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OzAnalytics
Australia
Analytic Entrepreneur
Interests: Analytics, Data, Semantic Analysis, Open Data, Startups
Recent Activity
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I'm not blogging as much as I used to as Doclens is taking up much of my time, and when it's not Doclens then it is my consulting activities which have now gone global. So the best way of keeping up with my comings and goings is to subscribe for free to Doclens. Despite this, I will blog every now and again and today is one of those days ... A couple of years ago, Bain published an infographic called 'The Who, Why And How Of Big Data'. The gist of the message being communicated was that Financial Services companies that spend big on big data were twice as likely to be outperforming their peers in just about every metric that matters: speed, quality, and financial return. My consulting activities and running Six Degrees of Data have thrown-up a lot more data on this and it has become pretty clear to me that the Bain infographic remains true - but the business case is even stronger today. Investing in big data and analytics returns a healthy 2 - 5 times. Of course, there is still one critical qualification to this: you've got to be in an organization that really 'gets' data and analytics. Brain dead companies defending their incumbent market share still waste huge amounts pretending to invest in data. Those few projects that they succeed at are still unlikely to be transformative. That's the sad truth and it is hard to conclude otherwise. Take a look at the many articles on Doclens for the stats to back this up. Here is the Bain infographic from 2013: You can read more of my original analysis on Doclens. Continue reading
Posted May 4, 2015 at Oz Analytics
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It's been sometime since my last blog entry. Apologies, but I have a good reason: I launched my beta website doclens.com. It's now a couple of months on and time to communicate what the experience has been like. First off, what is doclens? Our mission is to make data driven narratives by discovering insights from reports and articles.We do this by: Using the online research and opinion published by thought leaders such as consultancies, think tanks and academic experts. We estimate 50,000 – 100,000 items are published annually in our beta target market of analytics and big data people in the financial services industry. We automatically monitor this research as it is published. Our DocLens platform automatically reads, understands and analyses this research and links it to profiles of the people and organisations involved. We then curate the information and publish the best 1% to our website – making it possible for you to keep up with best practices, be the most informed person in your organisation, and make smarter decisions. All in just minutes of your time. We turn information overload into personal strategic advantage: Doclens is a lean startup. We have 4 people involved - with only one currently working full-time on the venture. We are also self funded. So resources are incredibly tight, but as the lean movement has taught us, it is amazing what can be achieved. So here is a summary of the first 8 weeks of Six Degrees of Data as a 'trading entity'. The launch has been a success. Being a data scientist, I measure success against a set of short-term targets we agreed on prior to launching. These are: 100+ subscribers by the end of 2014 5,000 article reads within 8 weeks of launch Average visit time > 2.5 minutes. I'm pleased to say that all 3 targets were exceeded. Whew ... What else can I say about the experience so far? Well here are some of the highlights, in no particular order of importance or time sequence: For 3 of the 8 weeks we conducted A/B tests using 4 social media networks to advertise, using a total of 14 different messages. Twitter has been the outstanding performer for us. That said, we have also been actively tweeting and posting about the content being published on doclens each day. Judging by the number of retweets, favourites, mentions and clicks we are getting, this is maybe even more effective than paid advertising. I'm not yet sure how I can test this in practice (given our resource and budget constraints). Our customers are of course central to everything we do and some of the organizations they represent are: There is no particular geographic concentration in our hundreds of users - at least nothing unusual that I can detect. The USA, Western Europe and Australia feature heavily, as does Scandinavia, New Zealand and Singapore. Our users come from over 80 countries now. 95% are data and analytics professionals. Good news as this is are target... Continue reading
Posted Jan 19, 2015 at Oz Analytics
