A "frictionless life" sounds about as appealing as frictionless sex.
There’s a lot of hype around data scientists. You can blame big data and the cloud. Data scientists are lauded, hunted and positively desired by those wanting to squeeze the most from their information. In accordance with such demand come large salaries – the average is $123,000 in the US. Like the Yanks of WWII, data …
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"...trawl publicly available databases such as the electoral roll to find out more information about you"
At least you can opt out of the publicly-available electoral roll (although I don't understand why you have to opt out annually - surely you have opted out because you don't want to be bombarded with junk mail etc., so why would you change your preference year-by-year)
Of course the less scrupulous systems also do differentiated pricing on the offers. From a demographic who shop around and have little disposable income, congratulations we will give you an offer to get 50% off . From a demographic who generally don't shop around or use price comparisons sites, fantastic, we will milk you for all we can get and give you an exclusive offer for 1% off and make finding the best deals really hard!
> I find the second hard to believe from my experience of people in IT
Are you kidding? An interest in bytes doesn't preclude an interest in bits, especially other people's. OK, it may correlate with an inability to get your hands on them, but that's beside the (rather uncomfortable) point.
And just how hard is it to search for / select the options that you want, without every company in the workd being knowing more about you than your mum?
And frictionless? Have you ever tried to use the appaling websites most big companies have? They have absolutely zero idea of user interface design - sort that out before big data / big brother.
"They have absolutely zero idea of user interface design - sort that out before big data / big brother."
That may be kinda the point. It's very hard to design a UI that everyone will appreciate, particularly one which has to sort lots of data (like lists of 10k+ products). It's much easier to just figure out what the user wants for him and then only show him that.
Still freakin' terrifying, though.
What the marketing dorks don't seem to realise is that the problem with all this targeted stuff is that it actually reduces the chances of me buying something from you. If I go to your site just to have a look around, to see what you sell, and to see if anything you do is in any way interesting to me, and all I see are adverts for irons or toasters, because that was what I searched for (and maybe bought) on the last site, then I will think you are just another site flogging irons and toasters and go away none the wiser as to what other interesting stuff you may have, and that I may wish to buy. I'll go to a site that doesn't pester me, and find it there. It feels like they have perfected "Just Too Late" advertising.
Hint: I know how to search for myself thank you, just make your website easy to navigate and quit with the animated crap floating down the screen or scrolling past in a carousel with simulated inertia.
" I see are adverts for irons or toasters"
You missed the point a little. Searching for irons and toasters on one site is not Big Data. You may only be shown irons and toasters if your browsing patterns show that you have some kind of weird fetish for them - so you visit lots of iron and toaster sites, your metadata suggests that you belong to a demographic that is particularly fond of irons and toasters, and you're on a database somewhere as belonging to the Iron and Toaster Appreciation society.
"You missed the point a little"
Not really, although thanks for the elaboration. My point was, that just because I have been looking for <whatever>, over however long a period of time, and across however many sites, or that I am a member of whatever society, or demographic, it doesn't necessarily follow that I am coming to your site to find that today. I could be browsing for something different, or nothing in particular. Drowning me in stuff relating to something I "normally" look for prevents me from broadening my horizons by seeing the breadth of other, unrelated and possibly interesting things you may have, which are unrelated, but which may also interest me.
Bit late on the article response but working within the Travel domain I get why Big Data is so important to so many companies.
The big fight on at the moment is who gets the data and how due to the fragmented nature of the distribution chain. There significant changes being implemented by many airlines worldwide to incorporate a new XML messaging standard (NDC – New Distribution Capability) to replace the one been in use for many decades, in fact early 50’s. What we see now is from airlines, other vendors and intermediaries is just the start once the identification of journey requests is made available to multiple vendors prior to any booking being made.
The airlines perspective on this is that if they know you in advance of a booking being made they can tailor a personalised offer to you rather than the standard fare. Whilst this sounds good a whole load of other airlines also know they are interested in travelling on these dates to that destination. The ramifications how this expanded data set will be used is yet to be understood even within the industry, but one thing for sure is that it is coming, very soon.