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Customer engagement strategies that heed power of social media

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The power of social media to alter customer engagement strategies — for a product rollout, an executive hire, a policy change — is impressive.

Case in point: Legendary Entertainment did not anticipate the kind of response it would get when it released its trailer for The Great Wall. The decision to cast Matt Damon as the hero in a film centered around the iconic Chinese landmark drew immediate criticism on Twitter and Facebook as another example of a white savior narrative and of whitewashing.

“The whole storyline was meant to be about someone coming into a new culture and learning and growing in that culture,” Matt Marolda, chief analytics officer at Legendary, said at the recent HUBweek, an arts, science and innovation festival in Boston. “But the perception was not that.”

Social media platforms and the swift judgment of the internet are forcing companies to engage in ways they’ve never had to before. And executives from Legendary and Microsoft are sharing their experiences with the new tools for — and rules for — customer engagement.

New tools of engagement

On paper, The Great Wall made sense, according to Marolda. It was 2016, and the U.S. and China were the two biggest movie markets in the world; the East-meets-West film reflected Legendary’s sale to Wanda Group, a massive entertainment company in China. And, based on an analysis Marolda and his applied analytics team did, Damon had an active following and a reputation for taking on high-quality projects.

But what looked good on paper did not translate well to audiences — especially those in the U.S. Marolda said the company reacted to the criticism quickly. For example, the company released a statement from Zhang Yimou, the film’s director whom Marolda characterized as “the Steven Spielberg of China,” defending the casting decision.

After that, the team stood still and observed. “We had time on our side,” said Marolda, adding that the film wasn’t scheduled to be released for nine months. “We could see analytically that the best thing to do was nothing.”

The public ire did cool, but the film couldn’t completely escape the negative press it had received, according to Marolda. The company ultimately decided to shift its marketing strategy. “We then realized that emphasizing the movie’s possibilities outside of the U.S. was as important as emphasizing the movie’s possibilities inside the U.S.,” he said.

The decision appears to have been a good one. While the film bombed in the U.S., it was moderately successful worldwide, and has helped spark a larger conversation about how to make blockbuster films for a global market.

Executives onstage at HUBweek.
Matt Marolda, chief analytics officer at Legendary Entertainment, and Kathleen Kennedy, director of special projects at the MIT Sloan School of Management, onstage at HUBweek.

Customer engagement strategies: Ask three questions

How do companies develop customer engagement strategies that acknowledge the power of social media? A reactive approach — no matter how swift the response or how successful in the short term — doesn’t cut it.   

Brad Smith, president and chief legal officer at Microsoft, talked about the role companies should play in the public discourse and stressed that companies need a moral compass today.

“You have to know the issues for which you’re going to take a stand. And you have to be grounded in a certain set of principles,” he said during a fireside chat at HUBweek with Adi Ignatius, the editor in chief of the Harvard Business Review.

Before weighing in on a controversial issue, Smith suggested that companies ask three questions. First, is the issue important to the business? Smith described this question as “an easy space,” and can include tax law or intellectual property law — topics companies have always weighed in on.

Second, is the issue important to its customers? As data has moved to the cloud, companies have entered into a new kind of relationship with their customers, according to Smith. He said it’s vital that they think about the security and protection and actively take a stand on issues like surveillance and privacy.

Third, is the issue important to employees? The company believes a safe work environment doesn’t automatically equate to employee success. Employees could be hindered by issues outside of the office such as an inability to buy the home they want to buy, get the kind of healthcare coverage they need, or marry the person they want to marry, according to Smith.

So when a bill in North Carolina looked like it would restrict LGBT rights, Smith said it “was not a difficult decision” for Microsoft to voice its opposition. The company has a pretty significant presence in Charlotte, employing about 1,000 people there, and Smith said the issue was “important for our employees outside of the workplace.”

In an effort to be as effective as possible and preserve its relationship with the community, Microsoft will often seek out a local business community — a trusted organization that uses its voice to speak up on issues such as these — to partner with. “I prefer a course that’s going to maximize our chances of being effective and not just maximize our chances of being seen,” he said.

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Source: https://searchcio.techtarget.com/news/252451024/Customer-engagement-strategies-that-heed-power-of-social-media

Big Data

How Tech is Driving Sustainability in the Seafood Industry

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As our appetite for seafood increases, marine ecological degradation follows. In recent decades, the demand for marine food sources rose. Fisheries attempt to meet societal needs by overfishing, harming the natural ecology.

Eco-friendly engineers came to the rescue, developing various sustainable fishing devices. They decrease the environmental interference of seafood extraction and help fisheries thrive. As more individuals adopt these practices, we will restore the aquatic ecosystem.

Aquaculture

Aquaculture is a fishing methodsociety used since 500 BC, which recently came back into the light. Fish farming sustains society’s nutrition demands while reducing the harms of overfishing. Major consumption species include salmon, tilapia and catfish, which humans can generate through aquaculture.

