HR and the Big Data Opportunity

Earlier this year I was involved in a conversation on LinkedIn about employee surveys. Someone was asking how to implement them and who they should use. My answer (which led me on a completely unexpected journey which I’ll come to in a minute)?

Don’t bother. No seriously, bear with me.

We live in a shifting world and at the core of that is social – or perhaps more appropriately – real time. The corporate world, having led the way for all of us – consumers and employees alike – when the internet dawned now finds itself lagging behind these two groups somewhat. And the HR function, due to a combination of fear and ignorance is sitting some way at the back of the proverbial class, either wringing its hands in nervous anticipation of change it doesn’t understand, or continuing to press on with traditional HR approaches in blissful ignorance of the shift in the landscape and the rather significant consequences that come with it.

The crux of my conversation on LinkedIn was that in this real time, online, socially connected and peer to peer driven environment, asking a set of fixed questions in a linear format, once a year (or even more frequently) is beginning to look clumsy, inaccurate and completely inappropriate. Not only that, from a big data perspective, these surveys present only 1 slice of the data sets we use or own which all currently co exist but are never considered as a whole.

This was brought home to me last year when I attended The Inspire Conference in London and saw Nick Halstead, CEO of DataSift talk about big data. (I recommend you watch the video its very good and a great insight into big data.) What really made me sit up and think was his reference to hedge funds using twitter sentiment to guide their investments. Yep, it turns out that the average sentiment of everyone on twitter correlates ahead of the stock market to an accuracy of 87%! And you were wondering about ROI?! (I have the research on this – if anyone wants it please contact me via this blog and I will send it to you.) So you see, take random or sets of unrelated data, and analyze it together in the right way and you get real insights. Cloud computing and the platforms that much of this social data sit on, in particular, are enabling this kind of analysis.

Back to my story. After my LinkedIn conversation I received a connection request from a very bright lady called Natasha Srulowitz, who was working with Canrock Ventures an early stage technology VC fund that incubates a number of start ups in this area. They already have products which focus on the external brand and customer including one called General Sentiment, but they were bringing the same approach to the internal organization. Next thing you know I’m signing off an NDA and having look under the hood of their latest product For obvious reasons I can’t go into detail here about the product and what I saw, but suffice to say its very interesting and this kind of analysis could be, as mentioned in an earlier post on this blog, the key to turning HR into the new cool.

This really confirmed my thinking that organizations need to start pooling their data sets, and in particular they really need to press the button on putting conversation back in the organization through conversational/social/collaboration technologies. And no, I’m not talking about share point or other existing enterprise knowledge management type infrastructures. I’m talking about social conversational platforms like yammer, Jive and others, and even opening up twitter use internally. Build joint customer and employee communities and ecosystems and start to look at the conversation.

HR really needs to get with this program. As a profession we are wasting time worrying about irrelevant detail around policy or control, or perpetuating old models of analysis that deliver nothing other than sanitized news that has no relevance to the employees whatsoever and that ultimately will not serve to increase the holy grail of engagement or improved performance.

If there are sharp suits in the City of London, betting hundreds of millions of pounds of fund money on the unfettered outpouring of our souls on twitter – our social conversations (which do indeed include what I had for breakfast) then I’m pretty sure there is gold buried deep in the conversation within the walls of our organization too. We are just looking to closely to see it.

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Karma411 Launches Crowdshare for YourCause: Inspire and Win $500 for Your Nonprofit

Karma411 launches Crowdshare for Your Cause giving nonprofits and supporters a platform togain awareness and a chance to win donations.

Jericho, NY, June 21, 2012 –(– Win up to a $500 donation for your nonprofit from Karma411 by simply sharing your inspirational message with the crowd. #crowdshare411

Karma411 launches Crowdshare for Your Cause giving nonprofits and supporters a platform to gain awareness and a chance to win donations. With terms like crowdfunding and crowdsourcing becoming the everyday vernacular, Karma411 is further encouraging the “crowd” spirit this summer, allowing nonprofits to capture the power of the crowd with crowdsharing. To participate, nonprofits and people simply craft a message about their cause that will inspire and inform others, then share it on Karma411’s Facebook and Twitter. Creativity is encouraged via video or images to ignite the sharing.

