More and more business sectors are using big data analytics to do better business, to gain market share or retain/acquire customers. Here are some examples of such powerful algorithms based on big data analysis:
Culture: the new prescribers
“Tell me what you read, listen to or look, I’ll tell you what you want to buy”. It could be the new motto of Netflix or Amazon who have made their trademark of cultural recommendation. Algorithms fever seizes the cultural sphere (Deezer, Canalplay, Spotify, etc…) today and provides a significant comparative advantage over competitors who do not use such technologies. Apple should also invest this field very soon following the takeover of Beat, the trendy brand headphones.
Algorithms: the new booksellers, record stores and movies critics of the future?
Media: Newspapers under pressure
You will learn to know about Quakebot, Automated Insight or Narrative Science. They work for the LA Times, Associated Press and Forbes. Their particularity? They are not journalists in flesh and bone, but companies developing software capable of writing articles in an autonomous way. Thanks to sophisticated algorithms, software robots can comment financial report, announce the sports results (and sometimes anticipate, see next section!) or react in real time to breaking news. At the moment, a human provides the correction. But for how long? The CEO of Narrative Sciences predicts that 95% of the press articles will be provided by artificial intelligences in 2025. Provocative? In any case, the giants of the Net are not far away; Mark Zuckerberg wants to create “the perfect custom newspaper for each person in the world”. With the help of an algorithm, obviously!
Sports: trained to algorithms
In Sports, we primary use algorithms out of sport fields! Betegy, a dutch company dealing with Americans and Chinese betting sites, boasts to be able to predict the results of 25 football championships with 60% success on average (sometimes up to 90%). To achieve such results, it examines all the results of a team but also the anniversary of the coach, the weather, the wounds of players and so on… More and more professional sports use specific software analysing big data to anticipate the injury, improve the tactical side and performance. In 2010, Manchester City was seeking to increase the number of goals on a corner, drawn up there in “outbound” trajectory. Statisticians have estimated that it is better to shoot “returning” after study of more than 400 kicks. The result : 15 goals scored in “returning” shooting the next season, which earned them the League title. Who says better?
Healthcare: the data fever
Will Virus Ebola strike the USA? How many people will die? These bright questions, the algorithm HealthMap, designed by Boston physicians, has may be the answer. This online mapping tool processes every day millions of data from various sources (online press, social networks, government sites and blogs from volunteers). Mid-March 2014, he detected a mysterious haemorrhagic fever in Africa; the 23rd of the same month, WHO confirmed the presence of the disease in Guinea. In France, INRIA researchers are predicting heart disease looking at weather algorithms and are adapting them to healthcare domain.
Security: The disenchantment of the risk
In Minority Report, Philip K Dick imagines strange creatures laced of electrodes that can predict crimes and identify their authors before they commit it. In 2014, no need for science fiction, the algorithms are enough!
In Singapore, the RAHS department (Risk Assessment and Horizontal Scanning) has been attempting for 10 years to anticipate terrorist attacks and bacteriological threats by studying scenarios constructed from data collected by local officials. A program that even the USA have given up to apply: the aptly named “Total Information Awareness” program was designed to become a gigantic data base to eliminate any risk of terrorist attack. Strongly disputed, it has been scrapped in 2003.