Enterprise hits and misses - data-driven use cases, and smart cars gone wrong

Jon Reed Profile picture for user jreed September 28, 2015
Jon's cheeky weekly review of which articles hit (or didn't) - on diginomica and beyond. This week: A buffet of data-driven use cases from Splunk and beyond. Plus: smart cars gone wrong and the pursuit of digital skills. And, your weekly whiffs.

Cheerful Chubby Man
diginomica hit: Splunking for data-driven use cases by Derek DuPreez and Jessica Twentyman

quotage: "At Splunk’s annual user conference this week in Las Vegas I spoke with Greg Hrebek, an R&D engineering director at New York Air Brake’s Dallas facility. He explained that Splunk’s operational intelligence platform, which analyses machine and behavioural data, is helping his company deliver railroad efficiencies that could not be realized by relying on driver experience and intuition." - Derek

myPOV: Several data-driven use cases caught my eye this week, including two from Derek's jaunt to Splunk's annual user conference in Las Vegas. In Data driven, optimized driving strategies save US railroads millions, Derek looks at how New York Air Brake, a manufacturer of air brake and train control system, is changing one of the U.S.'s oldest industries.

Turns out that data-assisted train operators can save millions in fuel based on information such as weight loads, weather, and topography. How? New York Air Brake uses Splunk as part of the driver assist system. Drivers are now supported by prompts and alerts. Beats the heck out of the old way: combing through Excel. Switching to retail, Derek shares how Kurt Geiger fills its boots with Splunk to improve digital performance.

Different industry, same theme - dispense with clunky in-house tools. But in this case, to improve web site performance but solving issues pro-actively, before customers run into them. Our use case stalwart, Jessica Twentyman, chipped in with Data analytics takes flight at UK RSPB. That's the Royal Society for Protection of Birds. Their data gathering efforts support the work of 60 post-doctoral scientists. These sharpies use tools from SAS to analyze trends in bird populations.

When rapid population declines are spotted, conservation solutions are tested and developed. Yes, some of the population decline stats are sobering/depressing, but the RSPB uses this data to propose practical solutions, such as the introduction of Skylark plots – unplanted patches in farming fields which give the species somewhere to nest and forage, resulting in improved breeding rates. Bonus: adorable picture of a Skylark. Diginomica has a use case library chock full o' customer stories, check it out.

Happy children eating apple
diginomica three: my completely subjective top three stories on diginomica this week:
  • Spark outpacing Hadoop? Survey says yes - On the heels of his analysis of the Hadoop maturity survey, Den looks at the data around Spark's momentum surge.Open source lessons abound - hard lessons for vendors with proprietary inclinations.
  • Europe’s Safe Harbor ruling makes life less safe for the US cloud industry - Stuart's got a not-so-happy update for cloud expansion in Europe. Basically a powerful potentate with a gavel has cast doubts on the long standing "Safe Harbor" data transfer agreement, allowing national authorities across the European Union to suspend the transfer of data about their citizens to the U.S. under Safe Harbor guidelines. Can Safe Harbor be updated? Or will companies need to build out European data centers? Stuart will be tracking.
  • The end of the HR paper appraisal trail - Janine tells the story of UK property management firm Community Solution. They junked a bulky paper-based appraisal process for a cloudy one. "No more bulging file cabinets" - sounds like a result to me.

Vendor analysis, diginomica style - Continuing on the Splunk event train, Derek filed two more pieces that pushed envelopes: Splunk admits open source challengers can’t be ignored, but says it has advantage and Splunk’s Marc Olesen: The man offering 100% uptime SLAs in the cloud. And: more on purging paper from process via Phil's DocuSign extends global reach in e-signatures.

Readers also liked Phil's analysis of Accenture's moves with Salesforce (Accenture stakes out the Salesforce industry cloud). Oh, and this whole digital thing is working out for Accenture. Stuart reports on Accenture's strong year-end numbers, with digital revenues up 35 percent year-over-year. Den added another data-focused use case, Druva benefits from Host Analytics flexible modeling, wherein we learn about Druva's success integrating desktop and cloud financial modeling environments.

