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Clouds in the Cloud: how solar radiation has become an online service

Industries May 10th, 2017, Thierry Ranchin / Professor at Mines ParisTech PSL Research University, Managing Director of Centre Observation, Impacts, Energie

SoDa, for SOlar radiation DAta, is a provider of online data and services on solar radiation. It is both a platform guided by the needs of its users, a pivotal tool for several international institutional networks, and the endeavor of two generations of researchers, alert to the opportunities that arise in the interstices between major disciplines.

A philosophy of data

Science and Technology April 10th, 2017, Bruno Teboul / Senior Vice President of Science and Innovation, Keyrus Group

Ongoing digitization has placed data at the center of economic and social life. We are producing a growing amount of data that are exchanged, secured and analyzed by increasingly sophisticated technologies. Data economics defines the value of these operations. Data policies are implemented both by governments and large corporations. An emerging business revolves around big data. But the precise nature of a datum remains unclear. A philosophical approach, as led by Luciano Floridi, can help us refine the definition.

These days, a large consumer goods company has almost the same strong data productivity as a medium sized Internet company. Management in more and more companies hopes to manage users and data in the same way as Internet companies, then make decisions based on data. Nevertheless, colossal and dispersed data stands in the way of IT, management and analysis departments of companies that are yearning for nimble and real-time data analysis. Consulting firms, which were playing a huge role, have now lost the power to pile up data and provide insight. They don’t have enough hands for this. We started working with a leading fashion consumer goods company in China to build its data platform. It took us only six months to put together the functions to gather and analyze data, consumer profiling, member systems and external data tracking and capturing. We would like to share relevant knowledge in these three fields in hopes of better streamlining operations powered by the force of data.

A request by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation for help from Apple to unlock an iPhone used by a terrorist has quickly grown into full scale battle. The FBI's argument of enhancing national security is countered by the technology industry's fears that a one-off software backdoor could set a precedent for more such demands, compromising consumers’ security and privacy, and negatively impacting business. According to experts, the FBI's case is on uncertain legal ground and the agency ought to empower itself with Congressional backing and in-house resources to cope with technological obstacles such as the one in the latest case.

How can data and wearable technology improve corporate benefit management?

Society November 6th, 2015, Rajeshree Parekh / Director of Corporate Health and Wellness, Asia Pacific, Towers Watson

Towers Watson has launched HealthVantage, a health management solution that incorporates wearable devices and online applications to give an organization’s workforce a full health refresh. Using technology effectively can present a big opportunity for employers to build a culture of wellness at their organization. How?

How an organization makes its people-related decisions has a huge impact on its success or failure. But traditionally, these decisions have largely been based on intuition and biases and therefore have been prone to error. But now, companies are starting to use data and sophisticated analysis in issues such as recruiting, compensation and performance evaluation because they believe it can help in better decision making. Cade Massey and Adam Grant, who lead Wharton’s people analytics initiative, spoke with Knowledge@Wharton about why a data-driven approach to managing people at work is gaining traction.

A modern myth debunked: no, consumers are not in control

Business May 7th, 2015, Howard Gross / Founder and Principal, HG Communications, LLC; former Senior Director of Global Communications, The Nielsen Company

Granted marketers no longer exercise the leverage they once did, it is a delusion to assume it has been transferred to consumers; especially in an increasingly complex world where the very notion of control is, itself, becoming a myth.

An ethical governance of Big Data

Society December 22nd, 2014, Jérôme Béranger / Senior Consultant, Keosys, Associate Researcher, Espace Ethique Méditerranéen

We bathe in a controlled digital reality where a multitude of information flows converge. Processing these data has become a sensitive issue inasmuch as they relate to our private sphere, to our intimacy. Personal control is only partly effective since almost nobody knows how to implement it seriously. This is why experts have been discussing the opportunity of Big Data governance. How can we proceed? Alongside the institutional answers based on the emergence of control authorities, one possible path forward could be via ethical data mining.

In the past, Hilton Worldwide, which has 4,200 hotels in 90 countries, used to look at individual consumers and decide who was a Hilton customer. It used that determination in its marketing: Hampton Inn people were targeted one way, while those who fit the profile of the Waldorf Astoria were approached in another. Then the company had an a-ha moment.

