Big Data and Intuition: The future of Marketing

Gigaom

Technology isn’t only getting faster, it’s getting smarter. Computers are able to recognize and learn from patterns and make changes in real-time. Their improved analytic and decision-making abilities now allow them to outperform humans in areas such as medical diagnosis and customized marketing campaigns.

However, it’s hard for marketers to embrace data analysis when they’ve trusted their own gut to fuel decisions for so long. It’s a point of pride for many.  The problem is, the strategy frequently fails. A 20 year study of political pundits found that they were only as accurate as a coin toss, suggesting that successful “intuitive” decisions are often a lucky guess.

On the other hand, a McKinsey study found that companies who put data at the center of marketing and sales decisions improve marketing ROI by 15% – 20%. Data-driven personalization, in particular, can lift sales 10% or more. For example, Bank of America…

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Microsoft embraces bitcoin payments for digital purchases

Gigaom

You can’t buy a Windows Phone with bitcoin, but now you can buy Minecraft for that phone with bitcoin. Microsoft announced today that it will now accept bitcoin (via BitPay) as a payment method for digital purchases, like Xbox games or Windows Phone apps. It’s limited right now to items that can only be purchased through your Microsoft Account and only for U.S. customers — a pretty common move for companies who are testing the cryptocurrency waters.

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Square hits $100M in sales in a single day

Gigaom

On Friday Square has had its first $100 million sales day, the company revealed today. The milestone comes just a month after CEO and founder Jack Dorsey revealed Square had handled its 1 billionth credit card purchase. Square has now processed a transaction on one of ever four active credit cards in the U.S., and according to the San Francisco companies own figures, if you were to look at its merchants as a collective, Square would be the 13th largest retailer in the U.S. right behind Best Buy.

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Payments processor Klarna to spend at least $100M on US push

Gigaom

The Swedish online payments processor Klarna is pushing into the U.S., and it said late Wednesday that it intends to spend at least $100 million doing so.

[company]Klarna[/company] Checkout is a competitor to the likes of [company]PayPal[/company] and [company]Stripe[/company], providing another way for online merchants to take payments. The service makes an algorithmic risk assessment of the customer, based on their behavior and credit scores – the less risky the customer, the less information they need to give to make the payment.

This low-friction approach to the buy-now-pay-later game is particularly handy in the mobile payments arena, where the less you neeed to type the better.

The Sequoia-backed firm, which is almost a decade old, is the largest payments processor in Europe, and it has been talking about its U.S. move for a couple of months. Now, it has said how much it’s willing to invest in this push…

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Jack Dorsey says Square will begin accepting Apple Pay in 2015

Gigaom

Square founder and CEO Jack Dorsey confirmed to CNN on Friday that Square will begin supporting Apple Pay and other near-field communications (NFC)-based payments systems in some form in 2015. In September, Dorsey had told Canada’s CBC that Square would not only support NFC payments but bitcoin as well.

Whether that means Square will issue a new Reader or an accessory that plugs into Square Stand (or both) supporting NFC transactions, Dorsey didn’t say. None of the company’s current or already-announced forthcoming hardware can process an NFC transaction, though Square is moving to more secure embedded-chip card processing next year, along with the rest of the point-of-sale retail industry.

A partnership between [company]Apple[/company] and Square shouldn’t come as a surprise. For some reason, many media outlets have been depicting Square and Apple at odds with one another as Apple Pay rolls out. While Square and Apple might compete in…

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Square starts offering gift cards (the plastic kind)

Gigaom

As virtual wallets and NFC payments start taking off, Square hasn’t given up on the plastic card. In fact, it’s doubling down on its commitment to acetate and magnetic stripes, announcing a new program on Tuesday in which its merchants can issue their own gift cards.

Square has supported stored-value cards before, but those were virtual cards, requiring the now-defunct Square Wallet (or a bar code print-out) to redeem them. Meanwhile, these newest gift cards work just like the ones you’d buy from Target or Best Buy. Merchants can order them from their Square dashboards, customizing their appearance with their own logos and design. When a customer purchases a card, the value is deposited directly into the merchant’s account.

While Square isn’t charging its normal 2.75 percent transaction fee on any gift card transaction, activating a card costs $1.50 a pop, so it’s probably not worth your while to…

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Skeptic says bitcoin will “always be currency of the future”

Gigaom

Remember when bitcoin was going to disrupt the world’s banking system? That was two years ago and, while new payment platforms like Venmo and Apple Pay have gained traction, virtual currencies now feel more like a fad than a phenomenon.

At least that’s the view of Felix Salmon, a financial blogger and early bitcoin skeptic, who did his best to dump cold water on a room of alt-currency enthusiasts gathered Monday at a Bloomberg event titled “Bitcoin: Beyond the Currency” in New York City.

Bloomberg bitcoin

“This is pure Silicon Valley utopianism,” said Salmon, suggesting that bitcoin backers are blinded by “solutionism” and adding that investors who embrace the currency are no more rational than goldbugs.

