Welcome to the Epicor blog community, covering topics to inspire discussion where Epicor thought leaders, employees and partners alike can share insight across industries.
Mobile devices and applications are transforming the retail sector, according to a recently released report by Google: "One in three shoppers use their smartphones to find information instead of asking for help from a store employee. In some categories 55 percent say they do this when shopping for appliances, 48 percent for electronics, 40 percent for baby care and 39 percent for household care." These statistics show the movement from service to self-service, with mobile as the principal enabler.
Kevin Benedict of sys-con.com lists some of the most interesting findings in the Google report:
- Seventy-nine percent of smartphone owners are smartphone shoppers.
- Sixty-two percent use a smartphone to assist with shopping at least once a month and 17 percent use it this way at least once a week.
- Eighty-four percent of smartphone users use tem to help shop while in a store.
- Fifty-three percent of smartphone users use their devices in-store to make price comparisons.
- Thirty-nine percent of smartphone users use them to find promotional offers while in the store.
- Thirty-six percent of smartphone users use their devices to find location/directions to stores.
- Thirty-five percent of smartphone users use their smartphones to find store hours.
This data dovetails with a Forbes Insight report called “Retail’s Mobile Imperative,” whose key findings included:
- Retailers are actively pursuing the mobile channel; nearly three out of four have some kind of mobile initiative in place today.
- Nearly one-half of retailers say they want to capture “first-mover advantage” as their customers go mobile.
- Retailers are at varying levels of sophistication in terms of their mobile efforts. Fundamental tools such as mobile ads and mobile websites are the most common. Other companies are moving into more transaction-based and customer service-oriented applications. The most sophisticated are adding location- and context-based apps.
- For many retailers, mobile is much more than a “scaled-back” version of the Internet. Rather, they take advantage of the ubiquity of cell phones and smartphones to create location-specific experiences.
- Retailers are determining which mobile devices and operating systems to support, relying primarily on the device’s current and potential market share and the demographics of the device’s user base.
- Retailers appear satisfied with their mobile efforts, with six out of 10 saying their mobile channel returns are either meeting or exceeding expectations.
Much of this phenomenon was anticipated in a GS1 Mobile Com whitepaper that appeared at the onset of this decade, as mobile phone users were beginning to transition in droves to smartphones, and before the development and rapid deployment of tablets. The paper, “Mobile in Retail: Getting Your Retail Environment Ready for Mobile,” states plainly why mobile is good for retail: increased sales, increased customer satisfaction and loyalty, and added value to physical products and experiences through digital services. Clearly retailers are hearing the message, and with over one-half the planet’s population equipped with mobile phones, there is a vast audience poised to hear their messages.
The mobile in retail phenomenon is developing new angles even as it emerges. In a post on Cisco’s The Network blog, Joanne Taaffe, deputy editor of Total Telecom Magazine, addresses one that’s gaining traction: providing product development data to consumers. According to Taaffe, concern from consumers about the origins of the products they purchase is prompting retailers to start using mobile technologies to track provenance and sustainability of goods.
While costs may slow development of this mobile retail functionality in the short term, and analysts contend that consumer activism will be necessary to drive further moves by retailers to use technology to provide up-to-date information on how they have sourced the products on their shelves, we wouldn’t be surprised to see the practice ultimately triumph. After all, the mobile world is one where the customer is king or queen; recent history has shown that he or she generally gets what he or she wants in the end.
Stay tuned—or powered up.
Posted by the Epicor Social Media Team
In the wake of the recent horsemeat scandal in Europe, the Ferrari Group’s Supply Chain Matters blog finds food and beverage manufacturers intensifying their focus on the screening and traceability of food products. Recalling what Bob Ferrari calls “not exactly a savory development,” the post notes that Nestle CEO Paul Bulcke indicates that the scandal will affect the entire food industry—even companies such as Nestle that did not have product involved—by refocusing executive eyes on traceability. “We check our suppliers very carefully, and, of course, when something like this happens we intensify our procedures,” says Bulcke in a Financial Times interview.
