Enhancing Customer Insights with Public Location Data

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The pervasive adoption of mobile devices has driven an explosion of contextual user information, including geolocation data, which has become a valuable resource for marketers. However, a lack of technical skill sets among marketers has made it difficult for them to use this data (when they have access to it) effectively. Plus, changing regulations mean it’s more important than ever for marketers to understand what data they have access to and how to properly leverage it.

Currently, most brands, agencies, website publishers, and other marketing entities use location data to engage in a variety of marketing applications, such as proximity marketing, among shoppers with the brand’s app. Many retailers and proximity marketers have deployed beacons inside stores that have resulted in up to a 15% lift in retail foot traffic and a 73% increase in the likelihood of purchase among shoppers. Beacons are battery-powered wireless sensors installed in retail stores or event venues that detect nearby consumers who have opted in to alerts through Bluetooth or other technologies and that relay information to consumers’ mobile devices. For example, a store like Macy’s can build its presence on a beacon platform that can be downloaded by shoppers as a mobile app. After that, each time shoppers with the app enter a beacon-enabled store, they can receive promotional messages or deals on their device about products in the aisles they are browsing.

Brands also use geo-fencing, or creating a zone around a business for advertisement targeting, in different locations for targeted promotional offers on mobile devices (via any digital platform the firm as access to, such as social media, email, or text). For example, Whole Foods developed geo-fences around its stores, as well as its competitors’ stores, to target relevant audiences and achieved a post-click conversion rate that was three times higher than the national average.

Some brands are using location data for improved attribution analysis to assess marketing effectiveness. This entails identifying whether exposure to a certain promotion, ad, or specific touchpoint (such as a sales encounter) for a demographic can generate future sales. For example, Placed is a firm that provides in-store attribution analysis representing consumer visits to physical store locations. It measures both promotional tactics and audience characteristics of targeted audiences who have opted in. It uses customer location data to ascertain which promotions work, and for whom.

It’s important to understand that this type of increased monitoring warrants a corresponding increased attention to privacy needs. Once a customer chooses to participate in a social media sharing system, attention has to be dedicated to securing data storage and providing the user access to information that has been collected by brands and processed on their behalf. A brand like Starbucks can monitor posts from its stores nationwide to deploy resources directed at customers who have voiced relevant needs while still inside the business premises. For example, customers irritated with long wait times can be delivered special deals to keep them from switching to other stores. But before companies engage in any kind of location data analysis, they need to have a privacy policy and be internally clear about what data they are using and why. New GDPR guidelines in Europe will grant individuals the right to access, restrict, correct, or transfer data that companies have gathered about them and to know how their personal data is being used.

With the right guidelines in place, there’s a much greater potential for geolocation data that remains untapped. We propose combining geolocation data with social media data to create what we call vigilant marketing intelligence (VMI), a conceptual framework based on our prior academic research and observations. VMI can help firms to better use location-based social media posts for enhanced data-driven marketing.

What Is Vigilant Marketing Intelligence?

Broadly, the rising gap between new customer acquisition costs and retention costs for existing customers necessitates continuous vigilance of consumers’ purchase journeys and their satisfaction from the same. In some specialized industries, such as pharmaceuticals, monitoring consumer behavior can be a legally mandated part of post-purchase experiences, with the ultimate goal of vigilance for brand and consumer safety (such as tracking adverse drug reactions). While brands do attempt to forecast customer-related outcomes based on social media posts, the availability of location-based social media data further enhances the predictive power of future unfavorable outcomes, including customer dissatisfaction, brand switching, and churn. When such vigilant intelligence is operationalized, it can help improve customer relationships, retain customers, and expand customer lifetime value.

VMI creates a framework that integrates incident reporting data from social media posts with geolocation data of the report —that is, the physical location that the post is emanating from. For example, this happens when a consumer checks in with an app, such as Foursquare, at a location, such as a store or a restaurant, and then also tweets about what is happening in terms of an experience, incident, or service encounter. While the term “incident reporting” is frequently used in media and journalism, for marketers, a close parallel is customers’ interactions with brands, which can indicate important incidents or events, also referred to as touchpoints, micromoments, or “moments of truth.”

