Category Archives: Big Data

GDPR, the best thing since spliced breadcrumb trails

Every site is ‘thanking us for our data choices’ but are we really taking the time to understand what our choices are? We all have a data footprint but to what extent we may not be entirely aware.

Since the beginning of the transactional web these footprints have been collected, stored, connected and maybe now and again actually used. I say now and again, because most businesses I come across haven’t really worked out the value of data to inform anything beyond their CRM program. It’s often left to one side when it comes to shaping a business model, design approach or even NPD. More often, instead the point of view comes from inside the boardroom or with an eye to the competition and what they’re doing.

But that time has passed, relevance centred businesses are servicing an ‘Age of You’ – the internet era that goes beyond eco-systems and leverages insight to inform purchase journeys and their wider experiences around a users actual needs and desires.

In this web 4.0 world where the IoT is starting to pivot around the individual not the brand, GDPR has come into force in order to harmonise data laws whilst protecting consumers who don’t quite know what the data cost of all this connectivity is. And it’s putting emphasis on businesses to be held more accountable. HOORAY.

The age of ‘my data, my internet’ is on the horizon and the exponential rate that technology will advance this far outpaces nearly every legacy data lakes in place today. So what to do? Now that is a question I’m getting asked in an equally exponentially increasing rate.

I have some simple starting questions that have helped me shape some of the data strategies I’ve been working on with clients embracing GDPR as a chance to positively shake themselves up (Chapeaux). These are just starting points and they will open up more questions but I have found if you keep coming back to them every time you disappear down rabbit hole, they help.

First things first, there are three main types of data:

1st party; the stuff you collect directly and that you ask for the permissions to own

2nd party; essentially someone else’s 1st that they share with you (normally advertisers and publishers)

3rd party; the kind of stuff you can buy from anywhere and is generally diluted and generalised (i.e. not very useful to anyone so I’m not going to cover this)

Your starting point is likely to be a ton of archaic stuff that’s been collected for years, decades even, and not really modernised. Or if it has been modernised it will have been done so through a brand or business lens therefore adding to it’s linearity.

You don’t need to chuck it all out though, where there is data there is insight you just need to know how to mine for it, so my first question: What can this existing pile of data tell you?

There will be many assumptions, heed caution. If you don’t believe the assumptions (and trust your gut on this one) get a data wizard (some call them scientists) to mine it for you. They will be able to develop a question set with you then deploy speedy algorithms and methodologies to offer up a different set of useful insights.

Once you know what your data knows, you’ll have some gaps against your objectives which leads to the next bit…

It’s likely you’re working for or with a brand or business who think they need to own all the data. You don’t. In fact it’s quite greedy to assume you should. I’m not saying a big bank of addresses is all redundant (do not underestimate the power of email) BUT 2nd party data can be a super useful shortcut to getting to know the answers to the gaps that the data you already have doesn’t give you right now.

Google for example, know quite a bit about most audiences you are likely to be trying to reach and engage. “Google conquered the advertising world with nothing more than applied mathematics. It didn’t pretend to know anything about the culture and conventions of advertising — it just assumed that better data, with better analytical tools, would win the day.”

And Google was right.

I didn’t say that by the way, Wired’s Chris Anderson did a little while back. I totally agree – as does most of the internet.

So, question number two: Who are your trusted 2nd party data partners?

Your lead agencies should have a good view on this, but you will too. Within your organisation you will have worked with media and publishing partners on initiatives and activations, plus a whole host of other partnerships will have proved useful along the way. Look at what’s worked and bring them into the fold then widen your horizons to the likes of Google. Once you a clear view you can work out how you’ll use each one to plug your 1st party gaps. Make two tidy lists; one for 1st party and one for 2nd party, then put them to one side for now.

The next bit is more tricky, and that’s working out a data roadmap to get you over your immediate hurdles and propel you into a consumer centric model so you can effectively operate in the ‘Age of You’. So, question number three: How are you going to map and further extend your two data sets to give you the answers you need, now and for tomorrow?

