Do Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies provide opportunities for innovative entrepreneurs to create real value? Bitcoin has proponents and naysayers. What is it really about?
The 18th century philosopher Voltaire, a proponent of the separation of church and state, is known to have said that the Holy Roman Empire was neither Holy, nor Roman nor an empire. We could say the same about Bitcoin as a virtual cryptocurrency.
Cryptology has an important role to play in Bitcoin, but that is not its defining feature. Currency is historically built on the recognition of national boundaries and their associated political constructs. Moreover, the words “crypto” and “fiat” are not opposites.
As a data engineer and scientist, I have been following the NSA PRISM raw intelligence mining program with great interest. The engineering complexity, breadth and scale is simply amazing compared to say credit card analytics (Fair Issac) or marketing analytics firms like Acxiom.
Some background… PRISM – “Planning Tool for Resource Integration, Synchronization, and Management” – is a top-secret data-mining “connect-the-dots” program aimed at terrorism detection and other pattern extraction authorized by federal judges working under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). PRISM allows the U.S. intelligence community to look for patterns across multiple gateways across a wide range of digital data sources.
PRISM is unstructured big data aggregation framework — audio and video chats, phone call records, photographs, e-mails, documents, financial transactions and transfers, internet searches, Facebook Posts, smartphone logs and connection logs – and relevant analytics that enable analysts to extract patterns. Save and analyze all of the digital breadcrumbs people don’t even know they are creating.
The whole NSA program raises an interesting debate about “Sed quis custodiet ipsos custodes.” (“But who will watch the watchers.”) Read more
Here are just a few examples of analytics at work
- Target predicts customer pregnancy from shopping behavior, thus identifying prospects to contact with offers related to the needs of a newborn’s parents.
- Tesco (UK) annually issues 100 million personalized coupons at grocery cash registers across 13 countries. Predictive analytics increased redemption rates by a factor of 3.6.
- Netflix predicts which movies you will like based on what you watched.
- Life insurance companies can predicts the likelihood an elderly insurance policy holder will die within 18 months in order to trigger end-of-life counseling.
- Con Edison predicts energy distribution cable failure, updating risk levels that are displayed on operators’ screens three times an hour in New York City.
Now you are interested. So what about your organization. Do you have the right toolset, dataset, skillset and mindset for analytics? Do you want to enable end users to get access to their data without having to go through intermediaries?
The challenge facing managers in every industry is not trivial… how do you effectively derive insights from the deluge of data? How do you structure and execute analytics programs (Infrastructure + Applications + Business Insights) with limited budgets?