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AI And Machine Learning In Sales: Everything You Need To Know For The Future

As artificial intelligence becomes more sophisticated and its ability to perform human tasks accelerates exponentially, we’re finally seeing some attempts to wrestle with what that means, not just for business, but for humanity as a whole.

From the first stone ax to the printing press to the latest ERP solution, technology that reduces or even eliminates physical and mental effort is as old as the human race itself. However, that doesn’t make each step forward any less uncomfortable for the people whose work is directly affected – and the rise of AI is qualitatively different from past developments.

Until now, we developed technology to handle specific routine tasks. A human needed to break down complex processes into their component tasks, determine how to automate each of those tasks, and finally create and refine the automation process. AI is different. Because AI can evaluate, select, act, and learn from its actions, it can be independent and self-sustaining.

278038 278038 h srgb s gl 1024x683 AI And Machine Learning In Sales: Everything You Need To Know For The FutureSome people, like investor/inventor Elon Musk and Alibaba founder and chairman Jack Ma, are focusing intently on how AI will impact the labor market. It’s going to do far more than eliminate repetitive manual jobs like warehouse picking. Any job that involves routine problem-solving within existing structures, processes, and knowledge is ripe for handing over to a machine. Indeed, jobs like customer service, travel planning, medical diagnostics, stock trading, real estate, and even clothing design are already increasingly automated.

As for more complex problem-solving, we used to think it would take computers decades or even centuries to catch up to the nimble human mind, but we underestimated the exponential explosion of deep learning. IBM’s Watson trounced past Jeopardy champions in 2011 – and just last year, Google’s DeepMind AI beat the reigning European champion at Go, a game once thought too complex for even the most sophisticated computer.

Where does AI leave human?

This raises an urgent question for the future: How do human beings maintain our economic value in a world in which AI will keep getting better than us at more and more things?

The concept of the technological singularity – the point at which machines attain superhuman intelligence and permanently outpace the human mind – is based on the idea that human thinking can’t evolve fast enough to keep up with technology. However, the limits of human performance have yet to be found. It’s possible that people are only at risk of lagging behind machines because nothing has forced us to test ourselves at scale.

Other than a handful of notable individual thinkers, scientists, and artists, most of humanity has met survival-level needs through mostly repetitive tasks. Most people don’t have the time or energy for higher-level activities. But as the human race faces the unique challenge of imminent obsolescence, we need to think of those activities not as luxuries, but as necessities. As technology replaces our traditional economic value, the economic system may stop attaching value to us entirely unless we determine the unique value humanity offers – and what we can and must do to cultivate the uniquely human skills that deliver that value.

Honing the human advantage

As a species, humans are driven to push past boundaries, to try new things, to build something worthwhile, and to make a difference. We have strong instincts to explore and enjoy novelty and risk – but according to psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, these instincts crumble if we don’t cultivate them.

282946 GettyImages 628319502 1024x683 AI And Machine Learning In Sales: Everything You Need To Know For The Future

AI is brilliant at automating routine knowledge work and generating new insights from existing data. What it can’t do is deduce the existence, or even the possibility, of information it isn’t already aware of. It can’t imagine radical new products and business models. Or ask previously unconceptualized questions. Or envision unimagined opportunities and achievements. AI doesn’t even have common sense! As theoretical physicist Michio Kaku says, a robot doesn’t know that water is wet or that strings can pull but not push. Nor can robots engage in what Kaku calls “intellectual capitalism” – activities that involve creativity, imagination, leadership, analysis, humor, and original thought.

At the moment, though, we don’t generally value these so-called “soft skills” enough to prioritize them. We expect people to develop their competency in emotional intelligence, cross-cultural awareness, curiosity, critical thinking, and persistence organically, as if these skills simply emerge on their own given enough time. But there’s nothing soft about these skills, and we can’t afford to leave them to chance.

Lessons in being human

To stay ahead of AI in an increasingly automated world, we need to start cultivating our most human abilities on a societal level – and to do so not just as soon as possible, but as early as possible.

Singularity University chairman Peter Diamandis, for example, advocates revamping the elementary school curriculum to nurture the critical skills of passion, curiosity, imagination, critical thinking, and persistence. He envisions a curriculum that, among other things, teaches kids to communicate, ask questions, solve problems with creativity, empathy, and ethics, and accept failure as an opportunity to try again. These concepts aren’t necessarily new – Waldorf and Montessori schools have been encouraging similar approaches for decades – but increasing automation and digitization make them newly relevant and urgent.

274686 274686 h ergb s gl 1024x681 AI And Machine Learning In Sales: Everything You Need To Know For The FutureThe Mastery Transcript Consortium is approaching the same problem from the opposite side, by starting with outcomes. This organization is pushing to redesign the secondary school transcript to better reflect whether and how high school students are acquiring the necessary combination of creative, critical, and analytical abilities. By measuring student achievement in a more nuanced way than through letter grades and test scores, the consortium’s approach would inherently require schools to reverse-engineer their curricula to emphasize those abilities.

Most critically, this isn’t simply a concern of high-tuition private schools and “good school districts” intended to create tomorrow’s executives and high-level knowledge workers. One critical aspect of the challenge we face is the assumption that the vast majority of people are inevitably destined for lives that don’t require creativity or critical thinking – that either they will somehow be able to thrive anyway or their inability to thrive isn’t a cause for concern. In the era of AI, no one will be able to thrive without these abilities, which means that everyone will need help acquiring them. For humanitarian, political, and economic reasons, we cannot just write off a large percentage of the population as disposable.

In the end, anything an AI does has to fit into a human-centered value system that takes our unique human abilities into account. Why would we want to give up our humanity in favor of letting machines determine whether or not an action or idea is valuable? Instead, while we let artificial intelligence get better at being what it is, we need to get better at being human. That’s how we’ll keep coming up with groundbreaking new ideas like jazz music, graphic novels, self-driving cars, blockchain, machine learning – and AI itself.

Read the executive brief Human Skills for the Digital Future.

Screen Shot 2017 11 30 at 3.50.13 PM 1024x634 AI And Machine Learning In Sales: Everything You Need To Know For The Future

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Why Everything Your Customer Touches is Content Marketing

RethinkPodcast300x251 Why Everything Your Customer Touches is Content Marketing

This transcript has been edited for length. To get the full measure, listen to the podcast.

Michelle Huff: Thank you so much, Ann, for joining us today on the podcast. For those who might not know who you are, maybe you could just take a few minutes to tell us more about yourself and MarketingProfs?

Ann Handley: I’m the chief content officer of MarketingProfs. I’m a book author. I’ve written two books. One is called Content Rules, the other is called Everybody Writes.Everybody Writes is a Wall Street Journal bestseller.

What Are Trending Topics for Modern Marketers?

Michelle: MarketingProfs is a resource for marketers. You’ve watched the trends in marketing over the years. What’s going on recently? What are some of the in-demand topics today? What are you seeing as being the most interest to marketers?

Ann: We think of our audience as what we call “aspirational CMOs.” And that may not be a literal CMO, but it’s definitely somebody who cares, who wants to do well in their industry. And maybe that’s to ultimately become a chief marketing officer or maybe it’s just to ultimately become the king or queen of their own domain, their own consultancy, and so on.

The topics we’ve seen over the years, the consistency we see, is that marketers always want to know about lead generation ‒ always. It should be no surprise to anybody listening to this that that’s always a perennial topic.

