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IntoTheMinds consulting blog
Advice in Data & IT
Make big data and algorithms part of the public service media eduction plan
Oct11

Make big data and algorithms part of the public service media eduction plan

On 6 October 2017 I was invited by the Eurovision Academy to give a speech at their General Assembly in Vilnius (Lithuania). The Eurovision Academy is the department, within the European Broadcasting Union, that is responsible for training employees from membres (public service media) and making sure all of them have the opportunity to keep up to date with the latest techniques in terms of employee development. They do a terrific job...

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Signs of the Times : an artistic project on algorithmic recommendations
Sep08

Signs of the Times : an artistic project on algorithmic recommendations

Recommendations are everywhere online but offline recommendations have never been heard of. Until New-Zealand based artists Scott Kelly and Ben Polkinghorne chose to use this widespread technology in an offline context. The result is an eye-opening experiment called “Signs of the Times” that forces us to look at the predominant place recommendations have taken in our online lives. What would we do without recommendaiton...

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Workshop on fairness and ethics in recommendation systems
Sep06

Workshop on fairness and ethics in recommendation systems

On the last day of the RecSys 2017 conference I was fortunate enough to be in the organizing committee of the workshop on fairness, accountability and transparency in recommendation systems (F.A.T.REC). This workshop was the first of its kind within the RecSys community ; the conference is indeed usually very much tech-oriented and Joe Konstan, who chaired the very first ACM Recsys conference, indicated in a plenary session that he...

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Dynamic pricing : natural marketing evolution or threat ?
Sep04

Dynamic pricing : natural marketing evolution or threat ?

In a recent article the Guardian recalled the story of John Wanamaker who revolutionized retail by inventing “fixed prices”. As incredible as it may seem, until 1861 prices were set according to the rule of thumb and the perception left by the customer on the salesman. If the latter felt you had money, you’d be charged more than someone else he felt would be poorer. The “one price for all” rule seems...

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RecSys 2017 conference on algorithmic recommendation has started
Aug27

RecSys 2017 conference on algorithmic recommendation has started

I’m on my way to the RecSys 2017 conference, a conference opened to academic researchers and practitioners working on algorithmic recommendations. Such algorithms are widely used on websites to help users find they way and get a better user experience. Search engines are actually very complex recommendation engines that help you find the right content depending on where you are located, what you have liked before. We have...

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How Big Data will influence the future of advertising
Jul25

How Big Data will influence the future of advertising

“What is the impact of Big Data on online advertising” is the question I was asked to answer on the occasion of an EGTA ((European Group of Television Advertising) workshop that took place on 29 and 30 June 2017 in Brussels (my thanks to Yuri Loburets for his kind invitation to speak). Rather than repeating the same clichés about Big Data again and again I chose to put advertising and Big Data back in a historical...

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Defining an ethical framework for collecting, analyzing, and exploiting personal data
Jul05

Defining an ethical framework for collecting, analyzing, and exploiting personal data

After our meetup on Big Data and Ethics at DigitYser we held an executive Lunch with Michael Ekstrand to discuss some important, yet emerging issues related to current practices around data. All participants were obviously mainly interested in dealing with how ethics will affect those practices and we agreed with Philippe Van Impe and Geert Verstraeten that we will address this topic in the upcoming data bootcamp organized by...

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Big Data and ethics : how visualization can screw it up
Jun30

Big Data and ethics : how visualization can screw it up

Following our first article on the Big Data and Ethics meetup organized at Digityser on 15 June 2017, we’d like to cover today another very interesting presentation by Leenke De Donder. Lenke dealt with an aspect the importance of which is, in our opinion, underestimated by data scientists and professionals in the data business : visualization. We spend a lot of time on collecting data, cleansing (data quality) and designing the...

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The right to failure doesn’t exist with artificial intelligence. This is terrible.
Jun26

The right to failure doesn’t exist with artificial intelligence. This is terrible.

Artificial intelligence, algorithms based on machine learning, have turned our lives into one of efficiency where failure doesn’t exist anymore. For algorithms an error doesn’t exist ; it’s just a prediction that hasn’t worked because of missing data points. This statistical “accident” will be taken into account to improve predictions a step further. In the field of algorithmic governance failure is...

