My NYC Camp for Drupal Experience

On Friday I attended the NYC Camp for Drupal at NYU presented by the Drupal Association. I returned again Monday to take part in the Business Summit session. Overall it was a first, great experience for me in a public Drupal Community event.

I hadn’t intended to participate beyond Friday, but in speaking to Forest Mars of Elephant Ventures, I learned that the Summit sessions were more about the business of using Drupal instead of back-end how-to and that was of great interest to me, so I came back for a second day (it was day four for those who attended all sessions) and I’m sure glad I did.

So let me back-up and provide some perspective. In December of 2011, I was able to make the internal case to adopt Drupal for the Medical Business of the Olympus Corporation of the Americas. I was the project lead and work in the Marketing Services group of the Medical Systems Group. I was responsible to manage the project forward and work with IT, internal creative, marketing, and vendors.

The US site is currently in RA review and I’m expecting it to go live very soon.

In addition to our internal partners and external vendors, we also contracted with Acquia for support services.

So, while I’ve been engaged in this project for about 18 months and understand Drupal conceptually, I’m not a front-end themer, don’t know PHP, and am definitely not able to set up a server architecture.

Given that, on Thursday at about 5:15 I got a bit nervous that maybe attending NYC Camp was over my head, I might need a local install on my PC, and as a result I called my TAM (technical account manager) at Acquia.

Great guy Scott is (I had rescheduled our Friday meeting and missed three attempts to catch-up earlier that day), he quickly got me what I needed. He directed me to Acquia Dev Desktop and within five minutes I had a local version of Drupal installed and ready to go on my PC.

The next morning I arrived at NYU for the Friday sessions with a colleague, my boss, whom I wanted to learn more about Drupal. There was a beginner track and we camped out in that room all day.

Not once during the day, did I have anything but positive interactions despite the fact that opinions weren’t always the same. I never got a sense of feeling inferior for lack of experience or an inability to code. We had really engaging and valuable sessions.

On Monday, the experience came together for me during several discussions both in the sessions and on the side.

Drupal is about community. The community builds, maintains, advocates, cautions, and develops the platform.

Given my ‘concern’ about not being an expert enough Drupalist, I was surprised not by the fact that I never felt like an outsider, but instead that there were a good number of people at the conference with little to no Drupal experience who were there for the sole reason of learning more about both the platform and the community.

There were also people (not many), who openly admitted they were Drupal skeptics and frankly wanted to come and be able to ask questions.

Over 800 people were registered to take part in the NYC Camp and in speaking with people I found some of the best ways I could contribute back now is to explain why we chose Drupal as a platform, how we plan to build out our installation, and making myself available to those who are considering a switch to Drupal from another platform.

Michael Meyers of Acquia opened Monday’s session addressing his role and how companies are collaborating on Drupal development even if they are in the same industry sector. I asked specifically if there were concerns about companies in the same sector working together on this type of project if they were competitors in sales.

His distinction was that so long as it was not a competitive advantage or in some way proprietary, that couldn’t be shared, then it was in everyone’s best interest to work together, develop, save costs, and raise the level of the platform.

I’ve long been an advocate of openness and collaboration, so his remarks resonated with me. In May I presented a case study on our website project at the Digital Marketing for Medical Devices West and am looking forward to doing more of this moving forward and writing more about it.


Does Office Work Cause Physical Harm?

Previously I mentioned the fact that I try to get out to walk each day during lunch as a refresh during the workday.

I also noted that I had started to use the Noom Walk app for Android, to see how much daily activity I actually engage in.

While on vacation, I came across this article on Scientific American, “Why do I think Better After I Exercise?

I agree with the article, I definitely feel better and have a clear head after walking, but what I found is that while I am at work I do a dis-service to my body.

For the past two weeks I was feeling really good, humidity was low, school was out so no kids to get up, ready and to school, and my wife and I took advantage by getting a walk in before work, then I took one at lunch and was averaging between 8,000 and 10,000 steps per day when I remembered to carry my personal phone, which had the app running.

Last week I worked on Monday and took the rest of the week off, we enjoyed some time in Washington, DC and given the walking there hit 10,000 – 13,000 steps per day.