Salmon also pointed out that, as a five-year-old technology, bitcoin has grown long in the tooth even as it fails to make inroads among ordinary consumers.

“I don’t think it’s going to zero [dollars], but it will always…

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Will payments give Snapchat the next block of a mobile platform?

Gigaom

Today Snapchat rolled out a pay-your-friends feature called Snapcash, powered by Square. Using the ephemeral text chatting feature of the app, you can type in the amount you want to send with a dollar sign. The app recognizes it and transfers money to your friend (once you’ve authorized the Snapcash service in the app).

This is Snapchat’s first big experiment with becoming a full-fledged messaging platform, much like China’s WeChat or Korea’s KakaoTalk. These apps attracted their users with messaging first, and then introduced other features like e-commerce shopping, games, banking, celebrity communication, and brand promotions.

A fledgling peer-to-peer payment system like this is a big first test for Snapchat. It not only will help it to develop a payments process, it will also allow it to gage consumer comfort with sending money through the app. That’s a fundamental building block for other features, from product sales to gaming to banking, that Snapchat could want to…

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iPad cash register maker Revel raises $100M

Gigaom

Revel Systems had something to celebrate today. The maker of point-of-sale terminals announced on Tuesday it has raised $100 million in a Series C round from private equity firm Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe and other strategic investors.

San Francisco-based Revel makes an iPad-based point-of-sale that isn’t for the casual card swipe at a boutique store. Rathe, it’s turning the tablet into a replacement for the workhorse ordering and checkout systems used at high-transaction-volume grocery stores and restaurants. It targets both small business and larger chain business, and half of the 10,000 systems it’s sold so far are used by multiple location businesses like Smoothie King and Dairy Queen (fast food royalty really seems to like Revel’s technology).

The private equity investment includes an initial $65 million up front followed by a $25 million equity line. Revel co-founder Chris Ciabarra said the company plans to use the funds to move…

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Square starts pre-sales of its new chip-and-PIN readers at $29

Gigaom

Square on Wednesday started taking pre-orders for a new version of its Reader and an accessory for Square Stand that will allow its mobile payments service to accept new chip-embedded cards being issued in the U.S. next year.

The transition to EMV – named after its creators [company]EuroPay[/company], [company]MasterCard[/company] and [company]Visa[/company] – is a long time coming in the U.S. Many other countries have already adopted these more secure transactions that verify a card from a dynamic chip instead of pulling numbers from a static magnetic stripe. But starting next fall, merchants will either have to start accepting chip-and-PIN transactions or assume all liability for fraudulent purchases. Square merchants are no exception.

Square will start shipping the new gadgets in spring of 2015, well ahead of the looming EMV deadline, but there is a slight cost to upgrade. The new EMV Reader costs $29 instead of $10, and Square mentioned…

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10 innovation books that every manager should read

Blog de Inovação - Innoscience Blog

Weeks ago we were talking about the challenge of one of our clients and how to help him in a project. Often we use our library looking for models, tools and theories to support our analyzes and prescriptions, just as a doctor does when he needs to deal with a situation of one of his patients. As we searched the books to solve our challenge we began to discuss what are the innovation books that every manager should read. We chose our top 10 innovation books that we recommend for managers to help to put innovation in practice.

The Innovator’s Dillema. Clayton Christensen introduced the concepts of disruptive innovation and how a well-managed business can be disrupted by new entrants. Detailing his research on the hard disk drives and steel producers the author showed that breakthrough innovations are a distinct alternative that deserves attention from large companies. From this…

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Solving the IT skills gap

Gigaom

The unemployment rate for the IT industry is only 3 percent, compared with a 7 percent unemployment rate nationally. This is great for IT professionals, but it presents a problem for hiring managers, many of whom are struggling to staff their teams with the skills they need.

Some of these sought-after positions include:

  • Technicians
  • IT Support/Service
  • Application Developers
  • Cloud Engineers

This talent shortage is largely rooted in issues of salary and training. The rise in demand has pushed IT salaries for some positions higher (NoSQL specialists, for example, command an average of $114,000 a year). Meanwhile, training hasn’t kept up with this demand. Tech skills change so quickly and expire so rapidly, it’s hard to find new hires with the latest tech skills.

As a result, hiring cycles for some IT positions can be as long as six months.

Read the new blog post from Rackspace, Solving the IT Skills…

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Braintree targets European commerce apps with a streamlined sign-up, free transactions

Gigaom

Braintree already does a lot of overseas business in mobile and online payments, but it’s taking a particular interest in Europe these days. While speaking at The Web Summit in Dublin Wednesday, Braintree CEO Bill Ready announced a program that only requires a developer to submit an email address, website URL and a brief description of their business to get hooked into Braintree and PayPal’s payment processing systems.

The new streamlined sign-up process will presumably make its way to Braintree’s other markets, but it’s starting in Europe. Ready also promised European developers that it would handle the first $50,000 in transactions for free – whatever that works out to be in their local currency.

Braintree, which is now the developer arm of PayPal, is trying to drum up more business for its new v.zero SDK, a kind of payments system-in-a-box that can get any app developer or online…

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