Creativity in the age of data

Creativity in the age of data

By Anupam Kulkarni, Co-Founder, iauro

We speak a lot about disruption and evolving every simple idea into an innovation that the industry and consumers can remember. And while ideation is the foundation of successful disruptions, creativity is not enough to take these ideas to the next level. All entrepreneurs and products that have taken the market by the storm have one unifying factor: data.

Truly, what a time to be alive, and witness the fourth industrial revolution unfold right in front of us! Many studies report that the world has changed the most since its inception in the last 23 years, and data has been the foundation of this speed of evolution. As consumers prioritize convenience over everything, enterprises are steadily adopting digital-first strategies to align themselves with such consumer demands. Their affinity for technology and lightning-fast experiences has reshaped entire industries altogether, and the credit for this majorly goes to the millennials.

They’re very, very different from all previous generations indeed, and so are their economics. Most people between the age group of 21 to 45 do not want to buy their own homes but are staying with their parents instead. Thanks to them, a sharing economy is also on the rise, as most people prefer their Olas and Ubers to buying vehicles of their own. The ‘must-haves’ for their parents do not make a difference to them anymore, and they have an app for everything, whether it is to shop online or track fitness levels. This also opens up multiple avenues for data scientists and marketers, as the rate of data generation has never been faster!

The debate about whether this consumer data is safe in the hands of brand owners continues, but the point is this: if we have this data and we don’t use it creatively enough, we’re doing a disservice to both, the data, as well as the skill sets at our disposal. Many startups and enterprises are making deft use of this data not just technically, but ethically as well. One such example is AIpoly, which is an artificial assistant for the blind. It is a virtual assistant that uses predictive analysis and machine learning to find common objects, recognize food ingredients etc. and can read the text in more than 26 languages. It learns via the machine’s vision, and translates this into something humans can easily understand.

Another such example is Sidewalk Labs, which is a project in California wherein Google has a stake. With a philosophy that aligns people-centric design with tech, it aims at improving customer experience by leaps and bounds in the domains of sustainability, retail, and real estate. It has recalibrated self-driving lessons, digital navigation, and urban living so very smartly, and achieved new standards of affordability. That’s what data can do. Set standards so high, that you forget what the previous ones looked like.

It’s not just enterprises and consumer brands who have realized the power of this data, but governments as well, and one country that is using citizen data to the maximum, is China. The social credit system which was first discussed in 2014 is now already being piloted as a mandatory scheme. More than 200K wireless cameras and interconnected devices are being used to record citizen activities like bill payments, travel patterns and internet activity, and each activity aligns to a score. Just like a credit score can determine whether or not you’re eligible for loans, this social credit system will determine how ‘good’ or ‘bad’ a citizen you are. Who needs democracy when you have data! The implications of this system are debatable, yes, the thought behind it is definitely one of a kind.

We always knew that tech would have a profound impact on the quality of human life, but the extent of it remained undiscovered until a few years back. While we’re at the topic of China, I couldn’t help but think of how we’re constantly surrounded by this data, whether we’re aware of it or not. Our internal energy, the Chi, can also be co-related to this data. Just like the Chi maintains the balance of our bodies, this data maintains the balance of our tech ecosystems. It’s imperative we handle this sensitively, for even if there’s one little problem, and it can all go for a toss!

Learning from the best: iauro at Gitex Tech Week!

Learning from the best: iauro at Gitex Tech Week!

I believe that learning is continuous, and even if we don’t sit in classrooms everyday, the process of learning never really stops. As industry experts, it is important that we focus on learning and upskilling as much as we focus on building the business, for only if we are at par with the rest of the industry will be able to grow.

With tech, especially, staying a step ahead is necessary, as new innovations make their way into the market. And what better opportunity to learn about tech, than one of the grandest global tech events of the year. The GITEX Tech Week kicked off in Dubai this month, and boy were we glad that we were there! It’s always refreshing to meet like minded individuals who are as passionate about the ever evolving tech world as we are. Rather, it’s inspirational.

We’re all well aware that Dubai’s way of tech adoption is far more advanced than the rest of the developing world, and the way it was showcased was quite impressive. Our industry focuses a lot on the end customer experience we are able to build for our users, and I have to say that I think the GITEX team created absolutely marvellous ones for all of us present there! Showcasing tech in a way that creates a wow factor for the consumer may sound easy, but is hard to achieve. Not impossible, though. Imagine a seamless integration of data analytics, AI/ML and IoT, at every use case presented. That’s worth remembering.

There was tremendous learning in every use case that we discussed, and here is what made a cut above the rest for me:

  • PWD: Since 2010,, the Dubai Public Works Department has aspired to make the city paper-less, with the help of advanced technologies. This includes maintaining digitized records of processes and consumers, including their social security number, certificates, citizen identity, etc. As of now, more than 90% of their government departments have started doing their paperwork on computers, and by 2021, this percentage should touch the big 100, and that too in just a decade’s time!
  • Security: Excellent showcase of malicious activity detectors on borders, anti-drone technology to nullify drones, etc. The citizens of Dubai really are in good hands!
  • Airports: Can you imagine taking a flight without struggling through check ins, security checks and immigration? Sounds like a breeze, right? The Dubai government also presented a use case of a paperless passport where citizens can pass through the airport without any documents, with the help of an online paperless passport. Built on a strong integration of consumer databases with IoT and predictive analytics, every citizen walking through the airport doors will be detected automatically, and can walk through without any documents.
  • Travel and Logistics: Who said long journeys have to be boring. In Dubai, we have entertainment on the go. Taxis whose walls have fitted screens will soon be on the roads, and this is a boon for marketers as well, for these screens can showcase geo-sensed video advertisements. Talk about hitting the nail right on the head! And delivery boys showing up at your door is just old school now. Unmanned automated drones to deliver parcels and life-critical things like medicines / food / perishable items are readily available.
  • Healthcare: For one, the unmanned drones can, in absolute need, deliver human organs to hospitals as well. And that’s not all. Dubai has made excellent use of virtual reality and AI to create artificial personas that can stay in touch with citizens at all times, almost like real government officials who check up on them and make them aware about government processes. In some cases, these personas have also been able to establish personal connections with citizens and helped them deal with mental health issues, including depression. This is tremendous.
  • Retail: Shopping will never be the same once you experience interactive projection walls, for there’s no need to visualise how the things you buy will look inside your house, you can literally see it right in front of your eyes! Intelligent SKU detectors backed by ML and predictive analytics are also a blessing for retailers, as they can track consumer behaviour in real time and give them recommendations based on their purchase behaviour.

Like I said before, being present at events like these acts as our biggest inspiration to do better. It was a fantastic opportunity to network, learn and excel. Kudos to the entire GITEX team for making it a huge success!

-Anupam Kulkarni is the CEO and Co-Founder of iauro Systems, Pune