Then this week I was in on Monday and Tuesday and barely hit 3,000 per day, desk jockey I am, coupled with really high humidity that resulted in my not taking a mid-day or morning walk.

This morning, day off, I headed out to the dog park at 6:00 a.m. and already have nearly 1,500 steps by 7:30.

I’m not sure what I can do to improve the time I am moving and reduce the time I’m sitting each day (Google search, “Physical Harm from Sitting” for all the articles), but Noom Walk is definitely showing me what a dramatic difference a day in the office vs. one away makes.


Me vs. the Marketer In Me

I don’t think anyone missed the revelation and fall-out regarding PRISM and its data review/collection efforts.

And while I don’t believe breaking the law is acceptable so long as good outcomes result, I’m surprised that more people aren’t as upset with so many other data collections that occur regularly and impact our lives.

Recently, The Verge noted that Acxiom, according to Forbes, will soon let individuals view/review the data collected on them, most of it any rate.

Also from The Verge was a story on Palantir, which helps CA police scan license plates in an attempt to identify stolen vehicles in an automated fashion, but which also records all plates the sensors on the cruiser encounters and stores them in a database.

When you combine all of this with loyalty programs, bank and credit card, online cookies, surveillance cameras (store and/or parking lot and roadways) there is no such thing as privacy.

Yet, I want a bit as an individual. Companies are being built around creating profiles of consumers on a named basis. While as a marketer I want information in order to segment and target my messaging so it is relevant, I also want to maintain some personal privacy.

I think it is time that we approach individual’s data in the same manner as we do healthcare and pass a HIPAA for the consumer. If individuals want to get paid for making data available to 3rd parties, fine, but it ought to be an option.

How to Lose a Lifetime Customer in One Interaction

Author’s Note: I wrote this just after Memorial Day, and held it nearly a month to be sure I wasn’t overly emotional, or still ‘angry’. I re-read it, slightly edited, and feel it is a fair assessment of what took place and what could have taken place.

I couldn’t total the amount of money I’ve spent at Home Depot (the same store) over the past fourteen years since we moved into our home. I’ve fully remodeled a bathroom, built a sundeck with fencing around our pool (which needs to be replaced), placed laminate flooring in the downstairs, regularly stain all our outdoor fences, deck, latices, and I enjoy woodworking projects.

All of the above were done with nearly 100% purchase of materials at Home Depot, despite having local hardware stores, Tractor Supply, and Lowe’s either closer or roughly the same distance away as Home Depot.

So my wife went there with three gift cards last week and one was deemed to be inactive. On Monday, I took the same card with a gift receipt back to the store to see if I could get it activated.

From the perspective of doing things right, it would/should have been very easy for Home Depot to see that I was a regular and dedicated customer, but they didn’t.

At any point during our one hour conversation at the customer service area, they could have simply said, “We’re sorry that happened to your wife, why don’t we activate your card for you now, and in the future please be sure to ask for the receipt confirming activation as a precaution,” but they chose not too.

The exchange could have been completed in ten minutes or less and I would have been bragging about what great service I received and how awesome they are.

Instead, I’m not spending another dime at Home Depot and I’m letting my friends know about the horrible experience I had, not to mention I’m using them as an example of what not to do to your customers on this blog (shared with Twitter and LinkedIn).

So is maintaining a good customer and turning them into a social advocate worth $50? Or is it better to “save” $50, lose a good customer, and have them speak out about their bad experience to their social network?

I think the answer is pretty simple in theory, but in practice it was the complete opposite.

Here is what happened.

Last week my wife went to Home Depot to purchase flowers. She took three of my Home Depot gift cards. I had several more as I asked for them at both Christmas and my birthday. Two went through fine, but she was told the other, for $50, had not been activated.

When she got home she contacted customer service and was told she had to get the receipt for the card. This posed a bit of a problem as it could have been from any one of several people, who could have purchased them as far as six months earlier.

She got one from her parents, who gave me a card for my birthday earlier this month.

On Monday I took the receipt and card with me when I went to pick up some other items. I went to Customer Service and a man handed it off to a woman. A little while later another woman came over to help the first woman. A third woman came over and told me they couldn’t help me. I’d have to go to the store where the card was purchased.

