How to Select Data Classification Levels for Your Business (With Template)

How to Select Data Classification Levels for Your Business (With Template)

By Gitanjali Maria and Zach Capers

Classifying data simplifies data security efforts and ensures that your employees know what information can be made public and what should stay internal.

However, a recent GetApp survey found that nearly half of all businesses allow employees to access more data than is necessary for their jobs. In fact, 12% of businesses reported that employees have access to all company data.

(more…)

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Week of October 14, 2019

Data mining might prevent vaping deaths, big data tracks political ads in Canada, and more business intelligence news

Comdata launches new BI tool for fleet management

The payment processing company debuted its new product, Comdata OneLook, to help users manage fleet performance via online analytics. Along with sharing stats on fleet and fueling patterns, Comdata says that OneLook users can view decision patterns that are unique to each driver. An article for Auto Remarketing says it sought feedback representing 100,000 vehicles and drivers for OneLook’s product design and beta testing. [Read more]

Can data mining help prevent vaping?

Two researchers used the HealthMap digital disease surveillance app to find eight suspected cases of lung disease linked to vaping this past summer. One month later, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced similar findings. These researchers want to spread the word so that doctors can use tools like HealthMap to track more suspected cases, and possibly prevent future outbreaks. [Read more]

Don’t use big data without starting small

Big data isn’t always helpful. In fact, its scale can dissuade businesses from using it at all. In an op-ed for Forbes, CEO Gladys Kong shares how she helped one of her retail clients use data to make a big decision about where to open its next store. [Read more]

Joseph Gordon-Levitt slams data mining in big tech

While promoting his production company at the Disrupt SF conference, Gordon-Levitt criticized big tech brands like YouTube for their data mining techniques. He told TechCrunch managing editor Jordan Crook that he believes such brands are a “net negative” for society, and that offering free services in exchange for “mass surveillance” to sell advertising data should cease. Forbes notes that YouTube co-founder Steve Chen is an investor in HitRecord, Gordon-Levitt’s startup. [Read more]

NYU data scientists build a tool to analyze political Facebook ads in Canada

Ahead of Canada’s October 21 elections, computer scientists at New York University’s Tandon School of Engineering launched a website to analyze all Canadian political advertising on Facebook. Viewers can see ad spend based on party, target demographic, region, and more factors. The engineers trained their machine learning tool by data scraping the Online Transparency Project, which has a database of more than one million reviewed ads. [Read more]

Week of October 7, 2019


Gartner shares its top 5 analytics trends, cancer researchers rely too much on big data, and more BI news

Big data startup Waycare raises $7.25 million to fight traffic

The Israeli startup shares historical and real-time data inputs with city planners to make better traffic management choices. Waycare trains its algorithms on historical data so it can make more accurate real-time recommendations. Its interface shows a live map of incidents in certain neighborhoods, and users can switch to live views of scenes if the app finds crashes or other events. [Read more]

Gartner’s latest Hype Cycle shares 5 BI/analytics trends

Augmented analytics, relationship analytics, and decision analytics are among the top 5 trends Gartner forecasts down the pipeline. Analysts also cite the importance of building digital cultures that prioritize data literacy, digital ethics, and consumer privacy. [Read more]

Big data’s role in U.S. government surveillance

In her TED talk at Stanford, Jennifer Granick, a lawyer for the ACLU, shares that the amount of information produced about us coincides with downgrades in U.S. privacy protection laws. The good news? Consumers can guard their data through encryption apps—if they choose to use them. In an interview for TED’s blog, Granick shares the threats to privacy that should concern us, and how to avoid them. [Read more]

Qlik unveils a rebranded BI platform

The Swedish SaaS tool uses open APIs to work with big data across almost any software architecture or stack, platform, and language. The rebranded platform, which is now called Qlik Sense Business, has a new natural language processing feature that lets users query data from various sources. [Read more]

Does cancer research put too much focus on big data?

In a searing op-ed for UT News, Thomas Yankeelov takes cancer researchers to task for relying too much on big data. He cites machine learning’s reliance on large groups of people that hide details about unique patients as a key challenge. Yankeelov worries that growing fiscal support for big data research might dwarf cancer-based therapy initiatives. [Read more]

Less is more in the Big Data era

A recent CMO survey found that reliance on marketing analytics increased from 30% to 42% over the last five years. The problem? Businesses spend too much time collecting too much data, rather than assessing which data matters most. In an interview for MarTech Today, Jeremy Korst speaks with Gartner Senior Director Charles Golvin to learn what marketers should do differently. [Read more]

Week of Sept. 30, 2019


A German data server puts Ecuadorians at risk, the NYPD uses big data to prevent suicides, and more top BI news

Palantir seeks funding for a Japanese expansion

The data management firm co-founded by Peter Thiel opened an office in Tokyo and started hiring engineers. Analysts view Palantir’s expansion as a test of its prowess beyond Western markets, especially in risk-averse industries. Palantir’s annual revenue is estimated at $1 billion, and it is seeking additional funding while remaining privately held. [Read more]

Server exposes sensitive data for millions of Ecuadorians

Reporting by Bloomberg exposed an unsecure server in Germany that hosts sensitive data for 17 million Ecuadorian citizens. The server—which is operated by an Ecuadorian company called DataBook—includes phone numbers, work email addresses, and other confidential details. This isn’t the first data breach for Ecuadorians: Earlier this month, a cybersecurity firm found an unprotected database exposing personal details for almost every Ecuadorian citizen. [Read more]

California counties use data-as-a-service to find unpaid taxes

Deckard Technologies, a San Diego-based data-mining startup, announced a new investment of $500,000 that will enable it to launch two data-as-a-service (DaaS) offerings. One product, Property Insights, aims to help local governments find properties that have been underpaying taxes. The other product, Rentalscape, proposes to find irregularities in transient occupancy taxes paid on rental properties. [Read more]

NYPD will rely on big data to prevent suicides

In a joint announcement, the NPYD said it has accepted recommendations from the Office of Inspector General to reduce officer suicides. Those suggestions include using personal data mining to spot red flags among members of the nation’s largest police force. This data is already available through the department’s Risk Assessment Information Liability System but hasn’t historically been used to track officer wellness. Domestic incidents and disciplinary records are among the data points that officers can correlate with suicide attempts. [Read more]

Most enterprise networks can’t handle big data

An Accenture survey of 300 IT employees found that most enterprise networks are ill-equipped to manage the volume of data created today, let alone by novel deployments such as internet-of-things (IoT) devices. Some 58% of respondents cited “misalignment between IT and business needs” as a key barrier that’s slowing such rollouts. Survey respondents pointed to a vicious cycle: Newer technologies such as analytics platforms pump more data through IT networks, yet problems including aging equipment and poor network performance slow down success. [Read more]

Oracle partners with Giphy, bringing big data to GIFs

Giphy, a search engine for short-form animated images, will use Oracle’s Moat tool to measure metrics per GIF, from traffic to viewability. By bringing the same metrics used for long-form ads to GIFs that last seconds, Giphy executives hope to satisfy clients who have asked for more metrics to track performance. Giphy’s corporate clients include Gatorade and Amazon. [Read more]

These investors are bullish on big data

At the 2019 Delivering Alpha conference in NYC, a panel of investors shared their thoughts on big data’s ability to transform each sector. Ulrike Hoffmann-Burchardi, senior portfolio manager at Tudor Investment, said he sees every industry vertical re-orienting itself around data. This could create the rise of “quantamentalists” who combine quantitative and fundamental analysis to analyze huge amounts of ongoing data. [Read more]

Week of Sept. 23, 2019


Medical records lie unprotected online, Australia’s postal service turns to Google Cloud, and more business intelligence news

Barack Obama shares his big data skepticism

In an interview with Splunk CEO Doug Merritt, Former U.S. President Obama cited the amount of data—and the speed at which it’s consumed—as a key concern. Citing his own 2008 presidential campaign, Obama told Merritt that a range of diverse viewpoints is essential to help people make decisions based on data. The interview occurred one week after the House Judiciary Committee asked CEOs at Amazon, Apple, Google, and Facebook to cooperate with the committee’s investigation into their data management. [Read more]

Millions of Americans’ healthcare data is available online

An investigation by ProPublica and the German broadcaster Bayerischer Rundfunk found 187 U.S.-based servers that were unprotected by passwords and other security measures. These servers—used in doctors’ offices, medical imaging centers, and X-ray services— hold medical data belonging to 5 million U.S.-based patients, and millions more globally. [Read more]

Australia’s postal service uses Google Cloud to grow

Australia Post, the continent’s mail delivery service, is 210 years old, with a mandate to always turn a profit. With 60% of revenue lost due to decline in paper mail, Australia Post knew it needed other options. They implemented Google Cloud last January for its automation, analytics, and machine learning features. CIO John Cox said they can process details 10 times faster than on their old IT systems. [Read more]

After a year of acquisitions, what’s next for big data?