But I think the tools we now use to engage around generating leads, around demand gen, has definitely changed. It used to be all about the database, and how we get more names in a funnel. It still is that, but now the way we engage those people to sort of become part of our own ecosystems at our own companies, those things have changed.

And that we now have content certainly is a big piece of that. We have social tools, we have social selling, we have storytelling. So, all of those things are now part of the lead-generation process in ways that we really haven’t seen as heavily before. Yes, those elements have always existed. But I think obviously they’ve come much more to the forefront in 2017.

Michelle: When you take a step back and think about marketers today, what do you think are the most important skillsets for them to have? And does it differ from B2C or B2B?

Ann: We recently ran a piece in MarketingProfs that looked at the skills that B2B technology marketers say are most valued. So, B2B technology leaders, when they’re hiring marketers, what do they most want? And it’s interestingly a lot of those soft skills, like good communication, people management, interpersonal skills. Those are the most valued in the tech world. Which, I thought was really interesting. I can’t quote the number off my head. It was like over 80 percent of the people who responded to the survey.

But then, right below soft skills [are] writing, content marketing, data analysis, email marketing. Those are all the things that are valued in the B2B tech world. And I read that today and I was like, “Wow.” I mean, those are pretty consistent skills. Think about that for a second in a broader lens. So, what is that about? Ultimately, what does that mean? It means being able to communicate well, both to your audience and to your customers, as well as internally, is key for marketers. Always will be, always has been. Writing, both externally and internally. So, again, it’s that clarity of communication. Content marketing, certainly it’s sort of an extension of: How are you telling stories that engage, or are you telling stories that engage?

MarketingProfs/CMI Annual Survey

Michelle: Is it quality versus quantity? And what are the keys to producing great content? Is it having a lot of it? Or is it just having a few [pieces]? Or is it trying to find that balance? What’s your take?

Ann: The way I answer the quality-versus-quantity question is really with a “yes.” You can’t have the best, highest quality – you can’t hire Neil Gaiman to write a blog post for you, and pay him $ 100,000, and then run one blog post a year. I mean that’s just ridiculous.

Obviously, you need a certain quantity to be relevant, to be communicating with your audience at a cadence that makes sense. But I think you also really need to think about quality. And I think that’s true now more than ever. MarketingProfs every year does a survey with the Content Marketing Institute. And every year we ask marketers what their plans are aspirational for the following year. We started doing this eight years ago. And every year, consistently, the number of marketers who say they plan to increase the amount of content they’re producing is going up.

And anybody listening to this: You know this, I know this. We’re all out in the world, we’re on Facebook, we’re on Twitter, we’re on Instagram. We see all the content that’s being created. And it’s increasingly difficult to break through. And to me that means you really need to step back and ask: What are we doing to move the needle here?

Bigger, Bolder, Braver

We need to have a great story we’re telling. We need to align around that bigger story we’re telling. And we need to be a little bit bolder in the story we’re telling. We need to think about how we’re going to break through. We need to tell a story that hits on specific challenges that your audience has, but that nobody else is talking about in the right way for that certain audience. And I think we need to have that gutsier, braver tone of voice.

So those three things ‒ bigger, bolder and braver ‒ are all things I think can be a differentiator for a company from a quality point of view. The quantity piece, you sort of have to figure out on your own. I mean, it’s sort of like you need to be doing enough to engage the audience, but not too much to overwhelm them. And that answer is gonna be different for everybody out there. But in my mind, you need to focus on quality first and foremost, and then figure out cadence.

If you’re producing content your audience does not care about, then that’s why they’re not engaging with it. They’re not engaging with it, not because it’s too long or because it’s requiring too much of them, but because it’s not meeting their needs.

What is the Role of Content Marketing?

Michelle: At Act-On, we use a framework we call Brand, Demand, Expand and [talk about] how you market from the awareness stage through demand and the sale to when your prospects are now customers and how you keep and grow their business. How does content marketing fit in?

Ann: I think there’s a temptation to think about content marketing only as a top-of-funnel approach. But it’s not that. Somebody asked me a question not too long ago: “What do you think the future of content marketing is?” And I said, “I think that it’s not content marketing … it’s marketing.”

I think with the notion of Brand, Demand, Expand, content is inherent in all aspects of that because content is sort of integral to all aspects of starting a relationship with a customer, nurturing that relationship, and then furthering that relationship. So, content to me is not some sort of special thing that’s siloed over here in some corner of the office. Instead, it’s integrated throughout the entire ecosystem of marketing. It’s integrated throughout the entire business, really.

I don’t see content as: This is what we use on social media. Instead, it’s everything. If you’ve ever seen me speak, I sometimes will show a graphic of a scene from The Lion King where Mufasa is sitting there with little baby Simba, and looking out over their kingdom, and he says: “Everything the light touches is content, my son.” And sometimes I will sing that moment from The Lion King. I’ll just belt it out on stage.

But I think that’s absolutely true. Everything our customer touches is content. Everything that expresses any aspect of our business is content. Everything that extends our brand is content. It’s not just the thing we in the marketing space tend to only think of as content, like the things we own ‒ things like the brand or the FAQ page. It’s everything. It’s the product page, it’s your social channels, it’s the minute that anybody picks up a brochure anywhere. All of those things. It’s everything.

How Do You Use Content Marketing to Differentiate?

Michelle: How do you think you should use content to succinctly differentiate yourself from your competitors? Because you’re trying to drive these things, but you want to make sure. How do you be bolder? How do you have that voice? How are you thinking about using that content differently?

Ann: I really like the way you articulated brand, demand, and expand. Because you said in far fewer words just my philosophy about content ‒ it’s throughout the organization. So that’s fantastic, number one. But number two, to me, it starts with the brand. It starts with your story. Who are you? Why do you do what you do? Why are you in business? What is your founding story? Why do you exist?

And to me, when you ask: “How do you succinctly differentiate?”, you start with your story. Who are you? Why do you exist? And why should customers care about you? I think it’s important to really think about your story and not just talk about the products you sell. But really think about it a little bit more deeply than that.

What is the Difference Between Content Marketing and Advertising?

Michelle: Some people equate content marketing to advertising. What do you think the difference is?

Ann: There’s probably a million different ways you could answer this question. But to me, it really comes down to the fact that content is customer-centric, and advertising is brand-centered, in general. I think to me, content answers the questions that customers have, so it has real utility for customers. It’s helpful to them. It has a more creative approach to answering those questions. Sometimes not. Sometimes it does.

But it has a very customer-centric point of view. It’s really what marketing should be focusing on these days. We should be focusing on our customers 100 percent of the time. I’m absolutely not anti-advertising at all. But to me, that’s much more brand-centric. So, you’re just talking about yourself. You’re just sort of talking about your attributes as opposed to what you can do for customers. So that, to me, is the more interesting part of marketing ‒ really thinking about things from your customers’ point of view. I challenge myself with it all the time. That’s how I would differentiate. Content is customer-centric and advertising is brand-centric.

Michelle: I like the distinction.

What Advice Do You Have for Aspirational Marketers?

Michelle: One of my last questions is, as well-known as you are, we often overlook that you’ve been a leader for most of your career. Any advice for people who are listening that you have for being a leader in marketing or in business, or any advice you have for other women aspiring to leadership roles, or people who are thinking: “I just should jump out and start my own business and company, or maybe I should author a book”? Any words of advice?