Stuart struck a social nerve with NetSuite’s Fred Studer – a CMO calling ‘BS’ on marketing, but does everyone buy in? klkjkjkj When I saw Phil's title, Marketo wants marketing in sync with sales, my first thought was, "so do we all!"

But how? Marketo believes marketing automation can help to bridge that gap. A worthy goal - though I suspect we'll see the occasional sales/marketing meltdown post on diginomica for the foreseeable... Speaking of which, isn't that where the omni-channel fits in? Why yes, so glad you asked, says Demandware. Stuart's on the case again in Demandware sets out its omni-channel retail stall.

Jon's grab bag - Though he recently questioned whether software could help deal with the biases of the hiring process, Den gladly ate a few of his words (easy now!) in Behavioral science picks rocket scientists and solves for diversity in hiring. Turns out that Jill Strange, Director, HCM Behavioral Science at Infor has forged ahead with some encouraging results, using predictive behavioral analytics to match needed characteristics with job openings? Results? Reduced gender bias, and diversity improvement of 15 to 30 percent in the hiring of African Americans and Hispanics.

For my final pick, I'll go with Stuart's Digital transformation – a beautiful game for soccer clubs with revenue goals to score, though I must say that whatever brand of soccer my team - the New England Revolution - is playing, it's not a beautiful game at this time.

Best of the rest

Waiter suggesting a bottle of wine to a customer
When smart cars go wrong, and other IoT conundrums by several scribes

quotage: "New high-end cars are among the most sophisticated machines on the planet, containing 100 million or more lines of code. Compare that with about 60 million lines of code in all of Facebook or 50 million in the Large Hadron Collider." New York Times

myPOV: Now a few days from the Volkswagen emissions coding scandal, smarter pieces with more context are popping up. From the New York Times, a three author piece entitled Complex Car Software Becomes the Weak Spot Under the Hood lays out some roadblocks. It's a smallish thing, but I was struck by one factoid about cars with brains bigger than smart phones: a research example of a corrupt mp3 file causing an issue with car brakes. If that's not pause for concern on how we protect ourselves from all this so-called intelligence, then I'm out of intellectual gas.

In Volkswagen And Its Hidden Debts, Steve Denning takes a different tack, examining the forms of debt that companies can get mired in that managers don't have a (good) clue on. Examples include technical debt, regulatory debt and brand debt. A company or supplier can sink quickly when these debts are exposed, right Volkswagen? Ruminating on Dreamforce and its IoT announcements, Ron Milller asks why Data-driven everything remains elusive. But the IoT rollouts march on, as Adrian Bridgwater notes in a sports/retail view, Under Armour's New Workout -- Here Comes The Internet Of (Apparel) Things.

Other standouts

  • Digital skills learnings, and hiring top performers - When I clicked the headline Hire a Top Performer Every Time with These Interview Questions, I expected the usual soggy bromides. But firstround.com did a spiffy job (again). How often do you "grit" at the top of a hiring list, as in: "A history of persevering through mind-numbing boredom." That's straight talk eh? Steve Denning's daughter penned another nice guest piece, Four Secrets To Success For Millennials, drawing on insights from author Michael Mauboussin. Mauboussin's skill and luck continuum is worth a ponder, especially in cases where there is an "invisible bar of competency" and diminishing skill returns if you overstay your welcome. Add more logs to our skills fire via Adrian Bridgwater's VMware on digital skills: hidden truths & the millennial myth. My only beef? Bridgwater quotes Mark Zuckerberg's "The biggest risk is not taking any risk." I said it first, long before Facebook was cash flow positive. I'm too busy to sue Zuckerberg anyhow. Plus I don't have a snot-nosed twin brother.
  • Want real success? Destroy the company-centric customer experience - Fancy a dollop of blaspheme? Then go with Esteban Kolsky, who is always tormenting sacred cows. This time around: the "customer experience" pundits cherish. Actually, Kolsky is fond of the customer experience - just not how your company probably does it (sorry!). As he says, stop using a sledgehammer. Find out more and check his slides. Meanwhile, Constellation's Ray Wang does his part by tossing cold water on the omni-channel (IOT and The Death Of OmniChannel Non-sense In Customer Experience). Wang wants us to purge channel thinking so we can start plotting scenes and scenarios. Works for me. But - please let me know when we hit "mass personalization at scale." I don't think we're there yet. It's not a Delta Airlines hub, I can tell you that much.