Data and analytics acquisitions surpassed $18 billion this year—and that’s before the start of Q4. But with Hadoop’s decline and Cloudera’s stock price dropping, 2019 wasn’t pain-free for the sector. Ahead of this week’s Strata Data Conference in NYC, David Richards shares the topics he thinks attendees will care the most about. [Read more]

Facebook’s next foray into online data⁠—I mean, dating

Amidst a sea of lawsuits, Facebook launched a new dating app this month. The opt-in app, entitled Facebook Dating, connects users based on factors such as shared interests, events, and groups. But the Facebook Dating app links to users’ Instagram accounts, giving Facebook (Instagram’s parent company) access to even more user data. [Read more]

HMS acquires VitreosHealth for predictive analytics

In an all-cash deal totaling $36 million, HMS Holdings Corp announced in a press release that it acquired VitreosHealth, a prediction analytics tool for population health. VitreosHealth worked closely with HMS pre-acquisition: It provided the predictive analytics search engine for Elli, which is HMS’ risk intelligence tool for population health. HMS’ goals for the acquisition include disease-specific predictive models, faster patient interventions, and avoiding preventable, high-cost events. [Read more]

Crisp raises $14.5 million to cut food waste with big data

Co-founded in 2016, Crisp collects data from a range of sources (such as past consumer purchases and POS systems) to prevent food waste. After an alpha test with 25 retailers and wholesalers, Crisp emerged from stealth mode this month with $14.5 million in funding. Its entrance into the waste prevention space will cause Crisp to compete with Zest Fresh and Walmart, which both have monitoring systems that help suppliers time their shipping statuses with their customers’ consumption habits. [Read more]

Week of Sept. 16, 2019


An antitrust case on Google begins, the Pentagon’s hiring an AI ethicist, and more top BI news

Nearly all 50 states go after Google

Attorneys general from 48 states (along with Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia) are investigating Google for possible monopolistic behavior. Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes said the amount of states involved is unprecedented for an antitrust case. The investigation asks if Google—which owns many aspects of internet websites and architecture—earned its market dominance fairly, or if it used “aggressive, illegal” business practices to do so. [Read more]

Three tech firms fight to store health data in the cloud

Google announced a 10-year partnership with Mayo Clinic to store its genetic, medical, and financial data in Google Cloud. This comes months after Google Cloud Platform CEO Thomas Kurian took office, bringing a sales-focused approach to industry verticals like finance and healthcare. But Google’s not the only tech firm that wants to capture healthcare, and questions about patient privacy abound. [Read more]

When cancer therapies fail, big data might explain why

Researchers from IBM and the Broad Institute used data mining algorithms to explain genetic mutations in blood samples from patients with several types of gastrointestinal cancer. They found that in almost 80% of cases, genetic alterations were linked to drug abstinence. In their article (published by Nature Medicine), the researchers shared their theory that drug resistance often explains why cancer therapies fail—and propose changes to cancer treatment. [Read more]

LinkedIn loses its appeal to stop a data scraping startup

San Francisco-based HR algorithm hiQ Labs uses data mining from public websites like LinkedIn to train its algorithm to find workforce trends. In 2017, a judge ordered LinkedIn to stop banning hiQ from harvesting publicly available details about its users. LinkedIn appealed … and lost again. [Read more]

The Pentagon is hiring an AI ethicist

Can you crunch data, prove a strong moral compass, and say, “No” to presidents? The Pentagon is looking for an ethicist to oversee its use of military AI. Lt. Gen. Jack Shanahan, director of the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center (JAIC), told reporters that the person in this role will work with lawyers and technical teams to assess the U.S. military’s use of weaponized AI. [Read more]

Who has access to donated healthcare data?

Healthcare research projects contain donated data from more than one million Americans. But how do researchers use this data, and who can find it? NPR explores three healthcare projects with different approaches to data management. [Read more]

Neurala, an Israeli data mining firm, raises $16 million

The startup’s latest fundraising round is its second to date. Neurala says it can use a software add-on installed on customers’ phones that gathers raw data, then turns it into behavioral insights for brands. Neurala claims that users remain anonymous, and the platform complies with global privacy protection laws. [Read more]

Week of Sept. 9, 2019


Google gets fined for selling ads to kids, big data reveals identities in court, and more top BI news

Google gets fined $170 million for selling ads to kids

The Internet search giant agreed to pay the fine as a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission and New York’s Attorney General. The settlement accused YouTube—a Google-owned website—of illegally mining data that tracked children’s online actions without their parents’ consent. Despite telling ad firms that they didn’t have to comply with children’s privacy laws, Google made millions using the data they collected on minors. [Read more]

European mental health websites shared data for ads

Privacy International, a privacy advocacy group, analyzed 136 mental health webpages in France, Germany, and the UK. Their research showed that 3 in 4 webpages contained third-party trackers for marketing reasons. Despite GDPR’s strict laws against such data sharing, several websites that let users discuss depression placed tracking cookies before users could confirm or deny consent. [Read more]

Mozilla’s Firefox browser won’t track your cookies

Firefox’s latest update has a default setting on desktop and Android to prevent cookie tracking. Mozilla launched the Enhanced Tracking Protection (ETP) feature in June as a default for new users, but Firefox v69.0 is the first version to impede third party cookie tracking by default. Firefox users with ETP enabled can confirm if it’s on and check which tracking cookies the browser blocks. But that doesn’t mean it prevents all types of tracking… [Read more]

Woodbury University will offer a data analytics major

The Burbank, California-based school will debut its new major as an offset of computer science in the fall of 2020. Marty Tippens, Chair of Woodbury’s Math department, said the major will address job market demand for data scientists. Tippens added that the problem solving and design thinking skills required in data analytics are helpful in a range of fields. [Read more]

Big data threatens confidentiality in court

Researchers at the University of Zurich’s Institute of Law mined large swarths of data to make a database of all Supreme Court decisions available online between 2000 and 2018. In under an hour, they used an algorithm and manual searches to find identities of people mentioned in 84% of those Supreme Court decisions. The study’s authors cited privacy protection concerns, saying that such tech advancements jeopardize privacy. [Read more]

The University of Akron will host a big data summit

The school will host its second Business Analytics Innovation Summit on Sept. 27. The University’s College of Business Administration will sponsor the event, which raised $17,000 for UA scholarships last year. William McHenry, an associate professor in UA’s Department of Management, said the school requires undergraduate and MBA students to complete coursework in business analytics. Students will hear from local leaders on a range of topics, from data privacy to analytics support. [Read more]

Big data finds inequality in creative industries

Dr. Cath Sleeman, a quantitative research fellow at Nesta, used data mining to track how a popular news outlet reports on women in creative industries. After analyzing more than half a million articles from The Guardian newspaper published between 2000 and 2018, Dr. Sleeman found a large increase in references to women starting in 2014. Her analysis showed that the percentage of pronouns referencing women reached 40% in 2018. [Read more]

Week of Sept. 2, 2019


Facebook tries to shield election ads, the Army’s using big data to recruit Gen Z, and more BI news

Ahead of 2020, Facebook clamps down on election ads

Facebook announced new requirements for political advertisers to run ads on its platform starting in mid-September. Businesses and nonprofits will have to give a tax-registered organization identification number, while government advertisers will need to share a web domain or email address ending in .gov or .mil. Prior investigations found that Facebook’s current requirements have too many loopholes; one journalist was able to buy ads promoting ISIS. [Read more]

Purdue University uses predictive modeling in cancer research

Timothy L. Ratliff, distinguished professor of comparative pathobiology, and Purdue’s Robert Wallace Miller, Director of the Center for Cancer Research, said their partnership will advance computational biology and predictive modeling in cancer research. The fellowship will also allow for appointment and exchange of scientific staff, sabbatical options, postdoctoral training, and student training. [Read more]

Can BI manage commercial truck fleets?

Truck fleets often lack the tools and talent to analyze large amounts of unstructured data. A recent survey found that 33 percent of fleet executives say they lack the right software to manage their fleet’s total cost of ownership (TCO) in one place. In an op-ed for Trucks.com, Brian Holland, President and CFO of Fleet Advantage, shares some solutions. [Read more]

These startups use data mining to tell brands what people want

As consumer power grew due to internet usage, the power of brand-controlled market research shrank. Now, some global startups claim they can use AI to tell B2C businesses what consumers want in real time. One startup, called Black Swan, collects product data from social media and product review websites to tell brands like Pepsi and McDonald’s which trends will yield mass adoption (apparently, it’s pea milk?). [Read more]

The U.S. Army uses big data to find its next recruits

The military branch’s marketing team recently moved from the Pentagon for closer proximity to DDB Chicago. The ad firm won a $4 billion contract to serve as the Army’s full-service agency until 2028. They’re tasked with finding new recruits born in the mid 1990s – early 2000s—and they use big data to show prospects the careers they could have based on unique interests. [Read more]

Palantir employees protest the tool’s ties to ICE

Amidst employee protests at Google and Amazon over using AI for federal purposes, Palantir signed a deal with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). This agreement gave ICE digital profiling tools to use while enforcing policies to find and deport undocumented immigrants. More than 200 employees signed and gave a letter to CEO Alex Karp sharing their concerns. But abandoning the contract would risk backlash in DC, where Palantir is the U.S. government’s go-to vendor for data mining. [Read more]

For AI startups, data is worth more than money

In an industry that’s prone to exaggeration, it’s tough to overstate how valuable big data is for tech firms. That idea was discussed at a forum hosted by the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce’s Executive Speaker Series. Ben Wilson, director of the Center for Intelligent Devices at Intellectual Ventures, said that having strong data trumps all else—including an idea. “Now, if you’re doing AI, you need capital and you also need data,” Wilson said. “And you’re going to burn through your data before you burn through your capital.” [Read more]

Week of Aug. 26, 2019


Utah mines big data to track school spending, the U.S. Army moves to the cloud, and more business intelligence news

DeepMind’s co-founder goes on leave

Mustafa Suleyman, who cofounded Google’s London-based AI Lab, will step away for several months. Bloomberg broke the news, implying that controversy over several projects is the reason for Suleyman’s departure. It’s unclear whether Suleyman left of his own accord or was forced out. In 2017, DeepMind violated UK law when it used 1.6 million patient records from England’s National Health Service to train a kidney monitoring app. [Read more]

Europe’s top data protection regulator dies at 62

Giovanni Buttarelli oversaw implementation of EU privacy laws for a five-year term that started in December 2014. His career hallmark came when Europe’s GDPR legislation went into effect last year. Buttarelli also advocated for increased data ethics, telling TechCrunch last year that he worried about online discrimination. [Read more]

The U.S. Army moves to the cloud

What would happen if a hack jam or missile cut off the Army’s access? In a roundtable with reporters this month, Brig. Gen. Robert Collins—Program Executive Officer for the Army’s Intelligence, Electronic Warfare and Sensors unit—said his troops already see big benefits from using the cloud. In an article for Breaking Defense, Sydney Freedberg Jr. shares the Army’s plan to upgrade its intelligence system. [Read more]

60% of payers and providers to spend more on predictive analytics

The 2019 Predictive Analytics in Health Care Trend Forecast survey found that three in five respondents plan to put 15% or more of their spending toward predictive analytics this year. Of those respondents, 23% plan to prioritize data visualization, while 16% are most bullish on machine learning. When asked what prevents them from achieving their goals, 16% of the surveyed payers and providers cited “too much data” as their biggest barrier. [Read more]

Can AI save big data projects from failure?

