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Fighting Crime with Data: An Ethical Dilemma

Can you be guilty of a crime you’ve yet to commit? That’s the premise of Steven Spielberg’s 2002 sci-fi thriller ‘Minority Report’. But could it actually be closer to reality than you think.   As technology has advanced, law enforcement has had to adapt. With criminals utilising increasingly sophisticated methods to achieve their goals, our police forces have had to continuously evolve their approach in order to keep up.   New digital advances have refined crime-solving techniques to the point where they can even predict the likelihood of a specific crime occurring. But with our personal data at stake, where do we draw the line between privacy and public safety?  Caught on Camera   The digital transformation has led to many breakthroughs over the past few decades, originating with fingerprint analysis, through to the advanced Machine Learning models now used to tackle Fraud and analyse Credit Risk.   With an estimated one camera per every 14 individuals in the UK, CCTV coverage is particularly dense. And, with the introduction of AI technologies, their use in solving crimes is likely to increase even further.   IC Realtime’s Ella uses Computer Vision to analyse what is happening within a video. With the ability to recognise thousands of natural language queries, Ella can let users search footage for exactly what they’re after; from specific vehicles, to clothes of a certain colour. With only the quality of CCTV cameras holding it back, we’re likely to see technology like this become mainstream in the near future.   Some more widespread technologies, however, are already playing their part in solving crimes. Detectives are currently seeking audio recordings from an Amazon Echo thought to be active during an alleged murder. However, as with previous requests for encrypted phone data, debate continues around what duty tech companies have to their customer’s privacy.  Hotspots and Hunches Whilst Big Data has been used to help solve crime for a while, we’ve only seen it begin to play a preventive role over the past few years. By using Predictive Analytics tools such as HunchLab to counter crime, law enforcement services can:  Direct resources to crime hotspots where they are most needed.  Produce statistical evidence that can be shared with local and national-level politicians to help inform and shape policy.   Make informed requests for additional funding where necessary.   Research has shown that, in the UK, these tools have been able to predict crime around ten times more accurately than the police.   However, above and beyond the geographical and socioeconomic trends that define these predictions, advances in AI have progressed things even further.   Often, after a mass shooting, it is found that the perpetrators had spoken about their planned attack on social media. The size of the social landscape is far too big for authorities to monitor everyone, and often just scanning for keywords can be misleading. However, IBM’s Watson can understand the sentiment of a post. This huge leap forward could be the answer to the sincere, and fair, policing of social media that we’ve yet to see. Man vs Machine  Whilst our social media posts may be in the public domain, the question remains about how much of our data are we willing to share in the name of public safety.   There is no doubt that advances in technology have left us vulnerable to new types of crime, from major data breaches, to new ways of cheating the taxman. So, there is an argument to be had that we need to surrender some privacy in order to protect ourselves as well as others. But who do we trust with that data?  Humans are all susceptible to bias and AI inherits the biases of its creators. Take a program like Boulder, a Santa-esque prototype that analyses the behaviour of people in banks, determining who is ‘good’ and who is ‘bad’. Whilst it can learn signs of what to look for, it’s also making decisions based around how it’s been taught ‘bad’ people might look or act. As such, is it any more trustworthy than an experienced security guard?  If we ignore human bias, do we trust emotionless machines to make truly informed decisions? A study that applied Machine Learning to cases of bail found that the technology’s recommendations would have resulted in 50% less reoffenders than the original judges’ decisions. However, whilst the evidence suggests that this may be the way forward, it is unlikely that society will accept such an important, life-changing decision being made by a machine alone.  There is no black and white when it comes to how we use data to prevent and solve crime. As a society, we are continuously pushing the boundaries and determining how much technology should impact the way we govern ourselves. If you can balance ethics with the evolution of technology, we may have a role for you.   Take a look at our latest roles or contact one of our expert consultants to find out how we can help you. 

What does it take to be a Chief Data Officer?