At one level, such diligence underscores how complex and dispersed the food and beverage supply chain has become, and how challenging it is to track and trace every ingredient from every source. At another, it highlights the increasing pressures on food and beverage manufacturers from government oversight.
In the United States, the passage of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) in January 2011 has given more muscle to an already powerful Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The law gives the FDA the authority to order recalls of contaminated food (amongst other powers not here disclosed). As a major overhaul of food safety laws and regulations, the Act’s stated purpose is to provide a safer food supply and a more stable food industry. But it will also vastly broaden the power of the FDA to regulate any aspect of food production.
As a result, the traditional, yet sometimes amorphous approach towards lot control and product traceability has been banished to the dustbin of history. In today’s market, food and beverage processors must have the capability to rapidly identify and track every ingredient for every one of their products, from receipt through processing, packaging, and shipping, to the exact customer location.
According to an article in Food Quality
, “One of the most important ingredients for achieving product safety and traceability is a strict lot control and tracking process.” As part of an integrated system, lot control functionality can be invaluable in preventing the common errors that cause product recalls; in the event of a recall, it can help trace items quickly and accurately.
According to Epicor customer Michael Montgomery, controller at Ohio-based New Bloomer Candy Company, Epicor Tropos – ERP process manufacturing software – allows them to establish a powerful lot control and traceability system, particularly with their suppliers. “Before Epicor Tropos, we didn’t have the ability to trace forward or backwards if we had a product recall,” says Montgomery. Epicor Tropos delivers full visibility of ingredients from origin to the final customer, which keeps New Bloomer Candy Company ahead of regulatory requirements and keeps them covered should an audit or potentially damaging product recall be required.
While the risks of not having comprehensive lot control and traceability are motivation enough (e.g., the FDA can shut a company down), business rewards also drive the adoption of these systems. These include brand protection, desirability as a supply network participant, and enhanced visibility and control of the production process.
According to Food Quality, "Fully integrated ERP software can manage all the business processes of a food manufacturer, including formulation, regulatory reporting, purchasing, production, inventory, sales, and accounting, in one system. In the event that you still need to trace or recall a lot, you can view up-to-date lot histories at any moment. You can pull a lot tracking report that shows you everywhere a lot is or has been, stamped by date, time, and signature. This report should include everything from the original purchase order to jobs that include the lot, products made from it, shipments that contain it, and any amount of that item still on hand."
Posted by Tom Muth, Senior Manager, Product Marketing
In an earlier post, we looked at how smaller businesses were using e-commerce to establish brands, even premium ones, while getting closer to their customers. Along with the benefits that e-commerce provides smaller concerns comes new business requirements. Faster shipping is one of main ones.
While brick-and-mortar retailers have struggled to bring in customers in recent years, e-commerce has steadily grown and shows no sign of slowing down. Consumers, however, want more than just the convenience of shopping in their pajamas. They expect their purchases to arrive more quickly than ever, and e-commerce giants like Amazon are obliging with more same-day shipping capabilities. Small and midsize companies are feeling this trickle-down pressure to speed up their shipping times, and many are turning to their business application vendors in hopes of rising to the challenge.
Leslie Hand, research director for IDC Retail Insights, an IT analyst organization based in Framingham, Mass., observes that more manufacturers than ever are embracing e-commerce as a business model. According to Hand, by partnering with e-commerce sites such as Amazon, manufacturers can sell a broader range of products and deliver them more quickly to a wider range of customers than they could reach on their own. “In addition to finding the right software, small and midsize manufacturers that really want to reach consumers directly and quickly need to foster relationships with partners that can facilitate unit-level picking, the process of taking products directly from inventory to shipping,” notes Cole.