Many companies already monitor social media networks for posts from customers. However, adding location data for monitoring consumer behavior makes the firm’s responses more actionable in the short run and adds value in the long run. For example, tracking activity on a platform like Foursquare not only can inform a brand when customers visit specific stores and complain about wait times or products being out of stock but also presents a firm with an opportunity to respond (digitally or physically) while the customer is still inside the store. The company can then open a new counter or activate an inventory transfer between stores. Additionally, in the long run, a customer’s presence in nearby businesses or establishments can help brands cross-promote their own products and services. Knowing that a loyal customer of TGI Fridays checked in at a movie theater next door can initiate special offers to attract them to the restaurant. This can help increase short-term sales as well as build long-term brand loyalty.

Mapping adds a new layer to this type of monitoring. Several African and Asian countries have used Ushahidi’s crowd mapping technology for crisis monitoring during natural disasters, post-electoral violence, and other crises. Researchers have designed early warning systems at London’s Heathrow and Gatwick airports to estimate flight disruptions, delays, and breakdowns by harvesting complaints from location-based social media. One novel use of this location-based data is KLM Royal Dutch Airlines’ surprise campaign, where the company identified passengers who checked into its flights on Foursquare and tweeted about waiting to board. KLM conducted social media research to find out more about why the customers were waiting at the gate, whether their flights were delayed, why they were traveling, and then surprised them at their gates with personalized gifts.

Integrating such social reports with geolocation delivers two added advantages. First, the content of the communication can be interpreted within the context of physical surroundings, thus identifying if the user is sharing specifics of an ongoing service experience. For example, this data could tell you if a customer is still waiting to board a delayed flight at the airport, or if they are tweeting about a bad experience after the fact. Second, knowing the consumer’s location gives a brand an opportunity to take timely corrective actions when a customer is having a problem. For that customer still waiting at the airport, for example, the airline could reach out with text updates to keep the customer informed about updated flight departure times, continued delays, or alternative travel options.

Integrating geolocation data with social media content also helps ascertain the accuracy of shared content to validate if restaurant ratings, such as those on Yelp, are consistent with emotions embedded in tweets from restaurant locations. Significant deviations or inconsistencies at certain times or days of the week can make the ratings of the restaurant from such review platforms questionable. Location-based posts can also help monitor user satisfaction dynamically. For example, users riding in different modes of transportation — buses, trains, boats, and bicycles — can report their experiences in different cities. Information gleaned from the location-based social media posts of the travelers can then show traffic patterns, such as whether certain routes are overcrowded.

To use this location data most effectively, companies need to monitor business locations for shared social media content, identify topics of conversation and the sentiments expressed, follow time-based patterns, and either promote positive remarks from customers with the help of PR teams or have customer service teams follow up on complaints.

Challenges of Building a VMI Framework

There are three major challenges to implementing a VMI framework.

The first challenge is the precision and accuracy of available location data. While a person might be located at a specific spot with geographical coordinates, the real location is often a distance from where they are shown to be. The extent of this deviation depends on the source of the data, whether it is cell towers, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or GPS, as well as external factors such as urban construction density and the ways consumers update device settings. The average deviation in one study was found to be 93 feet. This deviation can make a big difference in how well marketers can execute their plans, especially in crowded cities where a small distance can change the consumer’s physical state, as well as their state of mind.

The second challenge is the voluntary nature of the shared content. It becomes necessary for service providers who are harvesting the data to ascertain its validity and define the minimum volume of feedback they consider important before triggering responses. For example, feedback from a single customer about wait times may not be sufficient to generalize the operational efficiency of the staff.