Back in 2017, Gartner analyst Nick Heudecker guessed that 85% of big data projects failed. This lack of success often traces back to teams not knowing how to interpret structured data—which is something that AI excels at. In an article for Information Week, author John Edwards asks several industry experts how AI can help business leaders make more data-based decisions. [Read more]

Big data answers questions about school spending in Utah

Utah’s Office of the State Auditor will partner with Brigham Young University’s McKay School’s Educational Leadership and Foundations Department to help schools track the ROI on their spending allocation. The data system, called Project KIDS (Key Integrated Data Systems), aims to collect data from each school district in Utah and help them confirm if their spending results align with their goals. [Read more]

Week of Aug. 19, 2019


Investor Carl Icahn takes a big stake in Cloudera, Sydney hospitals use data analytics to solve opioid addiction, and more BI news

Investor Carl Icahn takes a big stake in Cloudera

Cloudera—a big data processing software company that went public back in 2017—popularized the Hadoop open source big data software. But with a market cap of less than $2 billion, Cloudera has trailed competitors for years. Now, Carl Icahn—an activist investor known as a corporate raider—owns more than 18% of Cloudera and added two colleagues to its board. [Read more]

NGA takes big step to enable AI, big data and more

The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) has ambitions to move from legacy systems to new architecture that supports big data, cloud computing, automation, and more. Last month, the NGA gave its five-year Enterprise Engineering contract to Perspecta Engineering. The Virginia-based company offers analytical engineering work for military clientele and started working on its contract at the end of July. [Read more]

Sydney hospitals use data analytics to solve opioid addiction

Each year, about 50,000 patients enter hospital ERs in New South Wales, Australia, for help with lower back pain. Seventy percent of those patients receive prescription opioids to manage their pain. To offer a less addictive treatment, the Sydney Local Health District built an app to give ER clinicians details about back pain management. [Read more]

Infragistics shares its new embedded BI platform

Development tools provider Infragistics announced a new embedded BI platform to help users gain more insights from its data. The analytics platform, called Reveal, aims to decrease the time and money developers spend embedding analytics into applications. In a blog post announcing the new tool, Infragistics said that Reveal can cut costs by up to $350,000. [Read more]

UNO plans a master’s degree in big data

At Creighton University in Nebraska, a new major called FinTech teaches students how to use big data. This month, the nearby University of Nebraska at Omaha will propose a new master’s program in big data to its board of regents. In its program documentation, the UNO cited nearby schools including Creighton as examples of current programs that teach students how to use big data across industries. [Read more]

Data scientist vs. data analyst: What’s the difference?

Seven years after the Harvard Business Review named data scientist this century’s “sexiest job,” the role’s value shows no signs of slowing down. But it’s often confused with data analyst—a different yet equally important job. In an article for Tech Republic, Alison DeNisco Rayome shares how the two roles complement each other. [Read more]

Week of Aug. 12, 2019


The Pentagon collects data from Midwesterners, colleges use predictive analytics to match students with majors, and more BI news

Algorithm can predict vocal cord disorders

Researchers at MIT built a machine learning (ML) algorithm that can learn which features predict vocal cord disorders. This could automate the process of annotating training sets used for predictive analytics. Jose Javier Gonzalez Ortiz, a PhD student in the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, said his study’s features came from a dataset featuring 100 subjects, which each had a week’s worth of monitoring data and several billion samples. [Read more]

Gartner says AI augmentation will create $2.9 trillion of business value in 2021

Along with projected cost savings, Gartner predicts that AI augmentation will save 6.2 billion hours of worker productivity. Augmentation involves people working together with technology (like AI) to perform tasks that they each excel at. Svetlana Sicular, research vice president at Gartner, said that “As AI technology evolves, the combined human and AI capabilities that augmented intelligence allows will deliver the greatest benefits to enterprises.” [Read more]

GeoSpock and Baltic Exchange use big data to track air emissions

The partnership uses a global maritime spatial database built on AWS Cloud with the goal to help shipping companies reduce air emissions. GeoSpock CEO Richard Baker said this partnership will help in light of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) introducing a sulphur cap starting January 1st, 2020. The project will start at ports in the UK and Singapore, with plans to expand globally. [Read more]

To predict who will graduate from college, more schools are turning to big data

When Keenan Robinson started school at Georgia State University, he wanted to major in Nursing. The problem was that he had a B average, and Georgia State had 10 years’ worth of data to show that Keenan wasn’t likely to succeed in the school’s nursing program. Georgia State is one of several schools using predictive analytics to steer students towards majors where they’re more likely to succeed. But critics say that monitoring students so closely invades their privacy and could increase inequality. [Read more]

Data analytics on the high seas: An interview with Royal Caribbean CIO Martha Poulter

1 in every 5 cruise ship passengers rides on a Royal Caribbean cruise. The world’s largest cruise line by revenue uses analytics at every possible turn, from crowd control in dining rooms to food popularity per year. In an interview with Forbes, CIO Martha Poulter shared Royal Caribbean’s strategy for using real-time analytics. [Read more]

The Pentagon tests mass-surveillance balloons, collects data on citizens above six U.S. states

After obtaining Federal Communications Commission documents,The Guardian reported that the Pentagon is testing mass surveillance balloons with cameras above six states in the Midwest. The FCC authorized the Sierra Nevada Corporation to test the balloons from mid-July through Sept. 1, citing their role to deter drug trafficking and homeland security threats. But the test’s end goals are unclear, and privacy advocates say the balloons collect data on unsuspecting citizens. [Read more]

Week of Aug. 5, 2019


A peek into Palantir’s predictive policing, using analytics to win Formula E races, and more top BI news.

The National Institutes of Health asks for big data to enhance eye disease research

A new report from a working group within the National Institutes of Health (NIH) asks for several datasets to leverage big data as a tool to enhance research for dry age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The lack of preventative treatment for AMD led group members to ask for synthesized big data from departments such as genomic, preclinical, medical, and more. The report says this data will enhance predictive modeling, which they’ll use to build unique patient care treatment plans. AMD is the leading cause of blindness among people aged 65 or older, and impacts more than 11 million people in the U.S. [Read more]

A deep dive into Palantir’s big data

Palantir is a data analytics supplier at its core, with a client roster that includes some of the world’s largest law enforcement agencies. The Los Angeles Police Department uses Gotham— a Palantir product—to find and deter people whom the system deems most likely to commit crimes. Thanks to a public record request by Motherboard, a user manual offers more insights into the data that Gotham collects. [Read more]

An Indiana health system uses BI to boost patient referrals

Community Health Network in Indianapolis needed access to data that would include physician liaisons in their growth strategies. In a feature article for Health IT News, author Bill Siwicki shares how their choice to use a BI vendor put them on the path to achieve this goal. [Read more]

Predictive analytics helped a Formula E racing team finish in the top 3 all season

Last year, the Formula 3 Envision Racing team approached Armen Kherlopian, Chief Science Officer at Genpact, at an AI Summit in London. They wanted Kherlopian to help them use AI and predictive analytics to boost their electric car racing team’s performance. In an interview for the Tearsheet podcast, Kherlopian explains how he did it. [Read more]

Aussie government builds the world’s first office to monitor tech algorithms

A new, special branch of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) will launch the world’s first office devoted to scrutinizing algorithms from “big tech” companies like Google and Facebook. The recommendation for this branch came from a new ACCC report, which also called for stronger privacy laws and a code of conduct to restrict the ways that firms can profit from user content. [Read more]

Business leaders waste money on analytics programs that confirm what they already know

Shailendra Kumar, VP and Chief Analytics Evangelist at SAP, told Which-50 that too many teams use advanced analytics to confirm what they already know, rather than to find new insights that can scale their businesses. Kumar says this partially stems from businesses not using prescriptive and predictive analytics in tandem. [Read more]

Week of July 29, 2019


The FTC Slaps Facebook With a Fine, Microsoft Wants Feedback on New Data Sharing Rules, and More BI News

Can big data prevent drug abuse?

Hai Phan, assistant professor of informatics at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, used big data and machine learning to build DrugTracker. The tool analyzes social media posts and geospatial data in near-real time. Phan is working with Prevention Links, a New Jersey-based nonprofit, to pilot DrugTracker and use it to prevent drug overdoses. [Read more]

FTC sues Facebook for $5 billion

The Federal Trade Commission slapped Facebook with a $5 billion fine, along with a separate lawsuit against Cambridge Analytica. The FTC accused Cambridge Analytics of harvesting Facebook users’ data through a personality test app. The FTC’s complaint accused the app of taking data from at least 250,000 Facebook users and 50 million of their friends despite telling users they would not download users’ names or other identifiable details. [Read more]

Microsoft drafts new data sharing agreements

The world’s most valuable company announced three drafts of agreements regarding data usage and storage. Microsoft also released calls for feedback on each draft, which they’ll accept through Oct. 1, 2019. Microsoft plans to release final versions of each draft later this autumn. [Read more]

Google settles $13 million lawsuit over data privacy breaches

The case started in 2010 when several people sued after Google admitted that its “Street View” vehicles collected data from WiFi networks that lacked password protection, including emails. Google called this privacy breach a “mistake” at the time. [Read more]

Forecasting is AI’s biggest opportunity in healthcare

In an interview at the recent AWS Summit in New York City, Shez Partovi, M.D., who leads AWS’s healthcare and life sciences division, predicted that AI will have the most value in healthcare via clinical and operational forecasting. Dr. Partovi also said that hospitals can use AI to predict patient events, like needing to re-schedule a surgery. [Read more]

The U.S. Air Force uses analytics to predict aircraft failures

The Air Force has already tested the CBM+ predictive analytics technique on its B-1B Lancer, KC-135R tanker, and C-5M aircraft at 10 Air Force bases worldwide. The technique uses data analytics to find which aircraft components need repairs before malfunctions occur. [Read more]

