Monthly Archives: October 2006

Customer Driven Collaboration

First off, if I misspell things or don’t make much sense, its cuz I feel like garbage from a miserable cold that has me in its tentacles. With that being said, on with the Show!

As part of the ongoing Long Tail project saga, we’ve started to veer more into concept of the long tail of ideas. We came up with this theory a few weeks ago, just now starting to get it on paper. The theory is around the idea that companies typically have only been tapping into the intelligence and experiences of their subject matter expert(s) within that organization for ideas, which in Long Tail speak is likely the head of the tail. However, what happens if you tap into the long tail, meaning harnessing the power of the masses for creating ideas and innovation through collaboration? This goes back to the book I read this summer before the grad school onslaught, called “Wisdom of Crowds” by James Surowiecki. Surowiecki’s premise is that the collective wisdom of a crowd is on average more intelligent than one expert would be.

Much like the Long Tail looked at how retailers struggled with the limitation of physical shelf space, companies have long suffered with only being able to tap into their internal employees for ideas and innovation. The internet has allowed companies to draw from the great collective that exists online and do so in a collaborative way. This cumulative effect of tapping into all of the diverse knowledge and experiences to come up with ideas has the capacity to at least rival what is found from the experts. An expert can only know but so much, no matter how good they are. This means collaborating with customers via a bunch of the Web 2.0 apps, can lead to better products that is driven more so by customers, rather than some suit in a office.

This was really the way we finally figured out how to relate the Long Tail to human resource management, meaning that to embrace the Long Tail of ideas, an organization needs to change to embrace it. In doing so the corporate culture will have to be altered.

So feeling good about all that, and then after chatting with Churbuck, he led me to Charles Leadbeater who is tackling the same concept in his yet to be published book found at: http://www.wethinkthebook.net/home.aspx

and then I was at Borders the other nite doing some studying when I ran across Patty Seybold’s book “Outside Innovation” which also looks into the phenomenon.

Very interesting and exciting stuff. And very odd how others have come to the same conclusion as we did, all in the same time. Cosmic…or its just really obvious. I’ll go with cosmic.

In the spirit of collaboration for finishing my rough draft of our group paper, I am asking for help from the masses here in Blogistan to help me in my research…the wisdom of crowds at work!

I am looking for any articles that may be out there that look at companies that have taken this approach of working with customers via blogs, wikis, and other web 2.0ish technologies to collaborate on creating new products or innovations. Please feel free to post any you guys might have. Or any other info you think is helpful! We still need a case study as well, any takers out there?

Riddle me this?

Since I am always thinking about web analytics and whatnot (its a disease really), I was wondering how in the future someone is going to figure out how to measure activity off of other sites that ultimately determine success on your site. In this case I am not speaking of campaigns or banner ads, but rather someone learning about your product somewhere and checking it out somewhere else.

Example: I am an avid reader of Pitchfork. Great writings on indie music, and usually a great place for me to find out about new bands. I don’t always like what they think is decent, but it at least makes me aware of the existence of these acts that usually aren’t on the radio or tv. Then again I haven’t listed to the radio in 4 years anyway. So say I am on Pitchfork and read an article on the Decemberists new record. Then I go to iTunes or eMusic and check it out an buy it.

So if I am iTunes or eMusic how can I attribute my sale in some manner to the learning on Pitchfork? Because wouldn’t you want to know that reading on that site ultimately made you aware of the new record by the Decemberists, and that the favorable review peaked your interest enough to check it out?

But how do we correlate those 2 events? Wouldn’t we have to adapt to a ‘master’ tag of some sorts that followed you everywhere? I know this is obviously possible for things you pay for with campaigns, but how do you tap into the recommenders on the web found in blogs, forums, and indie sites? Cuz this would be valuable information in how you go about promoting certain types of things, but yet I feel there is a big blind spot associated with it. So in your metrics it looks like you get ‘organic’ traffic, but really it was cultivated elsewhere. I want to know how much is being cultivated.

Getting My Beard On

The leaves change, the weather gets colder, world series going, and I grow a beard. Happens every year. Not quite as cool as the mohawk, but still an alteration in my appearance.

beard.gif

Geek Post Vol.1

Not much of interest to ramble about really…taking a break from thinking thru hierarchial structure of variables for our Commerce Engine via Omniture tagging.

