Big data

My Personal Journey

It’s All About Me! at Defrag 2014

Broomfield, CO – on a cold morning in November… I was invited to be a keynote speaker at Defrag 2014 which is a terrific conference of interesting ideas, and even more interesting people.

Personalization is such a key aspect of creating a great experience for our users that I took the tack of total selfishness – It’s All About Me! This is what creates the magic for our users. When FirstRain can ask you just a few questions, and then read your mind, it’s an enchanting experience.

Here’s my presentation:

Loved the tweet stream following my presentation – on Storify here:

Career Advice

Do all CMOs have to be data geeks now?

Written by me in the The Economist Group today

Few would argue against data’s importance in marketing today. Data is
essential to every marketing decision now, and the techniques used to
transform that data into actionable market insight can make or break a

this, some data-intensive companies now require their CMOs to have a
background in data science—but will we get to a point where all CMOs and
senior marketing leaders have to have a background in data science? Or
will tools continue to emerge that will help marketing leaders better
interact with big data and enable them to make strategic decisions?

As the Internet and sheer amount of available data expand, companies
are rushing to take advantage of it—but they are finding themselves
overwhelmed, and many marketing organizations are reacting by hiring
data scientists. In fact, data scientists are in such high demand that a recent McKinsey study found that there would be a deficit of up to 190,000 data scientists in the U.S. alone by 2018.

Because so many marketing decisions are data-driven these days,
having someone adept at finding relationships, identifying anomalies and
making predictions based on data can be key to an effective
go-to-market strategy.  CMOs absolutely need to understand how to
interpret data. To quote a column by Computerworld Executive Editor Julia King, “Data science is all about predicting the future.”

The particular responsibility of choosing and driving strategy based
on where the market is headed lies with the CMO. But if the CMO arms
herself and her team with the right tools, she doesn’t need to be a data
scientist—and she doesn’t have to fill her bench with data scientists,

Senior leaders will find more and more that cloud-based apps—like
emerging personal business analytics and marketing automation
solutions—will become their go-to tools to solve their big data overload
problems. These solutions will allow the business user to make better
real-time decisions, helping them to embrace not just analysis, but also
synthesis of the data.

Solutions whose analytics are easily embeddable into existing
platforms and apps, and which provide clear visualization and
collaboration tools, will ultimately help leaders strategically grow
their businesses without requiring a team of onsite data scientists.  By
choosing the right solutions, CMOs can save themselves the headache of
searching for a team of data scientists, but reap the same benefits
quickly and economically.


Three Disruptive Ideas

I love being asked to talk to groups of women or girls. Especially high school girls who are a future untapped resource for technology and so if I can move just a few of them to consider tech I’m happy.

Last week I had the opportunity to do just this at Wycombe Abbey in England. Wycombe is my alma mater and one of the top girls schools in England. Really smart kids (and definitely privileged, but that is not their fault). It was surreal for me to go back for the first time in 34 years as I had left swearing never to go back (yes, I was a terrible rebel in high school) but walking around the school and talking with staff, old friends and kids I was transported back and it was not all bad.

I took the opportunity to challenge the girls with three ideas that dramatically influence them today and will shape what future they craft for themselves. A few gasps, some embaressed laughs (yes, I said porn and pornification a few times) but overall I think they were intrigued by…

1. Software is everywhere – being able to write and understand software is as important now as being able to read and write. High school students spend on average 10 hours a day working with software, they just don’t know it.

2. You are being watched – every action you take is being stored and analyzed and this creates a fascinating area called Big Data. Understand it, tap into it and have fun with the technology. Build you own app.

3. Don’t believe what you see – women are objectified, hyper-sexualized and diminished by our media (advertising, TV and movies). Don’t buy into the stereotypes. Educate yourselves so you see it, and see through it, and then get involved in changing it – become a part of #NotBuyingIt. Yes this is where I showed some shocking images and said some shocking words, but my 16 year old niece told me afterwards it was “cool”.

A tame one from the Harrods children’s bookstore shelves February 7 2013 – hard to believe!