Seventhman Blog

  1. The Rise of the Digital Marketer

    "digital marketing trend"Digital marketers are on the rise and many companies are hiring one to be called innovative these days.  You may probably be wondering if this is another buzz word where social media and mobility comes into play.  Thanks to data analytics and new platforms, it is now easier for marketers to reach more audience as they measure the effectiveness of their campaigns to the last number.  But in doing so, one can only wonder if all those big data crunched into quantifiable results can cost marketing professionals the creativity to think spontaneously outside the box.

    Stepping Out of the Siloes

    Is it about time for the C-Suite to step away from the traditional way their marketing is run and shift to the digital space?  When the boundary between marketing and IT diminishes, decision makers must think of ways on how the two can work seamlessly together to help achieve business goals.  If you’re clueless about digital marketing, think of it as a marriage between technology and marketing. For the same reason that we see the rise of the Chief Marketing Technologist in organizations, businesses must be ready to adapt a hybrid role.  One can’t simply focus on IT alone without touching the marketing side of things.  Problem is that not everyone can fill in hybrid roles as it’s tough to find someone who is part-data scientist who can interpret data analytics and part-artist who can come up with creative campaigns.

    Getting Lost in the Digital Wild West

    Do you trust anyone who can offer you the answer to your business needs?  One of the greatest sins every business owner is guilty of is treating marketing as some kind of magic pill that will resolve everything.  You may think that ‘digital marketing’ went up a notch, but it actually isn’t.  The term may sound new, like music to your ears.  Know that there’s no international standards yet in this field.  With too much data for analysis, there are multiple ways to come up with strategies on how to connect with leads.  At the heart of every business is communications and no matter how relatively new digital marketers are to the field, delivering a great customer experience is something that you can’t automate with all the tools and dashboards on the Web.

    Are You Ready to Embrace Digital Marketing?

    You must clearly identify your purpose as to why you want a change in the way you market your brand – online, offline or both.  You don’t simply collect content creators, curators, social media marketers, etc. and hope that everything will fall into place.  That system is bound to fail.  Then, there are terms you need to comply with – from search engines to social networking sites.  If you’re not prepared, you may put your brand value at risk instead.  How do you even know that a digital marketer will help you spread the word about your brand online?  It might surprise you that according to the study: Digital Distress: What Keeps Marketers Up at Night?, 66% of marketers feel digital is critical to their company’s success and yet, less than half feel highly proficient in digital marketing.  Shocking?  Only 9% of marketers are confident enough to say that what they’re doing works.

    The Moral of this Story:  We are living in a data-driven age and companies now have the luxury of getting their hands on customer information.  Digital marketing may just help you make informed decisions in which platforms to use so you can reach the right audience with your marketing message… at the right time.  That needs work and there are just no shortcuts.

     

     

     

  2. Are You Ready for the Big Data Transition?

    "big data challenge"Much has been said about big data that it feels like a giant black hole pulling you into a world of confusion.  If there’s one thing that business owners and network managers could agree on, it’s this: They’re not ready yet… in facing these big transformations in technology, namely: big data, cloud, security, mobility and data management.  The biggest challenge now is how can you prepare for the future of big data – today?  The government may know everything about people using the internet, but they may also face the same challenges.  How can you really adopt big data solutions to enhance the way you do business?  That’s the bottom line.

    When Talent Scarcity Meets Big Data Hype

    It might surprise you that many are feeling overwhelmed with the surge of unstructured data in their organization and they are struggling to understand how all these petabyte of data can add value to the business.  While many are looking at Hadoop as the core of all the big data efforts, data grows faster in a blink of an eye and dashboards are becoming too complicated for the common user.  Keeping these data is already a huge challenge for data managers and finding someone who can filter the clutter gets more frustrating each day.  Coupled with mixed messages about the big data hype and a small supply of talented data scientists, you begin to wonder if you can still find that ‘sweet spot’ where knowledge and productivity merges.

