This Week in Crowdsourcing – 3 Things to Know

October 3, 2014 Ben Kerschberg

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3 new articles from the world of crowdsoucing.

Daniel Castro and Mark Doms collaborated on the most interesting piece I’ve read in a long time, this article about data and manufacturing.  

The authors — Doms is the Under Secretary for Economic Affairs in the U.S. Department of Commerce — maintain that “a strong industrial sector is critical to ensuring our future competitiveness, and making better use of data and analytics is key to building a healthy manufacturing industry.”  I’ll return to this below. The most interesting section of this article to me focuses on the relationship between data and manufacturers’ supply chain, including by HP. They write:

“[D]ata analytics can help manufacturers manage their supply chains. The interconnected nature of industrial supply chains makes them hotbeds for risk, and more information can mean the difference between a recall and a successful shipment. GE Oil and Gas now uses a cloud-based supply chain data platform to manage its materials, equipment, and services. The real-time system, now deployed on five continents, was created to contend with the high cost of downtime at oil fields. HP integrates network analysis into its supply chain monitoring. Their approach, which also includes data visualization, has reduced the time required for supply chain optimization projects by up to 50 percent.”

These  interdependencies and the efficiencies realized by HP are impressive. The ability of analytics to infer business intelligence from massive amounts of data that can then be (i) applied to improve supply chain results and (ii) transmitted to all parts of the world — via apps, for example — to alert stakeholders to necessary changes is astounding.

You might be asking why manufacturing is so important. Several years ago, I wrote an article entitled Manufacturing Moneyball about work that GE Intelligent Platforms was doing in manufacturing. The stats on the industry may surprise you:

“The United States has the world’s largest manufacturing sector, with a 20% market share since the 1980s. One in six American jobs is still in or directly tied to manufacturing. The latter group is the result of manufacturing’s tremendous multiplier effect, as described below. According to the National Association of Manufacturers, because of increasingly sophisticated technologies and the processes it employs, U.S. manufacturing relies on a more educated workforce and pays higher wages and better benefits than other sectors. U.S. manufacturing alone would comprise the eighth largest economy in the world. In current dollars, manufacturing GDP makes up over 12% of total GDP. More important, its real impact on the U.S. economy can only be measured when we consider its multiplier effect when it comes to jobs and competitiveness in other sectors such as high-tech, telecommunications, wholesale and retail, finance, and accounting. According to the Milken Institute, every job in manufacturing generates more than 2.5 jobs elsewhere in the economy. See Ross DeVol & Perry Wong, Jobs For America: Investments and Policies for Economic Growth and Competitiveness (Milken Institute Jan. 2010). Each of the aforementioned sectors depends on a strong manufacturing base.”

Manufacturing definitely matters, and analytics and big data are taking it to new places.

I’ll be writing more by months’ end about how data science has the capacity to change a wide variety of industries. Look for a white paper and blogs at the end of the month, with a focus on these data-rich industries: financial services, retail, insurance, healthcare, pharmaceuticals, and manufacturing, as well as supply chain more generally.

Brandy Shaul at InsideMobileApps wrote this interesting piece about Appboy, a marketing application that follows apps over their lifecycle.

Appboy focuses on marketing automation of apps, helping marketers “manage the customer life cycle” after apps are downloaded. It offers tools to increase engagement via multi-channel messaging and user segmentation technologies, among others.

How many apps do you have on your smartphone?  How many do you actually use?  If you’re like me, the percentage is small. I have about 20 apps — a relatively small number — most of which came pre-installed by Apple. What do I want to know?  The weather. Headline news. Sports news (Celtics!), email, and text messages. That’s about it. Call me a Luddite. But the range of apps is overwhelming, and I’ve probably bought or downloaded 30+ more apps that I used for one day and then deleted. Maybe a while longer in the case of Angry Birds. We all know the Apple exclamation: There’s an app for that. And more often than not, there is, at least when it comes to personal (not business) use. Business apps can’t afford anything close to that level of attrition. The consequences are dire, as set forth below.

Not surprisingly, Appboy is driven by using data “to better understand business growth and to optimize campaigns, to provide you with analytics and insights to deliver a big-picture snapshot of your app’s key metrics.”

Keeping an app fueled and humming is important to any company. It’s even more important for companies that have a strong presence on the Web and need to extend their consumer experience across their brand via tablets and smartphones. According to McKinsey’s DataMetrics 2013, “customers today punish companies that don’t deliver a consistent experience.” Punish is a harsh word, but it’s right on the money. As you forge ahead with your corporate app experiences, remember that you’ll need pinpoint data analytics tools to help you make informed decisions and keen marketing to make your app stick with customers, partners, and even internal adoption.

Chelsea Keenan at Government Technology wrote this timely piece about a flu-tracking app.

Flu Near You “puts the public back into public health,” according to Dr. Florence Bourgeois, a specialist in pediatric emergency medicine at Boston Children’s Hospital/Harvard Medical School. With recent EBola outbreaks and both severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Enterovirus D68 hitting children in Midwestern and Southern states, this is a good development.

The app, which has 120,000 users, makes crowdsourcing an effective public tool that encourages participation on a mass scale. With flu season on the way, the app is more important than ever. These numbers surprised me:

Each year, the flu is responsible for about 200,000 hospitalizations, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There were a total of 31.8 million influenza-associated illnesses, 14.4 million medically attended illnesses and 381,000 hospitalizations during the 2012-2013 flu season.

Those aren’t trivial numbers. We should applaud Flu Near You and other such apps, but the reality is that adoption rates are far too low. I don’t think it’s far-fetched to call for national and state government campaigns to spur the adoption of at least some standard app and platform. Those should be supplemented heavily by industry, where illnesses and missed days have a real impact on worker capacity, efficiency, and. availability.

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