From episode 10 of my Naked Analyst Channel on YouTube. I think I do - and it is the ‘appification’ of analytics. What I mean by this is the reduction of a complex analytic activity such as market segmentation, down to a single button on your computer interface. Very much like the Apps on your smartphone, tablet or increasingly your desktop. That’s what it looks like but the impacts are more profound. That’s because it makes it possible for analytics to be successfully done by people who may not understand how it works, but do understand the ‘why’ and ‘when’ they need to do it. For example, a marketer in a company can access more sophisticated views of their campaigns without the need of a specialist analyst. Appification extends the range of analytic things that a non-specialist can do. This appification is made possible because of three things that have emerged in recent years: The rapid increase in the number and sophistication of APIs (Application Programming Interface). The rise of open source analytic platforms like R (http://www.r-project.org). These platforms have created vast libraries of algorithms freely available to anyone who knows how to use the platform. The shear number of people and organisations involved in creating open source analytic platforms like R. The last enabler needs a little further explanation. R is a free software programming language and software environment for statistical computing and graphics. It contains thousands of packages (10,000?) specializing in topics like econometrics, data mining, spatial analysis, and bio-informatics. Nobody knows how many R users there are, but a reliable estimate (see http://spatial.ly/2013/06/r_activity/) puts it in the millions. Many thousands have helped R develop over the years. I think that this sort of large-scale self-organising open source effort is beginning to teach the world how to use analytic algorithms. The above is all supposition, but I can back this up with evidence. Here are 4 examples of algorithm markets - or at least they exhibit varying degrees of ‘algorithm marketness’. Dataxu - senses and reacts in real time to changing consumer behavior. Openness is at the technical core of DataXu. The DataXu platform is a flexible technology stack with open APIs that make it easy to integrate and extend functionality. algorithms.io - delivers machine learning for streaming data. The Algorithms.io cloud platform makes it easy to use machine learning algorithms to classify streaming data from connected devices. Turn the Internet of Things into the Internet of Action Snapanalytx - aim to provide predictive analytics for all and make them more accessible and affordable. Algorithmia - are building a community around state-of-the-art algorithm development, where users can create, share, and build, on other algorithms, and then instantly make them available as a web service. In conclusion, there is still one issue needing resolution before algorithm markets take-off: How will the world’s business people get data into and out of these algorithm apps? I’m not sure yet, but I think the answer will be more apps. Apps that themselves... Continue reading
Posted Oct 5, 2014 at Oz Analytics
The Naked analyst Episode 9 looks at the best places for analytic competitions. Here are my top 4 sites. They range from the the well known to some more specialist sites. There are 3 marketplaces I know of, and a 'world championship' currently running. Kaggle Kaggle is the world's largest community of data scientists. They compete with each other to solve complex data science problems, and the top competitors are invited to work on the most interesting and sensitive business problems from some of the world’s biggest companies through Masters competitions. Their most famous competition to date was run for netflix where a prize of $1 million was awarded. Details of the winning team and how they did it can be found here. Innocentive Claims to have a global network of millions of problem solvers, a proven challenge methodology, and cloud-based innovation management platform combine to help their clients transform their economics of innovation through rapid solution delivery and the development of sustainable open innovation programs. Clients have included Astra Zeneca, Booz Allen Hamilton, Cleveland Clinic, Eli Lilly & Company, NASA, Nature Publishing Group, Procter & Gamble, Scientific American, Syngenta, The Economist, Thomson Reuters, and the US Department of Defense. Topcoder Also claims to be the world’s largest Crowdsourcing Development, Design, and Data Science Platform. The [topcoder] community gathers the world’s experts in design, development and data science to work on interesting and challenging problems for fun and reward. Texata The Big Data Analytics World Championship is run by the Professional Services Champions League (PSCL) and involves two online qualification rounds and a Live World Finals event held in Texas, USA in November 2014. Participants from more than 100 countries will compete individually in two online qualification rounds. They also run other ‘world championships’ such as ModelOff (Financial Modeling World Championships) and LoyaltyGames (Loyalty and Gamification World Championships). My YouTube channel contains tips from a 25 year veteran of the analytic profession. Continue reading
Posted Sep 16, 2014 at Oz Analytics
