Data and decisions amid life in today’s mobile and digital age

Economy February 15, 2018 01:00


IN THE age of data-ism, Thai companies and tech start-ups are facing multiple challenges regarding the use of massive personal and other data to drive new business trends.

According to Dr Andreas Weigend, the data guru, who is also a professor at Stanford University and UC Berkeley, data has become inseparable from most people’s life in today’s mobile and digital age.

Speaking at a session titled: “Data and Decisions” held by Allianz Ayudha Activator programme for Thai tech start-ups on Tuesday, Weigend said mobile phones are now commonplace around the world and most people use their smart gadgets from the time they wake up in the morning till the end of their day.

In the morning, what many people do the first thing in bed is look at their phones’ social media apps like WeChat (for most Chinese) or Line for (Thais).

Then, they may turn on the bedroom’s lighting in the early morning and by doing so, the power companies which have digitalised their operation will automatically have the data of their customers’ usage of electricity during the morning hours.

Then, people get moving and many probably turn to their coffee-making machines, which, if they are Internet-connected, may also have data on your morning rituals.

Next, you may take a shower and get dressed ready to commute to work by Uber or Bangkok’s BTS skytrain system. Then, there is data on your ride-hailing app or BTS’s commuting pattern. 

At office, you check in to work and that’s another set of data and so on.

In short, the age of data-ism which is described by another guru, Steve Lohr, as a revolution that is transforming decision-making, consumer behavior and the likes, is dawning upon us.

According to Weigend, who also authors another book, titlted: “Data for the People: How to make our Post-Privacy Economy Work for You,” there are multiple rules on the consumers’ rights to their personal data.

First, everyone has the right to transparency such as the right to see his or her own data stored by Google and all other digital platforms.

Second, there is supposed to be a reasonable visibility on the use of personal data. Third, it’s everyone’s right that his or her personal data are secured.

Fourth, everyone has the right to act on his or her own data. Fifth, everyone has the right to be remembered with regard to his or her own data.

For companies in the digital age and technology start-ups, Dr Weigend said they can take advantage of the massive data avialable on various platforms by focussing on the relevant questions and issues, rather than what to do with the data itself.

Second, they must ensure transparency and caution in the process of using the massive data, especially with regard to personal data and the boundaries of what constitute private data and the right to privacy.

For example, private data such as search engine history, credit card transactions, personal medical data, and person-specific HIV data are highly sensitive and cannot be used without proper consent.