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The Many Faces of Multivariate Testing
August 14, 2014
When Facebook and OKCupid recently admitted they had been tinkering with headlines and content to see how users reacted, many consumers were outraged -- but the business community just shrugged. What the companies were doing was simply a form of multivariate testing -- albeit in the case of OKCupid, it was particularly aggressive. The practice itself has been around for years.
Vevo Music Videos Get Pinned
August 14, 2014
Pinterest said Wednesday that it has signed a deal that will allow users to create boards that include their favorite Vevo music videos. They now will be able to share, search for and watch Vevo videos on Pinterest, as well as pin videos to Pinterest straight from Vevo.com or the Vevo iOS app. The move is an indication that Pinterest is serious about providing a broader social platform.
Amazon Flows Into Mobile Payments Territory
August 13, 2014
Amazon has introduced Amazon Local Register to the mobile payment market, taking on such companies as Square and Paypal Here. The product is a combination of a secure card reader, which sells for $10, and a free mobile app. Together, they offer a platform that allows businesses to accept credit and debit card payments using smartphones or tablets. The product comes with customer support.
The Bitcoins Are Coming, the Bitcoins Are Coming
August 13, 2014
The United States Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has issued an advisory warning consumers about the risks of bitcoin and other virtual currencies. The bureau "is working to identify and understand potential consumer protection concerns raised by these emerging technologies to determine what action, if any, may be necessary to protect consumers," said spokesperson Moira Vahey.
Russian Gang's Credentials Theft Exposes Web's Wild, Wild West Side
August 12, 2014
News that a Russian gang has stockpiled more than a billion purloined user name and password combinations has revved up the Internet's reputation as a post industrial Wild, Wild West. Just how much havoc will be raised by the gang remains to be seen. The data thieves so far appear content to use their ill-gotten trove for spamming, according to Hold Security, which discovered the credential cache.
Amazon Gives Disney a Swift Kick in the Shins
August 11, 2014
Amazon, which has for some time been locked in a battle with publishing giant Hachette over the pricing of e-books, has broadened the battlefield to take on Disney. It has stopped taking preorders of Disney DVD and Blu-ray discs. Amazon earlier this year stopped taking preorders for Hachette books. It also lengthened delivery times and reduced discounts for books published by Hachette.
Joining Forces to Harness the Internet of Things
August 08, 2014
A rising tide of interest has sparked a series of competitive moves among the widening array of software and technology providers vying for a share of the rapidly expanding IoT market. As with previous major IT industry trends, the enormous promise of the IoT has driven a growing number of large and small players to rebrand and reposition their product and service offerings.
Flailing Barnes & Noble Turns to Google to Help Fend Off Amazon
August 08, 2014
Some Barnes & Noble customers in Manhattan, West Los Angeles, and the San Francisco Bay Area will be able to get same-day delivery of their purchases through Google Shopping Express, according to media reports that surfaced Thursday. Barnes & Noble CEO Michael Huseby described the teamup as a test and a way to increase book sales both online and from its brick-and-mortar stores.
Beacons Hit the Retail Spotlight
August 07, 2014
It was just six months ago that we saw what beacon technology could do on a wide scale. For Super Bowl XLVIII, the National Football League installed wireless transmitters in Times Square and at MetLife Stadium to send simple yet specific messages to smartphones: "bathrooms to the right," "snacks to the left," and so on. The deployment was considered a bold test for the nascent technology.
Secure Sites to Get the Google Bump
August 07, 2014
Google on Wednesday announced that it has begun factoring websites' use of HTTPS into its search rankings, resulting in more favorable results for those that use the security-minded protocol. Use of the protocol still is considered just a minor factor, though, affecting fewer than 1 percent of global queries and carrying less weight than high-quality content.
Sales Forecast Dynamics
August 06, 2014
Take a look at almost any sales software on the market, and you'll find the vendor's claim that the product accelerates the sales process. It's a given. For years, we've been trying to achieve this acceleration, and we've been succeeding. The only problem with this approach is that it can't go on forever. It's a form of expecting infinite growth based on limited resources.