The Naked analyst Episode 8 looks at the best sites to learn about the world of Big Data. Here are my top 6 sites. They range from the easily digestible to the totally immersable and possibly overwhelming. Dataversity (http://www.dataversity.net/category/data-topics/big-data/) daily updates of the latest Big Data News, Articles, & Education - not too overwhelming with 1 or 2 items each day. Planet big data (http://planetbigdata.com) is an aggregator of blogs about big data, Hadoop, and related topics. In terms of volume of news, it is a step up from Dataversity with up to half a dozen items daily. SmartData Collective (http://smartdatacollective.com/all/8731?ref=navbar) a commercially run and moderated business community for business intelligence, predictive analytics, and data professional bloggers. BigData Startups (http://www.bigdata-startups.com) is a European site that is making an effort to track the ‘market buzz’ - especially emerging companies. Hundreds of companies are profiles so it can be a bit overwhelming for those new to Big Data. Data Science Central (http://www.datasciencecentral.com) is a good online resource for big data practitioners and quality is maintained by content being actively moderated. This saves it from being overwhelmed by marketing crap. R bloggers (http://www.r-bloggers.com) is more for practitioner Analysts and may be overwhelming for those new to Big Data - but it is a fantastic resource for anyone using the R language to do real stuff. And besides, a list of Big Data sites just has to include one covering the R community because it is such an important open source movement. Don’t let anyone tell you that R is just a fringe technology. A huge list of organisations use it - from the biggest multinationals to the smallest startups. Finally, if you are using a particular tool or solution - then find a good source of information for that and get into the habit of checking those sites regularly. If you use all or some of the sites I have mentioned then you will quickly absorb a lot of new information about Big Data - but don’t forget to look at these sites critically as you’ll get a lot more of of them that way! My YouTube channel contains tips from a 25 year veteran of the analytic profession. Continue reading
Posted Aug 27, 2014 at Oz Analytics
What is a career in analytics? What sort of work is involved and what should you expect? Here are 4 things I think you can expect: Your work will be project based. To me, it's a warning sign if it isn't a project. Your employment status may be permanent, part time or contract. That's a separate issue You will spend most of your time translating business needs into analytic solutions The higher you get in your role, the more political you have to be Most people don't get what you do. You will need to balance educating them with simply advocating that they trust you based on your track record. Tips from a 25 year veteran of the analytic profession. Continue reading
Posted Aug 22, 2014 at Oz Analytics
Just published on my YouTube channel: What is a career in analytics? What's it like and what are the key features to expect? Here are 4 features I think you can expect: 1. You won't have just one career but several 2. Don't look to your employer to help too much. It's up to you 3. If you are not learning on the job AND having fun - leave 4. Learn or be replaced by cheaper alternatives, In the 2nd and concluding part of this discussion I will talk about what sort of work is involved and what you should expect as an analyst working in a commercial organisation. Tips from a 25 year veteran of the analytic profession. Continue reading
Posted Aug 18, 2014 at Oz Analytics
Just published on my YouTube channel: The Naked Analyst Episode 5 This video contains some advice on how to address Big Data opportunities. Believing vendor and pundit hype is not always healthy. Test their assertions and make use of your own analytic brain - it's good practice! Think also about the impact you can have on your colleagues when you build a solution using your current toolset. It may not be perfect, but if you can deliver a 70% solution for $0 then that's impressive. But don't get too confident - under promise and over deliver is always better than the other way around. Start with a small pilot or test to prove viability if you can. And just to make life difficult - there are a large number of solutions that are possible only with the new Big Data tools. Again, thinking for yourself and knowing who to trust is the best strategy of all. Tips from a 25 year veteran of the analytic profession. Continue reading
Posted Aug 14, 2014 at Oz Analytics
Just published on my YouTube channel: The Difference Between Analytics and Big Data (The Naked analyst Episode 4) Continue reading
Posted Aug 11, 2014 at Oz Analytics
'Getting down to brass tacks' is an American expression that means 'get to the important facts'. This is what I want to do in this post. There are two reasons for this. Firstly I just realized that I have now posted to this blog over 200 times. Secondly, I am about to graduate from the Founder Institute (FI). Both are milestones I want to celebrate by continuing on from my recent blog entry Helping Hands. In short I want to answer as directly (and as tactfully as I can) the question: How has the Founder Institute really helped me? On reflection, these are the key insights I have gained: Traction is not one of the important things to worry about. In fact, it is the only thing to worry about! This is especially true if you are seeking external investors. I also learnt that traction means as a minimum completing (and measuring) a: 1st month offering a free trial to customers 2nd month converting trial users to paying ones 3rd month measuring how paid users continue to use your product. Customers must be engaged. Even if you don't have a product to sell, it is vital that you engage with potential customers to gauge their reactions and understand their feedback. If you can, make this something you do every week, every day. Call 10 people/customers before 10 am each day is something I must aspire to do if I am to succeed. People will inspire you. Many