1. What can social media tell us about future retail sales? Quite a lot, actually.

    Michael Haydock, the Chief Scientist for IBM’s Business Analytics and Optimization organization, has been crunching large data sets to determine retail sales patterns over a number of years.  Recently, he’s also started to analyze social media patterns to help fine tune his forecasting.  What he sees for this fall is an up tick in sales of women’s and children’s clothing. 

    To refine the outlook, Haydock’s team added nearly a quarter of a million posts on social media platforms, including blogs, tweets, and message boards, into the analytical stew to discern the expected pattern of shoppers’ behavior in the coming months.

    A self-professed ‘data geek’, Haydock documented the results of this analysis in a post on IBM’s Smarter Planet Blog:

    "My latest forecast, for the third quarter, predicts that the fall season will be moderate to strong (depending on the category) for retailers, particularly in the categories of children’s and women’s apparel, as well as footwear. Despite the economy (which is not as strong as in the 1st quarter of this year), consumers still are showing signs that they are ready to shop – given the right conditions."

    Michael Haydock’s post is part one of a two part series on Retail Trends on the Smarter Planet blog.  The second — Why digital marketing syncs with students - was written by Leeann Fecho,  Marketing Manager for Emerging Media and Loyalty, Follett Higher Education Group. Her job is to keep tabs on what student buying patterns are likely to be in university and college bookstores this fall.  She also makes a larger point about the significant change in buying behavior by shoppers who are constantly plugged in and communicating:

    "Customer mobility and accessibility, driven largely by smartphone adoption, plays a critical role in enabling this fairly new consumer mindset.  Customers can comparison shop in your aisles and tweet about your customer service while conversing with an in-store associate.”  They can share photos of a sweatshirt with friends via text or social networks — and then purchase the same item from your competitor while physically standing in your store. This “omni-channel” environment introduces new problems and questions that must be addressed, i.e. which channel are these customers “in” and how do we reach them?

    Both blog posts underscore the importance of keeping on eye on social media to spot both positive and negative trends and taking quick action to keep shoppers both satisfied and willing to buy.

  2. 08:50 16th Jul 2012

    Notes: 1

    What’s so big about big data?

    You have probably been hearing the term ‘big data’ these days, and you may be wondering what this term really means and why it’s so important. 

    There’s no question we are amassing an ever increasing amount of digital information. Every person in the world with a smartphone is adding to the growing mountain of accumulating bits of information.  And, it’s not just people, sensing devices — like those monitoring traffic or seismic activity — are also playing a key role in the growth of data.


    Jeff Jonas, an IBM Fellow and the Chief Scientist of the IBM Entity Analytics Group recently discussed big data and its implications in an interview with the Data Protection & Law Policy newsletter.  The thoughts he shared with this newsletter are also available here.

    Jonas believes that the explosive growth of data offers both challenges and great opportunity.  The challenges include the management of massive amounts of data as well as dealing appropriately with privacy concerns and the security of information.  The opportunities — to gain new insights in real time and solve seemingly impossible problems — are why big data is so important.

    Jonas believes real time analysis is the key:

    My personal interest and primary focus on big data these days is: how to make sense of data in real time, that is fast enough to do something about the transaction while the transaction is still happening. While you swipe that credit card, there are only a few seconds to decide whether that is you or maybe someone pretending to be you. If an unauthorized user is inside your network, and data starts getting pumped out, an organization needs sub-second “sense and respond” capabilities. End-of-day batch processes producing great answers is simply late!

    Jeff Jonas came to IBM in 2005 when the company he founded in 1984 — Systems Research & Development (SRD) — was acquired by IBM.  For more on his insights into how big data can uncover new insights, watch the short video below.

  3. IBM Fellow Jeff Jonas on why data matters

  4. Do Ninja Polymers wear black pajamas?

    IBM Research has applied advanced knowledge of nano-technology acquired in designing and manufacturing semiconductors to address a serious medical problem — bacteria that have developed a resistance to antibiotics.  MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureas) bacteria pose a great danger to anyone infected.  They are resistant to common treatments and they kill thousands each year.  Since this bacteria evolves to resist antibiotics, they may also evolve to resist the more aggressive treatments as well.

    IBM scientists tried a new angle of attack.  Rather than developing more powerful antibiotics, they reasoned that a treatment could be devised to attack the bacteria using nano-technology to construct polymers designed for just this purpose:

    The “Ninja Polymers” attack only the targeted bacteria and leave surrounding cells unharmed.  They are both biocompatible and biodegradable.  Furthemore, IBM scientists believe that this same technology could be used to improve cleaning agents that are both more effective in sanitizing hospitals, gyms and schools where MRSA bacteria are known to lurk — and also safer than current products that must be handled with care. 

    The short video below illustrates this new approach — and you can learn more about these staph-killing polymers on the IBM Research site.

  5. 09:25

    Notes: 19

    IBM researchers unleash plastic ‘ninjas’ to fight deadly bacteria

  6. 10:03 21st Jun 2012

    Notes: 1

    Safety begins at home

    The world of social media — Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter (among others) — continues to expand rapidly. IBM recently surveyed nearly four thousand consumers in six countries and discovered that 59% of the respondents use social media regularly to stay in touch with friends and colleagues. 

