Trendspotting 2013

Dec 2012 HARO Tech Query Word Cloud by BloomThink2012 is gone and there are plenty of entertaining and profound retrospectives from Google’s Zeitgeist 2012 to your very own Facebook year in review. But it is much more interesting to look ahead and anticipate where the market will go based on the trajectory established in late 2012.  Therefore we have performed some deep textual analytics, data mining and business intelligence operations on forward looking data sets to arrive at the following conclusions.

  1. 2013 is the year business adoption of social media starts in earnest.  For many years, technology and innovation have far outpaced business adoption.  As niche players grew into success over the last 2 years, big business interest in the revenue of thos spaces grew as well.  2012 was a year of many notable social acquisitions by big firms. Facebook bought Instagram, Microsoft bought Yammer, LinkedIn bought SlideShare, Salesforce bought BuddyMedia, Google bought Wildfire, Oracle bought Vitrue, and IBM bought tealeaf to name a few.  Undoubtedly you could name others.  Such acquisitions are leading, rather than trailing, market indicators.  As the big companies buy innovation, expect them to monetize their purchases by driving those social technologies deeper into their customer lists and solution stacks.
  2. 2013 is the year organizations move from infants to juveniles along the maturity spectrum.  While social technologies enjoyed the limelight among marketers and consultants, the rest of the organization yawned and continued with business as usual.  That meant email.  Despite pockets of enlightenment, most businesses are just now dipping their toes into the ocean of social business.  Like toddlers at the beach running towards then away from the surf, they are curious about what is out there and convinced that it is amazing.  Yet, as the 2012 IBM Tech Trend Report demonstrates, they are cautious and fearful as well.  Combine a maturing business user with available technology and 2012 – the year of introduction – completed and the stage is set for businesses to do some growing up.
  3. 2013 is the year big data meets big social content and has a social intelligence baby. The match has already been made.  The sheer power of distributed compute systems like Hadoop when brought to bear on the sheer magnitude of social data produce amazing insights. But outside of some basic ERP optimization or network bandwidth allocation, most businesses have largely been left scratching their heads with what to do with all this new information.  Big data has yet to regularly produce actionable insight from all that information.  2013 is the year that unstructured content is brought into the mix.  The combination will produce a small but promising technology trend – social intelligence.  It will undoubtedly be named something else. And what we mean by “social intelligence” is not the best time to post your tweets.  Rather it is the synthesis of big data intelligence, social CRM, CXM, enterprise knowledge and unstructured data that produces the contextual lens through which business decisions are made.  The burgeoning cloud backup market is getting a handle on all the unstructured content in the business.  As they add indexing, search and sharing to their offerings  – as pioneers such as Digitiliti have already done – the availability of enterprise knowledge will become independent from the snags and barriers known today as “check in pages”.  As APIs and integrations become productized the combination of these centralized knowledgebases with big data warehouses will be tapped by enterprising reporting engines and genius data scientists.  There will be many small niche players in this area in 2013.  But those will be snapped up in 2014 and we’ll see a growth in maturity in social intelligence – or whatever it is called – in 2015.

In closing, the image above is a word cloud that highlights terms from forward looking technology queries posed by journalists looking for help writing their stories.  It covers December, 2012 and more than 7600 words.  If the news is to be believed, 2013 will be a year where business has a deep need for expertise, data, security, people who can execute (make) and information is at the heart of it all.  There is also a proliferation of smaller topics that form a milieu rather than remain on the periphery.  Taken all together, 2013 will be a year of learning to use what we have to drive insight we have always suspected was there.  Cheers!

Information Trajectory

trajectory is a sequence (f^k(x))_{k \in \mathbb{N}} of values calculated by the iterated application of a mapping f to an element x of its source (wikipedia).

Put simply, anything that can be measured several times  can be graphed.  That graph reveals many interesting things.  It reveals direction and intensity.  It reveals associations – the sequence is itself an association.

When put in the context of business information, the vast amounts of corporate information we are producing, interacting with and storing yield a wealth of actionable business intelligence when trajectory is mapped over the interactions . Think about how how customers, partners and employees access and interact with your systems.  They browse your website, your blog, your forums.  They order products. They log in and access their order history or support tickets.  They email you.  They search the intranet for documents, presentations and images.  They email you again.

These revelations from a trajectory-based approach hold vast array of  business intelligence that is typically un- or under-used.  The direction of the graph suggests what is coming next.  It also provides hints as to what is close and what is far away.  Intensity suggests speed, interest and need.  The identification of the sequence itself is an incredibly powerful tool.

In browsing the intranet at work I reveal how my mind associates information.  This is a kind of “organic tagging”.  It is not explicit, but rather inherent to the interactions I have with information.  Cultivating that organic tagging by spotting and collecting the patterns of user interaction with information is the next big frontier in enterprise information management.

What are some things  can be measured? How about the documents you looked at in the last week at work.  How about who you emailed or tweeted during the last month, your browser history for your current session.  Most of these things are either currently measured or at least stored.

Lets take a look at an example.  Accessing a product presentation deck and then several images and then updating the internal wiki page for my marketing team suggests that the combination of product information plus some visual representation of it spurs feedback.  What if you took those findings and started placing better graphics with your product descriptions online alongside an easy “tell us what you think” feedback form?  Would your interactions from customers go up?  I’ll bet they would.