5 TED Talks About Big Data that SMBs Need to Watch

Posted on 9th December 2016 in Business

Written by James Marren

We love TED Talks. For some of the team, it is more regular viewing than a boxset. Here’s 5 of the best we’ve seen on the big data revolution in one helpful blog. See? We’re always trying to save you time!

‘Big data’ is a buzzword with big potential for small businesses. The sheer amount of data created and being stored on a global level is truly eye-watering. Its been reported that we are creating 2.5 quintillion bytes of data, every day — basically, 90% of the data in the world today has been created in the past two years alone.

A big plus to this big data is that there’s even more potential for insights from business information. How can a small business make better use of the raw information that flows into their organisations every day?

Well, grab a coffee and tune into our top TED Talks to get you started…

1. Philip Evans: How Data Will Transform Business (13.58min)

Philip Evans, a Senior Partner and Managing Director at the Boston Consulting Group, explains how traditional business strategy no longer works in today’s modern business world. Instead, data-driven decisions need to take precedence over ego.

“Technology is driving the natural scaling of the activity beyond the institutional boundaries in which we have been used to thinking about it.” Businesses that accept this and create a culture around using big data will be the big winners in the end.

2. Jennifer Golbeck: The Curly Fry Conundrum (9.56 min)

Jennifer Golbeck is an Associate Professor at the University of Maryland who gets to the bottom of social media data. She talks about the truly holistic information each of us shares and what this can reveal about us.

For example, liking ‘Curly Fries’ on Facebook correlates highly with intelligence, which sounds pretty strange. However, this is based on algorithms and correlations across an individual’s social network. It means anything can be predicted based on a seemingly unrelated ‘Like’ or ‘Follow’, including intelligence, political affiliation, sexual orientation and more.

“If users don’t want me to use their data, they should have that right. I want users to be informed and consenting users of the tools we develop.”

Golbeck’s talk explains the high value of social media identity data and the importance of making sure users understand that value and have the option to opt-out to maintain privacy if they prefer.

3. Tim Berners-Lee: A Magna Carta for the Web (6.43min)

Tim Berners-Lee, Inventor of the World Wide Web and, of course, its very first user, talks about how more than 40% of the world is using the internet today, including companies that collect data, often without your knowledge. He argues for the importance of net neutrality and advocates for a Bill of Rights for the Internet, that would protect peoples data rights by law.

“I want a web which is, for example, a really good basis for democracy.”

The World Wide Web is constantly changing and lawmakers are having a difficult time keeping up. Whilst tech does move fast, Berners-Lee argues that shouldn’t prevent us from keeping up.

4. Jer Thorp: Make Data More Human (17.29 min)

Jer Thorp, the former data artist in residence at the New York Times, communicates the value of adding human context to big data and attempting to give greater meaning to large amounts of information.

The example he uses is the 9/11 memorial, on which the names of the victims are not displayed alphabetically, but by relevance to each other. Family members next to each other, co-workers next to co-workers, the 9/11 memorial utilises big data to affect its architecture in a more human way.

He concludes that big data exists to help us, rather than harm and it’s up to us to make sure that’s the way it goes.

5. Kenneth Cukier: Big Data is Better Data (15.51 min)

Kenneth Cukier, Data Editor of The Economist, addresses one prime concern amongst many related to big data: is bigger data better?

“Big data is a little bit like the challenge that was faced by primitive man and fire. It is a tool that, unless we’re careful, will burn us.” From the Internet of Things to machine learning to AI, Cukier covers the full spectrum of the big data industry and argues that the collection and usage of data at its current scale is one of the most significant inventions ever.

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