Data Mining

The MATRIX Nightmare : Does it Have You?

More than a decade ago, when I first started the project of designing the instrument, the process & analytics to understand premium #luxury car buyers, #Facebook had just started out and it was nowhere in my radar as a reference. People were still warming up to the idea of being the centre of attention thru’ #social media, and my #instrument was totally dependent on the dealership’s willingness to use it and buyer’s comfort with what all he wanted to share about himself/herself.

Coming down to the present, we see a #data #mining firm at the centre of lot of attention and debate around the use of profiling and micro-targeting in political elections. It’s a straightforward two-step process- first profile the people, & then use these profiles to personalise #political messaging. But, the whole point of building profiles of people, which includes their interests & personalities, is to change or control the way that people behave. And this is #marketing nowadays — political or otherwise. The advantage (as perceived by the political party or by a corporate marketing department) of playing with such data #mining based toys is that they also claim to give #psycho-graphic profiles, something which could be done earlier only thru’ specifically developed #psychometric tests and questionnaires. So the whole thing looks much easier for the entity who wants to target you for whatever reasons.

This may sound #dangerous but it is pretty commonplace nowadays. There are sites which offer to predict your #personality from your display pictures and there are tools which can do that from a sample of #unstructured text written by you. And, these tools are free (many a times they don’t even require login). But these tools don’t tend to work well with incognito browsing for obvious reasons. However, you can use your boss’s unstructured text to know his personality. Scary, Right? At least for the person who sends you long rambling emails 🙂 . 

Although “mutually-not-agreed-to” #profiling does seem like invasion of privacy (and in many cases, it is), one thing to always remember is that a good portion of this information is “derived”. The worrisome part is that the derived information is eerily accurate hence the privacy nightmare. But, like everything #predictive, they can also be wrong or subjective as predictions tend to be. 

A good example is the ads which you see online, popping up in your field of vision, inviting you to click: how often do they judge you right or align with your interests? Not all the time, right? Unless it is remarketing. I still get a “how I wish” kind of feeling whenever online ads for expensive luxury cars, watches & luxury apartments get served to me.

But for an advertiser this is not a big issue. They make their numbers / #CTR s as long as enough people click on ads. But very soon we will be in a place (maybe we already are) where everything we use has combination(s) of cameras and sensors, with those things (or gadgets) making some decisions about our lives (who has not heard of washing machines which can on their own place an order for detergent from amazon as the detergent level reaches the reorder point). 

Even without your telling them anything else about yourself, just the fact that you are browsing Facebook at 2 am is enough for an algorithm to figure out that you “probably” are stressed , cannot sleep & therefore need something to help you “relax” and, the online ad won’t be far behind. So whatever you do (or don’t do) creates a data point for a machine program basis which someone acts & targets (you). Although it might (still) appear to be a low #probability scenario for a data company to rig an entire election in a democracy, we can expect the science of profiling to get better and better everyday. Running but no hiding !!.

The author has rich experience in the area of CRM/CX/CSAT & can be contacted for related topics

Guest Post BY Amit Chand

CX Lifecycle Empath|WCGW Intuit Sales|Marketing|Operations|Service|CRM|Maverick Data|Analytics|Digital|Media|Mass|Luxury


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