Ann: Yes. Just do it. I see a lot of people ‒ and not just women, but younger people too ‒ holding back. Don’t hold back. Start creating content. Start exercising your voice. Start figuring out: How do we get those skills that we need? How do we be better communicators? How do we be sharper communicators? How do we be better writers? All of those things are so key. And so just start using your voice, number one.

And then number two, start building your audience. You want to write a book, say. Well, you don’t start with sitting down at your desk to write a book. You start with building a platform first because that’s the way that works.

And you asked me the question earlier: What did I learn from writing my two books? And part of what I learned is that you can’t market in a vacuum. I have this notion that, “Oh, I’m going to be a book author, how sort of high-minded will that be?” Well, you know what? It’s not. It’s about sales, right?

It’s like you think you’re a writer ‒ you’re not, you’re in sales. And the only reason why those books did as well as they did is because I had the audience in place first. I had the platform in place. So, if you have aspirations to write a book, to be a leader, start to improve those soft skills, start to tell your own story, poke your nose out, start telling that story in ways that have relevance for the people you are trying to reach.

And number four, build your audience. Start thinking about your bigger platform beyond your current job or your current role. What do you stand for? It’s not unlike what we were talking about as the heart of content marketing. Where do you start? You start with your story. And I think the same is true for individuals, too. What do you want to be known for? What do you stand for?

How Can We Learn More About MarketingProfs?

Michelle: I love it. How can people listening learn more about you and MarketingProfs?

Ann: You can go to MarketingProfs.com and sign up to get our daily newsletters that will keep you in the know about all things marketing. We also have our annual B2B Marketing Forum, which is a heck of a good time, in October, in Boston. Those are the two best places to connect with us.

I should mention, too, that after all this talk about soft skills, I feel like I need to mention, we also have our own training programs at MarketingProfs on writing, on storytelling, on content, and on lead generation, as well as a host of other resources for basically anything you want to know about marketing.

Michelle: Perfect. Well, I love it. I think no matter where we are in our careers, we can always do better in improving on those different skills. I think it’s just something you’ve got to focus on and take the time to just keep getting better. I love that you have it and I really enjoyed this conversation. Thanks so much for being on today.

Ann: Thank you, Michelle. It was fun. It was a lot of fun. Thanks for having me.

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Act-On Blog

Timing is Everything: Leveraging Adaptive Sending and Posting to Optimize Impact

insideAO 351x200 Timing is Everything: Leveraging Adaptive Sending and Posting to Optimize Impact

Ever pull into a full parking lot and get a front row spot because someone just happened to be pulling out? Great timing brings great advantages! For marketers, maximizing engagement with your prospects and customers can feel a lot like getting that ideal parking spot – sometimes you get lucky and send out a social post or email to a target contact at the perfect time. Score!

What if you were able to rely less on luck and also improve ‒ and even perfect ‒ your timing? Well, although I’m sorry to say that there’s no app to get you the best parking spot every time, there’s now a better way for you to know how to time your interactions with your target audiences.

Act-On’s Adaptive Journey’s vision is coming to life and I’m excited to be sharing some of our tech and products teams’ great progress on this front. Specifically, I’m referring to the release for all customers of our new Adaptive Social Posting, along with the private beta for Adaptive Sending that begins soon.

For those of you who weren’t able to make it to Act-On’s San Francisco I♥Marketing event (don’t worry, if you’re on the east coast we have one in New York on August 8) to hear about these advancements in person, I thought I’d take a moment to highlight our product’s two very helpful new capabilities.

Adaptive Sending – solving the age-old dilemma of when to send that email

A common outbound marketing dilemma is figuring out when to send that email. You can read one blog post that says the best open- or click-through rates are on a Sunday at 6 pm … and then read another that claims Tuesday at 10 am is best. Most marketers try to take into account these published best practices while also leveraging their own results from past campaigns. They also do a little A/B testing and ‒ let’s face it ‒ guesswork.

The problem, however, is that the buying journey for each individual can easily look like this:

In the above picture, the interaction times are very different for Ben (morning) vs. Beth (afternoon/evening).

Act-On is solving this all-over-the-map buyers’ journey challenge by not only having a platform that tracks, scores, measures, and connects all of these interactions, but also automatically learns from them. What we call “Adaptive Sending” includes the following main tenets:

  1. Assess each individual’s interaction times.
  2. Predict the best time each person should receive an email (within a campaign that may include thousands of contacts).
  3. Do all of this with one-click simplicity.

This sort of capability goes beyond just adjusting send times for time zones ‒ a function we already do today and that some vendors in this space consider “smartsend” functionality. It also goes beyond just looking at past behaviors and engagement in aggregate to provide one generally recommended send time for all recipients; our tailored-to-the-individual approach is something few vendors do. In addition, Adaptive Sending doesn’t just leverage past email interaction data (opens, click-throughs, etc.), it also takes into consideration each prospect and customer’s past engagement times with your company, such as visits to your website and landing pages and social engagement.

It’s easy to see why we think Adaptive Sending will be a big deal: The impact of a 6% vs. a 3% click-through or conversion rate can be monumental across all campaigns.

Adaptive Social Posting solving the common inbound marketing dilemma of when to post

As in the outbound marketing activity of emailing a contact, marketers have the similar challenge of determining the best times to post on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter. They can look across their past campaigns for clues, of course. They can also consult research, but it always seems to tell a different story. However, with the new Adaptive Social Posting capability, which is now available to all of our customers to flip on in Labs, Act-On will be constantly learning when your target audience has engaged with you the most on the social web and when they’ve shared or liked or commented or clicked through your past posts the most. It only takes a simple one-click step to leverage this functionality in our out-of-the-box social capabilities (see example below).

This innovative system takes the guesswork out of social posting and allows our customers to drive more impressions and engagement ‒and ultimately greater conversion rates.

There’s much more to come as we drive forward with our Adaptive Journeys vision. I’m looking forward to seeing customers start leveraging some of these great capabilities … and then reap the gains!

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Act-On Blog

MATCH_RECOGNIZE and predicates – everything you need to know

PaperTapes 5and8Hole MATCH RECOGNIZE and predicates   everything you need to know

At a recent user conference I had a question about when and how  predicates are applied when using MATCH_RECOGNIZE so that’s the purpose of this blog post. Will this post cover everything you will ever need to know for this topic? Probably!

Where to start….the first thing to remember is that the table listed in the FROM clause of your SELECT statement acts as the input into the MATCH_RECOGNIZE pattern matching process and this raises the question about how and where are predicates actually applied. I briefly touched on this topic in part 1 of my deep dive series on MATCH_RECOGNIZE: SQL Pattern Matching Deep Dive – Part 1.

In that first post I looked at the position of predicates within the explain plan and their impact on sorting. In this post I am going to use the built in measures (MATCH_NUMBER and CLASSIFIER) to show the impact of applying predicates to the results that are returned.

First, if you need a quick refresher course in how to use the MATCH_RECOGNIZE built-in measures then see part 2 of the deep dive series: SQL Pattern Matching Deep Dive – Part 2, using MATCH_NUMBER() and CLASSIFIER().