really want to help you and will go out of their way to do so. It is a real pleasure to have discovered so many people that want to help me on my startup journey. Each week it is humbling to be reminded of this and it is an important factor behind keeping my spirits high. Disappointment. There will be many and the adage that it will take you 10 times longer and be 10 time harder to build a company than you think is true. You have to be tough and resilient to succeed. Even then the odds are stacked against you. I reckon that a founder of a high-tech startup has about a 1 in 100 chance of succeeding. I may be overly optimistic. Just Do It. Success is not only being smart and having a great idea. Yes, you've got to work harder than any corporate job, but more importantly, you have to set clear practical goals for yourself and your team. And these have to be extremely proactive and practical. Writing a report, or thinking about how to do something is no substitute for actually building a web page, or email/calling real people and achieving something concrete. None of the above is 100% of a surprise to me but what the FI has done is to drive home how vital each is. And maybe that is the most important lesson learnt so far: to rigorously focus on the customer, meet their needs. If you can do that - and... Continue reading
Posted Aug 9, 2014 at Oz Analytics
Continuing on my YouTube Channel covering everything you wanted to know about being an analyst, business analyst, data scientist, and any other data-using role in business today. Here is part 2 of my tips on how to land a job in analytics: Part 1 was published a few days ago here and you can subscribe to the channel here as well. As mentioned before, I've also put together a related playlist on YouTube of a few videos that include those made by others on similar topics that I have found on the net. 30 minutes of watching this whole list should give you some insight into how you can go about finding that first job. Good luck! Continue reading
Posted Aug 7, 2014 at Oz Analytics
I've just started a YouTube Channel covering everything you wanted to know about being an analyst, business analyst, data scientist, and any other data-using role in business today. I'm doing this because I want to give back a little to the analytic community that has given me such a great career. In short, each video will give you (hopefully useful) tips from a 25 year veteran of the analytic profession. My hope is that people will find it a useful way to spend a couple of minutes and that it will compliment this blog. I may live to regret the name 'The Naked Analyst' but hopefully most viewers will notice that I am, in fact, not broadcasting naked and will move on to more fertile pastures! I chose the name hoping that this will indicate my 'unaligned' status. Unaligned in that I am talking about analytics without any particular bias or influence from the myriad of vendors and consulting companies. So no hidden agendas and no marketing push to buy the lastest tool from a vendor promising to solve all of the problems in your organisation. Not that this ever happens ... Here are the first 2 videos. The first is a quick introduction to the channel: This second video is Part 1 of some tips for people who would like to get their first job as an analyst: I've also put together a related playlist on YouTube of a few videos that include those made by others on similar topics that I have found on the net. 30 minutes of watching this whole list should give you some insight into how you can go about finding that first job. Good luck! Continue reading
Posted Aug 6, 2014 at Oz Analytics
nanos gigantum humeris insidentes Regular readers already know the journey I am on with the founding of Six Degrees of Data and our work building a new way to read those documents that we should be reading but don't have the time for. As a part of this journey I have been completing the Founder Institute's 2014 program in Sydney. The reason for this post is to explain a little about why I decided to follow this program and what the reality has been. I'm still about 4 weeks away from completing the program, so I can still 'fail' and this should be thought of as an interim report. I will try to write again after the program ends. I may have a different message then. I chose the Founder Institute (FI) because research showed that it was the startup accelerator that had the following features I wanted: Internationally recognized and established Intensely practical and hands-on, i.e. you actually build your company during the program (as opposed to talking about building ... ) The wide range (and number) of mentors involved in the program - and more are accessible through the FI network It is a part-time program (so I could keep working) Extremely cheap (for the potenial value delivered) both in terms of $$$ and equity sharing. It's a bit complicated but the bottom line is that the founder(s) give up 3.5% of their equity Timing was good with a late May start date It was local (i.e. in Sydney). It may be that your needs are very different from mine, so the FI may not be as good a fit as it has been for me (so far). There are a lot of other programs out there so do your research - and I'm happy to talk to anyone considering their options. Drop me a line. The reality of actually doing the FI has, of course, been different - but not as different as I'd feared. On the whole the FI has lived up to expectations