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NOTE: Remember to look at previous and more current postings for other topics.

Biz Intel
Yes, I used ‘Biz’ for ‘Business’ because I wanted to do this a little different. Business Intelligence does not have to be stuffy.
Yes, business intelligence (BI) is about tools and systems being part of the strategic planning process. But there is more to it than simply architectures, tools, technologies and systems. On BI systems, here is one of the many definitions I found:

These systems allow a company to gather, store, access and analyze corporate data to aid in decision-making. Generally these systems will illustrate business intelligence in the areas of customer profiling, customer support, market research, market segmentation, product profitability, statistical analysis, and inventory and distribution analysis to name a few.

Seriously, BI should also specifically include the people, the people of the organization using those tools and systems.
+++ And yes, there is a great deal of content I could have added to this on BI but I did not want to write a book, just something to help people get an idea of what they can achieve in combing BI and people and innovation.

People can learn the different software tools (like data mining for one) that are a large part of BI, because, c’mon, learning to use the software tools really does not require the education of a rocket scientist – especially when you people in the organization who want to do more.
The focus should be on these people using their minds and their brains to take full advantage of those software tools. These people should be ones that want to use their minds and brains to come up with better ways of extracting useful information out of all the mounds and mounds of what everyone is calling “Big DATA.”
Note: All Big DATA is; is the aggregation of many, many disparate types of information AND you mining, sorting, culling, analyzing and using what you believe is the more important or advantageous dollops of data in that massive mound of information.
It is not just the size of the amount of data; Big DATA is more than that. Big DATA is made up of the amount of data as well as the types of data.
The types of data are now many – meaning that it is made up of:
— Pictures & Screenshots from computing devices – PCs, laptops/notebooks, tablets, smartphones (.BMP, .JPEG/.JPG, .TIFF, etc.)
— Database records in all the various flavors of each vendor
— Document formats – Word, Excel, Word Perfect, Corel (and all in different versions from different years)
— ePHI & HIPAA record formats
— Insurance records – and you know how many insurance companies are out there – many!
— Video – various flavors of ‘containers’ & ‘codecs’ (partial list at end)
— Audio (partial list at end)
— Utility company data
— Twitter data and other social media feeds
— Transportation agency’s data
— the list truly does go on and on for Big DATA content

Yes, data is king but so are the people massaging that data.

People should be collaborating with each other more frequently, not necessarily just having endless meetings. They should be engaged with other on a very personal business level getting past the old histrionics and bad judgment/tastes of whether the person across from them is:
=== a woman or man or,
=== straight or gay or,
=== of a different race or,
=== someone who talks with an accent or,
=== older or younger.
We have to get past these unneeded distracting and detracting arenas and focus on “working together,” coming up with new and better ideas and ways of improving some tech or product or process.

BI usage
As your firm massages and tweaks all of that Big DATA, you will see yourself coming up with new ways of running your distribution network because you will likely have come up with a way to streamline it.
You may be able to use your BI and Predictive Analytics on that Big DATA to see ahead of time that your supply chain can be improved.
You will be able to modify your marketing, on the fly, as the times and moods of customers (and the economy) changes – you can target different demographics of people, neighborhoods and even countries around the world.

You should even be able to lower your sell prices, without loss of bottom line profits (we do care about ROI don’t we…?) all the while satisfying the shareholders AND employees of the business.

Now, innovation comes into play when you, the leaders, allow the folks in the organization room to play (work-wise), fail (yes, people who fail learn from it and do better in the long run – of course not all of them do), grow and succeed. The team members just want a chance to get into it and develop themselves while the team, the leadership and the organization “more” successful.

Not everyone comes from similar backgrounds, as such; they will have divergent views on many aspects of life – business, education and street sense (this adds to what they can do at the organization). Having divergent views adds to the discussion and when you bring them all together, converging, for a common purpose – you should be delighted at the ensuing results.

Who’s Innovative?
Not everyone is the brightest star on the planet. Nor is everyone who is a “bright, shiny star innovator” the smartest person in the building. The point I’m trying to make is that people who only have undergrad degrees are innovators. There are people who only completed high school that went on to become some of the best innovators. Heck, there are even a few who did not even finish high school but went on to become billionaires – yep, I said high school dropouts who became BILLIONAIRES. To give you a name, go look up David Karp and the company he sold to Yahoo!. The company Karp sold was Tumblr.
You want another, check out Thomas Edison (the car maker of yore) or check out Richard Branson (“Sir Richard” to you all) of Virgin Airlines.

So please, do not tell people that they all specifically need advanced education such as graduate degrees or doctoral degrees in order to become innovators. There are a lot of innovators everywhere, you just need to give people in your firm a chance and by that I do not mean one or two chances over, say, six month window. Sometimes, it takes time for innovators to make breakthroughs.

Why are they Innovative?
Well, it might be because they see a need. Or, they may see a unique way of getting something done. Or, they simply envisioned a better way of getting something done. Innovation comes, sometimes, out of nowhere – it hits people like a light bulb.
I recall reading somewhere at some point that some of these innovators achieve their innovation after months or years of doing similar/related work, which culminates in a lightning bolt in one or other of their brain hemispheres and voila, that stroke of genius. Something akin to what occurred when the 3M scientist (Art Fry) brought about the yellow Post-It notes.

