What are business attributes, and why should local businesses care? Columnist Adam Dorfman explores.

When checking into places on Google Maps, you may have noticed that Google prompts you to volunteer information about the place you’re visiting. For instance, if you check into a restaurant, you might be asked whether the establishment has a wheelchair-accessible entrance or whether the location offers takeout. There’s a reason Google wants to know: attributes.

Attributes consist of descriptive content such as the services a business provides, payment methods accepted or the availability of free parking — details that may not apply to all businesses. Attributes are important because they can influence someone’s decision to visit you.

Google wants to set itself up as a go-to destination of rich, descriptive content about locations, which is why it crowdsources business attributes. But it’s not the only publisher doing so. For instance, if you publish a review on TripAdvisor or Yelp, you’ll be asked a similar battery of questions but with more details, such as whether the restaurant is appropriate for kids, allows dogs, has televisions or accepts bitcoins.

Many of these publishers are incentivizing this via programs like Google’s Local Guides, TripAdvisor’s Badge Collections, and Yelp’s Elite Squad because having complete, accurate information about locations makes each publisher more useful. And being more useful means attracting more visitors, which makes each publisher more valuable.

android crowdsource

It’s important that businesses manage their attributes as precious location data assets, if for no other reason than that publishers are doing so. I call publishers (and aggregators who share information with them) data amplifiers because they amplify a business’s data across all the places where people conduct local searches. If you want people to find your business and turn their searches into actual in-store visits, you need to share your data, including detailed attributes, with the major data amplifiers.

Many businesses believe their principal location data challenge is ensuring that their foundational data, such as their names, addresses and phone numbers, are accurate. I call the foundational data “identities,” and indeed, you need accurate foundational data to even be considered when people search for businesses. But as important as they are — and challenging to manage — identities solve for only one-half of the search challenge. Identities ensure visibility, but you need attributes to turn searches into business for your brand.

Attributes are not new, but they’ve become more important because of the way mobile is rapidly accelerating the purchase decision. According to seminal research published by Google, mobile has given rise to “micro-moments,” or times when consumers use mobile devices to make quick decisions about what to do, where to go or what to buy.

Google noted that the number of “near me” searches (searches conducted for goods and services nearby) have increased 146 percent year over year, and 88 percent of these “near me” searches are conducted on mobile devices. As Google’s Matt Lawson wrote:

With a world of information at their fingertips, consumers have heightened expectations for immediacy and relevance. They want what they want when they want it. They’re confident they can make well-informed choices whenever needs arise. It’s essential that brands be there in these moments that matter — when people are actively looking to learn, discover, and/or buy.

Attributes encourage “next moments,” or the action that occurs after someone has found you during a micro-moment. Google understands that businesses failing to manage their attributes correctly will drop off the consideration set when consumers experience micro-moments. For this reason, Google prompts users to complete attributes about businesses when they check into a location on Google Maps.

At the 2016 Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple underscored the importance of attributes when the company rolled out a smarter, more connected Siri that makes it possible for users to create “next moments” faster by issuing voice commands such as “Siri, find some new Italian restaurants in Chicago, book me dinner, and get me an Uber to the restaurant.” In effect, Siri is a more efficient tool for enabling next moments, but only for businesses that manage the attributes effectively.

And with its recently released Google My Business API update to version 3.0, Google also gave businesses that manage offline locations a powerful competitive weapon: the ability to manage attributes directly. By making it possible to share attributes on your Google My Business page, Google has not only amplified its own role as a crucial publisher of attributes but has also given businesses an important tool to take control of your own destiny. It’s your move now.


Categorized in Business Research


Forget Brexit's much discussed impact on the free movement of people. Leaving the EU could impede the U.K.'s free movement of data to and from the continent, negatively impacting businesses.

This stems from the U.K. and EU's potential divergence in data protection laws post-Brexit. Chris Jeffery, Head of UK IT, Telecoms and Competition at law firm Taylor Wessing, says: "The uncertainty as to whether the U.K. will be considered safe for data flows relating to citizens from the rest of Europe is causing concern, and making some companies consider whether data center capacity in mainland Europe is the safer bet."


