Solink Blog

Helping retailers and financial institutions to be data-driven

15 Food and Restaurant Influencers You Need To Follow

February 2, 2015
We are happy to share with you this list of 15 movers and shakers that are changing the food and restaurant industries one plate at a time. All of these restaurant influencers have made a significant impact and we’re eager to see what they do next. Say hi to them on Twitter and tell them @SolinkCorp sent you!   1. Danny Meyer @dhmeyer Danny Meyer is a New York City restaurateur and the CEO of the Union Square Hospitality Group. After studying cooking as a culinary stagiaire in both Italy and Bordeaux, he opened his first restaurant Union Square Cafe at just 27 years old. The restaurant is still running strong after 30 years in business. 2. Kat Cole @KatColeATL A true businesswoman and humanitarian, Kat Cole is now the President and COO of Cinnabon, Inc. She got her start in the restaurant industry at Hooters where she became an Executive Vice President at just 26 years old. Cole oversaw the growth of Hooters from approximately 100 locations and $300 million in revenue to 500 locations in 33 countries and $1 billion in revenue. 3. Dana Cowin @fwscout Dana Cowin is the Editor-in-Chief of Food & Wine magazine. In 2012, Cowin was an inductee into the James Beard Foundation’s Who’s Who in Food & Beverage in America. Currently she is on the Board of Directors of Hot Bread Kitchen. 4. Jonathan Grahm @Compartes Jonathan Grahm, named one of Forbes “30 Under 30”, is known for his over 100+ varieties of gourmet chocolates found in Compartes Chocolatier. Grahm, who started making chocolate at 19, transformed Compartes Chocolatier into one of the most notable and celebrated artisanal chocolate destinations in the nation blending chocolate, art, style, design, fashion and food. 5. Paul Barron @paulbarron Where do we even begin? Paul Barron is the CEO and Executive Producer of Foodable Network, the founder of Fast Casual publication and Fast Casual Nation as well as the author of The Chipotle Effect. Simply put, if you’re in the fast casual industry you should be following him. 6. Vani Hari @thefoodbabe A passionate food activist, writer and speaker, Vani Hari is on a mission to make the food industry less processed and more transparent. Her work has lead numerous large brands including Starbucks, Subway and Panera Bread to remove chemicals from their ingredients. 7. Jon Taffer @jontaffer Jon Taffer is the unapologetic but caring host and Executive Producer of Bar Rescue and Hungry Investors on Spike TV. He is also the President of The Nightclub & Bar Media Group and Taffer Media. 8. Liza de Guia @SkeeterNYC Liza de Guia combined her two passions, food and storytelling, to create Food Curated. Through video and blogs, she tells the story behind good food. Guia is also a NYTimes partner/host and has been nominated 4 times for a James Beard award. 9. Natanya Anderson @NatanyaP When she’s not eating, drinking, or blogging about food, Natanya is the Director of Social Media at Whole Foods Market. She is also a

The Most Important Statistic on Bank Fraud that Banks Don’t Want You to Know

January 14, 2015
Every year Bank Info Security releases their comprehensive Faces of Fraud Survey that looks at the biggest trends and current state of bank fraud. The most alarming statistic from the 2014 results is that 62% of companies indicated that they first learn of fraud incidents only after their customers notify them. (Tweetable) Here are some other insights from the survey: 36% point to the difficulty of integrating data from various sources as one of their biggest challenges Only 11% are using big data analytics in fraud prevention 65% say payment card fraud is the most common form of fraud they see Considering that the banking industry spends Millions of dollars on some combination of controls to detect fraud, including security cameras, fraud monitoring systems, Positive Pay and debit blocks, it’s pretty disheartening to know that customers are among the best fraud detectors. What if in 2015 we flipped that percentage? If 62% of banking fraud was detected before the customer even notices, the impact of fraud would significantly decrease in terms of money lost, employee time spent and damage to the bank’s reputation. But why stop there? Ideally we would completely remove the customer from the fraud detection equation. The Problem With Current Fraud Solutions One of the biggest challenge that banks face is the sheer volume and the variety of data that needs to be mined and coordinated in order to detect fraud. Banks don’t only process ATM and Teller data: there’s online banking, drive-thrus, surveillance cameras, sensors, access control, and more. Current fraud detection and prevention solutions are supposed to mine this data and create alerts whenever they detect potential fraud. But it is pointed out by the survey that many of these solutions don’t truly integrate different types of data. They just combine fraud alerts together from several channels, resulting in three major problems: Thousands of potential fraud cases are created without high accuracy Many of these end up being false positives Without data integration or the ability to review thousands of cases, some fraud goes undetected The first two problems make it impossible for investigators to manually review each case in a timely manner. If potential fraud was flagged in the transactional data, the investigator would also need to correlate it with the video evidence and any other data that corresponds to that transaction. This can draw out the investigation process by hours, if not days, more than enough time for the criminal to commit a second ATM fraud. Properly integrated and managed data is a critical element of fraud detection because it reveals suspicious and unique patterns which would otherwise go unnoticed. Consider a situation in which the client is using the ATM. The video footage looks normal and the ATM system detects nothing irregular. However, when integrated on a central platform, the system recognizes that the client has been standing in front of the ATM for 5 minutes and has yet to make a transaction. This would trigger an alert to offer assistance to

