Digital Traces: Personalization and Privacy



Our daily use of the web, social media, smart phones, and sensor technologies is creating a digital trail of data from which one can formulate a trace of our movements, interactions, and even emotions in both offline and online environments. Such large-scale and fine-grained digital traces of individual behavior can be highly informative in examining not only what people say and what people do, but also what they are planning to do through their own behavior or the behavior of the people who they interact with. The insights gained from such digitized behavioral traces can facilitate business transformations in various domains, such as operations, marketing, finance, healthcare, and urban transportation.

Businesses increasingly tap into this rich information to uncover the preferences that influence an individual’s real-time decision making and provide personalized interactions. However, businesses often find themselves walking a thin line between delivering personalized services to consumers and being intrusive, which increases consumers’ privacy concerns. In this talk, I will first explain how we could improve our behavioral insights from exploring digital traces, using offline trajectories and online social interactions. I will then emphasize the increasingly important and intertwined topics: personalization and privacy, which I will illustrate using my own research. I will further discuss personalization-privacy-paradox related challenges to customer behavior, business strategy, public policy, system design, and society at large.

On 18 and 19 June, two days preceding her inaugural address, Prof. Li will co-chair the Statistical Challenges in E-Commerce Research (SCECR). This leading academic conference on big data will attract top scholars throughout the world in the areas of information systems, quantitative marketing, economics, statistics, machine learning, and computer science.

On 20 June, 2018, the day of Prof. Li’s inaugural address, RSM will host the first Digital Economy Summit. The Summit will bring together industry professionals and renowned international academics for a full day of presentations, panels, and discussions. It will feature a number of speakers covering topics on digital strategy, business analytics, artificial intelligence, digital experimentation and privacy by industry executives and world-class academic researchers.