Friday, August 14, 2009

Monitoring Our Lives

I was surprised to see in today's news that market research company Nielsen is still using set-top boxes to monitor television viewing habits in just a few thousand homes. I would have thought that this antiquated technology went out with the Betamax. Newer technology exists for a Nielsen-type of company that would enable it to monitor anyone and everyone's viewing habits. This is particularly necessary now than a large number of people view TV via the Internet. Using complex event processing technology, market research firms could leap ahead of their competitors by analyzing these habits in real-time. Think how targeted and timely the advertisements could be. My old friend Stephen Bates, CEO of monitoring software provider ITRS in London, once told me he could monitor the temperature of the bath water in Bill Gates' bathtub (with Gates' permission surely). The UK's FSA is using event processing technology from Progress Apama to monitor the UK markets for abuse and possible insider trading. Information provider Genscape developed technology to monitor how much electricity is going over certain grids, and how much oil is in storage in Cushing, OK. Nielsen needs to speak to some of these firms. Either that or give up.

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