Many fish farmers usehydroponics to improve the sustainability of their production. In condensed fish populations, waste can contaminate the water and affect native species. Fishers grow aquatic vegetation in the region to filter toxic elements and preserve the environment’s natural composition.

Hydroponics combined with green technology can provide sustainable seafood to the global society. Light-emitting nets, smart devices, origin detection technology and geolocating gadgets may help fishers meet eco-consumers’ demands.

Light Emitting Nets

A company in the U.K. developed light-emitting devices, helping reduce bycatch. Today, one out of ten fish caught are unsuitable for the market. Fishers are unable to sell endangered and small fish, leading to 16 million tons of annual waste.

They also waste 20% of space on ships, increasing environmental, ecological and economic costs. As fishers continue to practice wasteful collection methods, the marine ecosystem suffers. Environmental scientists developed a solution to the sustainable seafood problem.

They developed the Pisces light kit, which attaches to fishing gear. The devices fasten onto fishing nets to attract a target catch and repel bycatch, eliminating waste. Pisces uses LED lights, increasing the system’s energy efficiency.

LEDlights use 75% less electricity than conventional light bulbs. They also last 25 times longer, generating less waste over time.

Smart Seafood

Purchasing seafood thatfinancially supports sustainable fishing is smart. Sourcing seafood with artificial intelligence (AI) is downright futuristic.

The SMARTFISH H2020 technology enhances sustainable fishing, providing fishers with the resources necessary to protect the marine ecosystem. Environmental engineers at the companyutilize machine vision technology, data procession, visibility devices, machine learning methods, AI, hydroacoustic systems and more, making eco-conscious fishing possible.

Their devices locate sea beds, ensuring fishing equipment only penetrates regions with sufficiently abundant target species. They also have a size and species recognition system. The instrument assesses the length, weight and type of fish below the boat, maximizing catch efficiency and decreasing waste.

Origin Detection Technology

IBM recently teamed up with the Norwegian Seafood Association, Sjømatbedriftene, generating blockchain technology for fishers. The device allows industry members totrack supply chain data, ensuring the safety and sustainability of seafood. Origin detection technology increases transparency in the industry, creating a single version of the truth.

Fishers install blockchain technology on their vessels, recording the time, location, temperature and more, regarding their catch. Industry members can then access this information to ensure accurate labeling on store-sold seafood. Customers may also gain access to this information in the future.

Eco-consumers demand more documentation for the goods and services they consume. In coming years, customers can access the blockchain information in the store. They will see when fishers caught the seafood, where it is from, its consumed feed and processing facility’s sustainability.

Geolocating Devices

Similar to IBM’s technology, innovators at pelagic developed geo-tracking boat devices. Nearlyhalf of the seafood supply derives from small-scale fishing boats. It is challenging to regulate small vessels on conventional identification systems, allowing them to go unregulated.

Pelagic developed geolocating boat devices to track smaller fishers’ practices. Large seafood distributors now require all small vessels to install the data collection system, showing the company where and when they catch seafood. It optimizes the sustainability of the overall business, restricting non-sustainably sourced purchases.

Demand
Sustainable Seafood

Eco-consumers make up the most extensive customer base in America. For fisheries to remain competitive in the industry, they must adopt green fishing technology and sustainable practices. When consumers demand sustainable seafood and fishers eliminate ecologically degrading procedures, we can restore the marine ecosystem. 

Image Credit: Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

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Source: https://datafloq.com/read/how-tech-driving-sustainability-seafood-industry/14643

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Factbox: How big is Bitcoin’s carbon footprint?

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(Reuters) – Tesla boss Elon Musk’s sudden u-turn over accepting bitcoin to buy his electric vehicles has thrust the cryptocurrency’s energy usage into the headlights.

Some Tesla investors, along with environmentalists, have been increasingly critical about the way bitcoin is “mined” using vast amounts of electricity generated with fossil fuels.

Musk said on Wednesday he backed that concern, especially the use of “coal, which has the worst emissions of any fuel”.

So how dirty is the virtual currency?

POWER HUNGRY

Unlike mainstream traditional currencies, bitcoin is virtual and not made from paper or plastic, or even metal. Bitcoin is virtual but power-hungry as it is created using high-powered computers around the globe.

At current rates, such bitcoin “mining” devours about the same amount of energy annually as the Netherlands did in 2019, data from the University of Cambridge and the International Energy Agency shows.

Some bitcoin proponents note that the existing financial system with its millions of employees and computers in air-conditioned offices uses large amounts of energy too.

COAL CONNECTION

The world’s biggest cryptocurrency, which was once a fringe asset class, has become increasingly mainstream as it is accepted by more major U.S. companies and financial firms.

