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Data: The New Currency

Data: The New Currency

Monika Kumar | AI & Machine Learning Snr Engineer

Data is the new currency in today's economy.  Put another way, data is the electricity of the new economy.  So, why is data so important? Well, data is everything!  Every human being, including you and me are data. Everything we do - going shopping, talking to a friend on phone, booking a hotel room for a vacation, or ordering a meal, these transactions are all collected incorporated in data.

Good use of data leads to more intelligent business decision making

The data gives real insights into what kind of person we are, what are our preferences, our likes and dislikes. Like money, data can flow easily across geographies and it commands an intrinsic value -- the insight generated from data helps deliver benefits to individuals, businesses, and governments alike.

However, raw data is not powerful on its own.  It is valuable, but just like crude oil, the data needs to be cleaned, as valuable as it may be, it is useless in its unrefined state. In order to extract value the data needs to be analysed.  And herein lies the challenge, how to convert  these vast amounts of raw data into valuable, actional information that aids decision making ?

Companies are investing heavily in data-driven strategies to generate useful customer information that enables them to gain better insights into their preferences and habits so that they can provide better customer  experiences across the customer journey.  Ultimately, effective management and use of data leads to more intelligent business decision making and that can only be good for customers. 

Artificial Intelligence harnesses the power of data

Technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, especially natural language processing and machine learning are  important tools to harness the potential of data. Companies have petabytes of data and artificial intelligence is at last, helping them make sense of it all. Brands like Amazon, Ebay, Netflix are using Artificial Intelligence to better scan the data and offer more personalized recommendations. The more AI, ML and computers performance improve, the more sense the data will give.

These big brands are using ML and AI to deliver amazing customer experiences , but we must tread carefully as data can also be used in an adverse ways, which until recently, were not at the fore of our minds.

Data misuse and its implications

As we all are aware of the world's biggest social network, Facebook's privacy breach allegation that it provided data to Cambridge Analytica, which used data from 50 million facebook profiles on Donald Trump's 2016 online election campaigns. That was achieved by manipulating individual facebook user's opinion by showing them customised messages  The fall out has been huge.

Facebook needs to be much more transparent how they are using their user's personal data. Mark Zuckerburg has stated that "We will learn from this experience to secure our platform further and make our community safer for everyone going forward".  This raises some very basic questions about how we our data be used without our knowledge and the impact of exposing our personal lives on social media. We should keep in mind that by sharing personal information online we are exposing ourselves to potential traps.  

Therefore it is crucial to protect personal data and the implementation of the new EU General Data Protection Regulations that came into play on 25 May 2018 are an important step in the right direction.  This regulation gives more rights to individuals to protect their data. Now individuals will be given clear frequent notice from organisations about how they are  collecting their data, what they are using it for, how long it will be stored for and how to opt-out.

Protecting your data

GDPR makes its simple and easy for individuals to make decisions about their data, which let's face it is a really good thing. But there are few things that everyone should be aware of how to take care of their own personal data, for example

  • Encrypt important data and device.
  • Have PIN or password for personal devices.
  • Enable two factor authentication.
  • Customise the privacy setting of social media accounts e.g how can see your content, or remove account from Google search results.
  • Use different passwords for different accounts.
  • Don't click on any link on phishing emails.
  • Restore old devices to factory settings before giving them away.
  • Opt-out of ad tracking so that you can't see any personalised ads based on your online activity.
  • Be a little bit more alert while using public wifi.

With the right strategy and infrastructure, the potential to monetize data has never been easier. It's just a case of recognizing the value of data and putting insight-driven actions into the heart of the enterprise. Insights derived from the smart use of good quality data are very powerful. Brands and companies that are able to develop actionable insights, from any level of data will be winners.


 

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