and this has been a very pleasant surprise for me. After all, teaching entrepreneurship is something a lot of people are very skeptical about. Put like that, I have to agree but I think this misses the point of the FI program. I agree that you can't teach entrepreneurship as such. It has to come from inside of you - and you have to want it bad because chances are success is going to take a lot more time than you imagine. Just speak to any seasoned entrepreneur if you doubt me. What you can do is accelerate the progress entrepreneurs are able to make. That's the true wonder of the FI and why it really is an accelerator. With less than a month till I complete the program, I already look back and can see that I am a lot further along than I would have been. This is partly because of my own endeavours. I have worked hard and the... Continue reading
Posted Jul 25, 2014 at Oz Analytics
Well I am and that's the whole reason I started Six Degrees of Data - so I really hope that people are overloaded ... Luckily, just about everyone I talk too agrees with me but I have now finally had the chance to do some original research into this assertion. But first a little context. I decided to invite 1,300 people on my LinkedIn network to answer a set of questions about their reading habits, needs and strategies. I quickly received over 120 completed responses and the results were (I think) very interesting. Detailed survey results appear below but the headlines are: Professionals are still reading a lot of documents with more than 40% reading 50 or more a week 87% are required to consume large amounts of information in order to be able to do their job well 65% can't read everything that they should Computers deliver the majority of these documents to 87% of us But 80% of us don't have any special software to help us read and understand 92% believe that intelligent summaries and analysis would help. Here are the answers to all 21 questions: If you would like to keep in touch as any further research we do is published or simply want to be kept up to date as we launch our first products, then go to our web site at www.6ddbridger.com or drop me a line at info@sixdegreesofdata.com and I will add you to our (no-spam) mailing list. Continue reading
Posted Jun 30, 2014 at Oz Analytics
As a part of our pivot to a desktop product we looked around at the options in Australia to grow our idea into a real business. After a month or two researching and asking the advice of a wide range of people, we settled on the Founder Institute (FI). The Founder Institute is the world’s largest entrepreneur training and startup launch program, helping aspiring founders across the globe build enduring technology companies. At its heart is a four-month, part-time program, where you “learn by doing” and launch a company through structured training courses, practical business-building assignments, and expert feedback. At the Sydney program there are over 40 mentors involved in the current program and the whole thing is being orchestrated by Benjamin Chong of both Right Click Capital and the Sydney Seed Fund. Lets just say that the man is a human dynamo and he brings an energy and intensity that is refreshing after the more staid world of corporate global media. The simple reason we chose the FI were that they seem to offer a very practical approach to accelerating high tech start-ups. So we applied and were (thankfully) accepted after passing a set of tests. Well it is now 6 weeks since we were accepted into the Sydney 2014 program. That's about the half-way mark and the pace has been hectic. But Six Degrees of Data is still in the program. Of the 28 founders who started, there are now only 11 left. The reasons for such a big withdrawal rate are: That's the way the program (and the real world) is structured. There are multiple hurdles that each founder has to overcome. All parts of the program must be completed on time and mentors must rate the work and idea as being good enough to continue. Some (many?) people are either not sufficiently prepared for the cut-throat environment at the FI. It's not at all unfriendly and I have seen an extraordinary amount of support offered by mentors and co-founders throughout the program. But it is emotionally 'intense' to say the least, and The program workload is a lot heavier than many expected. Perhaps heavier is not the right word. Personally challenging describes it better. I'm pretty happy to still be around as the FI is proving true to its word and it is directly helping to build Six Degrees of Data. I can highly recommend the program to anyone who is serious about getting out and building their own dream high tech start-up. It ain't peaceful, but boy it's fun! Continue reading
Posted Jun 26, 2014 at Oz Analytics
