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

Is Apple going American?

f there’s any lesson we should have learned from our presidential election, it’s that we should not jump to conclusions based on our own possibly faulty assumptions. So I’ll stick to facts and avoid speculation about the report that Foxconn, a major supplier to Apple, is considering a $7 billion factory in the United States.
Though the timing of this news indicates a deference to Trump’s push for manufacturing American products to take place on American soil, in reality, choice for factory sites are not made simply to agree with or defy a presidential preference. In fact, the reports of Foxconn’s exploration of American possibilities predates the present administration.
Back in December 2012, several reports like the one in PC Magazine quoted what Louis Woo, a Foxconn spokesman, told Bloomberg Businessweek in a phone interview: "We are looking at doing more manufacturing in the U.S. because, in general, customers want more to be done there."  
This was a month after the reports about the company’s looking into the possibilities of some American cities as a site for its factory. Of course, nothing has come to fruition, but it is very likely that the seed of possibility emerging at present was already planted over four years ago. This is something to remember when we see headlines that reference Trump.

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Foxconn Factory Potentially U.S. Bound

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Live Video Streaming for Marketing

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“Real time feedback rocks!” wrote one of the participants in the audience to a Periscope presentations by Scott Adams. That observation was prompted not just by the flurry of comments, but by Adams' responses to some of them on the air.
The beauty of live streaming lies the feeling of immediacy and active engagement that is absent in prerecorded programs. That's why live video is gaining popularity in social media. Marketers are taking note and we can expect to see a lot more of it used for brands aspiring to deliver authentic experiences in 2017.

It takes more than snow to work out a ski vacation

Vail Resorts, a leading global mountain resort operator, manages nine mountain resorts and three urban ski areas through its subsidiaries. Given the seasonal nature of the business—during ski season, the staff grows from about 8,800 to 25,000 individuals—managers got overwhelmed by the need to explain the calculations behind the payouts to workers.
Vail Resorts was using the PeopleSoft Human Capital Management (HCM) system. The problems were that data was distributed across multiple systems, and the compensation processes entailed manual inputs with Excel spreadsheets. As a result, there was no easy way to track compensation, which left workers unsure about what their salary and bonus amounts should be.
Tammy Mollhoff, Vail Resorts' HRIS director, explains that this process caused some frustration for employees, and even more for managers, who were asked to provide explanations to workers about what went into the numbers when they didn't fully understand it themselves. To solve that problem, the company wanted to centralize the process in way that would allow the managers to review the figures and then show workers the statements on base wages, discretionary bonuses, long-term incentives and other adjustments.
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Warehousing innovations take off

We’ve arrived at 2017.  Though I don’t recall seeing any technological predictions anchored on this particular year, we can look at what we’re supposed to be working toward with respect to the predictions for 2020 and what has come to light last year.  From that perspective, you can see that warehousing tech is a really hot area right now....
Though clouds refer to the computer kind, there now is the possibility of moving warehousing to actual cloud in the sky. That’s a possibility that Amazon seems to be considering based on the patent for an “airborne fulfilment center utilizing unmanned aerial vehicles for item delivery”  that  that came to light this past December. The airborne fulfillment center (AFC) based on an unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) is no mere drone. It is something much larger like the LCA60T flying whale airship discussed here, though with a variety of options.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

BI when and where it's needed

That was a critical factor in adopting WebFOCUS, Thiery says, because so many people rely on their phones more than on their desktop units. Consequently, reports that are not designed to be mobile-friendly are not as useful.
Generally, the visualizations are reviewed on a weekly basis at leadership meetings. Thiery explains that these meetings are where management "wants to see where we're at and where we're going." The meetings are also where managers make decisions about how many people they would hire.
As a result of the growth AudioNet has been experiencing, it's been adding on a large number of support people to keep up with the workload. "As our volume increases, so does our revenue," Thiery says.
The firm also uses WebFOCUS to analyze financial data. That includes revenue dollars, accounts and claims counts that factor into identifying an upward trend.
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Monday, January 9, 2017

The perks of personalized marketing: Starbucks' use of AI

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“Would you like fries with that?” That one-size-fits-all recommendation was about as far as upselling at the point of sale used to go.  Starbucks has come a long way from that with marketing powered by data — and AI.  It's marketing that is uniquely tailored to the behaviors, preferences, and context of each customer.
Matt Ryan, Starbucks EVP and global CSO, and Gerri Martin-Flickinger, EVP and global CTO discussed the strategy at the company's Investor Day.  He explained the impact of digital on Starbucks sales, while she explained what their algorithms do, in The Digital Flywheel: Strategy and impact.
Ryan began by saying that for Starbucks digital represents the “core customer experience.”  He sees it as what distinguishes their business approach from “the rest of the retail world,” and what “gives us the advantage we have.” As proof he showed how the "digital flywheel" contributed to Starbucks' growth in the past three years, and the increase in its rewards program from five million to 12 million customers.
The incentives in the rewards program is one of the ways Starbucks personalizes its marketing.   Martin-Flickinger demonstrated the evolution of the personalization by showing how it has progressed in just a single year. Its baseline is the form of marketing that many businesses still use today, rooted in historical data that they view in spreadsheets, which in turn powers algorithms to fit their general customer base.
In January 2016, Starbucks' marketing messages were limited to 30 variants of weekly email messages that were based on data that was already two weeks old. In June last year, Starbucks moved to a to a real-time personalization engine capable of producing of 400,000 variants of hyper-personalized emails each week. The company continued to tweak its AI engine so that in October, it was able to launch real-time 1:1  personalized offers that are uniquely generated based on each individual customer's behaviors and marked preferences.

Making attractions more attractive: digitizing the CN Tower

To celebrate its 40th anniversary, Canada's CN Tower deployed new wireless infrastructure, a mobile app and 150 beacons with location services capabilities.

One of the top tourist attractions in Canada is the CN Tower, which is 553.33 meters (1, 815 ft., 5 in.) tall. It opened in 1976 as a communications towers, and to reflect that role in today's digital age, it planned on celebrating its 40th anniversary with a new wireless infrastructure and the CN Tower app.
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