#Asia Welcome to the era of ‘datanomics’


Tech in Asia Tokyo 2016 Conference fireside chat with Metaps CEO Katsuaki Sato.

Metaps CEO Katsuaki Sato. Photo credit: Tech in Asia / Michael Holmes.

Katsuaki Sato is a freethinker, data lover, and CEO of a US$200 million business in Japan. Last week at Tech in Asia’s Tokyo conference, it felt like the audience was eavesdropping on a speakeasy conversation between existentialists over a beer on a long, rainy night.

Katsuaki moves fast. He IPOed early and frequently tries new projects. His company, Metaps, originally focused on app monetization but now also works on payments and even launched a data analytics service for Airbnb earlier this year.

“Will it make money or not? Is it good for you or not? We often think about good or bad in reference to money as well… But with technology the way humans assign value will change,” Katsuaki says.

Japan’s stale economy only grew on average 0.48 percent yearly from 1980 to 2015. What was referred to as the “lost 20 years” has continued for a third decade. “During the bubble period there was a thinking of tomorrow will be better than today,” explains Katsuaki. “But now we are seeing that the economy won’t expand unless we change something.”

Katsuaki believes that the vastness of the internet and the availability of information has created the need to start anew. “Before when you did something, your education for example, it was easy to see the value you gained.” To him, the information revolution is an economic revolution.

“There are a lot of things that you cannot buy with money that have value.” Data can be used as compensation directly, likes on a social media post can strengthen a brand. Katsuaki coins this emerging system as datanomics.

A new economy

“Looking at something normally, it might not have any value but looking at it through the eyes of a human, it might be extremely valuable. Data can help assign that value,” he states.

To understand how data can be used on the internet in lieu of money, one should consider why we pay for things in the first place. Katsuaki believes there are three reasons why: the thing is really needed, it provides an emotional value, or it gives you more money.

The value of money is a “joint illusion” between individuals and societies. “What we think it is is very important,” and how we think things are may actually be completely different. Katsuaki’s curiosity to rethink everything is at the core culture of his company which he describes as “throwing a hammer out there and questioning, how about doing this this way?”

Tech in Asia Tokyo 2016 Conference fireside chat with Metaps CEO Katsuaki Sato.

Photo credit: Tech in Asia / Michael Holmes.

“With big data, things that were only debated up until now we can test and see how it will turn out in the world,” says Katsuaki. We as humans yearn for someone or something to point us in the right direction or make decisions. But Katsuaki warns against taking action with incomplete data. From a business sense, it’s easier to get better insights when you control all the data. Your information should not be coming from other companies, and should not be from a scraper on the web. It is important to know how much data to get. “Even if you take data forever, there’s no point.”

Looking for new questions in data will be an important skillset in the future. Katsuaki believes the technology of deep learning will become free of charge in the next few years, creating new job opportunities and raising the need for workers with cross-sectional intelligence who look for relationships.

Even in his own company of over 200 people, Katsuaki admits there are fewer than 10 people looking for problems and thinking of solutions. “Technology increases our choices, but having more choices makes it harder for humans.” With technology and people working together, Katsuaki sadly suggests, “Maybe the serendipity, the joy of finding new things will disappear.”

This is part of the coverage of Tech in Asia Tokyo 2016, our conference on September 6 and 7.

This post Welcome to the era of ‘datanomics’ appeared first on Tech in Asia.

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