Tag Archives: analytics

Google’s Chris Vennard on integrated mobile functions

Chris Vennard and me in their Chelsea Market offices.
Chris Vennard and me in their Chelsea Market offices.

Google’s Global Product Lead, Chris Vennard, predicts mobile calls from search will double to 86 billion annually by 2018. Vennard, who heads up Google’s Call Ad product, spoke with me about improving the user experience with customer support.

“Nobody will disagree when I say the world is going mobile,” he said.

Vennard outlined several options to enhancing the customer journey – and they begin and end with mobile. First, a ‘bail out’ function is important. Mobile users visiting a company’s website should always have the option to hit a call button to automatically connect them to an agent for help. The next step will be to show the agent their search history.

During the interview, which can be seen in a three-part series on www.CallCenterWeek.com, Vennard went on to talk about the difference between mobile apps and mobile webpages and the benefits of these strategies.

Hacking Critical Infrastructure Explained: Common Attacks and Good Defense

Cyber security attacks on industrial control systems have increased in number and complexity in the last few years. Attacks like Stuxnet and Night Dragon have proven that cyber attacks can have significant negative business impacts and potentially even loss of life.

shipp1At the upcoming Cyber Security for Oil & Gas Canada event, Chris Shipp, the Chief Security Information Officer for Fluor Federal Petroleum Operation, will provide an overview of current successfully cyber attacks and threats, followed by a live hacking demonstration of a control system and conclude with a case study demonstrating important security components in control systems. This interview provides a sneak peek of what’s to come at the event …

* The thoughts expressed here are solely the opinions of Chris Shipp and not necessarily that of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

HH: Walk us through the journey that led to you being known as the utmost “hacking” expert in the industry.

CS: As Chief Security Information Officer for Fluor Federal Petroleum Operation, I function as the chief cyber security representative at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve for about 14 years.

When I started in October 2000, I was the only person allocated to cyber security. I first got into cyber security via a rather circuitous route because there wasn’t a direct route to become proficient in cyber security. As part of my earlier job history, I worked at a professional services company where we provided maintenance and professionals services related to IT systems, implementation of networks and applications and so on for various commercial and federal customers. I have also taught some at Tulane University and during those years, one of the things that I noticed with respect to teaching the curriculum I was looking at and with the systems I was implementing, was that there wasn’t a lot of information directly about cyber security. It began to concern me. I had a few customers who were very forward thinking who asked about security and how their data was protected and so I began to do a lot of my own research and in that research I became something of a cyber security expert. I’m not really comfortable with that term because I’m still learning and it’s an ever-evolving process, but I became very proficient in cyber security, which is something not a lot of other people at that time were able to achieve simply because they weren’t a lot of avenues or requests for it.

I began to incorporate more security information into the curriculum I was teaching at the local university as well as talking more with my customers about things that we could do to secure their data. Through these conversations, I was put into contact with the Department of Energy because they were looking for a Chief Cyber Security guy. I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to work through a cybersecurity program that really was in its infancy, its adolescence, as most programs were back then, since there weren’t as many federal regulations or they were just starting to be implemented. We were able to build that program all the way through and build a risk management program for both classified and unclassified systems; systems that have to do with standard business operations and control systems.

Although you don’t like to call yourself an expert and instead refer to yourself as a student of your industry, I am very appreciative that you have knowledge of both sides of the coin since you have knowledge of both government and industry cyber security practices. Would you provide a brief overview of the cybersecurity discrepancies between government and business in terms of how they are able to prevent, protect and manage security threats? What can government agencies learn from industry and vice versa?

First let me say that I would divide industry into two separate camps. One would be commercial entities that don’t have a lot of federal or local regulatory requirements specifically related to cyber security yet. And then the other camp would be those that do like NERC CIP, which is energy regulation with respect to cyber security, HIPAA has some cyber security elements related to health information or the Gramm-Leach Bliley Act, which applies to financial entities. So, those entities have some very strict regulatory environments that correspond pretty well to typical federal government agency requirements.