Near, an AI platform, raises $100 million in Series D round

The seven-year-old startup uses its own machine learning models to crunch mobility data from 1.6 billion global devices. Near uses analytics to help companies find relevant behavioral attributes, like which stores women ages 18 – 25 shop in at each time of day. Headquartered in Singapore, Near counts Mastercard, WeWork, and MetLife among its clientele. [Read more]

Week of July 22, 2019


The FBI investigates FaceApp, senators slam Facebook’s cryptocurrency, and more big BI news

The FBI investigates Faceapp’s terms of service

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer asked the FBI and the Federal Trade Commission to launch a national security and privacy investigation into FaceApp, a viral app developed in Russia. FaceApp uses filters to alter uploaded images and make users’ headshots appear much older. It also demands “full and irrevocable access to their personal photos and data,” which Schumer says threatens national security and consumer privacy. [Read more]

Zappos shares its pain points using semantic analysis

Zappos—one of the world’s most popular e-retailers—used machine learning to overhaul its search algorithms. Over the last two years, the data scientist team built semantic search options that try to learn the context and intent behind certain terms that users search for. At VentureBeat’s Transform 2019 conference, lead data scientist Ameen Kazerouni shared the pros and cons of implementing this technique. [Read more]

Mining the world’s research papers

An American technologist named Carl Malamud spent the past year working with Indian researchers to extract text and images from 73 million journal articles dating back to 1847. Malamud believes that the content serves a public good and sees himself as freeing it all from the paywall curtain. But he hasn’t asked publishers for permission to take this data, which leaves many wondering if this is legal. [Read more]

Can big data predict if the Fed will raise interest rates?

Another day, another guess at whether the U.S. Federal Reserve will lower interest rates. BlackRock Systematic Active Equity took it one step further by processing more than 5,000 daily broker research reports to measure sell-side analyst perceptions about monetary policy. Then, the team used sentiment analysis to aggregate analysts’ data and report overall expectations for future monetary policy. What did they find? [Read more]

The U.S. Senate slams Facebook’s crytocurrency

Members of the U.S. Senate Banking Committee kicked off hearings on Facebook’s planned cryptocurrency by putting the tech giant on blast. Senators Sherrod Brown (D) of Ohio and Martha McSally (R) of Arizona demanded to know why the government and public should trust the cryptocurrency—currently called Libra—given Facebook’s recent history of major data breaches. The hearing started one week after the Federal Trade Commission slapped a $5 billion fine on Facebook for sharing users’ data with Cambridge Analytics. [Read more]

Big data helps farmers manage climate change

Erratic weather has caused farmers around the world to lose $6.5 billion in revenue. Speaking to the audience at Fortune’s Brainstorm Tech conference, Land O’Lakes CEO Beth Ford said the brand is working to build predictive models that will help farmers know what, when, and how to plant based on climate change. [Read more]

Disney’s MagicBand tracks families through its parks

Within the last decade, Disney theme parks shifted from paper tickets and turnstiles to build a $1 billion digital transformation via its MagicBand—a wearable device that lets users buy food, hold their spots in line, and unlock their hotel rooms. The MagicBand tracks users’ every move, giving Disney a treasure trove of data on unsuspecting users, including kids. [Read more]

Week of July 15, 2019


Alexa gives medical advice, Iowa State students win a data-mining prize, and more BI news

“Alexa, what’s my blood pressure?”

The UK’s National Health Service (NHS) announced a partnership with Amazon to give NHS-vetted answers to basic health questions via Amazon’s Alexa device. The device currently pulls answers to such questions from a range of sources, including WebMD and the Mayo Clinic. Amazon hasn’t yet confirmed if these answers will be available to Alexa users outside the United Kingdom. [Read more]

Pico to acquire Irish data-analytics company Corvil

The move will complete Pico’s portfolio of tech services aimed at tech services for global financial markets. Corvil offers analytics and machine intelligence products for financial markets. Under this acquisition, their combined client base includes more than 400 banks, exchanges, asset managers, financial technology companies and trading firms across five continents. [Read more]

Ataira builds an add-in for Microsoft AppSource

The BI lifecycle provider released its Microsoft Power BI Collaboration add-in for Microsoft SharePoint to AppSource. The move allows users to view all of their Microsoft Power BI reports and dashboards in SharePoint, among other actions. Ataira’s add-in helps teams see all their BI efforts in one location. [Read more]

Iowa State students win a global data-mining competition

The team of grad students beat peers from 114 schools in 28 countries to win the 20th annual Data Mining Cup on July 3, in Berlin. The challenge asked students to build mathematical models that could find fraud at self-checkout stations in grocery stores without disrupting customers. Ph.D Candidate Qihao Zhang said he was confident in his team’s model “because it captured the relationship between input and outcome.” [Read more]

LifeSciences partners with Tissue Analytics on wound care clinical trials

The partnership aims to solve the issue of not having enough quality data to assess burns, pressure ulcers, and other wounds. Integra LifeSciences will use Tissue Analytics’ software—which uses AI to extract images from clinical data—to advance its experience with wound repair products in a clinical trial setting. [Read more]

How data analytics impact private equity

At a recent Wharton customer analytics conference, Sajjad Jaffer and Ian Picache, cofounders of the firm Two Six Capital, said they use large-scale, cloud-based engineering to predict portfolio companies’ revenues. Picache said their tech handles “billions of rows of data” to make predictions based on every customer and transaction. Jaffer added that Two Six shortens commercial diligence by quickly predicting a company’s ability to yield returns. [Read more]

Syncfusion launches cloud-based BI platform

The tool, called Bold BI, gives users a data integration platform to prepare data and build dashboards. Daniel Jebaraj, vice president of Syncfusion, said that Bold BI’s market entrance “…allows the average mid-sized company access to data insights that can transform their business.” Bold BI integrates with more than 80 of the most common data sources, including Oracle and Microsoft SQL Server. [Read more]

Week of July 8, 2019


Penn State scores data science funding, ad executives are drowning in data, and more BI news.

From a 216-word pitch to a $2.6 billion acquisition

Looker made headlines earlier this year when Google Cloud bought the data analytics startup for $2.6 billion. This long read from First Round Review—Looker’s first investor—shares key lessons learned that helped this startup scale to success. One pearl of wisdom:

“With Looker, I may not have been sure how I was going to achieve it, but I was clear on what the mission was from the jump: to build a product that lets everyone in the organization see everything that’s happening, through data.”

[Read more]

Cegedim launches a British health data business

The health tech firm announced its new data business to support pharmaceutical, clinical research, and academic organizations. Customers will gain access to more than 56 million anonymized, real-world patient records via The Health Improvement Network (THIN) database. Cegedim also announced plans to launch Health Data Lab, a cloud BI and analytics tool that provides bespoke analysis for use cases like treatment pathways. [Read more]

Ad execs are overwhelmed by analytics

A survey of ad executives found that nearly three quarters have relationships with at least two data platforms/providers. Respondents said this is in large part because of a lack of integrations between the tools they use. Some 69% cited the amount of data they must work with as the main reason for using more data platforms/providers. [Read more]

Two healthcare analytics firms join forces

The partnership will merge technology by Prognos Health and Datavant to help healthcare organizations analyze clinical lab results. Prognos uses AI analytics to track patient data and predict disease, while Datavant helps healthcare firms privately analyze secure data. [Read more]

Penn State earns $4 million from the National Science Foundation

The multi-institution grant will help Penn State find and fund solutions for scientific and societal problems using data science. Penn State is part of the Northeast Big Data Innovation Hub, which provides funding for Penn State projects like the Virtual Data Collaboratory and the Institute for CyberScience. [Read more]

source{d} debuts an enterprise edition of its analytics platform

Its enterprise edition product offers advanced tools for executives to manage their software portfolios and the processes used to create them. source{d} offers analytics for developers and IT teams’ software development lifecycles. [Read more]

Traveldoo launches interactive dashboards with Tableau

The travel and expense firm within Expedia Group will provide data visualization tailored to user roles. The new feature, called Traveldoo Insights, is powered by Tableau, a data visualization tool that Salesforce recently purchased for more than $15 billion. [Read more]

Week of July 1, 2019


Big data used to save bees, NHS in trouble over data breach, and more BI news

Machine learning can assess cognitive brain health

In a new study published by the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, researchers used supervised machine learning and predictive modeling to assess early-stage cognitive impairment. The research aims to validate use of a clinical decision support screening tool for Alzheimer’s disease. [Read more]

Big data’s being used to save the bees

A four-year project is underway to save sustainable beekeeping in the European Union. The project, entitled Horizon 2020 project B-GOOD, aims to build a health and management data platform to boost knowledge sharing between beekeepers and scientists across the EU. The project will use machine learning to link bee health with environmental context and collect real-time data on bee colony health. [Read more]

Only big data can prevent forest fires

The Los Angeles Fire Department is testing a program called FireMap that makes quick predictions about where active fires will spread. Ilkay Altintas, the chief data science officer at the San Diego Supercomputer Center, told The New York Times that FireMap uses AI and big data to make predictions within minutes that would take hours to run manually. [Read more]

An HIV patient will sue the NHS over data breach

The Highland branch of the UK’s National Health Service exposed 37 HIV patients’ names and email addresses via an email invitation to join a support group. Health Secretary Jeane Freeman told The Press and Journal that NHS Highland informed those affected and the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). But one patient told the same news outlet that NHS Highland offered no counseling, hotline details, or any other support to those who saw their identities exposed. [Read more]

UNCG to launch a Master’s program in big data

The University of North Carolina at Greensboro announced plans to debut a new Master’s degree program in Analytics and Informatics this fall. UNCG Provost Dana Dunn said the program fulfills its obligation as a public school to meet demand for graduates in this field. [Read more]

Palantir’s CEO slams Silicon Valley

Alex Karp—CEO of one of Silicon Valley’s most successful, secretive unicorns—told CNBC that Big Tech doesn’t have Americans’ interests at heart. “Now Silicon Valley is creating micro communities that break the consensus of larger society while simultaneously telling the average American, ‘I will not support your defense needs,’ and then selling their products that are adversarial to America,” he said. Palantir counts the U.S. Defense Department, CIA, and FBI amongst its clients. [Read more]