Finally, the simultaneous optimization of trust and relevance is an inherently difficult balancing act. While timely interventions or offers can make customers happy in the short run, recent awareness of Facebook’s data exposure and social media practices of data sharing with third parties such as Cambridge Analytica have led to long-term concerns about the safety of their personal data. New regulations such as GPDR in the EU aim to give consumers control over their personal data. In such an environment of heightened concern about data privacy, assurances — such as better end-user license agreement design, opt-ins, limited third-party sharing, and better deidentification processes — need to be designed to alleviate concerns about storage of data, identifiability of users, and terms of sharing with other entities. Only then can VMI succeed in fully capitalizing on consumers’ location-based social media data for better data-driven marketing and a better customer experience overall.

Mobile technology allows firms to know where the consumer is located. Integrating such location information with social media posts that the consumer shares from that location enables a better marketing intelligence system. Such a system can help firms better understand consumer journeys and also address consumer needs in the moment, provided that consumer privacy and security concerns are adequately addressed.

[“Source-hbr.org”]

Restructuring the public school system

The state governments should act as facilitators to the process of school rationalization. Photo: Pradeep Gaur/Mint

The state governments should act as facilitators to the process of school rationalization. Photo: Pradeep Gaur/Mint

Indian public schools are seeing a systemic decline in enrolment, resulting in the massive growth of small and tiny government schools. According to a recent article by economist Geeta Kingdon, 419,000 (40%) of government schools had total enrolment less than 50, and 108,000 schools (10.3%) were “tiny” schools with enrolment of less than 20. Although the Indian public school system has addressed the problem of access, it has failed to withstand competition from private schools. These failures of the public school system call for an overhaul of the structure of schooling in India, especially at a time when the new education policy (NEP) is being drafted by the Kasturirangan committee.

Physical access to neighbourhood schools is now a reality, with 96% of the villages having an elementary school within a radius of 3km. However, physical access does not ensure adequate learning. Ten years of annual survey of education report (Aser) surveys and national achievement surveys by the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) have revealed a nationwide learning crisis. The first to exit dysfunctional public schools are those from better socio-economic classes, and the disadvantaged suffer. Studies have revealed that students drop out mainly because schools are not attractive physically and pedagogically. Better learning outcomes need functional schools—not just mere physical access.

The right to education (RTE) Act has defined norms for providing functional access such as pupil-teacher ratio, teacher qualification and infrastructure facilities such as availability of toilets, drinking water, library and playgrounds. However, in addition, we need enough teachers and staff per school, subject teachers in the higher grades, and pedagogical support for the teaching-learning process to make the schools functional.

The complex school organization structure across different levels, such as primary, upper primary and secondary schools, and multiple managements (within government and private) break the continuity in schooling, leading to higher dropout rates. There is no need to have separate primary-only schools when the constitutional mandate is completion of primary and upper-primary classes up to class VIII. With universalization of secondary education on the table, schools from primary to secondary should be integrated and secondary education should integrate vocational education to provide gainful employment.

Composite schools can be created through vertical integration across levels and a consolidation of neighbourhood schools to increase school size, ensure better rationalization of teachers and avoid multi-grade teaching. Consolidation brings efficiency, provides better facilities, trained teachers, more comprehensive curriculum, broader extracurricular activities and diverse social experience.

Many states such, as Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, Odisha, Himachal Pradesh and Maharashtra, have attempted to consolidate the schools (under names such as school rationalization, mainstreaming, amalgamation and integration) at the primary and upper-primary levels. Rajasthan has undertaken school mergers on the largest scale. About 17,000 schools were ordered to be merged, out of which 12,944 primary and 1,728 upper-primary ones had been merged as of 2016. However, these attempts have been made without adequate study of the need for consolidation and its impact on children in local communities.

School location decisions have to consider the optimal match of schooling demand with supply in the neighbourhood without compromising functional access. The following guiding principles could be followed for consolidation and restructuring: 1. Create before you destroy—construct a functional school infrastructure and appoint teachers in the consolidated school prior to shutting down schools; 2. No child left behind—school consolidation should not result in denial of access to any child; all possible transportation options should be explored, in case consolidation leads to difficulty in physical access; 3. Consult before consolidation—consolidation must be done with the consent of the community through consultations, and the alternative must include consensus on school location, transportation, etc.; 4. Vertical integration—school consolidation should ensure vertical integration across different levels.

