The corporate world is full of studies on hard drives and desk drawers that have been paid for, yet not acted on to drive business results.
The culprit, what I call “Zombie Data” – is the information that isn’t quite alive – or is recently dead. A snapshot of the recent past. Driving a car by looking in the rear-view-mirror.
To combat investment in Zombie Data, we need new methods to support keeping insights alive and vital – worthy of action and attracting attention and resources.
In a case titled “IBM Global Mobile Computing Segmentation: The Prometheus Project” written in 2006 by Dr. John Lynch at Duke Fuqua School of Business where I am the protagonist (today John is professor at the Leeds School of Business at the University of Colorado at Boulder) the key to global success was getting the organization to act on the results. We have been tag-team teaching this case for a decade and both agree the research was superb – yet the action plan was even better. It was my first taste of waging war with potential data zombies.
A product from machine learning company SZL.IT called Tanjo is one new tool to counteract Zombie Data ready for use in conjunction with traditional research such as market segmentation. Tanjo means “birth” in Japanese. Tanjo can give birth to a steady stream of daily information flows and news relevant to the profile of each identified customer segment. It can draw insights from the world-at-large using AI-bots and with enterprise permissions, and can also search for relevant information for work-teams from internal intranet sources.
Another example of Tanjo in action is with CommonWeal DealMaker investment capital social graphs. If you know the people investing in startups in a region, sector or industry, Tanjo can bring the network to life every day with information and news about economic actors in that network. DealMaker is born of the doctoral dissertation work by Dr. Ted Zoller at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Kenan Flagler Business School, Kenan Institute of Entrepreneurship.
A platform approach to doing the research in the first place and keeping it fresh can be found with the advanced choice research and visualization capabilities of Vennli. Developed as a method at Notre Dame for decades by Dr. Joe Urbany, Vennli is now an integrated research platform tool. It is the worthy successor to the standard “SWOT Analysis” and has many more insights. Vennli can counteract the Zombie Data effect by offering a way to repeat customer choice research on a regular basis that is highly repeatable, comparable and affordable. Vennli can also perform “insight-out” research that identifies gaps from the inside of the organization with customer wants and needs – and what is being done in the present and what will need to be done in the future.
ChoiceFlow™ is also in the process of combatting Zombie Data. A systematic approach to developing better stimulus for customer and market research, and animating results in a way that is both actionable and being updated on a continuous basis, ChoiceFlow combats Zombie Data by making it come alive to people who need to make choices for customers and markets every day. Much of the insights for ChoiceFlow come from the life work of Jordan Louviere in Choice Modeling Research - and Best-Worst Scaling – and the research-in-action work of Kevin Clark as a market intelligence leader (MIL) at IBM for the Personal Systems Group and corporate Experience Design practice. Also contributing to ChoiceFlow is Robert Meyer at Wharton, Tiago Ribeiro, Institute for Choice, and Richard Boyd leading Szl.it and Tanjo. ChoiceFlow today is a practice of Content Evolution and is a standalone business in formation.
Kevin Clark is Federation Leader and President of Content Evolution, with member companies that connect customer and market insights to nextgen business models, brands, and designed customer experiences. CommonWeal and Vennli are members of the Content Evolution federation. ChoiceFlow is a practice of Content Evolution. Szl.it, creator of Tanjo, is a Content Evolution client.