Business Intelligence: Predictions Followup

  • Potential Opportunities:

o    Health monitoring.  Currently, smart watches are tracking our heart rate, steps, standing time, climbing stairs, siting time, heart beats, workouts, biking, sleep, etc.  But, what if we had a device that measured daily our chemicals in our blood, that is no longer as painful as pricking your finger if you are diabetic.  This, the technology could not only measure your blood chemical makeup but could send alerts to EMT and doctors if there is a dangerous imbalance of chemicals in your blood (Carter et al., 2014).  This would require a strong BI program across emergency responders, individuals, and doctors.

o    As Moore’s law of computational speed moves forward in time, the more chances are companies able to interpret real-time data and produce lead information which can drive actionable data-driven decisions. Companies can finally get answers to strategic business questions in minutes as well (Carter et al., 2014).

o    Both internal data (corporate data) and external data (competitor analysis, costumer analysis, social media, affinity and sentiment analysis), will be reported to senior leaders and executives who have the authority to make decisions on behalf of the company on a frequent basis.  These issues may show up in a dashboard, with x number of indicators/metrics as successfully implemented in a case study of a hospital (Topaloglou & Barone, 2015).

  • Potential Pitfalls:

o    Tools for threat detection, like those being piloted in New York City, could have an increased level of discrimination (Carter, Farmer, & Siegel, 2014). As big data analytics is being used to do facial recognition of photographs and live video to identify threats, it can lead to more racial profiling if the knowledge fed into the system as a priori has elements of racial profiling.  This could lead to a bias in reporting, track higher levels of a particular demographic, and the fact that past performance doesn’t indicate the future.

o    Data must be validated before it is published onto a data warehouse.  Due to the low data volatility feature of data warehouses, we need to ensure that the data we receive is correct, thus expected value thresholds must be set to capture errors before they are entered.  Wrong data in, means wrong data analysis, and wrong data-drove decisions.  An example of expected value thresholds could be that earth’s temperature cannot exceed 500K at the surface.

o    Amplified customer experience.  As BI incorporates social media to gauge what is going on in the minds of their customer, if something were to go viral that could hurt the company, it can be devastating for the company.  Essentially we are giving the customer an amplified voice.  This can be rumors of software, hardware leaks as what happens for every Apple iPhone generation/release, which can put current proprietary information into the hands of their competitors.  A nasty comment or post that gets out of control on a social media platform, to celebrity boycotts.  Though, the opportunity here lies in receiving key information on how to improve their products, identify leakers of information, and settle nasty rumors, issues, or comments.

  • Potential Threats:

o    Loss of data through hackers, which are aiming to steal someone’s identity.  Firewalls must be tighter than ever, and networks must be more secure than ever as a company goes into a centralized data warehouse.  Data warehouses are vital for BI initiatives, but if HR data is located in the warehouse, (for example to help HR identify likelihood measures of disgruntled employees to aid in their retention efforts) then if a hacker were to get a hold of that data, thousands of people information can be compromised.  This is nothing new, but this is a potential threat that must be mitigated as we proceed into BI systems.  This can not only apply to people data but company proprietary data.

o    Consumer advertisement blitz. If companies use BI to blast their customers with ads in hopes to better market to people and use item affinity analysis, to send coupons and attract more sales and higher revenues.  There is a personal example here for me:  XYZ is a clothing store, when I moved to my first house, the old owner never switched their information in their database.  But, since they were a frequent buyer and those magazines, coupons, flyers, and sales were working on the old owner of the house, they kept getting blasted with marketing ads.  When I moved in, I got a magazine every two days.  It was a waste of paper and made me less likely to shop there.  Eventually, I had enough and called customer service.  They resolved the issue, but it took six weeks after that call, for my address to be removed from their marketing and customer database.  I haven’t shopped there since.

o    Informational overload.  As companies go forward into implementing BI systems, they must meet with the entire multi-level organization to find out their data needs.  Just because we have the data, doesn’t mean we should display it.  The goal is to find the right amount of key success factors, key performance indicators, and metrics, to help out the decision makers at all different levels.  Complicating this part up can compromise the adoption of BI in the organization and will be seen as a waste of money rather than a tool that could help them in today’s competitive market.  This is such a hard line to walk on, but it is one of the biggest threats.  It was realized in the hospital case study (Topaloglou & Barone, 2015) and therefore mitigated for through extensive planning, buy-in, and documentation.

 

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Business Intelligence: Online Profiling

Online profiling is using a person’s online identity to collect information about them, their behaviors, their interactions, their tastes, etc. to drive a targeted advertising (McNurlin et al., 2008).  Online profiling straddles the point of becoming useful, annoying, or “Big Brother is watching” (Pophal, 2014).  Profiling can be based on simple third-party cookies, which are unknowingly placed when an end-user travels to a website and depending on the priority of the cookie, it can change the entire end-user experience when the visit a site with targeted messages on banner adds (McNurlin et al., 2008).  More complex tracking is when some end user uses a mobile device to scan a QR code or walks near an NFC area, where the phone then transmits about 40 different variables of that person to the company, which can then provide a more precise or perfect advertising (Pophal, 2014).

This data collection is all to gain more information about the consumer, to make better decisions about what to offer theses consumers like precise advertisements, deals, etc. (McNurlin, 2008).  The best way to describe this is through this quote by a current marketer in Phophal (2014): “So if I’m in L.A., and it’s a pretty warm day here-85 degrees-you shouldn’t be showing me an ad for hot coffee; you should be showing me a cool drink.” But, advertisers have to find a way to let the consumer know about their product, without overwhelming the consumer with “information overload.” How do consumers say “Hey look at me, I am important, and nothing else is… wouldn’t this look nice in your possession?”  If they do this too much, they can alienate the buyer from using the technology and from buying the product altogether. These advertisers need to find a meaningful and influencing connection to their consumers if they want to drive up their revenues.

At the end of the day, all this online profiling is aiming to collect enough or more than necessary data to make predictions of what the consumer is most likely going to buy and give them enough incentive to influence their purchasing decision.  The operating cost of such a tool must be done so that there is still a profit to be gained when the consumer completes a transaction and buys the product.  This, then becomes an important part of a BI program, because you are aiming to drive consumers away from your competitors and into your product.

The fear comes when the end-user doesn’t know what the data is currently being used for, what data do these companies or government have, etc.  Richards and King (2014) and McEwen, Boyer, and Sun (2013), expressed that it is the flow of information, and the lack of transparency is what feeds the fear of the public. Hence, the “Big Brother is watching”.  McEwen et al. (2013) did express many possible solutions, one which could gain traction in this case is having the consumers (end-users) know what variables is being collected and have an opt-out feature, where a subset of those variables stay with them and does not get transmitted.

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