People at the top of the office or social pecking order often receive quick callbacks, do not worry about calling other people late at night and tend to get more calls at times when social events are most often organised, such as loterie pancanadienne powerbucks Friday afternoons.
In the past five years IBM has spent more than 11 billion buying makers of network-analysis software.
The raw data used may extend far beyond phone records to encompass information available from private and governmental entities, and internet sources such as Facebook.Last year spadac's revenue reached 19m; this year it will exceed 27m.It turns out that the key terrorists in a group are often not the leaders, but rather seemingly low-level people, such as drivers and guides, who keep addresses and phone numbers memorised.The goal, according to Stephen Hollifield, the department's technology chief, is to pull together a complete picture of suspects and their social circle.The number of sources will have more than doubled by the end of the year.Joe Biden, America's vice-president, said in June that such software would be used to prevent fraud within the government's Medicaid and Medicare health-care schemes.The software, developed by SRA, an American firm, can correlate numbers and phrases written in nine languages with financial databases.Known as influencers, these subscribers frequently persuade their friends, family and colleagues to follow them when they switch to a rival operator.It has triggered about 250 ongoing criminal investigations and 400 audits.The trick, then, is to identify such trendsetting subscribers and keep them on board with special discounts and promotions.
The next step beyond mapping influence between individuals is to map the influences between larger segments of society.Foreign aid workers and diplomats frequently stumble in Sudan because they fail to work out which tribal and political leaders they should work with, and how.Instead of looking at the call records of a single customer at a time, it looks at customers within the context of their social network.Telecoms operators naturally prize mobile-phone subscribers who spend a lot, but some thriftier customers, it turns out, are actually more valuable.In some companies, e-mails are analysed automatically to help bosses manage their workers.Ellen Joyner of SAS, an analytics firm based in Cary, North Carolina, notes that more and more financial firms are using the software to uncover fraud.Companies can spot these influencers, and work out all sorts of other things about their customers, by crunching vast quantities of calling data with sophisticated network analysis software.By one estimate there are more than 100 programs for network analysis, also known as link analysis or predictive analysis.Riots, bloody elections and crackdowns, among other things, can be forecast with improving accuracy by crunching data on food production, unemployment, drug busts, home evictions and slum growth detected in satellite images.Some insurers reduce premiums for banks that protect themselves with such software.
Within the information that emerges are lists of the locals most likely to co-operate with Westerners, with details of the role each would best play.
But broadening data mining to include analysis of social networks makes new things possible.