Tag Archives Data

When it Comes to Data, The More, The Merrier

Posted on 2 min read

What if I gave you a list of all the phone numbers that are registered in Kenya? What would you do with this information? Nothing much, unless if you wanted to blindly text every Kenyan. Perhaps, you could if you are running a presidential campaign, or sell Kensalt which is a product used by almost all Kenyans, but this would not even be a good marketing strategy.

What if I added the names in addition to the phone numbers? You could easily search for the phone number of any person you want, as long as you know their name. This could be useful, although you would need time to sort out through the different John Does. There would still be limited commercial uses.

Add the date of birth, and the data becomes more useful. You can now target people on their birthday, and you can as well decide to text all the people aged 18 years telling them of the great courses you are offering.  The data begins to make sense.

If location data is included, the data becomes a real asset. You can SMS people of a given location telling them about a new hospital that you opened. You could SMS residents of a given ward to ask them to support your political ambitions of becoming a Member of the County Assembly. Through a combination of age and location, you could text people who are likely to be parents and tell them about a new school you started.

Add gender, and you could message ladies of a certain region, telling them of your beauty products shop and the offers that you have. Since you have their names, you would be addressing them by name and it would feel even better.

We can add more and more data which can help make the data even more useful. For example, if we added work related data, something better can even happen. You could contact all the teachers and tell them of useful resources for their students. You could contact all the farmers and offer to sell them effective pesticides. You could target people just about to retire and help them invest their pension funds. Data becomes even more valuable.

If we added some information to that data, like the information on who is expecting a baby, we could easily sell to them various baby products. If we add information about who loves football, it would be easy to tell who to tell a sports jersey to. If we add information on who loves to travel for holidays, we can message people who are likely to take a vacation and give them irresistible offers.

The more the data points, the more useful is the data. Better, if one can have a real time access to that data, the more it would be easier to make use of it. This is one advantage that platforms like Google, Facebook and Twitter have.


In God We Trust, Everyone Else Bring Data

Posted on 2 min read

It is often said that data is the new oil.

This statement is in comparison to the transformation that oil has brought to the world since the late 1800s, where oil has become the most used energy source today. Before the Second Industrial Revolution, different forms of oil were in use for various purposes but it was the large-scale production and use of crude oil and its products that was transformational.

This is the same case with data. While data has played a crucial role in the digital economy today, it is not something that is new to human beings. Throughout history, people have leveraged data to their advantage. Since we learnt how to count and write, an ongoing evolution has been the capture and use of data.

The Story of the Kenyan Farmer

I heard of a story about a settler farmer in the Rift Valley region of Kenya who was quite good in predicting the weather, to the extent that neighbors thought that he had some divine powers. While other farmers were losing crops to rain failure, he seemed to know if and when the rains would come and thus plan accordingly.

It took the intervention of inquisitive primary school pupils to find out the powers behind his accurate weather prediction, which turned out to be data. His family had kept accurate weather records for over 70 years, and from this data there were some obvious patterns and cycles. Using this data, the good farmer was becoming a weather guru.

Data Can Tell Stories

Interpreting data can reveal a lot.

Target, an American retail corporation, wanted to identify pregnant women who frequented their stores. As it turns out, by analyzing the purchasing behavior of customers, it is possible to identify an expectant woman and even predict the expected date of delivery.

Within a short time, Target was able to identify expectant women so accurately that it brought conflicts elsewhere. An angry parent stormed Target to protest that they were sending her teenage daughter promotions for expectant mothers. Weeks later, the same parent came back to Target to apologize because the daughter was actually pregnant.

For Target, what a customer put in the shopping basked was as good as a pregnancy test.

If Data, then What?

Understanding how data works can help one make one goo use of the opportunities presented by the same. It will also help one stay safe by sharing their data responsibly. It has been proven that most Kenyans are unknowingly giving out their personal data online.

In the coming articles, I will share how data is transforming our world today. Data is valuable, but to them that are able to exploit it.