Friday, May 9, 2014

The Billion Dollar Paperclip Review and Giveaway

*Disclaimer: The following is a review of the book The Billion Dollar Paperclip by Gregory Short. I was sent a complimentary copy, but all opinions and thoughts are my own. No other compensation was or will be given*

A month or so ago I was given the opportunity to read and review the book The Billion Dollar Paperclip by Gregory Short. I am not a business person, but I was intrigued by the premise. The description reads:

Two nearly identical products are released: one breaks all sales records while the other sits on store shelves untouched.
The products look the same.  Have the same target market, the same price, and similar retailers.  Their manufacturers spent the same amount of money promoting them.  
So why did one succeed, where the other failed?
Market researchers and data analysts have been wrestling with questions like this for decades.  As the flood of 'Big Data' adds both possibilities and complexities to traditional research methodologies, the ultimate solution for companies seeking to become data enabled has finally emerged.  
Inspired by how the human mind processes information, the emerging field of ‘Contextual Analytics’ is revolutionizing how data and technology are used for market research, analytics, and everyday business decisions.  
The data to make your products or services more profitable is likely available to you, but either dormant or disconnected from your decision making systems.  How to connect those pieces of data using contextual analytics is the story of The Billion Dollar Paperclip.

Here’s a Q&A with the author, Gregory Short:

What is EEDAR?
 EEDAR is the world’s largest research firm specializing in interactive entertainment.  At its core, EEDAR operates a contextual analytics framework that integrates numerous disparate types of data and information to produce holistic insights relevant to the market success of current or future products.
What is your role with EEDAR? 
Founder and currently Chief Executive Officer.  I oversaw the development of the contextual analysis framework and the underlying principles that it requires to function.
 How many games are in EEDAR’s database? 
EEDAR maintains the largest game database in the world.  Not only are there well over 100,000 games, but the rich metadata on each product that EEDAR curates is what truly sets it apart.  Currently EEDAR has over 150 million metadata attributes classified on video game products alone.  This doesn’t include all the additional facts EEDAR utilizes in relation to advertising, sales or other market data relevant to the segment.  
What percentage of games developed or game developers use EEDAR? 
EEDAR is utilized by 100% of the top 20 global video game publishers.  Almost every blockbuster game released in the last 5 years has been touched by EEDAR data or services in some way.  
EEDAR offers a tremendous amount of data.  Based on the principles of your book, how would you suggest a game development company begin processing the girth of information when considering their individual project(s)? 
The most important thing to remember is that where data is concerned, context is everything.  Too many companies focus on just one type of data or information to the exclusion of others, or are unaware of the inherent biases or quality issues a data set may carry.  In order to make the best decisions about a game being developed, or any product for that matter, the ability to align data in a manner where its context is clearly visible will yield more actionable insights.  
What are the 3 core principles/rules of achieving contextual data insights? 
1.      Audit your information frequently:  understand the type of data you have access to and its overall quality.2.      Create an ecosystem that effectively leverages metadata and other overlapping information to traverse disparate data sets.3.      Clearly identify the role data plays inside your organization to ensure it is used appropriately and that information systems are architected to support this purpose. 
How is your book different? 
Information is one of the last remaining resources yet to be commoditized.  Companies that can learn to harness it effectively will find tremendous competitive advantage.  Yet in working with some of the largest organizations in the world, with access to petabytes of information, I have seen very few who have a plan on how to unlock the latent value that resides in their data vaults. The Billion Dollar Paperclip provides the guiding principles necessary for information creators and consumers to think smarter about their data.  It is based on my success in revolutionizing the data utility within in the video game industry and my experiences in working across both the client and vendor arenas in the world of market research. Readers of the work will come away with a more pragmatic and actionable understanding of how to value their data more effectively while also working to achieve richer contextual insights. 
How are your principles able to be applied universally? 
Fundamentally the majority of all research is in the pursuit of ‘Why?’.  Whether it’s about video games or Viagra, pharma or finance, decision makers utilize data to become more educated about likely causal relationships in order to affect their areas of influence more expertly.  The principles explored in The Billion Dollar Paperclip guide the reader towards a path where information is more actionable in general.  All data, regardless of industry, can be assigned to specific types and qualities.  All information, regardless of any desired utility, is more valuable when it can be viewed both in isolation and in context.  The book is successful in providing a clear set of tools to equip data creators and vendors, information professionals, and managerial decision makers, with the means to be more astute in how they interact with information in the chosen profession. 

Reaction: (4 1/2 out of 5 stars)

 I loved this book. Seriously, loved. This is the first nonfiction book I've read that I didn't want to put down It’s written in a very engaging manner that’s easily accessible no matter what level of business expertise you have. I never felt like it was dumbed down but I also never felt like running to my husband’s old college business books to try to decipher what was being said. Mr. Short has a very simple way of approaching marketing: People do everything for a reason and there’s always a way to figure out why. He’s a big proponent of doing more than market research and looking at more than just the blanket responses.
As a member of several market research groups myself, I’m often befuddled by the questions they ask. They often contradict previously asked questions and are so vague I can’t imagine how they would use the information I gave them. This is what Mr. Short refers to as “Big data”. He argues that it’s an ineffective and archaic way of interacting with customers. Then, he offers examples. That’s one of the things I loved about his approach- he makes a point and then illustrates it with real life examples.
I’ve already sent my review copy to my Dad who’s in marketing, have told my husband (a business graduate) to read it, and have used the principles taught in it in several conversations, both in real life and online. Definitely a book that changes the way you view marketing.

 I’m so grateful I had the chance to read this book and am so excited that one of you will get a chance to read it as well! That’s right The Howling Horn gets to give one of our readers their very own copy! Enter below and make sure you check it out on Amazon. (This is NOT an affiliate link.)

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