I would put other commercial entities that don’t necessarily have that regulatory requirement yet in their own separate camp. With respect to the commercial entities that do have regulatory requirements and typical federal government entities I would group them into one group.

There are two common issues that they have. The first and foremost would be that cyber security personnel typically do not have a strong business background and so they do not have the capability or the proper business knowledge to present cyber security proposals in a way business decision makers understand and approve of. For example, if I were to tell a decision maker, someone who holds control of a particular budget, “Hey I need a new intrusion detection system because it does a better job of detecting and stopping the bad guys, what does that really mean from a business perspective? I haven’t expressed that in terms where a person who is business minded would understand.

Conversely, I would be more successful if I had said, “Look, we have this very important system, and well all agree it is important, but we have seen within the last three months increasingly complex attacks against that system that are coming closer and closer to being successful and based on that we predict with pretty reasonable probability that that system will be successfully hacked within the next 90-120 days if we don’t introduce this particular intrusion detection system will cost you $100,000, if that system were hacked and down for a day, it would cost $1.2 million.”

That is something a business decision maker could understand and what I find when I talk to many different people in the cyber security realm, often you will find somebody who was initially very technically astute, brilliant people and they end up running a cyber security program. They’re very good at what they do, but they don’t necessarily have the business acumen to express the need in that way.

That’s a good point, and let’s jump in to the hiring process of these operators. As the saying goes, a business is only as good as its workers, especially for oil and gas companies. What best practices could you provide for the hiring and maintenance of cyber security staff so that they are fully prepared to prevent and address threats?

That’s a great question, in fact, of the two main issues that I find in organizations with cyber security is that they simply don’t have people with technical know-how at the technical level to properly implement and maintain cyber security. It’s a difficult problem to solve because cyber security is a relatively new discipline; it’s not as mature, so therefore there are not as many people who have the necessary skill set.

Cyber security is a skill set that would be akin to a specialty in the medical field. For example, you would never try to train somebody to be a cardiologist before they became a MD. First, you learn how to become a good doctor and then you use that as a baseline if you go to finishing school to learn how to be a good cardiologist. The same thing is true with cybersecurity. You can’t learn cybersecurity in a vacuum. A good cybersecurity technical person, for instance, has to build their security knowledge on some other discipline that they have strong knowledge in. For example, they may be a person who’s worked with network infrastructure switches and so they have a very good working knowledge of those systems and can take that knowledge and build upon it to make good systems for cybersecurity in those environments. Perhaps they are an application developer. They can use that knowledge to build upon and become very good at application security. So, one difficulty is that it’s not a discipline where you can take the smartest person from scratch and teach them fairly easily.

The other difficulty is many colleges do not provide good cybersecurity programs. Often colleges are teaching somewhat antiquated computer science. Not always, but that’s often the case because computer science changes frequently unlike some other disciplines. The good news is that the National Security Agency (NSA) has established something called the National Centers on Academic Excellence. Colleges can apply for this program, which incorporates cyber security elements into their curriculum, as defined by the NSA. If a student goes through the program and learns those elements then they have a good working knowledge of cyber security in which to build. Personally, I’ve been able to leverage that avenue to hire several top notch cyber security people that didn’t require a tremendous amount of education and training to bring them up to speed.

Will you share with us the risk management strategy for the cyber security program at the Department of Energy Strategic Petroleum Reserve? How has vulnerability management, continuous monitoring and incident response evolved during your tenure and where do you see areas for growth?

I want to make sure I don’t share information that is sensitive, so I will talk about the program that is provided by NIST, which we make heavy use of with respect o risk management.

NIST 800-37 is a wonderful document, and let me point out, too, that NIST standards are paid for and developed by the government and available freely to anyone. There’s a six-step process involved in what the NIST calls their risk management framework. It starts with a business process, which is categorizing information systems. For example, in the oil and gas industry you may be talking about a business system or a control system. What does that control system really do for you and how important is it to your mission? That is a business determination not an IT or cybersecurity determination, so business decision makers must be involved in that process. Based on the determination, you follow a process where you select the appropriate security controls to apply to that system. You implement those controls and then once they’re set up you continually assess their value and monitor them. It’s a circular process.