Axis Partners with Solink to Deliver Integrated Contextual Analytics

January 12, 2015
We are proud to announce that we have partnered with Axis Communications, the global leader in network video surveillance, to deliver a fully integrated contextual analytics solution. This partnership allows Axis IP Cameras to work seamlessly with the Solink platform and our banking and retail applications. Since inception, Axis has continued to innovate its broad range of IP video cameras and solutions. Axis’ platform enables software companies, like Solink, to integrate value-added solutions natively. The Axis Application Development Partner (ADP) program provides a mature ecosystem for developers to innovate, create and iterate solutions and applications. This partnership will benefit Axis customers in banking and retail by providing continuous discovery and real-time alerting of operations, risk, and security events. Our web-based software helps businesses use video to make informed, timely and data-driven decisions. By detecting an average of 10 events/camera every hour, the Solink platform can provide decisions makers with numerous data points to be searched or alerted on. Events are specific markers that identify time & location-based interactions – such as in-store transactions, queue lines, motion events, alarm-panel notifications, product lift, wait or dwell times to name a few. Using the contextual analytics engine, we can correlate these disparate data sources to identify unique insights captured on video. We are now able to interact with analytic events generated by Axis’ IP cameras and leverage the high-quality video stream required for analysis. This partnership is a giant step towards taking video to the entire enterprise. “Solink is a very welcome and important addition to the Axis Application Development Program. Their applications are especially important for us in the Middle East as they address a wide range of challenges faced by key stakeholders in the banking and retail sectors. The requirements of these sectors are rapidly evolving and highly demanding,” says Marwan Khoury, Marketing Manager MEA. “With the ever increasing desire for high resolution and high frame rate recording in the Middle East, Solink helps to ease the deployment and cost burdens on enterprise infrastructure with intelligent data and metadata searching processes across the entire company environment. This is an ideal compromise between the best quality video available and sustainable communications infrastructure costs, which is why a partnership between Axis Communications and Solink is so invaluable to banks and retailers in the region,” says Matthew Terrey, Solink’s representative in the UAE. We will be showcasing our video discovery solution at the Axis Communications stand (No: S1-G12) at INTERSEC Dubai from January 18th – January 20th. For further Information: Marwan Khoury, Marketing Manager, MEA Axis Communications FZE +971 4 6091718 Rally Stanoeva, Marketing Coordinator Solink Corporation 1 (844) 635-7305

We leveraged 536 Million hours of video (a look back at 2014)

January 9, 2015
2014 was a great year for Solink. A year of growth, discovery and innovation. We doubled our staff, expanded our customer base and processed over half a Billion hours of video to help our customers make data-driven decisions. We stayed true to our mission of making video a more relevant and meaningful source of business insight through new applications in risk, security, operations and marketing. Video data holds tremendous promise to be used by the whole enterprise and we will continue to invest on this front. We’re excited for the opportunities and challenges ahead, and expect 2015 to be the best year yet. Thank you to our users, customers, and partners for your support – we look forward to continuing our success with you in 2015. Mike Matta CEO, Solink    