 As per usual I am going to use my normal stock ticker schema to illustrate the specific points. You can find this schema listed on most of the pattern matching examples on livesql.oracle.com. There are three key areas within the MATCH_RECOGNIZE clause that impact on predicates… 

  1. PARTITION BY column
  2. ORDER BY column
  3. All other columns

1. Predicates on the PARTITION BY column

 Let’ start with a simple query:

select * from ticker
MATCH_RECOGNIZE(
  PARTITION BY symbol ORDER BY tstamp
  MEASURES match_number() as mn
  ALL ROWS PER MATCH
  PATTERN (strt)
 DEFINE strt as 1=1
);

Note that we are using an always-true pattern STRT which is defined as 1=1 to ensure that we process all rows and the pattern has no range so it will be matched once and then reset to find the next match. As our ticker table contains 60 rows, the output also contains 60 rows

 MATCH RECOGNIZE and predicates   everything you need to know

Checkout the column headed mn which contains our match_numnber() measure. This shows that within the first partition for ACME we matched the always-true event 20 times, i.e. all rows were matched. If we check the explain plan for this query we can see that all 60 rows (3 symbols, and 20 rows for each symbol) were processed:

 MATCH RECOGNIZE and predicates   everything you need to know

If we now apply a predicate on the PARTITION BY column, SYMBOL, then we can see that the first “block” of our output looks exactly the same, however, the explain plan shows that we have processed fewer rows – only 20 rows.

 Let’ modify and rerun our simple query:

select * from ticker
MATCH_RECOGNIZE(
  PARTITION BY symbol ORDER BY tstamp
  MEASURES match_number() as mn
  ALL ROWS PER MATCH
  PATTERN (strt+)
 DEFINE strt as 1=1
)
WHERE symbol = ‘ACME';

 the results look similar but note that the output summary returned by SQL Developer indicates that only 20 rows were fetched:

 MATCH RECOGNIZE and predicates   everything you need to know

notice that the match_number() column (mn) is showing 1 – 20 as values returned from the pattern matching process. If we look at the explain plan….

 MATCH RECOGNIZE and predicates   everything you need to know

…this also shows that we processed 20 rows – so partition elimination filtered out the other 40 rows before pattern matching started. Therefore, if you apply predicates on the PARTITION BY column then MATCH_RECOGNIZE is smart enough to perform partition elimination to reduce the number of rows that need to be processed.

Conclusion – predicates on the PARTITION BY column.

Predicates on the partition by column reduce the amount of data being passed into MATCH_RECOGNIZE.

Built-in measures such as MATCH_NUMBER work as expected in that a contiguous sequence is returned.

2. Predicates on the ORDER BY column

What happens if we apply a predicate to the ORDER BY column? Let’s amend the query and add a filter on the tstamp column:

select * from ticker
MATCH_RECOGNIZE(
 PARTITION BY symbol ORDER BY tstamp
 MEASURES match_number() as mn
 ALL ROWS PER MATCH
 PATTERN (strt)
 DEFINE strt as 1=1
)
WHERE symbol='ACME'
AND tstamp BETWEEN '01-APR-11' AND '10-APR-11';

 returns a smaller resultset of only 10 rows and match_number is correctly sequenced from 1-10 – as expected:

 MATCH RECOGNIZE and predicates   everything you need to know

 however, the explain plan shows that we processed all the rows within the partition (20).

 MATCH RECOGNIZE and predicates   everything you need to know

This becomes a little clearer if remove the predicate on the SYMBOL column:

select * from ticker
MATCH_RECOGNIZE(
 PARTITION BY symbol ORDER BY tstamp
 MEASURES match_number() as mn
 ALL ROWS PER MATCH
 PATTERN (strt)
 DEFINE strt as 1=1
)
WHERE tstamp BETWEEN ’01-APR-11' AND '10-APR-11';

now we see that 30 rows are returned

 MATCH RECOGNIZE and predicates   everything you need to know

but all 60 rows have actually been processed!

 MATCH RECOGNIZE and predicates   everything you need to know

Conclusion

Filters applied to non-partition by columns are applied after the pattern matching process has completed: rows are passed in to MATCH_RECOGNIZE, the pattern is matched and then predicates on the ORDER BY/other columns are applied.

Is there a way to prove that this is actually what is happening?

3.Using other columns

Lets add another column to our ticker table that shows the day name for each trade. Now let’s rerun the query with the predicate on the SYMBOL column:

select * from ticker
MATCH_RECOGNIZE(
  PARTITION BY symbol ORDER BY tstamp
  MEASURES match_number() as mn
  ALL ROWS PER MATCH
  PATTERN (strt)
 DEFINE strt as 1=1
)
WHERE symbol = ‘ACME';

 MATCH RECOGNIZE and predicates   everything you need to know

the column to note is MN which contains a contiguous sequence of numbers from 1 to 20.

What happens if we filter on the day_name column and only keep the working-week days (Mon-Fri):

select * from ticker
MATCH_RECOGNIZE(
  PARTITION BY symbol ORDER BY tstamp
  MEASURES match_number() as mn
  ALL ROWS PER MATCH
  PATTERN (strt)
 DEFINE strt as 1=1
)
WHERE symbol = ‘ACME'
AND day_name in (‘MONDAY’, ’TUESDAY’, ‘WEDNESDAY’, ’THURSDAY’, ‘FRIDAY’);

 now if we look at the match_number column, mn, we can see that the sequence is no longer contiguous: the value in row 2 is now 4 and not 2, row 7 the value of mn is 11 even though the previous row was 8:

 MATCH RECOGNIZE and predicates   everything you need to know

It is still possible to “access” the rows that have been removed. Consider the following query with the measure PREV(day_name):

select * from ticker
MATCH_RECOGNIZE(
 PARTITION BY symbol ORDER BY tstamp
 MEASURES match_number() as mn,
          prev(day_name) as prev_day
 ALL ROWS PER MATCH
 PATTERN (strt)
 DEFINE strt as 1=1
)
WHERE symbol='ACME'
AND day_name in ('MONDAY', 'WEDNESDAY', 'FRIDAY');

this returns the following:

 MATCH RECOGNIZE and predicates   everything you need to know

where you can see that on row 2 the value for SUNDAY has been returned even though logically looking at the results the previous day should be FRIDAY.

This has important implications for numerical calculations such as running totals, final totals, averages, counts, min and max etc etc because these will take into account all the matches (depending on how your pattern is defined) prior to the final set of predicates (i.e. non-PARTITION BY columns) being applied.

One last example

Let’s now change the always-true pattern to search for as many rows as possible (turn it into a greedy quantifier)

select symbol, tstamp, mn, price, day_name, prev_day, total_rows from ticker
MATCH_RECOGNIZE(
 PARTITION BY symbol ORDER BY tstamp
 MEASURES match_number() as mn,
          prev(day_name) as prev_day,
          count(*) as total_rows 
 ALL ROWS PER MATCH
 PATTERN (strt+)
 DEFINE strt as 1=1
)
WHERE symbol='ACME'
AND day_name in ('MONDAY', 'WEDNESDAY', 'FRIDAY');

the results from the following two queries:

Query 1:

select symbol, tstamp, mn, price, day_name, prev_day, total_rows, avg_price, max_price 

from ticker
MATCH_RECOGNIZE(
 PARTITION BY symbol ORDER BY tstamp
 MEASURES match_number() as mn,
 prev(day_name) as prev_day,
 count(*) as total_rows,
 trunc(avg(price),2) as avg_price,
 max(price) as max_price
 ALL ROWS PER MATCH
 PATTERN (strt+)
 DEFINE strt as 1=1
)
WHERE symbol=‘ACME';