The National Science Foundation invests $4 million in Southern big data

The grant will finance continued support for the South Big Data Innovation Hub, which helps 16 Southern states use data science to address social needs. It is one of four NSF-supported regional hubs across the U.S. and—among other goals—aims to address the shortage of data science talent. Key goals include ethical data sharing, enhanced response to natural disasters, and use of data science in precision medicine. [Read more]

Week of June 24, 2019


Canada brings BI to cannabis, Google enters healthcare, and more BI news

Aprio Cloud and Jirav to build an accounting tool with real-time data visibility

The deal will integrate technology from Jirav —a financial forecasting and analytics firm —into Aprio Cloud, an accounting platform. They aim to provide real-time data analytics for small and midsize businesses. The new tool will integrate with more mainstream options like QuickBooks Online, NetSuite, and Xero. [Read more]

Syncfusion launches a new BI platform

The enterprise tech partner launched Bold BI, a cloud-based tool to help users manage data preparation. In a press release, Syncfusion announced that Bold BI integrates with more than 80 of the most common data sources, including Oracle and Microsoft SQL Server. Bold BI also has vertical-based tools for teams working in finance, healthcare, insurance, and more. [Read more]

Google partners with Sanofi for big data in med tech

Google announced plans to work with the drugmaker in an innovation lab “to harness ’emerging data technologies'”. Sanofi will harness Google’s data processing power to gain insights into offering more personalized patient outcomes. Sanofi will also move some of its business apps to the cloud, and it’s unclear if the partnership will give Google access to patient data. [Read more]

PWC Canada and New Frontier Data will bring BI to the cannabis sector

The consulting firm announced its partnership with New Frontier Data—an analytics firm for clients in the cannabis industry—at the 2019 World Cannabis Congress. A joint press release shared the companies’ goals to improve data analytics, BI, and consulting services tailored for the cannabis market. A report released by New Frontier Data last April reported potential cannabis retail sales of over $340 billion USD. [Read more]

Matillion raises $35 million in a Series C round

The UK-based data transformation tool will use its new funds to scale engineering talent, product development, and customer support. Customers such as Siemens and GE use Matillion to pull data from cloud and on-premise tools, then move said data into cloud data warehouse systems for tasks like machine learning. Their Series C round brings Matillion’s total funding to $60 million so far. [Read more]

Ad creators get inspired by big data

The explosion of consumer data is leading ad agencies to question their campaign strategies. The Wall Street Journal reports that data-marketing units like Acxiom will prevent ad teams from wasting money. But in a profession known for acting on intuition, not everyone is on board with big data. [Read more]

BI revenue might reach $274 billion by 2022

Rob Marvin of PCMag.com cites IDC research which projects a huge increase in BI revenue over the next three years, up from an estimated $189 billion in 2019. Marvin cites recent acquisitions of BI tools like Tableau as evidence that the tech world aims to bring such software into their product suites. [Read more]

Week of June 17, 2019


Salesforce and Google pay billions for big data, Skullcandy rolls out machine learning, and more BI news

Skullcandy partners with Big Squid to roll out a BI tool

The audio device brand will use Big Squid’s automated machine learning to forecast monthly product returns, find failing parts, and improve its manufacturing. Jesse Mease, Skullcandy’s warranty return data specialist, also worked with Big Squid’s customer service and data science teams to build a custom natural language processing program that found repeating words and phrases. [Read more]

Salesforce buys Tableau for $15.3 billion

The all-stock deal will allow Salesforce co-CEOs Marc Benioff and Keith Block to integrate Tableau’s data visualization features across the Salesforce product suite. It comes as Tableau extends its own product line to include data cleanup and machine learning tools — and as Salesforce races to reach its annual revenue goal of $18 billion by fiscal year 2023. [Read more]

Google pays $2.6 billion for Looker

The all-cash deal will allow Google to integrate the BI software for data analysis into its Google Cloud portfolio. Analysts view this acquisition as a sign of competition with Microsoft, which will end support for Windows Server 2008 in January 2020. [Read more]

Logi Analytics acquires Zoomdata

The acquisition was announced 20 months after Logi Analytics was itself acquired by Marlin Equity Partners. Logi—which helps application leaders embed analytics into their own products—will leverage Zoomdata’s API, which appeals to a broader BI market. [Read more]

An Aussie art gallery alerts patrons to data mining danger

Simon Denny, a New Zealand-born artist based in Berlin, designed the MONA exhibit to teach patrons how easily they give away their data—and how quickly that data is sold for profits they’ll never see. Denny’s exhibit is on display at Hobart, Tasmania’s Museum of Old and New Art through April 13, 2020, with a showing in Sydney from June 28 to Aug. 11, 2019. [Read more]

Week of June 10, 2019


Data mining hurts democracy, the U.S. Army starts using AI, and more BI news

Does data mining decrease trust in elections?

Jamie Bartlett, a journalist and senior fellow at Demos, used his keynote at Infosecurity Europe to share his fear that data mining sparks distrust in voting. Bartlett cited Facebook’s scandal with Cambridge Analytica as proof that “microtargeting” fueled by data science leads data mining firms to try swaying voters. [Read more]

1 in 3 fleet executives can’t use BI software

An April 2019 survey of 2,000 fleet executives found that 33% lack a software platform to manage their fleets’ total cost of ownership (TCO). Respondents cited poor integrations and user experience as barriers to using big data for fleet management. [Read more]

TIBCO earns top marks from Gartner

The self-service analytics tool got the highest score for decentralized analytics in Gartner’s 2019 Critical Capabilities for Analytics and Business Intelligence Platforms report. TIBCO also got the second highest score in four use cases, including data discovery and embedded BI. [Read more]

IBM adds data science to its Db2 database

The IT giant put “built-in support” for data science development in its 11.5 release. This release also includes the Augmented Data Explorer, a new natural language querying feature for developers. [Read more]

The Biden Cancer Initiative moves into data mining

Joe and Jill Biden’s nonprofit announced its partnership with nine healthcare providers to launch a shared platform called Oncology Clinical Trial Information Commons (OCTIC). The platform will help biopharma companies enter and share details about clinical trials, patient matches, and other aspects of data mining. [Read more]

UVA uses data science for job hunting

Three Ph.D. candidates at the University of Virginia are building a dataset to try quantifying successful job candidates. The UVA Data Science Institute gave the students a Presidential Fellowship in data science for their efforts. [Read more]

The U.S. Army taps Palantir to its lead battlefield intelligence

The Silicon Valley-based data mining firm beat conglomerates like Raytheon to redesign the Army’s Distributed Common Ground System. Analysts say this could put position Palantir to influence the Army’s AI strategy as it emphasizes real-time data analysis. [Read more]

Week of June 3, 2019


CrossFit quits Facebook, Canada tries to predict policy impacts, and more BI news

More and more restaurants turn to data mining

From McDonald’s building digital menus to Sonic implementing voice-assisted tech, an increasing number of restaurants use predictive analytics. Their goal? Personalization. But in a feature for Restaurant Dive, several hospitality leaders—including the CTO of OpenTable—said there’s a fine line between convenient and creepy. [Read more]

Canada’s government starts using predictive analytics

The Federal government hired Mission Measurement, a Chicago-based data firm, to track and improve the outcomes of Canada’s Youth Employment Strategy. The Privy Council Office’s Impact and Innovation Unit will give politicians real-time data to predict how successful certain legislation will be, rather than waiting to assess it years later. [Read more]

Data workers report feeling overwhelmed

A survey by Alteryx, a data analytics platform, found that data workers – including data scientists – spend 44 percent of their work weeks searching for and organizing data. The same survey found that data handlers manage an average of six data sources, up to 40 million rows of data, and seven separate outputs that can range from trend analyses to business projections. [Read more]

AI is automating business analysts’ roles

Research from AMPLYFI found that the need for problem-solving and communications skills increased 112% and 19%, respectively, between 2014 and 2019. Cary Cooper, professor of organizational psychology at Alliance Manchester Business School, attributed this growth to increased automation of number-crunching tasks within the business analyst role. [Read more]

CrossFit quits Facebook and Instagram

The fitness empire deactivated all Facebook and Instagram pages indefinitely. Co-Founder Greg Glassman cited concerns about data privacy on both platforms as the culprit for CrossFit’s suspension. [Read more]

Week of May 28, 2019


Sharing data with employees, predicting drug shortages, and more BI news

MicroStrategy’s BI tool earns high scores from Gartner

Microstrategy took the #1 slot across 4 use cases in Gartner’s latest “Critical Capabilities for Analytics and Business Intelligence Platforms” report. Gartner reports that the enterprise analytics software grew its revenue by 26.3% between 2017 and 2018. [Read more]

Zulily shares its data with all employees

The e-commerce retailer revealed that it shares internal data with employees. Bindu Thota, VP of Technology, told CIO.com that this gave data scientists more time to solve strategic business problems and create in-house, proprietary data tools. [Read more]

A new BI merger to boost patient satisfaction

Bialogics Analytics—a BI analytics provider—announced its new partnership with Life Image. Bialogics will offer its analytics services to Life Image’s network of healthcare systems, including hospitals and physician practices. The partnership aims to help healthcare providers boost patient satisfaction and fiscal performance by improving access to medical imaging analytics. [Read more]

Can data analytics prevent drug shortages?

