By Jonathan Farb on January 28th, 2015 | Comment on this post

Jonathan Farb ​is the chief product officer at ListenFirst​ Media​, a data and analytics company that helps brands make sense of the vast amount of data at their fingertips, predict outcomes and optimize performance.

The start of a new year means a new slate of predictions — we were pretty pleased with how the bets we placed on 2014 turned out, so we’re back for another round. Here are a few of the things we expect to see shake out in 2015:

1. The marriage of digital data and traditional data to provide business context: ​As once-­shiny­-new digital and social channels continue to mature, we believe more and more brands will begin looking at data from these channels next to more traditional data sets, be it sales figures, call center data, survey data, traditional research metrics, etc. While finding a correlation between your digital activity and your bottom line is the holy grail, the only way to get there is to take the first step: getting all of these inputs in one place.…

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By on January 28th, 2015 | Comment on this post

New report recommends using entrepreneurial markers to launch

Food marketers often fixate on whether certain consumer behaviors represent long-term trends or passing fads: This is with good reason, since understanding when to invest in signals from the marketplace can spell the difference between success and expensive failure. The fixation on distinguishing between trend or fad derives from what in our experience are two major causes: a) the packaged food industry’s very high failure rate in product innovation (which has created a deep, unconscious concern with over-investing in any short-term play) and b) the slow-speed-to-market averages in CPG new product development, which make the risk of arriving at the shelf just as a fad is fading into obscurity (or into a niche opportunity) terrifying for managers.

Because of their failure rate with new products and slow-to-market processes, food companies fear jumping aboard short-term phenomena (“fads”) too late — ironically, making them overly cautious and typically causing them to miss major opportunities.…

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By on January 27th, 2015 | Comment on this post

CME Group recently unveiled the Futures Institute, an online platform for education, market research and simulated trading of futures. The platform features a mix of live classes, interactive modules, market research and training materials and engages participants with multiple trading strategies, including testing and simulation capabilities.

The platform’s Futures Challenge, which takes place every month, allows participants to compete in a simulated environment tracking 36 of the most liquid futures contracts across six asset classes: Energy, Metals, Interest Rates, Agriculture, FX, and Equity Indexes. The Futures Challenge incorporates training modules to educate traders on how to create trade plans, manage risk and analyze markets from both fundamental and technical perspectives.

Ahead of the first Futures Challenge, which kicks off the first week in March, SmartBrief chatted with Mark Omens, senior director and head of retail sales at CME Group, to learn more about the site.

SmartBrief: What is the genesis of this site?

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By Noah Parsons on January 27th, 2015 | Comment on this post

If you’re starting your business, you’ll know that writing a comprehensive business plan can be time-consuming.

While you may eventually need a business plan in order to apply for a loan or obtain funding, do you really need to get all your ideas in perfect order before you start up? What if you’re still testing different ideas and what if you’re bootstrapping your business?

Enter “lean planning.”

Lean planning is a set of tools for discovering a business model that works, building an action plan to test your assumptions, creating financial models and a plan for a viable business, and tracking your performance so you can adjust your plan on the fly, quickly and easily.

The lean planning methodology doesn’t replace the business plan, it simply includes the steps that happen before – and in some places instead of – the formal business plan document.

Of course, you may need to deliver a formal business plan to someone at some point, especially if you are raising money for your business.…

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By Julie Carter on January 27th, 2015 | Comment on this post

Tech Tips is a content collaboration between SmartBrief Education and GreyED Solutions.

Checking for understanding at the most basic level in the classroom has historically included teachers observing the body language of his or her students. Are they making eye contact? Are they nodding and showing indications that they are following the concept being discussed, or are they staring quizzically at you with a furrowed brow? When instruction shifts in the classroom to a more personalized and digital approach, teachers find that they are observing and facilitating a class of heads that are bent down into devices.

Leveraging technology is an excellent way for teachers to address this, using formative assessments through any number of digital tools to check for student understanding. The benefits to this are great; allowing teachers and students real time feedback to aid in the modification and personalization of instruction in the classroom. Embedding these conversation and the necessary training for teachers to feel comfortable utilizing these practices in an essential component to successes in your 1:1 classrooms.…

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