    The Growing Demand for Big Data Workers Continues

    The next big thing for data professionals is big data – of interpreting data analytics into actionable insights to help improve customer relationships, products, services and eventually, drive new opportunities.  There is a real demand for this talented workforce, but the supply cannot meet it.  Big organizations often look for talents in-house or train their people to learn on-the-job skills by collaborating with those who are offering training courses.  Nurturing your team with the right toolsets and knowledge is just one solution to getting things done.  There’s also the question of what type of cloud technologies should be used to get the most out of these big data initiatives –  whether to go private or public.  Then, there’s the quality of these services and the security of data gathered.  As you can see, everything’s interconnected.. and a failure of one means a failure of all.

    Big Data Challenges: Addressing the Real Issue

    The problem that many businesses are struggling with is not just understanding big data – but how to make it work.  They may even be halfway through their big data plans right now.. and are simply clueless on what and why they’re doing it.  A great data analysis doesn’t equate to great execution.  Still, there’s a huge potential on integrating information of any scale, from any source.  This will call for effective management, from top to bottom.  It’s all about integration – of business and IT, of unstructured and traditional enterprise data.  Problem is, when big data experts are called in to help, managers are often left out of the process.  You can’t expect these data scientists to add value without collaborating with those who make front-line decisions.  The two must work hand-in-hand.  There’s no other way.

    It is only when business and data experts work together that they will come up with a clear strategy that yields results.  Would you agree?

     

     

  3. Business Automation: The Only Way to Move Forward

    "business automation"How many years have you been in business?  After all this time, have you optimized your processes to make sure you run things efficiently?  It might surprise you, but there’s a vast majority of entrepreneurs out there who are running their businesses.. the brick-and-mortar way.  I even know of someone who still keeps his inventory in pen and paper because it has been convenient all along.  I asked him if he might consider changing things to digital and there’s a puzzled look on his face as he replied: “Why should I even do that when this system worked for us all these years?”  I can only imagine if he starts automating some of these cycles, like the invoices and order shipment.. the time saved can be used for growing other aspects of the business.

    When Change is Inevitable

    While there is a fast migration of software applications, digital has become the new norm.  With big data getting bigger each day, those who haven’t made the switch are losing opportunities.  The rule is simple: Whatever your business is, you  must convert to digital.  It’s a smarter move to improve internal and external business processes, integrate systems, manage huge volumes of data – and modernize all applications pertaining to your enterprise.  This will not only save you valuable time, but it also helps improve your relationships with your customers.  Because it will be easier for them to contact you through various digital touch points, it will also push for a positive customer experience.. leading to a good word-of-mouth about your business and increasing your brand visibility on the Web.  The only hurdle to achieving this is your irrational fear of change.

    The Case of Business Automation Explored

    Are there repetitive tasks that will benefit from automating certain steps?  Imagine getting a call from client x and you have to retrace previous transactions your team had with this person.  You check your archives, flipping folders until you found the file.  After this interaction, you fill up details in the form like what the rest of these paper files look like.  How much time it took you to do just that?  Things would have been simpler and quicker if you can retrieve data by entering the person’s first and last name – wouldn’t it?

    If there’s one thing you need to know about computers and software, it’s this:  They do NOT define your business.  Instead, they complement it.  These eight reasons should be enough for you to consider automating your business processes:

    1.  Automation is a great shortcut for routine work.
    2.  You get to help the environment by getting rid of all ( or almost all ) of the paperwork in the office.
    3.  Having a bird’s eye view of your business is now possible so you can stay updated with progress at every level.
    4.  Tracking and managing project workflow is now easier, ensuring that you deliver quality product/service all the time.
    5.   Getting rid of double entry in most forms when you can access the same info in your computer
    6.   Having document templates and macros will help your employee work faster
    7.  File management is a breeze – helping you quickly access and store accurate data
    8.  You can minimize human error through smart programming that will send out an alert to your team when they haven’t correctly filled the form

    Automating One Bite at a Time

    The next time someone asks you how you can eat an elephant in one sitting, tell that person you will do so.. one bite at a time.  Likewise, check which department has the highest clutter that you would want to automate in your business.  For example, if you are offering yearly subscriptions, ask someone to design a system for you that will automatically generate a sales tickler based on renewal dates – so you can send timely reminders or promotional.  Without such a system, you would normally have to track this manually with a spreadsheet.  You have to discover what your pain points are so you can ask for solutions that will merge your workflow processes.  You may ask your existing systems to be modified or you can start from scratch.  No matter, keeping things simple while meeting the needs of your business makes for a win-win situation.

