Yesterday I attended a seminar in London, organised by Cambridge Wireless (a technology industry forum). The topic of this seminar was how Big Data has made analytics sexy. Hosted by Eversheds – the law firm, in their beautiful office overlooking St Paul’s Cathedral, there were some critical angles to Big Data that people discussed.
There were some very interesting use cases and technologies that caught the audience’s attention. Telefonica said they were helping petrol stations do dynamic pricing based on deep analysis of the traffic passing by, and helping train companies reach out to people who preferred flying or driving to taking the train. ESRI UK demonstrated some great visualisations of Spacial Big Data; for example, you could see how erecting a tall building can impact surrounding residents with its shadow over the course of a day.
While the topic of the seminar was about analytics becoming sexy, the nature of questions for the presenters revealed that the overarching theme of the seminar was legality. David Hughes a Senior Associate at Eversheds, drew very season appropriate parallels between Halloween and Big Data. He said and I tweeted from the venue – “Don’t be scared, just be prepared when it comes to complying with laws pertaining to #BigData”. He said the law does not prohibit enterprises from implementing innovation around Big Data, it just requires them to first collect data only when data owners give you their consent. And second, ensure that data being collected is kept secure (and there is no prescribed way of doing this). Leveraging insights from anonymised and aggregated Big Data, for various purposes was not an issue. Now that purpose could be marketing or in light of Big Data more popularly called contextual marketing, or it could be avoiding the spread of Ebola.
The seminar was a reflection of the fact that the industry is being overwhelmed by the perceived legal constraints to innovation in the area of Big Data. Thanks to Eversheds, that perception or misconception was put to rest with the clarification that British and European laws support Big Data innovation – just that some ground work was necessary.