One of the benefits of speeding shipping times is doing a better job of juggling multiple sales outlets and logistics services. Cole cites a colorful example in her piece: Savvi, a manufacturer of novelty temporary tattoos in Tucson, Ariz. Savvi has been using Epicor's ERP system since June 2010, after 10 months of due diligence exploring vendor options. "We have three distinct divisions," says Chris Huff, vice president of operations at Savvi. "One deals with retailers like Walmart and Target. Another is a custom product, make-to-order division. A third is our vending machine division." The company also has a stock division, where an order can be shipped either same day or next day, depending on what time of day the order is placed.
We've got hundreds of thousands of stock images that you can pull up on our website," notes Huff. "You can place your order and get a confirmation number as soon as it ships. We have the same thing with our vending division, where orders that come in before 2:00 p.m. will be shipped same day."
The challenge for Savvi is multi-channel: it must juggle a number of different sales models and outlets when distributing its products, including e-commerce, major retailers, made-to-order manufacturing, and inventory control. Its shipping models are also varied, including overnighting products, shipping container loads overseas, sending truckloads for domestic sales, and going through FedEx and UPS.
According to Huff, Epicor ERP has helped simplify operations and speed order fulfillment. "This has been great for putting all our needs in one package," he says. "We were a mom-and-pop company initially, with a home-grown system. We acquired two or three competitors and at one time had five disparate systems running simultaneously; you can image the chaos that ensues from that." Now that the chaos has been put to order, orders are reaching customers when they expect them—a requirement for anyone operating e-commerce.
Posted by Epicor Social Media Team
A recent article on hrmagazine.co.uk addresses the rising expectations for data-backed insight in human resources. The upshot: investors and senior management are more interested in talent data than ever before. If HR departments aren’t primed to deliver, they had better prepare for it.
“Strategic use of data probably doesn’t take more effort than you’re doing now, but it requires new skills from HR,” says Jeremy Shapiro, executive director at Morgan Stanley. According to Shapiro, a trend toward more integrated reporting (i.e., where companies report on elements such as sustainability and talent management as well as financials) plus a rising awareness of how engagement links to performance means that senior executives are starting to expect more out of their HR data.
An article in Forbes further underscores why these expectations are rising:
How well do organizations truly understand what drives performance among their workforce? The answer: not really very well. Do we know why one sales person outperforms his peers? Do we understand why certain leaders thrive and others flame out? Can we accurately predict whether a candidate will really perform well in our organization? The answer to most of these questions is no. The vast majority of hiring, management, promotion, and rewards decisions are made on gut feel, personal experience, and corporate belief systems. This is like the vice-president of marketing spending millions of dollars on a new marketing campaign because he or she “always does it this way.” It’s an obsolete way to make decisions.
The Forbes piece cites an excellent example of how this pattern can work against HR success: a large company had operated under the belief that employees with good grades from highly ranked colleges would make good performers. Therefore, their recruitment, selection, and promotion processes were based on these academic drivers. An analyst within the firm did a statistical analysis of sales productivity and turnover, correlating total performance and retention rates against a range of demographic factors. The results were astonishing and contrary to long-held beliefs. Six factors were highly correlated with success:
- No typos, errors, or grammatical mistakes on resumes
- No quitting school before achieving a degree
- Experience selling high-ticket commodities
- Demonstrated success in prior positions
- Ability to succeed with vague instruction
- Experience managing time and multi-tasking
However, three stood out as not mattering at all:
- Where they went to school
- What grades they had
- The quality of their references
Once this data was integrated into the recruiting process, the company saw more than $4 million in revenue improvement the next fiscal period.
Not surprisingly, leading enterprises are pioneering data-driven HR management. An article on TLNT.com highlights how HR is a data-driven function at Google, where the traditional HR function is called “people operations,” and an analytics team drives all HR decisions. A couple of tenets from that team show how removed their process is from the old HR world of relationships and gut feelings:
- All people decisions at Google are based on data and analytics.
- The goal is to bring the same level of rigor to people decisions that they do to engineering decisions.
