Big Brother meets Big Data - be very afraid! - Business Works
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Big Brother meets Big Data - be very afraid!

by Simon Sear, Head of Change Management, BJSS Generation Z (Gen Z) are children born after 1995 and the first true generation to grow up with the internet, smartphones, social media and many other digital technologies. They have spent their lives on social media and may come to find it is a relationship that is set to last, without their full consent, says Simon Sear, Head of Change Management at BJSS.

Recent research has indicated what a lot of parents already know is true; this generation, more than any before them, use the internet and social media for everything, including researching projects and homework and rarely pick up a text book. They are the ultimate consumers of digital data. As a result, they have a short attention span, largely using instant messaging for communication rather than e-mail, their preferred hardware is the smartphone and they are experts at taking photos and making videos.

Generation Z are natives to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and all the other social platforms. They live a large part of their life out in the digital world, freely posting their views, opinions, photos, videos and everyday activities.

However, a new link between Big Data Analytics and social media is about to create a wave of anxiety and soul-searching across Generation Z and way beyond.

scouring social media ... so organisations can profile you

There is a new wave of solutions emerging that scour social media platforms, looking for everything that you have ever posted. Solutions which look at how and what you are posting so that organisations can profile you.

This isn't the NSA or GCHQ, it is something completely innocent, for example your recent job application. Technology companies like eiTalent collate all of the posts you have ever written on social media platforms, using algorithms and Big Data to profile your values and other personality traits to match you against a hiring organisation's culture and values. Using grammar, syntax and linguistic morphology that can quickly ascertain what type of person you are and whether you are a good fit.

profile your values and other personality traits

In essence, companies can make hiring decisions based, or partly based, on your social media posts, even the ones when you were drunk or in a bad mood.

For the average Generation Z teenager who feels free to give their opinion on any subject they wish via social media (and, indeed, anyone else), it could have a serious effect on their employability.

However, it is not only recruitment where Big Data is making an impact. Other technology companies, like Ditto Labs, use Big Data to help companies identify who is posting photographs of their brands, in what setting and how happy they are.

It allows the marketing and sales teams to identify trends, monitor the competition, identify demographics and even give them a mood score; resulting in how happy they were when they were wearing or consuming the brand. It is not a small step of the imagination to see how large organisations could start to target you just because they know you already like wearing their brand.

gain insights into your personality, your shopping habits and preferences

Social Media has democratised marketing and large organisations can no longer control the message, but, with the help of Big Data, they can now analyse every text and photo you have ever posted on a social media platform to gain insights into your personality, your shopping habits and preferences.

This new leap forward for Big Data will impact all of us, but spare a thought for Generation Z, who have lived their lives in a digital world and who are about to enter the workforce, creating disposable income. They are the generation who depend on social media and they will be the generation that see and experience the Big Data revolution more and more in the future.

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