How Breakthrough Innovations at Experian’s DataLabs Expand the Horizons of Doing Good Things with Data

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Our world is filled with endless amounts of data. From credit card transactions to healthcare records to social media content, we are constantly surrounded by information that is vitally important to both ourselves and corporations around the world. While many companies are in the business of mining data for insights using time-tested algorithms and mathematical equations, few invest the resources to find new breakthrough data insights. This is understandable in many respects, innovation is hard – and not guaranteed to produce results, but it is exactly what we do in Experian DataLabs.

It’s commonly estimated that just in the past five years, more than 90 percent of data in the world has been generated. And Experian continues to make considerable investments in DataLabs to be a world-class, risk-free environment devoted to identifying new ways to glean greater insights from this data. These insights have real world application that can help tens of thousands of Americans. As an example, small businesses – the classification of businesses that create nearly  two-thirds of net new jobs in the United States – notoriously struggle to obtain loans to grow because of a perceived lack of data on their credit worthiness. Without access to credit, these businesses aren’t able to grow further, preventing them from hiring more people. DataLabs’ latest experiment concerned whether social media sites can help businesses obtain credit. By looking at social media sites we were able to help small businesses with credit verification.

DataLabs also works to help companies more efficiently use resources to target the right consumer. As an example, Experian’s DataLabs scientists analyzed billions of credit and debit card transactions to understand how population segments spent money and then used that information to build predictive behavior profiles. With this information in hand, credit card companies were able to market credit cards to specific population segments and make rewards programs more attractive to consumers in the process.

So far, much of the work and experimentation the DataLabs has been involved in deals with structured data sets-those related to credit and debit card transactions, credit reports and healthcare data. However, much of the data around the world is unstructured. This type of data might not fit into a binary excel column – instead it can be video data or audio information. Unstructured data is the next revolution in data science and every day DataLabs scientists are working to pioneer progress in this space.

Our scientists are already exploring unstructured data by looking at facial recognition as a tool for fraud protection. DataLabs is looking into the possibility of utilizing facial or voice recognition to confirm a customer’s identity for purchases made online and picked up in-store. Another area showing great promise is mobile data. By looking at mobile data usage in a city, we can collect insights that might help cities plan more efficient public transportation systems.

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At the heart of the facility are data scientists- technical experts with strong business acumen. We are continually working to identify and recruit some of the smartest and most able data scientists in the world to work with us. It is because of them that the DataLabs became a cradle of analytic talent and a successful venture in the big data arena.

The future is bright for data-driven innovation at Experian.  While we are making great strides in the data world, we have only just begun. The process of understanding insights from newfound data is continuous and ever-changing. Unstructured data has limitless possibilities while unforeseen technological advances will undoubtedly bring new challenges and opportunity. DataLabs is well prepared to take on these future challenges and is excited to advance the utilization of data for good.

Eric Haller ExperianContributed by: Eric Haller, Executive Vice President at Experian DataLabs. Eric leads data labs in the US, UK & Brazil that support research & development initiatives across the Experian enterprise. Prior to Experian DataLabs, Eric had responsibility for the management and growth of online credit profiles as well as strategic markets such as internet delivery, government, capital markets and retail banking for Consumer Information Services.


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