Solink Presents Contextual Analytics at Rutgers University

November 27, 2014
We had the pleasure and privilege to be part of Rutgers Business School’s 33rd World Continuous Auditing & Reporting Symposium. Rutgers is well known as a leading university worldwide for analytics and continuous monitoring, having published numerous papers on the topic. This conference brings together researchers, academics, thought leaders, and practitioners from top firms and leading institutions to discuss the current trends and innovations, and Contextual Analytics was one of those innovations. Our VP of Platform, Solon Angel, was invited to talk about what we are doing at Solink to innovate continuous monitoring. He was introduced by Micheal Cangemi, author, speaker, advisor to Solink, Founder and President of Cangemi Company. Michael kicked off the presentation by recounting his own experience with data analytics: while working in the retail environment just 10 years ago, Michael used his interest in data and a bit of creativity to find new ways to analyze POS data to detect fraud. At the time this was quite advanced, but in his words “what Solink does makes it seem archaic”. One of our favourite sayings at Solink is that “1s and 0s can only take you so far, at a certain point you need real world insights.” (Click to Tweet) It’s easy to misinterpret information when you are just looking at transactional data. But video shows an actual recount of what happened, making it pretty difficult to misinterpret or manipulate the data. This is the significance of Contextual Analytics. With this in mind, the message that Solon wanted to communicate at Rutgers is that video is the new dimension in continuous monitoring. (Click to Tweet) We want to thank Rutgers for inviting us. The feedback we received from the audience was very positive and it sparked many meaningful conversations and ideas. We are already looking forward to being back in 2015! Here’s what attendees we’re talking about during the conference: Interesting presentation by @SolinkCorp in using video contextually with other data sets. Many #continuousaudit opps. #WCARS33 — Chase Whitaker (@43Chase) November 8, 2014 #wcars33 Always makes you think. Does Big Data really change the nature of “entire population of items in an account” — Eric E. Cohen (@cybercpa) November 8, 2014 Back from #wcars33 in NJ, always fascinating to exchange ideas with the auditors, researchers and tech vendors shaping the future of the pr… — Solon Angel (@sangel) November 8, 2014

In The World Of Data Analytics, “Context Is All”

October 30, 2014
In her famous novel The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood repeatedly wrote “context is all”. She certainly wasn’t inspired by today’s challenges of big data analytics, but she understood that without context, you can’t truly know anything. According to 21stClub, context is so important in the world of data analytics that without it, “data is meaningless, irrelevant and even dangerous.” (Tweet this!) That position may sound a bit extreme, but we are of the same mind at Solink, and we’re not the only ones. Susan Etlinger, Industry Analyst at Altimer Group, delivered a powerful Ted Talk illustrating the real-world consequences of analyzing data while ignoring context. A topic that became deeply important to Susan after her son Isaac received a diagnosis which was factually correct, but didn’t tell the whole story. What Etlinger attempts to prove in her talk is that when you understand the context of a person or event, you’re much less likely to misinterpret its meaning. As elementary as this sounds, context is rarely mentioned along side Big Data analytics. Consider the physical security and healthcare industries where misleading information can be just as dangerous, if not more so, than ignorance. This is where Contextual Analytics fits in. In our first blog post we introduced it as the non-obvious relationship between data and context: it is the ability to understand the uniqueness of a person or event and leverage that understanding into an opportunity. To better appreciate Contextual Analytics, it helps to understand its general concepts. Starting with context which “consists of all the external, internal, and interpersonal factors that contribute to the uniqueness of each situation and circumstance.” (source) Applying advanced analytics to contextual data is what transforms it into knowledge which, most importantly, we can put into practice. What this might look like in the real world is a business collecting and integrating all the data surrounding every transaction. This raw data can come from POS systems, ATMs, sensors, cameras, loyalty cards and more. By looking at the same transaction from the point of view of several data sources, you can understand the full context. With all of these data points, our advanced analytics can then identify unique characteristics surrounding a person or event, and use that understanding as a competitive advantage. To illustrate a situation where data without context is misleading, we created these two cartoons:   In both cases the ATM data leaves out much of the story. With Contextual Analytics, the transactional data is tied to the security footage so customer dwell and queue can be detected. Solink was founded on two key ideas: the first is that without context, we can’t have knowledge and the second that video is the richest source of contextual data. We’ve since coined the term Contextual Analytics and will continue to create educational content that will help businesses realize the potential of their video data as a proactive tool to improve security, operations and customer service. If you’re currently using data analytics, or considering it as part