By Noam Zeigerson Noam Zeigerson is a Data & Analytics Executive and entrepreneur with over 16 years’ experience delivering Data solutions. What does the role of the CDO entail and how can we succeed? Researchers at Gartner estimate that 90 per cent of enterprises will have a ‘Chief Data Officer’ (CDO) in place by the end of 2019. It also predicts that by then only half of CDOs will have been successful. So, what does the role of the CDO entail and how can we succeed? The rise in the use of data in the enterprise to inform business decisions has led to a recent phenomenon - the Chief Data Officer. Organisations will have a CDO in place to handle the many opportunities and responsibilities that arise from industrial-scale collection and harnessing of data. Unfortunately, it is rare to be successful, due to a number of challenges. As a new role, the CDO need to be in a position to increase business efficiencies and improve risk management, especially since the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into effect in May 2018. This puts the CDO in a position where business expectations will be high, and we have to make tough and potentially unpopular decisions, because the CDO’s role sits at the crossroads of IT and business. We typically responsible for defining the data and analytics strategy at our organisation. The CDO becomes instrumental in breaking down siloed departments and data repositories, which makes information easier to find and also have ramifications for the IT team. As Gartner notes, many CDOs have faced resistance, but the successful ones are working closely with their Chief Information Officer (CIO) to lead change. To be a key part of any organisation’s digital transformation, the CDO need a wide range of skills. The skills required of a Chief Data Officer The role of the CDO is multifaceted. For this reason, CDOs need to be able to combine skills from the areas of data, IT, and business to be successful. Data skills: A background in data science is crucial. A passion for statistics and a clear understanding of how to interpret data to glean insights is core to the role of the CDO. The CDO then needs to be able to communicate what those insights mean in a business context and make information easily available to all. A knowledge of data security is also critical. In the UK, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), whose job it is to enforce GDPR in the country, recommends the creation of a Data Protection Officer (DPO) at each organisation. This should fall within the remit of the CDO. The value of sharing data at a senior level is recognized by UK organisations, by and large. Further down the authority chain the picture is different, with about three-quarters of executive teams and nearly half of front-line employees actually need to have access to detailed data and analytics. The CDO needs to ensure that those who need data to further inform decision making can do so and are sufficiently trained to gain business insights from that data. IT skills: Understanding how information flows is an advantage as the CDO is well placed to recommend and implement technology to democratise and operationalise data, as well as improve security. The CDO will need to manage expectations across the enterprise, so appreciating what technology can deliver is the key. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning are going to feature heavily of UK data projects, so many CDOs need to get to grips fast with this technology. Business skills: Strategic business logic is essential to success as a CDO. If the expectation of the CDO is to influence strategy based on data, then consulting experience will be valuable. Project management skills is at the forefront of the CDO’s day-to-day role. Being able to bring siloed groups together and get them striving for the same common goal is a vital skill for any CDO. It’s clear that data analytics is only going to be deployed more heavily throughout the enterprise, so the CDO’s role is only going to become more influential and pivotal within organisations as different business units seek to gain insights to improve the business further. Making a success of the CDO role Every organisation will have different objectives and expectations of their CDO. Gartner estimates that four in every five (80 per cent) CDOs will have revenue responsibilities, meaning we will be expected to drive new value, generate opportunities, and also deliver cost savings. No pressure! Given those expectations, it’s no wonder that Gartner expects only half of CDOs to succeed. The core responsibilities of the CDO includes data governance and quality, and regulatory compliance. The CDO must also address the way that technology is deployed to address these issues. The CDO needs leadership and team building skills, as we are the chief change agent in the organisation for creating a data-driven culture. This means first-class communications skills will be valuable.The Chief Data Officer is going to be essential in delivering digital transformation. Organisations who create a CDO role must support that individual and make sure that they are integrated across departments, not isolated in a silo. The C-suite must lead from the front on this and, as we saw earlier, the support of the CIO will be critical. Harnham are the global leaders in Data & Analytics recruitment.  Take a look at our latest roles or get in touch with one of our expert consultants to learn more. 

How Data Is Making Mass Marketing Personal

“Pretend that every single person you meet has a sign around his or her neck that says, ‘Make me feel important.’ Not only will you succeed in sales, you will succeed in life.” – Mary Kay Ash, Founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics From the very first market stall, sales have always relied on convincing individuals that what you’re selling is meant for them. The ability to connect with a person’s instincts, likes, and dislikes, is one of the key skills of any good salesperson. But as sales have moved from the market to the masses, businesses have needed to be increasingly innovative with the ways they target their specific audiences. To do this, they’ve looked to data. However, as customers become increasingly sceptical of targeted ads, just presenting your audience with a tailored advert is no longer enough. We’re having to get creative with data. Speaking to the Masses One approach brands are utilising to be more creative is, rather than using data to target, they’re using it to inform campaigns for a wide-audience. For example, Spotify’s end of year campaigns use data to recap highlights of the past year. These range from broader data about what music performed well, to data highlighting unusual behaviour from individuals.  This tongue-in-cheek approach helped reaffirm Spotify’s position as a brand who represent the zeitgeist. Furthermore, it feels personal even though it isn’t specifically targeted. If users identify themselves as part of a group being discussed they can feel as though the ad is personal to them, even if it’s on a billboard in Time’s Square.  However, there are still some risks to being so transparent with your use of data. Netflix stirred up a minor controversy when using viewing data for a light-hearted tweet. Whilst some saw the funny side, others felt that the post was invasive. Either way, it got people talking and ultimately led to an increase in views of the film they mentioned.  Using Insights to Incite Change Whilst some companies, like Spotify, use data to reaffirm their current brand, others utilise it to help them define their position. This doesn’t have to take the form of a radical change.  Nike’s recent campaign was fronted by a divisive figure within the world of US sports, Colin Kaepernick. Whilst some audiences found the move controversial, Nike’s core audience of under-35s saw this as a principled stand, repositioning one of the world’s biggest companies as a challenger brand. The move paid off and Nike saw their share price rise to an all-time high as a result of the campaign.  Data also has its place in reshaping an actual product. Take Hinge, a dating app that started life with few differentiators from its competitors. In 2017, they relaunched with a revolutionised app informed entirely from insights from their existing userbase.  Their data told them that users were “over the game” of swiping and wanted an app that allowed them to make more meaningful connections. Armed with this information, Hinge re-established themselves as an app led by unique, personal insights through a UX and brand overhaul, and are now a major player in the world of online dating.    Getting Engaged Data-driven advertising is also an excellent way to engage your audience. For example. Snickers brought their ‘You’re Not You When You’re Hungry’ campaign to life in Australia with their ‘Hungerithm’ algorithm.  The algorithm scanned 14,000 social posts across three sites every day throughout a five-week period, searching for users in a bad mood. If they found a post complaining about a traffic jam or the weather, they’d send a personalised promo code for a discounted Snickers to the ‘Hangry’ user. Across the campaign over 6,600 coupons were redeemed, and both sales and online engagement dramatically increased. Additionally, by using data that people had publicly posted, rather than their own stored information, Snickers managed to swerve any controversy.  If you are looking to create personalised ads based upon cookies and profile data, you can engage your audience without appearing too invasive. Animal rescue non-profit, the Amanda Foundation, used data to target groups without appearing too specific.  Fans of staying in and reading books were shown programmatic banner ads suggesting they adopt a cat, whilst athletic types were presented with active puppies. By loosely targeting demographics they created personal adverts that didn’t feel overly intrusive.  If you can creatively interpret data to inform targeting strategies, we may have a role for. From Marketing Analyst opportunities to Campaign & CRM jobs, we work with some of the best agencies around. Get in touch if you’d like to know more. 

