Updated: Monday, November 30th 2020, 9:13:22 am

Articles

Big Data – For Tech Giants, Big Data Comes With Big Responsibility

Articles |

Words like big data and IoT are used a lot nowadays. What does it all mean? And what are the responsibilities of tech companies that handle big data? Data is gold in this digital age. Big data refers to the collection and analysis of large quantities of data produced by and about customers who avail services and make purchases, physical things, and the interactions between them. With the advent of cloud computing, specialised data centres with powerful computational hardware and software resources are used for processing a vast amount of aggregated data coming from different sources. The analysis of such data is valuable to internet companies as it allows for specific patterns to be identified and new correlations to be made between different datasets, which could potentially predict behaviours as well as assess the likelihood of a certain event occurring. 

Management of big data involves far more than just dealing with storage and retrieval of aggregate data but it also requires addressing privacy and security issues. People’s concerns about their personal information are not entirely unfounded. A lot of internet companies have been under scrutiny for using big data in ways that encroach individual privacy. Sensitive data such as customer personal information require discretion and utmost security but there is a general callousness among data giants and how they handle vast amounts of data. While the common uses of big data in a business environment are things like personalisation, audience segmentation, sales, customer relationship management etc, but the lack of stringent regulation and security has made these datasets vulnerable to criminal activities. Debit and credit card frauds are on the rise. We saw in 2016 the role of data in influencing the outcome of a national election. Ever-increasing cyber-attacks where data of millions of users stolen and utilised for unlawful purposes. 

The mismanagement of big data by tech companies have brought the wrath of regulators and it has led to them paying millions of dollars in fine for non-compliance. The demand for transparency from companies is a beckoning call from governments across the globe. If history is anything to go by, letting tech companies be their regulators isn’t such a good idea. Strict oversight is necessary to protect the consumer. 

Consumers are not idiots. They understand the value of their data and appreciate the judicious use of their personal information when it serves their needs. There are plenty of people who love the idea that proper data analytics can uncover hidden desires and drive their motivations. The power of data analytics, when properly applied creates discoveries and experiences meanwhile it provides marketers With the opportunity to personalise their user experience. Consumers recognize that businesses need to turn a profit which means that they need some information from the customer that could help the business tailor their recommendations to the individual’s preference. Most people also subconsciously want their preferred businesses to provide them with personalised experiences and make them feel valued. For businesses, consumers are generally trusting until and unless the company takes a course of action that proves itself unworthy of the trust of existing customers and prospects.

Transparency is key. Customers want to know how their data is being used and by whom. Stealing and selling data by criminals has become a common phenomenon. Thus the erosion of consumer trust in organizations is very commonplace.  Failing to protect data has big consequences not only for companies but also beyond the confines of an individual’s life. The Silicon Valley tech giants have lost their moral bearings and are no longer operating within society’s bounds of right and wrong. The Tech Giants are extremely generous when it comes to open-sourcing the wonderful technology on which their big data business models are based. But when it comes to the actual machine learning models the Tech Giants built to target billions of consumers who use their platforms, that generosity suddenly ends. Essentially, these companies are weaponizing data against you. The idea that consumers and corporations have collectively given up their most valuable commodity, their data, for a short-term gain may seem unbelievable, but it’s becoming increasingly evident that that is exactly what is going on. The decision then becomes what to do about it. The first step, most experts agree, is taking back control of data. Regulators like CCPA and GDPR are trying to do exactly that. The incentive is to take back control from tech companies and give it back to the consumer. It’s about holding organizations accountable for how they collect, process, and share data. By acting responsibly, organizations will be able to create less volatility, greater trust, and more-successful business ventures.