Big Debate on “Big Data”

The current thing in the world, is “Big Data”. What it does is that it takes massive amounts of information that is then processed to give the researcher a very precise data. The Alex Pentland’s explanation of “Big Data” is one of the best I have read. He says that we all leave a trail of virtual bread crumbs that tell the story. Tweets, Facebook statuses, purchases we make can tell how we feel or do things. According to Alex Pentland’s article in “Scientific American”, researchers can use the gathered data even to identify where people are most likely to catch the flu. He also says that in the future, researchers can predict the financial crisis or prevent the infectious disease. How cool is that?

My interest in this topic was spurred by the fact that it is widely used in marketing. Researchers use it to gather information on the customers to appeal to them more, identify the potential customers based on the current profile etc. Using that data, marketeers are able to offer better and more relevant products/services to the consumers. On one hand the use of relevant offers can give a sense of care to the customers, on the other hand a lot of people do not want so much information to be known by businesses. This is exactly the point that was made during the interview with John Hegarty (founder of BBH advertising agency). In that interview John Hegarty said that he doesn’t want companies to know “what he drinks in the morning and what he drinks in the evening”. Also he said: “To the brands who say that they understand me, I say F@&k Off. I do not understand myself sometimes and I like that process.”. In addition to that I want to quote my lecturer for “Interactive and Direct Marketing”, he says that “Data doesn’t mean insight”.

I have to agree with John Hegarty, a lot of people I met are against such methods. However it has never bothered me personnaly.

Here are the links to the two articles:

Scientific American

John Hegarty interview

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