Google has once again had its wrists slapped by a European regulator - in this case, the data protection commissioner for Hamburg (acting on behalf of Germany as a whole). The demand is that users of the search engine giant (and its other owned services) should be asked for consent before any data captured on them is used for profiling. (For more on this story, go here) Two major issue jump out of this ruling (which it is far from clear that Google will actually respond to and respect - part of the company’s current slew of legal challenges across Europe stem from an unwillingness to act on previous demands relating to search rankings). The first is that Hamburg is acting ahead of what current European Union legislation actually requires. Since the “Cookies Law”...
One of the key results of the big data revolution is that the need for businesses to move data out of the IT department and into the boardroom is now widely understood and accepted. C-level executives are increasingly seeing data as a business asset, rather than a by-product of operations or merely something that the IT department needs to store and manage. Board-level conversations are no longer focused on historical data in the latest financial reports, but on how to get real-time access to current data to shape strategies and help improve decision-making. Everyone around the boardroom table is excited at the prospect of transforming what was once a hard-to-manage by-product of business operations into a valuable asset to help them gain an edge over the competition. In theory, all...
When was the last time you sent a postcard to a friend while on holiday? More likely that you posted a holiday snap on Instagram. Do you buy a newspaper on your way to work in the morning (or even get it delivered to your home)? Probably not - the tablet version is a more likely source for your news (or even just relying on Twitter, if you are less worried about the reliability of the stories you read...) Those are just two examples of consumer behaviours that have changed significantly in the last twenty years, with an accelerated rate of change in the last ten. What once looked like a permanent feature of every day life - the role of printed communications - has been overwhelmed by digital channels (even though print persists, albeit in reduced form). So what do you do if your...
Predictive analytics, under the guise of the rather more prosaic label of mathematical and statistical modelling, has been around for years, especially in financial services and mail order retailing. Now, as the value of data becomes much more widely recognised, marketers are increasingly aware that using such techniques is the key to understanding consumers and predicting their behaviour. And if you can predict consumer behaviour, you’re in the right place to optimise your marketing budget allocation. This ability to optimise spend on activities that maximise returns has contributed to a resurgence in the popularity of predictive analytics. However, for many the use of predictive analytics is still relatively new and getting the process right, from setting the right objectives...
Will you be paying £250 to get an Apple Watch? (Note - estimated price only. Final RRP may differ.) The launch of the much-heralded device has raised a chorus of questions about what it will be used for. Even Apple does not have much of an idea, but is hoping an army of developers will come up with some killer apps. Those who buy into the concept of wearable tech are betting that something will emerge to reward their investment which is either fun, useful or saves them money. So how about a smart meter? It will cost you less - about £215 spread over the next 15 years - and you don’t actually have a choice. This technology is being rolled out by Government edict as a way to reduce energy bills. Yet according to the Department of Energy and Climate Change, households...
What makes for a great business leader? Is it their expertise and knowledge which ensures decisions are well rooted in reality? Or is it their bravery - a willingness to trust to instinct and make snap decisions? A lot gets written about the way CEOs and the rest of the C-suite make choices and lead the business. From Daniel Kahneman’s two systems of thinking through to Jon Ronson’s suggestion that chief executives have a lot in common with psychopaths, there has been a lot of interest in what it takes to sit in the big chair at the top table. That ability has been coming under pressure from the rise of data and analytics as a business resource. Evidence-based decision making can seem at odds with the very notion of leadership - after all, if you have the data (or model) to...
Once the furore over the recent leaked batch of nude photos of actresses had calmed and Perez Hilton had rediscovered his moral compass, thoughts turned towards the possible source of the disclosure. This saw a round-up of the usual suspects: ex-husbands and lovers indulging in revenge porn; disgruntled ex-employees abusing access rights to hit back over perceived mis-treatment; thieves who’d gained access via a stolen phone or tablet; and hackers. It appears that the event was down to a small group of hackers who had accumulated the images over the course of a number of years. Undoubtedly male (and emotionally retarded), the group had found the images through some relatively basic hacking - using an email address to log-in and hitting the “forgotten password” link...
One of the features of post-Renaissance art was the use of a fig leaf or piece of gauze to cover the ruder parts of the subject’s anatomy. It was a Church-led reaction to the freedom  of expression which the Italian masters had exercised and lasted right through the Victorian era, when even piano legs might be covered up, until the mid-1960s, when the sexual revolution swept such prudery away again. In the Internet era, it seems absurd to imagine pictures would be censored in this way. Yet, paradoxically, that is almost what individuals seem to believe about their own personal images. Trust in the technology providers, especially Apple, has reached such a level that even the most intimate items are trusted to their devices and services. Which means that the private domain is...
We are constantly hearing about the fact that the issue of data quality is rapidly moving up the corporate agenda to become a board level discussion - heralding the dawn of the age of the Chief Data Officer. One of the key drivers for this is the realisation that data has a financial value - either in its own right or via the impact it can have on business processes and outcomes that drive the profitability of the organisation at large. However, despite this, there is still all too often a sense of apathy towards tackling the data quality challenge. As a result, many organisations are still struggling to make the case for larger corporate-wide data improvement initiatives. This is largely driven as a result of data quality champions within the organisation being poorly equipped to make...
Billionaires are a curious bunch. Many of them seem determined to solve problems which they think the rest of us have, even when we have barely raised a complaint. Take commuting. To a worker trying to get to the factory or office everyday, traffic delays and train cancellations may be the subject of grumbles over morning tea. If anybody is at fault, it is seen as the infrastructure operators for failing to invest enough to increase capacity. That is not how billionaires see it. Rather than putting money into railroads, as their spiritual antecedents would have done, they view it as a data management issue. Improving journey-to-work times could be a doddle, if only all workers agreed to sign up to an information exchange that would optimise their commute. LUUM is the latest such attempt...