    As we become more socially active online, a key question we need to consider is how to participate without compromising information that we’d prefer to keep private. And, the recent cyber attack on LinkedIn where private information of six and a half million of LinkedIn’s 150 million members was compromised underscores the need for vigilance and preparation.  While LinkedIn members were encouraged to change their passwords in the wake of the attack, the incident is a good example of why taking a number of sensible steps to protect your digital identify is both smart and imperative.  The infographic below offers seven steps to follow: 

    IBM has posted this infographic along with three others including ones on managing and protecting your digital identify and keeping your home computing environment secure on the Go Social. Stay Safe. Be Smart website.  This page also includes a short video that identifies the three types of cyber threats to avoid.

  7. Being flexible has its advantages

    A new IBM global study has discovered the enterprises that are building a more flexible workplace are realizing substantial improvements in employee productivity while reducing costs.  The report on the study issued by IBM’s Center for Applied Insights indicates that one segment of the sample — which the report labels forward thinkers — are reporting productivity gains and cost savings up to 20%.  The report provides insights as to what the forward thinkers are doing to deliver benefits greater than others in the study.  While the study found that their enterprises tended to have a high percentage of remote workers and were required to support the greatest number of devices, it also found that these enterprises started with the development of a comprehensive enterprise workplace and mobility strategy.  In addition, they have also demonstrated a willingness to turn to outsourcing or managed services to help manage the flexible workplace and to support an increasingly remote and mobile workforce.

    As the move to greater flexibility and mobility of the workforce advances, 74% of the CIOs and IT Managers interviewed for the study indicated that they are placing greater priority on the flexible workplace compared to other investments over the next 12 months. They understand that supporting and securing remote work is a challenge that they must address — for not only are the benefits real, but workers are also demanding greater flexibility in where they work and the type of devices they use.  These workers need to have access to the same critical applications and data from mobile devices as they have had in the office.

    The report also emphasizes the critical elements of the flexible workplace: mobility, collaboration, support, and security, and includes key questions that need to be answered in order to increase productivity, reduce costs, and maintain security.

    IBM’s own workforce is highly mobile with thousands of office-based employees moving out of IBM locations to work more closely with clients or in home offices.  And, in the short video below, which recounts IBM’s experience in building a truly mobile enterprise, it’s clear that this move toward greater mobility will continue to build momentum.

    You can access the report — Achieving Success with a Flexible Workplacehere.  And, you can also explore the range of Mobility Services that IBM offers to help clients build the flexible workplace.

  8. 10:01

    Notes: 1

    IBM’s Mobile Enterprise - a Personal Journey shows how IBM is using new technologies, applications and mobile devices to enable a smarter, more productive workforce. This short video shares IBM’s journey enabling a flexible, mobile enterprise.

  9. The wisdom of the executive crowd

    IBM has just released its fifth comprehensive survey of CEOs from around the world.  Based on face-to-face interviews with over 1,700 top business and public sector executives in 64 countries, the 2012 Global IBM CEO Study provides insights into what’s on the mind of leaders today and how they’re addressing the challenges that lie ahead.

    The full study report, Leading through Connections, or a shorter executive summary can be downloaded from the CEO Study website, which provides additional information and research reports that support the findings of the study.

    More than ever, leaders are recognizing the importance of establishing, maintaining, and nurturing connections — with employees, customers, and business partners:

    For some time, businesses have been refining and optimizing their networks of suppliers and partners. They’re streamlining supply chains and creating massive back-office efficiencies. But something just as meaningful has been happening in the marketplace — the sudden convergence of the digital, social and mobile spheres — connecting customers, employees and partners in new ways to organizations and to each other. These changes put pressure on the front office to digitize and adapt but also create opportunities for the organization to innovate and lead.

    The Global CEO Study website includes video interviews of CEOs, as well as case studies and related thought-provoking papers that can help leaders successfully steer their organizations.

  10. 14:36 9th May 2012

    Notes: 3

    The role the right leadership can play in protecting the enterprise

    As the world becomes more interconnected and dependent on information technology, security is a persistent concern that must be addressed not just with eternal vigilance, but with new approaches, tools, and leadership.  Many forward-thinking enterprises are addressing leadership by naming a CISO — Chief Information Security Officer.

    IBM has just completed an assessment of CISOs and other executives charged with protecting vital information assets to find out how they’re protecting the enterprise and what’s on their minds as they look to the future. They indicate clearly that security is commanding the attention of the leadership team, and they’re seeing spending on security increase to meet the challenge.

    IBM’s Center for Applied Insights, which gathered and analyzed the assessment data and wrote the report, found that information security leaders could be clustered into one of three broad groups: Influencers, Protectors, and Responders.

    The Influencers see their security organizations as progressive, ranking themselves highly in both maturity and preparedness. These security leaders have both business influence and authority – and are becoming a strategic voice in the enterprise.

    With explosive growth in connectivity and collaboration, information security is becoming increasingly complex and difficult to manage. Yet, some security organizations are rising to the challenge. Our research reveals a distinct pattern of progression – and distinguishing traits of those that are most confident and capable.

    These forward-thinkers are taking a more proactive, integrated and strategic approach to security, highlighting models worth emulating and the emerging business leadership role of the Chief Information Security Officer (CISO).

    To download a copy of the 2012 Chief Information Security Officer Assessment report, visit the Security and Resilience website on ibm.com.