Wednesday, December 9, 2015

The Information Tsunami: Big Data

Chaos vs. Meaning

Image by Worker OpenClipArt

The explosion of Big Data and Massive Data refers, as it might be easy to predict, to a quantitative aspect that characterizes the science of information in this first quarter of the millennium. If we take all the data generated in the world since the beginnings of history until 2000, the same amount of data is now generated every few minutes. In fact, over 90% of the data in the world was created in the last couple of years.

That said, it is important to recognize that "more" not necessarily means "better", and the fact that we have in our company, business, or pharmaceutical lab thousands of megabytes of data does not necessarily mean that our performance will become immediately more effective. The value lies in the amount of relevant, cohesive and logical information that we can derive from the colossal dataset.

Size is certainly a component of the phenomenon of Big Data, but this concept is also often used to designate other factor: the Organization of the massive information. In the past we relied primarily on structured data-bases, the type that can be put in tables and forms, such as sales transactions by customer, region, etc. Instead, today, we have the ability to use and analyze a variety of data, including written text, spoken words and biometrics, photographs and videos.

Now, to make efficient use of the Big Data we need tools that help extract hidden signals in all that tangle and chaotic data. It is within this framework that companies are gradually moving away from internal databases (intranets) to turn towards the analysis systems hosted on cloud computing (see my article "What Does Cloud Computing Mean" for details).

The information management with a cloud-based infrastructure allows businesses and institutions to generate their analyzes and strategies by putting their questions first and then consider those data sets that may be relevant. With this new method, the analysis doesn't need to be limited to narrow data sets, which are the product of controlled spreadsheets and databases prefabricated and in which only the values change, while any other dynamism factor remains out of the equation [i].

The massive data applications are limitless. Big Data is important for all companies of any size, in any industry.


• Companies use large volumes of data to better understand their customers through transactions recorded in your own business, but also using data from social networks, mobile applications, etc.

• The companies optimize their procurement processes by analyzing weather and traffic routes in the supply chain.

• Big Data is used in the health sector to find new cures for cancer, to optimize treatment and even predict diseases before they reach the physical symptoms appear.

• Big Data is used to analyze and improve the performance of people (in sports, at home or at work), where sensor data on computers and portable devices can be combined with video analysis for conclusions They were previously impossible to predict.

• Police forces and security agencies use large volumes of data to prevent cyber attacks, detect credit card fraud, terrorism role and even predict the criminal activity.

• Big Data is used to improve our homes, cities and countries by, for example, optimization of heating or lighting, traffic flow in our cities, or the production and consumption of energy. [ii]

[i] "Big Data Possibilities
." What Is Big Data: Overview, Video, Use Cases and Articles by Bernard Marr. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Dec. 2015.
[ii] Diamonds Or Coal: What Is In Your Data?” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, n.d. Web. 09 Dec. 2015. 

Friday, October 30, 2015

What does Cloud Computing mean?

OpenClipArt image for gsagri04
When we hear the term "The Cloud" or "Cloud Computing" we immediately think in a vague and intuitive way of the Internet (and it's true, in fact, that the expression computing cloud has a lot to do with the Internet). However the Internet, in its most proto-archaic form, exists for over 40 years and it is popular for at least 20 without the term cloud being associated to it  in any way. Indeed this term  was coined in recent years to give account of a new phenomenon related to the Internet [i] of a new form of access to applications (the term software is barely used nowadays). Years ago the way to access a program, application or software was typically go to the computer store, purchase some discs and load them into the computer (hardware). Almost inadvertently, this type of access to computing applications has been displaced by its use online .

Without straining much the memory, we can mention the example of Adobe Acrobat, which until very recently called for a download of the program on the computer and now, however, only requires the user registration while all information is supported online . It is true that the documents you create can be downloaded into your private computer (although it is also possible to opt for storage in the cloud ) but the use of the service itself does not require any download. Another example is the emergence of platforms such as SoundCloud which doesn't require any software download but allows users to store their favorite songs and access them from their computers or any other computer. 
The concept of cloud computing is very broad and covers almost every possible kind of service online but when companies offer an utility hosted in the cloud,  they usually refer to one of three modes: software as a service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS).

Software as a service (SaaS) refers to a software distribution model in which applications are hosted by a company or service provider and made ​​available to users throughout a network, usually the Internet. Platform as a Service (PaaS) is a set of utilities that supplies the user with operating systems and associated services via the Internet without the need of performing any download or installation. Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) refers to outsourcing of equipment used to support operations such as storage, hardware, servers and network components [ii] .
Ultimately, the term "The Cloud" does not refer to any "big one-eyed, omni-present mythical creature out in the land of the interwebs"[iii] . but to a new way of accessing and using computing programs.

