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Gotta catch them all – how Pokemon Go gets your data

If you thought that people had their eyes glued to their smartphone screens all the time, then you might not have noticed, but Pokemon Go is all the hype right now. This mobile game applies augmented reality to superimpose little virtual creatures on real buildings, streets, even your own living room. So these days, you see people trying to catch them all, even in the Vatican

or a TV studio!

From Nintendo’s point of view, Pokemon Go is not only a very lucrative renewal of a media franchise that was already very successful in the 1990s, but also a way to collect massive amounts of data of the players. The location data alone provides the company with movement patterns that – in some cases – may show exactly when an individual was where at any time during the day. In this blog post by Bernard Marr on Forbes, he clearly warns that although such games may seem harmless, they hide the fact well that users are giving away their data far too easily without much further consideration. George Orwell’s dystopian view of the future in 1984 – Big Brother is watching you – has become a reality by now. With the only difference that Big Brother’s work is cut out for him.

What happened in Big Data in 2015?

Big Data continues to be a trending topic in the business world. Said world has not stood still in 2015 – in fact, if anything, the topics surrounding the “new corporate gold” have matured and found centre stage worldwide. In a Forbes-article, Bernard Marr summarizes the main developments over the course of last year.

The technological crux of the British police

For the well-connected criminal in Britain, these seem beneficial times. Whilst crime organises itself using the Dark Web and social media, leveraging whatever new technologies may offer them, police forces lag behind considerably. Where the need for integrated data and data sharing is somewhat undisputed in the business context, it seems less obvious when it comes to the institutions that are supposed to preserve the fabric and foundations of society. The most prominent example is the British police force that seem a far cry from the technological depictions of the likes of TV’s CSI. According to this article in The Economist (“Low Tech Coppers”), the mish-mash of the police’s IT landscape seems to be an obstacle rather than a means to solving and preventing crime. The article cleary illustrates the need for an integrated view on big data in the societal context – with a staggering 750 different computer systems that do not share data with one another, one cannot help thinking that this should be an obvious choice for investment in adequate IT.

Big data, real-time analytics and the accountant

We have often stated in this blog that the role of the accountant is changing. This change is heavily driven by new achievements in technology like cloud computing that enable anytime-anywhere access to decision-relevant data. At the same time, businesses acquire a plethora of data about their customers – so much data that professionals need the knowledge, skills and tools to excavate what is relevant, and what is not. As accountants, we should be in the middle of this “data excavation site”, handling this data mine to discover its treasures. This ACCA article argues that the finance profession (including accounting) needs to extend its reach and apply its core skills of gathering, manipulating and providing relevant information to a much larger data set. To enable accountants to do so, they will need to be the link between the IT department running the tools that enable real-time analytics of big data, and the business that needs to make sense of the results and put it in a strategic context. This will add skills to accounting that include data analytics and software engineering, leading to a hybrid role of accountants in the future.