I asked them how would I know where the card was purchased?

I had to ask the person who gave it to me. I explained that it could be multiple people, who could have bought it as much as six months ago.

I was told it wasn’t their problem, they had nothing to do with this card because it wasn’t purchased at Home Depot.

I suggested they did have something to do with it, there name and brand was all over it, and I can use it to purchase items in their store.

I asked what I could do to get the card activated. I was told I could give them $50.00.

I asked if they thought it made good financial sense to pay $100 for a $50 gift card?

I was then told I wouldn’t be paying $100, I’d only being paying $50, because this card as it is, isn’t worth anything.

I noted that I really believe this was probably a cashier error where the card was purchased, but not activated as I don’t think my family and friends would be stealing Home Depot cards in order to give me gifts on special occasions.

I suggested that they activate the card, honor the purchase, and indicate in their CRM what they had done, so that if it turned out I was trying to steal from them they would see a pattern in the CRM.

They looked at me like I was nuts. The woman grabbed a Home Depot card and said if I give this to you, it is worth nothing. If you give it to me and it isn’t activated, it is worth nothing? Why would I put $50 on it, if it is worth nothing?

I asked if there was a manager available that I could speak with.

The manager came over, stood tall, arms crossed. I explained the situation, multiple cards, multiple people is there anything you can do. No.

I asked about the CRM and he reiterated why would they give me $50 for nothing.

I asked what he would do if he was me?

I’d go to the store where it was purchased.

How can I determine where it was purchased?

Get a receipt.

I brought a receipt, noted I had a receipt, but how do I know this receipt goes with this card?

He noted what I gave them was not a receipt.

I noted it was a receipt.

He said no, that is a gift receipt, it tells me nothing.

Of course it is a gift receipt, it was for a gift card that I received as a gift.

You have to go to the store where you bought it, there is nothing we can do.

Finally, I said can you cash in these gift cards that have been activated (two more $50 cards one with full amount and another with $7 left on it).

No they don’t work that way.

With that I picked up cards and left. I got what I needed, used my gift card, and while I will come back until the cards I have are all used up, I will never go to Home Depot again, nor will speak positively of the store or its approach to customer service.

Amazingly, not a single time from the initial explanation, did I hear, “I’m sorry”, “I know this is frustrating”, “you’re right, but…”, I would expect more from any Customer Service department.

I read articles all the time about Customer Service, and I’m not one who believes the customer is always right, but so many fundamentals fell by the wayside here it amazes me.

Some form of acknowledgement that this is a frustrating situation and giving an apology would have gone a long way.

Looking at the system, seeing that I was a regular customer, and being able to make an exception, would have been a big win for all parties.

Plus, at the worst, honoring the card was a one time activity, if it happened again they could have said, we’re sorry, but we see that this has happened previously and as a courtesy we activated the card, but we also told you to be very careful about getting the receipt and ensuring the card had been properly activated.

In closing, so what is cost of acquiring a new customer to replace me?

What is potential loss of revenue of my no longer spending any money at the store?

What is the potential loss of revenue of any of my friends opting out of buying gift cards or visiting Home Depot?

In total, are we talking more or less than $50.00?

This was such a short sighted and failed approach to customer service.

Thoughts While Walking

I maintain a blog for a friend and when updating his WordPress, realized that I  haven’t been posting on this blog as often as I’d like, so I decided to think about a topic or two on my lunchtime walk and blog about it when I get back to my desk.

Here goes:

The Quantified Self

Lately I’ve been using Map My Tracks on the iPhone to keep track of my effort, and it definitely is helpful in encouraging you to do a little more.

The quantified self is something I’ve become increasingly interested in and I guess this is literally a first step toward it.

Before my walk today I came across a story on Noom Walk for Android. I downloaded it, and used it for the first time. Noom Walk is a free app that acts as a pedometer, runs in the background, and doesn’t use GPS so it is more energy efficient than some other apps. I was curious how accurate it is and it showed me having taken 4100 steps over 1.68 miles (rule of thumb is just over 2000 for a mile). Will have to keep testing for accuracy.