[i] The origin of the term cloud computing is unclear. The expression cloud is Commonly used in science to describe a large agglomeration of objects That Appear visually from a distance as a cloud and describe any set of things Whose Further details are not inspected in GIVEN context. Liu, [edited by] Yang Hongji, Xiaodong (2012). "9". Software reuse in the emerging cloud computing era . Hershey, PA: Information Science Reference. pp. 204-227. ISBN  9781466608979 . Retrieved 11 December 2014 . (Cited in Wikipedia "Cloud Computing." Wikipedia . Wikimedia Foundation, nd Web. 29 Oct. 2015).
[ii] "What Is Model SPI (SaaS, PaaS, IaaS)?" - SearchCloudComputing Tech Target, Feb. 2012. Web 29 Oct. 2015.
[iii] Greenlee, Greg. "Get your heads out of the Cloud!" Blacks In Technology." Blacks In Technology. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Oct. 2015.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Millennials and Multiculturalism

"The Global Society" by Frits Ahlefeldt-Laurvig
licensed under Creative Commons
It may seem obvious, but it is worthy to drive attention to the fact that majorities are shapers of trends and trends often carry the seeds of its own perpetuation.
There is much talk about the multiculturalism characteristic of the global era, and there are global factors that justify this trend. Of course, the fact that we can connect to Google+ and chat with someone in India or Korea instantly and at a very low cost is one of the key drivers of the multicultural society. But this explanation undoubtedly important, can hide another explanation of a more local and less noticeable order. In the United States (a giant in the field of building culture, through its leadership in the area of music, film, etc) Millennials are the most racially diverse generation in history. According to the 2014 census 43% of Millennials are descendants of Hispanic, Asian or other foreign groups, and the United States Census Bureau forecasts that, not only 50% of the millenials, but about half of all the total population of the country will be "non-white" around 2043 [i] . This circumstance leads to brands and Marketing companies to measure diversity in terms of demographics and calculate the audience based on figures derived from the census. However, as noted at the beginning, "majorities are trends’ shapers" and the impact of the change in the demographic composition does not stop there, in the relation one to one, one Asian, one more consumer of thai food , but that change has a multiplier effect: the "generation of diversity" is an agent that promotes acceptance of transforming and multiplying multiculturalism with energy.
As the advertising consultant Eddie Yoon points out in his article in the Harvard Business Review , culture is not strictly determined by the racial origins or membership of an individual, but is the product of the choices that each person makes about how they spend their time and money. "The essence of culture is a passion shared  by different experiences in common” says Eddie Yoon in his article. This approach to the concept of culture might explain a phenomena such as this one:  the largest consumers of hip hop are not black colored and urban millenials, but 80% of this music is consumed by white men from the suburbs.

However, companies are running their campaigns mistakenly thinking their consumers as a result of a binomial demographic function. The logical corollary of this misunderstanding is the loss of many opportunities in the global market.

[i] United States Census Bureau

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Market in Global Times

Stock myBCN - Barcelona Expert
above picture
of Antoni Llena under
Creative Commons License  

The “David and Goliath Economy”

In the New "Global" or "Digital " Paradigm the consumer is invested with a power that humanity has never seen before: there are many cases in which social networks such as Yelp or Foursquare propel the resounding success of a business or, in some cases, even its ruin. This consumer’s power outlines a sort of David and Goliath economic model.
With the popularity of social networking, dissemination of supply and demand for goods is accessible with scarce resources. It is also immediate, which implies that the "opportunism" (in a good sense, that is, the ability to bring the good demanded at the right time) gives unprecedented competitive advantage, giving room to  phenomena such as Uber, where an initially small company with little investment ends up putting in check giants of the Industry.
Here are some of the competitive disadvantages of the old giants:
  • In general, they have invested heavily and have a coarse structure to maintain, what takes them to minimize risks and be stingy with their know-how, while creative entrepreneurs whose major goal is to be known, lavishly spread their knowledge.
  • Are largely regulated, having to deal with taxes and some other impositions, while, on the other hand, law regulation still fails to classify new business’ practices aroused under the digital paradigm; and thus many new startup are, as a matter of fact, at least temporarily away from regulations burdens (as in the case of Airbnb who, mediating between supply and demand for accommodation, has moved from its leadership position more traditional hotel companies.
Telecommute: The proliferation of telework

Estimations show that there are about 30 million independent workers in the United States, and that this figure will rise to 40 million by 2019. It is expected that this phenomenon will expand globally to the extent that technology products are more readily available in other countries.  What will the Millennial do in this new situation? Will they develop their creativity and surprise the world with a massive impact with no precedents? Or, conversely, will they succumb to the weight of the old re-aligned giants, generating a catastrophe in the Social Security system?.
I would venture to say that the answer to this question will not take many years to come.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

The generations of the Global Era

Rethinking History
Picture by Matthew G. via Flirck under Creative Commons

Everyone says that the new millennium has brought a new paradigm. But how exactly has this new frame changed the way people live and communicate?, how far is today's market from the market where the sale and consumption of goods took place 5 or 10 years ago?

Let's start with how history and historical studies are built today.