Current norms for neighbourhood limits for schools are at different levels: primary schools within 1km, upper-primary schools within 3km and secondary schools within 5km. A common norm for all levels of schooling, with adequate flexibility to suit local conditions, could ensure vertical integration. Administratively, this requires the merger of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) and Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) at the Centre (which the ministry of human resource development is contemplating), and primary and secondary education bodies under the departments of education in states.

The Central and state governments should act as facilitators for consolidation and desist from taking a one-size-fits-all approach. Consolidation should be a local exercise—best decided by local authorities. The state governments should act as facilitators to the process of school rationalization by providing technical and financial support and capacity-building of local authorities.

[“Source-livemint”]

Former Uber CEO Says Investor Lawsuit a ‘Public and Personal Attack’

Former Uber CEO Says Investor Lawsuit a 'Public and Personal Attack'

The ousted chief executive of Uber Technologies called a lawsuit filed against him by one of the company’s top investors a “public and personal attack” without merit, according to court documents filed late on Thursday.

Venture capital firm Benchmark Capital, which says it owns 13 percent of Uber and controls 20 percent of the voting power, sued former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick last week to force him off the board, where he still has a seat, and rescind his remaining power there, citing fraud and deception.

Kalanick, in the first court filing in response to the lawsuit, said Benchmark’s legal action is part of a larger scheme to oust him from the company he helped found and take away his power. He also argued that the legal quarrel should take place in arbitration.

ALSO SEEUber Investor Benchmark Capital Says Gave Former CEO Kalanick a Month Before Suing

Benchmark’s lawsuit marks a rare instance of a well-regarded Silicon Valley investor suing the central figure at one of its own, highly successful startups. The case has stunned Silicon Valley’s venture capital community and created a divided Uber board and infighting among shareholders, many of whom have criticised Benchmark for suing.

At issue is a change to the board structure in 2016 to expand the number of voting directors by three, with Kalanick having the sole right to fill those seats.

In its lawsuit, Benchmark argues that Kalanick hid from the board a number of misdeeds, including allegations of trade-secret theft involving autonomous car technology and misconduct by Kalanick and other executives in handling a rape committed by an Uber driver in India, when he asked Uber’s board to give him those extra seats.

Benchmark says it was “fraudulently induced” to agree to the change and wants Kalanick to give up control of those seats.

Kalanick’s court filing rejects that allegation, saying that at the time of the board change “Benchmark was fully aware of all of the allegations involving Kalanick”, yet the firm “made no mention of having been ‘fraudulently induced’ to enter” into the agreement. Through May, the venture firm continued to support him. Then in June, Benchmark was part of a group of five investors who demanded Kalanick’s resignation as Uber’s CEO.

“The Benchmark principals also handed Kalanick a draft resignation letter, and told him he had hours to sign it, or else Benchmark would start a public campaign against him,” the court filing said.

Benchmark first backed Uber in 2011 with an investment of $12 million, according to court filings. With 13 percent ownership at the $68 billion valuation that Uber achieved last year, Benchmark’s stake would be worth almost $9 billion.

“Resorting to litigation was an extremely difficult step for Benchmark,” the firm said in a statement through a spokeswoman. “Failing to act now would mean endorsing behavior that is utterly unacceptable in any company, let alone a company of Uber’s size and importance.”

[“Source-gadgets.ndtv”]

AFT President: Betsy DeVos and Donald Trump Are Dismantling Public Education

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Donald Trump in Washington, DC, on April 25, 2017 (L); Betsy DeVos in Washington, DC, on Jan. 17, 2017.  Olivier Douliery—Getty Images (L); Bill Clark—Getty Images
Donald Trump may say teachers are important, but he spent his first 100 days undermining the schools most educators work in —America’s public schools.