Honorable mention

Fingerprint Technology is the Next Privacy Catastrophe - Hmm... is it too late to get my fingerprints back from the government?
Five Differences Between a Technology vs. Business Focused ERP Implementation - I can think of more than five, but I digress...
Critics Still Doubt Facebook’s Free Internet Despite Changes - And so do I. Janis Joplin sang that "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose." Does that sound like Facebook?
Disconfirming eBooks - Bit of a think piece, but I recommend putting in the time to grok the "aggregation theory" described here, and why eBooks are challenging said theory. It's pretty fundamental to how digital is changing business.


Overworked businessman
So this school district in Washington banned the childhood game of tag to 'ensure the physical and emotional safety of students.' Wouldn't it be more efficient to just ban childhood?

I like this author quite a bit, but React May Have Just Ended The Native Vs. Web Debate ends up firmly in the linkbait category. I'll blame his editor for the silly title, and no, the debate ain't over. I sat on How to Use Popups Without Ruining Your User Experience for a couple weeks, trying to figure out if I could grant any kind of exception. But - no. We're more likely to colonize Mars than we are to design a good pop-up ad. I'm afraid the author is lost in the dreaded oxymoronic paradox loop.

Then there is CEO Martin Shkreli of Turing Pharmaceuticals, who acquired the rights to a drug (Dataprim) which treats a life-threatening parasitic disease, then boosted the price from $13.50 to $750 a tablet. We don't have to take a hand poll to agree: Shkreli is the poster boy of a despicable form of capitalism that exploits demand, with a modern "copyright troll" kind of twist.

That practice is as old as the company store and as common as the price-gouging snacks in Westin hotel lobbies and airports - though Shkerli's example does take it to callous heights. The outcry backed him into a PR corner, which he flubbed very, very badly - epically so - before making the right call to lower the price again.

Shkreli could have saved himself a lot of grief by not being an incredible prick, but as Frank Scavo pointed out on my Tweetstream, the problem worthy of this "whiffs" section may run deeper, into generic drug regulation. I'm inclined to agree, and it's a great reminder that our appetite for social shaming is only exceeded by the reality, most recently proven by our lion-hunting dentist from hell, the new Ugly American. Once the outraged mob is satiated through a social beatdown, little of note actually changes. Criticism without follow-through is infotainment, let's just be real about that, shall we? Moving on...

Officially off-topic

On the good tip: I have yet to watch this Ted Talk, but building a telescope that allows us to see the beginning of the universe would be an awesome achievement. Whatever your feelings on Edward Snowden, joining Twitter and following the NSA was a pretty clever move.

I was also struck by the unflinching honesty of this post, How to Judge People. Beats the heck out of "personal branding," whatever that is. Naomi Bloom offered similarly transparent views in her post about turning 70 (Reflections On Turning 70 — I’m Not Going Quietly!). None of us should go quietly!

On the media front, a few summer show reviews to wrap this puppy:

  • Fear the Walking Dead (AMC) - cool concept (a slow motion look at the loss of civilization), baffling execution
  • Ray Donovan (Showtime) - big payoff on season three finale. Liev Shrieber (a college classmate) is a heck of an actor when he has something to do besides simmer
  • Narcos (Netflix) - pretty decent binge-watching if you can handle the hammy voice-over and quite a bit of Spanish

See you next time... Which #ensw pieces of merit did I miss? Let us know in the comments.

Most Enterprise hits and misses articles are selected from my curated @jonerpnewsfeed. 'myPOV' is borrowed with reluctant permission from the ubiquitous Ray Wang.

Image credits: Cheerful Chubby Man © RA Studio, Happy Children © Anna Omelchenko, Waiter Suggesting Bottle © Minerva Studiom, Overworked Businessman © Bloomua, Businessman Choosing Success or Failure Road © Creativa - all from Fotolia.com

Disclosure: SAP and Salesforce are diginomica premier partners as of this writing. Marketo is a diginomica partner.

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