    Are you struggling to figure out how you can seamlessly migrate from manual to digital?  Just ask and I’ll do my best to give you an answer.

  4. Can Big Data Save Our Planet?

    "big data save planet"March 23rd marked another historic event across the globe as countries participated in Earth Hour 2013.  What has this to do with my post today?  I am a big data enthusiast and my eyes are set on how big data will be the biggest driver in sustainability to date – that is, if security is combined with clean technology.  Imagine the vast potential on how big data can provide a solution that doesn’t only power businesses, the people.. but the entire world.  Can big data save the planet?  Definitely.  There must be a middle ground somewhere where security won’t be compromised in the name of cost.  We are getting closer each day in managing large streams of data in a safer environment that runs on projects utilizing a clean energy ecosystem.  It’s a tough challenge to take, but the initiative is growing.

    Big Data Saving Lives

    It’s not news that big data saves time and money.  But, what seemed like a hype can actually save lives.  Imagine a huge city that uses high volumes of information that help reduce fatalities on roads.  This is already happening in Edmonton.  In times of emergencies, people have been using social networks to reach out.. or unite for peace in major uprisings.  Thanks to big data, real-time data is more flexible, allowing a two-way street for both businesses and consumers.  Medical researchers have been using information that helped them aggregate data faster so they can come up with treatments against deadly diseases.  Big data is also harnessed in programs dedicated to collecting data about the environment for scientists around the world to help in economic and political decisions that will reduce negative effects against the planet’s rich bio-diversity… and the list goes on.

    Why the Long Wait?

    According to this recent survey on Big Data and the Public Sector, real-time big data can save the government at least ten percent each year.  Law enforcement can gain a lot when tools will help them develop models that can predict where crimes are likely to occur.  Insights from volumes of data can help connect the government with the public – making sure that its citizens voices are heard so that key services can be improved, which comes with a higher satisfaction rate.  But just like the vagueness of the term ‘cloud’ – big data is also wrapped in controversies where people are primarily concerned about their data falling into the wrong hands.  It’s already annoying how user data is used to target ads based on their online behavior.  No one wants to feel this vulnerable when we hear of security leaks and hacks every week.

    Big Data in a Changing World

    You don’t have to be big to make a huge difference in the world.  While ROI is still a major concern for those who are investing in big data solutions, the mere fact that it can save lives should make sense as to why it should be adapted.  Organizations should rethink how they perceive the relationship between business and IT.  The Web runs on data and for us to know what the world needs in terms of using data for the common good – one has to integrate efforts across political, technological and cultural perspectives in a transparent manner.  It’s not just about finding developers who can build the backbone for this data that matters, nor relying on data scientists to analyze data itself.. but, it’s all about finding new ways in exploring data that have never been tried before.

    It’s a long way.. and we’re surely getting there!

  5. Big Data or Big Lies?

    "big data myth"Would you agree if I say that 2013 is the year of big data?  There were talks on big data last year and now, it’s the center of data analytics as we know it.  Both private and public sectors alike would want to tap into predictive analytics, of having access to information that can be used not only in growing business and customer base, but also to enhance homeland security, law enforcement, finance, health care and a whole lot more.  The race is on in finding value in the vast volume of data, like ripe apples ready for the picking.  We’ve only scratched the tip of the iceberg and we haven’t unlocked big data’s fullest potential yet.  One can only ask if outdated policies can really keep up with these new technologies (soon?)