Sometimes there’s the misperception by those outside the IT industry that once you develop a system and put it into place it’s fairly static. Nothing could be further from the truth. Even if you have no new projects and just say, ‘we’re running as is,’ you have many, many software and application updates that will change as the risks and updates come out. It’s a continual process to determine how important this system is to our business and therefore we determine how much time, money and effort we’re going to spend to protect it. That informs the selection of the appropriate security controls, how they’re implemented in the environment and how well they continually operate. That’s the process of boots-on-the-ground implementation and the procedural and technical goals we use for cyber security.

The next question would be how to maintain the system from the perspective of the business. It’s done by storytelling. When I tell people this, they laugh at me because they think it means I’m telling something that’s an untruth, but what I mean is when you hire someone who has a strong background and understanding of cybersecurity and they also have some business acumen then they need to tell a true and accurate story to business decision makers: “This is the risk to the system, this is how we’re mitigating that risk and this is the residual risk.”

I know I’ve emphasized this before, but I see the redundancy again and again. Business decision makers are in business to make money or in the case of a federal government entity, they have a tight budget, so you have to explain to them the benefit of that spend. You have to tell a story in business terms that helps them understand why they should spend the additional dollars, why they should hire the additional personnel or allocate the additional resources to do the additional tasks you’re defining.

The Top 15 Metrics for 2015

Are you a digital marketer?  Best practice marketers align their objectives with business outcomes to improve the organization; they use data-driven decisions to predict outcomes and can envision the impact of their work. They think strategically to maximize revenue and create contextual engagement with the customers they serve. To do this, they use solutions that aggregate the right metrics and tools that help them derive accurate insights.

The definitive guide to the top 15 Digital Marketing Metrics for 2015
The definitive guide to the top 15 Digital Marketing Metrics for 2015



Here’s a peek at the first three to get you started:




1. Social interactions – Your firm’s social interaction ratio is determined by the total number of interactions all of your accounts received within the last week, month or quarter. You’ll first need to decide how frequently you’d like to measure your social media interactions, which is necessary to increase the number of interactions and build rapport with your customers and client base.

Next, you’ll want to determine your share of the social voice. Share of Voice is defined as the proportion of the total audience commanded by your brand across its full range of media activities.
Share of Voice is an accurate indicator as to where you rank compared to your competitors when people talk about your industry.

2. Amplification Rate – The amplification rate is the frequency at which your followers take your content and share it through their own network. It goes without saying that the higher the amplification rate, the further your content will reach.

This will also increase your social media page views, which is the number of times a web page is viewed as a result of being directed from a social media channel.

3. Quality Score – The quality score is a score assigned by search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing that influences both the rank and cost per click of ads. The purpose of the quality score is to enable the major search engines the ability to maintain and improve the quality of advertisements listed on their sites. The primary reason for this is to improve the experience of users who click on sponsored links. The more relevant the advertisements, the greater the likelihood a user will click on them more frequently, which increases revenue for everyone.

Those who achieve higher quality scores are rewarded with top placement and lower bid cost.

Download the complete list of The Top 15 Digital Marketing Metrics for 2015 to see what are the must-have metrics are for next year. 

Do You Know Your Customers As Well As You Think You Do?

Anthony Perez is the Vice President of Business Strategy with the Orlando Magic. He and his team are credited with building a predictive analytics ticketing model that can help the Orlando Magic tailor their fan experience to increase customer satisfaction. In this interview, Anthony shares how he uses data to gain understanding of his customers and to establish a loyalty connection.

hrh media: Would you mind telling us a little bit about your background and how you became interested in data analytics?

I started in finance so I think it was a natural transition into analytics. When I first started with the Orlando Magic I was really focused on the financials of the new arena. From there I went into investment banking for a little while, but ultimately came back to the Magic and my focus, again, started out on the financial metrics side of things. But my position ultimately became the much broader role around analytics that it is today.

hrh media: The Orlando Magic is both one of the most technologically advanced arenas in North America so it’s no wonder that you have a wealth of data at your fingertips. Would you share a key business driver behind the Magic’s decision to use analytics to establish a loyalty connection with fans?

