Ethics and Big Data Analytics


The massive amounts of data gathered from social media networking and eCommerce raise privacy and other ethical issues for consumers and businesses. For one, there is a risk organizations might make the wrong assumption in their data analysis, leading to a poor decision adversely affecting their stock price – or worse. Many industry experts feel companies need to add ethics to their data analytics.

Let’s take a closer look at a few ethical concepts for data collection and analysis worth including in your company’s own big data initiatives.

Data Analysis Needs a Tangible Benefit

Collecting and analyzing data needs to provide a benefit to both the company performing the analysis as well as the person who generated the data. Joshua Kanter, senior vice president at Caesars Entertainment, comments on this concept. “Before conducting any new analysis, we ask ourselves whether it will bring benefit to customers in addition to the company. If it doesn’t, we won’t do it.”

Apply Continuous Improvement Principles to Data Analytics

As an organization’s use of data analysis matures, those processes need to be continually refined with the hope of finding actionable insights from smaller amounts of data. The ultimate hope is that less data usage minimizes the risk for faulty conclusions.

Sustainable Insights From Big Data

The Information Accountability Foundation (IAF) commented on the importance of sustainable value from an organization’s big data initiatives. “Big-data insights, when placed into production, should provide value that is sustainable over a reasonable time frame,” said the IAF.

This includes public data retention, the longevity of analytical algorithms and the life of hardware and software systems developed by a third party. For example, what happens to the data if that company is acquired or discontinues their product or service?

Respect Data Privacy

Customers generating data used by businesses need to be respected when it comes to privacy issues. Keep this in mind with your company’s data retention policy.

Fairness Remains the Golden Rule

Don’t forget fairness principles when making decisions based on the analysis of customer demographic data. Joshua Kanter comments on Caesars own policy. “Before deciding on a course of action that requires customer data, the company’s executives imagine how people would react if all of the details were out in the open, in the light of day. Would it strengthen or threaten customer relationships? If the initiative fails the Sunshine Test, we do not move forward,” said Kanter.

If your company is looking for talented and ethical data scientists, talk to the staffing experts at MindFinders. One of Washington, DC’s top technology employment firms, we provide great candidates able to contribute to your success. Connect with us soon!


Written by Tim Booker, President and CEO of MindFinders, with over 20 years of industry experience.


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