Jessica Daley, VP at HC Pharmacy and Supply Chain Commercial Services, said her unit uses data analytics to prevent drug shortages. Speaking at the 2nd Annual Health IT + Clinical Leadership + Pharmacy conference this month, Daley said that analytics help her team predict potential shortages before they hit the market. [Read more]

India’s Congress uses data analytics to detect fraud

Praveen Chakravarty, chairman of the Congress’ analytics unit, said that his department built a forensic model to find suspicious activity in electronic voting machines (EVMs). Congress will use the model to analyze poll day inputs, which candidates have been asked to send. [Read more]

Week of May 20, 2019


A big blockchain merge, pending Facebook lawsuit, and more BI news

Facebook sues an app developer over data mining

Facebook filed a lawsuit this month against Rankwave, a South Korean app developer. The lawsuit alleges that Rankwave drew on data about Facebook’s users for advertising purposes. Facebook’s contracts with app developers forbid them from using data for any reason other than “enhancing the app users’ experience on the app.” [Read more]

The Reserve Bank of India will use data analytics to detect fraud

RBI says finding and preemptively blocking possible fraud cases will be a key goal through 2021. The full strategic plan, entitled Vision 2021, aims to boost efficiency in e-payments and settlements. RBI said that customers’ increasing reliance on digital payments via mobile spurred the move. [Read more]

Sisense acquires Persiscope Data

Israeli BI provider Sisense paid more than $100 million in shares to buy the U.S.-based cloud data analytics tool. Combined, these companies will yield more than $100 million in annual revenue, with 700 employees serving 2,000 customers. [Read more]

Tendril acquires EnergySavvy

The utility energy data specialist provider bought EnergySavvy for an undisclosed sum. Tendril CEO Adrian Tuck said in an interview that the acquisition aims to turn customers’ energy data into tailored insights. Tuck’s goal is to provide tips such as ways to save energy and reduce bills, thus boosting customer satisfaction. [Read more]

Argo and HIVE unite to build a blockhain data mining platform

Argo Blockchain announced its partnership with HIVE Blockchain Technologies to create a new B2B mining services provider. The merge will unite Argo’s 10.5 MW of data center capacity in Quebec with HIVE’s 45 MW across crypto-mining facilities in Iceland, Sweden, and Norway. [Read more]

Week of May 13, 2019


The 4 most important metrics for SMBs, data mining in universities, and more BI news

Microsoft rolls out Azure updates at Build

Microsoft used the opening keynote of its annual developer conference to share several updates to its Azure product. These include an announcement that IoT Edge integrates with Kubernetes (Google’s open source container orchestration system).

Adopting analytics is an IT priority

Unfortunately, too many IT leaders don’t know how to do it. A poll of 150 IT leaders at large and midsize businesses found that improving analytics is one of six functional priorities for 2019. However, the same poll found that just 17% of IT leaders have current or imminent plans to drive digital transformation.

(Which) metrics matter?

Michael Plummer of Forbes Technology Council advised SMBs in a Forbes op-ed not to treat all metrics equally. He counts sales revenue, gross margin, customer lifetime value, and customer retention as four of the nine metrics that SMB owners must track. Also included: Employee and founder satisfaction.

Paging Dr. Data

Vanderbilt Health has started using predictive analytics to forecast case volume in operating rooms. David Wyatt, VP of perioperative enterprise at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, told Health Data Management that they can anticipate final OR staffing levels seven days in advance. Vanderbilt Health is currently the only known medical health center to have such in-house predictive analytics.

Data mining’s used for deportations

A recent article in TechCrunch reported that agents in ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations unit used data mining software by Palantir Technologies to build profiles of immigrant children and their family members. ICE documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act found that investigation agents were told to track the arrivals of unaccompanied minors within ICM, a software platform developed by Palantir.

Data dashboards go to college

Nitin Madhok of Clemson University told EdTech Magazine that the school had chosen to integrate its learning management system with Splunk, a real-time data processing and analytics platform. Madhok shared that his main goal is to mine data like student performance and instructor feedback to find the best courses and give students advice on how to improve their grades. A growing number of universities use data mining: Recent research found that 89% of respondents reported investing in data analytics.

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Week of October 22nd, 2019


Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff calls for a new form of capitalism, Taco Bell faces lawsuit over $5 chalupas, and more sales and marketing news.

Salesforce CEO pens op-ed in NYT calling capitalism dead

In an opinion piece published by the New York Times Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce, wrote “capitalism, as we know it, is dead.” While Benioff admits capitalism has benefitted him personally, he cites increasing wealth concentration, climate change, and other consequences attributed to maximizing shareholder value at any cost as reasons capitalism needs to be reinvented. According to Benioff, businesses must take more responsibility, measuring their return to stakeholders as well as shareholders—which include employees, customers, communities, and the planet. [Read more]

Mandatory labeling for products with microphones and cameras proposed

A senator from Colorado has introduced the Protecting Privacy in our Homes Act, which would order the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to develop regulations for labeling products that include internet-connected microphones or cameras. Rather than define the labeling standards, the legislation would require the FTC to impose specific regulations “under which each covered manufacturer shall be required to include on the packaging of each covered device manufactured by the covered manufacturer a notice that a camera or microphone is a component of the covered device.” [Read more]

Falling retail sales hint at cracks in the economy

The U.S. Census Bureau’s monthly estimate of retail sales declined 0.3% in September, the first sequential contraction in seven months. Retail sales decline was driven by a slump in spending on cars, building materials, personal hobbies, and online purchases. Reports from September also show job growth and manufacturing activity growth tempering, as uncertainty around the future economic climate mounts. [Read more]

Juul suspends sales of flavored products, mint and menthol remain available

Juul Labs Inc. announced it will temporarily stop selling most flavored e-cigarette products—such as mango, fruit, and cucumber. The chief executive at Juul, Kevin Burns, stepped down late last month amid ongoing scrutiny surrounding underage use of electronic cigarettes. Critics say the company’s decision to continue selling mint and menthol flavored products suggest steps toward self-regulation by Juul don’t go far enough. Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg released statement that said pulling flavored products was “too little and too late.” [Read more]

Couple alleges consumer fraud over price of Taco Bell $5 Chalupa Cravings Box

After watching a television ad for Taco Bell’s $5 Chalupa Cravings Box, a New Jersey couple is suing the Mexican inspired fast food giant for consumer fraud. Receipts show each was charged $6.06 before tax for the chalupa special, which the couple’s attorney claims is a “classic bait and switch” that relies on deceptive advertising where costs are buried in hidden fees. Taco Bell stands by its ad campaigns, telling VICE News its marketing is “truthful and accurate.” The company also said it will “defend this case vigorously.” [Read more]

Week of October 1, 2019


Juul and WeWork CEOs step down, Ageism concerns in marketing, and more sales and marketing news.

Juul CEO steps down and all broadcast, print and digital advertising suspended

The chief executive at Juul Labs Inc., Kevin Burns, has stepped down amid ongoing scrutiny surrounding underage use of electronic cigarettes as well as questionable advertising practices. Earlier this month, the company received a warning from the FDA for unlawfully marketing its vaporizers as modified use tobacco products. Altria and Philip Morris International Inc. ended talks of a potential merger with Juul amid the controversy. [Read more]

WeWork CEO steps down amid pressure from board of directors

Adam Neumann has relinquished his role as the CEO of WeWork’s parent company, the We Company. The ex-CEO’s professional judgement and ethics were repeatedly called into question as investors and the public looked more closely at WeWork’s history. The office sharing business saw its valuation drop nearly 70%, from $47 billion to as low as $15 billion, in the run up to its since canceled IPO as more details about the organization’s financials and leadership were revealed. [Read more]

Report finds ageism runs rampant in marketing

Despite trillions in spending power, older consumers are underrepresented and depicted as unrealistic stereotypes in marketing according to new research from AARP. The study analyzed 1,116 images published or posted by popular brands and groups. It found that despite more than one third of the U.S. population being over the age of 50, the group only appears in 15% of ad images. This demographic also makes up a third of the American workforce however, images depicting elderly people show them at home more than any other circumstance, often accompanied by a medical professional or partner. [Read more]

Comscore charged with accounting fraud, pays $5 million settlement to the SEC

The media-measurement company Comscore and its former CEO Serge Matta were charged with accounting fraud for overstating revenue by $50 million from 2014 to 2016. Comscore and Matta agreed to pay $5 million and $700,000 respectively, with the ex-CEO also agreeing to reimburse Comscore $2.1 million for earnings made through a stock-based compensation scheme. [Read more]

Week of September 16th, 2019


Salesforce wants people to understand what it does, the end is nigh for advertisers, and other sales and marketing news.

Salesforce launches campaign to explain what it does

Despite being a $130 billion company and the world’s largest provider of CRM software, Salesforce is relatively unknown to the average person. To be fair, the company ambiguously describes itself as a “solution that brings companies and customers together.” A new ad campaign is trying to change all that by contextualizing the role CRM software plays in everyday lives, and how businesses like manufacturers, retailers, and the government leverage it to manage relationships. [Read more]

Google faces bipartisan antitrust probe about ad practices

Attorney generals from 48 U.S. states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia are launching a bipartisan antitrust probe into whether Google is providing the best prices to advertisers, as well as the best search results to consumers. This probe falls within a larger trend of increased scrutiny of digital advertising practices as legislators attempt to better regulate giant U.S. tech companies and protect consumer data privacy. [Read more]

Asics is demanding higher standards for ad viewability metrics

In an effort to optimize campaign performance, sportswear brand Asics is purchasing only display ad slots that are 100% in-view for a certain time period. The company is using a metric called “viewable cost-per-thousand impression” to avoid paying for ads that aren’t viewed by consumers. Historically, advertisers have used an aggregate measure of all digital impressions, which does not differentiate between ads viewed for one second versus a few seconds. [Read more]

Juul receives FDA warning about its marketing practices

Despite apologies from its CEO in July about the company’s contributions to the rise in teen vaping, Juul received a warning from the FDA last week for deceptive marketing practices that presented its products as safer than traditional cigarettes. The electronic cigarette company is accused of falsely marketing its goods as modified risk tobacco products, a distinction given to products considered lower risk than traditional cigarettes. According to the FDA, Juul’s e-cigarettes don’t currently meet the legal designation for modified risk products. [Read more]

The end is nigh for marketers

This Ad Age piece isn’t quite a harbinger of death, but it’s certainly less than ideal. In the event of a recession U.S., ad spending will plummet. Ad agencies can expect to lose between three and 30% of their revenue, digital media spending will decline as people become less likely to make purchases, television will feel the effects of cord cutters spoiled with streaming service choices, and ad tech investment will decelerate sharply. Whether it’s an economic downturn or a full-on recession, something is coming. [Read more]

Week of August 16th, 2019


Zendesk’s Smooch acquisition pays off with WhatsApp integration, Facebook sues advertisers for click injection fraud and other sales and marketing news.

