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How can you unlock the potential of Big Data within your organisation?

05 Apr 2018


Approximately 2.5 quintillion bytes of data* are created every day. And with more and more devices at the Intelligent Edge, this figure is set to rise even more sharply. In this extract from our recent White Paper, our experts examine some of the key Big Data benefits. Namely, how organisations are pairing Big Data with analytics to mitigate risk, prevent fraud and optimise marketing. BBC2's tech visionary Jamie Bartlett sketches out Big Data lessons from Trump’s campaign trail. Our own expert, Jason Normanton, then outlines how CIOs are already using big data to drive competitive advantage.

1. Was it Facebook (and Cambridge Analytica) that won it? Jamie Bartlett

Because of the colossal volumes of data collected about each of us – from store cards, credit history, electoral data, web browsing history – advertisers now know more about us than ever before.

This is useful to sell jeans, but equally useful to sell politics. The more you know about people, the more resonant the adverts you can serve them.

Cambridge Analytica leveraging sentiment data via Facebook allowed Trump to reach millions of people with highly targeted adverts in a way that was not possible a few years earlier. He was running up to one hundred adverts a day, with often thousands of versions of each, constantly tweaking to see which version performed best. This was essentially algorithmic-driven high frequency targeting.

Trump’s team also may have applied a technique known as ‘psychographics’ (although this is disputed) which is trying to work out people’s personality types, to design adverts based on those characteristics.

Jamie Bartlett Quote Big Data 1

Can you use Big Data to manipulate emotions?

Big data plus algorithms can turn meaningless likes and clicks into detailed and intimate personal information. This increases the potential to manipulate people, because it's a new way to target people based on insight they did not knowingly share.

While psychometric use in advertising is not new; using it to build profiles on millions of individuals through social media certainly is. Persuasive adverts have always been used in politics. But current trends in political advertising appear to take it to a new level.

First, it is far more precise and personal. Rather than send out a mass advert to millions and hope it sticks, candidates can now target right down to a very small segment about a very specific thing.

Second, because it is so personal, and delivered to unique users, it flies under the regulator’s radar.

Third, psychometric style advertising feels different, because your personality traits are calculated without your knowledge. This is a very powerful new way to nudge you in one way or another based on very intimate information about yourself, that you might not even be aware of.

The continued development of these techniques will surely create new opportunities for political parties – as well as advertisers of all stripes – but with it will come a host of concerns about privacy and manipulation.

Our Data Fast Start Workshops can help organisations of all sizes quickly get to grips with encryption, compliance, performance and data tiering to shape their Big Data strategy

2. What CIOs can learn from Trump’s Facebook win, Jason Normanton

Targeted advertising is not only used in politics. It's already commonplace in the retail sector and with companies like Google, Facebook and Amazon. For example,

  • Google analyse your search history each time you look something up and then provide specific paid advertising content at the top of your search results page.
  • Facebook use a slightly different tactic by placing paid advertising at the right-hand side of your profile page targeted at your specific likes, dislikes and what you are tracking within their site.
  • Amazon, the undisputed masters of online commerce, take a second bite at selling you items that you have looked at, but not yet purchased. They do this by directly targeting users with product offers and content from their store, linked to the items that you have viewed but not committed to.

Supermarket loyalty cards, such as Tesco and Dunnhumby, were arguably the forerunners of using data to refine their customer proposition.

But it was not until the advent of “big data” analysis tools and artificial intelligence frameworks that this data could really be harnessed.

Big Data OCSL 2

How to harness the power of Big Data in the Cloud

With embedded algorithms and APIs, powered by cloud technology platforms, “data lakes” of customer information can start to be truly leveraged without committing to huge capital expenditure.

For example, using the power of Microsoft Azure and artificial intelligence application programming interfaces (APIs), it’s possible to leverage deep learning frameworks like the Microsoft Azure Cognitive Services toolkit and Machine learning.

Data and Analytics Enable Everything in the Enterprise, Gartner

*Figure 1: Data and Analytics Enable Everything in the Enterprise, Gartner

Big Data Benefits across different sectors

Financial institutions and Insurance companies already use these capabilities to combat fraudulent activities and provide richer, more precise user experiences through chatbots and targeted product campaigns.

However, as these capabilities become more mainstream expect to see scenarios like;

  • Builders offering services to people who have just had planning applications approved
  • Garages reaching out to new customers automatically based on: when a vehicle requires its MOT, has been involved in an accident or, with internet connected cars, when a warning light appears on the dashboard.
  • Law Firms initially advising the Public on common legal issues through “Free” chatbots embedded into their websites. Subsequently driving the uptake of paid for legal services.

The possibilities are almost endless. When linked to compelling savings or “free” targeted initial services, they can be used to drive customer loyalty and subsequent paid for service uptake.

Just look at how “GoCompare”, “Money Supermarket” and “Purple Bricks” have begun to revolutionise their industry verticals.

Tools for Developing Chatbot User Experiences, Gartner

*Figure 2: Tools for Developing Chatbot User Experiences, Gartner

Our approach to Big Data

For both structured and unstructured data, it’s critical to examine the entire estate to identify all current and legacy data sources.

Some of the key questions that need to form of your big data strategy include:

  • Does it make sense to store data on premises, in a private cloud or in the Public Cloud?
  • What are the associated regulatory requirements such as PII for personal identification data and GDPR?
  • And how highly available does each data set really need to be?

How can you start tapping into Big Data benefits? We’re currently guiding customers from different industries through advanced data assessments, to ensure solutions are closely aligned with goals. Our Data Fast Start Workshops can help organisations of all sizes quickly get to grips with encryption, compliance, performance and data tiering.


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