Crowdshare for Your Cause in Three Steps:
1. Visit Facebook or Twitter
2. Like or Follow Karma411
3. Post or tweet an inspirational message about your cause

Each month the Karma411 team will vote on the most inspirational message by one person to win a $100 donation to their cause in their name, and one nonprofit who will win a $500 donation from Karma411. Winners will be announced via Facebook and Twitter. Visit to learn more.

All donations must go to an IRS recognized 501(c) (3) Nonprofit Organization.

About Karma411Karma411 provides online social fundraising solutions that allow you to make it personal, sharing your story with your branding. Our technology allows you to leverage your supporters to build an online community, and give them a voice and the tools to crowdfund for your cause. To find out more please

For more information on the topic or to schedule an interview with Karma411CEO John Murcott, contact Malini Gujral: 917.719. 6449 or

Contact Information
Malini Gujral

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Digital Intelligence Is a Powerful Tool When Advertising Gaffes Rear Their Ugly Heads

Reebok dropped rapper Rick Ross’s song because it refers to drugging a woman and having sex without her knowledge.

Mountain Dew pulled a video created by rap artist Tyler, The Creator because it depicts a battered white waitress identifying her assailant from a lineup featuring black men and a goat.

Nike initiated a social media uproar by running an ad featuring Tiger Woods proclaiming, “Winning takes care of everything.”

In an effort to stand out and be remembered, brands and their advertising agencies walk a fine line. And sometimes, they cross it, veering into the edgy and outright offensive. The public outcry can be immediate and overwhelming in the digital age where everyone has the opportunity to voice an opinion. Brand executives aren’t going to base decisions on gut reactions to media headlines, so how should they formulate a response? Which analytical tools can help them make informed decisions?

Digital and social media analytics combined with sentiment technology is the answer.

GenSent Insights conducted an in-depth study leveraging General Sentiment’s proprietary natural language processing and text analytics technology. The study analyzed each brand’s online volume and sentiment score, which measures the tone surrounding a topic on an indexed scale that ranges from -100 to +100.

Reebok’s sentiment score began to fall on March 27, soon after its controversial commercial ran. Sentiment fell first on Twitter, dropping from +69 to -65 in just two days. News media sources followed suit a few days later, falling from +64 to -34 in six days. For the next two weeks, sentiment remained negative as women’s activist groups protested and Rick Ross issued half-hearted apologies. The real media storm did not hit until April 10, when Reebok finally acquiesced to the public outcry and terminated the relationship. Online mentions spiked to more than ten times the average on April 11, with Twitter peaking at more than 14,000 posts and bottoming out with a sentiment score of -75.

By April 24, Reebok’s sentiment had returned to +50 as the crisis began to fade. However, just a week later, Reebok’s CEO sent scores plummeting again when he criticized Ross’s advisors and a published photo of the two together fueled speculation about a reconciliation. With no further news or comments, Reebok’s sentiment gradually recovered, nearly reaching pre-controversy levels on May 7.

Mountain Dew contended with simultaneous issues in May. Its controversial commercial using a Lil Wayne song caused sentiment to drop to an average of -75 on May 2. News media sources reached a shockingly low score of -86. The volume of online mentions rose six times above the norm. Pepsi apologized and terminated its relationships with Lil Wayne and Tyler, The Creator and let the issue run its course. As a result, Mountain Dew’s sentiment returned to the positive range within two weeks.

Nike’s controversy had a relatively minimal effect on its brand. Its sentiment score fell slightly, dipping from +72 prior to the ad to +58 afterward. While online mentions rose during the period, the issue never dominated the conversation on any single day. Nike did not apologize and chose to defend the ad with a short statement. Its sentiment score more than recovered, reaching +76 exactly two weeks after the ad originally aired. In fact, Nike’s sentiment score was more significantly impacted when Nike-sponsored Olympian Oscar Pistorius was charged with the murder of his girlfriend. At the time, the company’s sentiment score fell to a low of +9.