Wikimedia Blasts Europe's 'Right to Be Forgotten'
August 06, 2014
The Wikimedia Foundation has released its first-ever transparency report -- and along with it a protest against Europe's "right to be forgotten" law. Wikimedia is the nonprofit owner of Wikipedia and other sites. "Denying people access to relevant and neutral information runs counter to the ethos and values of the Wikimedia movement," wrote Wikimedia attorneys Geoff Brigham and Michelle Paulson.
Accelerating Hadoop's Big Data Momentum
August 05, 2014
The concept of "collaboration" has become such a messaging mainstay that it often verges on cliché. So, does the recently announced Pivotal and Hortonworks plan to improve Hadoop operations by collaborating on Apache Ambari qualify as anything new or special? In fact, it does. Hadoop has struggled to develop the practical features enterprises demand for dependable management and performance.
When It Comes to Technology, Humans Are Idiots
August 04, 2014
There are a lot of things going on at the moment. Israel is tactically defending itself against Hamas -- winning the battles but losing the war, because the Israeli government can't see the big picture. The U.S. is still blaming Snowden for leaks, even though Russia clearly is able to pull damaging information pretty much anytime it wants without Snowden's help.
The Social Side of Big Data
July 31, 2014
The power of Big Data technology is being successfully applied to understanding such complex unknowns as consumer sentiment and even intent. That understanding then vastly improves how businesses manage their customers' experiences -- increasingly in real time. Fortunately, today's consumers are quite willing to share their intents and sentiments via social media.
Sales Reach: A Marketing Tool for Reps
July 30, 2014
I was impressed by the announcement by Salesforce.com last week of a new product combination it calls "Sales Reach." It's supposed to be a mashup of sorts between Sales Cloud, Pardot and Communities functionality that helps reps run micro-campaigns, perform nurturing and develop communities. As someone who once carried a bag for a living, my reaction was, "Oh happy day!"
Twitter Claims Legions of Uncounted 'Users'
July 30, 2014
Twitter posted healthy revenue for the second quarter -- US$312 million, up 124 percent year-over-year. Its profit? Not there yet. However, even though the company reported a net loss of $145 million, investors are likely to overlook the lack of profit for some time. Financials aside, what Twitter really wants everyone to know is that it is big -- as in average monthly user big.
The Retail Channel Is Dead - Long Live the Omnichannel
July 29, 2014
As Amazon's Fire Phone finds its way into consumers' hands, brick-and-mortar retailers are on guard. Amazon's new device is equipped with technology that seems to have been designed to take showrooming to new heights -- or depths, depending on one's perspective. The Fire Phone, in brief, has functionality that lets users scan an item they see in front of them or in a magazine.
China Trumps Up Anti-Monopoly Charges Against Microsoft
July 29, 2014
China's State Administration for Industry & Commerce on Tuesday announced it has launched an investigation into Microsoft under the country's antimonopoly laws, according to press reports. The announcement comes days after SAIC officials reportedly raided Microsoft offices in four cities, seizing documents, emails and other data from servers and computers, among other things.
Bubblews Will Give You a Penny for Your Thoughts
July 29, 2014
Bubblews, a social media platform that offers to pay users for their posts, last week moved out of its testing phase, which began in 2012. It emerged with a new look designed to attract users who might be dissatisfied with other social media offerings. Bubblews is attempting to build a self-sustaining ecosystem in which users who create engaging posts are paid for their work.
Bringing Retail Into the 21st Century
July 29, 2014
Let's get one thing straight: E-commerce will not kill the physical retail store. Hold on, I hear you object, the digital world has utterly disrupted our shopping habits. We rarely enter a store without having researched the big-ticket items we want to buy. Much of our holiday shopping is done with a mouse click. When we do venture into a store, we rarely do so without clutching a smartphone.
Tellwise's Smart Messages Creates Buyer-Friendly Collaborative Environment
July 28, 2014
Tellwise, a two-and-a-half year old startup, has introduced Smart Messages, a new collaboration platform for sales reps to target prospects. The multichannel platform comes equipped with such tools as intelligent notifications, behavioral analytics and mobile functionality. Smart Messages is the culmination of the vision of Tellwise's cofounders, all of whom are former Microsoft engineers.

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