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...
In an always-on, multi-channel world of wireless devices and social media, there’s never been a greater amount – and variety – of information available to retailers. And it’s never been more important for retailers to use that information in order to meet their own business goals and create a seamless, consistent customer experience. Today’s consumers are equally comfortable shopping online, in-store or via their mobile device. Regardless of the channel or touchpoint they use to browse or make their purchases, however, they expect the retail experience to be consistent and satisfactory. The results of a survey that we carried out last year demonstrated that the majority of retailers are aware of this demand for consistency, and understand that they may...
If you have been using a dating website recently and assumed the matches it gave you had a data-driven scientific basis, you could be in for a big surprise. In a blog admission that has gained huge publicity, US-based OKCupid.com (owned by Match.com) has revealed a number of experiments it has run to test the quality of its matching algorithms. In one case, it swapped the results around so people with a 90 per cent match were told it was only 30 per cent and vice-versa. (You can read in more detail here.) Turns out that if you tell them they are compatible, they will get into a conversation - tell them they are not and they won’t. So far, so placebo. What that outcome reveals is the role of expectations in conditioning how humans behave. This was further proven by another of OK...
Tesco has had a challenging week, with the departure of its chief executive (just shy of his 40th anniversary with the retailer) ahead of a profit warning. Shares in the company have fallen significantly as investors worry how the grocery chain can turn its fortunes around. Some have even started to voice the once unthinkable - it could be time to ditch the Clubcard loyalty scheme and plough its costs into new promotional activities and price cuts. So is it time to redeem whatever points you may have accumulated and dump your Clubcard on the assumption that Tesco might wind up the programme? Here are three reasons to do so: Competitors are cheaper - and don’t care who you are Go to Aldi or Lidl (as may of Tesco’s customers have been doing) and you will not be asked for a...
Big data analytics is the science and art of bringing information and context together. There seem to be discussions of what big data can offer organisations everywhere and the majority are investing fortunes in the technology required to store and process the terabytes or petabytes of data. Investments here are necessary - compliance regulations, business continuity, recovery storage and business intelligence (BI) tools are increasingly part of the technology fabric in all industries.  However, there is growing confusion and frustration with the current output from funding a BI strategy. CIOs and CFOs spend millions on producing key charts and data to validate their corporate strategy, yet the gap between the plan and outcome is leaving many scratching their heads over the...