What can digital analytics and sentiment technology teach us?
•Measuring the extent of the public response can help determine the best course of action to take: a proactive and aggressive response to get out ahead of an issue, a short and simple conciliatory apology or no response at all.
•Had Reebok listened to the online conversations surrounding its brand, it would have been able to react as soon as sentiment began to fall and potentially mitigate the severity of the controversy.
•Tracking conversations over time can indicate when it is safe to go back in the water. Once Nike addressed and resolved its issue, the public’s perception returned to normal fairly quickly. Other times, issues beyond a company’s control can delay a return to business as usual.
•Pepsi acted decisively in resolving its controversy and was rewarded accordingly. Prolonging an issue only delays the recovery of a brand’s reputation.
•Analyzing the source of the negative conversations, such as Twitter, news media, blogs or other social media sites, can direct tailored responses through the appropriate channel to reach the target audience.

Brands and their advertising agencies will always try to produce cutting-edge ads that will break through the clutter and truly stand out. Sometimes, they will succeed. Sometimes, they will cross a line. Digital analytics and sentiment technology can help brands make smart, timely decisions.
– See more at:

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Sales Incubator – Live in Program

Are you building a U.S. sales presence?

Thought Box is a collaborative incubator for technology companies. Members benefit from Thought Box’s close proximity to New York City, which is only 45 minutes away by train (train station is only 300 yards away); nearby health and fitness amenities, which includes a full-size indoor swimming pool and basketball court; inexpensive overhead; and a deep pool of exceptional sales talent. Additionally, our sales incubator offers:

  • Professional seminars and courses such as “Using Social Media to Sell”,
  • “What Makes a Good Drip Campaign?” and “Getting Free Press”
  • Personal desk space
  • Job fairs and networking events
  • Shared infrastructure (IT, human resources and finance)
  • “Shared” sales reps
  • Active mentoring, training and coaching from proven entrepreneurs and investors
  • Weekly sales book club with readings curated by successful executives

Click to learn more about what Canrock Sales University offers.
Jim Estill, Managing Partner at Canrock Ventures
Jim Estill founded EMJ Data in 1979 and grew the company to $350,000,000 in sales. Jim sold EMJ to SYNNEX in September 2004 and became CEO of SYNNEX Canada growing sales from $800,000,000 to $2 Billion in May 2009. Jim was one of the founding board members of RIM where he served for 13 years.

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Sales University at Thoughtbox

Join Canrock’s Sales University


Thought Box is a collaborative incubator for technology companies. Members benefit from Thought Box’s close proximity to New York City, which is only 45 minutes away by train (train station is only 300 yards away); nearby health and fitness amenities, which includes a full-size indoor swimming pool and basketball court; inexpensive overhead; and a deep pool of exceptional sales talent. See below for class offerings.

Monthly Sales Book Club
People read the same book and discuss the relative merits. The group writes an Amazon review. Each participant will be asked to do a presentation on the book. This is a learn by teaching and discussing event.

Bi-Weekly Seminars
Includes such topics as “Using Linkedin to Prospect”, “How to Get the Most out of”, “Using Social Media as a Sales Tool”, Emails that Sell”, “Negotiation for Sales”, “Enterprise selling”, “How to do a Drip Marketing Campaign”, “Opening the CEO Door”, “Network to Success”, “Writing Telemarketing Scripts that Sell”, “A-B Testing – Test First”, “Presentation Skills” etc.

Toastmasters at work
This program teaches public speaking. Most students complete this course in about 26 weeks but it can be spread out longer and students are welcome to attend to refresh anytime.

Monthly Sales Forums
In an intimate 8-12 person group, members share their sales stories and challenges. These meetings follow a structured format. Groups like this are more successful if people know each other well so there is an attendance requirement to be a member of one of these forums.

Sales mentoring
Members meet biweekly or monthly with their sales mentor to review their sales pipeline and progress. We attempt to match mentors with the appropriate students (as in someone who has the right background for the particular type of sale)

Marketing Plan reviews
We offer to review the marketing plans/materials of any company in the program.

Sales recruitment
We will have regular job fairs and keep a roster of sales people looking for positions. This service also give comfort to sales people working for startup companies. There is a high likelihood that a salesperson who is good and personable can easily find another position within the group should that need arise.

Resume writing, interview coaching and job search
We assist sales people with finding their next position.

Most of these programs as offered on “work friendly” hours (i.e starting at 6 PM or on weekends)
Cost is $119/month and includes access to all resources and events.
Contact: Jim Estill at 516-455-5216 or

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