The Next Big Thing
Posts about next generation technologies and their effect on business.

2013 Survey of topics important to IT

results.pngRecently a survey was taken by the Society for Information Management for the IT trends for 2013.

 

The top 5 IT management concerns in 2013 (page 60) were:

1                     Alignment of IT and/with and/with the business

2                     Business Agility 

3                     Business Productivity 

4                     Business Cost Reduction / Controls 

5                     IT Cost Reduction / Controls

 

But the top 5 issues that were of concern to the person taking the survey (page 63) were:

1                     Alignment of IT and/with and/with the business

2                     Security

3                     Talent/skill shortage

4                     Business continuity / Disaster Recovery

5                     Prioritization process for IT projects

 

I don’t know about you but this difference of perspective between the individual thinking about the priorities of the group and their own priorities is pretty significant. It looks like the management concerns are value and cost, yet the individuals are concerned more about safety.

 

This is an interesting survey that with almost 500 senior IT professionals participating across a diverse cross-section of the economy.

 

I am surprised that IT productivity isn’t pulled out to the same extent that business productivity is for the management concerns. Since that would address some of the talent shortage, cost reduction and controls/quality concerns.

Keeping its fans first is important to NASCAR

As we move into the fall here in Dallas, one of the events that comes to my mind is NASCAR at the Texas Motor Speedway. Recently some of us at HP had the chance to engage in a bit of Q&A with Steve Phelps, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of NASCAR, to find out how the new style of IT is making a difference.

 

Steve oversees all NASCAR efforts in corporate marketing, brand/consumer marketing, Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC), licensing, automotive group, business development, digital and social media, broadcast, entertainment, NASCAR Productions, information technology, corporate events and human resources. With over 75 million fans, that can be a big job and since NASCAR is so innovative about how they interact with this audience, the conversation is worth sharing.

 

Q. With the influx of Big Data throughout many industries, analysts are predicting that CMOs will become the new CIOs of the future. What role does Information Management and Analytics play in your daily activity?

A. The amount of data generated across both traditional and social media surrounding our sport is staggering. Fans connect with our sport digitally and share their experience with us more than ever before. Due to a shifting media landscape, news coverage of our sport is constant, coming from hundreds of print outlets, television broadcasts, and online publications. Candidly, before partnering with HP to develop the Fan and Media Engagement Center (FMEC) there was no easy way for us to make sense of all the noise. Thanks to HP’s cutting edge technology, the engagement center ingests huge amounts of data related to our sport and allows us to focus a lens on almost any topic that we want. We can now make informed decisions on just about every aspect of our business. We are just beginning to tap into its capabilities, but the value the FMEC has already provided through measurement and analytics can be felt on a daily basis.  

 

 

FMEC 2.jpg

 

Q. We’ve heard a lot about Big Data jamming the systems of many corporations and enterprise groups. NASCAR must have had massive data stores in place. How did process automation and HP Enterprise Services consulting view this challenge?

A. HP provided a true end-to-end solution for us. HP’s Enterprise Services team has helped us build this solution from Day One of our collaboration and has been a partner in the evolution and development of this process since launch.

 

In terms of hardware and software, our Fan and Media Engagement Center is HP-powered from front to back - from the back-end HP Blade servers and 3Par storage to help us store and manage all this “Big Data,” the middle software analytics layer powered by HP Autonomy, to our front-end display matrix with the latest in digital signage, it is all HP.

 

Q. Much of Information Management and Analytics has to do with gleaning the right information from the data to make it actionable. What were your goals when you started the project? Now that the engagement center has been implemented, how have these goals changed?

A. The idea of the Fan and Media Engagement Center came from our Chairman, Brian France. He wanted to create a resource that would benefit not only NASCAR, but the entire NASCAR industry by providing business-impacting insights tailored to specific audiences within the NASCAR ecosystem, including race teams, tracks, and partners.

 

In its first year of existence, the FMEC has already delivered value to each audience, yet we have only scratched the surface of the system’s capabilities. The FMEC is a “Version 1.0” platform, and we continue to learn, tweak, and refine the system. Our immediate goals have not changed, however, I envision that our goals will evolve as the system does.

 

Q. At HP, we talk quite a bit about information being the most valuable asset in the enterprise. How has the data you’ve been able to analyze proved beneficial to sponsors and partners? 

