WHAT Conference

The first ever conference dedicated entirely to behavioural data took place earlier this year in April in Amsterdam. Over two days, Netherlands-based behavioural data research company Wakoopa brought together over 150 global market research and data professionals in behavioural data to share exclusive insights and showcase their skills. Speakers came from KLM, J. Walter Thompson, Kantar, Elastic, GfK, YouGov, Forrester, and more.

With inspiring workshops, stories, and case studies, the WHAT conference was put together with the aim of impacting market research and encouraging the industry to embrace the opportunities of data by working towards a user-centric and data-driven future. One attendee said, “Not enough people are seeing the value of behavioural data and how it can drive strategic decision making.” The WHAT conference aimed to change that by connecting data and research professionals and providing an interactive environment for networking and new business opportunities. According to the conference’s founders, “data is the new research”.

“Invest in the skills, the people and the organisation to harness data and give you the methodologies and insights that allow you to compete in the future of research,” said Simon van Duivenvoorde, Wakoopa’s Managing Director. “If you build it, they will come!”

At the conference, professionals in the field discussed strategies and best practices to do with behavioural data, and shared their perspectives and insights. Combined with a pre-conference half-day workshop in which leading data specialists provided hands-on training in data analysis, this conference was a great experience for speakers and delegates alike.

Emmanuel Flores, Innovation Director at JWT Amsterdam, gave a talk that demonstrated how data can fuel creativity. JWT Amsterdam launched its award-winning campaign ‘The Next Rembrandt’ for ING, and Flores shared some of his insights into what he learned on the campaign and how creative ideas can be supported by technology.

Steve Dodson of Elastic talked about real-world examples of machine learning techniques as applied to behavioural data, in his talk entitled ‘Machine learning for behavioural analytics’. He discussed the logistics behind machine learning methodologies and explained how they can be used to identify unusual behaviours in users, or to understand the typical behaviour of a population.

One of the key events of the conference was the presentation of the WHAT Datathon results. The Datathon was a pre-event to the conference, also in Amsterdam. Data enthusiasts had 24 hours to turn raw behavioural data into a model, visualisation, or insight to better understand online behaviour. The winning teams presented their findings at the WHAT conference and were presented with prizes for their work.

‘Predicting your next destination’, the final talk of the conference, was presented by Marc Tollens and Jan van der Vegt from Dutch airline KLM. They presented a case study to demonstrate how behavioural data and machine learning can improve both company performance and customer experience. These insights are backed up by KLM’s own impressive figures; the KLM site uses behavioural algorithms that can predict visitors’ future travel destinations with 98% accuracy based on their last search.

Many of the conference’s attendees were enthusiastic about the day. One described the event’s “great initiative, great atmosphere and interesting people”, while another guest said, “You simply have to attend if you want to know what’s going on in behavioural research.”