Crossing Big Data With 'Thick Data' Can Make The Difference

Big data can provide firms with real-time information on consumer and social trends, but only if combined with the human factor.

Crunching the data
Crunching the data
Diego Fuentes

SANTIAGO — Big data has been making headlines in Chile in recent days, with differing analyses of its real scope and purpose as a reliable source of information. To understand that, we need to first put in context the meaning of generating more than 2.5 trillion bytes globally amid our ongoing digital transformation, and how this has changed the way we relate to one another — and thus how our society behaves.

We are in an "infoxicated" world, with its overdose of information, wherein big data and its algorithms affect our decisions and perceptions of our surroundings, organizations and leaders of opinion. The reputation of a company or organization is thus built to a great extent on the basis of this mountain of information that has now crossed the boundaries of personal use and is applied quite efficiently to politics, business and other areas.

Big data has become another input to supply nearly infinite information in real time.

If we used to rely on qualitative tools to measure and manage reputations, today big data has become another input whose particular trait is to supply nearly infinite information in real-time. This allows us to better detect trends, analyze patterns of behavior and know the nature of organizations and opinion leaders. But to attain more complex pictures like social analyses, big data must be crossed with so-called "thick data," or information derived from the human factor. That information helps one understand emotions and intentions when combined with disciplines like sociology, anthropology and even journalism that provide smaller information samples, but with greater depth into the reasons behind phenomena.

If we can see that big data is merely storing and managing great volumes of data, we can create realistic expectations of its potential and avoid isolated analyses with uncertain results conducive to errors, like a mistaken identification of behavioral patterns or causes behind highly complex, typically social scenarios.

This brings us to the question of intelligence: the ability to cross various quantitative and qualitative sources and methodologies to turn data into knowledge to serve an objective. To this end, big data is a rich source that allows one to draw from social forums, certain demographic and psychographic characteristics on a target public, market or skill or on your own products and services. Yet these are not derived autonomously from AI software but from a multi-factor and multidisciplinary analysis in which you compare the perceptions of interest groups with other information sources. The resulting findings can help meet overall and sustainable reputation goals and expectations.

Intelligent reputation management has become more relevant at this particular social moment, amid changing social standards and expectations. Leaders in Chile's public and private sector must understand this as a strategic challenge, but also see the potential of such tools if used well, as a crucial means of connecting with citizens when reputations are at a critical low in this country. For those corporations that lack good reputations will, alongside their leaders, simply cease to exist.

*Diego Fuentes is head of the public relations firm INC Comunicaciones.

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A Mother In Spain Denied Child Custody Because She Lives In Rural Area

A court in Spain usurps custody of the one-year-old boy living with his mother in the "deep" part of the Galicia region, forced to instead live with his father in the southern city of Marbella, which the judge says is "cosmopolitan" with good schools and medical care. Women's rights groups have taken up the mother's case.

A child in Galician countryside

Laure Gautherin

A Spanish court has ordered the withdrawal of a mother's custody of her one-year-old boy because she is living in the countryside in northwestern Spain, where the judge says the child won't have "opportunities for the proper development of his personality."

The case, reported Monday in La Voz de Galicia, has sparked outrage from a women's rights association but has also set off reactions from politicians of different stripes across the province of Galicia, defending the values of rural life.

Judge María Belén Ureña Carazo, of the family court of Marbella, a city on the southern coast of 141,000 people, has ordered the toddler to stay with father who lives in the city rather than with his mother because she was living in "deep Galicia" where the child would lack opportunities to "grow up in a happy environment."

Front page of La Voz de Galicia - October 25, 2021

Front page of La Voz de Galicia - Monday 25 October, 2021

La Voz de Galicia

Better in a "cosmopolitan" city?

The judge said Marbella, where the father lives, was a "cosmopolitan city" with "a good hospital" as well as "all kinds of schools" and thus provided a better environment for the child to thrive.

The mother has submitted a formal complaint to the General Council of the Judiciary that the family court magistrate had acted with "absolute contempt," her lawyer told La Voz de Galicia.

The mother quickly accumulated support from local politicians and civic organizations. The Clara Campoamor association described the judge's arguments as offensive, intolerable and typical of "an ignorant person who has not traveled much."

The Xunta de Galicia, the regional government, has addressed the case, saying that any place in Galicia meets the conditions to educate a minor. The Socialist party politician Pablo Arangüena tweeted that "it would not hurt part of the judiciary to spend a summer in Galicia."

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