Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Algorithms in Social that cant (!) spell don't sell, Cynics & Sentimentalists

Are the selling deductions from Algorithms in Social 
really so accurate or a load of Tisch Tosh ! ?

The appeal of numbers to control-minded business leaders is obvious:

 they are easy to test

and therefore to measure, unlike vague, slippery emotions !

We need numbers but....

False comfort in attempting to make all selling activities into a process can result in a sales management control mirage.

 Artificially allocating values to the stages of the sale can no doubt be algoritmised ( I have no idea if such a word exists.) and  may give the illusion of being in command or even a feeling of sales management . They are easy to test and measure.

There are plenty of sales force control systems up there in the Cloud for example sold as the nirvana of sales management. They are very helpful tools but certainly not the whole story.

British businesses, gripped in the vice of targets, crave quantification.

Yet the limitation of mere number creation and artificial process formulations to the world of selling and work of all kinds can been disastrous.

Do you remember when... ?

  Just think back to the  shortcomings of algorithm models of markets and compliance procedures and targets in the finance field. Consider the  'unfit for purpose' bureaucratic 'standards' of all sorts from  CRB check system that failed to protect many poor folk from Jimmy Savile to standards which failed to ensure nurses nursed instead of ticking boxes.

 Who know's what the shortcomings of the procedures  and algorithms for flood defences of our beautiful island. Will the mathematical models of water management and the actuarial insurance calculations  be found wanting we wonder ?

These number and process obsessed cults have therefore made what is measurable important, rather than what is important measurable. 

“They are like  Charles Dicken’s Hard Times Mr Gradgrind's useful idiots “ to adapt a quote from Simon Jenkins of the Guardian.

I still mistakenly imagine that like the 1960s TV series “The Prisoner” filmed in beautiful Portmeirion  played by Patrick McGoohan that   “I am not a number !”

An algorithm developed by a team at Tisch University tested their methods on anonymised data from 1.3 million randomly selected Facebook users aged 20 or older who listed their status as 'married', 'engaged' or 'in a relationship', according to the Cornell Chronicle.

  (Naturally enough this was reported in the press  on the feast of St.Cyril and St. Methodius-  more popularly kept as St.Valentine’s day Feb 14th .)

The Tisch team were able to identify the partner 70.5 % of the time. Others who might be chosen by the algorithm are most often family members or their partners.

The researchers were also able to determine, 68.3 % of the time, whether a given user was or was not in a relationship at all, and with 79 % accuracy if the relationship was a marriage.

Maybe such data can be used for those selling dating and wedding products and services.

I guess nobody is immune to advertising.  I am not.  I confess to buying loads of quite unnecessary stuff. The advertisers would not plough so much money into adverts if it did not work at some level.

Are Algorithms true ?

We are told that social media data can determine accurately who we are through algorithms. 

They can then use this data to help their clients target me in a focused way for advertising.

Yet when I look at the aligned sponsored advertising in my social network home page I do not recognise myself at all.

Apparently I am interested in the following:-

·         Beating rising funeral costs
·         Industrial deafness claims
·         Equity release calculator
·         Women looking for a date who spell can’t as “cant “  e.g. “Looking for a date? Our singles cant wait”
·         Gossipcop dot com.
·         Your life after 40 dot com

For those with whom I work and live amongst I doubt they would  recognise me from the above either. I doubt dear readers  who follow this blog would.

 Oscar Wilde’s quote on cynics  perhaps should always be paired with his definition of a sentimentalist. From Lady Windermere’s Fan

“What is a cynic? A man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.
And a sentimentalist, my dear Darlington, is a man who sees an absurd value in everything, and doesn't know the market place of any single thing.”

Of course on Wilde's measure I  may be the  sentimentalist. But maybe I should be a cynic

After all to everyone in the “Village” back in the 1960s including the interrogator No 2 in his hanging egg shaped chair -  considered The Prisoner as No.6 !

 Good Selling folks

Related links

    You tube clip of The Prisoner

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