 Query 2:

select symbol, tstamp, mn, price, day_name, prev_day, total_rows, avg_price, max_price from ticker
MATCH_RECOGNIZE(
 PARTITION BY symbol ORDER BY tstamp
 MEASURES match_number() as mn,
   prev(day_name) as prev_day,
   count(*) as total_rows,
   trunc(avg(price),2) as avg_price,
   max(price) as max_price
 ALL ROWS PER MATCH
 PATTERN (strt+)
 DEFINE strt as 1=1
)
WHERE symbol='ACME'
AND day_name in ('MONDAY', 'WEDNESDAY', 'FRIDAY');

the number of rows returned is different but the values for the calculated columns (previous day, count, max and min) are exactly the same:

Resultset 1:

 MATCH RECOGNIZE and predicates   everything you need to know

Resultset 2:

 MATCH RECOGNIZE and predicates   everything you need to know

Conclusion

When I briefly touched on this topic in part 1 of my deep dive series on MATCH_RECOGNIZE, SQL Pattern Matching Deep Dive – Part 1, the focus was on the impact predicates had on sorting – would additional sorting take place if predicates were used.

In this post I have looked at the impact on the data returned. Obviously by removing rows at the end of processing there can be a huge impact on calculated measures such as match_number, counts and averages etc.

Hope this has been helpful. If you have any questions then feel free to send me an email: keith.laker@oracle.com.

Main image courtesy of wikipedia

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Everything You’ve Wanted To Know About Employee Turnover

The topic of employee turnover should be taken seriously by all companies, because there are both direct and residual effects of a high turnover rate.

A little bit of turnover is unavoidable. No one can stick around forever, and sometimes what you thought was a good fit turns out to not be. A low rate of turnover is ok – you’ll survive. And there’s something invigorating about newcomers and new minds coming on board.

On the other hand, a company with a high turnover rate might need to take a closer look at what the underlying problem is.

Before we look at how to calculate turnover and ways you can reduce the problem in your company…

Definition of employee turnover

Employee turnover refers to the number or percentage of workers who leave an organization and are then replaced by new employees.

Essentially, it’s the number of employees that leave your company in a certain amount of time and need to be replaced.

The opposite of turnover is retention, which refers to the rate at which companies keep their employees.

We want to help you understand what turnover really means for an organization, and then offer tips on how to avoid it.

Employee turnover statistics

Employee turnover is incredibly costly, which is why HR departments and managers need to work toward keeping their team intact.

Bonusly offers some interesting statistics on turnover in the workforce:

infographic turnover Everything You’ve Wanted To Know About Employee Turnover
In our own real-time report on the international State Of Employee Engagement, data reveals that universally, 15% of employees do not see themselves working at their company one year from now. Even scarier, according to Gallup, 51% of workers are looking to leave their current jobs. Yikes!

The question is, how expensive is turnover really?

Employee turnover costs

Unfortunately, this issue isn’t so black and white; there are many ways to evaluate the cost of turnover. And in addition to dollars and cents, there are other less tangible costs to consider.

These costs include:

  • Costs associated with hiring (job posts, interviews, technical tests, etc.)
  • Onboarding costs (employees aren’t “valuable” for at least 3 months)
  • Training costs
  • Lost time from other employees helping out with questions

This graph by Josh Bersin demonstrates it well.

graph cost employee Everything You’ve Wanted To Know About Employee Turnover

For more specialized positions that take longer to fill, the cost of turnover is higher. For jobs that inherently have high turnover (retail, call centers, etc.) turnover costs will be lower.

To keep it simple, let’s look at a mid-range position. The cost to replace a manager making $ 40,000 a year would be $ 8,000, suggesting that employee turnover costs 20% of an employee’s annual salary.

Employee turnover rate calculation

Use the following formula to calculate turnover rate:

equation turnover Everything You’ve Wanted To Know About Employee Turnover

Not a math person? That’s ok. We’ll break it down for you. Suppose you have a company with 200 employees, and 30 of them leave throughout the year. That would leave with you 170 employees, but of course, to fill the holes you bring new employees in (in this case, 25). This gives you a turnover rate of 15%.

Artboard 12 copy Everything You’ve Wanted To Know About Employee Turnover

Is that good? Is that bad?

There is not a definitive answer on this because the truth is that it doesn’t only matter how many people leave, but who is leaving. If 15% of your top talent and execs are leaving, then yes, that is a problem. However, if 15% of your bottom-performing employees are leaving, you might even consider this exodus to be a positive thing, as it leaves room for new talent to come in.

According to Gallup, 10% would be the ideal rate, and that 10 % would ideally also be bottom performers.

Causes of employee turnover

There are many causes of employee turnover, but lumped together you might simply call it employee disengagement. Two of the biggest factors of turnover are problems at the hiring stage, and bad management.

Hiring

According to the RainMaker Group, hiring problems account for 80% of employee turnover.

This is why it’s so important to make sure you have an amazing hiring process that is up-to-date with the latest technologies, and that considers things such as cultural fit and company alignment in addition to the experience.

Bad managers

Another significant cause of turnover is bad management.

The truth is that most people don’t quit their jobs; they quit their bosses, which is quite sad because they might love their job and be really good at it.

At a previous job, five people quit over the course of two months. Each one announced an obscure reason for leaving, like focusing on other passions, moving to freelance, etc. All five left without having secured a new job, which seemed reckless, until it became clear, after a sixth person left, that their reason for leaving was unmentioned but unanimous: the boss. After the first employee mustered the courage to leave, it triggered a domino effect.

Can you imagine the stress that losing six team members caused for the remaining employees who had to pick up the slack; for the HR reps, who had to hire quickly but strategically; and for the manager, who had to train a slew of new employees? It’s a huge, time-consuming, discouraging setback.

How to reduce employee turnover

Focusing on employee engagement and personal growth for your employees will pay huge dividends for your team.

Here are a few ideas you can use to reduce your turnover:

  1. Improve the hiring process

    The hiring process is where it all begins, so it needs to happen properly. Make sure new hires are a good cultural fit and that they are aligned with the company’s mission and values in addition to considering their skill set and past experience in the field. It might take a bit more time to do the hiring process right, but it’s better to get it right the first time then have to do it over and over.

  2. Improve the onboarding process

    20% of employee turnover happens in the first 45 days, and a big part of that is due to improper onboarding. Be sure to set proper expectations, make them feel welcome, collect feedback, and touch base with them often.

  3. Train managers

    When you hire a manager or promote an employee to a managerial position, it’s important to consider more than just their skill set. There is an element of personality and psychology to leadership that is just as important to consider. Offering training for managers is one of the best ways to ensure that they can lead a team successfully. Things like emotional intelligence and empathy cannot necessarily be taught, but they should be considered during the hiring process.

  4. Give opportunity for growth

    What employees really want, as famously taught by Dan Pink, is autonomy, mastery, and purpose. You can easily fulfill their need for mastery by letting them improve whatever skills they have for their job. It’s a win-win, because if they’re better at what they do, they’ll be more productive and feel encouraged to keep learning and improving.

    Offering your employees professional development opportunities shows them that you are invested in their future at the company, which will in turn inspire them to stay in the organization.

  5. Recognize employees

    Companies that scored in the top 20% for building a “recognition-rich culture” actually had 31% lower voluntary turnover rates, according to research by Josh Bersin.

    The research shows that it’s more important to receive recognition from peers than from top managers, so set up a way for employees to praise and recognize each other.

  6. Promote work-life balance

    Work-life balance is one of the most important parts of keeping your employees happy, healthy, and productive. Organizations are finally starting to understand to the importance of helping employees maintain a proper work-life balance to reduce stress and maintain a positive outlook when they go to work in the morning. Being mindful not to overwork your team and avoiding contacting them outside office hours is a great start, but you can also offer benefits such as gym memberships, proving that you care about both their mental and physical health.

  7. Collect frequent feedback

    Some companies still survey their employees only once a year, but employees need to be able to express themselves and offer feedback on a more frequent and regular basis. Employees want to be listened to and feel that their opinion matters. Collecting frequent feedback allows managers to act instantly on problems.

For more insight on employee retention, see 8 Employee Retention Facts That’ll Keep You Up At Night.

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New password guidelines say everything we thought about passwords is wrong

 New password guidelines say everything we thought about passwords is wrong

When I recently discovered a draft of new guidelines for password management from NIST (the National Institute of Standards and Technology), I was amazed about the number of very progressive changes they proposed.

Although NIST’s rules are not mandatory for nongovernmental organizations, they usually have a huge influence as many corporate security professionals use them as base standards and best practices when forming policies for their companies. Thus, another fact I was surprised about was a lack of attention to this document, finalized March 31, from both official media and the blogosphere. After all, those changes are supposed to affect literally everyone who browses the Internet

Here is a quick look at the three main changes the NIST has proposed:

No more periodic password changes. This is a huge change of policy as it removes a significant burden from both users and IT departments. It’s been clear for a long time that periodic changes do not improve password security but only make it worse, and now NIST research has finally provided the proof.

No more imposed password complexity (like requiring a combination of letters, numbers, and special characters). This means users now can be less “creative” and avoid passwords like “Password1$ ”, which only provide a false sense of security.

Mandatory validation of newly created passwords against a list of commonly-used, expected, or compromised passwords. Users will be prevented from setting passwords like “password”, “12345678”, etc. which hackers can easily guess.

So why haven’t we seen any coverage of the changes considering how much of a departure they are from previous advice — and considering every average user is going to be affected? I think there are several reasons for the radio silence.

First, many people now suffer from password fatigue. Users are tired of and disappointed with password rules. They are forced to follow all these complex guidelines, remember and periodically change dozens or hundreds of different passwords, and yet we still hear about an enormous number of security breaches caused by compromised passwords. Users, especially less sophisticated ones, seem to have reconciled themselves to this situation and perceive it as a matter of course, so no one believes it can be improved.

Second, we’ve seen a widespread introduction of MFA (multi factor authentication), also known as two factor authentication, which supposedly pushes the password problem to the background. Let me remind you that unlike traditional authentication by password (“something you know”), MFA requires a second factor like “something you have” (hardware token, mobile phone) or “something you are” (usually biometric such as fingerprint or face recognition). Indeed, if my account is protected by a reliable second factor such as a one-time code texted to my iPhone or generated on demand by my Yubikey, why should I care about passwords anymore? I can just use the same password I remember on every account that is protected by MFA. Unfortunately, this assumption is only partially true because MFA is reliable only when both factors are secure.

Finally, more diligent users these days have access to a large variety of password management software, both commercial and freeware, which can significantly improve user experience and security. With password management software, I only need to remember one password that unlocks my personal “password vault”, so I don’t have to worry about all the complexity rules or frequent password changes; my password manager will generate, store, and enter a secure random password every time I need one. However, there are still scenarios when we cannot use password manager (unlocking our phone, computer, or door, for example).

So are these changes NIST is proposing still relevant and important? Of course they are. Despite the desperate attempts of many security startups to introduce new authentication methods, passwords are here to stay for awhile, if not forever, and millions of people around the world will appreciate even small improvements in user experience and security.

Slava Gomzin is author of the book Hacking Point of Sale (Wiley, 2014) and Bitcoin for Nonmathematicians (Universal Publishers, 2016). He is VP of Information Security and Technology at Pieces Technologies, a health tech startup. Previously he was Director of Information Security at Parkland Center for Clinical Innovation (PCCI) and was a security and payments technologist at Hewlett-Packard, where he helped create products that are integrated into modern payment processing ecosystems using the latest security technologies. He blogs about information security and technology at www.gomzin.com.

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CRM for SME: Everything You Need to Know

0 SME 300x225 CRM for SME: Everything You Need to Know

Sometimes when small or medium sized businesses start looking at CRM options, they come to the conclusion that the solution just isn’t right for them. We say, no way! The truth is, no matter what size your company is, Dynamics 365 offers a wide breadth of options for organizations just like yours. PowerObjects is here to support you no matter what. In today’s blog, we’ll take a look at a few of the resources PowerObjects has available to get your started on your Dynamics 365 journey.

If you’re an SME/SMB organization, you have a lot of things to think about in the day-to-day way you run your business. The assumption that often happens with implementing a CRM system is that the time and resources needed for the implementation are out of range for them. Not to mention a perceived cost about maintaining the system. However, CRM is an invaluable resource to leverage as a system of record tool that will help you grow more efficiently, be more productive and identify issues before they become major problems. Here are a few of the benefits Dynamics 365 can bring to your business:

  • The integrated sales, marketing and service functionality is STELLAR.
  • Office 365 integrates EASILY with Dynamics 365 to increase productivity.
  • BETTER reporting and insights = BETTER decisions
  • A SCALABLE platform.
  • Microsoft Cloud by PowerObjects for SUPERIOR Cloud Service.

Let’s talk a little more about the support options PowerObjects has in regards to your Cloud Service Provider. With Microsoft Cloud by PowerObjects, you can bundle your Dynamics 365 licenses with additional support from us! With Microsoft Cloud by PowerObjects, we handle your contracts, partners and payments. It couldn’t be easier! A partnership with PowerObjects means you always have access to a dedicated team who understands you, your needs and your solution.

And that’s not all! Your subscription comes with a whole set of additional features that add value back to Dynamics 365. Experience break-and-fix support from the largest CRM support desk outside of Microsoft, full access to our PowerPack Add-ons, access to PowerStart and PowerSuccess, and discounts on ALL of our world-class educational offerings.

So what’s next? Register for our CRM for SME webinar series, SME and Dynamics 365, where our team will show you how any organization, regardless of size, can achieve success with CRM for Dynamics 365.

Happy CRM’ing!

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“Changing The System…Was Not A Question Of Contesting And Polemicizing, But Of Blowing Everything Up”

Julius Evola “Changing The System…Was Not A Question Of Contesting And Polemicizing, But Of Blowing Everything Up”

Steve Bannon seems like one of those voracious if prejudiced consumers of media who might be persuaded that ancient aliens helped Hitler become Führer. He has read widely not to debunk his crackpot theories and deep-seated bigotry but to collect fuel for them. The Chief Strategist reminds me of a line from the jacket of Blaise Cendrars’ Moravagine: “He is a monster, a man in pursuit of a theorem that will justify his every desire.”

Until recently, I never connected him to a 2004 film I reviewed called In the Face of Evil: Reagan’s War in Word and Deed,which is one of the more deranged, heavy-handed and paranoid pieces of propaganda I’ve ever seen, Riefenstahl included. I remember thinking then that the director must be a unhinged person badly in need of mental help. Until the last five years or so, I watched 250 to 300 films a year during my entire adult life, and because of the quantity I don’t remember many of them, even some good ones, but I still can vividly recall how delusional and chilling this work was.