We Found Waldo At ASIS 2014

October 7, 2014
Our team just got back from Atlanta where we exhibited at ASIS 2014, one of the biggest trade shows in the security industry. The office is still buzzing with excitement over all of the positive feedback we received from our technology partners and trade show attendees. Even though this was the first time we hosted our own booth, we were able to generate a lot of buzz on the show floor. If you attended ASIS, then you’ll know that I’m talking about Waldo. We Found Waldo From reviewing a customer service incident to tracking down a fraudster, every business has experienced the tedious task of manually scanning security footage to locate a target or an event. This “Where’s Waldo” process is known as time and location search. At Solink, we believe there’s a better way to search video data. That’s why we created and explained how event-driven video discovery is putting an end to time and location search. During the show, a couple of us were seen walking around in Where’s Waldo costumes. Being one of the Waldos, I was frequently stopped by curious attendees. Many others came by our booth to figure out what our “we found waldo” campaign was all about. I found #waldo at #asis14! Have you!? #securitytoday @SolinkCorp! — Ginger Hill (@GingerHill13) September 30, 2014 ASIS is always an opportunity to catch up with old friends, as well as to meet some new faces. We took advantage of the hundreds of cameras on site to get a bit more creative with our hiding spots. Search-driven applications, such as this face recognition one from Intelligent Security Systems, were a very noticeable trend this year. Check out how @Isscctv and @AxisSecurity used face recognition to find Waldo! #ASIS14 — Contextual Analytics (@SolinkCorp) September 30, 2014 Can you spot Waldo? It’s pretty fair to say that after ASIS we all felt like this: After 3 days of trade show “fabulousness” this is exactly how I feel! Lol! #asis14 #securitytoday — Ginger Hill (@GingerHill13) October 1, 2014 But we are certainly not slowing down. Our experience at ASIS only validated our mission to make video data meaningful and accessible across the entire enterprise. Solon, our Head of Platform, perfectly summed up our post-show attitude: Thank you @sama for the advices, a nice refresher as we are taking @SolinkCorp into hyperdrive and make #cxanalytics widely adopted #bigdata — Solon Angel (@sangel) October 2, 2014

6 Essential Things To Look For In Your Data Analytics Platform

September 18, 2014
As more and more organizations are turning to Big Data and advanced analytics to unlock the true value of their data, the competition between data analytics vendors is heating up. Most organizations have evolved passed the initial hype around Big Data where they wanted to work with it just because everyone was doing it. Now the expectation is that an investment in data and analytics will translate into a measurable ROI, from helping to manage the day-to-day operations to shaping long-term strategy. In the finance industry in particular, data discovery tools are creating opportunities to detect and fight fraud in ways that were not possible before. Admittedly, as one of the players in this industry, our opinion of what makes or breaks a platform is biased. Nevertheless, this list of 6 essential criteria should narrow down your search for the right vendor. Note that these are essentials for top performing data analytics tools. All vendors will promise to “do more with your data” but we are not all created equal: the ones that don’t live up to these criteria shouldn’t make the cut for your business. 6 Criteria for an Outstanding Data Analytics Platform 1. Ease of Onboarding and Use: A minimum learning curve and little to no change in existing hardware or workflows will get you up and running as soon as possible. But that’s just the start. If you want the tool to become a core part of your long-term data strategy, employees not only need to be able to use it intuitively, but to actually love using it because it makes their job easier. 2. Works with Disparate Data Sources: There are numerous opportunities with data analytics when a platform has the ability to truly integrate and correlate various types of data in one place. There are ATMs, POS systems, cameras, sensors, social media chatter, web analytics, discount programs, loyalty programs, etc. All of these systems create data in many different forms: structured, unstructured, or a mix of both. The goal is not to analyze them individually, but for them to be combined to create uniqueds contextual insights. As Mark Smith, CEO of Ventana Research, wrote: “Big Data is broken without integration”.   3. Facilitates Collaboration: Data discovery can benefit an entire organization or an individual department, but decisions are hard to come by without some form of discussion or collaboration. While it’s easy to believe that an organization has a hard time sharing knowledge across departments, what is more disheartening is the concerning lack of information sharing within individual departments. A centralized platform for detecting suspicious activity and managing fraud investigations gives employees and investigators a location where alerts, reports and important information can be shared, enabling them to work together to expedite investigations. With the Ever-Changing Threat Landscape, Knowledge is Power. 4. Scalability and Evolvability: A good solution works for your needs today but might become obsolete just a few years from now. A great solution will be flexible enough to grow and evolve as