Quantified Self: a craze for measurement

Society October 31st, 2013, Emmanuel Gadenne / Consultant in digital practices for Sopra Consulting

With the latest generation of connected objects, the collection of data related to our daily life has taken a new dimension. Covering surprisingly varied practices and objectives, from wellbeing to productivity and health, the notion of quantified self refers to the principles and tools developed to monitor, analyze and share these data. Another social thing? Call it a market.

Onomastics for business: can discrimination help development?

Society September 17th, 2013, Elian Carsenat / Founder and CEO, NamSor Applied Onomastics

Disruptive technologies have given the old science of onomastics unprecedented powers. Combined with datamining, extracting semantics from names can provide numerous, valuable applications. Though discriminating names carries a high risk of abuse, it can also drive new, unexpected ways for developing poor areas.

Intention economy: from the fringes to mainstream?

Business May 22nd, 2013, Doc Searls / Alumnus fellow with the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University

Vendor relationship management is on the rise. Though for the last ten years a powerful trend has driven marketers to trap consumers and collect their personal data in order to anticipate their wishes to the point the very idea of choice was questioned, disruptive ways of managing this relationship are emerging. Will consumers recover their freedom?

A brief history of Open Data

Society March 29th, 2013, Simon Chignard / Consultant

The open data movement has reached a significant and ever-growing number of states and governments. From New York to Paris, from Nairobi to Singapore, an increasing number of territories offer open sets of data. To fully understand the stakes of this movement, one of the first techno-political ideas to spread at the network speed, one has to track its origins.

Big Data marked a break in the evolution of information systems from three points of view: the explosion of available data, the increasing variety of these data and their constant renewal. Processing these data demands more than just computing power. It requires a complete break from Cartesian logic. It calls for the non-scientific part of human thought: inductive reasoning.

IT for ID: India’s Biometrics Megaproject

Society January 31st, 2013, Nandan Nilekani / Head of the Unique Identification Authority of India

Launched in 2009, the Unique Identification Authority of India is a megaproject mixing the latest information technologies and basic development requirements. Its objective is both simple and ambitious: to provide a unique identity number to all residents in the country. Helping the poorest to access the modern economy and society is an emergency and a key to economic and social development. It is also a challenge, and not only a technical one.

Think big: challenges and debates over the Big Data

Society November 16th, 2012, Henri Verdier / Managing Director, Etalab

Big Data are all over the news. Some fear a new Big Brother, others celebrate new, astonishing possibilities in fields like marketing, epidemiology, city management, and Chris Anderson prophesies a science without theory. Obviously we are on the verge of a revolution. But, by the way, what are we talking about?

The allure of Big Data

Society November 16th, 2012, Jannis Kallinikos / Professor of Information Systems, London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)

A vivid public interest has recently arisen over the issue of Big Data and its social and economic implications. Statesmen and politicians, economists, businessmen, activists, scientists, even artists declare the timely nature and relevance of the phenomenon. Is there anything of real importance, beyond the obvious buzz? And why now at this historical moment? The answer most probably lies in the distinct habitat of the contemporary digital communicative ecosystem of which the Internet is an important part and the data availability it affords.

In 2011, Rodney Brossart, a farmer from Lakota (North Dakota) was arrested by the county police. Brossart, who was armed, was in a dispute with the authorities over the ownership of six cows and refused to turn over the animals that had meandered onto his ranch property. After his arrest, Brossart charged the police with violation of privacy. Indeed, the police team had arrested him helped with a “Predator” unmanned drone, provided by the Homeland Security Department. This observation vehicle had played a crucial role to locate the suspect inside his own house and assist the policemen during the assault. However, no trial court is ever likely to hear this case. The police officers involved had a warrant and could easily prove that they used the drone for surveillance purpose only, and not, as claimed by the suspect, to create a ground for prosecution after the facts. This was the very first encounter, and certainly not the last, between an “unmanned aerial vehicle” (UAV) and the US justice.

Prospects and promise of Big Data

Science and Technology December 19th, 2011, Richard Robert / Executive Director, Paris Innovation Review

Information is more abundant than ever. Day after day, the flood of data is growing at exponential rates. Barely ten years ago, the main issue for politics and industries, was to hold a firm grip on this daunting explosion. Today, the challenge consists in being able, in real-time, to take advantage and transform into value massive swaths of data.

The gap between the demands of markets and the ability of firms to meet those demands is costing firms profitability now and competitiveness in the future. Wharton School professor George S. Day and colleague David Reibstein talk about the growing flood of data, knowledge sharing technology, the socially networked and ever demanding consumer, and how some companies are successfully building their customer base.

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