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Never mind the clever stuff; what about the fundamentals?
Monday, 30th April 2012
Tim Buckley Owen
While huge potential now available for exploiting enormous data masses looks set to go, it seems that proper corporate transparency is far from settled. Regulatory regimes to ensure companies are subject to the same exposure as individuals are not in place, and information professionals should take note.
Listening to the big data analytics pundits, you might be forgiven for thinking that all the fundamentals of business information had been sorted and that it was appropriate to move on to sophisticated exploitation of the mass of data now available to us. But they’re not sorted – and perhaps information professionals should be shouting louder about it.
Last Tuesday saw workforce management specialist Kronos launch its WorkForce Analytics solution – enabling organisations to “access and leverage their workforce data to identify, predict and manage opportunities for cost savings and productivity gains”. It’s perhaps chilling confirmation of the recent Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) forecast that automation may create more wealth but will simultaneously threaten an even wider range of jobs (LiveWire comment here).
Then on Wednesday IBM, the growing global power in analytics, announced its acquisition of Vivisimo, a provider of discovery software. Continuing its analytics shopping spree (see earlier LiveWire coverage), IBM’s latest purchase is expected to help clients better understand consumer behaviour, manage churn, detect fraud in real-time and perform data-intensive marketing campaigns.
On Thursday came another analytics solutions provider, FICO, boasting of its Falcon Fraud Manager, which catches transaction data as it streams by and detects abnormalities that could indicate fraud. Analytics needs to reduce its reliance on persistent data and develop self-learning technology to adjust to circumstances “on the fly”, FICO says.
That certainly seems to be what’s coming, according to another new EIU report, Rise of the Machines. Machine-to-machine (M2M) communication is now at a tipping point, it says; regulatory hurdles and customer concerns about privacy and security will henceforth determine the viability of many M2M applications.
That might be fine had the regulators already done their job properly when it came to subjecting companies to the same exposure that individuals are increasingly experiencing – a fundamental of a healthy economy if ever there was one. But, as new research from the pressure group OpenCorporates makes clear, they haven’t.
OpenCorporates’ aim is simple: to have a URL for every company in the world. But before you can do that you need a regulatory regime in every country that makes basic company data readily available – and out of a possible score of 100 for the openness of their company registers, the average globally is a pathetic 21.
Some perhaps unexpected countries come near the top, including the Czech Republic, Albania and Slovakia – but countries such as Spain, Greece and that economic powerhouse Brazil effectively score zero. While self-serving analytics vendors continue to push the boundaries of exposing personal data, perhaps it’s time for the information profession to put pressure on regulators globally to do their unspectacular yet vital job of ensuring proper corporate transparency first.
By Tim Buckley Owen
Tim is an information skills trainer and writer on the information industry with over 40 years' experience in the profession. His career has encompassed information management, writing, editing, training, government policy advice and corporate media & marketing.
Besides writing for FreePint, Tim runs courses for training providers and private clients on enquiry handling, abstracting & summarising, information packaging & presentation and information management. The sixth edition of his classic handbook Successful Enquiry Answering Every Time is published by Facet Publishing. You can find details of Tim's training services at www.buckleyowen.com.
Tim can also be reached at email@example.com
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