Friday, March 24, 2017

Not your grandfather's video

Given the dramatic increase of video content on social channels, marketers are working out strategies to capitalize on the medium. To stand out in such a sea of video content, they key is to not just attract viewers but to keep them engaged. The key ingredient for engagement is interaction, according to Wyzowl, a video explainer company that boast of having created videos for over a thousand companies.


Video Gets Interactive

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

IoT security guidelines

Hello Barbie, one of the connected toys that raises secuirty concerns
The IoT Security Foundation is a "vendor-neutral, international initiative aspiring to be the expert resource for sharing knowledge, best practices and advice." Those resources include the best practice guides, one of which is "IoT Security Compliance Framework." The first version of the framework covers consumer products and markets, but future iterations will cover several other categories, such as medical, automotive and critical infrastructure.
"The IoT is the next evolutionary wave of the internet and, with dwindling costs of technology and low barriers to entry, new products are flooding the market," declared John Moor, managing director of the IoT Security Foundation. The internet of things extends to all kinds of new wearables, as well as connected appliances and smart toys.
The toy category has already raised data privacy concerns, but all types of businesses have to think about privacy issues when designing anything that connects to the internet. What is first hailed as "the 'internet of treats,'" Moor explains, can easily develop into "the 'internet of threats' if these new products do not have sufficient security capabilities."
The question is, What is sufficient security? That's a question the framework seeks to answer with a checklist for users.
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Friday, March 10, 2017

A virtual assistant you can bank on

In early 2016, SEB, one of Sweden's largest banks with a presence in 20 countries around the globe, started integrating Amelia, an artificial intelligence (AI) platform from IPsoft, into its help desk. Amelia is represented by a blond female avatar and is always referred to as "she" rather than "it."
The artificial intelligence platform is built on semantic understanding, which enables Amelia to interact with users through natural language to determine what actions to take in order to answer a question, fulfill a request or solve a problem. She is also designed to learn through observation.
At SEB, Amelia serves as a customer interface with automated interactions that can scale up to meet expanded support needs. "The driver is to find a way to improve the experience for our customers," explains Mikael Andersson, the bank's IT strategy transformation lead.
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Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Voice powered shopping

Like the captain of the Starship Enterprise, we too can now ask a computer for information by talking to it. We can even order tea, Earl Grey, though maybe not at the preferred temperature just yet. As voice activation is being directed toward shopping, there are new opportunities for marketers to explore.
With Siri, Cortana, Alexa, or the Google Assistant available, voice activation and queries have become an integral part of smartphones and smart home technology. According to Thrive Analytics, voice search among smartphone user hit 65 percent in 2015 in the US. That's more than double what it was just two years before, which indicates a very rapid rate of growth. The voice control option is also growing  among users of smart home products
Taking note of this trend, Google is now nudging its Google Home customers to start using their voices for shopping. It recently announced that Google Assistant could not be used by people with Google Home to order a variety of products from over 50 participating Google Express retailers

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Shining light on the dark side of big data

Does the shift toward more data and algorithmic direction for our business decisions assure us that organizations and businesses are operating to everyone's advantage? There are a number of issues involved that some people feel need to be addressed going forward.
Numbers don't lie, or do they? Perhaps the fact that they are perceived to be absolutely objective is what makes us accept the determinations of algorithms without questioning what factors could have shaped the outcome.
That's the argument Cathy O'Neil makes in Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens DemocracyWhile we tend to think of big data as a counterforce to biased, just decisions, O'Neil finds that in practice, they can reinforce biases even while claiming unassailable objectivity.
 “The models being used today are opaque, unregulated, and uncontestable, even when they’re wrong.”   The math destruction posed by algorithms is the result of models that reinforces barriers, keeping particular demographic populations disadvantaged by identifying them as less worthy of credit, education, job opportunities, parole, etc. 

Now the organizations and businesses that make those decisions can point to the authority of the algorithm and so shut down any possible discussion that question the decision. In that way, big data can be misused to increase inequality. As algorithms are not created in a vacuum but are born of minds operating in a human context that already has some set assumptions, they actually can extend the reach of human biases rather than counteract them.  

“Even algorithms have parents, and those parents are computer programmers, with their values and assumptions, “Alberto Ibarg├╝en,  president and  CEO and of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation wrote.  “As computers learn and adapt from new data, those initial algorithms can shape what information we see, how much money we can borrow, what health care we receive, and more.”

I spoke with the foundation’s VP of Technology Innovation, John Bracken about its partnership with the MIT Media Lab and the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society as well as other individuals and organizations to create a $27 million fund for research in this area. 
The idea is to open the way to “bridging” together “people across fields and nations” to pull together a range of experiences and perspectives on the “social impact” of the development of artificial intelligence. As AI is on the road “to impact every aspect of human life,” it is important to think about sharping policies  for the “tools to be built” and how they are to be implemented.
Read more in 

Algorithms' Dark Side: Embedding Bias into Code

Monday, February 13, 2017

V is Video Marketing for Valentine's Day

The National Retail Federation estimates that consumers in the U.S.  will spend $18.2 billion this Valentine's Day. Large though the figure may appear, it's actually down from last year's record high of $19.7 billion. It works out to an average of $136.57 per person. The bulk of it, $85.21, is earmarked for one's romantic partner, and the rest is divided among parents and children, teachers or classmates, friends, pets, and coworkers.
Though gifts of jewelry, flowers, chocolates, and dinners out, still make up the bulk of anticipated spending, there are also other options considered, particularly in light of the expanded categories for recipients of gifts on this holiday. And that means expanded opportunities for marketing around the holiday. The medium of choice for many marketers is video, because of its reach, its engagement, and the metrics on both.
photo from

Thursday, February 2, 2017

The Digital Advance of a Venerable Medical Journal

Since 1840, the British Medical Journal (BMJ) has been associated with health care expertise. Now the brand includes 60 specialist medical and allied science journals with millions of readers around the world.
As a global brand, the BMJ relies on a digital platform to reach its worldwide audience. To keep up with the demands of this growth, it needed a partner to help it meet its needs.
The printed copies of the venerable journal are still mailed out, but the journal also embraces digital technology and expanded reach. It was the first medical journal in the world to go online 21 years ago, says Sharon Cooper, chief digital officer at the BMJ.
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Thursday, January 26, 2017

Billboards are getting smarter

The Future of Smart Billboards

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Want to get a smoker's attention? Try a smart billboard that coughs. That's what a responsive billboard designed to promote smoking-cessation products from a Swedish pharmacy did.  As the
 video of the billboard in actions shows, it looks like a static picture of a man until a smoker gets close enough to trigger the digital screen to shift to showing the same man coughing. That's followed by a picture of the promoted products.Picture a billboard, and likely you think of a static picture with a slogan or some other words on it, or maybe a sort of revolving picture in a more dynamic version. That's old school billboards. Today's technology allows billboards to pick up on essential cues that enable them to tailor responses to the people in front of them. These are smart billboards equipped with responsive  abilities. And there are more developments ahead.

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The Future of Smart Billboards