Antony Walker, deputy CEO of industry body techUK explains why this is significant, saying, "The U.K.'s service-based economy means that the transfer of data across borders is fundamental, affecting industries from automotives – which includes the development of driverless cars – to financial services."

As it stands, the U.K. has agreed to implement the EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which will come into effect in May 2018. The primary goals of the GDPR are to allow citizens to regain control of their personal data, and cut red tape for international businesses by making rules uniform within the 28-nation bloc. Whilst businesses are currently preparing for GDPR, their work may be undone in the future. Eduardo Ustaran, a partner in global privacy and cybersecurity at Hogan Lovells, says: "EU data protection law is all about the individual's control of their own personal data. The U.K. sits somewhere between this viewpoint and that of the U.S., which is more focused on the accountability of businesses and government. I suspect that the U.K. will continue in this vein, though possibly leaning towards the U.S.' approach."

Silicon Valley's technology giants like Facebook and Google must comply with GDPR and any further changes to U.K. law, though this may be less of an issue considering that these companies are likely to have the legal resources to deal with change more efficiently than their smaller counterparts.

"But, there are several nuances to compliance with the new regulations, one of which is technical," explained Martin Garner of analysis firm CCS Insight.

"Technology companies sometimes employ the technique of 'sharding,' which means that bits of data are spread in little slices over several data centers, possibly across regions, so that it exists both everywhere and nowhere at the same time."

Garner adds: "I'm sure that the big industry players have worked out how to do this, while also complying with EU data laws – but this may be less true for some of the smaller players."


Brexit's threat to cross-border data transfer will have a wider-reaching impact than it may initially appear, as Ustaran explains, "EU law has an extraterritorial effect, so if a U.K. business is targeting people in the EU or tracking them on the internet, it will still be subject to EU data protection law, even if the U.K. is no longer a member."

A data sharing option for a post-Brexit U.K. could resemble Privacy Shield, a pact struck between the EU and the U.S. earlier this year intended to protect European citizens from mass surveillance. This might mean that amendments may be made to the U.K.'s Investigatory Powers Bill – also known as the Snoopers' Charter – which regulates the role of British security services and police in accessing domestic citizens' data. Chatham House, in a report published this March, cast doubt on the likelihood of such a compromise, saying: "A post-Brexit U.K. would be unlikely to meet the standards required for Privacy Shield status. This would prohibit cross border data transfers between U.K. and EU."

It has been argued that Brexit, in bringing about a reduction of EU red tape concerning data transfer, could provide a more business-friendly environment in the U.K. Jeffery highlights the example of the U.S., whose "largely self-regulatory approach in the online world is often cited as an element in the success of its track record in creating global social media and online businesses." But, this might not be the case. By not complying with the EU, the U.K. will inhibit its access to a primary data stream.

An American tourist stands near the Houses of Parliament the day after the majority of the British public voted to leave the European Union on June 25, 2016 in London, England.


"To secure the U.K.'s role in global data flows and as a place to start and grow digital businesses, most people expect that the country will need to align itself closely with the EU's GDPR. Even U.K.-only businesses will need to raise the bar significantly in terms of privacy compliance," Jeffery added.

In the meantime, Brexit's current lack of conclusions means that businesses will have to sit tight. Ustaran advises that "common sense suggests that businesses should continue to focus on ensuring compliance with the EU data protection framework, not least because it will still be applicable in the U.K. for the foreseeable future." Jeffery speculates on the U.K.'s future position, suggesting that potential legislation post-Brexit reflects EU standards, enabling the free movement of data either by "being part of the European Economic Area in a Norway-style deal … or being declared an 'adequate' country for the purposes of the transfer of personal data like Switzerland, Canada and Israel."