Alert, Omniture geek coding…

Trying to decide if the s.channel variable should simply be s.channel=”Shop” or s.channel=”Shop : Notebooks” or further s.channel=”Shop : Notebooks : ThinkPad : T Series”

or should I enable hierarchial tagging so:
s.hier=”Shop,Notebooks,ThinkPad,T Series”

I am leaning towards…
s.channel=”Shop”
s.hier=”Shop,Notebooks,ThinkPad,T Series”

I haven’t tried Hierarchial tagging yet, so interested to see the results of doing so.

and then an s.prop (which is a counter) for a SubSection such as “ThinkPad”

Ok, I just talked myself into it…um, this has to be my geeky post yet. But its getting late and I am tired. But back to my post the other day, as an analyst you need to think thru these things in implementation.

Jams for a Wed:
1) Travis – Re-Offender
2) Afghan Whigs – Debonair (FYI – I heard the Whigs are reuniting – story here from PitchFork (best music site around))
3) Bloc Party – Blue Light
4) Neil Young – Look Out For My Love
5) Pearl Jam – Rearviewmirror
6) Pink Floyd – Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2)
7) Kathleen Edwards – Six O’Clock News
8) The Gourds – Omaha
9) Sparta – Red Alibi
10) The Beatles – And Your Bird Can Sing
11) The Beatles – Back In the USSR

Get your culture on

This weekend I took a semi-break from work and school and culturally enriched myself. For starters my gang and I ventured over to the NC Musuem of Art on Friday nite to check out the free showing of Monet. There were roughly 60 paintings there including some of the famous ones. Pretty interesting to see the transformation of style thru the paintings, from realistic to impressionistic. Also interesting is the amount of people that showed for the event. Almost waited an hour in line like I was going to a rock concert, but yet it was just to view some paintings from 120 years ago. There is hope for humanity yet.

Of course, the State Fair was across the street. I despise the fair with a passion. This year, I heard thru the grapevine that they were selling fried Coke. How the hell do your fry a beverage? There is no hope for humanity.

The 2nd portion of my culture shock was more local. My wife and I journeyed on Saturday to Seagrove, NC which is in the middle of the state near Asheboro. The entire economy of that town is based solely on pottery. I still haven’t totally figured out why, but assume the clay there is really good or something. But literally every 5 feet in the town is a pottery studio/shop. We visited about 5 of them and checked their wares. A couple of them were rather good, particularly:

King’s Pottery

Phil Morgan

It was kind of interesting to see the different styles that the potters employed to give it some unique touches. In Morgan’s case, he used zinc in the glazing process to produce some really funky crystalline patterns which are absolutely random. It could turn out spectacular, or not.  Which in my mind is a crapshoot every time you fire up the kiln.

Anywho, now its back to work and the 2 papers I am supposed to be writing. The fun never ends.

Jams for a Wed:

1) Drive-by Truckers – Feb.14

2) Dillon Fence – Sad Inheritance

3) Twilight Singers – Martin Eden

4) Bloc Party – Tulips

5) Saves the Day – Ups & Downs

6) U2 – Electrical Storm

7) Jimi Hendrix – Hear My Train A Comin’

Lessons Learned with implementing Omniture Vol.1

Ok, I’ve been slack lately on writing about web analytics on the Diary. It takes me just a little longer to formulate thoughts, etc as opposed to writing about the trials and tribulations of grad school. That being said, I do have some ideas in queue. The first of which is along the lines of helpful advice to those out there in blogistan that are interested in implementing Omniture (or really any web analytics solution). I am still in the midst of deploying it fully across Lenovo, but I can already throw out a couple of points to think about before sitting down to deploy a solution. So here we go with “Lessons Learned with implementing Omniture Vol.1”

1) Think through how you want to categorize the data. This really gets into the report suites concept used in Omniture where you have the traffic, etc of a site or sites roll into one datamart to do analysis on. For a small company this probably wouldn’t be a big deal as you’d just dump all in one place, and use variables to create subsections.

