2012 – A Big Year For Big Data

Summary of the Big Data landscape in 2012

Looking back on 2012, it’s sure been an amazing year for Big Data. Several high profile headlines have enabled Big Data to move from a niche to a mainstream (i.e., beyond IT) topic and have accordingly sparked interest in understanding its full potential. Following are a few of the most notable Big Data stories of the year.

London Summer Olympics

Managing an event on the scale of the Olympic Games is always a challenge. But London was the first Olympics in the era of Big Data that could tap into evolving technologies to improve the experience of athletes, spectators, and the global fan community. This includes everything from overall event security to logistics/transportation management, real-time information sharing, and social media optimization. Here’s a great infographic from Forbes highlighting the scale of Big Data from the 2012 Olympics:

Source: Forbes London Olympics Get Gold Medal for Big Data (Infographic)

Health Care

Health care is a prime opportunity for Big Data to leverage predictive analytics, and we have only begun to scratch the surface. So much data is generated yet it is far too siloed to act upon given its varied structure. Pioneers began to take significant steps in 2012 to tackle these challenges and set the stage for future milestones to be reached. Imagine if Big Data could help find a cure for cancer. It’s a true possibility. In addition, fitness devices like the Fitbit are enabling individuals to capture and analyze their own data. The intersection of human and machine data presents incredible opportunities. Here’s more from Wired.

The US Presidential Election

The Obama and Romney US presidential campaigns each leveraged Big Data to reach their respective voter bases. Given some very close but critical precincts, a laser-focused approach was required to reach voters who could be the most influential, either from a financial contribution or voter turnout perspective. Does the name Nate Silver ring a bell? The New York Times blogger and statistician seemed to have more capabilities than either campaign as he ended up successfully predicting outcomes in key battleground states. This demonstrates the power of accessible Big Data.

Here’s more on Big Data and the election from The Guardian.


As more and more data is aggregated, analyzed, and reused, privacy has become a very hot topic. Aside from Twitter, which is widely understood to be a publicly exposed social media channel, companies housing less public user data such as Apple, Facebook, Google, and Instagram dominated headlines in 2012 as their dynamic privacy policies coupled with high-profile exploits caused confusion among their customers.

More from Rack59 on responsible use of Big Data.

Looking Forward to 2013

What will 2013 bring to the world of Big Data? Given the pace of change, it’s certainly difficult to predict.

Here are my top five predictions:

  1. We will continue to see advancements in technology and capabilities for managing and analyzing Big Data.
  2. This will lead to more use cases, more rapid value, and undoubtedly more controversy around privacy.
  3. Organizations will emerge to help manage your data preferences across multiple organizations – think the unbiased role and (ideal) transparency of a credit bureau. A recent article from The Economist shows that “Data Lockers” are already emerging.
  4. The Cloud will take center stage from a Big Data infrastructure perspective.
  5. Real-time access to Big Data will lead to a new level of personalization in popular channels like Facebook, particularly from a mobile app standpoint.

One Week ‘Til Dreamforce 11

One week from today, the magic begins all over again. That’s right, it’s time for what Salesforce calls The Cloud Computing Event of The Year!

It really is amazing to see how much the event has grown over the years and how broadly it has expanded in scope beyond core CRM functionality aka the Sales Cloud. That’s a testament to the integrated partner ecosystem Salesforce has carefully crafted alongside its expansion of integrated offerings (clouds).

This year, focusing almost exclusively on a Marketing and Social track, there is a rock star lineup of industry thought leaders.

Dreamforce has essentially created a conference within Dreamforce based on attendee personas.

Customer intelligence? You bet!

The post-PC era? No!

There’s been a lot of talk recently about HP’s abandonment of the TouchPad tablet and its openly expressed desire to spin off its larger PC business signalling the beginning of the ‘post-PC’ era, especially given its leadership position in the industry.

I firmly disagree.

Tablets are cool. But they only go so far. From a content consumption perspective, the user interface is great. But what about heavy lifting applications – content creation, graphic design, hard core analytics? The list goes on and on. This is where the role of a tablet as a complementary or extension device, not a replacement, becomes clear.

Multi-tasking, security, durability, upgradabilty…the tablet clearly is not here. How many people have abandoned their PC’s *completely* in favor of a tablet?

The PC still has a place in this new world. And it’s certainly evolving to meet the challenge. But it’s definitely not dead.

Disclaimer: I work for a PC company. This expresses only my personal view, not that of my employer.

Intelligence Guy Does The San Francisco Marathon!

How can my passions for running, travel, and (of course) customer intelligence collide? The answer is the San Francisco Marathon!


I love to run. This year, I ran the second SF half marathon event. Last year I ran the first. So, I’ve covered all 26.2 miles – just not all at once. The San Francisco course is truly amazing, full of breathtaking scenery.


I was born to travel. San Francisco is one of my all-time favorite destinations. There’s always something new and exciting to see, the weather is cool with a mix of AM fog/PM sun, and there are plenty of friends to meet up with. Of course, a direct flight from RDU to SFO would make it even better. Wink, wink @RDUAirport 😉

Customer Intelligence

As a repeat attender (and CI professional) who hopes to make The SF Marathon an annual tradition, I captured some interesting insights about the day while monitoring social channels to help make future events even better.


