We are all probably skeptical about people who tell us what we should do because they think that’s what is best for us. A good example is adults telling kids and teenagers what to do and not to do to protect them. Apple and Google are doing something similar with privacy. They want to be consumers’ parents to protect their privacy, but they also want to keep control. Do consumers really want this, or would they like to control how and where to use their data? Here lies an opportunity for a new data business.

Apple is introducing new models…

Data is the basis for many operations, but that doesn’t mean data is always reliable. Things can get complicated when you don’t know which data sources are reliable and which are not. Nevertheless, we use data all the time. Sometimes it is possible to increase the accuracy, but the more meaningful solution is to build a software layer that corrects data before it’s used.

I earlier wrote about data points and known and unknown things. The reality is even more complex than what I laid out in that article. We know a certain amount of data is relevant and available…

It has become popular to manage operations with data. New tools to collect and analyze data are continually appearing. But things can still go very wrong with data. Dashboards and analytics apps rely on multiple assumptions, and if external factors change, models don’t work anymore. COVID-19 responses in many countries have been good examples of this. When you don’t know all the elements, individual numbers can be misleading. You can never manage only by the numbers you have; you must understand the environment and be ready to look for changes outside the numbers.

Some years back, US Defense Secretary Donald…

Companies have been collecting data for years. Useful data can give companies competitive advantages and form the basis for better services and better customer experience. Many companies have also become data aggregators, collecting and selling data. However, success in big data has not come from selling data — sometimes data can even be a toxic asset. What can we learn from the successes and failures of data monetization and utilization? We are entering a new personal data economy, and many parties appear as if they want to repeat the same old mistakes.

Fifteen years ago, in one of my earlier startups, we developed a marketing slogan: Data — the black gold of the 21st century. It was and is a relevant comparison, but the data business differs significantly from the oil business in a few major ways. In the oil business, there are separate business lines for drilling oil, refining oil, and selling the refined products. There are similar structures in the data business, but making big money in the value chain is very different.

Google, Facebook, and Amazon are the superpowers of the data market. They primarily collect data and build…

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is popping up everywhere. Intelligent systems are being used in many places and are quickly becoming smarter. However, AI development still faces a significant bottleneck. This bottleneck is caused not by the intelligence or ‘brains’ of the systems but by the fact that AI also needs ‘hands’ to do things.

Photo source: Wikipedia.

AI has become a very popular buzzword over the last five years. Most company management groups and boards want to see some level of AI development in their organizations. Unfortunately, expectations and actual use cases are not always in line. The biggest problem is a lack of sophisticated machine learning (ML) and AI models that analyze data, handle tasks, and make decisions.

Let’s take a simplified AI task. A system collects data, analyzes that data, and uses it to draw conclusions and make decisions. The results are sent along for operative use. If a system is built to work around…

Automation and digitization should increase the productivity of work. But productivity growth has been flat or declining in most developed countries during the past 20 years. This has been visible in countries where most jobs, and especially new jobs, are not in manufacturing, but in services and information work. So, it would be fair to assume that technology and digitization don’t help improve productivity. Henry Ford, Jeff Bezos and Larry Page didn’t win big because they optimized old operations; it’s because they created totally new operating models. Opportunity lies in developing new ways to do things, not optimizing old ones.

Photo source: Wikipedia.

When trying to cultivate a healthy lifestyle, we often rely upon the advice of experts. These experts, in turn, rely on information we’re able to give them when providing us with informed recommendations and outlining relevant goals, plans, and habits. For example, a personal trainer gives you instructions on what to do at the gym based upon information like your training goals — “lose weight” or “grow muscles” — and your level of gym experience.

A wellbeing consultant works to improve how you sleep, eat and work, and may ask you to keep a sleep and food diary to learn more about which practices work best for you. These days, more and more wearable devices can be used to measure daily activity, heartbeat, sleep, blood glucose, and many other things. Unfortunately, the link between data, wellbeing, and training services is still very weak. However, this will soon change.

I have read about sleep consultants whose primary task is to teach people to repeat certain words when they try to sleep, which supposedly helps people relax…

When I started my career in the 1990s, I worked as a software developer for a company that produced slot machines and casino systems. One day, a group of consultants showed up in our department. They came to tell us that our software development was not very efficient and that we could work much more efficiently using new visual tools. They promised to redesign the software for our latest gaming platform in six months using only a couple of developers. We had previously taken two years with almost 20 people to do the same thing. Our management bought their story…

This is normally the time to make predictions for the coming year. Typically, the focus is on tech and business trends and the goal is to evaluate which ones will prove meaningful over the coming year. This time it’s different. Throughout 2020, the pandemic massively disrupted normal trends. It shuttered many businesses, changed some, and accelerated others. So, what can we expect to see if and when vaccines turn the tide of the pandemic?

Here is a brief summary of 2020: it accelerated digital business by a few years, stopped travel and hospitality business, moved many activities from bricks and mortar to online, and taught people to use many new tech tools. In 2021, the questions are: which of these trends will continue; which will turn back time to a pre-pandemic economy; and which businesses will have changed forever?

One or two abnormal years won’t fundamentally change human beings. People may learn to use new services and products, but basic needs don’t change. Let’s take, for example, our need for reliable food sources and…

In one of Prifina’s recent podcasts, we discussed the huge information asymmetry between individuals and companies. There have been many attempts to create marketplaces for personal data and models depicting how individuals could gain value from their data, but most attempts to create a perfect market fail. Instead of fostering perfect market conditions, each party in the market usually aims to maximize its own wealth of information and generate maximal value from the information it holds. It will be the same with personal data, too.

Prifina offer tools to utilize personal data.

We know that “perfect information” is a mostly theoretical model. Some markets (e.g., stock markets) try to guarantee useful information to all parties and prevent special access to information (e.g., insider trading), but in most cases, we just try to get the amount of information we need to complete a specific task. If you go to a supermarket, you don’t have complete information about the pricing of products. Depending on the value of your purchase, you probably run some quick numbers to estimate the market price.

The history of the Internet is full of stories about companies that have tried…

Jouko Ahvenainen

Entrepreneur, investor, business executive and author - my dream and work is to create new and get it work in practice.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store