I think the competitor in me comes out when seeing the aggregated results – one more tenth of a mile and I’ll have ten for the week, kind of thing. To date I’ve only been tracking the walks I take for exercise, but not recording the steps I take throughout the course of a normal day, that is where Noom Walk will come in.

If I stick with it, I think I’ll probably try Fitbit Flex. I looked at a few bands and devices and based on reviews, costs, and features, this one seems pretty solid.

Thinking About Walden

Last Saturday my daughter was in a chess tournament held at a local park. I brought my mi-fi, phone, and tablet, but apparently the park was in a dead-zone and I couldn’t get a steady connection.

I decided to read, opened my Kindle App, and scrolled through books I had pulled from the Guttenberg Project. Since I was at a park with a nature trail, I decided to read Thoreau’s Walden. As I read I found it a bit ironic that I was using an iPad, but it didn’t stop me. I got about halfway through Economy and took a walk along the nature trail.

I walked deeper into the trail, the background noise increased as the park bordered the Northeast Extension of the PA Turnpike. As I emerged from the woods the trail cornered at a billboard with explicit instructions not to climb on it or be severely fined. I turned around and walked back the way I came wondering what Thorough would have thought of this.

While walking today, as the sun shone and I began to sweat, I again thought of Thoreau’s writing about needs and that we as an entity require heat, which is maintained through food and clothing.

I was thinking how I’ve always felt better after exercising, more refreshed, more positive. We see the physical by-product of exercise in sweat, but we can only feel the mental benefit afterward if we’ve not distracted ourself while doing so.

It occurred to me that not enough of us disconnect during the day. Even while exercising, people are on the phone (I do start each walk by calling my wife to see how her day is going), listening to music, or doing any number of things that our devices allow as we walk, run, or bike (stationary hopefully).

I also realized, most people probably don’t even think about. Walden did. He not only thought deeply about it, but disconnected and truly considered life.

He stated that we have philosophy teachers, but have no philosophers.

Walden was first published in 1854, but this statement still stands.

Instead of considering life we argue morals in the arena of public opinion using 30 second sound-bites.

Connect and Disconnect

So while my two topics seem at odds with one another, I do think they are complimentary. Leverage technology to encourage good health and disconnect from your device distractions while performing physical tasks and allow your thoughts to drift and your mind to refresh. You may even want to consider life, the universe, everything!

IBM Business Analytics and Optimization Roadshow

On Tuesday I attended the IBM Business Analytics & Optimization Roadshow in Conshohocken presented by Micro Strategies.

Opening the event was Dr. Martin Fleming, Chief Economist and Vice President, Business Performance Services.

He spoke about transformation in a global economy and identified five periods in our history and how each has three distinct phases: install, crisis, and maturity. The periods were marked by the Industrial Revolution, Steam and Rail, Steel and Electric, Oil and Automobile, and Information and Telecommunications.

He further noted that the credit crisis was the crisis for the Information period and once we move out of the crisis we will see the space mature.

Dr. Fleming then addressed various global regions stating that Asian economies are on a path to stronger growth, while the Euro zone has had six straight quarters of contraction going into 7th with 50% plus youth unemployment.

For the US, he noted that the debt levels are coming down, consumers continue to spend despite the tax increase, but business remains more conservative.

He concluded by saying we fixed the short and medium finance issues, and we are now poised to take advantage of connecting digital with physical in moving ahead the economy.

We are also seeing as the economy recovers, the replacement of old infrastructure with new infrastructure that incorporates sensors and technology unlike the old. During the Q & A he explained that this integration is what will make the world a “smarter planet”.

This tie-in made sense, but I wish he would have noted it from the beginning.

Scott Sampson, Director, Information Management, then presented, “Harness the Power of Big Data”.

He began by noting that information management is software and then explained  “Smarter Planet” as being IBM’s strategy/approach to business.

He stated that we are living in a world where empowered consumers have great expectations. It is a hyper-connected world. We are seeing increased complexity, the emergence of big data analytics, and everyone is being forced to do more with less.