Using data to; inform the creative process, brand storytelling or simply just for personalised targeting and messaging requires using data to generate a contextual, or even better, an emotional connection. But there is a line, and this is where GDPR is reinforcing the interests of consumers. Balancing the digital data economy, with commercial opportunities and consumer rights is a minefield unless you truly start thinking consumer first. Your data map should flip every question you’ve asked yourself as a business or brand thus far to be just this, so instead of ‘data will help us do X and Y’ instead ask yourself ‘by knowing this piece of information about our consumer we can help them do X and Y’.

Once you’ve built out your consumer maps based on what (1st and 2nd party data points) you need to know in order to deliver on their needs and desires, you’ll be in a good place to start mapping your own goals to them, but another watch out – never reverse them or you’ll be right back to where you started in no time.

The GDPR applies to all businesses that are established in the EU, regardless of whether the data processing takes place in the EU or not. And if you think you have a loop hole, even non-EU established businesses will be subject to GDPR if your business speaks to consumers in the EU. You can’t stick your head in the sand over this one and the world isn’t go to wait for you to figure it out, so best to get cracking.

Bottom line? You need to know what your data knows, work out what you don’t understand and shift to a consumer first approach.

GDPR data post

Image found on Google courtesy of gigaom – thank you

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#OurEra2018

I’m in Milan at the Nesta ‘Challenge of our Era’ 2018 Global Summit where I was honored to deliver their opening keynote.

My role was to inspire innovative thinking, it was honestly one of the most rewarding speeches I’ve delivered to date, so again thank you!

As part of it, I adapted a poem I wrote a year or so ago for SXSW and I’ve been asked several times to print it and share it, so here it is. For anyone interested search twitter for the hash tag #OurEra2018 to find out more about the summit, it’s got some incredible ambitions and the call for responses is open to anyone in the world.

For now, I leave you with this:

 

The visions for the future excite me more than the past,

Because when it comes to innovation, the past fades fast.

 

I have crazy ideas and I’m proud to be a geek,

Which you’ll know if you go online and maybe read a tweet.

 

And maybe I’ll reply or maybe it’s my bot,

Because maybe I’m real and here, or maybe I’m not.

 

The future isn’t just augmented or virtual you see,

It’s set to be a blend of several realities.

 

And as the future keeps advancing and we become more connected,

We’ll all be liked and rated and ever more self-reflected.

 

Will robots steal our jobs? Will Skynet really happen?

Or is that as likely as a one-handed man clapping?

 

Will tech become so seamless that we won’t be able to tell,

Where I begin, you end, and the tech blends in as well…

 

Today we pay with fingerprints, tomorrow our voice

In the future, our faces, will this remove our choice

 

To have our lives in the cloud, seamlessly connected

Will we be faster, more efficient, or will our memories be neglected?

 

In a future where every heartbeat and every drop of sweat,

Is calculated, decoded and uploaded to the net.

 

When connected collars tell us when our dogs have got a fever,

Or our cats can be interpreted through intelligent receivers.

 

When AI Armani jeans tell guys ‘you’re flying low’,

Your Valentino clothing knows you’re stressed from head to toe.

 

Your Maserati, or Romeo, isn’t just autonomous but flies,

In highways constructed over Milan in the Sky.

 

In the future are we dumb? Just run by automation…

Or are we elite and empowered an unstoppable ‘one nation’?

 

In OUR future we WILL stand beside robots that are intelligent,

But furthermore, we face a future that goes beyond this and is sentient.

 

There will be competition, co-petition, ambition, and decision

But convergence and empowerment will come to fruition.

 

If biology is programmable and we can program 3D printing,

Will we solve poverty and hunger, now that got me thinking…

 

If a world built on noughts and ones merges with atoms,

Does that provide a world that you and I can barely fathom?

 

If we can put interfaces into brains and quadriplegics can move cursors,

Will we enhance that human life, is the advance in science worth it?

 

There are so many things that today we do not know,

But if we supercharge our neurons there’s nowhere a brain can’t go.

 

Whether this presentation makes you doubt, smile or wonder,

There is one thing for sure that we should collectively ponder;

 

How can innovation be a force for positivity and help us prosper?

How can it bring us closer so that great ideas are fostered?

 

To quote Einstein ‘it’s obvious it’s exceeded humanity’

And he’s been dead for decades so it’s pretty clear to see,

 

That the trajectory we’re on isn’t slowing down,

And in fact, with quantum computing, we can go to town.

