Beware of Criminals making use of your data .


There is so much conversation about social media, but it is not only network marketing media interested in exploiting iits potential. The criminal elements in our communities, it seems, are too interetsded to see how they can put it to use.

Are you one those people hooked on twitter who tells the world every time you leave home or go to some event.

If you do, think again before you this do next time. You may well be telling thieves to take advantage of you.

In his oz-analytics post this week headlined mining social media, Steve Bennett updated us on a site he found that detail how robbers can now see who is not at home using simple twitter stream search.

For many of us who have our emails on websites and public profiles, we may also seek to simplify our lives in the explosion of social networking. For this can join it all up on Facebook or similar sites. But beware what you include as it does not take super intelligence for someone to use this to put it together and then watch and wait till we tell them the coast is clear.

Any robber with a phone and a twitter account, may get an open invitation from to take what he likes because as we tell him we are not at home. A simple key word search on twitter give easily robbers the scoop on you . If you don’t believe me, do a search and see how many people say they are not at home. The web on the phone also provides maps and satellite photos of your street and your house to make the plundering job even easier And it is even easier with an alerting tool to send an email when someone says they’re not home.

The only issue then is it may get a bit crowded at your house if more than one robber turns up with the same idea.

Selling Snow to the Eskimos


Some years ago, as I walk around my supermarket in Melbourne Australia, I notice bottled water had become a high seller. I wonder as it is known that Melbourne has one the purest water supplies in the world.

Like selling snow to Eskimos this paradox defies logic. But the marketing guys who figured it out cleaned on bottled water as a new phenomenon.

To create this new category, rather than focus on changing buying habits, they did it by selling the value as a health solution with a fashion image built around drinking bottled water. This also leveraged trends in Asia and parts of Europe where water is sold in bottles as the natural tap variety is not so good. This became a brand new industry that got people to part with their money for something that was still basically free and as good from the tap.

That got me to thinking about why people inexplicably change their habits when experts say it cannot be done. Like in clever saying about habit goes something like this:

To change a habit always leaves “a bit:, And then when you try again there is still one more bit, and so it continues.

But before I jumped to conclusion about habits I have figured there are several types…..

There is of course the endemic habit that is there because it has always been so.

For example when I went to live in London in 1970’s I wondered why people seemed to always stand in a queue when they saw one. I learned this was a legacy from World War days when food was scarce. Rationing stamps issued, by the government to regulate shortages, had in turn created a habit in people to joined a queue as it mean they got food.

This type of habit is so hard shift as it lingers even now in Britain having been passed on to the future generations, and in spite of the decades of affluence.

And then there is the leaned habit that may often be based on folk law which in turn may be out of date.

Like the one exposed when an mother’s inquisitive daughter asked why she folded the leg bone back on the ham before she roasted it. “I leaned that from my mum”, she said. Not satisfied the girl went to granny and asked her the same question. “My mother taught me was Granny’s response too. Still determined to find the answer the gild then went to her great grandmother who replied, “oh that is simply; In my day we only had small ovens and it would not fit unless you folded the leg bone back”

This granny’s folk law type habit persists through ignorance and even when uncovered it may still be hard to change.

And then there is the cult habit.

I only began to understand religion well when I lived in a Muslim community and my driver in Indonesia sought my approval to stop the care for a pee. He took with him a water bottle. When I asked about that later, he explained it is part of his religion to clean his penis.

Of course many others follow the same healthy habit but not always in the name of religion. It was then I realized that religious administrations create rules that become habits for the good of the community they serve.

Thinking about changing these is generally impossible and one should never try unless a cult takes hold that places a community at risk.

And last on my list the environment habit

For example in Bangkok the queues of traffic create an insoluble problem. as every day traffic blocks the city unmercifully. It makes no sense to have a car there, yet minions still join traffic jams daily to face the residue of poor town planning of centuries ago that set the habit. I once recall seeing a traffic jam form in Bangkok as people joined it for no obvious reason in spite of alternative routes being there.

The massive networks of freeways that have been built in the last 2 decades have not overcome the problem. Jams continue even with high quality mass transport services in place. Sky Trains, The Underground, Bus and Water Ferry services have all fail to reduce the pressure. Traffic management, still struggle to handle the habits of generations that continue use the now highly taxed motor car

Like many large cities around the world Bangkok is a mix of old and new that sprawls through narrow streets. So like the Londoners, with their food queuing habit, I wonder if the Thais have a deep seeded belief that jams, no matter how painful, in the end are seen as the way to get out of the city.

This type of habit may take an earth quake or some such other unacceptable disaster to bring about change so it always going to be a long hail to fix the symptoms.

