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Trends and Outliers

TIBCO Spotfire's Business Intelligence Blog

Monthly Archives: October 2012


The Data Analytics of Halloween 2012

In 2011, data geeks were at the top of the coveted costume list, and this year is no different, especially with a looming election and several “geeky” heroes bursting onto the scene. Compare notes with last year’s list here.

Top10 Haloween 21 The Data Analytics of Halloween 2012We’ve even unearthed a costume list for the nerd in each of us. We’ll start there and then bring you an update on the data analytics of Halloween for 2012.

“Geeks” Embrace Internet Memes This Halloween

Felix Baumgartner (the supersonic skydiver) sets the tone for top geeky costume of the year, but we feel the real stars are Internet memes from current events this year.

Nearly everything a presidential candidate said or did became an image on the web, appearing on such social networks as Facebook, Twitter and Google+. The costumes based on the two most popular debate moments that will turn heads at your Halloween soiree – it’s a toss-up between a “binder full of women” and everyone’s favorite yellow bird from Sesame Street.

If making a political scene doesn’t do much for your costume inspiration, you could always go with toddler-in-tiara queen “Honey Boo Boo” or be “not impressed” like McKayla Maroney in reaction to her silver medal in the 2012 Olympic vault competition.

Halloween = Up to $10 Billion in Economic Impact

According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), the average person will spend just under $80 this year on spooky costumes, candy and decorations. Talk about a boost to the economy. With seven out of 10 Americans celebrating the spooky day, the expected economic impact is about $8 billion – an increase of 68.6% over last year.

However, 24/7 Wall Street considers the economic impact of Halloween to be closer to $10 billion. The analysts back their data up with some impressive analysis of census data, liquor and beer sales data as well as reports from the Haunted House Association, the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center (pumpkin data), the Bureau of Labor & Statistics, the Centers for Disease Control, Bureau of Transportation Statistics, NIH and other sources.

More spooktacular stats:

  • Americans spend about two months prepping for the last day of October (NRF).
  • Nearly 30% of Americans looked to social media for their costume ideas this year (NRF).
  • 14.7% of Americans will dress up their pets this Halloween at a cost of about $310 million. The most popular pet attire? Pumpkins, devils and hot dogs (NRF).
  • More than 35 million pounds of candy corn will be produced this year. That equates to nearly 9 billion pieces—enough to circle the moon nearly 21 times if laid end-to-end (National Confectioners Association).
  • Alcohol consumption is up about 20% on Halloween, which equates to about $735 million in economic impact for that day alone (24/7 Wall Street).
  • Halloween-related driving accounts for about $160 million in gasoline burned. (24/7 Wall Street).
  • Entertainment revenue from movies, books, comics, etc., is projected to be about $100 million. That doesn’t even take into consideration the fascination with zombies and vampires, which equates to another $15 billion in economic impact each year (24/7 Wall Street).

What About the Frankenstorm? 

Hurricane Sandy has put a lot of water in a lot of places and threatens Halloween night for nearly a quarter of the US population. Gov. Chris Christie has already promised New Jersey residents via Twitter that he will sign an executive order to postpone Halloween.

Other Northeastern towns and communities are either postponing parades and trick-or-treating or canceling events altogether. Big events in NYC have been shuffled around and will depend on the go-ahead from local authorities, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.

The economic impact of the Frankenstorm is expected to be in the range of $10 billion to $20 billion, according to CNN Money.

Regardless of the storm’s impact, the night promises to be a big one for millions of Americans. Have a safe and happy Halloween wherever you are!

Amanda Brandon
Spotfire Blogging Team

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A Data Analysis of Foreign Policy

Last Monday night, we witnessed the last of three presidential debates for the 2012 election. The topic was foreign policy and we thought it would be interesting to explore the data analytics of foreign policy in the aftermath of the final debate.

“Walmart Moms” Not Big on Foreign Policy

Let’s start with an interesting sentiment analysis gauged by ABC News. During the first 30 minutes of the debate, ABC’s Elizabeth Hartfield examined the sentiment for each candidate with a group of “Walmart Moms.”

The overall result?

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Data Analysis: Tracking Tornadoes, Terrorists and Bombs

Increasingly, federal agencies are tapping the power of big data and analytics to better perform a myriad of tasks, including predicting killer tornadoes, thwarting terrorist operations and disrupting the networks in Iraq and Afghanistan that build improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

weatherupdate Data Analysis: Tracking Tornadoes, Terrorists and BombsAs most of the East Coast hunkers down and braces for Hurricane Sandy, what better time to tell you how federal data scientists are using data analysis to track weather events, among other things.