What’s needed to be Innovative?
Here, it appears that there are a lot of things one can do to be innovative or creative. One thing that is specifically needed is to have an open mind. You, or you AND your team, must have the ability to have divergent thoughts/ideas – things that are outside of that traditional box (I call it thinking outside the block). The team, or person, doing the visualizations/imaginations has got to be able to brainstorm on multiple avenues of possibilities.
You cannot allow yourself to block out wild ideas, outlandish thoughts or crazy images – you have to have all of them and more in order to let the creative juices flow.
However, I would add that having good to great critical thinking skills as a VERY good asset. After having all of those fantastical ideas flow through your head, down your hand to your keyboard and monitor (or your pen and paper – or even your typewriter) – you should be also be able to go into deep thinking mode to logically cull some of the wild things that would not feasibly make it to the final product. There are limits to everything and not many firms have deep pockets or executive boards that are willing to out to the extremes.

Some of these people will be those who like to dig in and do deep research and trouble shooting in order to have multiple thoughts in their heads so they can:
=== innovate,
=== streamline,
=== create
multiple ‘new’ things.

Additionally, these folks should ideally be able to visualize new, different or unique ideas and images in their heads.
They should also have ‘good’ detail oriented mindsets as well as being very capable of following through on the work they do.

Okay, getting more people to use BI tools and Big DATA to allow their innovative ways, or innovations, come to the forefront is a good thing.
Letting these folks have some leeway is also a good thing, if they are restricted or feel restrictive – those innovations will NOT come to light.
In addition, having people with broad backgrounds and education, which many call ‘divergent viewpoints,’ are other pluses that add to coming up with unique or better ways of doing things.

Be clear here, I am not saying that you do not need to have brilliantly educated employees. I am saying you need diversity amongst your staffs. However, these individuals should not be allowed to fall prey to favoritism, clichés, discriminatory practices or other disgusting mannerisms that would kill off any chance of innovation – anything that would detract from success.

Another key area is that these people should be able to collaborate with each other and with other teams in the organization as well as with people from other diverse companies in the U.S. or even around the world. This can be taught and it should be inclusive, getting people to engage more should be a no-brainer. It is stopping the clichés and areas of favoritism that must be eliminated.

This means that you the leader will have to aid in the nurturing of these people to bring about innovation and success. That is, if you want to have a successful business, one that will survive in the long run. These people are your competitive advantage along with the tools you provide them.

1 — VIDEO FORMATS (courtesy of Shallowsky & Gizmodo)
A more highly informative piece at this gizmodo site
— Quick breakdown below from this site: http://www.shallowsky.com/linux/videoformats.html
a) Common Container (sometimes called wrappers) formats:
AVI (Audio Video Interleave): Most commonly contains M-JPEG (especially from digital cameras?) or DivX (for whole movies), but can contain nearly any format (not Sorenson). Sometimes you’ll see a reference to the “fourcc”: this is a four-character code (such as “divx” or “mjpg”) inside the AVI container which specifies which video codec is being used.
Quicktime: Most often used for the locked Apple Sorenson codec, or for Cinepak (free), but can also hold other codecs such as mjpeg, etc.
WMV (Windows Media Video): More or less MPEG4; can contain nearly any codec, including several Microsoft spinoffs of MPEG-4 which vary in their freedom and licensing requirements.
ASF (“Advanced Streaming Format”, .asf): a subset of wmv, intended primarily for streaming: an early Microsoft implementation of an MPEG4 codec.

b) Common Codecs (short for “coder/decoder”) Codecs are used inside of a container and because of this video formats can be confusing…:
MPEG (“Moving Pictures Expert Group”): three video formats, MPEG 1, 2, and 4.
MPEG-1: Old, supported by everything (at least up to 352×240), reasonably efficient.
MPEG-2: A souped-up version of MPEG-1, with better compression. 720×480. Used in HDTV, DVD, and SVCD.
MPEG-4: A family of codecs, some of which are open, others Microsoft proprietary.
MPEG spinoffs: mp3 (for music) and VideoCD.
MJPEG (“Motion JPEG”): A codec consisting of a stream of JPEG images. Common in video from digital cameras, and a reasonable format for editing videos, but it doesn’t compress well, so it’s not good for web distribution.
DV (“Digital Video”): Usually used for video grabbed via firewire off a video camera. Fixed at 720×480 @ 29.97FPS, or 720×576 @ 25 FPS.
WMV: A collection of Microsoft proprietary video codecs. Since version 7, it has used a special version of MPEG4.
RM (“Real Media”): a closed codec developed by Real Networks for streaming video and audio. Maybe also a container?
DivX: in early versions, essentially an ASF (incomplete early MPEG-4) codec inside an AVI container; DivX 4 and later are a more full MPEG-4 codec.. No resolution limit. Requires more horsepower to play than mpeg1, but less than mpeg2. Hard to find mac and windows players.
Sorenson 3: Apple’s proprietary codec, commonly used for distributing movie trailers (inside a quicktime container).
Quicktime 6: Apple’s implementation of an MPEG4 codec.
RP9: a very efficient streaming proprietary codec from Real (not MPEG4).
WMV9: a proprietary, non-MPEG4 codec from Microsoft.
Ogg Theora: A relatively new open format from Xiph.org.

2 — Audio formats (courtesy of Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Audio_file_format):
There are three major groups of audio file formats:
• Uncompressed audio formats, such as WAV, AIFF, AU or raw header-less PCM;
• Formats with lossless compression, such as FLAC, Monkey’s Audio (filename extension APE), WavPack (filename extension WV), TTA, ATRAC Advanced Lossless, Apple Lossless (filename extension m4a), MPEG-4 SLS, MPEG-4 ALS, MPEG-4 DST, Windows Media Audio Lossless (WMA Lossless), and Shorten (SHN).
• Formats with lossy compression, such as MP3, Vorbis, Musepack, AAC, ATRAC and Windows Media Audio Lossy (WMA lossy).