If Only…

…all arrested drunks were this talented.  My experience was that they wanted to just fight. I think it is a testament to the RCMP officer that he wasn’t automatically cuffed. Being a Canadian my money is on the Hipster being a teensy bit stoned as well. Bob and Doug woulda bin proud…

_MG_2413 Moment of reflection (Royal Canadian ...
Queen's Cowboy

Great drum solo on the safety screen at the end.

PS: I realise it’s a bit off topic but I laughed and laughed. Thanks to Guy Kawasaki at #Alltop for the “find”.

New Media is Definitely Mainstream…

…when Volvo are on it.

A friend – David Newton from Photopositive fame – and I were talking about how to address the lousy service from his dealer. I won’t go into detail but it sounds they were treading well into the grey area between conscientiousness for the good of the customer and downright money grubbing dishonesty. They seemed to have more than a hint of dodgy used car dealer in their business genes.

My advice was to go to the brand owner in this case the UK arm of Volvo as the dealer is just a franchisee at the end of the day. Dave went one better and made a general Tweet about his dissatisfaction and used relevant hashtags. Volvo UK picked up on the Tweet and were straight in touch with him. Eventually I suspect Volvo UK applied shoe leather to the dealers tender areas and that along with a £200.00 Volvo voucher saw Dave a very happy man again.

In fact, They have taken the classic opportunity presented by a problem and turned Mr Newton into a very loyal and impressed customer. It wasn’t the £200.00 (that is nice) but the fact that someone was listening and took ownership of the problem until it was solved that was the real emotional winner. Brand Building  101?

Many people talk a good war with new media. Nice to see that #insidevolvouk is so on the ball.

Volvo FMX-Logo
Volvo FMX-Logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Context is Everything

Contextualising data with software is making me ponder. Doing this well has got to be the Holy Grail at the moment and I have yet to see someone shout from the rooftops that they have a good algorithm for doing so. If I had sussed it I’d be keeping schtum as well though.

“You’ve taken my remark out of context” is an often heard device used when arguing. By making this challenge you are implying that whomever is challenging your statement fails to understand the fundamentals, making it a powerful form of rebuttal. By taking a piece of data out of context when the user is web browsing or shopping is an opportunity that has been wasted forever. It feels intrusive and annoying and at best is just ignored. Just imagine being able to get it right more often than not. £££

When serving ads or upselling to people by using an offering that is timely, relevant and not intrusive , by accurately contextualising the data you hold, is a very tricky process because there is more than one type of context. Personal, cultural, political, social and so on and so forth. it’s a minefield. Presently this is a practise in it’s infancy and what the end user gets is pretty generic. I don’t think it’ll be that long before we see software trying to address the challenge of determining how to contextualise a piece of data by using one or a combination of the types of context.

Trying to do some research using – what else? – Google I typed in “software for contextualising data and serving ads” and was just presented with Ad’s for ad serving software and “experts” to help you (spend your hard earned I daresay). The interesting thing was the images that lead me further in. The point is that w. Google dominating the search market (65% of all searches apparently) then Google are big influencers of context. Cultural, political, social etc. I know of the famous Do No Evil statement. What about unconscious bias thought?  This is an interesting paper by Christian Fuchs in Fast Capitalism – albeit a bit too Marxist for me it raises some interesting points.

Now that’s got me wondering about something entirely different. Hmm, my brain is aching.

Learn from CostCo

I am a member and was perusing the latest free magazine. Whether it’s a promo puff or not there was a very enlightening article. Long before it was fashionable CostCo had a customer centric philosophy. Still does.

This is a logo for Costco.

 

People make a big deal about transformation, customer-centricity (language mangling that only a management consultant could love and perpetuate), customer centred organisations, customer first blah, blah, etc, etc, etc.

The theory isn’t hard. Start with a respect for your customer and ensure that no matter how big the organisation grows that that respect remains. Alone that will shape your growth appropriately.

The learning from this? The respect for the customer starts at the beginning and the focus should never waver.

Contextualisation – the Known Knowns & the Known Unknowns

Suddenly there is a lot of noise  about contextualising data. I was trying to explain this to someone when I realised there was a very personal explanation, and it highlighted the dangers of doing this badly

Prejudice. Good and bad.