    Responding to the Big Data Challenge

    Are Fortune 500 companies making big data investments like some digital gold rush?  One thing is for sure, business decisions are now data-driven and they need to measure what they want improved.  Simply put, data is everywhere and the world just got bigger as we see structured and unstructured data proliferate online documents, websites, social media, mobile and relational databases.  To be highly productive where big data is concerned will mean finding the right data scientist to interpret things accordingly.  The issue here is not so much about a lack of talent where big data initiatives are concerned, but organizational alignment – of making sure that business and technology will work together for a common goal.  This is still a work-in-progress among many who are trying to manage data and create an environment with the greatest probabilities of success.

    Big Data, Bigger Myths

    Just as there’s huge enthusiasm over big data, there are those who call it a hype.  I was just reading this post by Matthew on how President Obama really beat Romney – and it’s curious to see bias in the interpretation of data presented.  I’ve been following all these talks about the big data buzz and compiled these myths as follow:

    1. Size matters – Not really; bigger volumes of data doesn’t necessarily mean it’s valuable.

    2. You Have to Know Hadoop – while this open-source Apache software is great for working with big data, you don’t need to master it just for you to leverage customer data to improve your business ROI.

    3. It is Unstructured – which is not really accurate.  Big data is multi-structured as it can come in any (and many ) forms

    4. It’s only used for analyzing social feeds or user sentiment – which big data can do, but it has more to offer than that ( This article on Forbes shows you other ways of using big data ).

    5. There’s an Ultimate Solution – The complexity of big data shows us that there’s just no silver bullet to solve it.  You need to have a dynamic environment to effectively collect, manage and draw insights from big data

    If you collect quality data, you’ll get quality results.  While these myths abound, let me say this: Knowing is Better than Guessing.  Like it or not, big data is here to stay.  It may be a tough road to take as you switch from information overload to focused data.  In the end, everyone wins.  Just take a holistic approach, be open to new data patterns and integrate the old into the new.

    Then, reap bigger rewards..

  6. Is Too Much Data Bad for Your Business?

    "data overload"While participating in another live #custserv chat on Twitter this 28th, I have been intrigued by this post from HBR blog that was shared by @ValaAfsharWhat Data Can’t Tell You About Customers.  How often do businesses really understand customers in a human level, and treat them not just some bunch of numbers?  There are vast amounts of information created these days that are supposed to help in business and customer intelligence.  Big data is fast becoming a household name where tech is concerned.  While these data can expose patterns in consumer behavior, the real issue is that it only shows you the tip of the iceberg.  There’s so much more to scratch beneath the surface.

    The Curse of Information Overload

    Our brains are equipped to handle just enough information before it reaches a breaking point.  Why does this even matter?  While new tools are created to aid in the gathering and analysis of consumer data where your product or service is concerned, studies suggest that you can only handle a few key details.  This means that too much information can lead you to making bad choices and decisions which will carry a detrimental effect to your business.  Though these data mined can be presented in some vanity metrics made to impress, that doesn’t mean what you see will be interpreted correctly.  You only have the what, where, when and how of things, but you are missing the most important link of them all – Why do your customers made those choices?

    Do You Really Know Your Customers that Well?

    In the race to automate the data gathering and interpretation process, we often neglect connecting with customers on a deeper level.  Understanding people is something that’s still a hit-or-miss among many businesses.  Customers are not just a token of transaction; you have to build trust and strengthen relationship with them to inspire brand loyalty as well.  The real issue here is that when we do surveys about our customers, we over-analyze things and assume that some factors weigh more than the rest.  This is why we see certain images or words in abstract things because our minds are designed to fill in the gap.  We can get carried away with the research we do, where we tend to emphasize minor details and irrelevant data.  The more we do this, the more we push ourselves away from getting to know our customers and hitting our goals right.

    Data Don’t Lie.. But Perceptions Do

    A perfect example how data misinterpretation can happen is the unemployment rate.  Governments may boast of lowering down the statistics, but if you ask those who are out job hunting, you might get a sneer.  When Oracle shared its report, From Overload to Impact:  An Industry Scorecard on Big Data Business Challenges , it is quite alarming that executives are saying they’re unprepared to handle the increase in data they gather.  Is it a surprise that businesses are losing revenue because they are challenged when it comes to managing and analyzing these huge amounts of info?  The numbers can be right.. but the way we interpret these are influenced by our beliefs, culture and external factors.  It’s like trying to decipher planets from stars just by gazing at the clear, night sky with our naked eyes.