Pivot: (verb) turn on or as if on a pivot. In a startup it is a strategy for iteratively searching for a repeatable and scalable business model At christmas we reviewed our strategy based on 6 weeks of feedback from our early adopters. The decision was to pivot and change Bridger from a mobile solution to a desktop one. Another 6 weeks have passed and I have learnt a thing or two that I feel it is worth sharing. The good news is that there is good news. While pivoting is scary, we all feel that we have a better product now emerging. The consensus is that we are gaining: A product that is more accessible for our users (i.e. it's on the right platform) One that works with a single drag and drop movement Has some very cool new features Presents results more clearly. We think that we will resume beta testing in about 6 weeks time. So the pivot is looking to have taken less than 3 month's to achieve (assuming no hidden disasters). The mobile version of Bridger took about 18 months to develop from the prototype stage. So the pivot will take only a sixth of that time. Is that fast enough to be considered lean? No idea, it is what it is. Certainly we are continuing to operate on the whiff of an oily rag so any progress measured in weeks is a plus. At the start of this blog, I said that pivoting is scary because the lean books and websites 'pushing' pivots don't deal with the emotional investment you make in the original concept. It is your baby and as any parent will tell you, criticism of your child is hard to take and even harder to act on. Although at 6DD we are now all hard at work building the new desktop Bridger, there is also a feeling of of inertia that is still to be fully overcome. Maybe inertia is the wrong word. It's more like regaining momentum after stopping the original strategy and switching to the new. That's what I've learnt so far and I don't think we are unique in this. So if you are considering a pivot then I recommend that you spend a significant effort minimizing the emotional impact on yourself and your team. It is an intangible element that can suck the life out of your venture if you don't manage it well. After all, if the empirical evidence tells you to change tack, what other options do you have? Continue reading
Posted Feb 27, 2014 at Oz Analytics
It has been a hectic month since we launched Bridger. Hectic and exciting with some real highs and lows. This post is to give you a little insight into the life of a startup over our first month as a company with a real product. So what's happened and perhaps most importantly what's been learnt? The first bit of good news is that our users have found a number of our features very cool, and some unique. The consensus list of Bridger 'good stuff' (in no particular order) is: User selects their own documents Supports multiple document types - and PDF support is unique to Bridger Understands a wide range of subjects. An extensive number of semantic targets are identified giving a rich picture of the document contents The mark-up of detected targets in document summaries and the full text is very useful Our dynamically generated profiles are unique It's mobile It's multi-platform It's free - costs nothing and there are no ads So we are all over the moon with this initial feedback from our users. Unfortunately (and also inevitably) this is not the end of the story. There are also some issues. These include: Users are limited to selecting documents from Dropbox or webpage urls There are too many steps to get documents analysed Only short documents can be processed - some people want to process whole books It takes too long to get results - 10 seconds seems to be the limit Results have errors that make you doubt all results Smartphone screens are too small Some people don't understand what Bridger does A lot of users don't know that profiles are available The sixdegreesofdata URL is too long, and requiring user ids and passwords make accessing Bridger ATH (all too hard). A few things to take on the chin but OK, the team can take it but the lack of instant fame and fortune is disappointing ... Now some of these things are inherent in the nature of semantic analysis and linked open data. Others are 'fixable' through either the user experience (UX) or how we explain (market) Bridger. In a way, we planned for this and the lean principles have prepared us for an immediate pivot of Bridger to address a number of these issues. So stay tuned as we work on a radical redesign to the UX. Continue reading
Posted Dec 17, 2013 at Oz Analytics
We launch today version 1.0 of our new mobile web app. We're hoping to build a community of users that find Bridger a mind blowing new way to explore documents and web pages. If you are a student, a knowledge worker or anyone who wants to get to the nitty gritty quickly in documents, articles etc., Bridger will change forever the way you look at documents. It summarizes. Shows you who's who and what's what in Word, txt, PDF documents or webpages, in a few moments. It works on your iPhone, galaxy, iPad, android tablet - anywhere you have a connection to the net. Its easy to use, even my least techie friends have said that. Just go to our website http://www.sixdegreesofdata.com from your mobile device. The application is free. If you enjoy using it, tell your friends! Continue reading
Posted Nov 14, 2013 at Oz Analytics
