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The power of visualizing big data

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Data has become a major part in our lives – and sometimes it can be inundating. It’s sometimes better to take a step back and look at the full picture – by using visualisations and dashboards, writes RICHARD MULLINS, MD of MEA at Acceleration

As every marketer knows, we have more data about our customers and how they interact with our brands at our fingertips than ever before. We have a deluge of real-time data flooding business, from a wide range of systems and sources—internal CRM databases, data managed by agencies, data from channels such as search, social, ad-servers and web analytics tools, sales, stores and many more.

Despite all of this rich and real-time information, many business’s and marketers still struggle to turn data into insights that are easy to digest and activate across the business. The organisation may have teams working on different channels and touchpoints who have a clear view of their own data, yet there is little alignment between them. Each of them is like a person feeling a different part of an elephant in the dark.

Most organisations have rolled out technology to support and measure customer engagement at different channels and touchpoints. The real challenge is to zoom back and throw some light on the elephant, to get the full picture. It’s not enough to understand how channels perform in isolation – we need to see how they interact to deliver against the organisation’s business and marketing goals, how they affect the customer experience and how each contributes to overall return on investment.

This is where the next generation of data visualisation tools have an invaluable role to play. These solutions allow senior executives and marketers to turn the data from different marketing systems, channels and touchpoints into purpose-built dashboards that offer a view of how their business is doing. It creates a visual story of the value of their consumers interactions with different channels at the various steps of their customer journey.

This helps them to better understand how channels and touchpoints contribute to customer acquisition, engagement and retention. They can get a real time view of what is happening across channels, as well as granular insights of what is occurring in each separate channel.

Increasingly, these tools are being used across multiple teams as a means of providing a common ‘truth’ that can be shared throughout the business. The use of dashboards and reports can be shared and discussed between various disciplines, enabling better strategies and cross functional collaboration. It also means that there is less requirement for data analysts to run reports and provide insights, especially given the demand and how little supply there is for analytics and data science skills in the market.

The tools allow users to pull disparate data sources into a single view, compiling reports and dashboards that allow them to easily add the dimensions, metrics and segments that matter to them. These visualisations can be viewed in real-time and manipulated according to the user’s needs.

Data is becoming an important competitive set for any business, and as marketers strive to use every contact with a customer as an opportunity to drive engagement and build the brand’s relationship.  Yet, making use of data to inform tactics and strategies is difficult if one cannot make the data accessible to decision-makers, whether they are campaign managers and planners or the CMO. Data visualisation is becoming a must as we seek to democratise analytics and leverage consumer insight to deliver richer, more relevant and timelier customer experiences at every touchpoint.

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How we use phones to avoid human contact

A recent study by Kaspersky Lab has found that 75% of people pick up their connected device to avoid conversing with another human being.

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Connected devices are becoming essential to keeping people in contact with each other, but for many they are also a much-needed comfort blanket in a variety of social situations when they do not want to interact with others. A recent survey from Kaspersky Lab has confirmed this trend in behaviour after three-quarters of people (75%) admitted they use a device to pretend to be busy when they don’t want to talk to someone else, showing the importance of keeping connected devices protected under all circumstances. 

Imagine you’ve arrived at a bar and you’re waiting for your date. The bar is busy, and people are chatting all around you. What do you do now? Strike up a conversation with someone you don’t know? Grab your phone from your pocket or handbag until your date arrives to keep yourself busy? Why talk to humans or even make eye-contact with someone else when you can stare at your connected device instead?

The truth is, our use of devices is making it much easier to avoid small talk or even be polite to those around us, and new Kaspersky Lab research has found that 72% of people use one when they do not know what to do in a social situation. They are also the ‘go-to’ distraction for people even when they aren’t trying to look busy or avoid someone’s eye. 46% of people admit to using a device just to kill time every day and 44% use it as a daily distraction.

In addition to just being a distraction, devices are also a lifeline to those who would rather not talk directly to another person in day-to-day situations, to complete essential tasks. In fact, nearly a third (31%) of people would prefer to carry out tasks such as ordering a taxi or finding directions to where they need to go via a website and an app, because they find it an easier experience than speaking with another person.

Whether they are helping us avoid direct contact or filling a void in our daily lives, our constant reliance on devices has become a cause for panic when they become unusable. A third (34%) of people worry that they will not be able to entertain themselves if they cannot access a connected device. 12% are even concerned that they won’t be able to pretend to be busy if their device is out of action.

Dmitry Aleshin, VP for Product Marketing, Kaspersky Lab said, “The reliance on connected devices is impacting us in more ways than we could have ever expected. There is no doubt that being connected gives us the freedom to make modern life easier, but devices are also vital to help people get through different and difficult social situations. No matter what your ‘connection crutch’ is, it is essential to make sure your device is online and available when you need it most.”

To ensure your device lifeline is always there and in top health – no matter what the reason or situation – Kaspersky Security Cloud keeps your connection safe and secure:

·         I want to use my device while waiting for a friend – is it secure to access the bar’s Wi-Fi?

With Kaspersky Security Cloud, devices are protected against network threats, even if the user needs to use insecure public Wi-Fi hotspots. This is done through transferring data via an encrypted channel to ensure personal data safety, so users’ devices are protected on any connection.

·         Oh no! I’m bored but my phone’s battery is getting low – what am I going to do?

Users can track their battery level thanks to a countdown of how many minutes are left until their device shuts down in the Kaspersky Security Cloud interface. There is also a wide-range of portable power supplies available to keep device batteries charged while on-the-go.

·         I’ve lost my phone! How will I keep myself entertained now?

Should the unthinkable happen and you lose or have your phone stolen, Kaspersky Security Cloud can track and protect your device from data breaches, for complete peace of mind. Remote lock and locate features ensure your device remains secure until you are reunited.

 

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Money talks and electronic gaming evolves

Computer gaming has evolved dramatically in the last two years, as it follows the money, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK in the second of a two-part series.

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The clue that gaming has become big business in South Africa was delivered by a non-gaming brand. When Comic Con, an American popular culture convention that has become a mecca for comics enthusiasts, was hosted in South Arica for the first time last month, it used gaming as the major drawcard. More than 45 000 people attended.

The event and its attendance was expected to be a major dampener for the annual rAge gaming expo, which took place just weeks later. Instead, rAge saw only a marginal fall in visitor numbers. No less than 34 000 people descended on the Ticketpro Dome for the chaos of cosplay, LAN gaming, virtual reality, board gaming and new video games. 

It proved not only that there was room for more than one major gaming event, but also that a massive market exists for the sector in South Africa. And with a large market, one also found numerous gaming niches that either emerged afresh or will keep going over the years. One of these, LAN (for Local Area Network) gaming, which sees hordes of players camping out at the venue for three days to play each other on elaborate computer rigs, was back as strong as ever at rAge.

MWeb provided an 8Gbps line to the expo, to connect all these gamers, and recorded 120TB in downloads and 15Tb in uploads – a total that would have used up the entire country’s bandwidth a few years ago.

“LANs are supposed to be a thing of the past, yet we buck the trend each year,” says Michael James, senior project manager and owner of rAge. “It is more of a spectacle than a simple LAN, so I can understand.”

New phenomena, often associated with the flavour of the moment, also emerge every year.

“Fortnite is a good example this year of how we evolve,” says James. “It’s a crazy huge phenomenon and nobody was servicing the demand from a tournament point of view. So rAge and Xbox created a casual LAN tournament that anyone could enter and win a prize. I think the top 10 people got something each round.”

Read on to see how esports is starting to make an impact in gaming.

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