Being Human: How the Interview Process is Evolving

Should we make our interview processes more like a talent show? That’s what a job centre in France thought when they introduced ‘This Is The Job’, an interview more in the style of ‘The Voice’ than a traditional Q&A session. Complete with spinning chairs and buzzers, this ‘technique’ has been swiftly brought to an end following public outcry.  But whilst it might not be the best idea to base the recruitment process on a popular TV show (let’s not use ‘Bodyguard’ as an inspiration for problem-solving tasks), we are seeing an evolution in how interviews are conducted. Here’s a look at some of the most popular trends we’re seeing businesses apply to their recruitment processes.  Cultivating a culture  Perhaps the most significant change we’re seeing at the moment is the increased prominence placed on cultural fit. No longer an afterthought, this is now a make or break factor for most employers.  Interview panels are looking for a candidate’s personality to come through when they discuss previous projects they’ve worked on. They’re keen to know that they can explain their findings to a wider audience. This includes being open about where they can improve and showing a level of humility. We’ve seen candidates rejected for being overly-defensive when receiving critiques of their technical work.  Alongside this, businesses are adapting their interviewing techniques to reflect this more human approach. First-round telephone interviews are being replaced by video calls, offering an experience closer to face-to-face. Agencies, in particular, are taking interviews out of the office and into coffee shops, with the ambition of creating a more social interaction.  All of these changes should mean that both businesses and candidates have a better understanding of what they’re signing up for before an offer is made or accepted.  Ironing out the creases  Given the fast pace of working life, finding time to dedicate to an interview process is a challenge for businesses and candidates alike. Fortunately, we’re seeing processes streamlined.  Whereas we had seen a trend for employers sending out time-consuming tasks to thoroughly test people’s abilities, the amount time required led to delayed processes and candidates dropping out. As a result, businesses are now including technical screenings within the interview itself, alongside short demos, presentations of work and online coding sessions.  By keeping things simple, we’re now seeing less candidate drop off early in the process. This, alongside combining technical and competency questions, has resulted in a more concentrated, yet just as detailed, way of assessing an applicant’s suitability for a role.  Getting hands on Employers have always looked for someone who can walk the walk, as well as talk the talk. Now they’re taking matters into their own hands by requiring candidates to react to real world examples. Most commonly, we’re seeing these take the form of case studies, generally falling into one of two categories: Quantitative, where a relevant business situation and data are provided and need to be addressed.  Conceptual, where there are no figures, and the interviewer is trying to gain an insight into the candidate’s approach and thought processes. On top of this, we’re beginning to see new methods introduced that test applicants even further. Job Auditions are becoming an increasingly popular way of assessing how well a candidate can perform in a real-world situation. There’s even talk of introducing Virtual Reality to push this idea even further within a controlled simulation.  Regardless of what the future may hold, companies are clearer than ever with what they’re looking for in the interview process. Don’t be surprised if we continue to see innovations that offer more depth into a candidate’s true behaviour, personality and working styles.  If you’re on the lookout for a new role, we can support and guide you through the interviewing process. We have a variety of roles in both Junior and Senior positions, both Contract and Permanent.  Take a look at our latest roles or get in touch with one of our expert consultants to see how we can help you progress you career. 

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