Big Data Infographic: How to Explain Big Data to your Grandmother

August 13, 2014
This post was written by Chris Beaudoin, our Director of Marketing, who just returned from attending Montreal’s International Startup Festival. Recently, I volunteered at Montreal’s International Startup Festival for the third year in a row. This particular festival looks to bring early stage startups together from across the world to help develop their pitch and launch them into the marketplace. Included in the festival, are a number of prizes ranging from general awareness to $100k convertible note investments. But, in order to get these prizes, startups have to hustle around the tent village to make their pitch to the various prize judges. My volunteer assignment was to look after one of these prize tents, and once again, I was happily put in charge of the infamous Grandmas. The Grandma judges tent is made up of sweet, caring older women, anyone of whom I would be happy to call my grandmother. But, despite this affable appearance these grandmother’s are not to be taken lightly. While they may not be up-to-date on the latest technology and jargon, they are savvy ex-business women, and they know what they are talking about. This particular group of grandmother’s is best known for their pick in 2012 when they awarded their prize to Onavo, a company that went on to be acquired by Facebook for over $100 million. The Grandma’s prize always garners a lot of attention at the festival as it is one of the most “pure” pitch prizes you can win. To claim this prize, you have to break your idea down to its fundamental parts, and pitch it to a group that will not be up-to-date on the latest jargon and technological advances. A challenge for any company, regardless of where they are in their lifecycle. Albert Einstein knew this challenge, as he was once quoted saying, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” An idea that we take to heart at Solink, as we deal with tech-heavy terms, acronyms and jargon on a daily basis. One of the terms that comes up around our office most often is “Big Data.”, and we thought, that in honour of the Grandmas, we would attempt to explain it in a way that even the elderly could understand. – Chris   Did you enjoy our post? Share the knowledge! Big Data Infographic: How to explain Big Data to your Grandmother Tweet this! “Hiding within mounds of data is knowledge that could change the life of a patient, or change the world.”-@atulbutte Tweet this! Big Data Infographic: video is the BIGGEST Big Data! Tweet this! Infographic: the 5 Vs of Big Data that everyone should know! Tweet this! Imbed the infographic into your own blog or website: <br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> <a href=””><img src=”” alt=”Big Data Infographic” width=”1651″ height=”7601″ class=”aligncenter size-full wp-image-4387″ /></a><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />

Coca-Cola proves: Security cameras capture more than just criminals

July 30, 2014
When you think of security cameras, the first thing that comes to mind is ‘crime’. Their presence alone evokes the warning: “don’t even think about it because we’re watching you”. But this year Coca-Cola put out a heartwarming commercial that proves security cameras don’t just capture criminals. They also capture positive experiences, such as “people stealing kisses”, “music addicts”, “honest pickpockets” and “potato chip dealers”. While Coca-Cola is encouraging people to “share the good”, at Solink we encourage businesses to use video data to “measure and track the good.” Security cameras are capturing not only all of the bad and illegal events, but all the good and positive experiences in your business. From happy customers to happy employees, you can find thousands of positive experiences in your security footage. Armed with the definitive knowledge of these experiences, managers and executives can better understand what makes a positive experience and how their business can encourage more of these behaviours. Just as your managers want to be informed of illegal or irregular events, they should also be aware of incidents that lead to customers and employees being unhappy. Long waiting lines, short staffing, in-store bottlenecks; with video insights from Solink, all of these factors can be measured and tracked, enabling businesses to turn a negative experience into a positive one. Since security cameras do not distinguish between the types of video they capture, businesses should not limit their use to security centric means: video data can be the best tool for improving the customer experience and optimizing operations. Bygone is the era of security centric surveillance video. It’s time to start looking at security video differently, after all, there is a whole lot of “good” in that footage.