An IBM CEO study indicated that technology was 6th most concerning issue in 2004, but rose to the top spot in the latest survey from 2012.

He also stated that data rates will grow 40% year to year, while operational expenses are getting squeezed, and capital has remained steady.

Sampson then delved into the questions, “What is big data?” and “How do I deal with this in an economical manner and gain insight?”

“Trying to do everything in one solution doesn’t work well”, he said using the example of a houseboat being neither a great house or boat.

An MIT study shows organizations that see analytics as a competitive advantage is growing rapidly.

There are four core types of data: transactional and application data; machine data; social data; and enterprise content.

Why is big data tough?

  1. There are low numbers of data scientists,
  2. Complexity of solutions (economy of getting it done)
  3. Big data underpinned by data integration

Must have a solid business case to engage a big data project.

How does IBM look at data:

  • Volume, amount OD data and users
  • Velocity, data in motion
  • Variety, structured, unstructured, text, multimedia
  • Veracity, data in doubt, is data credible

Big data platform

  • Open source leveraged and extended
  • Integrate back end data
  • Platform has to grow
  • Industry standards emerging

Don’t think of a big data platform as a single product, but instead a set of capabilities

Analytics is mostly reactive (looking back) 80% vs. predictive 20% (looking forward). Most don’t begin looking forward until they have mastered looking back.

Scott Parker, WW Business Solutions Consultant, presented “Binoculars into Big Data”.

IBM purchased the search engine Vivisimo in 2012 and renamed it Infosphere Data Explorer. Early on I had used Vivisimo very regularly and really liked the way it grouped search results, so hearing it was a part of IBM’s solutions intrigued me.

Parker noted that there were typically three main discussions when engaging a Big Data project: Business discussion, Technical discussion, and another Business discussion where goal is to quantify a solution.

Getting started is all about visibility, you want to see what you have, to gain insight.

He went on to identify 5 key use cases:

  • Big data exploration
  • Enhanced 360 view
  • Security/intelligence extension
  • Operations analysis
  • Data warehouse augmentation

He emphasized the need to take a phased approach. You want to start by first understanding your data and then leverage it.

Infosphere Data Explorer indexes data like the search engine it is. Security, scalability and relevancy are key attributes of the product.

You also have to consider navigation and discovery, what you have and how you get to it.

Some examples of data types within the enterprise you can connect to:

  • Relational data
  • File systems
  • Content management
  • Email
  • PLM
  • Supply chain
  • ERP
  • RSS feeds
  • Cloud
  • Custom sources

The solution also has social features to allow users to like, tag, and share. While this may not on the surface seem important, consider the massive task of meta-tagging all of your corporate data and content. Now consider each time any employee interacts with a piece of content, image asset, data, etc., they can add context and assign value, which will be indexed and used in future search results.

The 360 view is basically a CRM giving info about customer interactions.

The search function is fed by text relationships and meta data to increase relevancy.

It’s about getting the right info in front of end user regardless of where your data and content is stored, instead of trying to move all of your data and content into one centralized location in order to then search it.

The solutions can act as an Intranet or customer portal because of the use of  rights management.

How do you pull all this data together? You have to be ubiquitous, because your end users don’t want to be logging in and out of different systems, so the single portal needs connectors to all of the different sources.

A pre-configured Connector library includes SAP, Share Point, email, and many other enterprise standards.

A users portal, or dashboard, knows the user by role/position, so it is configured based on that, plus it knows your activity history, so it also leverages that to put the most relevant analytics and content front and center.

Identify challenges and get insights into hands of people who can make them actionable (sales, service, marketing).

Discover and navigate then analyze and visualize.

Sahil Kedar, Technical Consultant, presented, “Find the Future in Hidden Data”.

Kedar began by noting that analytics provides $10.66 return on each dollar spent.

75 years ago it was easy to know your customer, think corner market, hyper-local, face-to-face interactions on a regular and consistent basis.

Today you have to determine which customers are likely to leave or cost you money?

He spoke of the need to examine customers networks and connections to determine related customers, because you want to ensure everyone in network remains a customer and hopefully an advocate of your product/service/company.