This approach has resulted in Google producing amazing workforce productivity results that few can match (on average, each employee generates nearly $1 million in revenue and $200,000 in profit each year).
Quoted in the hrmagazine.co.uk article, Matthew Hanwell, business consulting lead for social media at NorthgateArinso, says that HR departments must get a better handle on big data and understand that any analysis must be connected to business strategy. "HR reporting is like an x-ray right now, black and white and in 2D," he says. "It should be an MRI scan, allowing you to plot, scan, and drill. This requires a different set of skills to interpret."
Hanwell and Shapiro agree that “data scientist” is a role that will be emerging in HR departments, especially considering their pressing need for data-driven insight.
Posted by Epicor Social Media Team
In the New York Times, Clair Cain Miller and Stephanie Crawford examine the phenomena of e-commerce being used to build premium brands. They chronicle a designer frame and eyeglass company, Warby Parker, whose roots trace back to its founders investigating why designer glasses cost several hundred dollars or more. The reason? Everyone in the process was taking a cut: designers, manufacturers, brands, wholesalers and retailers:
“I had been to the factories and knew what it costs to manufacture glasses and knew the cost didn’t warrant a $700 price tag,” said Neil Blumenthal, a founder of the company. Inspired by glasses they found in their grandparents’ attics, the founders sketched a few frames, hired the same Chinese factories that make designer glasses, and started selling directly to consumers online. By doing so, they eliminated enough of the cost to charge customers just $95 a pair.
Warby Parker is part of what Miller and Crawford call a wave of e-commerce companies that are building premium brands at discount prices. The result, say the authors, is generally lower prices for consumers and higher profit margins for companies. This development is not attributable to e-commerce technology alone. Rather, it is also the result of operating without the fiscal demands of having physical stores and the new willingness of manufacturers to work with smaller brands.
A good example is the home furnishings industry. As home sales in the United States declined, and furniture sales went with them, Chinese furniture factories had excess capacity. While the factories had previously been unwilling to take small production orders, they became eager for business. Even though there was some concern about payment (i.e., they were already chasing their traditional retailers for slow remittance), smaller companies were able to negotiate terms appealing to the sector, such as paying for products as they are shipped.
In a ZDNet.com blog post addressing why even small local businesses should consider e-commerce, strategist Craig Zarmer encourages small and mid-sized businesses to consider e-commerce as a means of forging tighter relationships with customers. Among the strategies he recommends: consider multiple storefronts including Facebook, seek a solution that accommodates mobile shopping and administration, and don't forget to include real-world contact particulars.
The emergence of smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices is pushing e-commerce inexorably towards mobile capabilities. “Obviously, consumers are doing more and more shopping on the go,” says Zarmer. “Or not necessarily on the go—they could be shopping at the dinner table or in bed. They've got their smartphone or tablet handy. It is sometimes on the go, but it is also sometimes just because that is the device that they use most often. Clearly, you are going to see more and e-commerce sites have mobile-friendly offerings.”
To get more specific, an article on cpcstrategyblog.com identifies essential components to the implementation of mobile e-commerce:
- Site speed is crucial. Google Research indicates that the number one asset a mobile site must have is a loading time of 5 seconds or less.
- Convenience is essential. You never want a customer leaving your site because they couldn’t find your call to action.
- The opening page is key. Since consumers will generally only be on your mobile site for about a minute, present all relevant information in half that time. Your first page should clearly display your contact information (the main thing people look for when browsing from a phone) and all your products’ information (the main thing shoppers look for when researching from tablets).
A further important benefit is the ability of brand owners to introduce products more rapidly, feeding customers’ huge appetite for the new. According to Miller and Crawford, start-ups are also using manufacturers as research and development centers, getting a firsthand sense of what larger brands are doing, to support this effort. “E-commerce is beautiful because it is natural to collect very valuable customer contact info as part of the checkout process,” says Zarmer. “If you are the sort of business that has new products or you sell a staple and you can remind people to come back, you would be amazed at how much possibility there is for generating repeat business.”
