Creativity in the age of data

November 20, 2019

Anupam Kulkarni

Co-Founder | CEO LinkedIn

We speak a lot about disruption and evolving every simple idea into an innovation that the industry and consumers can remember. And while ideation is the foundation of successful disruptions, creativity is not enough to take these ideas to the next level. All entrepreneurs and products that have taken the market by the storm have one unifying factor: data.

Truly, what a time to be alive, and witness the fourth industrial revolution unfold right in front of us! Many studies report that the world has changed the most since its inception in the last 23 years, and data has been the foundation of this speed of evolution. As consumers prioritize convenience over everything, enterprises are steadily adopting digital-first strategies to align themselves with such consumer demands. Their affinity for technology and lightning-fast experiences has reshaped entire industries altogether, and the credit for this majorly goes to the millennials.

They’re very, very different from all previous generations indeed, and so are their economics. Most people between the age group of 21 to 45 do not want to buy their own homes but are staying with their parents instead. Thanks to them, a sharing economy is also on the rise, as most people prefer their Olas and Ubers to buying vehicles of their own. The ‘must-haves’ for their parents do not make a difference to them anymore, and they have an app for everything, whether it is to shop online or track fitness levels. This also opens up multiple avenues for data scientists and marketers, as the rate of data generation has never been faster!

The debate about whether this consumer data is safe in the hands of brand owners continues, but the point is this: if we have this data and we don’t use it creatively enough, we’re doing a disservice to both, the data, as well as the skill sets at our disposal. Many startups and enterprises are making deft use of this data not just technically, but ethically as well. One such example is AIpoly, which is an artificial assistant for the blind. It is a virtual assistant that uses predictive analysis and machine learning to find common objects, recognize food ingredients etc. and can read the text in more than 26 languages. It learns via the machine’s vision, and translates this into something humans can easily understand.

Another such example is Sidewalk Labs, which is a project in California wherein Google has a stake. With a philosophy that aligns people-centric design with tech, it aims at improving customer experience by leaps and bounds in the domains of sustainability, retail, and real estate. It has recalibrated self-driving lessons, digital navigation, and urban living so very smartly, and achieved new standards of affordability. That’s what data can do. Set standards so high, that you forget what the previous ones looked like.

It’s not just enterprises and consumer brands who have realized the power of this data, but governments as well, and one country that is using citizen data to the maximum, is China. The social credit system which was first discussed in 2014 is now already being piloted as a mandatory scheme. More than 200K wireless cameras and interconnected devices are being used to record citizen activities like bill payments, travel patterns and internet activity, and each activity aligns to a score. Just like a credit score can determine whether or not you’re eligible for loans, this social credit system will determine how ‘good’ or ‘bad’ a citizen you are. Who needs democracy when you have data! The implications of this system are debatable, yes, the thought behind it is definitely one of a kind.

We always knew that tech would have a profound impact on the quality of human life, but the extent of it remained undiscovered until a few years back. While we’re at the topic of China, I couldn’t help but think of how we’re constantly surrounded by this data, whether we’re aware of it or not. Our internal energy, the Chi, can also be co-related to this data. Just like the Chi maintains the balance of our bodies, this data maintains the balance of our tech ecosystems. It’s imperative we handle this sensitively, for even if there’s one little problem, and it can all go for a toss!

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