Using data to reduce inventory shrinkage and employee theft

July 2, 2014
Inventory shrinkage is like credit card debt: it starts off small, almost unnoticeable, but over time it picks up speed and starts to snowball. Before you know it, you are trying to dig yourself out of the avalanche. Shrinkage is the loss of inventory caused by various factors, including internal and external theft, administrative errors and damaged or expired goods. If left unaddressed, it can create a serious difference between the recorded inventory and actual inventory. According to a National Retail Security Survey, the total inventory shrinkage in 2011 amounted to $35.28 billion dollars. What hurts the most is that employees account for 44.2% of that loss. Believe it or not, there is a silver lining. Retailers collect an enormous amount of data which, when used correctly, can help identify and prevent this type of internal fraud. In Walmart’s case, they produce over 2.2 Petabytes worth of transactional data each day. Transactional data that can be mined with exception-based reporting tools to discover outliers and patterns that can indicate fraud – and that is just one source of data. Outside of transactional data, there is recorded video, sensors, access control data, and more. With this pool of data, an analytics platform like Solink can help to further uncover the hidden patterns and red flags that ultimately lead to inventory shrinkage. By marrying video data from surveillance cameras with transactional data from Point-of-Sale (POS) systems, you can better understand the context of any event in your store. Video analytics allows you to automate the reporting system and receive updates in real-time, alerting you of unusual activities. For example: if a POS system records an item refund, but a video analysis of the surveillance video can’t detect customer presence during the transaction, that could be an indicator of fraud. This scenario demonstrates the value in combining disparate sources of data in a single application and it’s just one of the many use cases of video analytics when it comes to targeting inventory shrinkage. In order to be truly data-driven an organization has to make properly informed decisions. Decisions that examine All available data, in timely and efficient ways. At Solink, we believe that shrinkage shouldn’t have the power to shrink your business. While you might not be able to eliminate it completely, you can mitigate the risk from shrinkage by targeting large contributors, i.e., internal fraud, using the pools of data that already exist in your business. “Shrinkage shouldn’t have the power to shrink your business” –TWEET IT Schedule a free demo of Solink’s Retail Loss Prevention! Image via Lars Leetary

Solink CEO Michael Matta shares his views on the video analytics industry

June 26, 2014
In a recent interview, we asked Michael Matta, co-founder and CEO of Solink, to talk to us about the video analytics industry, current trends, and what makes Solink different. Mike runs the day-to-day operations of Solink while managing strategic relationships with partners and integrators. He is an expert in creating value for customers in data intense industries and his years of experience working in data analysis and value creation have helped shape the overall direction of the Solink platform. Here’s what he had to say Facial Recognition and License Plate Recognition are the current “Hot Topics” in video analytics. What are your thoughts on these security trends versus the reality of analytics overall? We now live in a world of ubiquitous computing where your face is one aspect of your identity that can confirm who you are. You can easily identify someone by looking at his or her digital footprint, but you can’t confirm who they are until you can match a name with a face. In security and risk management there are applications where matching a face to a transaction could reduce fraud and exposure to bad debt. LPR is great because is can generate a ton of useful data for multiple industries. LPR technology is like assigning a “cookie” to every car, and as we know from web analytics, unique identifiers are essential to truly understanding users and behaviours. The adoption of higher resolutions improves accuracy. In general, the ability to identify uniqueness is important because it helps identify trends, What are your opinions about video analytics in delivering Business Intelligence? At Solink, we believe that there is great value in analyzing video for two reasons: Recorded video is the biggest source of unstructured big data; and Video is a rich source of contextual information. Video analytics can provide additional context with business intelligence but it requires data collected from other systems to be truly effective. Once you’ve integrated video analytics with transaction and enterprise data, you can discern unique insight from the contextual information you collect. Understanding the uniqueness of a person or situation and converting that understanding into an opportunity can augment business intelligence. This contextual awareness is made possible by correlating multiple sources of data, video especially. Is video analytics capable of “finding the guy in the blue shirt”? Sure, which guy in the blue shirt? We’ve included colour detection as one of our analytic triggers and have seen a number of use cases for it. For example, you could make sure that there are 3 employees or “blue shirts” behind the customer service desk as per company policy. There are also applications with analysis retail. You would track what colours you sell the most and when they are picked off the shelf. While this is viable today, it’s not a perfect technology. There could be customers with the same colour shirt; and it can be hard to distinguish between tones. Let’s call it a work in progress. When do you see video analytics being