Friday, January 23, 2015

Bricks and Mortar Transform to Data and the Internet

Today we look at the transformation that retail is under. We experience it every day of our modern lives.  Unfortunately there are those who do not make it. Target Canada announced last week that they planned to close their Canadian operations. They had significantly under-performed in Canada and as a result they are closing all of their stores. In addition Sony will be doing the same and other have like Mexx and others. 

Is the reason that these stores are closing due to the economy? Are they due to the miscalculation of what the Canadian consumer desired? Maybe. I look at it a different way. I believe that the way we consume today is different and as a result the bricks and mortar companies of today need to transform as well. You can look to the Internet to see what we need one needs to provide. You need to have an experience that bridges the online and offline experiences. Consider that Target opened over 100 new stores in Canada but yet they lacked an online website. It is not rocket science. Today I begin my shopping on the web and then decide if I will venture to a store to have a hands-on experience where I can now compare product to the others in the store or I purchase it online. When a company does not even have an eCommerce site I am already looking elsewhere. 

Our almost unlimited access to information means that the shopping experience must address the customer experience from both in-person and online. In a world where data is king and information is power companies and retailers specifically need to provide both experiences to truly embrace a customer. The information you can then gather about your customers and their habit allow companies to exceed the declining traditional business model. All retailer in today’s digital society must provide the service and use the information to drive business and drive value or the bell will ring for them just as it has for Target in Canada.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Data Takes its Rightful Place in 2015

The year comes to a close and as a data professional I look back at it and I see a world which is embracing and rejecting data at the same time. I talk to people who are not in the IT field and they are asking me about data, this is a sign that things must be getting interesting. They ask about Big Data, they ask about data security and privacy of their data and they talk about how data can be used for a greater good, but they are always concerned with what it all means. All of these topics are important and as we embark on the year of Data. 

Data is taking a prominent role in how our everyday lives are being influenced. I see it from the systems-side where we are considering the data that each application generates and captures as key to the value that the application will provide. We live in a world where the datafication of everything is goal. The Internet of Everything is no longer a pipe dream. We need to begin to look at how we can make this happen and 2015 is when many of these aspirations will be realized.

Data requires trust. The concern that many of us have is that we understand the value information can provide. Data and the information and knowledge that it generates means that we can improve the present and change the future. However we need to get better with how we treat and protect data. Security of information needs to be our first priority. If we can protect data from malicious uses we can also provide people with the confidence that their data is being used to help and not harm. Data protection based on the recent breeches at Sony and Home Depot shows us that we must be more vigilant in security. So for 2015 we need to resolve to try and put in place very good data security and to encrypt all the data that we can.  Even something as simple as changing passwords can make a difference. So for data to achieve its full potential everyone must do their part and secure their own local data as well as data you place in the Cloud. With so many forms of data we must ensure we address all data access and all data sharing. Consider if you use something like Google docs. You are abdicating responsibility for your data security to Google.  If Google makes a security mistake they will apologize to try and be better. When others get their hands on your data the story is personal and very different. It can mean the difference to winning and losing in business. So you must question the security of the Cloud and how well you can manage its security. Do not depend on others for your data security. Tough security may provide some challenges but in the long run will be the best for you and for your data. This security will lead to data sharing and truly maximizing the power of data as we relate datasets together in new and valuable ways.

So 2015 will bring us new ways to look at data. Big Data as a technical specialization has arrived and I see more people who understand that it is part of the greater data solution. Big Data does not stand on its own but rather is now a critical part of your overall data strategy. As a result we can bring information together which in the past was not possible.  This is a time where information should drive actions. In the past we looked at data to confirm what we wanted to know. We needed data to provide validation that our work us valuable and impactful. The new paradigm of analytics allows us to consider how to provide better service and solutions based on statistically accurate predictions created to respond to direct questions. The ability to ask the right questions and get the information in a timely manner is the goal which I try to embed within data solutions and which will allow for data to make the impact it must.

And the following Infographic which I recently found shows us how quickly we are generating data in 2014.. and consider that 2015 is only going to get crazier for data so its time for data to take it's rightful place in business.