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How the Panama Papers Show Publishers the Value of Big Data
August 23, 2016 News


The release of the Panama Papers earlier this year unveiled a global conspiracy of tax evasion and money laundering by some of the world’s most powerful politicians, officials and businesses. Just a month ago, new revelations showed that corrupt officials across Africa have used shell companies to hide profits from the sale of natural resources and the bribes paid to gain access to them.

These are just a few outcomes from data mining of the more than 11 million files that were leaked from the Panamanian law firm at the heart of the controversy.

While these leaked documents continue to rock the world both politically and legally, they should also serve as a stark reminder of the hidden value sitting locked in large amounts of unstructured data, such as notes, documents and emails.

In recent years, we’ve seen businesses in many industries solve the puzzle of big data and begin to extract the insights that can accelerate innovation and grow revenue. Healthcare, finance and retail are three that immediately come to mind that are at the forefront of using big data. But that is only the beginning.

Consider this: 90 percent of the world’s data only came into existence in the last two years. With more of our lives moving online and into the cloud, this remarkable growth of data will only accelerate, offering enormous possibilities to the businesses that can navigate these massive data collections.

The Panama Papers are a roadmap. It is now possible to collect and analyze data faster than ever before through the use of unparalleled computing power and machine learning methods, such as deep learning. Unstructured data, such as the text in the posts and messages of social media that most of the world uses, emails that were leaked or subpoenaed, laboratory notes or technical documentation, represent a massive opportunity for businesses that can harness it.

The publishing industry produces massive amounts of high-quality data in a wide variety of fields. In an age where innovation and evolution are key to an organization’s survival, publishers are presented with unique opportunities to make great leaps ahead and offer major contributions in that space. In order to do achieve this, however, they must embrace the mining of their data in ways that are meaningful to their customers and important to their business goals.

All it will take is a willingness to explore the potential value inside their data and an understanding that, without harnessing the insights available, publishers will fall further and further behind as consumers turn to other sources more in tune with their needs and desires.

Andy Grove, retired CEO of Intel Corp., calls this moment in potential growth a “strategic inflection point”—the point at which two major pathways temporarily coincide—between doing business as usual, or embracing and adapting to the new.

It is a great time for the publishing industry to employ text and data mining techniques, and push forward on the clear path to future success and profitability this direction holds.

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