Edelman and the University of Cambridge partner on 'big data' project

Edelman has partnered with the University of Cambridge to carry out a study into the impact on business and consumers of using personal data to predict future patterns.

Jonathan Hargreaves
Jonathan Hargreaves

The collaboration with the University’s Psychometrics Centre will run initially for a year. The study will be ongoing, starting in the next week.

The research into ‘predictive technologies’ involves tracking consumers online and using their data to anticipate future events.

Jonathan Hargreaves, global vice-chair, technology, Edelman said: "The predictive capabilities of big data allow us to see around corners and calculate future outcomes. While the topic of predictive data is rising within organisations, we’re only beginning to grasp its effects on everyday life. Our study will shed light on some of the benefits and issues associated with predictive big data technologies and its impact on human behaviour."

Hargreaves added that the study would examine issues such as at what point do you pay people for their data and privacy concerns. It will also explore the ethical implications of applying predictive data to areas such as health or insurance.

The study will analyse personality types and see whether introvert or extrovert people are happier to give out their personal data and will compare consumers in different countries, focusing primarily on the US and the UK.

The research will be open to the public, allowing them to voice their opinions on predictive technologies. The findings will also enable the comms industry to gain a deeper insight into consumer behaviour and trust.

Alongside the study, Edelman and the Psychometrics Centre will host a series of conferences in the US and the UK that will bring together academics, marketers, technologists and business entrepreneurs to analyse the results and discuss their implications.

Vesselin Popov, development strategist at the Psychometrics Centre, said: "Big data has the power to be truly transformative, but it is critical that we first understand its psychological and ethical implications. Together with Edelman, we will be able to provide ongoing consumer sentiment and analysis on a topic people and organisations are only really beginning to implement."

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