Friday, October 31, 2008

Obama's Loss Traced To Sandeep Giri

Hacking can't be any more fun than this during the elections. Anyway, don't let this happen

Thursday, October 30, 2008

A Striking Overview of the Credit Crisis

Thanks to Dan Roam's post, I discovered some more fun entrees from SlideShare's contest to explain credit crisis in 30 slides or less. This one's pretty striking:

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

What is the Cost for Different Phases of Outbound Marketing

A colleague recently sent me an email asking:
I'm trying to find out the cost/spend associated with different phases of outbound marketing campaigns. At a high level, I'm trying to understand the process as,
  • Idea generation/ Message theme discussions (e.g. what is the campaign all about)
  • Associated content generation (web site promotion, hard print material, email
    content summary, (creative + message) generation  )

  • Outbound execution : actual delivery, publishing of hte message
Can you provide guidance as to,

1. If I missed any major step(s)
2. What % of total cost will be allocated to each of the above if you can add the vertical (retail, hitech software, hi-tech mfg etc), it would help me more
Not that I'm an expert, but my response was as follows - see if you agree or better yet, can add in your 2 cents:

I think you have identified the key themes. I tend to think about outbound marketing in the following categories

  • Who will you contact? who is your audience? what is your access to that market? If you want to  go direct (email, direct mail, telemarketing), how are you going to obtain contact information
    -- homegrown lists, purchased lists?
  • Is there a segmentation strategy applicable? If so, what are you costs/efforts to define/implement it?
  • Once you know who you will reach out to, you need to craft your message. This involves figuring out the creative for each media (email layout, direct mail layout, video or radio ad, etc.) and producing it
  • Different elements of the message - creative content, offer, promotion, etc.
  • How will the message get out? What are the different media channels? Are you going to work with an agency that can manage all channels, or do it yourself?
  • How will you co-ordinate the different channels? e.g. someone who got an email offer ends up calling your telemarketing center, are they all in sync?
  • How well are you able monitor your campaigns in progress and how quickly can you respond to feedback?

This is more around anayltics, but a critical part (of course I'm biased :-) -- which is to look at the operational metrics of all campaigns and optimize mainly for 2 things - determine the most profitable/relevant segments and for each segment, figure out the optimal contact strategy

Cost-wise, execution will be the biggest chunk, probably 50-60% of overall cost, closely followed by "target" (acquisition of contact information or markets).  Rest is probably evenly divided.

Monday, October 13, 2008

What went wrong with the market..

A simple and humorous guide to understanding the subprime mess
Subprime Primer
View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: subprime mortgages)

SlideShare Link

Friday, October 10, 2008

Charts and Graphs Soundtrack from PBS Kids

Thanks to Dan Roam's post, and Swivel's post, I'm glad I found this. Start your next "charts and graphs" presentation with this gem from PBS Kids:

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Microsoft's BI Vision: Excel = BI Democracy?

I frequently check out Mosha Pasumansky's blog on OLAP. I learned from his recent post that Microsoft announced 2 very interesting milestones coming up on their BI roadmap - project Gemini (which will be the new incarnation of Analysis Services), and SQL Kilimanjaro release (a move toward column-oriented architecture). If not anything else, check out the presentation video from the 1 hour 16 minute mark -- this is a pretty good presentation of common BI challenges at BI level, and I must say the demo is impressive in how Microsoft is thinking about the BI solution stack going end-to-end from data warehouse to Excel and to a web-based view for general interaction.

As someone who is in the "open source BI land", I must confess that I am a fan of some of the Microsoft's BI technologies - namely Analysis Services and SQL Server. Yes, I have reservations around Reporting Services, or embedding BI into MS Office products like Word, or about bloating a solution with SharePoint and PerformancePoint - but as a common denominator, SQL Server and Analysis Services do provide the best price-performance today for a BI backend solution IMHO.

One of the challenges we constantly face as BI solution providers is to call out which is the most common interface for the BI user. In their demo, Ted Kummer and Donald Farmer are right to point out that if left to their own devices, most people trying to do a data analysis will bust out Excel. Solution providers like me don't like this fact for several reasons (a lot of them may be valid) and try to guide our users towards purely web-based interface to do their analysis. The biggest rationale for this is to avoid various versions of Excel files floating around with multiple copies of data and custom calculations (with no QA) -- and so we like to control by having all BI users access data from a centralized web interface, which is reporting data from a centralized repository -- and that way, we know that users will be guaranteed a "single version of truth", and they will be happy.

Is that true though?

In my own open source BI project OpenI, one of the most used feature turns out to be "export to Excel", so try as we may, there are valid reasons to cater towards a BI user's natural flow of anlayzing data, and let them get their data into Excel.

And in that sense, Microsoft's approach may have its merit in looking at Excel as the piece in the front and center for self service BI. Of course, calling it "democratization" maybe far fetched because this democracy will only be true in the Microsoft Office world, but it is a pretty big world of BI users. And for those who would like to stay far away from the Microsoft Office world, there needs to be equally compelling alternate solutions (open source or not).

If not anything, this thinking from Microsoft is worth for all BI practitioners to consider -- and see the demo. We may not agree with the exact tools used, but the use case, or the scenario, of a knowledge worker finding the data/information they need, analyzing it in an intuitive fashion, and publishing it for their peers to see -- that's a key part of what we're all trying to solve. And unless we make it utterly easy and painless, we still have a long way to go.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

WaMu - "Bank with Confidence?"

This morning I heard Peter Finch on KFOG radio say - "this KFOG news brought to you by WaMu, now a part of JP Morgan; blah blah..", followed by their old tag line - "WaMu, Bank with Confidence".

"Bank with Confidence"? I had to chuckle.

Maybe someone in their advertising will see the irony.