Location based data is next big thing, he stated, and then noted it has been the next big thing for several years, so he is really hoping it happens soon.

He then addressed the custom IBM PureData Platform and provided a more technical explanation of how the box works.

My last note from his presentation was the fact that data is not disposable, it may not yield result today, but it could tomorrow. We have the storage capacity, processing speeds, and search capabilities to handle large volumes of data, so there is no need to discard any of it.


While this was clearly an opportunity for IBM to showcase their solutions around Big Data and Analytics, there are many providers out there.

Having said that, I am very interested in learning more about the InfoSphere Data Explorer and how we might be able to leverage it within our company.

My next step is to reach out to internal stakeholders and begin having discussions around painpoints and unmet needs. With that we can begin to see how these solutions could be employed and then clearly, do we have resource,  budget, and approval, to implement.

Managing a Global Online Presence by Lionbridge

On Monday I watched a webinar sponsored by Lionbridge titled, “Managing a Global Online Presence.”

The moderator, Kathleen Bernstein, Marketing Services, Lionbridge Life Sciences, is a business acquaintance, from my days with HMC Council and MMA and hers as founding partner and president of Seidler Bernstein, a healthcare marketing communications firm focused on medical device and diagnostic markets.

Joining Kathleen, were Kristina Isakovich, Founder and CEO of Strategic Choices and Ray Goforth, Global Digital Strategy Manager, St. Jude Medical.

Isakovich opened by discussing the fact that medical device is growing at nearly twice the rate of pharma and that the US market is declining as an overall percentage of revenues. Taken together, you’d better be able to market to non-US markets.

She sited a study that addressed the challenges faced by medical device companies related to online marketing and six were consistent for the industry: infrastructure, localization, content management, ROI, legal, and Social/Mobile/SEO.

She then spoke to each (in summary, my words):

Infrastructure: acquisition and legacy issues left many companies with multiple sites in the same language. I know for my company we had 3 US sites with different URL’s, plus one in Canada, Brazil, and Latin America all hosted separately.

Localization: degree of localization is left to the local business. For me, I’ve seen that the US marketing team is best resource equipped and as a result we make English language content available to the other markets, but they have to decide which content works for them and have it translated. Often their resources are very limited, so even with the US materials, they can’t be as robust as they want to be in their marketing.

Content management: typically created in English and then local determines what gets translated, therefore English sites have better content. This is very similar to the above comment in my experience.

ROI: digital is getting more money and an ever increasing cut of marketing money, but performance is not being checked locally. Key takeaway, the better you measure and show positive results, the more dollars you will be able to get allocated.

Legal: rules vary by company and by country, which impacts local. And, legal will say no until marketing can demonstrate no additional risk to the company for doing it. Again, from my experience I’ve seen this to very much be the case.

Social, Mobile, and SEO: all the conversations you want to have online are already taking place between customer and service/sales. For me, this combo was a bit of a stretch as they are distinct entities. You could argue that SEO is boosted by an active social program and that social is often accessed by consumers via mobile, but still a stretch from my perspective to group these.

She continued that every company in the medical device sector is making an effort to improve online in each of the six areas outlined, and that no one has it figured out, but when someone does, industry will move very fast and device will catch up to other industries.

Goforth emphasized measuring across all geographies and to ensure consistency in local regions through branding.

She spoke to her online strategy which placed an emphasis on translation, search engine marketing, KPI based reporting to measure engagement, optimizing sites for mobile, and having robust metrics to understand user navigation and top content. I absolutely agree with all of those areas of emphasis.

Goforth then noted that in the future they are looking at social, apps, and optimized reporting that includes ROI.

Bernstein ended the program addressing the question “how can you move forward?” She answered her own question by noting the need to align objectives and dollars. She also stated that you have to invest in what matters most.

She also reminded everyone that expectations are set by consumer websites, not other device sites. Take the time to understand how customers respond to your site, fix pain points and show that you are being responsive, this will significantly improve the customer experience.

Finally, she acknowledged that medical device is way behind consumer, so don’t strive to be where the others are, you need to leapfrog ahead.

For me, I thought it was a good webinar that mostly validated the initiatives and direction we’ve chosen to take.