April 05, 2015

Three Emerging Themes of Big Data Analytics
For years, analytics has been changing the face of business, but never to the degree we are witnessing now. Technologies that have shown promise for years are starting to deliver tangible results. New entrants are using analytics to disrupt established markets, and big data conversations have migrated from the IT department to the boardroom. The code has finally been cracked, and enterprises are taking notice. With all the attention that big data receives, three emerging themes rise to surface in my daily interactions with senior executives: the realization of personalized marketing, the collapse of the middleman, and the recognition of data equity.

Machine Learning at American Express: Benefits and Requirements
In the case of fraud detection and prevention, machine learning has been helpful to improve American Express’s already excellent track record, including their online business interactions. To do this, modeling methods make use of a variety of data sources including card membership information, spending details, and merchant information. The goal is to stop fraudulent transactions before substantial loss is incurred while allowing normal business transactions to proceed in a timely manner. ... It’s a challenge to do version control at the scale of terabytes and more of data, because it’s too expensive in space and time to make full copies. What is needed instead are transactionally consistent snapshots for data versioning, such as those available with the MapR data platform.

Collecting private information - Uses and abuses
In business, personal information has become a sort of raw material. Many smartphone apps can afford to be free because the companies that develop them sell the users’ personal data, something barely explained in the terms and conditions. If the service is free, then you’re the product, goes an old saw in Silicon Valley. ... Likewise, he rightly argues for better oversight and protection of whistle-blowers as a way of helping restrain government power. But his recommendation to “break up the NSA” is idealistic. Distributing surveillance authority to numerous agencies would indeed prevent an unhealthy concentration of power. But the specialised skills and huge resources required to perform surveillance well call for centralising responsibility.

The six burning questions for firms looking to make money from big data
Extracting, refining and ultimately capitalising on data is notoriously difficult, particularly for existing firms who have to contend with an ingrained company structure, culture and traditional revenue streams. But it is the competitive advantage associated with effective big data utilisation that is driving the desire for existing mainstream businesses to become data-driven. Up to now there has been no systematic framework to enable established organisations and business start-ups to transform an innovative data-driven idea into a feasible business model that is driven by data. As a result of our research, we have devised a template for what we call the Data-Driven Business Model (DDBM) Innovation Blueprint.

Evaluating re-identification risks with respect to the HIPAA privacy rule
Most risk evaluation metrics for individual level data focus on one of the following factors: (1) the number, or proportion, of unique individuals; or (2) the worst case scenario, that is, the identifiability of the most vulnerable record in the dataset. Of those that consider the first factor, the most common approach simply analyzes the proportion of records that are unique within a particular population. Alternative approaches that have been proposed add nuance, for instance not just considering unique links, but the probability that a unique link between sensitive and identified datasets is correct. This accounts for the complexities of the relationship between the populations represented.

Code as a Second Language – And Why It Matters
Learning to code is being proposed by some as an alternative to learning a second language. Imagine having the choice: French, English or JavaScript. It’s an interesting concept, but could present problems if you’re, for example, traveling in Spain and order a bottle of fine Rioja with something like“function getwine(‘2 liter’,’house’){};” ... According to our brains and MRI research, playing music and programming computers are the same thing. In fact, just thinkingabout playing music is the same as programming. These three activities each activate a portion of the brain known as Brodmann’s area 40, located slightly above your ear.

The Cloud Could Be Your Best Security Bet
One of this issues around cloud computing is who exactly controls the data. If law enforcement comes knocking at the door, would the cloud company be forced to hand over your content, even if you didn’t want it to? The rules aren’t crystal clear, but some cloud vendors are forcing the issue. Earlier this year, Box released a product called Enterprise Key Management that puts your company firmly in control of your content. Box couldn’t give the content to law enforcement no matter what because it’s encrypted and only the owner has the encryption keys, forcing the law enforcement official back to you to get at it. But much like Cowan’s assessment of cloud security, not every cloud vendor has this capability and without it, the situation becomes much murkier.

Cloud Architecture #2: Eventual Consistency Patterns
Eventually data consistency (EC) is used to improve performance and avoid contention in data update operations. This is not a simple and straightforward model to use. In fact, if possible to architect an application to use the native transactional features for update operations – then do that! Only use eventual consistency (and the compensating operations) when necessary to satisfy needs that a strongly consistent data story cannot. A typical business process consists of a series of autonomous operations. These steps can be performed in all sequences or partially in parallel. While they are being completed that overall data may be in an inconsistent state.

Cynefin 101 – Shared Context and Sense Making
Remember that diversity and naivety are key tenets of Cynefin so it desirable to engage other parties as they bring different perspectives to bear. If you are doing this in the context of a department think about engaging people who you see as your clients and suppliers, those that depend on you and in turn those that you depend upon to ensure that you are taking a holistic view. You may want to keep this exercise internal to avoid ‘washing your dirty laundry in public’ but if this is the case then see if you can get some people who would act as surrogates for these external parties.

The battle for an open internet: A look at the Net Neutrality debate
"The TRAI consultation leans significantly towards finding some middle ground between what the telecom industry wants and the Internet that we've all grown up with," says Pahwa, who, along with 70 other enthusiasts, crunched it down to a concise 23 pages that you can actually understand ... It's important to remember that it's not just telecom companies that are interested in a non-neutral Internet in India. According to the TRAI consultation paper, 83 percent of India's Internet users access the Internet from their mobile phones. This massive audience is crucial for multi-billion dollar corporations like Twitter, Facebook and Google.

Quote for the day:

"I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have." -- Thomas Jefferson

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