Stock - Nacho San Martin
Nacho San Martin of GfK: "For AI to transform the world, it needs to be trusted..." Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Apple and Tim Cook have done their bit for data privacy – by giving users a direct say in the if and how those details should be used. By raising the pitch on privacy, Apple has also managed to cast an unwelcome spotlight on how such data is used by other tech giants. (As Facebook’s new avatar, Meta will have to keep giving its interpretation of where user privacy starts and ends.)

Whatever be the case, there is this constant need to better manage how all that consumer data can be collected and dissected. The German ‘market intelligence’ firm GfK knows a bit about playing in this space, because consumer data is the currency it deals in. Gulf News spoke to Nacho San Martin, regional Managing Director at GfK, about where the company stands on the data-divide and whether AI can help sort out matters.

Much of the new consumer data is generated from social and digital media exposures. Do you think consumers are in the mood to offer more of themselves going forward?

Consumers are becoming intentional about what types of data they share—and with whom. However, if a product or service offering is critically important to consumers, many are willing to set aside their privacy concerns.

As consumers become more careful about sharing data, and regulators step up privacy requirements, leading companies are learning that data protection and privacy can create a business advantage. Besides, privacy regulations are evolving, with a marked shift toward protecting consumers.

The GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation enacted by the EU), for example, gives consumers more choices and protections about how their data are used.

At some point, global tech will have to narrow what sort of data they make available about their users. Will that impact finding out more about consumer preferences?

Rightly so, companies want to know what drives consumer preferences. Interestingly, AI insights uncover new correlations and hidden connections. Using AI to fully map the customer journey helps businesses understand what drives purchases, the expectations of different demographics, and how customers perceive brands.

Brands must see their customers in three dimensions. This means combining insights that tell us what people are doing (quantitative and sales data), why they are doing it (qualitative and attitudinal data) and identifying all the major influences that also impact people’s purchasing decisions (personal values, income, life stage, lifestyle, and more).

As regulators step up privacy requirements, leading companies are learning that data protection and privacy can create a business advantage

- Nacho San Martin of GfK

Why do you want to get in AI into what should be a straightforward analysis of human insights?

The art is balancing human experience with data science, resulting in knowledge at speed. We believe that the path to future-proofing business starts by combining instinct with AI-powered predictive analytics — leading to more 'a-ha moments' companies can act on, shaping decision-making, and empowering them to decode the future.

It also gives us the confidence we need to move at speed in a competitive market. GfK’s AI-powered platform – gfknewron - delivers not just descriptive data but actionable recommendations using a blend of quality data sets, advanced machine-learning technology, and expert modelling.

Won’t consumer biases show up in AI-created insights in much the same way as what’s learnt through human interaction?

For AI to transform the world, it needs to be trusted and it takes careful planning to strike the right balance between AI insights and human expertise. Human-centric AI insights enable companies to drill down to a granular level with specific questions about purchasing decisions, predict customer demand, and anticipate emerging market trends.

AI should empower humans, not replace them. The AI in our gfknewron tool does just that. As a predictive insights and analytics tool for businesses, gfknewron harnesses the data available, including our own customer and market data, and use it to project and predict future scenarios. It explains the evidence behind the recommendations and is transparent about how it works, so you can trust the insights generated.

It’s built to be a companion to humans in the decision-making process.