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Big Data and the Skies

Earlier this week, I read a news article about the use of Twitter, or more accurately, the use of data collected from Twitter to prohibit a passenger from boarding a United Airlines flight.

Strangely enough, the person banned from the flight was probably among the people who should know the most about cyber-security and perceived threats.  Chris Roberts is the owner of One World Labs, which is reported to analyze cyber-security risks.

twitterMr. Roberts posted messages on Twitter suggesting he could hack into an airplane’s on-board computer systems, and as a result, United perceived Mr. Roberts to be a threat.  Upon trying to board a flight over the weekend to, ironically enough, the RSA security conference in San Francisco, Mr. Roberts was denied access to the plane.

The purpose of this blog post, as in other blog posts, is not to judge.  Whether you agree or disagree with Mr. Roberts’ actions or the actions of United Airlines’, what you can agree with is that tweets are being tracked and if there appears to be a threat, airlines among other organizations will take action.

 In the last 12-18 months, I heard Meg Whitman of HP say that one of the impacts of technology is it will make people more authentic.  I couldn’t agree more.  No longer can someone anonymously write on a piece of paper, board or wall.  In this day and age, your words and actions are known.  Whether comments are made in jest or not, they can be found and used against you.

As far as Mr. Roberts goes, he was able to purchase a ticket from a different carrier and make it to San Francisco.  I wonder if that second airline knew who they were selling to and what had been said on Twitter?

As an individual, it’s important to understand the lasting and potentially serious impact that social media communications can have on our lives. As a business, it’s critical to monitor and analyze that social media data, along with other existing customer data, to create a complete picture of marketplace sentiment, revenue opportunities and perceived threats.

There are plenty of tools available to companies looking to extract some insights from social media platforms. For example, Perficient partners IBM and Splunk offer social media analysis platforms with the following capabilities:

  • Assess the current impact of your organization on social media channels
  • Extract meaning from vast amounts of social data and interactions through sentiment analysis and natural language processing
  • Segment offerings through increased access to customer data
  • Discover relationships within networks that are driving social and purchasing behavior
  • Adjust social strategies to take advantage of findings

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