Following lean principles, we are quickly drawing to a close our beta testing period. At Six Degrees Of Data we're all hoping that the world is ready for a radical new way to use documents and web pages. At least we won't die not knowing. A big thank you to all our testers who identified a number of bugs and suggested a number of future features. Your help has been invaluable and as promised we have listened to you. Bridger version 1.0 is coming later this week with the following requested enhancements: Summary texts and the full text original documents now include color-coded hyperlinks to all bridges. The links are to dynamically created profiles. This feature can also be switched on and off as you wish from within the screen. Help is now available within most Bridger screens. These include short instructional videos and step-by-step instructions to guide new users. We now have a YouTube Channel with a dozen or more videos to help you get the most out of Bridger. More videos are appearing each week. Easier navigation through further gesture support. Swipe left and right to move back and forward through most Bridger screens - or use the browser buttons. Your choice. Finally, and best of all, we have decided to keep Bridger 1.0 completely free for all users. So point your smartphone and tablet browser to www.sixdegreesofdata.com and see how Bridger can transform your documents. It's free to use and there is nothing to install. So it has been a busy couple of weeks. Until we release 1.0, there are new videos to check out. Of course, as you use Bridger in the coming days you will see the features mentioned above being introduced. Try them out for yourself and, as always, all feedback is welcome. Continue reading
Posted Nov 10, 2013 at Oz Analytics
One of the neat features of our new Bridger product is the way the text of your original document is enhanced with color-coded links to further information. As one of our testers recently said, "It's like you turn documents into Wikipedia articles!" - and that's true. But the story doesn't end there as the links are to dynamically created profiles. These profiles are unique to the context of your document. These profiles contain: A short text summary created from information outside of the document A picture fetched from the web In-context occurrences identified from within your document Links to places with relevant further information. Here's a short video that shows you how Bridger enhanced texts and profiles work: You can also check out our other videos on YouTube and Bridger is now in Public Beta so you can try it out for yourself. It's free to use and there is nothing to install. Continue reading
Posted Nov 6, 2013 at Oz Analytics
I recently blogged about blowing off beta testing as a stage of product development. I'm not sure all I said is valid but the first learnings from our beta users was right on the mark. The public beta we launched a couple of days ago is already paying dividends. No pivot yet but a key learning is that people are finding it difficult to understand what Bridger can do. I blamed the users but cooler heads have prevailed (luckily). And this applies to many/all of the screens. One of the team is familiar with Wix and he showed how they embed short help videos all over their site. This seems like a good solution. A pop-up screen with a 30 second video and some basic help text works well for them and as Pablo Picasso said "Good artists copy, great artists steal". So this is what we will do in the coming weeks before we launch Bridger 1.0. As a side note. Picasso also said "Computers are useless. They can only give you answers" so I'm not sure I should be quoting him. A little digging into Picasso's stealing quote also reveals that he even stole (and mangled) the quote. This time from a W. H. Davenport Adams who wrote in an article titled “Imitators and Plagiarists” published in The Gentleman’s Magazine in 1892: “That great poets imitate and improve, whereas small ones steal and spoil.” Let's just say I am learning from Wix and applying best practise ... Continue reading
Posted Oct 28, 2013 at Oz Analytics
A surprising (for me) outcome of our work creating Bridger has been how often I use it in conjunction with my social media interactions. I guess that I shouldn't be surprised as Bridger is a universal document and web content analyser and we want to have it play nice with as many file types, applications and platforms as is possible. This includes Google, Facebook, LinkedIn and the like. My use of Google+ has been growing over the last year and I now find myself relying on it to keep me informed in a number of areas - both professionally and privately. It's also our platform of choice to hold Six Degrees Of Data meetings and chats. So Google+ has ingratiated itself into my work habits and the following short video shows you how Bridger enhances the value of social media by analyzing the documents that your communities share in Google+: You can also check out our other videos on YouTube and Bridger is now in Public Beta so you can try it out for yourself. It's free to use and there is nothing to install. Continue reading
Posted Oct 27, 2013 at Oz Analytics
I'm very happy to announce that after a successful closed beta test of Bridger we are now opening the app to anyone that wants to use it. Our new web site is at www.sixdegreesofdata.com. What Does Bridger Do? It reads any document or web page you point it at, tells you what the document is about and automatically creates profiles of all the people, organizations, places, technologies and concepts involved. Bridger profiles are dynamically created using billions of facts from popular internet sites like Wikipedia, Freebase, The New York Times, The Guardian, MusicBrainz, Twitter, and Google. To Start Using Bridger Bridger is a smartphone optimised web browser application - not an app downloaded from the Apple or Android stores. Remember, it's free to use, there is nothing to install and access is instant when you register. Android and iOS ready! If you really want to, then it looks to us like it also works fine on your iPad or desktop running Chrome or Safari. But no guarantees. Try it and let us know what you think. Continue reading
