Among the select few to address the 6,000 faithful with tales from the leading edge of data analytics at this June's Hadoop conference will be Netflix, Yahoo — and Sears. For three years, AdAge reports, Sears has been using Hadoop to get a handle on the 100 million customers in its databases. And apparently the 130-year-old retailer has become so adept that it’s stopped giving away advice over the phone and started selling data management services under the B2B brand MetaScale.
MetaScale’s profile is so high among the Hadoop community that Sears now declines to give out the names of the people who work there since a couple of them were poached by competitors. But with a $1.7 billion drop in revenue leading to losses of $930 million (after 2011’s $1.1 billion revenue drop resulted in a $3.1 billion loss), it’s hard not to wonder when those data-analytic smarts will turn into business riches.
Do teams benefit from conflict? Clever research from Bret Bradley and a trio of colleagues at Pepperdine and the Universities of Oklahoma and Iowa suggests the answer is “it depends.” That is, it depends on how emotionally stable and how open to new experience team members are. The researchers correlated the personalities of undergraduate business students working in 117 teams on a 13-week group project with the quality of the output each team produced. They found, as one might expect, that the teams with the most mature and open-minded members used conflict most productively. But teams with the least stable and least open-minded students who displayed the least amount of conflict were equally effective.
Drive up to the Audi demonstration garage in Ingolstadt, Germany, get out of the car, and watch as it drives into the facility and finds its own space. Then, tap your smartphone and be amazed as the car smoothly drives itself back to you at the entrance. So cool. But don’t expect to see those cars driving themselves down the road anytime soon, says Audi engineer Annie Lien. “People are surprised when I tell them that you’re not going to get a car that drives you from A to B, or door to door, in the next 10 years.” As dramatic as these proofs of concept are, they are a long way from viable businesses. For that, she says, the technologies need to become far cheaper, more compact, more intuitive, easier to use, more secure — and far more reliable.