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The Non-Dummies Guide for Selecting Text Analytics

June 26th, 2014 · No Comments

[Reposted from OdinText Text Analytics Blog]

Selecting a Text Analytics (or any other) Partner


Text Analytics is a Process, Not and End!

What would you say should be the goal of good text analytics software?

Based on the questions we get from clients investigating text analytics solutions there seems to be no small amount of confusion. The fault isn’t theirs, it’s the fault of the early text analytics and social media monitoring vendors who overpromised and under delivered.

Rather than explaining to clients what kind of analysis and insights they should rightfully expect they choose instead to hide the fact that they know very little themselves about how text analytics can and should actually be applied, instead most text analytics sales staff preferred to talk theoretically using as many technical buzzwords like “natural language processing” as possible.

Here are questions you can safely set aside when investigating the right text analytics solution. They have next to no meaning whatsoever in terms of efficacy for your use case:

-How do you handle xyz stemming, semantic ABC, Ontologies and ______?
[Insert other favorite buzz word you’ve heard but don’t really understand]

-What does the output look like, do you have a pretty dashboard?
[If you buy text analytics software for pie charts and word clouds you’ll be in trouble. Dashboards, even if you find they make sense need serious customization]

-Do you have a cool black sci-fi looking background with neon colored maps?
[If you plan to put a bunch of monitors up and pretend you or on the bridge of starship enterprise I suppose this may make sense?!?!]

Instead, these kinds of questions are what you should be asking:

-Tell me about a client with the same kind of data that I have. How have they benefited from the tool?
(They better be darn specific)

-Show me how it works with my own data!?
(It’s easy to give a demo of poorly working software with canned data. Always make them use your data and never give them more than a day or two max to set it up)

Even better Text Analytics tools are becoming easier to use, and I admit, keeping OdinText intuitive as we add more features is challenging. However, one of the biggest single misconceptions about text analytics software is that they somehow have this magical “artificial intelligence” power. Some sort of power to discern everything and automatically write the report for you. I’m really not exaggerating.

Text analytics is not an end, it is a process. Find a vendor who understands this and whose software is not black box. Here simple is better. If how the software does its coding is hidden in a black box, and the sales person throws buzz words at you to make you feel safe/confused about the fact you have no idea about how the sausage is made, it’s not because they have valuable “linguistic” or “machine learning” rules (more buzz words) -those can only be developed after carefully studying your own data, it’s because their software doesn’t actually work too well and will require a lot of expensive and time consuming customization for unproven performance.

After choosing a text analytics software tool that is powerful and intuitive, a software that you can trust, then the fun begins. You or your analyst should be able to learn how to use the tool relatively quickly, but as with anything, you should expect to get better with experience.

Remember the early statistical software tools like SPSS and SAS. They worked very well on smaller data and you could trust that they actually did what you expected them to. However you still needed to know what clustering and factor analysis was, and why to look at a mean VS. a median. Just like these tools text analytics software also requires an analyst who can think about the data and how to get the most valuable insights for management.

Unfortunately, people who have never analyzed big data or conducted text analytics for real clients are building text analytics and “social listening” software. Find a vendor who understands your business. Their products will make you a data scientist. You’ll have to do a little more than press one button to understand the data, but since when has anything worthwhile been that easy?

To answer the question I posed earlier - what should be the goal of good text analytics software? – the answer depends on what field you’re in…

If you’re a marketer, then the main question you should be asking is how will this text analytics software help me sell more product to more customers less expensively?


[Full Disclosure: Tom H. C. Anderson is Managing Partner of Anderson Analytics, developers of patented Next Generation Text Analytics™ software platform OdinText. For more information and to inquire about software licensing visit ODINTEXT INFO REQUEST]

[Above also posted on the Next Gen Market Research blog]

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To Client Market Researchers

June 20th, 2014 · 2 Comments

OK, Time for a client - supplier etiquette tip

To Some Client Market Researchers out there, you know who you are,

Please put your phone number in the signature of your email. Even if we have done business for a number of years that’s the first place we look for a phone number when we need to get back to you quickly or have a call scheduled.

I recognize that you get a lot of calls, believe me I do too. But if someone has an inbound email from you is it not likely that you would also trust them with your phone number?

Trust me, those annoying sales folks you don’t want to speak to will be the first to find your number anyway by dialing the main number or going through a data service like Jigsaw etc.


[Full Disclosure: Tom H. C. Anderson is Managing Partner of Anderson Analytics, developers of patented Next Generation Text Analytics™software platform OdinText. For more information and to inquire about software licensing visit ODINTEXT INFO REQUEST]

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Social Media Monitoring Future Not So Bright

June 10th, 2014 · 1 Comment

No Need to Wear Shades…

[Interview with OdinText founder Tom H. C. Anderson reposted from TotalCIO (IT Knowledge Exchange)]

A social media contrarian speaks out on the limited value of tweet analytics

401673-1260247605 by Nicole LaskowskiProfile: Nicole Laskowski

A customer loyalty or a customer service department may not be the most “analytically inclined” departments within a business, but they may have some of the best data. That’s according to Tom H.C. Anderson, consumer insights expert and founder of Anderson Analytics - OdinText. In fact, he advises businesses forgo analyzing social media data in favor of milking those internal and potentially lucrative cash data cows.

