It’s rare to work with someone that helps build and define an industry. From inventing the Retweet Button, to creating a new privacy-safe approach for social data analysis, Nick Halstead has been at the forefront of the social data industry since its inception only a few years ago. Having worked with Nick as Chief Product Officer over the last 4 years, I’d like to thank him for the passion, energy and entrepreneurism in taking an abstract concept of a “social data platform” and building that into a technology that is used everywhere from the United Nations to Wall Street.
DataSift has a unique position in the social industry. As the privileged, strategic partner to more than 20 social networks – including a unique partnership with Facebook – we work with an ecosystem of application builders and agencies that are building products to enable data-driven businesses to make better, faster decisions. In a market that is continually evolving and innovating, our goal is to build the technology and partnerships for “what comes next”. This might be a little too early for 2016 predictions, but some things are already becoming clear in terms of direction for the industry, and ourselves:
Strategic decisions from Human Data
We’ve come a long way from social media being used by PR teams to measure social sentiment around their company. While this is a worthy “social 101” use case, the opportunities to leverage this data for strategic decisions are much bigger. Whether it’s TV producers using data for casting decisions, or brands using insight to shape their marketing strategy, Human Data has a bigger role to play in business.
To solve this, we as an industry need to move from passive reports and dashboards, to “active intelligence” to provide proactive discovery of interesting, impactful, or emerging trends and insights. The data volumes are so overwhelming, algorithms need to start doing the heavy lifting to guide people to insights and answers. Approaches like Deep Learning and Machine Learning have a huge role to play here.
Windows into “walled gardens”
Some might label social networks as “walled gardens”. In reality, every network has a responsibility to protect user data. As we saw earlier this year with the announcement of PYLON for Facebook Topic Data, new models are emerging to enable social networks to provide insights while protecting user data.
We’re working hard to make this possible with other networks in the future, providing businesses with anonymized and aggregate insights into audiences, content and engagement. Given the increasing popularity of social platforms that give people more sharing controls (as the explosion of messenger apps demonstrates) this is the direction of travel for the entire industry.
Protect and respect privacy, by design
Being based in Europe, I’m reminded every day of the shifting landscape of regulation around data protection and consumer privacy. In the post-Snowden era, the industry needs to respect and protect privacy by design. This means designing-in the principles of data governance, collection, anonymization, usage and retention. This is a key principle that I personally am passionate about. For our thinking on this topic, take a look at our ebook.
The future for the social data industry looks very different to its past. I’m looking forward to working with you all to help create it!