17 Sep 2012
Article: Innovation in the big data era
Everybody’s getting hooked up; Building innovative strategies in the era of big data
Faced with complex problems, limited resources, and an increasingly small world many private and public diplomacy organisations are seeking to increase reach and influence through developing partnerships or unlocking their innovative potential through collaboration. At the same time the development of new technology has spawned new ideas, opportunities, and approaches to engaging with people around the world. Protesters demonstrated the ability to construct dispersed communication networks and coordinate action in the ‘battle in Seattle’, as recorded by John Sullivan. Similar network based approaches to public diplomacy have been identified in a recent article in Foreign Service Journal and at a conceptual level by Brian Hocking. As a result of these shifts, there is now potential to develop innovation in public diplomacy through “Big data”.
As a UN Global Pulse white paper noted big data is “an umbrella term for the explosion in the quantity and diversity of high frequency digital data. These data hold the potential—as yet largely untapped—to allow decision makers to track development progress, improve social protection, and understand where existing policies and programmes require adjustment”. In the context of public diplomacy big data allows organisations to look far beyond the daily tactical data, whether web metrics or shifting numbers of ”friends”, ”followers” and klout scores. Today public diplomacy strategists and practitioners are able to develop innovative strategy using insight from diverse sources of big data.