“We now have access to very large data sets from consumers and companies, and access to technology that makes it easier than ever to capture and store this data. This event will explore what you can do with this data, and the technical and social challenges involved. We will discuss examples of companies who are collecting, processing and interpreting data for business and social benefits.”
Part of the Silicon Valley comes to the UK programme, this panel and discussion is to explore the opportunities for entrepreneurs that the rise of Big Data offers.
These are my notes from the event, not particularly a commentary upon it.
- Hans Peter Brondmo, Head of Social Software and Services at Nokia
- Max Jolly, Director of Media Solutions at dunnhumby, (behind Tesco’s Clubcard programme)
- Haakon Overli, Managing Partner of Dawn Capital, (one of the UK’s most active investor in data-base businesses).
- Megan Smith, VP Business Development and CEO, Google.org
- The event is chaired by NESTA’s Director of Policy & Research, Stian Westlake.
How do we ensure we tackle the opportunities without getting lost in the numbers?
Hans Peter Brondmo: Data and Nokia. HPB wrote book with Geoffrey Moore in 2000, The Engaged Customer: the New Rules of Internet Direct Marketing, considering how corporates should be communicating with data. The past decade has shown how hard some of the possibilities have proved to make happen. Mobile phones are producing huge amounts of actionable data but not all of it can be used.
Privacy is a different thing now to what it once was. If you are carrying a phone in your pocket, you are being seen. While some of this is outside of your control, you now have more control over your ‘electronic soul’ that exists in the cloud than you ever did. Governments are trying to control it, corporations are trying to engage with it, you don’t have full control over it and the ownership of your electronic soul is not defined.
The electronic soul is an asset and you as a consumer should get to own your own information. You should be able to have a say in who uses your soul and for what but there is no framework to govern this. The Ts&Cs of every social network and piece of your electronic soul are different, some give you rights, others don’t.
Haakon Overli: The investor perspective.
- It’s all about making money – buy low, sell high. Get paid early, pay late.
- Investors are concerned that the pioneers of big data, will leave the field soured for future generations of entrepreneurs – if Facebook or Google lose the trust of their customers, their customers lose trust with the big data industry.
- When anyone talks about big data, you have to consider privacy at some point.
- Big data is only investable if it can take big data sets and extract information from them – cites Cognitive Match as his favourite (and in his portfolio) example.
Max Jolly, dunhumby: dunhumbyt owned by tesco and behind Tesco’s Loyalty Card. Max is a data miner – much cleaner than a coal miner. Attribution allows you to understand a customer, context allows you to make decisions on the information.
“You are what you eat. We look at your shopping and infer all sorts of things about you from age, sex, weight, social status, what you are likely to buy next etc. We even know things when you repeatedly put £10 of petrol in your tank rather than random larger amounts”.
The smartest businesses are making their data available across their organisations, but this will also create huge privacy issues if not done in the right way.
Megan Smith, Google.org: Uberuser, ubercreator, ubercataloguer of data. Google.org leverages Google employees to do good things with data. Three examples of google.org’s use of big data to do good.
- Google.org is trying to use Landsat images over time to start tracking the deforrstation footprint anywhere across the world for past 30 years – Google Earth Engine.
- Flu trends – tracking 36 search terms for flu related symptoms across globe. Found it to be over 95% effective in anticipating flu outbreaks across the world.
- Google Crisis Response – integrating the response to crisis with easy use of big data.
- Google Books – Not a google.org initiative but shows what can be done by putting lots of information from disparate sources online.
Who has the most to gain and who has the most to lose with big dasta?
Who owns my data?
MS – Privacy is a problem when you have an unfriendly state that might abuse the data. Gainers far outweigh the losers. Big winners will be consumers through better access to healthcare and lifestyle information. When you can see what dta can do for you, you will embrace it.
[Mmmm – This was a fairly evangelical answer to question- who has most to lose?]
HO: Legislators are simply not going to be up to setting and creating a framework for privacy. It is up to the ecosystem and the players within it to set the agenda. This could be hugely dangerous.
HPB: Privacy frameworks have to come initially from the private sector – from enlightened companies paving the way. Facebook is leading the field in creating an online identity that allows you to log into other sites with their/your identity and to share your data with others. Is this the right company to have such power? It will be down to the companies involved to be seen to be doing the right thing. Self-policing, or lack of it, is one of biggest potential pitfalls of rapidly evolving privacy legislation.
MJ: With great power comes great responsibility. The people with the most to lose are the people who have the most to gain – Tesco, Google and others have been extremely conscious about how you raise the awareness of responsible use of data. It is the responsibility of the big data owners to help educate the public in how their data is used.
Tesco can calculate calorie intake per family, calculate food miles, CO2 consumption. By sharing some of this data with consumers they may be able to help educate consumers about choices. Some people will react very badly to being told what to do.
Big Data, Little Borders: How has big data been affected by territorial boundaries?
MS: For google.org, borders have very little to do with issues. Google.org is typically using satellite images that are not subject to individual country laws and reporting. For activities on the ground, disaster relief for example, Megan thinks they are only likely to go where they are accepted by government in a particular situation.
Why need more excitement about data. People that make that happen are great!
Hans Rosling talks about the theatre of data.
The Grauniad are doing a great job of sharing data with the world.
What are you looking for entrepreneurs and how can they get in touch?
- Nokia Growth Partners and Venture Partners helps to fund venture propositions.
- Otherwise, you have to find the right people in the right product group and make friends with them.
Max Jolly, Director of Media Solutions at dunnhumby, (behind Tesco’s Clubcard programme)
- Don’t have a great track record of engaging with startups. Have a big problem with sharing data. Want to change that and can make difference with expertise in other areas
Haakon Overli, Managing Partner of Dawn Capital, (one of the UK’s most active investor in data-base businesses).
- Happy to talk to people opportunistically.
Megan Smith, VP Business Development and CEO, Google.org
- Have lots of things we can do to help companies grow on business development side.
- Have over 50 APIs into Google available to third parties.
- Google ventures loves talking to startups, particularly ones with revenue that they can leverage into Google.
- Get in touch: megans * googlemail . com msadmin* googlemail . com
Interesting topic but would have been interesting to discuss fewer subjects in more detail.