Tag Archives: ibm

What’s so special about the IBM + Twitter announcement?

I confess that when the IBM + Twitter partnership was announced a few weeks ago I wasn’t quite sure what was new. We’ve been talking to clients for a while now about the value of social media data and using Twitter as a data source. But after a call with the IBM lead for said partnership it’s all a lot clearer.

A brief discussion on social media analytics

Many organisations, including IBM, will talk about social media maturity in the context of analysing social media data.  (There’s also maturity in terms of sending and replying but that’s a different subject.)  The starting point is to listen: looking for mentions in social media about brand, competitors, products, and so on. That’s the sort of thing that perhaps something like Hootsuite or even Tweetdeck can be useful for.

Next there’s thinking: analysing the data you captured in listening.  And for some this will be purely understanding sentiment about brand, product and service.  And there are lots of tools out there that can help you with this, although – perhaps unsurprisingly – I believe the IBM set is probably the most advanced, especially when you consider the sophistication of our analytics, and the ability to find insight that is statistically relevant. (If you have time take a look at IBM Social Media Analytics.)

This leads nicely to the last phase of acting/doing: using your thinking to define actions such as changing product or services, or perhaps marketing strategy as a result.   For me it’s the application of advanced analytics technologies – such as Hadoop (IBM BigInsights), predictive analytics, and so on – that uncovers some very interesting insight, and identify necessary actions.   I’ve used a lot of buzzwords there, let me make it real.  So, for example, we worked with one client to help them understand how to grow their food attach rates and coffee sales.  We helped one client understand that to keep their investors happy they had to focus on their R&D mix, not their stock price as they had expected.  Another client was able to increase their cross- and up-sell opportunities by understanding upcoming life events such as marriage, birth and retirement.

So, why IBM + Twitter?

Our technologies have been able to take social media data feeds from Twitter and many other networks, blogs and forums for a while.  In a way there’s nothing entirely new there.

This partnership is different because of what’s available to test our theories out.  That is, not everyone is sure that social media data really can be a useful source of information to them.  Hopefully some of the examples I’ve given suggest to you that it does have a variety of uses that lead to financial benefit – and customer satisfaction and loyalty and so on – but I suspect this blog is rarely enough to convince!  So, IBM will usually start with running a proof of concept (POC) project together with a client, to prove the value of the analysis, likely with the analytics technologies set up as a cloud service.   In this agreement with Twitter IBM has access to the full firehose of Twitter data, there is no limitation on what IBM will get, and it will include new tweets, as well as old ones.  This ensures that IBM can more accurately demonstrate value of the analytics to our clients.  There’s no guessing or caveats about what we found because of a restricted data set, or old data.  When we run such a POC we, of course, leave the insight with the client.  (But not the Twitter data.)

This is the only such agreement that has been made with Twitter and means IBM will also be training up an army* of consultants to be experts on the Twitter platform.

Lastly, Twitter data will be offered in IBM Watson Analytics, the new cognitive service that brings intuitive visualisation and predictive analytics to every business user, and Twitter data will be available to integrate with IBM DataWorks.

If you want to know more the IBM press release is a good place to start.

*10,000 apparently.

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It was in the keys

Well, Andy Murray going out was a bit of a shock. I’m still quite sad about it. Having said, that, both Andy and Nadal getting knocked out earlier than expected does make it rather exciting too.

When I heard what happened I immediately went to the Wimbledon Slamtracker to see what the keys to the match had to say about it.

The IBM Keys to the Match system – which is part of SlamTracker – runs an analysis of both competitors’ historical head-to-head match-ups, as well as statistics against comparable player styles.  This allows it to determine what the data indicates each player must do to do well in the match. It does this using predictive analytics based on 8 years of grand slam data and 41 million data points.

SlamTracker said that Andy had to win more than 29% of first serve return points; and he didn’t.

It’s all in the keys.

(There’s a good article in Yahoo about it here.)

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Social is Changing the Future

The believers will read this blog post title and respond “well, duh” and the cynics will say “really? Are you sure?”

Yes, I’m sure.

As I’ve mentioned in a couple of blog posts recently, I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to talk about how Social is Changing the Future to an audience made up mostly of students at the TEDxUniversityofStrathclyde back in May.  What bemused me is that underlying all our talks – without any of us conferring in advance – were principles of social.

After a brief introduction about social not going away I focus on how social enables hypersonalisation so that we are sold to (putting it bluntly) in a much more relevant way.  I then follow up with how social behaviours are now enabling a new approach to trying out new ideas, and that failure may be an option in a way we perhaps had not predicted.  The whole thing is about 10 minutes long.

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Making Wimbledon Relevant

In a previous post I was thinking about some of the exciting things we do with Wimbledon, and I thought it might be useful to add some practical applications of social and analytics in other industries.

