New Zealand Public’s Support for Data Analytics

New Zealanders don’t like welfare agencies using personal spending data from credit card or insurance to verify benefit claims.

The 2017 Unisys New Zealand Security Index found only 42 percent agree with welfare agencies accessing this kind of information.

It’s not just welfare. Even fewer New Zealanders support the tax office collecting similar data to verify income tax returns. Just 21 percent think this is OK.

Researchers found the most positive government use of analytics is with border security. Allowing border security officers to analyse the travel history of passengers and their fellow travellers to decide if they are eligible for fast-track border clearance gets a tick from 57 percent of New Zealanders.

Sharp insights or nosy parkers?

Business use modern analytics and big data. They see it as a way to pluck customer insights from masses of messy-looking scraps of information. It gives them a short cut to the consumers most likely to buy their products.

Governments use big data and analytics for social policy and security reasons. Marketers also love the technologies. Used well they can boost sales and reduce marketing waste.

It turns out New Zealand consumers are, at best, luke-warm, about that idea. We don’t like marketing department computers sifting out personal data. Most of the time we are not at all happy with sharing information.

Unisys found a majority, almost two-thirds, of New Zealanders do not like data analytics being used to sell goods and services to them.

Lack of trust with banks

Researchers found 64 percent don’t want their bank to monitor their spending habits to offer related products such as insurance for items they have purchased.Shop workers using face recognition glasses to identify loyalty programme members gets a thumbs down from 62 percent of New Zealanders.

Richard Parker, Unisys Asia-Pacific vice president financial services says: “While they may be trying to improve the customer experience, if businesses cross the line and appear to invade customers’ privacy by revealing that they know more about them than what the customer has knowingly shared, it just turns the customer off.

“Technology alone is not enough. It must be used in the context of understanding human nature and cultural norms.”

This is part of a series of sponsored posts about the 2017 Unisys Security Index New Zealand.

 

how-to-glean-customer-insight-from-big-data

Skinny CEO Ross Parker didn’t have to look far when he needed a better way to spot trends in the mobile company’s sales data, he went to big data consultancy Qrious, another Spark business unit.

Parker says despite being simple, the system is already uncovering powerful insights: “We can see straight away if our offers work. We can look at the store level the next day to learn what happens with promotions.” He has ambitions to move to the next level of analysis which he says will include predictive modelling.

This is from case study I wrote last year for TechTarget’s Business Information ANZ eZine. You can download the whole publication for yourself, it does mean filling in a form but once you’ve done that there’s a wealth of other useful material on the site.

Businesses in Australia and New Zealand are not getting the results they hoped for from big data projects. Less than one in eight report success with their strategies.

Among other issues, they have trouble finding people with the skills needed to make sense of the technology. They also struggle as poor communications mean company departments are unable to co-operate on the level needed to gather data for analysis.

The problems come to light in an Economist Intelligence Unit research paper sponsored by Hitachi Data Systems. The EIU reports a lack of in-house skills is the biggest barrier to adopting big data in Australia and New Zealand.

Companies also say a lack of suitable software and issues with over-complicated reports are problems.

The survey found nearly 40 percent of organisations don’t have a big data strategy because they can’t see a path around the skills and communications challenges.

Big data expectations

Despite the drawbacks, respondents think big data can improve their businesses.

The report says 92 percent of businesses rely on internal data, while 53 percent take data from third-party providers, 37 percent use social media sources for data insight.

Machine generated data is on the rise with 20 percent of companies using sensors, smart grid, RFID, network logs and telematics.

Steve Abley says GIS (geographic information systems) has taken off in New Zealand to the point where he has set up a new Christchurch-based business to meet growing demand for GIS analysis. The new company was launched at this week’s New Zealand Esri User Conference in Auckland.

Abley’s Interpret Geospatial Solutions was originally a division of Abley Transportation Consultants, but is now a stand-alone brand. He said the new business will focus on revealing the facts lying behind geospatial data.

GIS is a digital mapping technology that gives users insight into information by linking it to maps. It has been widely used by organisations such as local councils, central government and utility companies for many years.

More recently other industries have woken up to the potential of geospatial information combined with big data for planning purposes. Abley intends to target these opportunities.

Interpret managing director Abley says the company’s name reflects the kind of work it will be doing. It will turn complex sets of data into meaningful information than can be acted on. “This often means finding patterns that are not immediately obvious”, he says.

As an illustration he points to the company’s role helping the NZTA compile its 100 worst intersections list. He says historically road funding was distributed on the basis of the number of crashes at an intersection, an approach he describes as “putting the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff”.

Interpret’s GIS analysis helped by highlighting potential risks, forecasting events and telling the NZTA where to look for potential dangers. The analysis also takes into account the kind of crash – some being more dangerous than others.

Abley says New Zealand is now recognised internationally as something of a world leader doing groundbreaking work on road safety. Underlining this is a recent project which has seen the Christchurch-based company work with the Mexican government to produce a web-based tool to display road safety information.

 

My 3,000 word feature on big data is now online at New Zealand Management’s website.

I wrote the story for a non-technical business audience. If you are a big data geek you probably won’t like it. If you’re technical, but work in a different area it might be a useful background read. I recommend business readers buy the printed magazine, that much text is often heavy going on-screen.

When I wrote the story I asked interviewees if there is a real need for big data in a small country like New Zealand. The question hangs a little on how you define big data, some people see it as dealing with databases that are too large and complex for conventional database management software and tools. Others regard it more as a state-of-mind and a collection of concepts.

Either way, there are real big data projects in New Zealand – they mainly involve collecting location data from mobile phones or social media messages, you are being watched. Away from the gargantuan projects, there are plenty of New Zealand companies using big data techniques.

One conclusion from researching the story is that there is a huge demand for people with analytical skills coupled with business savvy to interpret big data. I’m probably a little too long in the tooth to handle this work now – but science graduates like me who are looking for a change of direction should consider retraining for analytical jobs.