It’s a telltale sign: people + talking + learning + alcohol = a crowded bar and a great concept. Not that any of us were going to be heavily opposed to the idea given the lack of events such as this during the pandemic: but when you put Elisa Choy — an economist and data strategist — into a small trendy bar to give a talk about how data can change the world one byte at a time, of course, we’re going to be on board.
On a brisk Autumn eve in Sydney, a small local bar Stitch is jam-packed with people who are there for a Raise the Bar event. Held in conjunction with the City of Sydney, Raise the Bar, a concept started in New York City back in 2014 with the goal of bringing people together to learn something new in unconventional places. Sydney is one of 10 places in the world to be holding the events.
It appears to have worked well — patrons elbow in together, settle down with a drink and listen to how Elisa, the Data Whisperer, translates maths into English, to turn data into decisions.
Elisa Choy is an economist and data strategist who uses data, insight, and advanced analytics to tell a story. Founder and Managing Director of Maven Data, Elisa inspires you to think differently, make better decisions and in Elisa’s words, “ultimately save the world”. Ambitious? Yes, but as the self-proclaimed Queen of Data explains, there are oceans of data that surround us — in fact, 90% of the world’s data has been created in the last 2 years. Say what?
Elisa explains that every day, 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are being created. A quintillion is a one with 18 zeros after it: basically, it’s the equivalent of 100 million blu-ray discs or “80 Olympic size swimming pools…. daily”, Elisa reveals. Yikes.
So where is this data and what is it? Essentially, data is information that is stored electronically for analysis. It comes in many forms — it can be text, images, voice, etc, and can sit on websites, blogs, social media. Businesses collect data, but most of the world’s data sits outside the business — this is ‘market data’. This is where Maven Data “mines for gold nuggets’’ to understand and spot trends, then make predictions and provide advice to businesses.
Elisa analyses data every day using artificial intelligence (AI), specifically using machine learning, and specifically natural language processing, to analyse content online and how people engage with it.
With this, the team at Maven Data can do smart research on market sentiment and predict the future. How? Because using this technique, they can remove bias, measure emotions, and behavioural interactions through the content we engage with online every day.
What do we care about? What do we want to read? Buy? Make for dinner? Travel to? Move to?
“We are the world’s first AI-powered strategic market research company — in other words, we use AI to predict the future”.
“Our fundamental principle is that humans make decisions by emotions. Emotions drive behaviour but strong emotions change behaviour.”
Harking back to Elisa’s words “ultimately save the world”, using AI, Maven Data has found a powerful way to connect to the market and thus bring businesses and governments closer to the people. Knowing the trends enables these entities to shape products and services to the market’s needs.
“Forget polls,” Elisa says. The survey of people is random and statistically selected to represent an entire population, which we know is just an invitation to error. “It’s like using three buckets of water to measure the temperature of Warragamba dam”.
What troubles Elisa is that polls remain the primary data on which major policies rely. The big data and technology that is available today — and being used by Maven Data — is a more accurate way to measure public sentiment and predict behaviour.
Maven Data has done this before — most recently, Elisa predicted the rise of the female voice in anger towards workplace bullying and sexual harassment, which led to 100,000 people at the March 4 Justice event, and she also predicted the top 10 global wellness trends for 2021, one of which the rise of gut health, which saw a 10.9% increase in the sale of kombucha.
Her message is clear: there are better ways. And she intends to change the world one byte at a time. Elisa rounds out her talk by sharing some trends she’s seeing in a few big topics now. In particular:
- The current hesitancy surrounding the COVID-19 vaccine in Australia — the market is intensely emotive about it and lacking engagement.
- The current attitude towards Scott Morrison — Elisa predicts he would lose an election if one was called tomorrow.
- And the state of the Australian economy and where it is headed — from a macro perspective there are signs of danger ahead and “we’re heading towards an iceberg”, Elisa says.
Maven Data can now predict things, so they’re asking us why would we fly blind?
“We can truly change the world one byte at a time.”
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