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Entries in DataContent (8)


Data Drive Efficient Market Transactions

Much of what we do in our business lives can be reduced to a market model. We buy, sell, arrange meetings, seek funding, invest, hire, travel, …. You get the idea. All of these activities require connecting parties to each other and, if done appropriately, they result in making the best match between parties.

In many transactions, the price of a good or service is the key variable on which to make a match. In others, price may not be a major factor at all. In fact, the two economists who just won the Nobel Prize in Economics specialize in making markets in areas such as organ donations or matching medical residents with hospitals, where price is not the central variable to match.

Making Markets was the topic of one of the sessions I moderated last week at the Data Content 2012 conference. Data Content has been at the forefront of data publishing advancements over its celebrated 20 year history. In the Making Markets session we focused on the most common and well-understood type of B2B transaction: connecting buyers and sellers.

The three companies represented on the Making Markets panel help connect buyers and sellers in specialty markets: CapLinked in the investment sector, by bringing together potential funders and companies seeking funding; The Gordian Group in the construction sector by matching contractors to job order contracts; and in the custom manufacturing segment by matching industrial companies with manufacturers of specialty parts.  The speakers emphasized how operating in the “neighborhood” of the transaction creates an opportunity to collect transaction-related data which in turn add more value to the match-making process—creating a virtuous circle.

Other sessions at Data Content touched on how data collection and data management are only a differentiating factor when hard work is put in to cull together hard-to-aggregate data or clean messy data. If it’s too easy to compile the data, you won’t have a defensible resource. But that’s perhaps the most distinguishing benefit of becoming a market-maker: the transactional data that is generated by the match-making process become a unique data asset that cannot be replicated.  These secondary data can be organized and used for industry benchmarks and can be fed back into the matching algorithms to build a continuous improvement loop.

As pointed out by my colleague Russell Perkins in his closing presentation at Data Content, in the era of Big Data, data produced by specialty publishers may just be the special ingredient that helps “solve the ‘ last mile’ problem to make Big Data actionable”. In particular, the trusted and verified contact information supplied by publishers can help make the final connection between buyers and sellers.  In the Making Markets session, we saw ample evidence that structured data supplied by B2B data publishers can be put to use to drive efficient transactions throughout the match-making process.


The Semantics of Big Data

I had the pleasure of attending the Big Analytics Road Show in Boston this week. The presenters and sponsors did an outstanding job of describing the “big data” ecosystem. They even offered clear descriptions of Hadoop and MapReduce for non-technies, which is quite an achievement.

The most rewarding aspect of the day’s program, however, was its emphasis on how the data can be used to add value to business decisions. Consequently, the focus wasn’t on acquiring massive quantities of data (although zettabytes and yottabytes were mentioned!)—or even on the value of organizing big data sets. Instead, the program provided many examples of how analysis of structured and unstructured data in tandem can lead to new insights that can improve business processes and marketing decisions.

Years ago, at InfoCommerce Group we coined the phrase “data that can do stuff” to describe the advantages of well-designed data products. In essence, a data product that is designed to meet a defined need of a target audience becomes a decision tool when analytics are applied. With the era of big data upon us, even textual data and real-time streams of behavioral data can be leveraged via semantic and pattern matching technologies to obtain data that can do stuff. Furthermore, the different types of data can be overlaid to achieve higher levels of insight into customer behavior or patient outcomes, for example.

The takeaway point: data analysis tools and techniques that used to be available only to big life-science companies and search engines are now entering a phase where the costs make the technologies more widely accessible. However, as someone mentioned at the Big Analytics event, Gartner Group places big data at the peak of inflated expectations on its hype cycle curve. I agree with Gartner because of the level of noise surrounding big data. Nonetheless, with proper alignment between the data, business goals, and execution, opportunities to benefit from big data—or should I say big analytics—exist today.