Posted by Epicor Social Media Team
The recent availability of Epicor® Eagle®
Hosting provides new and current Eagle customers the opportunity to outsource their server operations. The comprehensive hosting capabily of Epicor Eagle supports the SMB growth strategy. According to a survey conducted by Microsoft, Hosted services, also known as cloud services, are expected to grow from $9 billion in 2010 to $40-50 billion by 2015(1).
The new Eagle Hosted solution offers an end-to-end architecture, and includes the associated implementation and integration services, support and maintenance, ongoing updates and upgrades. In addition, all proprietary information is protected for each business using the hosting service. The hosted servers are held in Epicor’s PCI compliant datacenter with significant redundancy in terms of power, HVAC, server hardware, network hardware, internet feeds, firewalls and security. Hosting offers a big advantage and possible cost savings compared to maintaining a server in a closet or on a table in the back of a business.
“Everything Central Network Retail Group
(CNRG) is doing focuses on cloud-based solutions and our goal has been to operate without in-house servers,” said Boyden Moore, president of CNRG. “Epicor Eagle hosting service made more sense for our 21 Home Hardware Center stores. The architecture works much better for us as a growing company and allows us to integrate our multi-store locations faster—the infrastructure allows us to better serve our customers.”
Other features and functionality available with Eagle Hosted include:
- Watchdog ISS Gateway and Kaspersky anti-virus protection services
- Automatic nightly backups: no need to change tapes or DVDs for backup
- Continuous server monitoring and quarterly server maintenance
- Automated OS and software updates with eConnect
Posted by Keith Lam
Sr. Product Manager for Epicor
Life in the world of content development can easily turn into one in which your writers are under pressure to meet deadlines, where they are forced to stay focused on the job at hand and to overlook the outside world. By doing that, they sometimes miss using one of the most useful resources to them – the consultants, trainers, and technical support staff that deal with how the software works in the real world. It’s easy to fall back on only writing the academics of the software...the step-by-step processes to complete tasks, but what customers need to know are the why and how of the application, along with practical examples based on real-world scenarios.
Getting the ‘buy-in’
The challenge in working with this group of individuals is getting buy-in that their input is worth the time away from the next consulting engagement, training class, or a break between support calls. Start by building a solid relationship with your subject matter expert (SME) group. Meet with the leaders, for example the Professional Services Director, or Technical Support Manager; explain the value of their expertise and your willingness to make contributions from their teams as painless as possible. Next, find a way to motivate them to contribute. It may be as easy as recognizing these contributing individuals. An easy way to start is to add their names and titles to content produced. Another idea is to build participation into a compensation plan, if possible. Or, content contribution can be written into their job descriptions.
Smooth content process
Once you get the buy-in, it’s important to have a painless and understandable process for SMEs to send you their content. Have this mapped out before you begin the first call – it will help with your credibility and with building trust with the group. For example, utilize Microsoft SharePoint® - long known as a tool for team collaboration. Create a site specifically to support your project. Include areas to share documents, post your processes, and list out the project team. Test out the process with a set of supporters before releasing to the masses. Welcome all feedback and implement change requests quickly.
On the other side of the SME equation is the content producer. The content producers also need training on the process of interacting with the SMEs - both the formal process (as described above) and the informal etiquette. The informal etiquette includes things like learning what the average daily and weekly demands are of the SME, what their crunch times are, and when they are most likely to have a moment to work with the content producer. Typically the end of the month or the end of the quarter are not good times to launch these kinds of projects. Consultants in the field will most likely be working on finalizing customer projects and tying up internal loose ends. Emphasize patience and perseverance to your writers. Remember, SMEs are a very busy group of individuals who have different goals from content writers. During that first meeting, ask the necessary questions to learn about their current demands so you can properly set expectations for all involved.
Next time I’ll focus on creating a specific deliverable with an expert - working with a SME to create a job aid.