I’m not going to talk about Big Data. If I’m honest I don’t really like the term. To me there’s just data. And there’s an abundance of it, some of it we own, some of it we don’t but we do have access to, some of it is highly accurate, some more questionable. There are many types we can make use of, from a variety of sources, in many shapes and sizes.  And a lot of that data can be from social media and from social business platforms – that is, from systems of engagement.

When that data is analysed it can allow you to do something you were already doing but do it better – because you have a better understanding.

It can allow you do something you weren’t doing but is related to a strategic objective such as understanding customer sentiment to become more customer centric.

It can even allow you to do something truly transformative such as real time traffic flow optimisation, as is  done in Dublin.

There the city uses data to identify and solve the root causes of traffic congestion in its public transport network. This means they improve traffic flow and provide better mobility for commuters. Data is taken from a citywide network of sensors, bus timetables, cctv and combined with geospatial data and the gps updates transmitted by the city’s 1000 buses every 20 seconds. Using this, the traffic can be monitored and managed in real time by those who have the responsibility in the city.

Based on the success we are now working on projects with Dublin and our Research organisation to add meteorological data into the traffic control centre so actions can be taken to reduce the impact of severe weather on commuters. We are also developing a predictive analytics solution which will combine the city’s tram network with electronic docks for Dublin’s free bicycle scheme.

We tend to divide analytics into three categories although there are other ways to do it. Those are descriptive – what happened, predictive – what is likely to happen – and prescriptive which not only anticipates what will happen and when it will happen, but also why it will happen, and suggests decision options to take advantage of the predictions.

I see a lot of organisations do the descriptive analytics, whether using more intuitive and interactive dashbords or just, dare I say, excel spreadsheets. Fewer are taking advantage of predictive, and even fewer prescriptive.

So, with the right type of analytics there all sorts of things one could do:

  • We can predict and act on the intent to purchase. It’s possible to identify what customers are researching and send this information to human and online channels. The SlamTracker keys to the Wimbledon game are based on prior player performance, and we can similarly understand customer behaviour and predict likely purchases.
  • We can truly personalise our interactions with the customer.  System U within Watson – needs just 200 tweets to understand an individual’s wants, needs, psychological profile, emotional style, and so on, and this – combined with any other data we may have about a customer – can allow us to tailor the right message for the right customer at the right time.  I talked about this at the TEDxUniversityofStrathclyde recently.
  • IBM helps Thames Water analyse a range of social media channels including blogs, online forums and Twitter to create real-time public opinion snapshots, identifying trends and usage behaviour while understanding how consumers feel towards the brand. But we are taking that analysis one step further and working with other water companies around the world to determine where there is a leak in the infrastructure using social media as a feed.
  • In Toulouse they use social media analytics <French site> to understand where they have a problem with their road infrastructure – pot holes to you and me – and they’ve cut response times down from 15 days to 1.
  • In the Netherlands and the US we’ve applied analytics to social media to understand the likely success of programme and film launches, and to take direct action to change the outcomes.

For Wimbledon data and insight is crucial to the fan experience.  The same can be said of all business, replacing the word “fan” appropriately – “employee”, “consumer”, “citizen”, and so on.

IBMslamtracker

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Who said work isn’t fun?!

In the last fortnight IBM’s Wimbledon in a Box tour has been in Scotland. To jazz things up a little we’ve created our own version of Pharrell’s “Happy”. It’s ridiculous and hilarious.

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June 26, 2014 · 12:11 pm

Happy 25 Years Wimbledon and IBM!

I always think that everyone like’s a birthday and then I’m reminded that there are one or two who would rather forget.

Well, even if you don’t IBM does like a birthday. We celebrated our Centennial a couple of years ago (see this video of all our achievements during that time), and now we’re delighted to be celebrating 25 years with Wimbledon.  (If I’m pedantic I believe it’s our 24th birthday, but we are celebrating working together for 25 years.)

It started when we became official supplier and consultant to The Championships in 1990, and since then together we’ve done cloud – before it was called cloud – and run the website which includes dealing with the fun that happens when the men’s final takes place on the Monday not the Sunday and everyone watches from their work desktop not the TV.

We brought in eCommerce so we can now buy those infamous towels without crossing the entrance at SW19 and even gave people SMS updates of court scores in 2002 long before we all had access to smart phones. Now we have SlamTracker, and the piece I love – the Social Command Centre.  More on that later…

The digital strategy for Wimbledon is “The next best thing to being here”, because despite about half a million people making it through the gates at SW19, nearly 20 million experience it through web, smart phones, tablets and so on.

In a way it starts with data.  And getting the data right.  Of course, the umpire captures the score and drives the scoreboards, which provides some basic statistics.  But IBM captures a far more detailed set of stats such as the direction of serve, speed of serve, return shot selection, number of strokes in the rally and the point ending stroke.  You may have heard that IBM has the biggest mathematics department in the world outside of academia. Well, it seems we are creating our own tennis team too! We have 48 highly trained tennis analysts – county, national and international standard tennis players – who capture the data on the court side.  And we have these people because with an audience of 1.2 billion around the world the quality of the data is absolutely vital and only these tennis players really know what type of shot has just been played and whether an error is forced or not. .

