CEO Blog: The Big Data World of AdTech: Bad or Benevolent?
I must admit that when you hear all the discussion about how much data is being gathered about everyone, it instinctively does not feel so good. Is there no privacy left? Do I really need a PhD in Computer Science to understand how to provide minimal protection in an ever-increasing online world? It seems that every day you read about issues ranging from the exposure you have to hackers getting into either your accounts directly, or into large corporate files with access to hundreds of thousands of email accounts, to stories of the immense amount of data being collected to profile you down to things you may be thinking in the future but haven't occurred to even you, yet. I have to admit, with as much interaction as I have had with AdTech firms in the past couple of years, I have concluded that the vast amount of information being collected is, if anything, understated. The key question, though, is whether that is cause for concern or optimism.
To be certain, there are those in the world who will use whatever resources are available for doing things that are less than honorable. I think everyone gets that. (For that reason, we are also engaged with organizations whose sole concern is providing protection, but I will leave that discussion for another day). But the vast majority of organizations I meet are doing really cool things that truly do enhance the user experience and add value in an increasing number of ways. And to that end, this gathering of information for creative uses is not limited to selling jeans or hooking you up with concert tickets, but extends to so many walks of life. I recently read an article in the New York Times about how the capture of this type of information is being used to enhance both the targeting and delivery of higher education. This is really cool stuff, and it serves a higher purpose.
I think objectivity is essential when looking at everything. When it comes to the online world (now increasingly via mobile), there are certainly negatives. But there are positives as well. At Infobright we get up everyday thinking about storing and analyzing machine-generated data, which is really all of what we are talking about here. Sometimes I feel like we might be enabling the wrong things, but often, and I would say more often than not, we are enabling progress.