Posted by Staci Cummings, Senior Content Manager, Epicor University
If you haven’t been in a charming charlie store, put it on your bucket list. The award-winning fashion jewelry and accessories retailer has been delighting women of all ages since 2004. The company has 242 stores in the United States and earned a 656th ranking on Inc. Magazine’s list of Top 5,000 Fastest Growing Businesses in 2010, which is about when I discovered them.
To extend this success, charming charlie implemented a comprehensive customer marketing and loyalty program using Epicor Retail CRM. They started small and achieved big results. The journey started with encouraging customers to visit their stores or Web site and provide them their e-mail address. This allowed charming charlie to build more awareness with their customers on merchandise trends, new stores, and offerings. This not only encouraged customers (me) to shop more frequently, it also gave them more insights into “my” preferences and needs. This then allowed charming charlie to tailor offers more specifically to “me” and reward me for “my” loyalty. A win-win for me and charming charlie.
To hear more of charming charlie’s new loyalty program, as well as its tight integration with Epicor Retail Store for real-time CRM and Rewards, review the recent article and video interview by RIS News, with John Hnanicek, CIO of charming charlie and click here to read the full charming charlie CRM case study on Epicor.com.
To quote charming charlie – they helped me find my “fabulous”, hope they help you find yours!
Posted by Diane Cerulli, director of marketing
The word “Scrum” has been used quite extensively within the Epicor Development department for the past year. Surprisingly, it is not an acronym that stands for something. Instead, it is something.
Scrum is a word whose origin starts with a game that was unknown to me until last fall, when I went to my first rugby game to help cheer on some friends who were very passionate about the sport. The only thing I knew about rugby was that it looked like American football but they didn’t wear any of the protective equipment like shoulder pads or helmets. Seemed crazy for a full-contact sport, but I was excited to see what it was all about.
It didn’t take long after the kick-off for me to become lost in the plays. Without knowing the rules of the game, I only saw chaos on the field. I couldn’t tell the forwards from the backs, I was never sure where the ball was supposed to be, and couldn’t figure out why a seemingly dead ball could be scooped up and flicked to an advancing team member.
Instead of getting frustrated with not understanding what was going on, I kept noticing the beauty of the flowing formation on the field. From way up in the stands, my “bird’s eye view” of the entire field allowed me to see the strategy of the plays and therefore start to understand them. The team who controlled the ball positioned their players into a diagonal line, starting from the center of the field and stretching backwards so that the end person was standing near the sidelines.
And then when they got the ball, it looked like pure magic. The center would toss the ball to the player on his side and that person would run up the field as far as he could go, and at the same time, the whole line moved up, synchronized with the player carrying the ball. They travelled in a line, progressing forward, yard-by-yard, and as one player approached a block, he tossed the ball to another who was close by and then the line continued to advance diagonally behind the player with the ball.
The progression up the field, towards the end zone, was gained in a constant, team-driven effort. It was systematic. It was methodical. To someone unknowing, it may have looked like chaos. But to the players, it was well-planned and executed. Each player was simply performing the job that was expected of him.
And when the play stops, and the ball is declared “dead,” a scrum is needed to restart the play. A Scrum forms as the players huddle tight in a pack, interlocking themselves into several rows. The Scrum team has a single vision … to regain possession of the ball. Each player uses his best strengths to help his team gain control and achieve success. And after a team gains control, the ball is passed and the beautiful formations are again progressing down the field.
This is rugby and this is also Epicor Development.
In the book “The Elements of Scrum”, written by Chris Sims and Hillary Louise Johnson, it says that the term “scrum” was first used in the 1986 Harvard Business Review article by Hirotaka Takeuchi and Ikujiro Nonaka. The article
titled “The New New Product Development Game” used scrum as a metaphor for a new kind of teamwork. It described an approach where the team tries to advance as a unit, passing the ball back and forth.