We take data from almost every kind of input data source available such as sensors, counters, video, images, and text.  We also ingest data from social media of all kinds.

And then we do some – lots – of analysis and spit it back out again in ways that are easy for consumers to digest.

So, the data gets sent to the Wimbledon Information System and to the BBC for all the presenters (did you really think they had done all the research themselves 😉 ), to the BBC for the graphics on TV, to the players so they can understand their performance and areas for improvement, and to SlamTracker to make us feel like we are the tennis coaches.

The bit I get most excited about is what we do with the social data that’s available.  This year the Wimbledon Social Command Centre has been launched.  It provides real time insights into social media trends, allowing the Wimbledon digital team to tailor their content according to what fans are interested in. This is all to provide a more engaging experience.  It has cutting edge social media network node analysis to understand who the key influencers are.   This looks at activity versus engagement, dependency, authority, timeliness and followers. And it has practical application, it’s not just a nice to know: on one occasion in 2013 the queue was too long and the All England club wanted to advise people who didn’t already have tickets not to come to Wimbledon that day. Using influencer analysis, the club could discover who had the highest timeliness rating and also strong network authority and could then target those people with communications to get the message out rapidly to the highest number of people.

I’ve already taken part in the Social Hill called Hill v World. The idea is to improve fan engagement on and off-site.  Questions are posed and responses available via Large Screen TV and all digital platforms, including in the Social Command Centre.  Again, this is in support of the next best thing to being there.

You see, social media volumes are increasing exponentially, with a 100% increase in twitter traffic about Wimbledon from 2012 to 2013. It will be fascinating to see how that increases again this year. So, social media has to be a fundamental part of the digital strategy.  Wimbledon has 1.5 million facebook likes, 90K instagram followers, 800K twitter followers and 75K youtube subscribers. That’s potentially a lot of thoughts, opinion and experiences that can be tapped.

(I must stress that social business is so much more than just twitter and social media, but they are a part of it, and are especially interesting from a marketing and customer point of view, and can even inform product development.)

There’s a lot more we do with Wimbledon too.  It takes us 3.5 minutes to provision additional infrastructure when needed, we use Watson to improve the accuracy of those provisioning requirements, and we keep it secure using our Security Intelligence Platform.

There’s a phrase being used a lot these days which I quite like.  It’s “Not your father’s IBM”. Please don’t misunderstand me. We have done a lot of groundbreaking stuff over the last 100 years (see earlier video), all with a lot of relevance.  However so many people still think of us as a hardware business and that we make PCs, and even that we’re old fashioned.  But we sold that PC business back in 2004 and we continue to be relevant and applicable. Our social enterprise software has been named as the global leader 5 years in a row. IBM Interactive Experience is our global digital agency and we’ve recently invested yet more in it – $100M I believe.  In the UK we were announced as number 2 in the Econsultancy UK Top 100 Digital Agencies.

Wimbledon is a great example of that.  Did you know we did so much for them?

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Two for the price of one

I’ve been thinking about this ever since I sat down in a workshop with Sustainable Glasgow to discuss the future of the city centre in Glasgow and what changes are required, with limited resources, to cater for future needs.

The climate is changing, and it’s likely to get wetter and warmer.   Anna Beswick, of Adaptation Scotland, presented on the subject, and some solutions which assist.  Take a look at their website to find out more.

What jumped out at me was the need to implement solutions that can address more than one problem, thus maximising any investment.  For example, green walls and roofs assist with CO2 challenges, but also provide a level of insulation which reduces fuel consumption and therefore costs to domestic households, and to businesses, and carbon emissions by the energy providers.  Of course, this would not be appropriate for every property, but where applicable more than one challenge is being (in part) addressed by one solution.

I know less about these non-technical solutions than ones which are provided by technology, but I believe the principle applies to technology also.  One of the benefits of a system such as IBM’s Intelligent Operations Centre, is that it is a platform which allow reuse of technologies which have been applied to one requirement of a city – and of the learnings from that technology – for additional requirements of the city.  For example, it can be used to integrate asset management of roads and demographic data (typically data held by different functions in a local authority) so that it is possible to work out which roads and pavements should be gritted first in winter based upon the people that use them.  The next step could then be to integrate with CCTV provided by organisations external to the local authority to monitor traffic on the roads, and enhance the gritting plans based upon that.  (Ordinarily this example would be appropriate for this time of year, but perhaps I need to change this to dealing with flooding and floodwater instead.)

Two (or more) for the price of one is always an attractive proposition.

The challenge now is assisting cities with how to allocate cost internally when one solution helping more than one department…

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