 

I for one would rather be in the driving seat,

Amongst you crazy bunch of awesome innovators and geeks.

 

For the ONE thing about the future that we should ALL be aware

Is love it question it, WE are ALL going there …

 

And we can choose to lead or we can choose to follow

So I say, let’s grab the future by the balls and go invent tomorrow!!!

 

 

COOE

#OurEra2018 Nesta Global Summit, Milan

 

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3 Steps to adopting AI

I’ve being asked for my view on AI a lot this year, more so than last. It would appear the industry has caught up with the ‘hype’ being a reality.

I’m not getting the slightly twitchy ’Is it going to steal my job?’ anymore though, now the questions are; Is this something I need to be bothered about?, Can I afford it?, Where do I start?

All good questions. If you’re a brand or business looking to get ahead, simply keep up, or maybe even catch up, you can’t afford not to be thinking about this and getting a beta into place. If you don’t your competition will, and then you will be sat watching them eat your share of market or voice, or both. Either way, I can’t imagine that’s something you’re keen to see happen.

Roughly a third of the brands I work across either have a version of an AI (artificial Intelligence) ready IA (Intelligent Assistant) or have jumped straight into an AI trial or beta. Every single one of them has seen positive results. Every single one of them is now developing a roadmap with us to put in place milestones to be better, faster and more informed on a real time basis.

The shape of these solutions vary from bettering service response levels to informing fashion design and everything in-between. But the steps to get there are the same, and here they are;

Work out what the problem is you want to solve

Ok, obvious right? But actually I highlight this because I recommend you don’t ‘do a chatbot’ because your competitor did.

Is there a challenge that advertising or marketing isn’t fixing for you right now? Do you have a human centered design idea that you can’t quite get to grips with? Do you have micro communities you don’t understand or can’t reach in meaningful ways?

All of these are problems AI can help you with, quickly and effectively. So consider where you might want to turbo charge a solution and put a brief together around that.  Be clear about your brief as well, if you’re vague about what you want to achieve it’s tricky to train an AI to think comprehensively, it in turn will be vague.

Review and understand ALL of your relevant data

AI is only ever as good as the data you feed it; the more data you have, the more connections can be compiled and the faster it will evaluate and learn. It’s not magic, it’s algorithm on speed. 

Define the goals you want to achieve in order to reach the objective in your brief, or work with an AI data partner to do this (most good agencies should have someone who can help you get started and then find the right partner for you, the answer isn’t always ‘Watson’ btw). You will likely have a mass of data you understand and a bank of data you’ve never really thought about, once you have it all in one place you need to work out where the gaps are and fill them in.

This up front bit seems tedious, that’s because it is. But don’t cut corners as you’ll only pay for it further down the line. The better the data set, the more robust your AI solution will be and the quicker you will see results.

Choose your AI partner

What you want your AI to do will depend on what supplier or partner you choose. There are many solutions already available at both scale up and enterprise level to choose from. They offer everything from; language skills, analytics, tech stacks that speed up services, listening, finding ‘moments of serendipity’ through to predictive analytics and forecasting.

A read of IBM Watson and AWS are good places to start if you want to dig more into what’s on offer, but also check out the likes of DigitalGenius and DeepMind for something smaller or a bit more creative.

Of course you may be looking to create something truly bespoke in which case you may have to hire a bunch of experts to create your algorithm from scratch, or seek a start up willing to work with you and co-create. There are an abundance of really cool start ups just about to break on to the scene so this is a truly valid and cost effective approach, don’t rule it out.

That’s it. From here, you should be in safe hands. You know what you want, you have the data in play to get it and a partner who knows what to do with the data to get what you want.

My parting piece of advice is to remember that AI / ML (Machine Learning) are solutions that learn and develop, think of it as a child going from kindergarten to PHD level but in weeks rather than years. There may be a few mistakes along the way but be patient and think big, because with direction and correction the results are nothing short of impressive.

And it’s not just customer service stuff either…

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Marchesa and Watson’s cognitive dress – read more here

P.S. Here’s a mini wiki;

IA; Generally speaking an Intelligent Assistant is a pre-structured agent used to deliver automated responses but does not include self correction or ‘learning’, therefore is not always classed as AI. It’s often the step before AI and used to validate the quality of data. That said some do include NLP (Natural Language Processing) and are connected to the IoT (Internet of Things) so the line is often blurred.

