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Investing in 'actionable insights' more important than amassing data, says expert

Out-Law News | 12 Aug 2014 | 4:25 pm | 1 min. read

Businesses will better gain from the potential offered by access to masses of data and the ability to bring datasets together if technologies allowing them to obtain "actionable insights" from the information they analyse are improved, an expert has said.

Technology law specialist Luke Scanlon of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com, said that technology companies have an opportunity to gain a competitive advantage if they deliver solutions that enable their customers to harness the full potential of 'big data'.

"There is a widespread acceptance in both the private and public sector that organisations need to make better use of the data at their disposal," Scanlon said. "But while there has been a lot of investment in improving data storage, processing and management solutions and the analytics technologies themselves, there remain limitations in understanding precisely how these investments can be translated into actionable insights that truly transform a business."

"There is a clear incentive for technology suppliers to invest in research to develop tools that can assist businesses in delivering those insights or outputs, given the commercial benefits that could be derived from doing so," he said.

Scanlon was commenting after the European Commission announced support for a new system that presents data according to the way users of the system interact with it.

The Collective Experience of Empathic Data Systems (CEEDs) project is supported by €6.5 million of EU funding and involves researchers based at a number of institutions across the EU, including at Goldsmiths, University of London and the Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona.

The 'eXperience Induction Machine' (XIM) developed by CEED researchers presents data in a "constantly tailored" way by responding to user signals, including gestures, eye movements or heart rate, to allow those users to analyse the information in a more efficient way, according to a Commission statement.

“The system acknowledges when participants are getting fatigued or overloaded with information. And it adapts accordingly," Jonathan Freeman, professor of psychology at Goldsmiths, University of London and coordinator of the CEEDs project said. "It either simplifies the visualisations so as to reduce the cognitive load, thus keeping the user less stressed and more able to focus. Or it will guide the person to areas of the data representation that are not as heavy in information.”

“We are seeing that it’s physically impossible for people to analyse all the data in front of them, simply because of the time it takes. Any system that can speed it up and make it more efficient is of huge value," Freeman said.

The Commission said that CEEDs researchers are in talks with organisations in the private, public and charity sectors that are keen for customised versions of the XIM to be developed for their needs.

"Applications discussed are related to a virtual retail store environment in an international airport and the visualisation of soil quality and climate in Africa in order to assist local farmers in optimising crop yields," it said.