With Lenovo, we have thousands of sites to worry about, so lumping it all in one report suite probably isn’t the best scenario. Try to think of logical ways the traffic should be viewed. I’ve opted with siloing the data by countries for our Public Sites. This would work really well, if it weren’t for the fact that a lot of our countries share pages, such as eSupport. So in my case the way it is architected now, if a visitor is on www.lenovo.com/us/en and clicks ‘Support & Downloads’, they will essentially be treated as an ‘exit’ off the US Public Site, because eSupport is being tracked in a different report suite than the US Public site. There are ways around that problem but involves some work, which I am digging into at the moment. But be cognizant of how exits and entries will look in your reporting, by how you section off your traffic in report suites, as it can have dramatic effects.

2) One of my biggest pain points has been the fact that I have had to come up with ways to track our commerce engine. In this case, Omniture won’t touch your code. So its up to you. In our case, my team (essentially Esteban and myself) have come up with the complex scripting to pull the necessary values and attributes out of the html to populate the commerce variables in Omniture. That is a process made much more difficult since we couldn’t code pages individually, but had to use a global script to do a ton of if-then statements to figure out what type of page it is to execute the rest of the scripts for commerce variables. Not fun work. And I took down our commerce engine multiple times in doing so. So it was not a bloodless exercise, and I still don’t have full functionality…yet.

I am alerting you to my pain, not to scare you, but just to illustrate there might be some effort needed to make it work for you. Once you have the commerce tracking in place, Omniture is extremely powerful in its ability to corelate to marketing tactics, etc.

3) Sit down and plan out ‘Success’ events. Essentially, why do you have a web site, and what are you trying to accomplish? The reason is to pinpoint what events you need to be code as events within Omniture. Things like purchases and shopping cart opens are prebuilt. But what about registrations or lead generation pieces of the site? Those need custom events set up within the implementation. And the catch is you basically have 16 custom events you can use, so it takes some upfront thought to make sure you have the right events set up before running out of the allocated spots. You can expand the functionality of the events by using them in conjunction with eVars (the clever title for Commerce variables). But again a lot of thought should go into what those success events should be. I would be lying if I said I took the right amount of time thinking that aspect through, and its caused me a couple of headaches along the way.

4) Understand limitations of the tool by reading the documentation. The implementation guide is over 200 pages long. Did I read it all? Nope. Should I have? Absolutely. I would have found out things like how ClickMap has a 100 character limit of capturing links. Therefore if your urls are longer than 100 characters, and the first 100 aren’t unique it can give you screwy data when looking at site navigation through ClickMap. For those that don’t know ClickMap is the visualization plug-in that shows where people are clicking on a page.

5) Have your implementation resources lined up. Which means the coders and some sort of project manangement. I had neither really. In some respects having a project manager would have helped, though I insist I did it faster my way. Nonetheless, I’ve missed things along the way. And again having dedicated coders would go a long way to speeding it up. Get someone with tons of javascript knowledge and some semblance of business knowledge and you’re good to go.

6) Take your time implementing. Rushing it will cause errors and you’ll need to do big changes to correct them in some cases.  No one in your company will believe how complex some of the thinking that is needed to architect it correctly, so take the time in making sure you know how you want to go about doing this. It is not a trivial exercise for a large company.

All that being said, my experience with Omniture has been pretty positive as it is lightyears beyond anything we’ve had in the past. Again, I just wanted to highlight some of my pitfalls and some advice. I have a couple of more Volumes of Lessons Learned in queue, so look for that.

In the next few months, I plan on taking it to some new extremes and integrating it with some of the offline business as well to make it truly a one stop shop for our metrics. Slowly we are moving to my dream of making our business decisions based on fact as opposed to intuition and guesswork. This is the first step in a marathon to change a corporate culture.

Duke’s Paulus out with broken fifth metatarsal

Coack K’s season didn’t start out to great when the one true point guard at Duke got injured the first week of practice: http://sports.espn.go.com/ncb/news/story?id=2627817

So probably for the first month or so, Duke will have to use a point guard by committee, which may actually help them in the long run as they develop more than one primary ballhandler. Ballhandling duties probably falls to DeMarcus Nelson, Jon Scheyer, or Gerald Henderson eventhough the ESPN article mentions 6’11” Josh McRoberts doing it.

But with an injury like that, you run the risk of reaggravating it, so could be a concern later in the season as well. I actually broke the same bone my freshman year in high school baseball, and ended up re-breaking it at least 3 other times. I could play through it in baseball, but in basketball I’d imagine is pretty painful with the jumping and lateral movements.

By the way, I like the word metatarsal.