For example, the National Weather Service is combining big data streaming in from its satellites with automated weather services to create models that are aimed at identifying potential tornadoes quickly enough so that the public can be warned.

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Data Discovery: Optimizing Customer Service

Customers share a great deal about themselves, including their needs, preferences, and behaviors, in their interactions with contact centers.

This provides opportunities for companies to use data analysis and data discovery to better understand the channels that different types of customers use for different types of interactions (e.g. voice, IVR, chat, email, mobile).

AudienceDiscoveryIcon 435fe80ce26a467b602bd17d1a40f5891 Data Discovery: Optimizing Customer Service As Molouk Y. Ba-lsa notes in a recent article, “Contact center operations need to be aligned to the overall vision of an organization, carefully taking into account the nature of the service offering and the needs of the target customers.”

Not only that, but the contact center should also be operated in a way that “dovetails” with the brand personality of the organization, Ba-lsa continues.

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Unstructured Data Analysis: 5 Steps to Avoid Drowning in Data

On average, companies are reporting more than a 40% annual growth in the data they use for analysis, according to a recent research report from Aberdeen Group.

help 150x150 Unstructured Data Analysis: 5 Steps to Avoid Drowning in DataMuch of this data explosion represents unstructured data that can be difficult to format and evaluate via data analysis.

This includes unstructured data such as social media posts, recorded call center interactions between customers and agents, health records, and the bodies of email messages.

However, there are steps that businesses can take to improve how they go about gathering data, integrating data from multiple sources, and using data analysis techniques to manage the data explosion sensibly, as Glenda Nevill notes in a recent blog post.

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Data Analysis: Explore New Territory (Part 2)

We’ve already discussed the dangers big data can create by luring organizations into complacency – organizations that only experiment with data that’s close at hand instead of venturing into the unknown and exploring new territory.

exploring 150x150 Data Analysis: Explore New Territory (Part 2)But the immense promise of using data analysis to uncover the secrets of big data is best suited to the types of companies that lean toward innovation, an area that can be challenging for companies struggling just to survive in the rocky economy and – as Harvard Business Review notes – the largest companies.

Large companies tend to just create operational efficiencies instead of experimenting with innovative new products, services or approaches. This is a result of the natural business life cycle, HBR notes.

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Data Analysis: Venture into the Unknown (Part 1)

The buzz surrounding the potential for big data to transform every industry from marketing to medicine has become almost deafening.

Many experts agree that the power of business analytics to transform the vast amounts of data streaming into companies is not being over hyped.

IntotheUnknown 150x150 Data Analysis: Venture into the Unknown (Part 1)For example, an article in Harvard Business Review declares that big data and data analysis could transform the way companies do business, “delivering the kind of performance gains last seen in the 1990s, when organizations redesigned their core processes.”

Companies that increasingly rely on data analysis to drive key decisions, will stand out from their competition, HBR notes.

But some industry observers have begun highlighting the hazards created by big data if not used to its full advantage.

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Data Discovery: Insights from the Human Face of Big Data

Only 13% of middle-aged women think better romance would improve their lives, compared to 27% of college-aged women who have the same notion. The middle-aged women would rather have better jobs that pay more.

That’s one of the insights that’s been generated by the data discovery project called The Human Face of Big Data, which has gathered 2.4 million answers – via a mobile app – to more than 60 different questions about human preferences posed in eight different languages.

facedata Data Discovery: Insights from the Human Face of Big DataThe project allows people to download an app to their smartphones to stream data – like the number of emails sent, location data and “answers about yourself, your family, trust, sleep, sex, dating, and dreams” – to photographer Rick Smolan from September through Nov. 20.

Smolan and his team of data scientists will interpret and analyze the data and report the results from the experiment during a media event.

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Using Data Analysis to Save Lives

For many businesses, corralling the insight buried deep in big data can mean retaining customers, adding new customers or boosting profits.

However, data analysis is also being tapped to ward off fatal fires and peek into a person’s blood stream – big data applications that have the potential to save lives.

Science Camera 1207061644201 Using Data Analysis to Save LivesWe’ve written about humanitarian agencies using big data and data analysis for the greater good in international disasters, but the City of New York is applying analytics at the local level to boost housing inspector efficiency and reduce the potential for fatal fires.

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Future Uses for Data Analysis and Location-based Data

Companies are increasingly using or exploring the potential of location-based data for providing new services or generating new applications for connecting with customers.

Many people are familiar with Starbucks’ use of location-based data to send customers offers when they’re close to Starbucks’ outlets.

location data Future Uses for Data Analysis and Location based DataNow, new applications are beginning to emerge. Take, for example, the app the City of Boston has developed that uses smartphone technology to collect geotagged vibrations that help the city determine where additional roadwork is needed.

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