“Phone calls that come in from customers, for instance, and emails — whenever there’s contact like that, there’s a lot of information being generated,” Anderson said. The information ranges from unstructured text to structured data that can be as specific as an SKU number.

That data, alone, is valuable. Combined with other metrics, such as consumer behavior or ad campaign success rates, it becomes more valuable still. And much more valuable, in his view, than a folder full of tweets.

But he’s not preaching to the choir. Businesses have bought into the notion that social media and customer insights are joined at the hip. Plus, what Anderson is proposing companies do instead is not easy. As CIOs know, accessing and integrating data from different sources — let alone different departments — remains a challenge.

Next week, Anderson will moderate a session on customer analytics at theUseful Business Analytics Summit in Boston. In advance of the summit, I had a chance to sit down with him and talk about why businesses should be wary of social media data.

What is the biggest challenge businesses face in consumer analytics and how can CIOs help business overcome that challenge?

Part of the problem has been and continues to be just the sharing of data — getting access and combining the data that matters most. On the one hand, everyone’s rushing toward social media data because no one owns it — it’s free, available …. Meanwhile, the data companies are already collecting, [they] aren’t merging. So, what I’m talking about, for instance, are things like customer satisfaction survey trackers along with metrics such as actual behavior — how much a customer spent, how successful were certain campaigns, and returning behavior. Giving people access across departments to that data and doing more interesting analysis that involves more than one set of data and using the data that’s most suitable to answering the business problem: That continues to be a challenge.

It sounds like you’re suggesting that companies need better data accessibility as well as user-friendly tools that can provide that access or enable consumption.

Both of those. Tools are becoming more powerful and easier to use, so we have that. Where there’s a shortage is of people who are good at analyzing the data. One of the things I’ve championed for is that the consumer insights/market research folks should play a greater role [here] because they have so much experience analyzing customer behavior already.

Let’s get back to social media data.

They call it ‘social media data,’ but, really, 80% of it is Twitter data … Facebook, LinkedIn — all of that other stuff is off limits.

Why are tweets so attractive? Is it because the business is data hungry and tweets are easy to access?

People think just because data is big it’s got to be important. No. Data is as interesting as what it represents. And in this case, [tweets] represent about 10% of the population. And there’s huge overlap between the 10% who blog and tweet. They’re not your average person. They’re very different from the average LinkedIn or Facebook user. …

Yes, [the attraction] is partly because it is so easy to gain access to and it’s also the way it’s being sold. [The message has] moved, to some degree, away from, ‘you’re going to find the answer to every question in social media monitoring.’ (Not totally, some people are still claiming that.) But [now they're] selling it as a fear factor-type thing, saying, ‘You can’t afford not to listen to Twitter because, God forbid, one person says something bad about your company.’ I’d argue that’s not a good reason to spend a lot of money on Twitter.

The real point here is that businesses [caught] in this social media frenzy are forgetting they have interesting, much richer data that can answer a lot more problems.

What are businesses doing with that social data other than listening?

The short answer to that is, it’s very limited. I’m invited to speak to 20 conferences a year, so I’m exposed to a lot of presentations, and a lot of them are about social media in one respect or another, but I’ve yet to be really impressed.

Now there is talk about doing customer acquisition targeting on social media. So, in other words, somebody who’s selling home insurance, [will use] algorithms to look for people who are tweeting about buying a new home. You find them, classify them in certain income groups and so forth, and [determine if they're] a good target to sell your product to. But that’s still very much vaporware. It’s good in theory; it’s not actually being done.

Do you see this changing anytime soon?

A few years ago, we were talking about walled gardens. Facebook has a walled garden, LinkedIn has a walled garden. In other words, they own the data. We were talking about how all data is going to be free for everyone — like Twitter. Because Twitter [uses] basically the same technology that blogs [use]. You post it out there and it’s pushed to everyone. But that never happened — these walled gardens coming down.

Instead, we see the opposite: Data is being protected more. Facebook has access to obviously large amounts of extremely interesting information on everyone. Google is another one. And what do you think is going to happen? It’s not going to be about sharing that data. People are thinking more about privacy and there’s legislation happening. Some people in my industry for whom data is important seem to think Amazon, Google and Facebook will protect us from that legislation … but the opposite is going to happen.

Facebook, Google — there’s more for them to gain by closing the opportunity — basically a data monopoly. So Facebook and Google can say, ‘You’re right. Privacy is an important issue and nobody else can protect or should have access to this data. Let’s close it up and make sure we don’t have any competition.’ And that’s really what they’re petitioning the politicians for.

