Apple shells out $200M for 'dark data' company, eyes machine learning improvements

Dive Brief:

  • Apple has reportedly acquired Lattice Data, an AI company that transforms so-called "dark data" into structured, useable information, TechCrunch reports. The sale is reportedly valued at $200 million. 
  • The amount of data created annually is simply massive —  4.4 zettabytes were created in 2013 alone — but only 70-80% of it is considered "dark data," unstructured and unusable. Firms like Lattice Data harness structure this data, which can be used in fields like machine learning.
  • Experts think that Apple is making a play for Lattice Data because the firm had been in talks with to improve virtual assistants like Amazon's Alexa and Samsung's Bixby, both widely used by consumers. This dark data could also be used in the learning and development field to create educational content. 

Dive Insight:

Artificial intelligence is on the verge of disrupting human capital at a rapid pace, and the technologies it spurns will no doubt force employers to retool their L&D initiatives. It should come as no surprise that a company like Apple, a leader in consumer technology for decades, would want to find a way to harness large amounts of unused data.

Imagine the implications of being able to control, measure and analyze data to create more accurate employee training that actually responds to each learner's pace. Should dark data lead to improvements for chatbot interfaces and virtual assistants, several tasks could potentially be scratched off HR pros' day-to-day lists.

Candidates have already said that they mostly don't mind chatbots in the recruiting process — positive news as the industry moves in this direction. The transition won't be perfectly smooth, however, as CHROs will still have to do heavy lifting to earn the trust of employees when introducing newer tech.

Companies should be looking at ways to catalog and protect the data produced daily by subject matter experts, using advanced AI tools to augment standard employee training. This might help to supplement the mentorship employees already receive.

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