Greater demand, and higher prices, lead to more miners competing to solve puzzles in the fastest time to win coin, using increasingly powerful computers that need more energy.

Bitcoin is created when high-powered computers compete against other machines to solve complex mathematical puzzles, an energy-intensive process that often relies on fossil fuels, particularly coal, the dirtiest of them all.

GREEN BITCOIN?

Bitcoin production is estimated to generate between 22 and 22.9 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions a year, or between the levels produced by Jordan and Sri Lanka, a 2019 study in scientific journal Joule found.

There are growing attempts in the cryptocurrency industry to mitigate the environmental harm of mining and the entrance of big corporations into the crypto market could boost incentives to produce “green bitcoin” using renewable energy.

Some sustainability experts say that companies could buy carbon credits to compensate for the impact.

And blockchain analysis firms say that it is possible in theory to track the source of bitcoin, raising the possibility that a premium could be charged for green bitcoin. Climate change policies by governments around the world might also help.

ALTERNATIVE ENERGY

Projects from Canada to Siberia are striving for ways to wean bitcoin mining away from fossil fuels, such as using hydropower, or at least to reduce its carbon footprint, and make the currency more palatable to mainstream investors.

Some are attempting to repurpose the heat generated by the mining to serve agriculture, heating and other needs, while others are using power generated by flare gas – a by-product from oil extraction usually burned off – for crypto mining.

CHINA CRISIS

The dominance of Chinese miners and lack of motivation to swap cheap fossil fuels for more expensive renewables means there are few quick fixes to bitcoin’s emissions problem, some industry players and academics warn.

Chinese miners account for about 70% of production, data from the University of Cambridge’s Centre for Alternative Finance shows. They tend to use renewable energy – mostly hydropower – during the rainy summer months, but fossil fuels – primarily coal – for the rest of the year.

(Writing by Alexander Smith: editing by Carmel Crimmins)

Image Credit: Reuters

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Source: https://datafloq.com/read/factbox-how-big-bitcoins-carbon-footprint/14639

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Colonial Pipeline has cyber insurance policy – sources

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LONDON (Reuters) – Colonial Pipeline has cyber insurance arranged by broker Aon, with Lloyd’s of London insurers AXA XL and Beazley among the underwriters, three sources told Reuters on Thursday.

Colonial Pipeline has begun to restart the nation’s largest fuel pipeline network after a ransomware attack shut the line, triggering fuel shortages and panic buying in the southeastern United States.

The cyberattack halted 2.5 million barrels per day of shipments of gasoline, diesel and jet fuel last Friday after the most disruptive cyberattack ever on U.S. energy infrastructure.

Insurance Insider reported the news late on Wednesday, saying the cover was for at least $15 million.

Cyber insurance typically covers ransom payments and insurers often provide staff to negotiate with the hackers, in addition to IT and public relations services.

Colonial Pipeline does not plan to pay the ransom, sources familiar with the company’s response told Reuters on Wednesday.

(Reporting by Carolyn Cohn; editing by David Evans)

Image Credit: Reuters

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Source: https://datafloq.com/read/colonial-pipeline-cyber-insurance-policy-sources/14638

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Foreign IT firms must open offices in Russia under new draft law – lawmaker

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MOSCOW (Reuters) – Foreign technology companies will be forced to open offices in Russia or face penalties such as advertising bans under draft legislation, a senior lawmaker said on Thursday, in a fresh move by Moscow to exert greater control over Big Tech.

Russia is keen to strengthen control of the internet and reduce its dependence on foreign companies and countries. It has imposed a punitive slowdown on social network Twitter over its failure to delete content Moscow says is illegal.

Apple, Facebook, TikTok and Alphabet’s Google are among other companies to have come under fire from Russian authorities.

The head of the information policy and IT committee at the State Duma, Russia’s lower house of parliament, said the draft legislation would be submitted as soon as possible to combat what he described as IT giants abusing their monopoly positions and distributing content banned in Russia.

“Our draft law would oblige owners of large information resources with a daily audience in Russia of at least 500,000 people to open official offices, which would fully represent their interests and answer for their activities,” Alexander Khinshtein wrote on his Telegram channel.

Failure to do so could lead to companies being banned from advertising their services or hosting advertisements on their platforms. They could also be prohibited from collecting payments or personal data.

Officials say a package of more than 60 support measures is being discussed in government.

“It is important that all these measures in no way infringe the interests of Russian users, do not violate their ability to work with the resource, but create economic incentives for IT giants to observe our legislation,” said Khinshtein.

A law came into force in April obliging smart devices to offer Russian software upon activation.

(Reporting by Alexander Marrow; Editing by Gareth Jones)

Image Credit: Reuters

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Source: https://datafloq.com/read/foreign-it-firms-must-open-offices-russia-new-draft-law-lawmaker/14637

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