Secondary Data Usage in Healthcare

I was guest speaker at the March 22, 2012 “Let’s Talk HIT” series hosted by Scratch Marketing & Media in Cambridge, MA. The topic I chose was Secondary Data Publishing in Health. Health Content Advisor’s parent company, InfoCommerce Group, has a long history of guiding business media companies in constructing data products, but increasingly we are finding interesting examples of secondary data products that develop as a by-product of technology companies. Electronic Health Records (EHRs) represents one of the more compelling examples of information technology that has the potential to spawn a new generation of data products.

Scratch Marketing has posted the video of the talk, which was structured as an interactive group discussion, in 8 parts. See their YouTube page for the list of segments:

See the event recap by Lizzie McQuillan at Scratch Marketing here:

Also, for a provocative view, read Marya Zilberberg, MD, MPH’s takeaway from the evening’s discussion:

Thanks again to Scratch and the many Boston-area (stretching all the way out to the Berkshires!) health IT, public health, healthcare publishing, entrepreneurs, and marketing experts who attended and participated in the discussion. Scratch Marketing added Twitter handles to the video, which helps tremendously in identifying each speaker.


Event Planning for 2012

At this eventful time of year, I thought I would hold off from sending a long post and instead focus on conference and event schedules. Don’t worry, the year-end review/look ahead post will be forthcoming after the 1st of the year.

There are so many good events to choose from, especially in the healthcare and health IT spaces, that it’s difficult to decide where to devote time-constrained resources. The Events page that we added to the Health Content Advisors site earlier this year lists all major events that I or my colleagues will be attending. At this point, only past 2011 events are listed, but we’ll update the list over the holiday period.

Somehow, I chose a fantastic mix of live events to attend last year and I hope to make a repeat appearance at all of these events in 2012. I’m making plans for #HIMSS12, February 20-24 in Las Vegas now and hope to add the SIIA IIS conference, January 24-25 in New York to the list for 2012.

When we update the Events page, we’ll add links to blog posts, pictures and videos from the events. As a preview, here’s a short video interview I did with at the Health2.0 conference in San Francisco:

Also, please check out my previous post on Using Game Dynamics that includes a link to a video of my session at Data Content11 that focused on using game dynamics in market research and provides examples from healthcare research, including PatientsLikeMe.   

That’s it for now. Happy holidays and best wishes for a 2012 that exceeds your expectations!





Game On! Enliven Content with Game Dynamics

Anyone remember eWorld?  It was Apple’s attempt to create a search engine that was visual and fun. It didn’t work out, but Apple was ahead of its time in the mid-1990s. Now the time may just be right for eWorld-like next-gen visual and fun business information services.

I spoke of the dual advantages of applying techniques from the online game segment to enhance the engagement level of content and to collect more data about audience at InfoCommerce Group’s Data Content11 conference earlier this month.  The full presentation with video can be found here (minutes 4:30-12:32).

The presentation includes parallels from healthcare where companies like PatientsLikeMe are matching members of their patient community sites with relevant clinical trials. This is just one example of an online publisher that is serving as a matchmaker between its audience and researchers and creating value to all stakeholders as a result.

I saw eyes light up during my talk when I introduced the topic of applying game dynamics[1] to B2B and consumer health content to increase the engagement level and make the audience more valuable to researchers.  A “game layer” for business and consumer health information may seem inappropriate at first glance, but I suggest that borrowing some of the best features of popular games to make content more engaging, easier to navigate, and more personalized can pay dividends. The secondary benefits of collecting more information about your audience and their preferences as they interact with more responsive content are significant, too. Again to use examples from healthcare, if your audience includes the leading experts in a specialty area or a large group of patients with a specific disease or set of symptoms, serving as a matchmaker between your audience and market research firms could represent a new revenue stream, especially if you have compiled data that can be used to segment the audience better than alternatives that currently exist.

I thought of eWorld when I saw HumanaVille, on online resource for seniors who are Humana members. As I mention in my presentation, I’m not sure that a fun visual online interface is the answer to getting seniors engaged online, but it’s worth a try, especially if the alternative is a typical online directory. 


[1] For a primer on game dynamics, see this post: