April 07, 2009

Zappos Map: Actionable Data?

By now many of you have become enthralled with Zappos Map, a real-time image of product sales across North America (tip of hat to The Snow Patrol). The Twitterati are certainly enjoying it, aren't they?

This is one of those projects that gets killed in 99 of 100 companies. How many times have you had an idea like this, only to have the VP of Intergalactic Strategies tell you that the data isn't "actionable"? The leader will badger you ... "who cares that somebody bought the New Balance MX840 in Tuscaloosa in the last thirty seconds ... how is that actionable?" The VP of Intergalactic Strategies strides away from your cube, heading to the all-important "Multichannel Inventory Alignment Task Force Daily Brief" in conference room 6K while you're left to watch Zappos innovate in real time on your 15" CRT monitor built in 1999.

Well, it is actionable. About thirty members of the Twitterati are mentioning the tool to their loyal following of 165 individuals ... each hour. So that's a bunch of free advertising, isn't it? And when you watch the map, you notice that Zappos is featuring seven different items ... and the items are always changing. Zappos found a way to feature merchandise, just like you find a way to feature items in your e-mail marketing campaigns.

Zappos found a way to get content on to your computer screen, they found a way to market directly to you without executing traditional direct marketing. And Zappos, courtesy of a lot of hard work in the world of social media, found an audience willing to share the content --- doing the advertising for them.

Let's consider the opportunities in front of us, before the VP of Intergalactic Strategies asks us to develop a dashboard filled with inventory KPIs.


  1. Anonymous9:21 AM

    Hi Kevin,
    I am writing this using my NEC MultiSync FE700 built in Feb/2000!

    I had a VP direct sales actually use the words "not actionable" when we presented a map (from ArcView) showing his sales force was about 2/3 non-profitable 2-3 years ago.

    When they finally laid them off in December of last year they kept a 1/3, but they are all from the area of the country where all his buddies were (and our analysis showed only 1 or 2 of them make us any money).

    Your post is so right, but needless to say they have not made it to Twitter yet around here!!

    Thanks for doing this... it gives a direction to head in.

  2. I've enjoyed many a MultiSync during my career!

    "Not actionable" is a phrase that is thrown around a lot. It has one of three meanings.

    (a) The data truly isn't actionable.

    (b) The data is actionable, but the business leader doesn't understand it.

    (c) The data is actionable, but the data doesn't align with the worldview of the business leader reviewing the data.


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