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Big Data and Ethics : first sucessful meetup at DigitYser in Brussels
Jun21

Big Data and Ethics : first sucessful meetup at DigitYser in Brussels

On 15 June 2017 my friend Philippe Van Impe gave me the opportunity to organize the first meetup in his newly opened Big Data temple in Brussels : DigitYser. And what a success ! The topic of this first Meetup at DigitYser was “Big Data and ethics“, an important topic in data science yet insufficiently covered. The idea for this meetup popped up during my talk at the Data Innovation Summit where people started tweeting...

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Facebook doesn’t tell you really why you get targeted advertising
Jun19

Facebook doesn’t tell you really why you get targeted advertising

In the data world, the topics of transparency, privacy and ethics are more and more discussed. As we predicted a year ago, this may well be the next revolution in data science. We ran an experiment to understand the level of information Facebook users get on targeted advertising. Data literacy is essential Educating people on the role of data in their lives is essential. We see too many companies which revamp their terms and...

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GDPR : what does data portability really mean ?
Jun14

GDPR : what does data portability really mean ?

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) enforces the concept of data portability. What it means remains however opaque for most of us as the concept behind data portability can’t be easily applied and doesn’t really correspond to any expressed or latent consumer’s needs. Portability : a game changer for many industries, pushed by the European Commission The concept of portability is at the heart of the action...

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Allianz mobile app for connected car insurance hooks prospective customers
May31

Allianz mobile app for connected car insurance hooks prospective customers

Transforming leads into clients is a challenge for most companies and the heart of the sales process. What if leads could convert themselves into customers ? In that perspective the initiative of Allianz in the field of “connected insurance” is very clever. The promise of “connected car insurances” is to obtain a discount depending on how well you drive. Allianz gives up to 30% discount for good drivers. A...

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New Twitter conditions give you a glimpse into how and which personal data collected
May29

New Twitter conditions give you a glimpse into how and which personal data collected

On 20 May 2017 Twitter sent an email to its users announcing that new terms and conditions apply. These changes largely apply to data usage, personalization and targeted advertising. One can’t really say it’s a revolution, but at least it’s a first step towards more transparency (something much needed in the field of Big Data). And the new privacy parameters give you an idea of how the personalization algorithms of...

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Personalized car insurance has unexpected effects on customers behaviors
May24

Personalized car insurance has unexpected effects on customers behaviors

A recent article in a French magazine sheds light on progresses made by insurance company Allianz in the field of personalized car insurance. Like many other firms in the field, Allianz believes in the usefulness of telematic units (black boxes) to monitor drivers’ behaviors and better evaluate risks. 20000 customers of Allianz have already opted in France; a rather small number that reflects the risks perceived by customers (as...

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Youtube recommendations : user experience and algorithmes better than ever
May15

Youtube recommendations : user experience and algorithmes better than ever

If you are addicated to YouTube, chances are high their recommendation systems play an important role in your addiction. Our deep interest in recommendation engines and algorithms makes us naturally gravitate towards the YouTube app to assess their latest developments. And the least we can say is that the latest version of their recommendation algorithm is extremely good and likely to trigger addiction among users. How YouTube...

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Special Meetup on Big Data and Ethics in Brussels on 15 June 2017

After the tremendous success of the Data Innovation Summit 2017, an online conversation started during my talk on the relationship between Big Data and Ethics. Suddenly several people expressed interest in deepening this topic. It took us only a few minutes to gather potential speakers and lay out the structure for a meetup gathering in Brussels. I’m proud to announce to we have confirmed some amazing speakers and that we are on...

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Market research : data strategy for European broadcasting organizations
Apr03

Market research : data strategy for European broadcasting organizations

On the occasion of the 2nd annual EBU Big Data week held in Geneva on 21 and 22 March 2017, the results of a pilot survey on the state of Big Data among broadcasters was revealed. The survey results are based on answers from 33 broadcasting organizations. Here are the key results to be remembered : 2/3 of surveyed members say data is important or very important for their organizations only 1/3 say Big Data is a corporate priority. In...

