My Research Agenda for 2016

IMG_2225A few weeks ago, my Altimeter colleagues and I published our 2016 trends overview. In it, I called out three themes that I expect will become more predominant this year:

Analytics for the visual web (images, video, etc.);

Ethical data use and privacy; and

The rise of algorithms to measure and predict even more of our daily and business lives.

While these three themes may seem disconnected, they intersect in interesting ways. In an effort to innovate and better understand and anticipate customer needs, organizations are becoming even more focused on collecting data about “the customer journey.” That journey, as is increasingly evident, includes images and video more than ever before.

So how can we better understand the content and context of those images? How do we understand them in combination with other signals, whether in language (posts, comments) or buttons (likes, shares, retweets) or passively via location or movement? What are the most effective research methods? What happens when what we understand to be true is encoded into algorithms that, increasingly, make decisions on our behalf? How do analytics need to evolve to make sense of an increasingly digital world in a way that engenders trust? And, most importantly, how do technologies and organizations evolve to measure all of this?

These themes will make up the majority of my research this year (and for the rest of my natural life, probably). I’ll also be looking to broaden my scope to be more global, and so will be looking at technologies and use cases in multiple geographies. This becomes extremely interesting when you consider that the topics I’ll be tackling resonate very differently depending on where you stand.

For example, this recent report by The Vodafone Institute for Society and Communications, “Big Data: A European Survey On The Opportunities And Risks Of Data Analytics,” reminds us just how high the bar is for big data analysis in Europe, while highlighting the regional differences that add even more complexity to the mix. And that’s just Europe.

This report from the FTC, “Big Data: A Tool for Inclusion or Exclusion? Understanding the Issues”, lays out guidance for companies on big data research, with an eye toward protecting consumers from bias, disparate impact and a host of other possible harms. And finally, this research paper from danah boyd looks at the Facebook “Emotional Contagion” study to explore what it teaches us about academic and commercial research in the digital age.

It’s just three weeks into the year, and I’m frankly excited about all the work to be done. As always, if you have contributions, ideas, or feedback, please share in the comments.



About susanetlinger

Industry Analyst at Altimeter Group
This entry was posted in Altimeter, altimeter group, Analytics, Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, content measurement, data privacy, Data Science, digital ethics, Digital Media, Ethics, Law, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to My Research Agenda for 2016

  1. The research and study of the ethics of data use and privacy must keep up with fast paced advances in analytics…my sector (defence) is so behind in all three of these themes and they are incredibly important to us as they are to the commercial sectors; our alliances are at risk if we don’t examine the ethics and privacy issues now at the transnational political levels.

    Thanks for highlighting the digital trends overview. Your research areas sound very exciting indeed!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. James With says:

    Wednesday, 10th February 2016

    Dear Susan, I just started following your blog today after reading your LinkedIn Pulse article that you have just recently published titled “#RIPTwitter: What Would an Algorithmic Timeline Mean for Users and Brands?”. I left a comment there as well.

    I look forward to reading more of your research throughout the course of the year as and when you choose to publish. My interest in all three of these themes you mentioned at the beginning of this blog article that I am commenting on now is high, and I am keen to learn more as things are evolving rapidly in the IT AI workspace.

    Thank you again and best wishes,
    James With
    “Partnering With the World to Create a Positive Difference”

    Liked by 1 person

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