Prejudice occurs when you take a (often small)  piece of initial data, generally visual, about another person or thing and then add previously acquired data to form a view, right or wrong. We all do it on a daily basis, we’re human and it’s how we work. The problem comes from the quality of the data added to the only bit of absolute visual- in this case – data. Our brains are stuffed with opinions and experiences related to the image and we happily add them. The result takes a piece of raw data, and by contextualising it with additional – possibly poorly sourced and referenced –  data can lead to a very skewed and often dangerous conclusion.

For an example of good and well intentioned prejudice think of the example from the Highway Code about seeing a football bounce into traffic?  The point is to influence how you contextualise that data. The aim is for you to see the ball and immediately think that it means that there is a higher than normal chance that a child will appear chasing the ball. The idea is that inexperienced drivers make not make that connection soon enough so it is a blatant and worthy  attempt to prejudice their thinking. Ball=kid=cover the brakes.

Businesses are slowly waking up to the fact that it’s not how much data they hold but what they do with it that matters The skill as a person or a business is understanding more about the data that we are turning into facts. The integrity of the data source, how many iterations it has gone through, if it’s been tested, is there enough of it, are all factors that can influence the quality of the contextualisation process. This means not only does the base data need to be clean, well collated, de-duped and generally of a high quality the same holds true for the additional data and processes used to contextualise it. As sentient beings this is an example of how much more sophisticated our brains and programming are over any software program. Think how fast you can take a piece of visual data and contextualise it and then in an instant test your hypotheses, inbuilt prejudices, additional inputs and prior experience and that of others. In an instant you can re-contextualise that initial data and form an entirely different view.

We are seeing the first attempts to do and sell this ability with reference to customer data. The aim is to understand your customer at that moment in time so you can target your offerings or even choose whether you even compete. This is so cool and the people that nail this are going to be v. rich. Why do you think Facebook and Google are valued so highly? It’s not only the data but what the market believes they’ll be able to do with it.

In the meantime, I miss Bush and Rumsfeld mangling the language. It was an easy way to raise the spirits and now they are gone.

Thats Torn It Then

It took several repeats before the penny dropped. Where had I heard the name Bamako before? Where?

I have had an ambition to climb the Kaga Tondo in Mali for over 6 months now that was inspired by an article in Summit magazine about the 10  “must climb” peaks in the world. The Kaga Tondo, the tallest of the five fingers of the Hand of Fatima formation in Northern Mali just looked so very very, very cool. More importantly it was within my very average climbing abilities. I have had my eye off it for a few months now in the drive to get a job and the small fact that I’d need at least £2k. Additionally, the only time to really attempt it is when it is a freezing 30-35 deg C in the desert daytime. That’ll be Jan/Feb 2013.

Deutsch: Hand der Fatima, Felsformation bei Ho...
The Kaga Tondo is the tall skinny one.

Now, with just a month to the presidential election there has been a military coup in Mali overnight. Bamako is the name of the capital city in the South. The South was supposed to be the safer part of Mali and the FCO don’t advocate travel in the North whilst the Canadians seemed far more laid back about it 6 months ago – as Canucks often are – so I thought I’d go in my guise of a Canadian and hope any marauding Touraeg’s intent on kidnapping a worthwhile Western trophy wouldn’t spot my mostly British accent and consider that, as a Canadian, I was a worthless Bob & Doug style hoser. Although things have changed as of late… Now the entire venture seems far too fraught with hazards, which is deeply disappointing.

I don’t fancy being kidnapped and possibly shot because I don’t think that I have rich enough friends to raise a decent ransom.

PS: Interesting fact about the Kaga Tondo… The first Westerner (Todd Skinner I think) to summit the 1600 metre formation found clay pottery on the top….do the math!

Apple Have The Best Customer Service

Image representing Apple as depicted in CrunchBase

At the risk of sounding like a fully paid up Apple mouthpiece you should know that this is being typed on a PC. The same PC is running iTunes as I write.

Nonetheless, it is Mrs S’s birthday later this week. I decided to bite the bullet and buy her an iMac. This is for her, really. Well, maybe a bit for Mini S and me.

Why bother to share? Because buying from Apple is such a great experience. They have really nailed it with the blend of human/computer interaction that I decided on. It was all at my pace, easy, unhurried, the salespeople used their names, answered emails, had an 0800 number to chat on personally, returned calls as promised etc etc. It was just such a pleasure.

There has obviously been a massive amount of thought put into the customer experience and it shows. Well done Apple. I am sure your creations are better in many ways. It is just enhanced immeasurably by the customer service.