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3294931832?profile=originalEarlier this week, Facebook announced that it would be scrapping its ecommerce program less than a year after it was started. “Facebook Gifts,” launched last September, was a program designed  to entice Facebook users to buy gifts for their friends.  At first glance, ending the program so quickly looks like an epic fail.

However, there is a possibility that it was a savvy move.

According to Facebook, their  sales data showed that 80% of purchases were for gift cards. That means they looked at their data, saw what their customers wanted to buy from them, and started focusing on that. At the same time, they unburdened themselves of the logistics of becoming either a gigantic affiliate network or ecommerce fulfillment center – neither of which is core to their mission. That makes backing off of ecommerce look like a smart move.

But what does this say about the larger relationship between ecommerce and social media?

When social media exploded onto the scene, many claimed “social commerce”

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We just finished up the research and reporting for this week's InformationWeek cover story 'Blinded by Big Data,' and JC Penny is one of the companies we talk about. Under CEO Ron Johnson they made a huge pivot away from their private label brands and traditional discounting to focus on a new vision. A lot of the rhetoric was based on trends and stats they continuously referenced when they were on the road pushing the new idea.

 

Unfortunately, the planned failed and the returning CEO has kept only a few of the ideas (like store-within-a-store) but has essentially reversed Johnson's pricing, private label, and ecommerce plans.  What makes this especially interesting for data analysis is that both have referenced the same data points as the rationale for their respective changes.

 

Two CEOs, two visions, and one set of data that seems to morph as needed. The InformationWeek cover story focuses on the concept of 'data governance,' which helps establish quality standards and norms that c

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3294932731?profile=RESIZE_320x320Facial detection software promises to shape the future of the marketing industry, but just what is all that data being used for?

Most people realize that once you step outside your home, you are being recorded on some camera, somewhere. But that's just the beginning of the story. Emerging technology is helping to turn cameras into intelligent sensors, ones that not only record you, but may know more about you than you know about yourself.

 

The vanguard of this technology set has already hit the market, starting with Cara, a facial detection software program that turns any web cam into a face detection system. IMRSV, the NYC-based company that just launched the program, says Cara uses algorithms to scan dozens of faces up to 25 feet away, and determine gender and age with up to 93 percent accuracy.

 

One of Cara’s first customers is Reebok. It has set up Cara on its shoe wall in the 5th Avenue store in New York City, gauging who’s sticking around and what's grabbing their attention. Data -

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3294931802?profile=RESIZE_480x480Today the US Department of Commerce reported that US non-ecommerce retail sales only grew 4% versus Q2 2012. While 4% growth is welcome news for the economy, that number masks the fact that, while ecommerce is still a small percentage of the retail total, it has grown faster than overall retail sales, jumping 18.4% over Q2 last year.

 

The official US Department of Commerce stats cite that ecommerce only makes up 5.8% of total retail sales.  We feel this is understated, because their figures include services and products - like gas - that require a physical presence to purchase.  They also don't factor in the influence of website visits on in store traffic.  If you factor out non-web goods and factor in influence, you're likely seeing 20-25% of sales influenced by online behavior.

 

And that's significant, because actual ecommerce sales  have grown faster than non-ecommerce sales for the past 10 years. The only time Q2 ecommerce growth dipped was in Q2 2009, at the height of the recession.

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The World is Your...Computer?

3294932354?profile=originalIt's coming. The day of working anywhere. Without a computer, tablet or even a mobile device. New technologies are popping up all the time, and one of the more interesting new ones is a projector that can turn any surface...a table, a wall, a couch, you name it...into a touchscreen.

WorldKit is developing a projector that works with a depth sensor to "use your whole world as a sort of gigantic tablet." This technology senses where your hands are on the projected surface so you can use it as you would any touchscreen, even creating your own controls, such as volume dials, sliders, and buttons. 

The technology is still in the development phase, but the thinking behind it and the possibilities for its use are incredible. Imagine creating your own customized "tablet" to do presentations with, to collaborate on, or to work at home using the surfaces around you. How cool is that?

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Once their product is ready, how is WorldKit going to get the word out online? That's Yeoman's work! G

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