For those remotely interested in sentiment mining social media data, my first article for my employers at Learning Pool is now up.Plus it has the video of the Twitter data for “just landed in” during the swine flu outbreak.
Just a quick heads up, there’s a new website for self employed, small business and startups called Smeople. Founded by Rob Marr it’s there to bring like minded entreprenuer type folk together to share and help each other on. Sounds like a plan, just wish it existed twelve months ago.Anyway, the site is www.smeople.com and it’s free to join.
I heard the news of the sad passing away of Guy Kewney. For us thirty somethings who read Personal Computer World and Computing (when the jobs section at the back was thick, pre JobServe) Guy was a weekly source of wisdom.
I hope my doctor isn’t reading this…..My morning commute to work involves me passing a Subway store. As I have the Subway card (500 points and you get a free 6 inch sub, or £50 for a sandwich) I’ll use it pretty regularly to get the points. My breakfast is pretty much like clockwork, a 6 inch white sausage bacon and egg sub. Simple, nothing on it.
The point of sale (POS) system uses an internet connection back to a server to add the points. The interesting fact though happened when I walked in one day and they didn’t have white bread. Now let’s remember, I’m English and quite set in my ways (Corn Flakes, THEN THE SUGAR, then the milk) so for someone to run out of white bread I’ll not really go for anything else, I like my routine. It gave me opportunity to ask a few questions though and the big surprise for me, the POS doesn’t take into account the bread that’s being purchased. It knows the name of the sub, cost etc but not what type of bread is being used.Worse case scenario is that the manager over makes on a type of bread that will not sell. This leads to wastage. If you can track the bread then you can start reducing overheads against a period of time.And the perception on the customer is bad, I don’t really like the taste of the other breads. So I have the option of getting second best or coming back (by which time I’m at work so it’s too late). Subway has less that 2 minutes to get my attention and it all starts with white bread. The can then compound to me not returning the next day under the perception that the store might not have the bread in stock again.Ultimately, if Subway could track the bread type transactions they’d potentially save money in the long run and keep the customer happy.Points loyalty systems are pretty useless unless there is some correlation between the requirements of the customer and the knowledge of the retailer. It’s one of the main reasons that the Tesco Clubcard works so well and the Sainsbury Nector card doesn’t. One can do something with the data and the other can’t. WalMart/Asda look through transactional data from the POS to find changes and patterns based on location and date.Getting the data is easy once you have seriously defined what data you want, then what you are wanting to gain from mining that data. An exchage of points for fractional money value is all very well but you don’t really learn anything from your customers.
This isn’t just a Northern Ireland thing, it seems to be a connected Great Britain mentality. No one wants to see you succeed. More than that no one wants you to make a comfortable fortune either.I don’t hear very often, “well I hope you make f**king millions from it”, it’s normally, “well if you make enough to pay yourself a wage”. Like that’s good enough. By the way there’s nothing to stop you in the plan for making a wage from your idea first and then continuing on to the making a fortune bit. It’s just the idea of stopping because you can scrape the bills.Don’t be scared to dream, don’t be scared to aim high (I was like this at the start). Don’t be scared to argue and fight your corner for what YOU want, not what everyone else thinks you want.There’s a ton of great startups in Northern Ireland but I think a lot of the problem to growth stems from the mentality of others telling people “you won’t make it”, “you’ll not make that amount of money” or “what background do you have…..”.If you have an idea then #JFDIMary McKenna wrote in her blog recently:In his research & interviews with 150+ notable African Americans, these are the 4 things that consistently make some people far more successful than most of us:1. They dream big2. They never listen to advice from friends & critics telling them the reasons why their idea will fail; they go with their own inner belief every time3. They dedicate themselves to lifelong learning (see slide on the photo above re what happens to you if you don’t!)4. They simply refuse to accept failure.Food for thought indeed – I hope many of you see some of the above in yourselves.