Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Big Neon Glitter

If you do the Twitter thing, follow me at @hotpixUK
or LinkedIn here http://uk.linkedin.com/in/tonysmiththathousingitguy

I don't know how many readers of this blog made their way the other week to the Enhanced Housing Services conference'. It was an interesting affair with some great insights from Tinder Foundations' Helen Milner OBE on getting customers, tenants, leaseholders online with accessible internet. There are great examples around that, including what Wakefield District Housing have done, rolling out free (yes free) internet access. Indeed, you can tackle much of the infrastructure in the cloud these days.

The most interesting session for me was on the outcome of the 'Big Data Project'. I think my views are well known on this one, luddite I have sometimes been called. Most folk I know are still wrestling with BP ('Big Paper') or BDS ('Big Daft Spreadsheets').

The Big Data Project has taken 18 months, involved several large Housing Associations & RSLs. Collectively it involved data from approaching 300,000 tenants. The data ranged from ASB, repairs, customer satisfaction and arrears. I have had a gig like that before and I could have predicted the outcomes. It's a shame I could not get 'Bet Fred' to take my punt on the outcome.

Matt Leach announced that after 18 months, the outcome was 'not what was expected' and surprisingly, 'the exercise did not give the sector the insights expected'. the ever optimistic Matt, now believes that the 'Internet of things will provide the next wave of meaningful housing data and the hype around IoT may well be justifiable'.  I am sure there should be another 18 month project, right there if someone will be looking to pay for it.

The IOT is already here and changing our lives, in case anyone has not noticed. That nice chap does not knock on my door, to read my meters from Siemens anymore. A dustcart does it via wireless and C8051F96x, Si102x, or Si103x EZRadioPRO transceiver chips. Similar devices will be monitoring our health, habits and interactions to a much greater extent, as the Fitbit and iWatch go mainstream. The more you think about it, we are not going to need an 18 month project to suss that one out.

But why did the 'Big Data Project' hit the buffers? I have even had my good friend and spiritual brother, Barry Marlow telling me that 'Big Data' is the future. "Data must be big and it's got lots of insights, we should be learning from". Well, the reason I am so sure when I state that it's no panacea, is that I have worked with big data.

It was a project concerning 800mb of it when flat text was zipped up. I did it every quarter, and it concerned retail data. Underwear, male & female since you wondered, from 11 retailers. You would expect that standard products like pants and bra's would be easy to compare and contrast. That's where you would be way wrong. The difficulties of summarising and contrasting 11 ways to describe the same size, shape, colour, SKU, even with EAN & GTIN codings is phenomenal. All this data was scraped from the internet too, none of it to be found hidden in private spreadsheets etc.

Standardisation of housing data rests on having it in some order in the first place. ask yourself, how orderly is yours? Really?

Once its obtained electronically, how can you standardise that data, in order to obtain those valuable insights? Benchmarking clubs should take us closer to that goal, but have they really? This data is rarely raw, its generally been pre-cooked along the way. Its probably naive to think otherwise.

For the moment, I guess we will have to do without the Big Neon Glitter, of Big Data. Barry old spud, don't say I told you so(!).

Related Post: Apps, arent they what we need in Housing???


I would be pleased to connect with you on LinkedIn - http://uk.linkedin.com/in/tonysmiththathousingitguy Message me with any issues or queries, you would like to be explored in this blog. We generally receive a couple of suggestions each month.

The Cult - Big Neon GlitterThe Cult - Big Neon Glitter.
(c) Tony Smith, Acutance Consulting www.acutanceconsulting.co.uk 07854-655009

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