19
Feb

Facebook adds to its success as a leading medium for online advertisers

2-Color-Design-Hi-Res-100px-widthA couple of articles published recently point to further gains by Facebook as a leader in the media market for online advertisers. The first of these, titled Why Google Should Fear Facebook’s New Product Ads, which was written by Garrett Stone and published on the AdWeek web site, reports on some comments from Tamara Gaffney, who is a Principal Analyst at Adobe Digital Index, about Facebook’s decision to debut a product ad offer.

The key takeaway, for me, in Gaffney’s comments was the ranking she gave to Facebook’s analytics: “Facebook has the best targeting capabilities”. If this is truly the case, then it should not be much of a stretch (for anyone interested in just how organizations of all types can capture the highest value from online content publishing) to see the diamonds to be had from online chatter. This kind of press should provide further incentive to stakeholders in enterprise technology to work harder to refine so-called “big data” methods of containing, and then analyzing both text and binary data.

The second article appeared in Direct Marketing News. The title of this one is Salesforce Becomes Facebook Marketing Partner and is written by Al Urbanski, a Senior Editor for the publication. The significance of a decision of this magnitude by Salesforce should not be underestimated. If they see a much better opportunity mining online chatter from Facebook pages (in complete conformance with what look to be very high standards at Facebook Marketing Partners) and leveraging the other features of the program, at the same time, then Facebook is likely onto something big.

One more point on the comments made by Gaffney from Adobe Digital Index: If Facebook truly “has the best targeting capabilities”, then the social media architecture underpinning its online presentation is very likely to be a key contributor to its success. Somehow Google + is not hitting the mark. This lesson is not likely to be lost, once again, on enterprise computing stakeholders looking to incorporate “big data” and unstructured text data into the information they target for analysis.

Perhaps another entity listening to these messages is Facebook, itself. Why else would they throw substantial resources behind their own Facebook at Work, enterprise social computing effort?

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2015 All Rights Reserved

7
Feb

NoSQL is, for better or worse, inevitable

 

2-Color-Design-Hi-Res-100px-widthThe following comments are based on a literal definition of the NoSQL acronym, “Not Only SQL”. So readers are advised not to interpret my comments as an endorsement of “NoSQL databases” (MongoDB, DocumentDB, etc).

A lot has been written over the last few months on the promise – or illusion of one – represented by NoSQL databases. This commentary focuses on the experience of enterprise consumers who have failed to obtain the results they expected from their efforts to implement a new approach to addressing data and working with it. The consistent thread running through these presentations is an assessment about the quality of the technology – not ready just yet – for prime time. For readers not familiar with this debate, a recent research report from Forrester claimed 42% of enterprise consumers of off the shelf “NoSQL” databases are challenged by them. Reference is made to the Forrester report in an article titled Database drama: Relational or NoSQL? How to find the best choice for you

Perhaps this assessment is accurate. But what if it really doesn’t matter? What if these consumers have no choice but to use other approaches than simply SQL to get at the results they require? In 2015 for prominent consumer brands, this is the case. Just 20 years ago Procter and Gamble, Clorox, Church & Dwight and their peers all looked to television and radio advertising, and print as their promotional playgrounds. Nielsen, Harris and other polling organizations could service this big business market segment with periodic reports, data visualizations, and even predictions produced by algorithms.

But in 2015 retail customers find their entertainment content online. Over the top video does not look to be leaving the scene anytime soon. Cloud SaaS social media options continue to magnetize their interest and speak to their needs with greater accuracy based on personalization technology already in use almost everywhere.

So how does Procter and Gamble crunch these numbers? Do they collect online chatter into columnar database structures for processing via SQL queries? Not likely. In fact it is highly unlikely the Procter and Gambles of the world are even touching online chatter any more. It makes more sense for them to simply consume the predictive product offered by facebook and/or another social media ISV. Sure they will likely look to Oracle, Microsoft, SAP and IBM to run the operation because they have the on-premises infrastructure and RDBMS repositories big consumer brands still need to put together with the massive volume of unstructured data their promotional efforts are producing in the cloud. But without NoSQL methods of addressing so-called “dark data” it is not likely we would be seeing Twitter, facebook, LinkedIn reporting the kind of increases in revenue, and even profit of the last couple of weeks.

Here is another important point to consider when evaluating whether or not NoSQL data structures make sense as a long-term solution for big business, or not: Twitter, facebook, LinkedIn, Google, Amazon and Microsoft all have developed their own version of big data solutions – clusters of servers in a peer computing architecture. Google claims to have invented NoSQL as a method of addressing lots of data. Microsoft has DocumentDB. They are all using analytics developed for unstructured data along with SQL to product the business intelligence the brands need to survive.

Until another medium emerges to challenge online content publishing over Ethernet networks with variants of hypertext NoSQL is simply inevitable.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2015 All Rights Reserved

 

 

 

15
Dec

Who’s losing sleep over NoSQL?

One of the biggest challenges facing product marketing within any business is successfully identifying a market segment. I would argue more businesses fail because they either:

  1. don’t understand their market niche
  2. or can’t articulate a message intelligible to their market niche
  3. The next step is to put together a portrait of an ideal prospect within this segment. Over time, if a business is lucky enough to succeed, this portrait will likely change (perhaps scale is a better word). After all, early adopters will spread the word to more established prospects. The latter are more conservative, and proceed at a different pace, based upon different triggers.

The 3 steps I’ve just identified are no less a mandatory path forward for early stage ISVs than they are for restaurants, convenience stores, or any other early stage business.

