Smart companies that use Big Data right and those that don’t

People want (O.K., expect) free searches on the web, free places to post all their really interesting information, free places to park stuff – documents, videos, photos, comments.

While they want to share all of this with certain folks, they expect all of the rest of the global population to keep their collective noses out of their information.

They want to be able to quickly go online and/or on the phone and find places, the best bargains, the best news (all for free); but tracking you, offering up ideas (or alternatives) … well, that’s just wrong.

Sorry, it just doesn’t work that way anymore.

When life as we know it – good, bad, questionable – went digital, we became more than a little transparent to “interested parties.”

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Big data’s next stop? The twilight zoneSure, there are reasonable things you can request/expect, but that requires you to know what you’re getting into when you use the free services and set up your own protection priorities. Be Proactive That means you have to do some heavy studying, heavy work, heavy lifting that most people don’t want to do. Everyone has a degree of concern about the privacy of their information and if you’re real concerned, real paranoid about it; you have an easy solution…you get off the grid. No matter where you work or go online around the globe you understand that you have to take steps to keep your personal information private. Of course, in countries were privacy isn’t even an issue, folks can’t get too concerned. Okay, that isn’t going to happen; so the next best thing you can do is set up your privacy settings and take some small degree of control over your information. Frankly, we’re not real upset when we go online to find information and the search engine serves up some intelligent recommendations. We think it’s a little cool when we go online or visit a web site and they offer up some ideas of things we should consider based on purchases, queries we made there or somewhere else like Amazon, Zappos, Dell.

Sometimes they’re right, sometimes wrong – Amazon recently offered us some ideas for sewing bobbins and we don’t even have a sewing machine.

But we’re intelligent enough to know that free services – Google, Bing, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube – aren’t provided out of pure generosity.

Someone pays for this.

While people don’t like the idea of having their every movement tracked on the web, they also like the idea of organizations offering ads and information that they are specifically interested in. Unfortunately, most users don’t understand that the tracking is based on their IP address inputs, not them as a person.

It shouldn’t freak you out – too much – that every click, every letter you type, every place you visit is being tracked and monitored.

Creative Marketing

It’s called behavioral targeting and it has forever changed marketing, customer acquisition and hopefully customer satisfaction.

It’s pretty simple – if you know someone is looking for something, show them a relevant ad instead of a random one (sewing bobbins).

That’s smart marketing.  And it’s a better user experience.

Beats the **** out of the shotgun ads you see on TV, hear on the radio, see in the magazines/papers that are based on loose demographics and a wish/prayer.

If you were ever in doubt about there being a difference between the sexes, look at what men and women are willing to share on social media sites.

Of course, if you tell a search engine or post things on your social site post that you don’t even tell your significant other or family, you should also understand that this information is being tracked, stored and used. If you don’t think so, then we have a Ferrari that was driven by a little old lady from Pasadena that you should buy.

But all of that information relates to your usage, not you personally – unless you’ve given ‘em permission.

People don’t really want privacy; they want to feel they’re in control (a fantasy but…).

Delivering relevant content to you is a good thing…tracking you is like sick!

When people tell us about their degree of comfort regarding the privacy protection provided on social sites, you can get a more accurate picture of their feelings, understandings, concern.

Most of us are sorta’, kinda’ okay with our privacy protection settings because:

· We don’t think about it too much.

· We like to be connected, to share.

· We prefer that advertisers subsidize all of our online services.

· It’s difficult to place a value on privacy.

You gave up a little bit of your privacy when your boss gave you a job.

If folks think Google’s Street View (which helps you find places quickly) should blur out their face when it’s captured (one of our kids ran out and posed when the camera car went by), then why do they post all those photos, videos on their SNS (social network site) pages?

Individuals and governments may get upset at Google Street View, but it less intrusive than the number of cameras you pass – walking, riding, driving – every day. In England, it is estimated that citizens are captured on film up to 300 times a day. Watch what you do, where you do it.

And don’t even get us started on going through security when we want to fly somewhere!

At least the Internet world gets us an ad we might be interested in.

The truth is your privacy takes a beating every time you open your web browser; but at least you can exert some level of control over what you want seen/shared, what you don’t.

Privacy Search

If you want to know how the websites you visit stack up, you can visit PrivacyChoice that measures their policies and how much tracking they allow.


If you’re really into your online privacy, there are ways you can tailor your details and privacy settings so you’re comfortable with your iNet/web visibility.

We’re not exactly certain why, but several studies have shown that the higher the education level a person has the more difficult it is to understand and set proper privacy settings. But after the initial rush to social sites, people have become more selective regarding what they share and with whom.

It just takes a little work but then you’ll have a nice, warm false feeling of safety, privacy.

But then there’s the stuff that even your rigorous privacy settings won’t handle like government agencies.

For the “common good” legal entities can get access (democracies use warrants, others…) to SNS personal data – messages, updates, links, calendars, posts, friending/unfriending – some that isn’t even available to users.

As U.S. Senator Sam Albert noted, “We knew that we had to monitor our enemies. We’ve also come to realize that we need to monitor the people who are monitoring them…”

While laws governing your constitutional protection are ancient (at best), that hasn’t slowed law enforcement entities from taking advantage of the treasure trove of data that is out there. Yes, but…

While governments bitch n’ moan (and fine) SNS businesses on their privacy policies, they also get millions of warrants every year for all the stuff about people.

Since we’ve taken to smartphones and mobile devices for sharing information (and sometimes even talking like addicts), legal entities have new search opportunities.

People in all walks of life put a lot of information on social media sites and use their mobile phones/devices for more than just making a few calls now and then. The number of warrants served on social media sites and wireless service providers is of growing concern to privacy protection organizations around the globe.

Our new smartphone – like nearly all cell phones sold in the last few years – has this neat E911 technology which makes the phone a super tracking device.

Which means it’s pretty easy to get info about an individual’s text messages, locations, phone numbers called, proximity to which cell tower.

Few businesses that want to stay in business are going to say BS to such nice requests.

Mobile phones are not only valuable to keep in touch with people, organizations have also found that they retain a lot of tracking and activity information which can be very useful to certain segments of the establishment.

So you’ll excuse us if we’re not overly concerned about our iNet/SNS privacy and the ability of marketers to deliver ads to us on products, services we might be interested in.

There are just too many other folks out there who might be interested in the stuff we’re doing that we’re not real interested in talking with.

All those new privacy rules are nice but they probably won’t work; so it’s up to you to verify what you care about, block stuff and reach a level of personal comfort in the digital, online world.

If that doesn’t work, guess you’ll just have to get off the grid.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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