Zendesk leverages Smooch acquisition to improve WhatsApp integration

Starting Wednesday, all Zendesk Support and Suite customers will have access to WhatsApp for Zendesk, priced at $5 per user, per month. In May, Zendesk acquired Smooch, a startup that describes itself as an “omnichannel messaging platform” and enables service teams to engage with customers using popular chat apps like WhatsApp, WeChat, and Line. [Read more]

SurveyMonkey will acquire CX company GetFeedback

Survey software provider SurveyMonkey announced it will acquire customer experience (CX) management company GetFeedback. The acquisition tracks a trend among software companies looking to expand product offerings, with Salesforce’s recent $15.3 billion purchase of Tableau marking one of the largest enterprise deals ever. [Read more]

Digital advertising is making people paranoid

A recent GetApp survey found 46% of U.S. consumers have seen ads for products or services they talked about offline, but never searched for online. While many people may feel their devices are listening to them, the reality is more complicated. Enriched data sets, online behavior and predictive models inform the advertisements we see online. Modern ad targeting techniques are more accurately likened to stalking people than simply listening to their conversations. [Read more]

Cold calls and spam emails should soon be a relic of the past

No one likes to receive unsolicited sales calls, yet they persist. No one enjoys scrolling past endless marketing emails, yet over 100 billion marketing emails are sent every day. As advertising techniques that rely on persistence and volume of outreach increasingly fail, businesses are realizing the true value of forming personal relationships with their customers. [Read more]

Facebook sues app developers for using click injection fraud to generate ad revenue

Facebook is suing two app developers for click injection fraud. The lawsuit alleges that two developers, Hong Kong-based LionMobi and Singapore-based JediMobi, installed malware on users phones through the Google Playstore that generated fake clicks for Facebook advertisements. Facebook said it refunded advertisers impacted by the fake clicks. [Read more]

Week of August 5th, 2019


Salesforce forms partnership with Alibaba to increase sales in China, AI is helping Chase bank write ad copy, and other sales and marketing news.

Salesforce partners with Alibaba to grow software sales in China

Salesforce announced it would partner with Alibaba, China’s homegrown Amazon equivalent, in an effort to increase software sales in the country. Foreign companies commonly partner with local firms in China, and some industries require foreigners form joint business ventures where Chinese citizens are majority stakeholders as a stipulation for entering the market. PRC law also mandates important data generated in China is stored on local servers. Alibaba’s position as a leading cloud service provider, as well as a stamp of approval from the government, should benefit Salesforce as it ramps up operations in the region. [Read more]

Chase signs five-year deal to hire AI copywriters

J.P. Morgan Chase Bank signed a deal with Persado, an agency that applies artificial intelligence to creative marketing, to help with ideating and writing display ad copy. Company representatives said the product is a tool that works alongside human writers rather than replaces them. Ads that were created by the machine learning platform saw higher click-through rates than those written by humans. [Read more]

Amazon customer service reps in the Philippines report 24-hour shifts

Call center employees working for an Amazon subcontractor in the Philippines report 16 to 24-hour shifts are common. As businesses aim to continually improve their customer experience, people working behind the scenes to keep everything running smoothly and on time are increasingly overworked and underpaid. [Read more]

Uber goes public—then slashes 400 people from its marketing department

Just a few months after going public, Uber has laid off roughly one-third of its marketing department. The decision comes in response to mounting pressure from investors skeptical of the company’s ability to turn a profit. Rapid growth and lack of cohesive strategy led Uber’s marketing efforts to become bloated, revealing a lot about issues the brand faces. [Read more]

Huawei reports 23% sales growth despite sitting in US government crosshairs

Huawei announced total revenue of $57.8 billion in the first half of 2019, representing 23% growth compared with the same period last year. This sales growth comes after the company was placed on a trade blacklist by the U.S. government in mid-May. The Trump administration claims Huawei’s technology poses a security threat because of the company’s ties to the Chinese government. However, the president has already begun lifting restrictions on U.S. firms that sell components to the company. For now, Huawei says, “operations are smooth and the organization is as sound as ever,” but that difficulties ahead may impact growth. [Read more]

Week of July 22nd, 2019


HubSpot doubles down on free services with email marketing, Etsy faces seller opposition to free shipping, and other news

HubSpot CRM’s free tier now includes email marketing

HubSpot CRM users leveraging the company’s free tier will now have access to free email marketing services. They will also be able to manage up to $1,000 per month in campaign spending on Facebook, Google, and LinkedIn. According to the company, many users already use email marketing tools on other platforms, so by offering them alongside Hubspot CRM, the platform can become a more integral part of user workflows.

Software vendors repositioning themselves as one-stop shops for marketing software is part of a larger, industry-wide trend. Earlier this year Mailchimp, a popular tool for managing customer-facing email outreach, expanded its product offerings to include ad re-tartgeting, social media management, and other marketing tools. [Read more]

Backlash from Etsy users is a reminder that shipping has never been free

Etsy recently announced it will begin prioritizing goods and vendors that offer free shipping on orders of $35 or more, in an effort to match delivery speeds offered by big-box sites such as Amazon and Walmart.

But free delivery has always been an illusion—Amazon loses billions of dollars every year on shipping in order to provide a good customer experience. Etsy can’t afford to subsidize shipping, instead advising sellers to include delivery costs in item pricing. Some vendors feel the move to prioritize free shipping on Etsy doesn’t sit well with the site’s reputation as a marketplace for unique, handmade products created by individual artists. [Read more]

Understanding the psychology behind deals and discounts

Prime Day—Amazon’s annual members-only mega sale—was expanded to two days this year, had over one million deals, and generated billions in revenue. While consumers may feel like they’re getting great deals, examining the psychology behind sales sheds some light on who really comes out ahead.

Whether you’re buying something you don’t need because it’s available at a cheaper than normal price, or feeling pressure to make a purchase quickly because of a limited-time sale—deals and discounts are designed to make people think they’re getting something so they will open up their wallets. [Read more]

3% digital sales tax in France represents shifting tides for big tech across Europe

A 3% digital tax on local revenues—or total sales rather than profits—has been approved by the French government. The bill attempts to end a common tax avoidance tactic used by large multinational companies where revenue earned in high-tax EU countries is booked in low-tax countries. The legislation is meant to be temporary, serving as a stopgap until global legislation on digital taxation is established.

The tax targets business activity that drives revenue for large U.S. companies such as Google, Facebook, and Airbnb, including digital advertising and data sales. Amazon faces a similar controversy in the U.S., where it only recently started collecting sales tax in all states that have one. Similar tax measures may appear throughout Europe as governments increasingly scrutinize where digital revenues are earned versus where corporations pay taxes on them. An investigation into the French tax plan has been launched by the Trump administration. [Read more]

Juul CEO to parents of children addicted to e-cigarettes: ‘I’m sorry’

It isn’t every day the CEO of a large company apologizes to parents for hooking their children on its product—but that is exactly what Kevin Burns, CEO of Juul Labs, said in an interview on Monday. Burns’ company dominates the e-cigarette market with roughly 40% market share, and has gained popularity among teenagers.

In September 2018 the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) declared “youth e-cigarette use an epidemic,” and took “an historic action against more than 1,300 retailers and 5 major manufacturers for their roles perpetuating youth access.” Despite shutting down its social media accounts and pulling fruity flavors from store shelves, efforts from Juul to curb youth appeal appear ineffective. [Read more]

E-scooter injuries in Texas may have to be litigated in California

E-scooters are dangerous and the terms companies such as Bird, Lyft, and Jump have users agree to when signing up to use them almost always leave riders liable in the event of an accident. Beyond that, all three companies state any disputes or lawsuits will be handled under the laws of California.

Jim Freeman, a lawyer in Austin, Texas, has selected seven cases—with injuries including facial disfigurement and shoulder dislocation—and sued each of the companies mentioned above for negligence. Freeman claims the user agreements companies put to riders are overly complicated with legalese, lengthy, and intended to provide immunity to scooter companies no matter how a rider is injured. [Read more]

Week of July 1, 2019


Websites use tricks and FOMO to boost sales and trap customers, pending data privacy laws have far reaching implications, and other sales, marketing, and customer relations trends.

Tricks and FOMO used to boost sales and trap customers

Websites and apps exploit FOMO—fear of missing out—as well as basic human desires and instincts to convince users to do specific things. These methods, coined as “dark patterns” in 2010, walk a fine line between manipulation and persuasion. Dark patterns describe a variety of techniques used to encourage desired behavior, such as purchasing a product, and discourage unwanted behaviors, such as unsubscribing from something.

Some examples of this could be intentionally hard to spot unsubscribe links buried in a wall of text at the bottom of an email, or “this hotel was just booked” notifications plastered across online travel agency websites that create a sense of urgency around booking a room. [Read more]

Data privacy regulation casts wide net in tech

California legislation (CCPA) going into effect Jan. 1, 2020, marks the beginning of data privacy reform in the United States. Though pending privacy regulations have obvious implications for large consumer-facing companies such as Facebook and Google, smaller businesses remain most vulnerable to privacy legislation. Larger companies with more resources are better equipped to respond to new laws, to withstand revenue loss from enhanced privacy protections, and to absorb fines from policy violations.

This legislation has far-reaching implications across the tech industry, impacting all data-centric companies. Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff fielded questions about GDPR, CCPA, and the future of federal privacy regulations in a recent earnings call. Expressing support for a national privacy law Benioff stated, “I think that’s just an awesome vision.” [Read more]

Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, and Google double down on ad spending

With regulation and uncertainty in the foreground, big tech companies are ratcheting up ad spending to build and safeguard their brand reputations. For the first time, Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google (FANG) were all among the top 100 spenders in Ad Age’s Leading National Advertisers report.