In Epicor Development, each Scrum team has a vision that is defined by the team as a whole. The vision might be to add enhancements, fix existing issues, or create new deliverables. Whatever the vision, each scrum team member takes seriously the responsibility to perform at his or her best to keep the team moving swiftly forward. Within each team, the players progress down the field, passing the ball back and forth. Together, they sprint down the field towards the end of the Epicor product release.
I have the privilege of being the ScrumMaster of the Epicor University Scrum team. As ScrumMaster, it’s my responsibility to facilitate the daily scrum meetings and to monitor our team’s progress. My main job is to remove any obstacles or blocks so that each team member can make forward progress each day.
As the Epicor University Scrum Team, we line up with our teammates at our sides in what is called a “sprint”. When one is given a task (passed the ball), the rest of the team runs forward synchronized with that player. Someone helps set up an environment, another assists with testing, and yet another performs a peer review. With each sprint, we gain confidence from the knowledge that we are surrounded by people who have the same vision, the same goals that we all agreed to before the sprint started. It’s definitely an all-for-one, one-for-all team dynamic.
If you ever have the chance to attend a rugby game, try to sit up as high as you can in the stands. And even if you don’t know the difference between the fly-half and a flanker, or a hooker and a prop, don’t fret. Just watch the beauty of the game as the diagonal formations start to flow up and down the field. Watch as players give it their all for the successful forward-motion of the team.
Watching rugby and scrum development can be quite mesmerizing. And very inspiring.
Posted by Linda Robinson, Senior Manager, Epicor University
Our recent post
on big data looked back to McKinsey Global Institute’s
on the topic, and forward to a post
on the Harvard Business Review Blog Network that sees big data planning becoming as much of an SOP for the corporate world as strategic planning. Today we look to the front lines, specifically to a huge barrier that needs to be addressed for big data to move forward: privacy.
A recent article
on The New York Times compares the emergence of big data to the advent of mainframe computers, in terms of the privacy issues raised. “It really freaked people out,” notes Daniel J. Weitzner, a former senior Internet policy advisor in the Obama administration. Yet mainframes were an engine for growth and innovation, and big data is expected to be similar, enabling faster and smarter decision making in virtually every field of human enterprise. Nonetheless, the article notes, the idea of a data-driven society has raised at least one large red flag: “The latest leaps in data collection are raising new concern about infringements on privacy—an issue so crucial that it could trump all others and upset the big data bandwagon.”
This concern is echoed in an article
on ZDNet.com that focuses on governments’ use of big data. The challenge here is “distinguishing between data collected for protection and data collection that violates our privacy, all while respecting the very core of our Constitution.”
On another front, the World Economic Forum
, in a report
prepared with the Boston Consulting Group
, recommends a shift in the focus of regulation toward restricting the use of data. According to the report, curbs on the use of personal data, combined with the use of new technologies, can give individuals control of their own information while allowing important data assets to flow relatively freely. Here’s how the Times summarizes this idea:
“The Forum report suggests a future in which all collected data would be tagged with software code that included an individual’s preferences for how his or her data is used. All uses of data would have to be registered, and there would be penalties for violators. For example, one violation might be a smartphone application that stored more data than is necessary for a registered service like a smartphone game or a restaurant finder.”
Yet a criticism of the report is that it “puts way too much faith in the tools and too little emphasis on strong rules, particularly in moving away from curbs on data collection.”
Dr. Alex Pentland
, director of the Human Dynamics Lab
at MIT and an advisor to the World Economic Forum’s initiatives on big data and personal data, recommends several basic tenets on use of data. The individual:
- Has the right to possess his or her data
- Has the right to control how it is used
- Has the right to destroy or distribute it as he or she sees fit
If these tenets are observed, creating what Pentland calls “a new deal on data,” the barriers seen most ominously in Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four and Spielberg’s Minority Report may be overcome as big data assumes its role as a key driver of growth and innovation.
Posted by Epicor Social Media Team