So it seems selling change in habits in the market place is a paradox. But by focusing on something new to build a following, does work. as long as the aim is not changing what is, but on creating a new category to bring perceived new value which like Melbourne bottled water, has become the new folk law.

I wonder if using this approach can also change the habits is all our large cities of the world.

BI for data cleansing is high value

imageContinuing the theme on getting BI value,  a recent Forrester article  Getting The Most Out Of BI , warns against getting too excited about lower initial costs in deploying BI options.

Estimates are at least 80% of any BI effort lies in data sourcing, data integration, data cleansing and modeling,. "So while lower-cost BI alternatives will save you some dollars in building reports and dashboards, that’s only 20% of your cost and effort," Forrester says.

Forrester researcher also goes on to say  more effective use of BI tools can lead to more successful sales and marketing efforts. And the technology can also be used to motivate employees by creating performance management environments that reveal each worker’s productivity relative to his peers, stimulating healthy competition. "Not only does such information help workers make better decisions, it encourages them to to improve their standing in the organization."

Once you add a BI tool to an organization the bar is lifted as performance becomes transparent. Cockroaches, as many refer to them and some can be big ones, will always appear in the data as you lift the rocks in a BI implementation. They must be eliminated as they will undermine the value of the BI data and the worth of the tool. If a number is wrong or does not reconcile to another, in a BI environment it gets quickly challenged  As a result the organization ends up with higher quality at all levels.

Underestimating the data cleaning effort is folly and must seen as part cleaning things up that have also been previously hidden. Housekeeping to harmonize data is a constant process and part running the business and not a just a once off. But getting it focused and under managed control is critical and takes time. 

BI projects may well be constrained by data quality at first. But they get the issues in the open very fast and very well so they can be seen. The added cost of resolving then must be recognized and born, but the payback in the end is much higher too.

Harmonizing organization data for easy access.


Harmonizing organization data and getting easy access to information are mission critical values for IT.

These are also quite often hard to meet without a high risk investments to create a data warehouse.

BI tools can achieve this in a low risk way as a natural outcome of seeking business benefits, like increased quality in managing sales growth.

In many organizations IT strategies champion and support BI implementations. Their aim is  to enroll the business to improve this critical back end service as a strategic way to remove constraints that limit achievement of business performance objectives.

It is interesting that our poll, so far, sees responses largely on the business values with these two high value items lagging. (Ralph Eastman – Poling the BI Value)

Perhaps business leaders should consider how they can align IT on the value of BI to IT and challenge this critical function to consider the value they can bring with BI on a wider scale.

Without a solid foundation of harmonized easy to get to data, none of the other values are possible.image

Poling the BI Value

Here is a poll we have being running with clients and prospects. The questions are about the value of business intelligence. You may like to ponder them too and cast an anonymous vote.

If you want to know more about BI please visit us at Shernox Group, business performance and business intelligence specialists.

Integrating supply chain players.

image As the downturns kicked in last year for a while it seemed the music may stop. But then someone said ” Play it again, Sam?”. In our company this has seen some rapid growth in e-demand for our services. This is especially so in support area as customers had deferred investments in favor of making things work a bit longer while things were tough.

As one who literally works daily in 3 continents and in as many languages, I am a fan of the idea that I can collaborative simply with pervasive communicational tools. These days we can also all use then at an easily affordable cost.

For me and my colleagues was are able to do this using our versions of Beam Me Up Scotty communicator to keep in touch on a far wider surface than the conventional quarter imagemile of traditional business. Hence as the demand has changed we are always in touch and  contactable with this capability we now continue to service long standing customers often without the need to even leave home.

For 15 years and more we have been able to connect in some way like this. Both informally and formally alliances and colleagues do business this way and more recently we also do it directly with customers.

Even as they move around when I turn on our computers each morning I have maintained a strong presence that has kept me in touch personally with key contacts and customers on a daily basis.  Daily habits are also subliminal as people come and go online with an in touch awareness that keeps us connected. And once trust is established we are generally all happy to be available to each other at any old time.

But of course the face to face activity will never be totally replaced. For example selling  is a contact process that requires continual reinforcement of trust, and capability. These  credibility assurances are vital to maintain ongoing connections. The ability to listen and anticipate needs is the real key that provides the quality in the dynamics of business. This cannot be done without physical presence so salesman and supply chain players must continue waking around. And without that best laid plans for automated process supply will also fail as competitors exploit any gaps that appear and move in on your patch.

That is why, even though systems give us great contact presence online now, we must never forget to call in on our suppliers and customers from time to time.