The generations of the Global Era

Traditionally generations have been conceptualized and studied regionally. In the old paradigm made ​​sense to think of the generation of '27 in Spain, circumscribed to a literary phenomenon [i] , or the generation of "Baby Boom" in the United States, designed to account for demographic events. The reasons that led to the conceptualization of these and other age groups were certainly local. Now it seems legitimate to ask if it makes the same sense to categorize the various generations sticking to a regionalist approach.
Surely the reader has heard of Millennials. This term refers to people born between 1981 and 2000 and whose ethos is characterized by a strong attachment to the use of technological means [ii]. Millennials check their smartphones several times a day; use social networks consistently and for extended periods of time, have a consumption pattern that relies heavily on the "word of mouth" rather than on what is advertised by the brands or celebrities.
Is not this a global phenomenon? Does it makes sense from this point forward to continue conceptualizing the new generations in regional terms?

Democratization and Socialization

The use of mobile phones means that anyone can communicate with anyone, basically anytime. Besides "mobile" current phones are usually "smart" meaning that not only communication is immediate, but also research activity: access to encyclopedias, to dictionaries, breaking news is possible pretty much everywhere. By accessing the Cloud, our own portfolio, the files we work with are accessible from anywhere without even carry a pen-drive. Bitcoin, PayPal and Square are leading us to an economic space in which not even our wallets will be needed when we leave home (yet, do not forget your Smartphone or your Google Glasses!).

Similarly, access to the social media marketing provides an advertising tool to entrepreneurs who otherwise would not be able to afford a marketing campaign (a status update of an average user, without many contacts Facebook, is seen by approximately 50 people in a single session). This way, technology achieves goals on a ground where ideologies have failed.
[I] Wikipedia, Generación del 27
[Ii] Here Is Everything You Need to Know About the Millennial Consumer on

Thursday, November 27, 2014

The Social NetPlots

Click "I detest it"
Image by Frits Ahlefeldt-
Creative Commons 

The Social Networks seems to be a fertile ground for innovation in matter of complaints and protests.

A mixture of creativity, humor, and ease gave an unpredictable turn to the disappointment and anger that aroused by a discriminatory act in a small Texas town some months ago.

Indeed, a gay couple stopped to have breakfast at the Big Earl City Pittsburg, Texas bar last May. The waitress (she was the owner's daughter) came over to tell the couple that they would not be welcome next time as the restaurant "does not provide services to f*#s". By the way, in front of the restaurant there is a sign that reads  "Welcome to Big Earl Where Men act like Men, Women act like ladies, not saggy pants, we reserve the right to refuse service to anyone",  which in Simple Creole tantamount to saying:  "if you're gay or black, best keep driving . " With such idiosyncrasy, it doesn’t come too difficult to imagine the impact that would have caused to the owner of the local the reaction of the gay community: instead of publicly ousting the place, and launch a derogatory campaign against it, they turned to social media to sponsor the restaurant as a fantastic destination for those gays looking for a good breakfast in town.
Perhaps you're familiar with social networks that are, at once, portals for reviews and criticism for various premises that provide products or services to consumers (restaurants, gas stations, retail outlets, etc). In the case of Big Earl's the virtual stage protest that was chosen was  Yelp (a review portal and information guide popular in the United States). The end result was that the corresponding page to this restaurant ended up looking more like a political grandstanding than a list of recommendations and suggestions. Perhaps this was the reason that Yelp’s executives finally cleared away much of the comments. However the consumer backlash worked, and still parading through the door of Big Earl myriads of gay couples line up to get sure that the restaurant’s manager never forgets the lesson.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Advertisement: new forms of fugacity

Picture by Esther Vargas under
Creative Commons License
You may have noticed the gradual trend to brevity exhibited by the most popular online platforms
such as Facebook, Instagram, and more recently Snapchat, all characterized by a casual, brief, increasingly fleeting and ephemeral style.

Brands are challenged to promote their products through an application in which the content disappears in seconds. Not an easy task for advertisers to come up with a shocking announcement, interesting, "sticky", efficient enough to capture the attention among that waterfall of twitters, status updates, and conversations often disjointed and lacking in consistency. Especially in the case of Sanpchat (currently the 3rd. most popular social application among youth, behind Facebook and Instagram), the randomness of conversation sometimes makes it difficult even for robots aimed to detect the use of keywords, get to determine what kind of notice or advertising is more or less relevant. However, advertisers are including such platforms in their advertising efforts, and even beginning to capitalize on unexpected benefits of their campaigns.

As per Instagram, this application introduced the first paid ads (for mobile version) in last November. Less than a month later, the report released by the company showed the experience as a great success: three out of the four sponsors included in the report revealed having achieved the perception that they were pursuing for their brands, reaching an audience of between 7 and 9 million users without flooding Instagram with their ads. Indeed, in a span of nine days Levi reached nearly 7 million users in the US, while Ben & Jerry achieve similar results, reaching nearly 10 million people in a campaign the same period.

Although, as noted above, the information exchanged on these platforms is highly volatile, fleeting, and most chaotic cases, this type of advertising has virtually endless possibilities. Imagine the kind of information available to applications like Facebook or Snapchat: the average teenager publicize events such as their new relationship, or if they’ve gone on vacation to this, that and such place; if they have visited some disco and found it brutally boring ... This is like a diamond in the rough for the advertiser trying to define the profile of its consumers. And to skillful miners, half a nugget is gold...