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5 cases where big data was a big flop

Noah DMello | July 15, 2016
You thought big data is your answer to everything? Think twice. Sometimes your data can’t be trusted. Here are some examples of bad analytics that point to trust issues.

Privacy and sensitivity are important, and being smart about how you use the results of analytics is crucial-otherwise, you will compromise your client's trust.

Big data playing with emotions:

Analytics requires a lot of data. Agreed-but is everything necessary? Probably not. OfficeMax, an American office supplies retailer, sent a letter to a certain Mike Seay in Illinois; however, the contents on the letter were not called for. The letter was addressed to "Mike Seay, Daughter Killed in Car Crash." Seay lost his daughter in a car accident almost a year ago. And sadly, just before leaving his home to attend a counselling meeting for grieving parents who lost their kids, he received this letter.

This incident raised several debates about how companies use data and if data is checked before running analytics programs on them.

Nobody can keep calm:

When you do not pay attention to your codes and their results, things can go awfully wrong-big data wise! Amazon was in the middle of a furore when it published offensive T-shirts on its site such as "Keep Calm and Rape A Lot" and "Keep Calm and Punch Her."

Obviously, Amazon was forced to take them down. Solid Gold Bomb, the seller company, put the blame on poor programming and analytics. These phrases were automatically generated using a scripted computer program running against a huge dictionary. The results were downright offensive, with the bigger blunder being that nobody checked the results.

Analytics is bound to give you answers-but, in this case, obviously not the right ones.

Mitt Romney's failed bid for presidency:

In 2012, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney used big data with big dreams of sitting in the White House. His campaign tech team developed Orca, a big data platform, for giving insights about what was happening at polling stations. This would then later assist volunteers in going out and getting the vote.

The plan seemed wonderful-except for the fact that the execution wasn't. Blunders were plentiful-technical glitches, bugs, lack of resources to use the big data platform, and lack of training. The dependence on Orca led to a lot of resource and money wastage, and strategies based on the outcome of this program were nothing but futile.

Big data cannot be solely responsible for Romney's loss, but one can't help but wonder what would happen if big data was used in the right way. President Romney may have been a possibility.

But he made a big mistake with big data-and this meant that he couldn't sit in the big office and make big speeches. He is probably doing a facepalm using a baseball 'mitt'!

Source: CIO


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