Source:  http://www.cnbc.com/2016/07/07/data-flows-post-brexit-the-next-big-headache-for-business.html





Categorized in Business Research

Several years ago, we had a television network client who, the morning after their show aired, would eagerly ask, “How did I do last night?” What she meant was: How did the network’s shows perform the previous evening?

But answering that basic question wasn’t so simple a few years ago. Why? Because inherent in that one simple question were a bunch of others that unraveled into a complicated narrative exercise. And, of course, what she really wanted, after all that exercise, was something that boiled down to: “You had a good night,” or maybe, “Not so good, but here’s why.” Coming up with that answer required that we arduously compile information from a bunch of different tools and mash them together, quickly, into what she needed to know.

That arduous process vexed everyone. Unsurprisingly, as a market grew for answering those questions, companies tried to build all-in-one solutions, setting off a wave of mergers and acquisitions. Salesforce bought Radian6, Oracle bought Collective Intellect and so on. The result was a bunch of very large dashboards of information resources that try to be everything to everyone.

It’s understandable how that happened, and it has benefited countless industry professionals. But, for many media companies that we deal with, it also has become increasingly obvious that one size of data dashboard doesn’t (in fact, can’t) fit all of their respective needs.

As a result, a significant trend has emerged that is headed in the opposite direction. That trend has many implications for networks as well as for the vast array of digital creators trying to become networks — as well as for the vendors that want to provide all those companies their data.

Call it Build Your Own Stack, and more importantly, build that stack from best-of-breed, highly focused vendors that provide exact pieces of what your company needs. I’d say that every major media company we talk with is already building its own customized collection of data services, in one fashion or another.

About half of those companies are building their stack in a rather old-fashioned way (or at least, old-fashioned for a business that’s only a few years old). That means taking our dashboard of information, and the dashboards of other analytics providers, and manually collating information from each one separately to build a coherent answer to “How did I do?”

In another 30 percent to 40 percent of cases, a media company will rely on aggregators, such as Tableau.com or Domo.com, that provide a sort of meta-platform combining all the a la carte data sources that a company wants, or at least the ones that are compatible with that platform’s requirements. That can be effective, and is certainly simpler than juggling a bunch of separate interfaces from a bunch of vendors.

Then there are what I’ll call the technologically aggressive 10 percent — media companies that are building their own data teams and analytics platforms to pull in data from diverse sources. These custom dashboards further integrate all those streams automatically to create a very sophisticated and company-specific answer to “How did I do?”

It’s these latter two groups that are forcing analytics companies to focus on two key areas: portability and research.

By portability, I mean each analytics company needs to identify its true strengths and then make it easy to integrate that information with other data sources, whether through aggregators or a custom platform. That means creating application program interfaces that simplify getting all of what I have here into what you have there. Without portability, analytics firms may be left behind as custom stack-building comes to dominate the business.

But growing portability means you have to conduct continued research and development on your products. Because clients will have far more choices in which data, and data providers, they include in their perfect stack, it will be more difficult for companies to rely on institutional inertia and technology lock-in to keep clients using their products when better ones come along.

The real power of any analytics company lies first in its deep mastery of a specific sector, and then in building on that mastery with continued learning. It’s the only way even the best tool can remain competitive over time, especially as stack-building becomes a more fluid process.

Customers like our aforementioned client still need a simple answer to “How did I do?” but that’s where a lot of analytics companies fail. They think what they do is so important that the user on the other side should care about them. But clients don’t. Data only become insights when the data can be tied to business outcomes. They care about the answer, a defensible and clearly understandable answer. The provider of that answer matters far less to them.

Companies that are part of the new stacks need to make sure they can simply answer their part of that question — and integrate their part smoothly with other companies answering other parts.

All of this, of course, may just set the stage for another round of M&A deals in a couple of years as the pendulum swings back toward concentration. But it’s clear that being all things for all clients often leads to a not-completely-satisfying product for just about everyone. So go deep, keep learning, and play well with others.

Source:  http://venturebeat.com/2016/06/18/building-the-perfect-analytics-stack-its-now-about-choice-and-customization/

Categorized in Business Research

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