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For senior leaders of learning (associations that market and sell continuing education and professional development), you won’t want to miss this free luncheon event on Friday, May 1, in Washington DC: The Leading Learning Spring Summit 2015. You can register for it here.

Sponsored by Tagoras, the featured guest speaker for the summit will be Tony Bingham, president and CEO of the Association for Talent Development (formerly ASTD). During lunch, Tony will discuss major trends in talent development and how these may impact organizations in the business of lifelong learning.

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At Personifest earlier this week I got to hear Rick Smolan speak on the Human Face of Big Data. Among the many stories he related was one about taxis in the rain in Singapore. Like most big cities, when it rains in Singapore it’s difficult to get a cab. So what researchers did was to overlay weather data with taxi location data in hopes of determining how taxi service could be improved. In a nutshell, what the researchers learned is that when it rains in Singapore, the taxis would park their cars. That’s what the data showed.

After doing some human research (i.e., talking directly to taxi drivers), the researchers learned that taxi drivers were, in fact, parking their cars during rain storms. They did this to avoid accidents, because at the time in Singapore, if you were in an accident, even if it wasn’t your fault, you had to put up a $1,000 bond while the crash was investigated. Most cabbies didn’t want to do this, so voila, don’t drive in the rain. It was that simple. (As a result Singapore changed their laws related to this, so hopefully now it’s easier to get a cab in the rain!)

This story reminded me of something the Texas Medical Association did several years ago, which I wrote about here. They overlaid their membership data with data from their insurance provider, and found nearly a thousand non-members participating in a members-only program. TMA was able to convert almost all of those non-members to membership.

In both cases, the data analysis did not require thousands of hours of manipulation. It was simply comparing one set of data to another and making a profound discovery. Sometimes the biggest discoveries can be found in the simplest set of data.

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At Personifest earlier this week I got to hear Rick Smolan speak on the Human Face of Big Data. Among the many stories he related was one about taxis in the rain in Singapore. Like most big cities, when it rains in Singapore it’s difficult to get a cab. So what researchers did was to overlay weather data with taxi location data in hopes of determining how taxi service could be improved. In a nutshell, what the researchers learned is that when it rains in Singapore, the taxis would park their cars. That’s what the data showed.

After doing some human research (i.e., talking directly to taxi drivers), the researchers learned that taxi drivers were, in fact, parking their cars during rain storms. They did this to avoid accidents, because at the time in Singapore, if you were in an accident, even if it wasn’t your fault, you had to put up a $1,000 bond while the crash was investigated. Most cabbies didn’t want to do this, so voila, don’t drive in the rain. It was that simple. (As a result Singapore changed their laws related to this, so hopefully now it’s easier to get a cab in the rain!)

This story reminded me of something the Texas Medical Association did several years ago, which I wrote about here. They overlaid their membership data with data from their insurance provider, and found nearly a thousand non-members participating in a members-only program. TMA was able to convert almost all of those non-members to membership.

In both cases, the data analysis did not require thousands of hours of manipulation. It was simply comparing one set of data to another and making a profound discovery. Sometimes the biggest discoveries can be found in the simplest set of data.

Reply at Effective Database

Personifest wrapped up yesterday, and while I wasn’t able to attend all three days, I did get to see the kickoff and attend some breakout sessions. Some of my takeaways:

  • Rick Smolan was the opening general session speaker, talking about the Human Face of Big Data. His talk was simply fascinating. He discussed multiple stories from around the world on how big data of all types is being used for improving medical care, government management, and business. Really one of the best opening sessions I’ve attended at a users conference.
  • Another general session was on Personify’s road map. Coming attractions include improvements to the upgrade process (including release of an upgrade tool); enhancements to engagement scoring and SEO functionality; and potentially an integration to salesforce.com.

It has been a while since I was able to attend a Personify conference, and I was pleased with what I saw at this inaugural Personifest.

Full disclosure: EDM is an independent third-party consulting firm. This means we have no financial relationship with any of the vendors mentioned in this blog. We provide unbiased opinions on what we see. 

Reply at Effective Database

Personifest wrapped up yesterday, and while I wasn’t able to attend all three days, I did get to see the kickoff and attend some breakout sessions. Some of my takeaways:

  • Rick Smolan was the opening general session speaker, talking about the Human Face of Big Data. His talk was simply fascinating. He discussed multiple stories from around the world on how big data of all types is being used for improving medical care, government management, and business. Really one of the best opening sessions I’ve attended at a users conference.
  • Another general session was on Personify’s road map. Coming attractions include improvements to the upgrade process (including release of an upgrade tool); enhancements to engagement scoring and SEO functionality; and potentially an integration to salesforce.com.