A. NASCAR is now able to provide insights to the many partners in our sport’s ecosystem. We can analyze fan levels of engagement around sponsor at-track activations, measure how a partner’s brand is perceived by our fan base, and learn more about what our fans like and dislike.

 

Additionally, we can hone in on specific topics – sentiment around broadcast partners, feedback on a sponsor contest, for example – and produce in-depth insights into fan behavior, so we can serve them the best content and provide the best experience.

 

Earlier this year, Chevy unveiled a new production model at a press event during the weekend of the Daytona 500. Within an hour after the event was over, our President Mike Helton was able to hand deliver a dashboard to our partner showing how fans and potential customers felt about the new car.

 

That kind of value can’t be measured.

 

Q. Have you seen an uptick in sales, or fan base growth? Are sponsors and partners more willing to make an investment when they are able to see data and know their return with more certainty? How has it enabled them to get ROI?

A. The FMEC wasn’t developed to be a direct revenue generator for NASCAR. However, I like to characterize ROI when speaking about the FMEC as a Return on Information. The FMEC is providing our entire eco-system with business impacting information. In certain circumstances, the impact can be felt in real-time, however a number of partners will use the information to help formulate the way they activate in our sport for years to come. That is truly when partners will be able to maximize on the value the FMEC provides. That said, the demand for FMEC information has been high this entire season and continues to grow. 

  

Q. What is one of the largest differences you’ve seen in the way your marketing organization works now that you have the Fan & Media Engagement Center?

A. One of the biggest benefits that the FMEC has provided us is the ability to market in real-time. For example at this year’s Talladega race, bad weather forced some pretty significant rain delays. Talladega is one of our largest tracks, over two miles. Rain delays can cause significant impact to fan interest, our broadcast partners, and our corporate partners.

 

During the rain delay, we were able to keep a real-time handle on levels of conversation about the race and delay, and take action to keep fans engaged via our social media channels, asking and answering questions, providing updates, sharing photos.

 

We were also able to zero in on sentiment about the track drying system, how many people were talking about it, noting how impressive it was in improving track drying time. We were able to analyze the public sentiment and provide a snapshot to track partners who are considering it for their own tracks.

 

This was a situation that could have been a negative - a significant weather delay - that we were able to turn into a positive by keeping fans engaged and showing the value of a new technology product to partners.

 

To learn more about how HP and NASCAR are working together, check out these videos:

 

 From one race fan to another, I hope to see you at the track soon!

 

Education and business gaming

business gaming.pngI was looking at the IEEE site TryEngineering.org. This site is focused on helping students select an engineering profession as well as help teachers to expand their curriculum. One of the pages on the site is dedicated to Playing Games, that demonstrate some of the concepts and issues that engineers encounter.

 

By performing tasks like designing a parachute for the Mars lander or engineering a Bionic Arm (among many others), students get a feel for the kind of issues engineers need to think about.

 

These are useful tools for an individual to make a decision about their lives, but games have moved on from the one person playing in isolation to much more of a social, fluid foundation for multiplayer interaction and development. It does make me wonder how more serious gaming in a multiplayer environment can influence the way businesses train and shift behavior. There are more conferences every year that try to expand educational gaming into the business world, but other than in the government space, I can’t think of any examples being used.

 

Yet as we move into this information explosion enabled world where we need to use simulation and modeling to generate an advantage, the use of gaming techniques will have to increase. Are there any good examples out there?

Capitalizing on the information explosion – is it all about decision arbitrage?

decision.pngI was talking with a co-worker in the hall the other day about the various aspects of the information explosion and what it really means to capitalize on all this data. What are the key measures? How do you know if you are making progress?

 

I had a post on the metrics issue of cloud a while back ( I just checked and it was about a year and a half ago!) There seemed to be some common elements that need to be understood related to information. To me the core measures have to do with time-to-decision. How do use the information to make decisions more quickly? We definitely have the compute cycles around to make this happen, through modeling, simulation, analytics and automating normal.

 

I used the term arbitrage in the title, which is more of a financial term. What I really mean is taking advantage of differences in time-to-decision.

 

Measuring the decision process differs by department and industry. There is a need for both leading and lagging indicators of performance. I thought about coming up with some examples, but trying to isolate metrics for decision making is difficult.  I'd love to hear other perspective.

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About the Author(s)
  • Steve Simske is an HP Fellow and Director in the Printing and Content Delivery Lab in Hewlett-Packard Labs, and is the Director and Chief Technologist for the HP Labs Security Printing and Imaging program.
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