NLP; Natural language Processing is a computer science that uses AI and handles human speech between computers and humans.

AI; Artificial Intelligence is an intelligent or cognitive behavior exhibited by machines, sometimes also referred to as problem solving or learning.

ML; Machine Learning is a sub-field of AI that includes programming computers to deepen the learning process.

P.P.S. If you find AI interesting generally you might want to check out my other blog, co-written with @kayperbeats – it’s a bit more off the wall but it’s insightful none-the-less.

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I Dredd to think…

I’m writing this from one of my favourite cities in the world.

For me Hong Kong is the epitome of where urban dwellings meet the jungle. Tropics growing into brick, buildings built around ancient roots. It feels like a chapter from I Am Legend, except we’re all still very much alive.

The subject of technology outgrowing humans is rife here, I’m collaborating on a project with a friend and it’s come up time and again as this city and the surrounding majors struggle to adopt innovations in a way that resonate with the humble origins the culture is built upon.

This week has left me reflecting on whether sustainable thinking will lend to mega metropolises, or whether global urbanisation will mean that rural areas will get left behind.

As transport becomes more sustainable, more affordable, ever faster and more connected, will it conflict with the debate around borders being reimposed and trade restricted back to regions again? Take Brexit as an example closer to home; if we leave the EU and customs barriers lead to effective restriction to start with, will we note the stagnation that will quickly follow so that when international exchange comes to a standstill we won’t notice the daily conflict?

On a related note but different angle, technology has allowed that we all become producers. Open SDK’s and API’s, 3D printing and crowdfunding all mean that rather than brands lending to personalisation, self made and personally tailored will be the next movement. Will brands play a role in enabling this or will they move to a protective stance on their IP?

I like to think that all my favourite cities are characterised by diversity and as such we will continue to encourage flexibility across the globe, joining forces to build reliance against what could otherwise be a tough future.

But as technology surges with intelligence at it’s core, the biggest question I am hearing repeatedly from all over is whether global cooperation and unlimited interaction will evolve to one diverse world where we see and share everything, or whether the future take us back to the past?

Will Mega Metropolises mean just Mega blocks and Mega highways? Will we live in a Mega City One? Will it be more Skynet than that? So many film references and a tad Dredd I know, but I believe the next few years will impact this more than we care to acknowledge.

I judge you not.

judge-dredd-on-screen-future-still-up-in-the-air-01

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A view on the programmatic semantics of binary trading predication

What the..? You may ask.

Well, I’ll tell you… you see most of my meetings this week have been about the uptake of programmatic, commonly I’m being asked; Is it robust? Is it robots? Are the robots robust? How do I plug it in? Do the robots plug it in? Are the robust robots plugged in?

Breath in.

So, having explained this a lot, I find it’s easier to start with what it is not:

It is not: Real Time Bidding (RTB)

It is not: A new type of media

It is not: A new format, a new device, a new tactic, a new insight or a new inventory. 

It is, quite simply put; AN AUTOMATED PROCESS.

Programmatic Trading simplifies the buying and selling process by digitally connecting the buyer and the seller of the ad space. This brings automation to the process adding operational and pricing efficiencies which take the mundane and repetitive tasks away from humans.

It is important to note that this doesn’t mean that creative is any less important, studies show that creative is still responsible for 70% of the effectiveness, the placement and timing making up the other 30%.

Marketing is, and will always be, about getting the right piece of content to the right person at the right time. Programmatic quite simply means we can be quicker, more effective and therefore scale in a more structured and relevant way. 

I love this example from Nike and Google, it’s a great demonstration of what can be achieved with clever design and RTB, and just recently Unilever have explored the use of video in their Romeo Reboot campaign.

So in summary, you still need a wicked idea, a clever plan and some digital genius behind it, but if you embrace the fact that you can’t be in total control of the real time exchange and you’re prepared to sit back and enjoy the ride, then some really cool stuff can happen. 

And contrary to the title of this post, it’s not that tricky…

image found on adweek.com - thank you

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