But a lot of the marketing collateral produced by early stage ISVs offering NoSQL products and solutions, in my opinion, doesn’t signal a successful traverse of this path. In an interview published on December 12, 2014, Bob Wiederhold, CEO of CouchBase presents the first and second phases of what he refers to as “NoSQL database adoption” by businesses. Widerhold’s comments are recorded in an article titled Why 2015 will be big for NoSQL databases: Couchbase CEO.

My issue is with Wiederhold’s depiction of the first adopters of NoSQL Databases: “Phase one started in 2008-ish, when you first started to see commercial NoSQL products being available. Phase one is all about grassroots developer adoption. Developers would go home one weekend, and they’ll have heard about NoSQL, they download the free software, install it, start to use it, like it, and bring it into their companies”.

But it’s not likely these developers would have brought the software to their companies unless somebody was losing sleep over some problem. Nobody wants to waste time trying something new simply because it’s new. No insomnia, no burning need to get a good night’s rest. What I needed to hear about was just what was causing these early adopters to lose sleep.

I’m familiar with the group of developers Wiederhold portrays in the above quote. I’ve referred to them differently for other software products I’ve marketed. These people are the evangelists who spread the word about a new way of doing something. They are the champions. Any adoption campaign has to target this type of person.

But what’s missing is a portrait of the tough, mission-critical problem driving these people to make their effort with a new, and largely unknown piece of software.

It’s incumbent on CouchBase and its peers to do a better job depicting the type of organization with a desperate need for a NoSQL solution in its marketing communications and public relations efforts.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2014 All Rights Reserved

11
Nov

Marketers look to be succeeding with customer data and have pressing needs to consume more

During Facebook’s Q3 2014 Earnings Conference Call, Mark Zuckerberg, CEO reported $3.2 Billion gross revenue for the quarter, and a 64% year over year increase in their advertising business. In contrast, Google, as Patrick Pichette, Senior Vice President and CFO reported during its Q3 2014 Earnings Conference Call, experienced merely a 20% year over year increase in total revenue from its Sites business and only a 9% year over year increase in its Network revenue.

So it looks like a fair question to ask what’s up at Facebook? From a teaser summary this writer found on the web site for MIT’s Sloan Review, titled How Facebook is Delivering Personalization on a Whole New Scale, Blake Chandlee, Vice President of Global Partnerships at Facebook pointed to customer data as a very valuable asset Facebook has, apparently, learned to monetize much more successfully than Google.

Customer Data includes “[o]nline [c]hatter” (quoted from another short summary on the MIT Sloan web site, this one titled “Online Chatter is Big Data Gold”. The short piece was written by Leslie Brokaw and published online on October 27, 2014). Online Chatter is the stuff users produce when they post to alerts, interact with friends, etc on Facebook. All of this takes the form of unstructured data, which, in turn, has to be manipulated and given shape with tools developed for the big data trend.

The tools are not the subject of this post. Rather, what this writer finds to be important is how Facebook’s reported growth is emblematic of the success its customers have achieved using this “online chatter” to their advantage. Unstructured data, precisely as the MIT Sloan precis presents it, is becoming a very valuable asset.

One can argue this trend is not new. As far back as year ago, ostensible Facebook competitors AT&T and Verizon were said to be jumping into the same market (interested readers may want to check out an online article titled AT&T joins Verizon, Facebook in selling customer data). But not all customer data is the same. It isn’t likely either Verizon, or AT&T can produce the same treasure chest of “online chatter” to rival Facebook.

But Twitter certainly can and appears to be moving in the right direction with an announced first partnership with IBM. We just published a post to this blog yesterday on this announcement.

Google certainly has an enormous repository of a type of unstructured data in its GMail service. Assuming they have access to a comparable capability to anonymize the data, then, one might argue, they are prepared to go toe-to-toe with Facebook. But the contrasting sales growth numbers from the two quarterly reports mentioned at the top of this post point to a looming problem for Google — email just doesn’t seem to be producing as useful a set of customer data. How else to interpret the differences in growth? Pity Google + is not doing better. Google + failure is a big deal and likely to emerge as a major obstacle Google will need to fix.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2014 All Rights Reserved

9
Aug

Enterprise Content Management Platforms Help IT Support Line of Business Unit Thirst for Unstructured Data

Clint Boulton, a reporter for the Wall Street Journal, published a post to the CIO Journal® blog on Friday, July 26, 2013: CIOs Look for Ways to Marry Social Data with Big Data.

We had a hard time understanding the premise of this post. In our opinion “Social Data” is absolutely consistent with “Big Data”, so there is no need to “marry” the two. Unstructured data is at the core of “Big Data”. Today, browsers are the universal client of a very rich and lengthy list of applications. Any content published on web pages (including facebook, Twitter, etc.) falls into the “unstructured data” category and becomes, instantaneously, food for “Big Data” analysis.

What could be more social than facebook or Twitter?

The point we think Clint Boulton is making is really about collecting data from public websites and pulling it into internal business intelligence (BI) tools and processes. Sure, it’s difficult for enterprise IT to help Line of Business (LoB) units collect information from public websites. The content is the property of the website operator and its subscriber.

But this problem would plague anyone trying to collect this information, even LoBs. The real issue comes down to privacy, not a lack of technology to address the problem.

The enterprise IT workaround is to implement a content management system (CMS). We have a lot of experience with Microsoft® SharePoint®, a leading player in the CMS market. Over 80% of large organizations in the private, public and not-for-profit sectors support a running instance of SharePoint. Anything published to SharePoint amounts to web page content. So there is no problem collecting conversations over Yammer, or NewsGator and passing the information through highly effective BI tools built with managed metadata, the Term Store and taxonomies.

But SharePoint is not as compelling as Twitter and facebook, so social data collected from SharePoint may not fit the needs of LoBs. The trick is to implement an internal adoption program so internal users will warm up to SharePoint and opt to interact over its considerable social features.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2013 All Rights Reserved