Election 2015
So, a bad night for Labour, Liberal Democrats and Nigel Farage. An even worse hangover for the 14 major opinion poll companies whose forecasts (right up to 10pm on 7th May) were for a renewed coalition, potentially involving more than two parties. The instant response has been to question the methods of market research and assume social media tools would have been more accurate. But wait. There is direct proof that neither of those are true. Take the project by University of Warwick, the Department of Journalism at City University London and the Information Technologies Institute in Greece...
It’s not often that you get to listen to the revolutionaries in the morning and then hear from the establishment in the evening. That was my experience last week - at Field.work, the first “festival of data” staged by Havas Helia, I got to see what the digital marketing community thinks big data is capable of, then later at the IDM Annual Lecture, sponsored by Acxiom, it was time to hear what HSBC is actually doing. (That the second event was held at Google HQ we’ll consider a bridge between the two worlds...) Here are some thoughts on what the contrast revealed:...
Daily Mail has history when it comes to attacking data-driven marketing. From persistent objections to “junk mail” to its latest investigation into the financial data trade, the newspaper has never been a fan of companies that use personal information to help them make a sale. To some data practitioners, especially in the big data realm, being hated in this way will be a new experience. For most of this decade, data has been the shiny, new toy which has done nothing but delight the businesses playing with it. If the latest headlines have any significance, it may be that some of...
Learning that your smart TV might be eavesdropping on your private conversations is one thing. But discovering that the manufacturer believes the solution is to be careful what you say when near your TV set is something else. It is, in fact, a reflection of a flawed policy which puts the importance of new technology and big data ahead of human rights like privacy and data protection. Samsung recently acknowledged that there are some data governance issues with its latest generation of televisions. Like many other manufacturers, it has identified voice control as providing convenience and...
Davos is not a place where you’d expect the issue of data and data security to get much of a look in, especially during the annual World Economic Forum get-together of the most powerful people on the planet. Physical security was clearly a concern at last week’s event (as was the issue of where to park all those private jets). Yet ahead of the gathering, WEF published its annual Global Risks Report which identified data fraud or theft as number nine in its list of the most likely risks to occur. This reflected a view among the respondents surveyed that the likelihood of a...
“You have to really argue to be against data. In a club, statistics give people the chance to exist who have little knowledge. And these numbers act as a safety guard for decision-makers who lack courage. That, yes, that annoys me.” - Gilles Grimandi, Arsenal chief scout (L’Equipe, 30th December 2014) Does a football scout have a better understanding about the barriers towards data and analytics in organisations than many business managers? Based on the comments he made in an interview at the end of last year, Grimandi may well prove to be the most insightful commentator on...
Big data has been telling a big lie - that the data it uses is not personal and therefore it does not need to operate under the requirements of data protection laws. I have lost count of the number of presentations I have seen by big data practitioners - major brands, data owners, analytics services providers - talking about the behavioural, location and device data they capture, fuse and deploy against service provision or marketing. On their own, each of those pieces of data is legitimately non-PII. There is nothing about clickstream or device type that is very revealing in itself. As...
Google will today argue that the UK Court of Appeal has no jurisdiction over the collection and use of data by the search engine, even when it relates to UK consumers. Further, it is also seeking leave to appeal on a ruling that its data collection practices had caused damage and were a serious issue for the courts to consider. In a significant twist to a two-year legal argument, the Information Commissioner has made a last-minute application to intervene in the case. The appeal relates to the so-called “Safari  workaround” which Google developed when Apple shipped a...
Government proposals to force ISPs to maintain data links between IP addresses and subscriber identities will change at a stroke a key cultural assumption about big data. Until now, online service providers have been making free with the information that flows from connecting a device to the internet on the basis that none of it is personally identifiable information.  That argument has long seemed thin - IP address, just like search terms or location data, may not be directly associated with a specific individual. Data scientists have repeatedly shown just how easy it is to infer who...
Marketers and agencies are increasingly excited about the potential of real-time data. However, while the availability of real-time data has many benefits, there are potential pitfalls, too. An informative parallel is the outbreak of World War I, the centenary of which is being commemorated this year. This event might seem too distant to enlighten us, but there are many informative similarities. Like now, the Summer of 1914 was a time of rapid technological change. The telegraph had transformed communications - messages that had once taken days to convey could now be transmitted...