It has been a while since I was able to attend a Personify conference, and I was pleased with what I saw at this inaugural Personifest.

Full disclosure: EDM is an independent third-party consulting firm. This means we have no financial relationship with any of the vendors mentioned in this blog. We provide unbiased opinions on what we see. 

Reply at Effective Database

In my speeches, my writing, and my work with clients, I often talk about the three key elements of people, process, and technology. All three are key to a successful project or a successful organization.

But we can’t forget how critical “people” are in that equation.

A couple years ago I worked with a client who was having some significant challenges with their AMS. The executive director was fairly new and he had inherited a new AMS selected and implemented just before he arrived. So the software was relatively new to the association (less than two years) and they were still having lots of problems with it.

When we discussed what wasn’t working, I knew the AMS they were using could do what they needed, so that immediately implied either a process issue or a personnel issue (or both). After working with them for just a few days, we quickly determined it was both a process issue AND a personnel issue.

As I learned through the process, the AMS that had been recently selected and implemented was NOT the AMS the IT director preferred. As a result, he spent a lot of his time complaining about all the things that weren’t working in the new AMS, and was actively disdainful of and disrespectful to the AMS provider. As it happened, there was another person on staff (outside the IT department) who had very strong database skills and was also a very pleasant person to work with. I advised my client to move this person into the project management role and minimize the IT director’s role with the AMS.

The client took my advice and things made a sharp turn in the right direction. The IT director left the association shortly thereafter. My client reports that two years later things are still working well.

So while we may have a tendency to focus on the technology and even the processes related to managing our systems, it’s always important to keep in mind that “people” are an equally important part of the equation. Don’t overlook that.

Reply at Effective Database

In my speeches, my writing, and my work with clients, I often talk about the three key elements of people, process, and technology. All three are key to a successful project or a successful organization.

But we can’t forget how critical “people” are in that equation.

A couple years ago I worked with a client who was having some significant challenges with their AMS. The executive director was fairly new and he had inherited a new AMS selected and implemented just before he arrived. So the software was relatively new to the association (less than two years) and they were still having lots of problems with it.

When we discussed what wasn’t working, I knew the AMS they were using could do what they needed, so that immediately implied either a process issue or a personnel issue (or both). After working with them for just a few days, we quickly determined it was both a process issue AND a personnel issue.

As I learned through the process, the AMS that had been recently selected and implemented was NOT the AMS the IT director preferred. As a result, he spent a lot of his time complaining about all the things that weren’t working in the new AMS, and was actively disdainful of and disrespectful to the AMS provider. As it happened, there was another person on staff (outside the IT department) who had very strong database skills and was also a very pleasant person to work with. I advised my client to move this person into the project management role and minimize the IT director’s role with the AMS.

The client took my advice and things made a sharp turn in the right direction. The IT director left the association shortly thereafter. My client reports that two years later things are still working well.

So while we may have a tendency to focus on the technology and even the processes related to managing our systems, it’s always important to keep in mind that “people” are an equally important part of the equation. Don’t overlook that.

Reply at Effective Database

Last night kicked off Personify’s rebranded annual users conference Personifest. Eric Thurston, Personify’s CEO, discussed several issues related to the ownership transition at Personify over the past year. But the most important announcement from my perspective was that Personify has begun a partnership program where companies outside of Personify can be “certified” as implementation partners. This is important because I feel strongly that every AMS provider needs to be able to an ecosystem of alternative professional services providers, and this is a step in that direction.

The two initial partners announced are benel Solutions and Brightfind.

Full disclosure: EDM is an independent third-party consulting firm. This means we have no financial relationship with any of the vendors mentioned in this blog. We provide unbiased opinions on what we see. 

Reply at Effective Database

When I work with my clients, one of my goals is always to simplify things as much as possible. (I’m lazy by nature, so simpler is almost always better in my book!) Whether it’s the processes you use, the data you collect, or the technology you have in place, always simplify where you can.

Case in point: I was working with a client recently on data conversion, and one of the discussions was about address types. My client had about eight different types in their current system, and the question was whether we should convert all of them or just some of them.

As I explained to my client: “Many of my other clients have just three address types (which may be the same or different): mailing (for all mailing), physical (for Fedex/UPS), and billing (for, um, billing).”

It seems we can always find reasons for adding new address types, but the reality is that for most of us, just two or three types will do.

So remember: simplify. It’s just, well, simpler.

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Thanks Liam. Glad you found it helpful.

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