to slam us. We watched while those cheery commentators predicted a massive Nor'easter in Baltimore on my wedding day in January 1996. Oh boy did we get that storm. The city shut down for almost a week. (We just kept the party going.)

So why did IBM do this deal? In a conversations with IBM's Bob Picciano and TWC CEO David Kenny, it became clear that three things drove this deal:

  • Massive amounts of atmospheric data. Digital weather is the most important exogenous data source on the planet. Weather sets the mood of the nation and all us citizens. If you want insight into people's actions, the  global supply chain, and myriad risks and opportunities, forecast the weather. TWC already handles 26 billion API calls for this data each and every day.
  • A powerful data ingestion platform. TWC ingests 40 terabytes of every day, maybe 15 times more data than even Google. TWC's data from sensors, cameras, satellites, radar, and 150,00 citizen meteorologists is the largest source of crowdsourced and engineered environmental data on the planet. 
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Digital Experience Software: Best-Of-Breed or Suite? Yes.

Mark Grannan

by Mark Grannan and Ted Schadler (click to see his post)

The market for digital experience software is rapidly expanding -- as in thousands of vendors in the market – and it’s also converging on a core set of six core capabilities led by content, customer data, marketing, and commerce.

We call this convergence a digital experience platform: software to manage, deliver, and optimize experiences consistently across every digital touchpoint. The cloud, RESTful integration, the relentless demands of digital customers -- and the very high cost of product integration -- are driving this convergence.

So should enterprise organizations take a best-of-breed or suite approach for digital customer experience (DX) software? The answer is, at least for now, “yes.” Or rather, it depends on your specific needs.

In our second round of the Digital Experience Platform Wave, completed in Q4 2015, we sharpened our criteria around both core capabilities and portfolio integration and extensibility.

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Digital Experience Software: The Next Major Packaged Software Market

Ted Schadler
by Ted Schadler and Mark Grannan (click to see his post)
It happened with ERP in the 90’s. It happened with CRM in the 2000’s. It’s happening now with the digital experience software to serve up content and interactions on every screen along every step of a customer's digital journey. 
This highly fragmented and factured market -- amusingly and powerfully captured in Scott Brinker's chaos of vendor logos -- is starting to to converge and consolidate as major software vendors like Adobe, IBM, Oracle, SAP, and Salesforce as well as smaller vendors including Acquia, Demandware, EPiServer, SDL, and Sitecore build or buy the building blocks of a great digital experience. We just evaluated these vendors' digital experience platform portfolio in our Forrester Wave(tm): Digital Experience Platforms, Q4 2015.
Four forces are driving the convergence. 
  • First, digital consumers and business customers need consistent experiences across every channel, screen, and step in their journey. No more passoffs from marketing to commerce to service to loyalty. No more fractured experiences between online and offline channels. No more clunky mobile adaptations.
  • Second, content, customer, and analytics are core assets that span every product category. They are shared assets delivered as software components, no longer bound up in the delivery software.
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Mobile Solutions For The Internet Of Things Raise The Prospects For Edge Computing

Dan Bieler

Source: Forrester

I recently attended IBM BusinessConnect 2015 in Germany. I had great discussions regarding industrial Internet of Things (IoT) and Industrie 4.0 solutions as well as digital transformation in the B2B segment. One issue that particularly caught my attention: edge computing in the context of the mobile IoT.

