With Great (Analytical) Power Comes Great Responsibility

November 27, 2017

With Great (Analytical) Power Comes Great Responsibility

2 Minute Read

MNP’s Brian Foster outlines how an effective analytics strategy should address data sensitivity.

During an interview with Axios last week, ex-Facebook president Sean Parker spoke openly about how the social networking service exploits human psychology to increase time-in-app, using language we rarely hear from those responsible for developing the phenomenon:

"God only knows what it's doing to our children's brains," he said.

Unsurprisingly, that provocative language and raw honesty led to significant media coverage – and has re-opened a discussion about predictive analytics that has been underway for some time.

Do you remember Target’s Pregnancy Prediction Scandal from 2012? Using machine learning algorithms, Target identified consumer purchasing patterns that were strong predictors of pregnancy, creating an opportunity for direct marketing (coupons for diapers, formula, vitamins, etc.). But when the father of a teenage girl found said coupons in the mailbox, and started asking question, the resultant media coverage and public optics were less than favorable.

And these certainly aren’t the only examples. From crime prediction to the U.S. National Security Agency’s monitoring of mobile calls, there are numerous examples where privacy concerns, ethics and the power of predictive analytics intersect.

This most recent example should serve as a timely reminder: an effective analytics strategy should clearly address data sensitivity, including the required communication with internal and external stakeholders. Start that conversation with these questions in mind:

  • How will the data be used?
  • Who will have access?
  • Can I opt-out?
  • What are the benefits?
  • What are the risks?

These questions will help you to begin identifying the important issues that must be addressed in your strategy. After all, the insights derived from personal data are at least as sensitive as the data itself. Sometimes, more so.

Does your organization’s advanced analytics strategy account for data sensitivity? If not, make today the day you start to close that gap.

Tomorrow’s technology is shaping business today. To learn more about how MNP can help you can make advanced analytics work for you, contact Brian Foster, Manager, Technology Consulting, at 204.336.6131 or [email protected].


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