Thursday, July 17, 2008

Google Analytics Switch Data Processing Times or Reporting Errors

Over the course of a month or two, many Google Analytics users began distrusting the reports provided in Google Analytics. We now have more reports, this time via Search Engine Roundtable Forums of Google Analytics not reporting accurate numbers.
I noticed yesterday's reports for this site was down about 20%. I immediately thought, give it a day and see if the numbers are higher tomorrow. They were. The numbers reported for Tuesday on Wednesday, was at normal levels when I looked today, Thursday. So I thought, maybe Google Analytics changed the time they are processing these reports (i.e. pulling in less data because they are running the reports earlier).
For example, let's say, Google Analytics typically runs the reports at 3am every morning. If Google Analytics pushed the report runs to 10pm every night, then you will be missing out on 2 hours of traffic, from the previous day. That means, you would have to wait a two-day period to see your full traffic data for the previous day. Hope I explained that well.
In any event, I am also hearing these reports outside of the forums - so this seems fairly widespread. Is this an bug or a feature - now that is the question.
Forum discussion at Search Engine Roundtable Forums.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Mending Fences Between Microsoft and Yahoo

It seems that Microsoft and Yahoo may enter into some type of an agreement if Carl Icahn wins the majority of Yahoo’s shareholders votes on August 1. If that happens Microsoft and Yahoo management will need to mend fences in order to move efficiently forward. There are two ways to mend a broken fence: discard or repair. In this situation, Icahn has stated that he will discard Yahoo’s current board of directors for a different slate of directors willing to seriously consider a business agreement with Microsoft. This is an important, but small piece of fence that is broken between these two companies.

The next layer will be the executive management of Yahoo. Microsoft’s goal would be to identify the members of the executive team that could be repaired vis-à-vis—those that are beyond salvage. A definition of beyond salvage is going to be crucial at this early stage. I assume that those members of executive management beyond salvage are those that are not willing

1. to cooperate with Microsoft’s executive management;
2. to have the flexibility to change Yahoo’s current business strategy; or
3. to take the time to understand Microsoft’s culture and business strategy.

The key ingredient is willingness. Willingness can be explained as a voluntary eagerness or disposition to act without reluctance to accomplish the goal of integrating both cultures while advancing Microsoft’s business objectives. Willingness comes from within an individual, hence it can only the measured through the actions or inaction of a particular individual.

Microsoft management also has the task of mending fences, since most fences can be repaired. This will require small but consistent acts from Microsoft that show business maturity and personal understanding to difficult changes. It reminds me of the story of the young boys that used to play baseball in an alley and the old lady that would never give them the balls that came into her yard. One of those boys started to water her lawn and clean the leaves on her patio for an entire year. He did this voluntarily and without expecting anything in return. He saw a need and he acted according to his conscience. After an entire year of doing this, the old lady called him to her house and gave him all the stray baseballs that she had collected over the years. He realized that more important than the baseballs was that he had her trust. It takes business maturity and transparency to earn trust in this type of situation.

Microsoft and Yahoo management can expect a difficult road ahead. It will not be perfect, but the combination of these two companies should be rewarding and worthwhile.

Friday, July 11, 2008

8 Lessons of Leadership

Read this article in Time magazine. For those in business analytics it brings eight principles that we should be applying to provide leadership to our organizations:

  1. Courage is not the absence of fear - it's inspiring others to move beyond it. I am sure that getting involved in changing the status quo brings fear of rejection. The issue is not whether changing the status quo brings fear or not, it is the leadership that we provide to inspire other to move beyond that fear.
  2. Lead from the front - but don't leave your base behind. Your base is your co-workers and your clients (internal and external). Incremental changes make changes easier than drastic changes.
  3. Lead from the back - and let others believe they are in front. Give your co-workers permission to try their own ideas, and permission to fail. When people in good faith unite for a common purpose the impossible become possible.
  4. Know your enemy - and learn about his favorite sport. It is part of the natural order to have adversaries, but it is important to have something in common with everybody within an organization. Besides sports I recommend talking about family, since this is a common denominator to all of us.
  5. Keep your friends close - and your rivals even closer. Your friends will help you reach your goals, but your rivals can block your progress. The person that opposes the initial objective the most is a great candidate to lead the second version of the product.
  6. Appearances matter - and remember to smile. Always make sure that your appearance is professional. This is not the university, this is the business world and appearances do matter.
  7. Nothing is black or white. Please learn the difference between what is illegal and unethical. Illegal is against the law. Nobody is perfect, including you.
  8. Quitting is leading too. We can exercise leadership by changing course. Reach consensus on metrics and timetable up front in the process and they will be the best indicator when is time to change course or make adjustments during the process.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Data Mining Combined With Predictive Modeling Equal 3D Data Visualization

The interaction and cooperation between computers and the human brain is at a crossroad. There are some who believe that decision support systems should be completely automated. There are others who believe that there are many areas of business, technology, and science that have not been discovered yet, and, hence, only part of a decision support system can be automated. I subscribe to the latter proposition.

Computer science is, at its core, an attempt to replicate the processing, reasoning, and learning processes of the human brain. Therefore, an understanding of the human brain is fundamental to determine the next steps into advances in the area of business analytics (i.e. the fusion of technology, science, and business). See; and

Visualization is an important method that the human brain uses to perceive and make decisions. See Classification into groups with similar characteristics, or data mining, is another method to make decisions. Depth and movement perception based on prior experience for the human brain is the equivalent of what we call in science predictive modeling or forecasting. The amalgamation of these elements in a decision support system is equivalent to the way the human brain makes decisions.

History teaches us that some discoveries provide a quantum leap of understanding. The earth revolving around the sun, gravity, and the theory of relativity are examples of these types of discoveries. On the other hand, most decision making is incremental in nature. See For example, buying securities collateralized with real estate might not be the best investment in the United States right now; buying short-term oil contracts in the commodities market might be a more profitable investment.

We have reached a point in our technological development that we can put together genetic algorithms, data mining techniques, grid or cloud computing, and visualization techniques using gaming technologies to automate some areas of decision support systems to reduce operational costs. For an interesting perspective on how gaming techniques use predictive modeling to forecast movement, see Also, the joining of these techniques will facilitate a decision support system to make both incremental as well as quantum leap discoveries in many business areas.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Microsoft Announces Name, Pricing for Subscription Office

This is one important piece of the Microsoft strategy to integrate Software-as-a-Service as part of it Internet strategy. See,; and The price will need to be adjusted to an Internet model of less than $50, it should be on a month-to-month basis without limited restrictions, and it should incorporate Microsoft Analysis Services in order to be competitive. See,

On the other hand, it shows that Microsoft is aware of the basic components to have a sucessfull Internet strategy and the steps that it can take to make those changes. The failed adquisition of Yahoo would have made it easier for Micrsosoft in terms of the change management that need to occurr for them to make these changes. Yahoo already has an Internet business and culture that could more easily adapt to these type of changes than the Microsoft propietary software business culture.

Also, Microsoft adquistion of semantic search engine Powerset shows the understanding by Microsoft of the importance of Internet "search speed" as part of its strategy.

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