When not busy making his pseudo-documentaries, Bannon was a decade ago trying tosell virtual goldfor real money, then peddled tin-pot despotism at Breitbart, and now he’s trying his hand at political alchemy, a white nationalist in the White House, serving as a Rasputin orAlexander Dugin to Trump. As Jason Horowitz of the New York Timesreports, one of the Oval Office insider’s influences is the monocled Italian philosopher Julius Evola, who swayed Mussolini and embraced Hitler, and now serves as a hero to Internet-friendly neo-Nazis.

An excerpt:

Born in 1898, Evola liked to call himself a baron and in later life sported a monocle in his left eye.

A brilliant student and talented artist, he came home after fighting in World War I and became a leading exponent in Italy of the Dada movement, which, like Evola, rejected the church and bourgeois institutions.

Evola’s early artistic endeavors gave way to his love of the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, and he developed a worldview with an overriding animosity toward the decadence of modernity. Influenced by mystical works and the occult, Evola began developing an idea of the individual’s ability to transcend his reality and “be unconditionally whatever one wants.”

Under the influence of René Guénon, a French metaphysicist and convert to Islam, Evola in 1934 published his most influential work, “The Revolt Against the Modern World,” which cast materialism as an eroding influence on ancient values.

It viewed humanism, the Renaissance, the Protestant Reformation and the French Revolution all as historical disasters that took man further away from a transcendental perennial truth.

Changing the system, Evola argued, was “not a question of contesting and polemicizing, but of blowing everything up.”

Evola’s ideal order, Professor Drake wrote, was based on “hierarchy, caste, monarchy, race, myth, religion and ritual.”

That made a fan out of Benito Mussolini.•

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Everything You Need to Know About Task Flows

TASK FLOWS 300x225 Everything You Need to Know About Task Flows

Task flows are an awesome feature available in Microsoft Dynamics 365, and in today’s blog, we’re giving you the 411 on everything you need to know about them!

What are Task Flows?

Task flows are a user-level approach to managing business processes on the mobile device. In fact, they’re actually a subcategory of Business Process flows. Task flows are different from business process flows in that they can be executed by multiple users at the same time on the same record. They also benefit your users by making the underlying CRM data model transparent in the Mobile user interface. User level task flows offer guidance in the mobile UI where the full business process flow form might just be too much information to manage.

Before we get started, you should be aware of three important points:

1. Task flows are currently available for Mobile CRM Mobile app only.

2. Task flows are officially in preview mode (meaning this feature has not yet been completed, but has been made available with limited or restricted functionality with the goal of soliciting feedback from customers).

3. Task flows must first be enabled or turned on and you must accept the license terms before the feature can be used.

Now we can get to the good stuff! First off, let’s take a look at how to create a task flow.

How to Create a Task Flow

To create a task flow, you need to access the Processes area under Settings.

1. First, navigate to Settings > Processes > New.

2. For the Category, select Business Process Flow.

3. Then, select the Type Run the process as a task flow (Mobile only).

112216 2153 EverythingY1 Everything You Need to Know About Task Flows

How to Enable Task Flow Functionality

As we mentioned earlier, task flows must first be turned on or enabled before they can be used. As you can see in the image above, the option to create a task flow is not available since it has not been enabled. To turn on task flows, you need to access the Preview section under System Settings.

1. First, navigate to Settings > Administration.

2. Next, go to System Settings and select the Preview tab.

3. Check that you have read and agreed to the license terms.

4. Select Yes for the Enable Task Flows for Mobile Preview section.

112216 2153 EverythingY2 Everything You Need to Know About Task Flows

Once enabled, the option to create a task flow will be made available:

1. Navigate to Settings > Processes > New.

2. For the Category, select Business Process Flow.

3. Then, select the Type Run process as a task flow (Mobile only).

112216 2153 EverythingY3 Everything You Need to Know About Task Flows

That’s it! For more tricks and tips, make sure you subscribe to our blog and check out some of PowerObjects’ awesome webinars, where we delve into all that’s new and exciting with Microsoft Dynamics 365.

Happy Dynamics 365’ing!

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Smart Disposables: Could This Be The Birth Of The Internet Of Everything?

During the famine in northern Ethiopia in the 1980s, governments and humanitarian agencies from around the world poured food into the region at great expense. Despite their efforts, which were hampered by a civil war in Ethiopia, 400,000 people died.

Compounding the tragedy was the fact that southern Ethiopia had surplus food that never made it north. “In every major disaster, the resources needed to respond may be available locally, but because of the inability to communicate accurate needs and offers of resources, needed items such as food are often shipped halfway across the world at high costs,” says Gisli Olafsson, a humanitarian advisor to NetHope, an organization that connects nonprofit organizations with technology innovators.

Today, governments, nongovernmental organizations, and public and private sector entities have the ability not only to track aid but also to determine the best way to deliver it to conflict zones and fragile states.

For example, the World Food Programme (WFP), the largest humanitarian agency in the world, delivers over 3 million metric tons of food annually, which feeds about one-tenth of the hungry people in the world, as reported in the WFP’s 2015 annual report. As was the case in Ethiopia, however, supply isn’t always the issue. Sometimes there’s plenty of food available locally, but people can’t afford to pay for it. Aid may also become fodder for the black market rather than food for children.

To improve access to food and other nutritional needs, the WFP started using electronic vouchers and digital cash several years ago. Since then, the WFP reports, it has distributed more than US$ 1 billion in aid through digital means to those in need. It’s part of an effort by humanitarian organizations and governments to reinvent aid delivery in the digital economy.

sap Q316 digital double feature2 images1 Smart Disposables: Could This Be The Birth Of The Internet Of Everything?

The need for change is indisputable. Despite government and private humanitarian contributions that totaled $ 28 billion in 2015, as reported by Reuters, 25 million people still need assistance, according to a February 2016 United Nations report, One Humanity: Shared Responsibility. Organizations involved in aid delivery are responding by using technology to help locate those in need faster, zero in on their specific need, speed delivery, and reduce losses from corruption and thievery.

“Technology is driving new means of delivering humanitarian aid in ways we could never before achieve. It’s amplifying what the world can do,” says Olafsson. Innovations in aid delivery are also part of achieving the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals initiative, which includes ending poverty, feeding the hungry, and fighting diseases.

Electronic Identification: Making Sure All People Count

Before people can receive even the most basic human services, they first must be identified—yet many in this world have not been. For example, Unicef reports that the births of nearly 230 million children under the age of five have not been officially recorded. Without an identity, these children are invisible, excluded from basic human rights, such as healthcare, social benefits, and education, as well as from humanitarian aid that could save their lives.

Electronic identification solutions are now being used by governments and humanitarian organizations to help change the situation. For instance, several years ago, India launched an initiative to provide each citizen with a national identity number. The government has now issued more than 1.2 billion Aadhaar cards (covering more than 80% of the country’s population), which establish a unique 12-digit number for every Indian adult, child, and infant, according to a government report. The Aadhaar, which includes demographic and biometric information, provides a universal identity infrastructure that can be used by any identity-based application, such as banking, mobile, government, and other needed services.

