technology

Big Data

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With so much information out there about Big Data – I thought – let’s just add to it no? What I can tell you is that the data about big data is really overwhelming and without a doubut, posses the most amount of confusion for organizations to tackle.

This infographic gives a great visual and the big picture.

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Big Data: Do Analytics really work?

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It seems that the big buzz word today is “Big Data”.  Every where you turn someone, somewhere is discussing what “big data” means for companies, and digital teams, and business models!  The questions is…is big data working?  By that I mean, as digital strategists, planners, UX ers, community managers…. how does big data really work for us>

The aim of the game is that we are all supposed to be forward looking right?  We’re supposed to be anticipating where we should take things for our brands and tightening that bond with our audiences.  Analytics, for the most part – took place in the past.

Yeah -it already happened.  And it’s not necessarily a predictor of where we should be going, no?  Especially when you consider that people use technology based on what is given to them and not necessarily on how they would like to use it.  I liken that to the debate that companies have around deciding whether to mobile optimize a site or go responsive based on the data around how users visit their site.  If mobile devices show as a lower proportion of the audience visits, then what does that really say about the audience.

The questions becomes – are the users desk top users and therefore that is the user base to cater for, or is it that because the site is only built for desktop experiences, mobile users are frustrated and forced to use their desktops?

Big data means that we have to consider that this data from the past, may not actually be a true reflection of how users want to use our digital properties but rather how they try to use it based on its limitations.  Our job is to think about the future and anticipate those changes or identify the gaps that big data just won’t give us.

We have to be creative in filling those gaps, through survey’s, mapping customer experiences, understanding drop off rates and the user flow that took place before a user leaves a site –  to create the story of what that digital experience needs to be in the future where data doesn’t exist.

Observation as part of Digital Strategy

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observationOne of the most fascinating aspects of digital communications to me, is that more than ever does observation play a critical role in determining an appropriate strategy.

For those who love people watching, well – this is for you!  Being able to observe and make deductive decisions assist in creating insights that will strongly benefit your overall strategy.

Here are 5 reasons why observation is necessary:

1.  People have behaviours.  These behaviours are usually habitual.  If you are able to tap into a human habit digitally, it means that you have found a way of integrating into a users life if what you put forth provides a value ad or solves a problem for them.

2. Observing allows you to identify a problem that a user may not even know that they have.  People tend to compensate a behaviour when they assume that there is no other way to do something.  When you find what that is, you can create a product/service to fill a void people did not even know that they had.

3. You can better understand how the user actually uses something.  Professions such as Information Architecture and User Expereince come from this.  Understanding how people typically use an app or website means that you can design to make it easy to use or teach a new behaviour.

4. You can make it better.  Apple is famous for this.  Every year people camp out for a new iteration of something that is even just a minimal improvement.

5. Data alone does not provide you enough contex.   Numbers in surveys or reports and analytics are just that.  They are numbers.  In order to be able to find insight and create a compelling story for those numbers having actual context and opportunity to obseve how these number fluctuate and for what reasons means that you can make stronger decisions for a better strategy,

All about Storify….

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Storify.comSo… today I participated in a webinar about Protecting Your Brand: The State of Social Infrastructure in The Enterprise, hosted by which was to their credit was incredibly informative.

It looked at the state of social media and what organziations – specfically Thomson Reutors and The United Nations. Through the webinar I received a plethora of tweets and retweets and follows. and very interestingly I received this tweet:

@SocialMediaStef @RickA2Z @ShaLaLaLeigh You’ve been quoted in my #Storify story “State of Social Infrastructure” sfy.co/tiAt  from Rene Lisi.  It turned out that he was able to use many of the things tweeted throughout the webinar to create an online story.

So what is Storify?  I ended up needing to look it up because I thought the end product was super cool. So maybe some of you have heard of this, and if so I am admittantly late to the game. If not, than this post is for you.

1.   Storify allows you to  Collect media from across the web;

2.  Publish on Storify, embed anywhere; and

3.  Share and notify sources, go viral
The best part is that it is free to use!

As a communications person, we are all about the story!  As a digital person – I think I found my new favourite toy.  I think it also such a great way to gain and attract followers as well build your social/digital imprint. Happy Storyifying everyone!

Moving Through Digital Landscapes: One Company at a Time

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The-Changing-Digital-LandscapeIt’s always interesting when you enter into massive organziations and begin to look at how big brands interact with the ever changing world of digital.  Especially when the organization has a complex structure and IT systems that can make digital strategy easier said than done.

I heard an interesting and salient point from someone the other day, that I think really impacts the way that digital people often approach new landscapes and roles. Myself included!