FANG drove industry growth, accounting for just 7% of collective ad spending for the top 100 spenders, while representing 30% of overall spending growth last year. Facebook led the pack, spending 236% more on advertising in 2018 than it did the year before. Netflix followed with a 70% increase in the same period, trailed by Amazon (+32% YoY), and then Google’s parent company Alphabet (+23% YoY). [Read more]

San Francisco is banning e-cigarette sales

Government seems to be catching up with innovation as a recently approved San Francisco city ordinance outlawed the sale of nicotine vaporizers. The legislation will allow e-cigarette sales in the city once companies put their products through a pre-market FDA approval process that was previously not required for doing business. E-cigarettes pose challenges for regulators attempting to reduce risks for minors while avoiding an outright ban on technology that may help people reduce or quit smoking. [Read more]

Papa John’s invests $80M to offset corporate mistakes

Papa John’s has announced an $80 million dollar investment in itself—allocating funds for assisting domestic franchisees and marketing efforts. The company’s planned financial assistance expenditures represent an 80% increase compared with last year and will be distributed on a schedule ending in 2020. The pizza chain has struggled since controversy arose nearly a year ago after the company’s founder, John Schnatter, used a racial slur on a conference call.

According to a company press release, franchisee assistance will include reduced royalties, royalty-based service incentives and targeted relief. Marketing dollars will be put toward brand differentiation and promoting Papa John’s new brand ambassador— Shaquille O’Neal. [Read more]

Week of June 14, 2019


Salesforce to purchase Tableau with record $15.7B buyout, Gucci sees AI as key to maintaining sales growth, Walmart delivers groceries to your fridge, and other sales and marketing news

Salesforce makes largest acquisition yet with $15.7B buyout of Tableau

In an effort to meet ever-increasing revenue goals, Salesforce announced its intention to purchase Tableau Software Inc., a data-analytics and visualization provider. The all-stock deal is valued at $15.3 billion, and its approval would mark the company’s largest purchase in a 20-year history that includes over 60 acquisitions.

Ultimately the deal makes sense: Salesforce already leverages AI to provide businesses with actionable insights from the sales data it houses, acquiring Tableau will bolster the companies analytics chops while adding industry-leading data visualization tools to its wheelhouse. [Read more]

Gucci is betting AI is key to sustaining sales growth

Gucci is aiming to grow twice as fast as the luxury industry at large. Kering, the brand’s parent company, is leveraging is leveraging artificial intelligence to determine how to stock store shelves. Sales representatives will be equipped with a new mobile app allowing them to view customer purchase history and store inventory without leaving the sales floor.

These moves are in line with the ongoing business trend of data-driven decision making. Gucci’s new AI tool is estimated to improve sales forecast accuracy by up to 20% and will begin deciding where to send new products for its European handbag business next month. The mobile app is estimated to boost average customer spend by 15% to 20%. [Read more]

Walmart will begin delivering groceries directly from store to fridge

As businesses increasingly compete to provide the optimum customer experience, Walmart hopes entering customers’ homes and placing perishable goods in their refrigerators will set their grocery delivery service apart. The company’s InHome services will be available to over one million customers in three cities starting this fall. Employees delivering the goods will enter homes using undisclosed “smart entry technology” and sport wearable cameras customers can use to monitor delivery.

Future plans include allowing customers to leave items they wish to return to Walmart on their counter for InHome delivery associates to collect and process. This announcement comes in direct response to Amazon’s Key, a competing service that allows packages to be delivered inside customers’ homes. [Read more]

Big tech faces criticisms over concentration of power

Businesses large and small are uniting around disdain for an alleged concentration of power in the tech industry. Complaints to Congress and regulators at the Federal Trade Commission and the Justice Department are finally being heard after years of inaction. From major industry players such as Oracle and Yelp to the proprietor of a local noodle shop in New York City, the message is clear: Google, Amazon, Apple and Facebook have too much power.

Reasons such as industry wide outcry about anticompetitive behavior, the mishandling of people’s personal data, the devastation of smaller businesses are putting the world’s most successful companies in defense mode. While this saga is far from over, keep an eye out as the future of regulation in big tech unfolds. [Read more]

Secondhand clothing sales bolster customer relationships

Used clothing sales are proving to be an untapped opportunity for retailers, with major brands like REI and Patagonia finding success in the space. With revenue from secondhand clothing expected to double over the next five years, brands hope to capture resale revenue rather than forfeiting it to third-party retailers.

Companies are also able to establish new relationships with customers by shifting away from a myopic focus on new product sales. As the internet continues to upend traditional business models, secondhand clothing offers an intriguing case study on how to remain relevant by embracing, rather than fighting, emerging trends. [Read more]

Week of May 28, 2019


Salesforce outage reveals data security risks, Mailchimp expands product offering beyond email marketing, study reveals business leaders are out of touch with customer perceptions, and other sales and marketing news.

Salesforce outage highlights risks of cloud-based software

Businesses relying on Salesforce found themselves locked out of their accounts last Friday. While the underlying issue only impacted users of the company’s Pardot marketing automation tools, Salesforce initially blocked all of its products for affected organizations—including the company’s two largest revenue generators, Sales Cloud and Service Cloud.

After customers began reporting that all their users (regardless of permission levels) could see and edit all the data their company stores on the system, Salesforce acknowledged the issue citing a database script error as the root cause. Users have lingering questions regarding data security at one of the world’s largest software companies. [Read more]

Mailchimp moves beyond email marketing

Mailchimp, best known as a popular tool for managing customer facing email outreach, recently announced an expansion of its product offerings. This includes the ability to log and track customer leads, purchase domains, create websites, and manage social media accounts as part of an “all-in-one Marketing Platform.”

Business intelligence tools that use AI to help marketers decide how and when to initiate outreach are also in the cards. This move makes sense: Mailchimp already houses large swaths of customer data and handles an integral component of marketing outreach for businesses globally. [Read more]

Business leaders are unrealistic about customer service shortcomings

A massive research study commissioned by software company Pegasystems surveyed 12,500 customers, business executives and customer-facing employees to provide a multidimensional perspective of customer service quality worldwide.

The results show a disconnect between business leaders and customers when it comes to perceptions of customer service: leaders were four times more likely than customers to rate their organization’s customer service as ‘excellent,’ and nearly twice as likely as customer-facing employees. [Read more]

Amazon gamifies tedious warehouse work

In five warehouses scattered across continents, games developed by Amazon are displayed on small screens at employee workstations in an effort to make the arduous task of moving boxes around a bit more engaging. This experiment is part of a broader industry-wide push to gamify low-skill labor. For example, ride-hailing competitors Uber and Lyft use gamification to incentive drivers with cash prizes to keep them on the road longer by setting targets such as 60 rides in one week. [Read more]

Online streaming crushes pay-TV on customer satisfaction

The American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) found in its annual telecommunications report that pay-TV providers have languished in its customer satisfaction index for six years running. Since 2017 when the ACSI added streaming providers to the index, the industry has fared far better on the 100-point scale used to measure customer satisfaction.

Streaming clocked a 76 overall while the subscription television industry tied for last at 62. Complacent industry giants are feeling the consequences of ignoring emerging competitors and industry trends, with revenues for subscription television sales down 3% to $103.4 billion in 2018 according to the same ACSI report. [Read more]

Week of May 20, 2019


Spotify launches new interactive voice-enabled AD format, Instagram faces unique challenges with user-generated content, and more CRM news

Spotify introduces new voice-activated ad format

Spotify recently introduced a novel approach to capturing consumer attention using interactive, voice-enabled advertisements. The first companies testing this new ad format are Unilever and Spotify itself. When prompted, users that respond by saying “play now” will be directed to an Axe body spray branded playlist or a Spotify original podcast. While the ads currently only promote content within Spotify’s own platform, there is potential for future expansion that might have the gears in creative marketers’ minds churning. [Read more]

Instagram can’t keep drug dealing off its platform

User-generated content poses a host of challenges for businesses. For Instagram, that includes drug dealers leveraging the platform to advertise and sell illegal substances. As tech companies awkwardly settle into the role of content gatekeepers, getting users to adhere to the most basic of rules is proving difficult. While Instagram, and its parent company Facebook, are large enough to withstand negative publicity from unsavory users, smaller businesses trying to manage their online reputation, or content on their own platform, face an uphill battle. [Read more]

Apple Store stumbles on customer experience

If you’ve visited an Apple store recently, your experience may have ranged from mildly frustrating to downright terrible. How did a once premiere shopping experience turn into a trip to the DMV? According to current and former employees, brand-building became a higher priority than serving shoppers. Additionally, as the company drastically expanded its retail footprint, the quality of staff declined. The waning appeal of the Apple Store offers up lessons about scaling a business, sales and marketing strategy, as well as the importance of keeping customer experience at top of mind. [Read more]

Cardboard delivery boxes have brand-building potential

As consumers spend less time visiting brick-and-mortar retail outlets and more time shopping online, businesses have fewer opportunities to shape customer experience. However, some organizations are recognizing a simple opportunity to create a meaningful impression: delivery boxes. The dull cardboard box has made its way out of warehouses and delivery trucks and into consumers’ homes, rendering it an underutilized branding opportunity. [Read more]

China is reinventing marketing practices

Though recent headlines are focused on mounting trade war tensions, the Harvard Business Review offers a different perspective on what sets China apart from the West: marketing practices. As mobile-first consumers that leapfrogged personal computers and credit cards in favor of smartphones and digital payments, the Chinese have created an entirely new playing field for advertisers. Standard marketing practices from the West are slow, expensive, and too fragmented when applied to the Chinese market—where consumer data is heavily concentrated in the hands of a few major tech conglomerates. [Read more]

[NEW RESEARCH – GetData] Over 1/4 of SMBs spend 3 hours or more per week managing payments to suppliers

[NEW RESEARCH – GetData] Over 1/4 of SMBs spend 3 hours or more per week managing payments to suppliers

For small and medium-sized businesses, managing supplier payments can prove to be time consuming, with just over 1/4 saying it can take anywhere between 3 hours per week to 10 hours or more. Just under half of the SMBs surveyed, however, seem to have their supplier payments process under control, as they spend just 1 hour or less per week.

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