Originally posted at Mediapost, October 2, 2009

A funny thing happened on the way to the CMO’s office.

Between the realization of an eye-opening, game-changing insight gleaned from advertising test results and Web behavior data, the report you’re gleefully ferrying to the C-Suite wilted, turns brown at the edges and starts to dribble a slimy substance with a conspicuous stench.

The CMO immediately develops a nose-squint. The VP of Corporate Communications has that “Oooo, you’re in for it!” …

Photo by Lina Trochez on Unsplash

I received two lessons in the Gift Economy back in the mid 1990’s that have stuck with me ever since.

Back when The Cluetrain Manifesto was new, the concept of the Gift Economy was hard to wrap one’s mind around. Today, it’s old hat, but it’s still hard for some to take it to the next level.

Of course you should blog and tweet and post so potential clients know who you are, what you stand for, and what you think is important. Of course you should be transparent as you can about your products and services.

But you should…

Unless, of course, that you were there and didn’t miss it — in which case you know who you are — but I can’t share who was there because the Chatham House Rule is in play.

I can, however, tell you what you missed.


Analytics Cohorts is a small, private conversation between consenting digital analysts. It’s a safe space for talking about people, process, and sometimes technology. Careers, corporate relationships, fears, aspirations… it’s a free-range exchange.

What did we discuss this time? Lots!


1. Take requirements from groups that don’t…

What happens to brands when personal AI agents seek the best deals on behalf of their consumer owners?

Into a cocktail shaker, mix today’s focus on privacy, advances in machine learning and voice response systems, and consumers’ overwhelming desire for convenience. Shake vigorously. The result is an ecosystem of personally owned and controlled AI agents that predict needs, shop for solutions, negotiate terms, and place orders.

To the public, this is a refreshing beverage that eases their troubles and is the digital assistant they’ve been promised since Star Trek in the 1960’s. …

All the dictionaries show
What all the diction-wary know
Data are Data the whole day long
And to say that “it is” is linguistically wrong

To give the datum its due respect,
“Datums” is prodigiously incorrect
That data is plural is demonstrably true
But “these data are” just won’t do

It all starts with a bit
Which is dark or it’s lit
Those ones and those zeroes
Are this story’s heroes

Eight of them tethered
Strung out together
Compel the typesetter
To say is it’s a letter

Eight threaded bytes
Bring to light
Nouns and verbs
And other words

Between the word
And the idea conferred
Lives a citation
Of information
You can…

Multidimensional Visualization

Leave it to Tim Wilson to casually, quietly, and in the most gentlemanly way possible, let me know that my world view is too simplistic to believe.

I had spelled out the Marketing Data Literacy Spectrum along a scale that denotes corporate culture as running the gamut from anti-data to bleeding edge. Tim posited that there are more dimensions to data literacy than are dreamt of in my philosophy.

He’s right.

I had only delineated a dimension indicating the amount of faith an organization has in data as a means of competitive advantage.

I had missed his Data Literacy Triad

From the Data Deniers to the Data Forward, your organization is on this chart. The marketing race will go to the most data-enriched organizations. Time for a look in the mirror.

There are some who can read well enough to navigate a cookbook. Some can write a lengthy treatise on a complex subject. Some can pen an eloquent illumination of comparison between Shakespeare, Marlowe and Milton. They are all literate, but to varying degrees. The illiterate have trouble filling out an application for unemployment benefits.

Some have a sufficient understanding of data to navigate a dashboard, confident that they will…

Customers’ bots and agents will work on their behalf… 5 Steps to Avoid Being Blindsided

Pardon me, Sir.

Yes, Jeeves?

The Air Bag light is now lit.

Yeah, I saw that. What’s that about?

Of the 63 things that could be wrong, the most common is a misconnection in the wiring harness. It will cost $150 for a diagnostician to determine if that’s the case. Finding the unplugged wire and securing the connection will run about $3,500 at the dealer.


Yes, it’s expensive. They must remove the seats, uncover all the wiring to find the fault, and then reassemble the whole car. Your air conditioning system is also down to 72% efficiency.

Isn’t that…

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are at the top of the hype cycle. To keep you in the conversation on the Slack channel, at the company retreat, or while heading to the airport with your boss, you will be well served to keep these three Needs and Deeds in mind:

Needs: Data, Goal, Control
Deeds: Detect, Decide, Revise

3 Needs for 3 Deeds of AI & Machine Learning

This nascent technology is flourishing now that there is enough computing horsepower (thank you gaming systems that needed Graphical Processing Units), enough data (thank you, Internet), and enough data scientists (thank you Tom Davenport for calling data science the sexiest job of…

Jim Sterne

Marketing Analytics Summit, Digital Analytics Association, author Artificial Intelligence for Marketing: Practical Applications and Devil’s Data Dictionary

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