Got an iPad? Tried Flipboard yet?
If not, why not?
For a product that launched roughly two days ago, it's achieved an amazing amount of buzz. And, for good reason - it's made real the whole concept of real-time crowdsourced material. For those who haven't had a play yet, it's worth watching the video; this is one of those cases where a picture is worth more than a thousand words. In a nutshell, those diligently working servers and people at Flipboard are trawling Twitter in relatively real-time manner, streaming and formatting content into a magazine-styled layout (complete with pictures and callouts) you can browse and read.
Everyone has their preferred Twitter client, but what Flipboard does with Twitter is unique - it turns your feed into something that's enjoyably consumable. It really is like sitting back and reading a magazine, one that's personalised for you.
Despite being limited to social media specifically and being relatively simplistic in how it processes information at the moment, the general reaction online only reinforces how interested we all are in better understanding the information that's available to us. Effectively dealing with large amounts of information comes down to three key elements:
- Being able to distill it into something that's understandable
- Presenting it in a format that's comprehensible
- Making it personally relevant
Analytics is, fundamentally, the engine which makes this possible. One of the best examples I've seen of using textual information for insight is the Hong Kong Efficiency Unit - what they've done is nothing less than stunning. Providing the single point of contact on behalf of many government departments, they deal with inbound enquiries about everything from falling trees to employment to postage! In dealing with well over 2 million calls a year, it's a fairly serious challenge to get some level of visibility arond what everyone's enquiring about. And, for policy-makers, it's a very real one - working out where to deploy resources is a critical decision.
For the Hong Kong Efficiency Unit, distilling the information meant understanding dominant concepts by a variety of geographic and policy classifications through a variety of advanced analytics techniques. Presenting it in a comprehensible format meant making highlighting variations in trends and providing colour-coded cues to help track important concepts. And, making it personally relevant meant automatically classifying all their inbound information to make it easier for policy-makers to find the information that was interesting to them.
And, fundamentally, that's why advanced analytics is so important. It's one thing to read through a single RSS feed, it's another to have a few million customers all desperately trying to talk to you through your call-centre, by email, over Twitter, on Facebook, and through a multitude of other online forums and social media sites. Simply put, while our technology has the capacity to scale, we don't.
Highlighting the interesting, flagging the different, and predicting the future is where analytics shines. It makes the world simpler, something that's important.
So, if you're not taking advantage of it, it's worth asking - why not?