Big test for big data

Malcolm Latarche
Malcolm Latarche

17 February 2017


Shipping is apparently behind the curve in exploiting the benefits of big data and could be losing out from failing to recognise trends and devising strategies accordingly. Of course, the usefulness will depend as much upon the quality of analysis as on the accuracy of the data that has been collected. This week CNBC carried a report connected to big data that could be seen as either an amusing diversion or an opportunity to learn exactly how useful big data can actually be. The report quoted Arun Kant, chief executive and chief investment officer at Singapore-based investing firm Leonie Hill Capital who told CNBC that his firm’s analysis of big data in relation to the upcoming French presidential election had produced a surprising prediction that populist politician Marine Le Pen is on course to be the next president of France. His analysis — which he said incorporates inputs such as social and traditional media discussions, polling, economics and demographics — predicts that Le Pen will "walk over" her opponents in the first electoral test and then prove most forecasters wrong and steal the lead in the second ballot. Kant declined to share his investing plans around his Le Pen projection, but he did explain that he expected her victory to mean the beginning of the end of the European Union. And with that, he said, currencies around the world will see massive fluctuations and "it may lead to a financial crisis much sooner than anyone thinks." A poll by French newspaper Le Figaro indicated the French were more pessimistic about globalisation than other countries — sentiments that may play into Le Pen's hands. It has to be said that there are few other analysts predicting a Le Pen success even though most expect her to lead after the first round voting. ShipInsight is not aware of any big data analysis that predicted either Brexit or Donald Trump’s election as US President but apparently those events have been factored in to this latest exercise. From the point of view of the shipping industry, a Le Pen win would almost certainly put a halt to EU plans for a federal Europe and while some co-operation between member states would continue it would likely be loose associations that would change constantly according to the subject of interest. How that would affect matters such as CO2 emission MRV or ship recycling is unclear and at this point purely academic. If Le Pen does win, the fact that her victory was predicted by big data might persuade any of sceptical nature to look at the concept with more respect for what it says it can deliver.