July 23, 2016

Keeping a weather eye on the trending topics that matter

By Paul Laughlin

weather eyeThere is so much customer insight related content on social media & websites these days. From latest public research to ‘how to’ guides for that analytics software you’ve been considering, it’s possible to spend your whole day just reading. But with your own goals to focus on & with summer holidays depleting the size of your team, what is worthwhile. What should you at least keep a weather eye on?

Following on from our last post, with some recommended insight reading, here are some trending topics I recommend you follow.

The topics covered in this post should be viewed as complementing that previous post. The Storytelling, Data Visualisation, Mobile Research & Deep Learning (AI) topics covered in that post are still worth keeping a weather eye on too.

GDPR implications

I apologise in advance that this material will also stray into the topic of Brexit (one of those topics that gets much more media coverage than clear answers). However, with the clock ticking before GDPR comes into force & with our European trade meaning it still matters to UK businesses, it’s foolish to ignore. The general principles are now clear, even if the ICO’s interpretation in critical areas is still awaited. One example of a recent piece that helps leaders keep in mind what they need to consider, is this post from James Lawson in Database Marketing magazine:

Google Really Wants You To Know The Play Store Finally Got Fortnite * DBM.today – Daily Android Tech News

After many months of waffling, Epic Games has finally put Fortnite on Android. Google would be keen on maximizing the influx of battle royale gamers coming onto the platform, so it has distributed a push alert through the Play Store to notify people that the MMO is now available to download.

Worth being clearer on your responsibilities as a data processor, whether you will need a Data Protection Officer & how brave you feel with regards to “opt-ins”.

How to use R programming

If that data governance topic was a little dry to start this post, hopefully this one is a bit sexier. Many firms are interested in migrating to using R programming as their analytics software solution (gradually shifting from SAS & IBM). But, despite the multitude of articles on its potential or sharing of code snippets, there has been little revealed about how different companies are actually using this capability in the workplace. For that reason, I think this video from FiveThirtyEight, on using R within their data journalism workflow is instructive:

FiveThirtyEight’s data journalism workflow with R

FiveThirtyEight is a data journalism site that uses R extensively for charts, stories, and interactives. We’ve used R for stories covering: p-hacking in nutrition science; how Uber is affecting New York City taxis; workers in minimum-wage jobs; the frequency of terrorism in Europe; the pitfalls in political polling; and many, many more.

Hope that gave you some ideas, especially if you’ve already embarked on the adventure of installing R & recruiting data science graduates.

Personal Productivity

Amongst the leaders I coach, a couple of common challenges to personal productivity keep cropping up. Time Management + Prioritisation is one of those (or two if you prefer). This normally manifests itself through us exploring how the leader uses their time & discovering too much is taken up on lower priority activities. Two chief culprits are normally identified, meetings & emails. It’s tough to avoid the overload of meetings in much corporate life, but controlling the time drain of email addiction is more within your control.

In this recent podcast, Michael Hyatt shares his to 4 easy steps to ‘conquer your email inbox’:


Keeping it fresh

They say variety is the spice of life, so I hope that selection of 3 quite different sources to check out has been useful. A post to read, a video to watch & a podcast to listen to — that should keep you entertained while considering GDPR, use of R & your personal productivity. Hope you liked that return to one of our Pot Pourri style posts.

In fact, that is prompts one last tip that I would offer. Over these muggy summer days, when time in the office can drag as you sweater (depending how well your air conditioning is coping), try to keep things fresh with variety. I’ve found it amazing how much varying topics, media or location during a working day can keep me refreshed & focussed. So, breakdown your To Do List priorities into tasks you can compete within an hour each. Then book them in your calendar in a way that offers diversity. Perhaps it is reading/writing, followed by walking while you make some calls. Perhaps it is working on a presentation, followed by listening to a podcast or walking over to talk to your team.

Try to see the end of each hour of the working day as like a whistle calling you to ‘freshen it up’ & do something different. You may also be surprised how much that reinvigorates you. I’ve even got into using this simple app to prompt me on the hour:


‎While waxing nostalgic about my old digital watch, I remembered how much I loved having the passage of time marked by an hourly chime. But then I thought, why should all the chimes be the same? For your pleasure, a simple app that provides unique chimes on the hour, half hour, or quarter hour.

Happy summer days in the office. Hope you keep a weather eye on all the key trends raised in our recent posts & find a way to ‘keep it fresh’ that works for you.