One of President Trump’s first acts was to appoint the most anti-public education person ever to lead the Department of Education. Betsy DeVos has called public schools a “dead end” and bankrolled a private school voucher measure in Michigan that the public defeated by a two-to-one ratio. When that failed, she spent millions electing legislators who then did her bidding slashing public school budgets and spreading unaccountable for-profit charters across the state. The result? Nearly half of Michigan’s charter schools rank in the bottom of U.S. schools, and Michigan dropped from 28th to 41st in reading and from 27th to 42nd in math compared with other states.

Now DeVos is spreading this agenda across the country with Trump and Vice President Mike Pence’s blessing. They’ve proposed a budget that takes a meat cleaver to public education and programs that work for kids and families. After-school and summer programs — gone. Funding for community schools that provide social, emotional, health and academic programs to kids — gone. Investments to keep class sizes low and provide teachers with the training and support they need to improve their craft — gone. Their budget cuts financial aid for low-income college students grappling with student debt at the same time the Trump administration is making it easier for private loan servicers to prey on students and families.

The Trump/DeVos budget funnels more than $1 billion to new voucher and market strategies even though study after study concludes those strategies have hurt kids. Recent studies of voucher programs in Ohio and Washington, D.C., show students in these programs did worse than those in traditional public schools. Further, private voucher schools take money away from neighborhood public schools, lack the same accountability that public schools have, fail to protect kids from discrimination, and increase segregation.

It’s dangerous in education when the facts don’t matter to people. But it doesn’t stop there. Schools must be safe and welcoming places for all children, and that’s a belief shared both by parents who send their kids to voucher schools and those who send their kids to public schools. But Trump and DeVos have acted to undermine the rights of kids who look or feel different, and to cut funding for school health and safety programs.

What Trump and DeVos are doing stands in stark contrast to the bipartisan consensus we reached in 2015 when Congress passed a new education law that shifted the focus from testing back to teaching, pushed decision-making back to states and communities, and continued to invest funds in the schools that need it the most. It offered an opportunity to focus on what we know works best for kids and schools—promoting children’s well-being, engaging in powerful learning, building teacher capacity, and fostering cultures of collaboration.

The Trump/DeVos agenda not only jeopardizes that work, their view that education is a commodity as opposed to a public good threatens the foundation of our democracy and our responsibility to provide opportunity to all of America’s young people.

Americans have a deep connection to and belief in public education. I see it every day as I crisscross the nation talking to parents, teachers, students and community members about what they want for their public schools. And it transcends politics. It’s one of the reasons we saw such a massive grass-roots response to the DeVos nomination from every part of the country.

A recent poll by Harvard and Politico showed that while parents want good public school choices to meet the individual needs of their kids, they do not want those choices pit against one another or used to drain money from other public schools. In other words, the DeVos/Trump agenda is wildly out of step with what Americans want for their kids.

It’s what I saw when I took DeVos to visit public schools in Van Wert, Ohio, last month. This is an area that voted more than 70 percent for Trump, but people there love and invest in their public schools — from a strong early childhood program, to robust robotics and other strategies that engage kids in powerful learning, to a community school that helps the kids most at risk of dropping out stay on a path to graduation. It’s what I saw at the Community Health Academy of the Heights in New York City where the school provides a full-service community health clinic, in-school social workers, a food pantry, parent resource center, and other services for parents and kids. And it’s what I saw this week at Rock Island Elementary School in Broward County, Fla., where kids participate in robotics programs after school, where there is a library in every classroom and a guided reading room where kids can build their literacy skills. The great things happening in these schools are all funded by federal dollars and threatened by the Trump/DeVos budget.

Many of those who voted for Trump did so because they believed he would keep his promise to stand up for working people and create jobs. They didn’t vote to dismantle public education and with it the promise and potential it offers their children. Now, the person who ran on jobs and the economy seems intent on crushing one of the most important institutions we have to meet the demands of a changing economy, enable opportunity and propel our nation forward. That’s one of the biggest takeaways from Trump’s first 100 days.

[“Source-time”]