Mobility in the IoT context raises the question when to use a central computing approach versus when to use edge computing. The CIO must decide whether solution intelligence should primarily reside in a central location or at the edge of the network and therefore closer to (or even inside) mobile IoT devices like cars, smart watches, or smart meters. At least three factors should guide this decision:

  • Data transmission costs. The costs of data transmission can quickly undermine any mobile IoT business case. For instance, aircraft engine sensors collect massive amounts of data during a flight but send only a small fraction of that data in real time via satellite connectivity to a central data monitoring center while the plane is in the air. All other data is sent via Wi-Fi or traditional mobile broadband connectivity like UMTS or LTE once the plane is on the ground.
  • Mobile bandwidth, latency, and speed. The available bandwidth limits the amount of data that can be transmitted at any given time, limiting the use cases for mobile IoT. For instance, sharing large volumes of data about the turbines of a large container ship and detailed inventory measurements of each container on board is completely impractical unless the ship is close to a coastal area with high mobile broadband connectivity.
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Agile Development And Data Management Do Coexist

Michele Goetz

A frequent question I get from data management and governance teams is how to stay ahead of or on top of the Agile development process that app dev pros swear by. New capabilities are spinning out faster and faster, with little adherence to ensuring compliance with data standards and policies. 

Well, if you can't beat them, join them . . . and that's what your data management pros are doing, jumping into Agile development for data. 

Forrester's survey of 118 organizations shows that just a little over half of organizations have implemented Agile development in some manner, shape, or form to deliver on data capabilities. While they lag about one to two years behind app dev's adoption, the results are already beginning to show in terms of getting a better handle on their design and architectural decisions, improved data management collaboration, and better alignment of developer skills to tasks at hand. 

But we have a long way to go. The first reason to adopt Agile development is to speed up the release of data capabilities. And the problem is, Agile development is adopted to speed up the release of data capabilities. In the interest of speed, the key value of Agile development is quality. So, while data management is getting it done, they may be sacrificing the value new capabilities are bringing to the business.

Let's take an example. Where Agile makes sense to start is where teams can quickly spin up data models and integration points in support of analytics. Unfortunately, this capability delivery may be restricted to a small group of analysts that need access to data. Score "1" for moving a request off the list, score "0" for scaling insights widely to where action will be taking quickly.

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Forrester’s Security & Risk Research Spotlight: Stuck Between A Hack & Frustrated Customers

Stephanie Balaouras

Are passwords a dying breed? With every other organization getting hacked, many S&R pros would argue that if passwords aren’t dead yet, they should be. Yet many companies such as LogMeIn and LastPass continue to make strategic acquisitions, proving that interest in password management solutions remain high among enterprises and consumers (check out their press release, here.) It’s hard to have any confidence in a method that appears to be ineffective, frustrating, and highly outdated. Many companies are attempting to gain back consumer trust by offering voice biometrics, multi-step authentication methods, or other authentication alternatives to supplement or replace their existing policies.

Unfortunately, fraudsters are getting smarter and customers don’t want to spend more than 30-seconds logging into their accounts. With the addition of the multiple banking accounts, online shopping IDs, and social media platforms that almost every consumer uses daily, the challenge for these companies to keep all online accounts secure while also providing the painless log-in that customers are demanding can quickly turn into a catch-22. What is easy and convenient for customers is also incredibly insecure, thus making them the perfect bait for cybercriminals.

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Graduate-Level I&O Course: Use Customer Experience Insights To Unshackle Employee Potential

David Johnson
Enough of the platitudes about the virtues of being customer-centric, and the feel-good mantras about listening to customers. Everyone listens to their customers, but that’s not the same thing as operating like you do. Listening and understanding are hard enough in our interrupt-driven business world, but listening, deeply understanding and doing the right things...almost every nigh impossible. Yet somehow there are great companies who keep doing it, and chances are you know who they are. Maybe you’ve thought to yourself: “If I just knew what some of these great companies like Southwest Airlines or Toyota do differently, I could make a difference in my company." Well, here’s your chance, starting today, right where you sit in I&O. But first you must understand that it’s not what they do differently, but why and how they decided to do those things, because that’s their secret sauce and what you'll need to figure out for your company. Sam Stern and I offer some powerful tools to help you do that in our new report: Use Customer Experience Insights To Unshackle Employee Potential.
Customer experience is a product of employee behavior, and I&O shapes employee behavior
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