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Data Innovation Summit 2017 : Big Data for Greater Good
Mar31

Data Innovation Summit 2017 : Big Data for Greater Good

The 2017 edition of the Data Innovation Summit is now over and it quickly sold out. What a great success for Philippe Van Impe and his team who have once managed to organize an amazing event. I was kindly invited by the organizer to give a keynote speech on my work at RTBF where I design and conduct the personalization program. Working in a public service environment makes things incredibly different from any private and commercial...

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Recommendation algorithms : the myth of filter bubbles at stake
Mar24

Recommendation algorithms : the myth of filter bubbles at stake

We’ve already discussed filter bubbles on this blog, a rather technical term that describes the negative effet of algorithms on our digital life. For more information read this thorough article. Whether or not filter bubbles really exist is still debated and I wanted to compile all scientific results on the subject. There are actually very few of them/ Although Pariser (2011) has claimed the obvious existence of filter bubbles,...

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Big Data : how to build trust with consumers and keep it
Mar22

Big Data : how to build trust with consumers and keep it

With Big Data the digital tracks we are leaving behind us can be exploited, leading to more personalized relationships but also to more fear and distrust. The feeling of being tracked can break the relationship with the customer. This risk is particularly important in the context of public service organizations for which trust is an essential part of the job. “Building trust” was the topic of the first panel discussion to...

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Artificial intelligence: are algorithms biased by nature ?
Mar20

Artificial intelligence: are algorithms biased by nature ?

I attended a workshop at the Maastricht European Centre on Privacy and Cybersecurity where I met Prof. Alessandro Mantelero of Polytecnico di Torino. Prof. Mantelero is well known as a specialist in the protection of personal data, which has become a very important topic with GDPR. In his talk he was discussing among other things the biases of algorithms and highlighted the need to avoid them. Using examples from the insurance sector...

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Visit to EPFL ArtLab featuring leading Big Data projects
Feb20

Visit to EPFL ArtLab featuring leading Big Data projects

I had several opportunities to visit the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL) to discuss scientific and technical collaborations in the field of Big Data. EPFL is one of the worldwide most renown engineering schools/university, with world-class researchers. Big Data is no exception. EPFL (and Switzerland in general) knows how to attract the best brains from the most diverse countries in the world. On my latest visit I...

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GDPR compliance: are your algorithms ethical?
Feb17

GDPR compliance: are your algorithms ethical?

On your journey to GDPR compliance (General Data Protection Regulation) you will certainly need some help and some guidance to do the right things avoid being fined. We all agree, among specialists, that GDPR implementation may be delayed to let companies adapt. Recent market research discussed at CPDP conference revealed indeed that only 4% of companies were currently getting ready for GDPR. This being said, don’t expect...

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Emotions detection in advertising: consumers still reluctant to give their data
Feb13

Emotions detection in advertising: consumers still reluctant to give their data

Advertisers have always been among the most creative professionals; not only on the content part but also in their use of the newest technologies to make their advertising messages more efficient. The use of eye-tracking dates back to decades, whereas billboards on streets can nowadays be equipped with technologies (sensors) to interact with pedestrians. M&C Saatchi partnered with Clear Channel and Posterscope to launch an...

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Market research : Norwegians don’t want personnalized insurance
Feb08

Market research : Norwegians don’t want personnalized insurance

Insurance companies are getting increasingly personal and thanks to digitization they are proposing new tailor-made products. Two main applications can be found : Personalized health insurance Personalized car insurance We have explored in recent articles the different aspects of such insurances (see for instance our article on black boxes in cars, or this article on the dangers of personalized health insurances) but hadn’t...

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Can Big Data become a technique to promote transparency and equity
Feb01

Can Big Data become a technique to promote transparency and equity

On this blog I often took a pessimistic look at Big Data, asking for a revolution in how firms build and use their algorithms. I called for instance for opening up the models behind recommendation algorithms and wondered whether our freedom was at stake. Today’s article will be definitely more optimistic because I met last week at the CPDP 2017 conference two speakers that delivered brilliant presentations on how Big Data can...

