Looking for Humanity in Data: Nitin Mayande of Tellagence and Understanding REAL Influence

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The more we tread into this new data territory the more we get excited about the possibilities that data brings to business and to people. Susan Silver wrote an awesome post some time ago entitled, “Seeing the Humanity in Data“. Over the past decade, the rise of social and mobile data has forced us to look beyond the numbers, beyond the vanity metrics that traditionally defined what matters. But as Susan pointed out…

…increasing their numbers make us feel good, but they lack the substance for social media optimization on their own.

There are other ways to find averages, but it is the median which tells us about data deviating from the norm. It is a great tool for working with social data which vacillates. I am not concerned with the status quo, but the outliers and I study them intently

That is what it means to go beyond the numbers and see humanity in data. Remember, one role of statistics is to direct our attention to what is not expected under the given conditions. They point us to a truth which we may not have seen just looking at the data set alone. The role of an analyst is to explain these revelations and take action.

The more we talked about ArCompany’s approach to finding the truth in data and how it could fundamentally change the way companies make decisions, the more we wanted to learn about how others are seeking to define their own paths to converge on this eventual reality. So we decided to start a podcast to learn… and to make it available to you.

Here’s the Premise: Data isn’t only a story of numbers … or information … or insight. We forget, it is also about the people who interpret that data.

Looking for Humanity in Data seeks to explain the ways in which behavioral data represents the mind and emotions of those who generate it. We do this by engaging with data science specialists and practitioners in this space.

Our purpose is to translate from the scientific to the every day impact of technology on the individual. We’ll discuss topics about information collection, privacy and governance, increased contextualization and what is at stake for everyone.

Our first guest: Nitin Mayande, CTO and Co-founder of Tellagence

Nitin’s love for science led to launching a startup that changes the face of network intelligence.
In this episode, Nitin talks about:

  •  the symbiotic relationship between technology and social processes
  •  social as a continuous evolution
  • the new communication dynamics that will transform how companies relate to customers and employees
  • the ethos of volunteerism within the social dynamics
  • the building of Tellagence with Co-founder Matt Hixson and how this profoundly defies the traditional definition of influence
  • the future of communication within business and e-commerce

You can listen to the podcast here or catch the series here on Libsyn.

Here are the key takeaways:

  • Technical and social processes are symbiotic. Technology as enabling social behaviour and at the same time, social behavior is informing how the technology should change and function. The more we feed the system, the more we need to understand it on a contexualized level.
  • Social systems are always in the process of evolution. Yes they can be quantified but they have to allow for an evolution of metrics as the systems continuously change.

As the process of adoption increases, so does the process of adaption.

  • As social technology weaves its way in an organization, the success of any new platform relies upon the users of that system. Companies erroneously put a lot of rules into that system which quickly degrades the likelihood of adoption. Nitin points out:

The essential part of social dynamics is the ethos of volunteerism. We, as a community, set the rules. How people use a system should be an individual perogative, not an organizational mandate. How users internalize it should be held to a social process, not a technical process. It’s the process of consensus that will eventually evolve the system itself… and increase the adoption and engagement levels.

  • Rigid social systems are more likely to be gamed. When Klout was first introduced, it defined the key metrics for influence. When people realized this, they found ways to game the system to fit into that definition. What is also clear…

When we try to define the hard definition for things in the process, we lose the meaning.

  • The birth of Tellagence sought to re-define influence by looking at how people relate to each other and identifying the context upon which those relationships are formed.
    • How does the discussion cascade throughout the open networks and what is the metamorphosis over a period time?
    • What are the roles of these individuals who are part of the discussion ie those that come together to form this cohesive network? Subject matter experts? Enthusiasts? Or leaders/motivators?
  • As society has evolved, never in the history of the world have we been able to connect to a billion people. The new distribution channels will enable more word of mouth messages that will continue to overwhelm and build network noise. With communities, companies need to understand these ever-morphing dynamics and learn how they can be a part of them.
  • Communities are the information filters and the context of the relationship between the information provider and the community will dictate whether it is accepted or not.
  • Ecommerce platform will cease to exist as solely transactional platforms. The new disruption will enable relationship-based models that will influence transaction.

About Nitin Mayande: Nitin’s drive and aptitude for analyzing technical concepts in extreme detail but explaining them in clear terms have earned him rave reviews at major conferences, including INFORMS, the User and Open Innovation Conference at MIT, the World Conference on Mass Customization, and Personalization and Co-Creation at UC Berkeley, and the Open User Innovation Conference at Harvard.

Nitin worked as a BI Analyst for Intel, where he managed app stores and developer and user communities. Nitin  just completed his PhD in Engineering Management at Portland State University.

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