  • Sierra Nevada Beer Garden (but some said it closed early)
  • Mile marker designs
  • Timely responses to Facebook posts
  • Half it all challenge medals
  • Hotel partners
  • Race shirts
  • Spectators
  • Volunteers
  • Weather
  • Location

Areas to Improve:

  • Half finishers who didn’t receive half medals
  • Delayed confirmation emails
  • Printed requirement for confirmation emails given ‘paperless’ event
  • Non-downloadable finish videos
  • Process for switching events
  • Ultralyte – gritty drink on course
  • Mobile app + updates – too infrequent

Notable comments from others (priceless):

  • Girl stuck in porta potty during first half screaming ‘let me out’
  • The devil offered me beer and I refused 🙂
  • The sign that read “you are kicking Betty White’s ass”
  • The little girl who was maybe 7 or 10 years old holding a sign that said “HTFU”

Final IG score 9/10. See you next year!!!

Looking for the Future of Marketing Operations?

Having completed my MBA at Duke just over three years ago, it takes A LOT to motivate me to enroll in a formal course – let alone a university course. In January, however, I found such motivation from Gary Katz in the form of his course entitled Marketing Operations 2.0: From 2011 Tactical Discipline to 20/20 Strategic Vision.

The official description of the course reads:

“Marketing Operations 2.0 (MO 2.0) helps corporations get more out of marketing and marketers have more fulfilling careers. This focused course brings an operational discipline and change management approach to the marketing function. It will literally transform how you are viewed internally and how you see yourself. MO 2.0 enables marketing organizations to leverage strategy, guidance, process, metrics and technology so that they can run Marketing as a profit/value center and a fully accountable business.”

Sound amazing? It truly is! Gary’s course relates to the challenges those of us in Marketing functions face each day based on the ever-changing landscape of the ‘2.0’ world. He presents a solid framework to diagnose marketing effectiveness, develop a plan for expansion and/or improvement of MO, utilizing MO methods, tools, and strategies, and effectively speaking the language of MO. In a nutshell, Gary’s course ROCKS and I would whole-heartedly recommend it to anyone looking for a laser-focused opportunity to engage with others in the emerging field of MO. Gary is a true thought leader in this space and has an energizing personality focused on engaging with students to understand unique perspectives to make the course content even more relevant.

Gary’s course is offered at UC Santa Cruz (Silicon Valley). If you don’t want to wait for the next formal offering, it’s also available any time, on-demand from Marketing Operations Partners. I stumbled upon Gary’s course by following Focus.com and various LinkedIn groups.

Marketing Operations Partners
UC Santa Cruz

Do yourself a favor and check it out! You’ll feel better equipped to face the next MO challenge head-on!

First CMO Survey of 2011 – An Intelligent Future?

The first CMO Survey of 2011 was just released. So, you may be asking …what does this mean for Customer Intelligence?

Good news, of course!

There is a definite up-tick noted in firm spending on Marketing research and intelligence. Combined with an increased focus on social media marketing spend, it is clear that the convergence of the empowered buyer is well upon us – and, more importantly firms are recognizing this reality.

Given these facts, companies need to either ‘plug in’, adapt, and embrace this new environment or step aside and let those firms who truly understand today’s buyers run the show.

Which segment do you want to be in? Food for thought, indeed.

Triangle AMA Marketing Analytics Training Camp!

Today I had the opportunity to attend the Triangle AMA’s Marketing Analytics Training Camp in Durham, NC (RTP).  It was yet another awesome event sponsored by the Triangle AMA Chapter, who was recently recognized as one of the best in the nation!

An all-star cast of presenters, highlighted by Avinash Kaushik of Google, covered a range of analytics topics – each of which I’ll cover in more detail subsequent posts.  In a nutshell, anyone in a Marketing role trying to prove their value (and who isn’t?) and become smarter/more effective can gain tremendous value from this workshop.

From a customer intelligence perspective, each of the topics areincredibly relevant to understanding how to manage the mountains of data available from various channels (web, social, traditional media, CRM, etc.) and translate that disparate information  into actionable knowledge to be used as the basis for strategic decision making.  So, without further delay…here’s the topic line up!

Web Analytics 2.0: Rethinking decision making in a “2.0” world
By: Avinash Kaushik, Analytics Evangelist Google

Don’t Settle for Average – Testing and Optimization
By: Naoshi Yamauchi, Director, Analytics Brooks Bell interactive

Confessions of a data analyst – Lessons for the marketing professional
By: Michael Rappa, Founding Director Institute for Advanced Analytics NCSU

Connecting the dots – tying the offline and online worlds together
By: Jim Hazen, Analytics Director Capstrat

TV, Print, Radio – measuring the impact of traditional media
By: Donna Mercer, COO Howard Merrell & Partners

Understanding the impact of social media
By: Eric Boggs & Adam Covati Argyle Social

Thinking analytically – how to create meaningful measurements and dashboards
By: Dean Shaw, Web Analytics SAS Margaret Escobar, Manager,Web Analytics IBM Norm Cloutier, Director of Analytics McClatchy Interactive

Welcome to Intelligence Guy!


You may be wondering what to expect if you’ve just stumbled upon this blog.  Intelligence, obviously…not lolcats!  Srsly, my postings will focus on several areas of intelligence that are critical to improving life as we know it.  Customer intelligence is a professional focus for me, but other areas – including financial, green, and travel will also pop in occasionally as needed.  At any rate, grab your drink of choice and prepare for some exciting conversations!  I hope you enjoy your visit to my corner of the Web!