We are often able to come into new environments and quickly “detect” what is “wrong”, or which “process” needs to be implemented/improved, or where there are huge “gaps”.  I put those in quotes because our wonderful changes today are also the major pain points for those that come into replace us tomorrow.  The situation we enter today, was also once someone’s solution for some other issue they were trying to solve yesterday.

Often times, we bring in processes, ideas and stop gaps that are not net new,  but borrowed from previous places.  This doesn’t make us innovative ( A word that digital people love to associate with themselves).   Every new company that you enter will provide you a new digital landscape that you are facing.  This can be something as basic as not having an environment where everyone is working from the same operating system and know very little about digial at all, to incredibly forward thinking places where you feel inadequate because you don’t seem to be on the pulse as much as everyone else is.

When I first began at Rogers media, I felt so inadequate.  I joined their digital team, and as a communications person I had very basic understandings of technology.  In my almost 3 year tenure, I learned so much and at such a quick pace that I was often the only person in many scenarios who had either encountered, heard about, solved through some abstract digital strategy or solution.  In my new role, I am super savvy in an environment that works on antiquated platforms that have limited technological capabilities for core things like search and analytics.

What I am learning every day, is that it has less to do with how forward thinking and innovative I believe I am – but more so in understanding the culture and environment and determining what  digital strategies make the most sense based on the technologies I am working with.  Part of my role involves pushing forward and challenging my team to think outside the box including being current with technology.  However, driving the company into a digital direction that I have seen before may not be the answer that complex matrix type organizations with strong history and culture need.  What is needed is a lot of observation and finding technology solves that can marry old with new allowing for a smoother and more unique transitioning of those landscapes.

The Future of Communications and Marketing in Digital

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digital-communications-interns1Today in the market we see a lot of jobs that are geared to having communications or marketing practitioners “specialized” in digital media.  Is this the way that the industry will move forward?

Here is the thing… in certain regards it makes sense that you have individuals who are familiar with publications, or broadcast and of course digital.  However, a well rounded practitioner should be well versed in all areas of communications.  As we move forward with technology, more and more it becomes apparent that these mediums bleed into one another, and have become tripods with each one depending on the other.

Yes there are definitely shifts in the way organizations spend their advertising/communications/pr dollars, with more moving away from print and into digital.  That being said, it does not mean that all the mediums disappear and one will emerge the champion.  Audiences consume information in so many different ways, and the most  important decision you need to make as a practitioner is where to find them, if that medium makes sense for your target and what you are trying to achieve.

When you divide the three mediums so specifically, you end up with departments that compete for dollar spends based on their specific “specialty”.  I’m not disputing that it does not make sense that happens, but I will say that divisions like that mean that it becomes a personal interest on obtaining larger dollars, rather than whether or not it makes overall sense for a campaign or an organizational objective.

I firmly believe that at this juncture in the evolution of our industry, being a digital specialist should not exist.  I’ve mentioned this before, and I will mention this again – digital is another medium.  It is another tool in the tool belt for marketing and communications practitioners to use.  There should be no reason why anyone on any team should not be familiar with all three mediums, have some exposure to all of them, and have a firm grasp and understanding how they all should be used.

Teams should be educated in all ways that each of the mediums change.  That being said, I also believe that every professional should have a vested interest in self education and keeping themselves current and relevant as well.  The future of digital in these professions is that it will be common place – as it is in every day life already.

It must run in the family….

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390612_10150392575209262_989158474_nWell it takes one to know one right?    It seems that many people in my family (including my own father), has displayed some type of interest in digital in one way or another.  My dad was a computer programmer eventually heading up all things IT, in a time when there weren’t many IT department heads that were visible minorities in Canada.  He was hardcore – I mean programming Cobalt and Tandem and crazy ridiculous things I don’t even understand.  I just remember he would do some crazy things using a DOS screen.  Yeah, I’m talking old school.

This is actually a post to shout out to my cousin who is a native “New Yawker” ( those are his own words ).  His mom and my dad were siblings, and we pretty much spent our entire child hoods being driven back and forth across the US/Canada border to spend summers, long weekends and holidays together.  He is a proud new daddy of the most adorable little baby boy – and with the time off that I have at the moment …  I feel that a visit is in order, along with meeting my… second cousin?  Cousin – nephew?

He too, took an interest in technology – although he had originally set his sights on architecture.  (Much like myself… I had my sight set on a law degree and instead entered into communications, then more specifically digital communications).  He is a CIO and actually works very much in the same field as myself.  He has been a pretty awesome support to me during this difficult time of career transition.

If you have moment, you should take a stroll on over to check out his blog: A CIO’s Voice.  (I’ll be sure to put a permanent link on my blog roll in a bit ;)).  Happy readings!