Posted Oct 23, 2013 at Oz Analytics
Bridger is intended to be a universal document and web content analyser and we want to have it play nice with as many file types, applications and platforms as is possible. Of course, not all companies are as open as they perhaps could be so we do our best. We developed the Bridger user interface specifically for smartphones and it works well on Android and iOS iPhones. We also quickly discovered that it does a pretty good job on the iPad as well and we are also working on supporting desktops - although this may only be possible using Safari or Chrome at this stage. More news on this soon. This openness is possible for a little startup company like Six Degrees Of Data because we use a very agile set of technologies. These include HTML5, CSS 3.1, jQuery Mobile and others and we've tried to be as open as is possible. But this only takes us so far. Take off-line reading applications like Pocket, Readability and the like. Both are excellent apps that I use a lot on my desktop browser and smartphone. Like for millions of others, these apps have become embedded in my daily browsing habits. One problem however is that they really only delay the inevitable. If I'm going to get any value out of the documents I've saved, then I'm going have to read them. And this is where things fall down. I often never get around to reading this growing pile of stuff sitting waiting for me in Pocket and Readability. The unfortunate reality is that the virtual world mimics my physical world habits. Just like my bedside table is piled high with books and magazines I want to read - so are my virtual repositories: not just Pocket and Readability, but also email, Zinio, Flipboard, Kindle, iBooks, Instapaper and the like. Now there are precious few things that I am certain of in life but I know for a fact that I will never read everything that I have squirreled away in these apps! And that's the motivation behind Bridger. It Bridger continues to develop like I plan, then I can use it to extract the value trapped in these documents. But I digress - because there are speed bumps on my road to document nirvana. For example, Readability uses some url mapping tricks to do what it does and this currently stops us using Bridger to analyse readability documents. A pity, but we will keep persevering until all avenues are exhausted. Pocket, on the other hand has been easy to integrate into our work habits and the following short video shows you how Bridger can analyse all the documents saved in your Pocket app: Continue reading
Posted Oct 21, 2013 at Oz Analytics
At Six Degrees Of Data, the team and I have been struggling with a number of issues but always at or near the top of our list is ease-of-use. This is because what Bridger does is complex and difficult for many users to understand. We figure that explaining how we do semantic analysis is less important than making sure someone: Understands what we do and why It is as simple to use Bridger as it humanly possible. If we can do this then we have a chance of building a user base, then a company and perhaps even a viable revenue stream. Dare to dream. The scale of this challenge was bought home to me this morning when I received another Lean Startup newsletter by email. The topic was 'Rapid Iteration for Mobile App Development' by Sarah Milstein. Given the stage Bridger is at it sounded interesting so I read on. The newsletter proved to be an interview with Mariya Yao, the founder and Creative Director at Xanadu. Mariya had some interesting things to say about customer engagement but I've got to be honest - some of what she says is a frightening. Here's what she says about what's needed to succeed: "There are two questions that I recommend startups use to differentiate between being liked versus being loved. First is the question Sean Ellis popularized, where you ask your users, "How disappointed would you be if you could no longer use our product?" and have them answer with either, "Very Disappointed," "Somewhat Disappointed," "Not Disappointed," or "I no longer use the product." Sean did research across hundreds of startups and discovered that companies that had fewer than 40% of their users answer "Very Disappointed" tended to struggle with building a successful and sustainable business. The second question is known as the Net Promoter Score, where you ask your users, "On a scale from 0-10, how likely are you to recommend us to your friends?" You mark those who answer 0-6 as Detractors, 9-10 as Promoters, and 7-8 as Neutral. Your Net Promoter score is the percent of Promoters minus your percentage of Detractors, which should be a number between -100 and +100. The world's most successful companies typically score around +50, and top performing tech companies like Apple, Google, and Amazon regularly score over +70." Wow - that's quite a hurdle to jump. Note - the Sean Ellis referred to in the quote is, I think, a long time blogger on the topic of startups and marketing. You can find his blog here. He says that he is taking a break from blogging but past entries are well worth reading. So back to being scared. Being an analyst at heart, I want to be able to measure the level of love and the net promoter score for my app. It is still early days for Bridger but if it is possible I want us to bake into the app a way of measuring these things. As I read on,... Continue reading
Posted Oct 19, 2013 at Oz Analytics