schoolAugust has shown us how retailers are preparing to capture a larger slice of the ever-important BTS and holiday pie. With e-commerce now growing beyond pre-recession levels, retailers want to capture shoppers as early as possible and keep them coming back for the holiday season.  Mobile online purchases continue to grow as well so retailers are using every tool in their grasp to gain an edge on their competitors. Personalized and targeted content is crucial to a mobile strategy and retailers are increasingly integrating machine learning and big data technologies into tool set. But humans still control machines;  not the other way around so it’s easy to forget that big data and machine learning are just that – powerful tools. Without a talented data craftsman to provide insight, these innovations can sidetrack an organization, or even worse, provide biased analysis for long-term campaigns. We need to remember that machine learning and big data, like the multitude of kids shuffling back to school, need  sharp, engaged minds to deliver the best results.

“How to Stop Worrying and Love Machine Learning,” GigaOm Machine learning obviates the need for time-intensive manual processes while taking advantage of large data sets. Despite this fact, or perhaps because of it, many companies are wary about the technology believing it supplants human insight and analysis. In this contributed article, our Baynote team offers three strategies to smoothly phase in machine learning so organizations can utilize the technology to its full potential without anxiety

“Is Big Data an Economic Big Dud?” The New York Times – While some call big data “the new oil,” there are some that believe companies are ignoring the mess that the information splash has left in its wake. Despite the fact that 600 billion bytes of information are being transmitted and parsed (according to Cisco) in 2013, the results of data harvesting has largely led to cannibalizing existing businesses in competition for customers rather than the creation of fundamentally new opportunities. Yet, this article also suggests that big data may need more time to fully substantiate and show its true value.

“How to Optimize Your Web Strategy for the Growth Ahead in M-Commerce,” CMSWire – Mobile purchasing is emerging as one of the strongest engines of e-commerce growth,  making up 15% of all online purchases -up nearly 60% from last year. In this article, I emphasize that companies shouldn’t take this adoption for granted.  Mobile and tablet optimization remains key turning shoppers into buyers. Developers on these platforms need to keep four key factors in mind.  Sticking to these guidelines is a good way to start or revamp a mobile campaign.

“Ecommerce Returns to Pre-Recession Growth,” Internet Retailer – The US Department of Commerce has reported that Q2 e-commerce sales rose nearly 20% compared to the same quarter in 2012. This is the largest year-over-year increase since Q4 of 2007 just before the US economy flat lined. Breaking down the numbers further reveals that  mobile and tablet purchases make up the bulk of those sales – $4.7 billion in Q2 2013 or a 24% increase from the same period last year. So what does this mean? It means that although the larger economy is picking up, individuals are still feeling recession-era pains and are relying on e-commerce for price, availability and selection.  Retailers need to make sure they are fully invested in their online presence.