[Full Disclosure: Tom H. C. Anderson is Managing Partner of Anderson Analytics, developers of patented Next Generation Text Analytics™software platform OdinText. For more information and to inquire about software licensing visit ODINTEXT INFO REQUEST]

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Big Data, Text Analytics and Privacy

June 9th, 2014 · No Comments

[Reposted from OdinText Text Analytics Blog]

Disruptive Technologists Panel Discuss Big Unstructured Data and Text Mining

Last week Anderson Analytics – OdinText CEO Tom H. C. Anderson participated in a panel on Big Data Analytics at the Disruptive Technologists event in New York.


The experienced panelists discussed the opportunities and challenges surrounding use of big data, including the combination of text analytics with predictive analytics. The panel discussion is now available on YouTube here.

[Full Disclosure: Tom H. C. Anderson is Managing Partner of Anderson Analytics, developers of patented Next Generation Text Analytics™software platform OdinText. For more information and to inquire about software licensing visit ODINTEXT INFO REQUEST]

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Next Generation Text Analytics Explained

June 5th, 2014 · No Comments

Do you know what text analytics is?

[Re-posted from OdinText Blog, Anderson Analytics explains Text Analytics and the difference between First Generation approaches and Next Generation software OdinText]

While text analytics has been around for quite some time and has reached mainstream to the point of becoming a buzz word, few really know what it is. It’s not a word cloud. It is not a qualitative tool. IT IS data mining.


We’ve long felt the need to clear the confusion around text analytics in our industry. Surprisingly there aren’t really any good videos on the subject.

In making a video to explain what text analytics is, we first had to decide who our audience was. So many business videos these days are trying to reach such a broad audience that they become totally void of any real information. On the other hand, we didn’t want to make a geeky video just for ‘data scientists’ either.

We hope that the middle ground we chose to communicate to here, basically our core customer base (the consumer insights analyst/manager/research director), will provide the right level of detail within a reasonable amount of time, about 4 minutes (down from our original 7 minute version).

Thank you in advance for watching and sharing our video. Should you want to discuss text analytics in greater detail or have a question around OdinText specifically, please don’t hesitate to reach out or request a demo.

Your friends @OdinText

Full Disclosure: Tom H. C. Anderson is Managing Partner of Anderson Analytics, developers of patented Next Generation Text Analytics™software platform OdinText. ]

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What’s Your Favorite Methodology?

May 30th, 2014 · 1 Comment

[Re-Posted From OdinText Text Analytics Blog]

Text Analytics VS. Social Media Monitoring VS. MROC’s VS. Mobile


Many of you are probably already planning on attending IIEX (Insight Innovation Exchange) in Atlanta June 16th. I’ve spoken at their previous events and talked to many attendees who liked the excitement and ability to explore many of the new techniques vying for attention in the consumer insights space.

That’s why this year I was very excited to be asked to take part in a very special panel, one that I understand will be a Battle of the Methodologies!

Let me explain. The folks over at Greenbook identified the five ’Next Gen’ Research techniques which have been most disruptive to the status quo. Some like neuromarketing and social media monitoring are relatively new and unproven, others like Mobile and and text analytics arguably have been around for quite some time. However all have now reached mainstream and are being considered by research directors globally.

A key leader in each of these four areas was then selected and asked if they would like to participate in a debate *panel* explaining why their research technique/methodology is more important than any of the others – the method to rule them all!

OK, I know, in fact I think most of us know that no methodology/technique is the correct approach 100% of the time, and that problem and data identification should always come before selecting the proper method. However, that doesn’t mean that all techniques are equally proven, useful, efficient and yes Important.

That is up for debate, and it’s a debate worth having. Therefore I’m very honored and excited to participate in this methodology brawl with my esteemed colleagues, each of whom is a pioneer in their own respective discipline. Taking part will be:

Representing Text Analytics


Tom H. C. Anderson, Founder Anderson Analytics – OdinText a Next Generation Text Analytics solution

Representing Neuro Marketing


Steve Genco, Managing Partner, Intuitive Consumer Insights and lead author, Neuromarketing for Dummies (Wiley, 2013)

Representing Social Media Monitoring


Michalis A. Michael, CEO at DigitalMR, which is a digital market research consultancy with proprietary platforms for social media listening and private online communities

Representing Mobile


Mark Michelson, CEO Threads Strategic Research & Consulting, and Executive Director MMRA (Mobile Marketing Research Association)

Representing Online Communities (MROC’s)


Niels Schillewaert, PhD. Managing Partner and Founder InSites Consulting a new generation agency stretching boundaries of marketing research. Helping global brands become locally relevant

Additionally the panel will be moderated by none other than Eileen Campbell, Chief Marketing Officer IMAX (Previously CEO of Millward Brown - WPP agency group)

Certainly there is some overlap in expertise and offering among some of the panelists. That said, it’s bound to be a bloody battle -may the best Methodology Win!

If you’ll be attending the event please let me know. I’ll need all the support I can get ;)


[Full Disclosure: Tom H. C. Anderson is Managing Partner of Anderson Analytics, developers of patented Next Generation Text Analytics™ software platform OdinText. For more information and to inquire about software licensing visit ODINTEXT INFO REQUEST]

[Above also posted on the OdinText blog]

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