Identification cards are a powerful way of demonstrating to people that there are benefits to being a part of the formal economy. “The efforts for universal identification are incredibly important,” says Carmen Navarro, a former project manager for financial inclusion at the World Economic Forum. “They will help provide the underserved with social benefits and other financial services products that they have never had access to before.”

Electronic Money: Increasing Effectiveness and Accountability

When humanitarian aid must be delivered in conflict zones and fragile states, organizations sometimes struggle to get aid into the hands of those who need it. Corruption and thievery can divert resources away from their intended recipients. Digital cash has become an important tool for thwarting the bad guys, especially in times of disasters or conflict, when aid must move quickly and can become more difficult to follow.

sap Q316 digital double feature2 images3 Smart Disposables: Could This Be The Birth Of The Internet Of Everything?“In some situations, digital cash is the best emergency aid because it can be tracked, so organizations know how much aid is being administered and to whom. This ensures that aid is not being diverted to someone other than the intended recipient or resold on the black market,” says Kate Van Waes, policy director, agriculture and inclusive growth, at the ONE Campaign, a global antipoverty organization.

Digital cash also helps protect those delivering aid. “A digital form of payment reduces the use of cash, making transactions more transparent and safer,” says Navarro. She sees this in Latin America, where governments are encouraging the transfer of social benefits to digital form. “This limits the amount of cash that must be transported to very remote locations, which can be costly and dangerous,” she says.

Social Media: Improving Response Time and Accuracy

Social media has become a vital part of communicating aid needs after disasters, says NetHope’s Olafsson. “Social media allows people in existing social networks—whether it’s a community, a neighborhood, or a school—to amplify their connections,” he says. “This is critical in times of disasters, because now people can help each other, whether it’s preparing for an event or helping after.”

sap Q316 digital double feature2 images5 Smart Disposables: Could This Be The Birth Of The Internet Of Everything?Private sector and humanitarian organizations are now using Facebook pages to connect with people who have been affected by disasters, such as flooding and earthquakes. Government and community pages publish early warning notices of impending disasters, as well as updates on recovery efforts. For instance, within hours of a 2015 earthquake in Nepal, Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO, posted on his Facebook page that his company’s Safety Check service was active, helping people in the region inform family and friends that they were safe.

As technology evolves, social media promises to have an even bigger impact on disaster relief and could radically change the dynamic of humanitarian response. People will be able to communicate their needs to aid organizations in the moment. “In the future, there will be a big shift in response efforts that is fueled by mobile phones, social networks, and other real-time communication,” Olafsson says.

“There will be a 180-degree turn, a shift from a government top-down approach to responding to disasters to a community bottom-up approach.”

IoT: Wiring Up to Predict Disasters

Over 100 million people were affected by disasters, such as floods, earthquakes, storms, heat waves, and drought, in 2014. Yet according to the One Humanity: Shared Responsibility report, only 0.4% of official development assistance was spent on disaster preparedness in 2014.

Today, Internet of Things (IoT) solutions are helping communities around the world get early warnings of impending disasters. One example is Buenos Aires, where flash floods over the past several years had taken lives and left people stranded without vital services. Today, the city is using planning, design, sensor, and analytics technologies to prevent flooding and provide better response.

With IoT sensors throughout the city’s water tunnels, Buenos Aires can now better anticipate and identify where the flooding risk is and better prepare for or fix the issue. The government can also use social media to engage with citizens and provide warnings, preparation advice, and instructions on what to do in case of emergency.

Data Transparency: Ensuring the Right Delivery of Funds

Data ensures greater transparency in the relationship between citizens and governments, which increases accountability and helps provide better aid for the unserved and underserved.

sap Q316 digital double feature2 images6 Smart Disposables: Could This Be The Birth Of The Internet Of Everything?For instance, the International Budget Partnership’s Open Budget Survey 2015 reports that 98 out of 102 countries lack adequate systems for ensuring that public funds intended to support communities with basic needs such as education are used efficiently and effectively. The ONE Campaign has an initiative called Follow the Money, which creates greater accountability for government funds and less diversion from intended purposes. “All too often, money from Africa’s natural oil, gas, and mining resources ends up being wasted or, worse, stolen and used to buy luxury property in London, New York, or Paris rather than benefiting the poorest people,” says David McNair, director of transparency and accountability at the ONE Campaign.

Transparency around data is making it more difficult for aid money to disappear. For example, in rural community in Nigeria, over 400 students were crammed into two classrooms when funds to build a new school ran out during construction, according to the ONE Campaign. The community requested aid from the Nigerian government to complete the work but never heard back. Unbeknownst to the citizens, the government had approved the request but hadn’t released the allocated funds—that is, until BudgIT, a network of citizen activists, got involved. Using the organization’s Tracka technology, which tracks and publicizes capital projects in Nigeria, the community gained visibility into the government’s budget, the funds were freed up, and the building project was completed in 2015.

Sharing data between the public and private sectors can also speed up success. “For the delivery of basic services to truly be accelerated, collaboration between the public and the private sector is critical,” Navarro says. “Financial institutions, consumer goods companies, and telecommunication providers are a few of the key players here, as they essentially have very strong networks within the segments of the population that humanitarian aid efforts are targeting.”

sap Q316 digital double feature2 images7 Smart Disposables: Could This Be The Birth Of The Internet Of Everything?Data Analytics: Knowing Who Needs Help and When

Aid organizations are trying to move beyond responding to humanitarian needs and begin predicting those needs. Real-time, broader-based data sets are already allowing organizations to better analyze current situations, measure progress to date, and gain keener insight into future trends. “The organizations that are instrumental in relief efforts often make blind decisions because they are using out-of-date information that is not representative of what is actually happening today,” says Olafsson.

Big Data analysis lets humanitarian organizations bring aid down to the personal level, says Navarro. “Behavioral data can feed the design of the right financial services products for the underserved and help ensure they are properly used,” she says. “Information from a simple savings or deposit account could help inform micro-insurance products and offers of credit.”

The Cloud: Creating a Humanitarian Ecosystem

With so many different humanitarian organizations operating independently around the world, there is often duplication of effort when delivering aid. This could change with the creation of a humanitarian ecosystem in which aid organizations share technology solutions and data through the cloud.

Humanitarian organizations all share the same challenges. They must do more with less money, they must better understand whom they are serving, and they must implement technology solutions that are interoperable with those of their counterparts. By pooling resources in a shared cloud, more funds could go to aid rather than to infrastructure costs.

“Once you open up technology and connectivity,” Olafsson of NetHope says, “you start enabling different ways of thinking. If technology can provide even just a 1% improvement in organizational efficiency, and if the duplication of efforts was eliminated, there could be large amounts of savings.”

sap Q316 digital double feature2 images8 Smart Disposables: Could This Be The Birth Of The Internet Of Everything?Restoring Dignity Faster

One of the biggest concerns for people who need humanitarian aid is that basic services that most of us take for granted are poor or don’t exist. Improved aid delivery helps change that.

Aid and government funds give people the opportunity to look beyond survival and start down the path toward prosperity. “A big part of prosperity is providing the space for people to have a voice and express an opinion over things that affect their lives,” says the ONE Campaign’s McNair. “It’s not just about access to more money. It’s about removing the constraints to living a fulfilled life, whether it’s freedom of speech, access to money, or an opportunity to learn a new trade.” D!

Read more thought provoking articles in the latest issue of the Digitalist Magazine, Executive Quarterly.

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