Sure, for us it just really made sense going into the Amway Center with the technology that we have, all the data that we’d be collecting, all of the capabilities that we had in terms of leveraging the technology and the building, we really wanted to make sure that we were doing the best job that we could to drive the customer experience. So, analytics was an opportunity for us to expand the things that we were doing in a much more systematic way to make sure every fan felt like there was a customized experience for them and that we are really marketing to them and what they were looking for. For our season ticket holders in particular, we wanted to make sure that when they came to games and interacted with their service representative or anyone else from the team, that they felt like the experience really spoke to them and their preferences and the like. So that was the main driver behind taking a bigger step into the realm of analytics.

hrh media: How have you and your team been able to turn the data that you’ve collected from the scanned and tracked tickets into a tailored fan experience? Can you provide me with an example?

That’s something that we’re continuing to develop. A great example, in particular for season ticket holders, but really for anyone in the building, we run a program where if you purchase something at a concession stand or at one of our retail stores you can scan your ticket during the checkout process and get entered in for a chance to win courtside seats. What this allows us to do is capture the ticket barcode information and ultimately match that back to the account. So we can see what account purchased the various items for that transaction. We start to see trends around what people are buying and when they’re buying.

The season ticket holders are folks that are coming to the majority of our games, so we can get a feel for when they typically purchase merchandise throughout the season and what their preferences are in terms of concession stands. A great example we like to point to is if a family of season ticket holders is taking frequent trips to Cold Stone at halftime on the terrace level, if we see that they have a preference for Cold Stone, that’s something our service rep can use the next time they want to visit that season ticket holder in their seats. Maybe they’re surprising them with Cold Stone, bringing it to them just as a gesture to say that we really appreciate them being a season ticket holder and everything they do for us. I think that’s the small example but that’s the type of thing that we continue to do.

Right now we’re working through taking all that information that we’re collecting from scanned tickets, putting it into a format that’s actionable for our sales team and service team and ultimately delivering that.

hrh media: Retaining season ticket holders year after year can be pretty tricky for sports franchises. Have you been able to solve this riddle with somewhat of a success rate using data analytics?

I don’t know that anyone will ever solve the riddle completely, but I think for us, we’ve done a good job of being as smart as we can about how we target season ticket holders and how we focus on retention. We’ve done a lot in that area in terms of predictive modeling and trying to understand the biggest drivers behind the renewal decision for a season ticket holder and ultimately boiling that down to things that are actionable and then working with our service team to act upon those things.

A great example is ticket utilization, which I think for everybody is pretty intuitive, but we’ve really focused on that and what we found is that season ticket holders that aren’t really utilizing their tickets to a certain level are ultimately ones that are at risk not to renew. We’ve built an entire campaign throughout the season about touching those season ticket holders that aren’t utilizing their tickets and doing it in a way that we can be preemptive so we’re not finding out that they felt like the value wasn’t there for them because they didn’t use their ticket throughout the season.

Instead we’re trying to jump on that if they’ve missed one or two games, and if we escalate the actions we take as they go further into the season and not utilizing their tickets. I think for us it varies from team to team in terms of how the structure is set up for a service representative and the amount of accounts they deal with. For us, one of our service representatives could have anywhere between 400 to 500 accounts, so it’s really difficult to build a personal relationship with each one of those people, so what can we do to help our service representatives cut through all of their accounts to really get the biggest impact and focus on those people who need or want the additional action—that’s where we try to use predictive analytics to help us do that.

hrh media: Are these actions that you’re taking being noticed and appreciated by the ticket holders?

I think so. For us, with ticket utilization, it’s really making sure that season ticket holders feel like they’re getting the value for their tickets in whatever way that means. It may mean selling their tickets for games they can’t attend or it could just mean giving them away to a client, colleague or friend, but we’re just trying to make sure that we’re proactively driving those actions and making sure that it’s not something that the season ticket holder looks back when it’s up for renewal; and in retrospect says, well if I’d done things differently maybe I would have gotten the value, but I didn’t.

