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Book Review: Hidden Patterns

The book will help you put intuition and emotion back into Big Data and humanise it to create and welcome you to a powerful new world of small data

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When was the last time you peeped inside your friend’s kitchen to see if his cups or glasses were kept on top of each other or side by side. Did you also observe the paintings? Were they of cities and global landmarks? Did you wonder why some parents would use the swings in the children’s park? And what if someone told you that the way your cousin kept his tooth brushes — bristles up or down — revealed a lot about his happy or troubled life.

How can the contents inside a fridge demonstrate a person’s personality? What did children’s toys in elders’ room denote? Why are fridge magnets stuck higher/middle in some cultures?

Yes, this is what Martin Lindstrom declares in Small Data: The Tiny Clues That Uncover Huge Trends (Hachette). Lindstrom ended up spending a few hundred nights in strangers’ homes, kitchens, living rooms to uncover valuable clues.

We know, historically brands have talked about consumer insights and human truths which have led to the foundation of great campaigns. We talk about newer insights like market insights, usage insights, future insights, etc. Now with tonnes of data being created (YouTube itself has 500 hours of video uploaded per minute), there is enormous data — Big Data and all striving to uncover meaningful actionable insights. And when you put in artificial intelligence, ability to read language, it claims to promise the ability to predict actions, trends and behaviours.

Seems great, but then Google says (as per the book), despite 90 per cent of all world’s data being generated just alone in the last two years, it knows nothing about humans.

Why? That’s the answer you get in this book. Lindstrom in his wonderfully hypnotic manner takes us on a magical world tour with tunnels and adventures revealing clue after clue. It wasn’t about just connecting the dots. We know how to do that by getting our data scientists to deliver insights. It is about connecting the atoms and molecules and the grains and the smallest of actions, behaviours. Because dots are visible, these are not. They are hidden inside fridges, ovens, kitchens, playgrounds, personal diaries.

What’s incredible is that the author proves each of his discoveries with a brand example in a real environment, where he worked as a consultant. Be it Lego or Pepsi; be it Saudi Arabia or China; be it mothers-in-law in India or 11-year-old boys in Argentina, he has shown how these small clues can lead to great insights for brands.

The book will help you put intuition and emotion back into Big Data and humanise it to create and welcome you to a powerful new world of small data. Embrace it.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

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magazine 08 august 2016 books book review big data hachette

Rajeev Sharma

The writer is founder, Awrizon, Digital Consulting

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