    How do you separate what really matters from all of that data noise?  Perhaps, it’s time to rewire your brain and start on a clean slate..

  7. NoSQL: A New Breed of Database Explored

    "nosql"There’s a lot of talk about big data these days that a novice can easily get lost amidst all that tech talk.  Are we really ready for this?  The subject is becoming a hype lately, but that doesn’t mean another fad coming our way.  The big data movement is here to stay and data scientists are finding new playgrounds to thrive in, where intelligence is gathered from all that volume, speed and variety of data traveling on the fifth plane.  With Red Hat joining the emergence of NoSQL lately, we will just see how companies will maximize their applications and lessen the need for added relational databases.  The only question we need to ask concerns standards of how this new solution can sustain the need for cheap storage that is bundled with high performance.  Gone will be the days of slow hard drives and RDBMS.. because NoSQL is the crown of the internet superhighway.

    NoSQL Seen Through the Lenses of a Business POV

    To say that relational databases like MySQL, Oracle and MS SQL Server are dead is way too early.  In time, these may fade into a memento of the past.  Countless businesses are using these right now and it has proven to be effective in storing information.  But of course, these are not perfect.  Dealing with huge amount of information presents new challenges and the bottom line is, when an unprecedented amount of data is created, what good is it if you can’t utilize these data for your business?  In an ideal world, database technology should scale horizontally – something that is fast, agile and simple no matter how large the volume of data is.  With a good data model, like an open source, that can be run anywhere (virtually) on the cloud, this can mean easy access, easy deployment and high availability in an era where people are searching by the trillions.  If you’re a business dealing with massive amount of customer data, like an ecommerce site, that would mean faster results, less downtime, less IT costs and simply, less work.  The ‘pay as you go’ model that NoSQL users get means big savings over time.  Take for example those that provide cloud service with NoSQL offerings, it takes only seconds to use without having to worry about data configuration, nodes, clusters, scaling or data recovery.  Now, this is getting too technical.  Let’s say you have a site that gets millions like that of Digg’s.  I know it’s not normal, but having noSQL means having a peace of mind, whether you’re scaling from megabyte, gigabyte, petabyte or any  size of data that you may have.  The last thing you want is for your system to crash and for you to  lose important data in the process, that is, if you’re still doing it the traditional way.

    A New Era of Transformation is Here

    The only thing relevant to these changes is your perception of big data.  NoSQL brings us a new kind of freedom from the pains of relational databases.  While some are just a few key-value data stores, others are built on XML, The truth is far more simple:  NoSQL is NOT a buzzword; it exists and it will continue to thrive because there’s a demand for it.  The size of this market may not be known right now, but as soon as companies see the light of how beneficial it will be to their business, we will see a growing acceptance for these NoSQL databases.  Because the truth is, as your data starts to grow, you will need more space to store it and a faster way of updating and accessing it, which may not be delivered by the old way of managing data systems.  The real challenge is to see brick-and-mortar companies adapt to this change and finding top caliber data scientists to play with these new tools.

    Is NoSQL the Ultimate Answer to the Big Data Problem?

    Because every day.. data grows. There are so many manuals to learn and yet, so little time.  What good is data if you will not manage and analyze it?  The real problem may lie with choosing the right database solution for your business.  While there are those who love the idea of a non-relational, non-structured SQL, there are those who are saying that the level of risks are high.  There are errors to correct and upgrades to do just to sustain a project.  Just because talks of NoSQL is hot these days doesn’t mean you have to choose this technology.  Yes, data is increasing, from structured to unstructured, and you may need a new way of managing it.  You need to evaluate thoroughly the pros and cons of running something that’s relatively new.  For all its flexibility and scalability, I’d say it’s not really a one-size-fits-all solution for all.

    In the end, it’s all about the idea of delay… which you can’t simply have when you’re running a business 24×7.