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How data vulnerability affects firms’ performance and how to remedy it
Jan23

How data vulnerability affects firms’ performance and how to remedy it

Everyone talks about privacy. But what is it really ? A recent article in French economical journal “La Tribune” built upon two recent BCG reports (here and there) on data protection and privacy to question firms’ practices around data privacy 62% of French people surveyed by BCG said companies don’t respect the private character of their data. Yet, what is privacy ? Most people will claim they know but once...

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Academic research debunks the myth of filter bubbles
Jan18

Academic research debunks the myth of filter bubbles

The interest for the “Filter Bubble” phenomenon reached an all-time high after 2016 US presidential elections (see our article). The existence of filter bubble was hypothesized by Eli Pariser in 2011, yet it remains at the center of debate on his actual existence. According to Pariser the algorithms implemented to make our digital lives easier are an impediment to serendipity. According to opponents the Internet offers a...

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How US elections shed light on the filter bubble phenomenon
Jan16

How US elections shed light on the filter bubble phenomenon

Just do a Google search on “Filter bubble” and you’ll be surprized of the many results returned. The recent US presidential elections have shed light on this phenomenon first hypothetized by Eli Pariser in 2011, and subject to much debate (see also our upcoming article on 18 Jan 2017). Yet the facts are there. Right after the elections of 08 November 2016, the interest for “filter bubble” increased...

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Customer satisfaction, customer experience and big data
Jan04

Customer satisfaction, customer experience and big data

Improving customer experience is priority #1 of top executives for the next 12 months (Lemon and Verhoef 2016). At the same time Big Data is on every serious company’s agenda. How can Big Data contribute to creating a customer experience that will ensure customer retention ? This is the topic of today’s article where we will question the usefulness of Big Data in today’s digital sphere (yes ! we’ll dare doing...

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The role of Big Data on society : EBU conference
Dec19

The role of Big Data on society : EBU conference

With fellow colleagues of EBU, I organized last week a conference entitled “Big Data and Society“at RTBF, the French-speaking public broadcasting organization of Belgium. As I wrote on EBU website, this event aimed at gathering together professionals from the broadcasting industry to reflect on the impact of Big Data, recommendation algorithms and filter bubbles on society in general, and on users’ behaviors in...

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Amazon Go : this disruptive retail model hides a secret
Dec12

Amazon Go : this disruptive retail model hides a secret

Amazon Go is a 100% connected store where checkout are automated. Amazon Go is the convergence of at least 3 important trends : the first one is the diversification of Amazon into brick-and-mortar store the second one is a trend to decrease costs in the retail sector to increase margins the third one is the dream to put all behaviors into data to better predict what consumers will buy next Trend #1 : Amazon’s diversification...

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How novelty and serendipity improve customer satisfaction
Dec05

How novelty and serendipity improve customer satisfaction

Product recommendations have enabled E-commerce websites to become a place where mass marketing converges with niche marketing. Recommendations are pivotal in enabling less popular products to be discovered by people who are the most likely to like them : this is a long-tail strategy. There is however a dilemma to be adressed : how much of novel and unexpected products should be recommended to online visitors to enhance their...

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Are we living in the matrix ?
Nov30

Are we living in the matrix ?

Are we already living in the matrix ? That question may seem odd to most of you. Not to some unidentified silicon valley billionaires who are secretly funding scientists to find a way to escape the matrix. I’ve been thinking a lot about freedom and algorithms for a few months now, and would like to share some of my thoughts with you. Background : what was the matrix about ? Let’s remember what the Matrix movie was all...

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Vitality offers Apple watch to monitor your activity : one more insurance into big (health) data
Nov28

Vitality offers Apple watch to monitor your activity : one more insurance into big (health) data

A few weeks ago we were discussing on this blog the trend of the insurance market to collect very intrusive data. I had the opportunity to raise my concerns at several conferences and got the impression that people were not aware of what was going on (especially as far as car insurances are concerned). In particular I gave the example of CSS Insurance in Switzerland which proposed customers to wear a fit band capturing activity data...

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