I do think they appreciate it and I think they’ll see that as we continue to go deeper and deeper into how we’re leveraging our data I think they’ll continue to see a better experience game after game.

hrh media: What does the future look like for customer data analysis within your franchise?

I think the future is really exciting for us. We do a lot of really interesting things now and I think we’re a team that’s really trying to push the envelope and be more advanced in terms of how we’re applying analytics. Even from our standpoint I think there are so many things that we can continue to do, there’s a lot of unstructured data that we’re really not leveraging as well as we could, and social media is a whole frontier of opportunity for us in utilizing data. Even just outside of social media when we talk about unstructured data, a lot of communications with our season ticket holders are happening through email correspondence, text messaging and those types of things. So how do we really leverage those kinds of conversations because right now without any type of text mining application, we’re really not able to maximize the insights we can draw. We do a lot of research here and even with surveys we see the open-ended responses and we try to leverage that as best as we can. I think there’s a lot of opportunity there in terms of text mining and just utilizing unstructured data better, whether it’s in our predicted models or just driving key insights for our management.

Finding the Reality of ROI within HR

Ask yourself: Are you measuring activities or achievements? Are you focusing too much on HR training and learning and not enough on what’s driving the business? David Cohen, Founder and Senior Consultant at Strategic Action Group, Ltd., challenges human resources professionals and upper management leaders to define ROI in the way it was originally intended. Read on for more insight from David.

hrh media: How can human resources professionals sift through the multitude of metrics available at their fingertips to determine which are the most beneficial for their organization?

This is actually a simpler answer then one might think. The problem is sometimes we think we have to ‘prove’ too much to certain people. What we need to focus on are the analytics that will like the results of the interventions with their impact on improving the execution of the business strategy. Too many people are focused on measuring things that are interesting to human resources or training and learning but are not focused on what drives the business. The other important thing to remember is that we sometimes start measuring the activities and not the achievements.

hrh media: Once determined, how can organizations measure the effectiveness of these metrics?

Again, the effectiveness of the metric is looking at the impact it has on the business plan by looking at the results prior to the intervention and then look at the success level of the business execution after the intervention. The unfortunate part of that, especially for leadership development, is behavior change does not happen over night. It takes some time to be comfortable with the new behaviors, and as a result even more time before the change in behavior has a positive impact. So, getting the final measurement that proves the value of the intervention might take a year or more.

hrh media: How can human resource departments help upper management understand the long-term benefits of these measurements and ultimately turn the department from a cost center to a business driver?

I think that the issue is when we define ROI in the way ROI was originally intended, you are trying to do an estimate based on impact starting with how a new piece of equipment will have on productivity and profitability. This you know prior to making the purchase. When you are dealing with people measures; first, you will find estimations only an educated approximation. Second, you will never know for certain if it was the activity alone or something else in the internal or external environment that actually caused the impact, positive or negative, to the results of the activities.

I don’t think that measurement alone will move the perception of HR from a ‘cost center’ to a business driver. People have to emotionally feel that the actions that were taken are not worth the risk of living without. If the leaders do not make that emotional, visceral link that these actions provide a benefit to the business, then the result will be that the leader doesn’t wish to make the change of living without that activity. No matter how successful the activity was in positively impacting business results, the leader will not continue to support the initiative.

hrh media: What are some ways that organizations are making themselves more attractive to new and current employees?

This question is not related to measurement or workforce analytics but rather to the alignment of the person with the organization. By focusing on the person/organization fit, coupled with investment in the development of people for the improvement of both the person and the business organization, they will be more successful in making the company more attractive to new and current employees. Unfortunately, many organizations cut back significantly on the one action they can take to improve performance – the development of staff – and as a result people are looking to find places they can receive the development opportunities. This is a particular issue with Millennial employees.

But the issue of celebration of the culture and alignment of people with the culture is something that cuts across all generations at work. We are doing a lot of work with firms on defining the culture fit by defining the actual (not the aspirational) values of the company and employees are motivated and appreciate management paying attention to what actually exists and moving toward the value set that originally made the company great.