If recent developments inside the world of technology are anything to go by, it is clear that the greatest innovations of the future are going to be driven and fuelled by data. So huge is the potential of big data analysis that its impacts have been felt outside the world of technology as well, in areas as diverse and surprising as a business, art, healthcare, and entertainment. The technologists of today have their sights firmly set on the future, and big data analytics are a crucial part of the picture they envision.
What is Big Data?
A standard definition of big data is “extremely large data sets that may be analysed computationally to reveal patterns, trends, and associations, especially relating to human behaviour and interactions.” Let’s break this down to its essence. Big data is fundamentally a huge collection of data from various sources, that tells us something interesting and useful about ourselves and our world. The process of deriving that information from the big databases, of course, is what is referred to as big data analysis. The output of such analysis can take several forms. As the definition tells us, it can help us detect patterns in the data our interactions generate or identify the trends that the naked eye might let slip, or figure out the associations between different phenomena. The bottom line is that big data is an extremely useful tool.
What Does Big Data Tell Us?
The applications of big data and analytics are manifold. It is now frequently used in healthcare, where huge amounts of information are generated. Big data helps by helping the healthcare system provide personalized healthcare plans, designed for every patient by studying the data they generate. It is used in manufacturing to reduce the downtimes of systems and incorporate transparency. It also helps with output predictions, supply planning, and increasing overall quality and efficiency. The entertainment and media industry is not far behind either, with several services using big data analysis to present audiences with content that they specifically will enjoy. For example, Netflix has a famously accurate matching algorithm for viewers and content they may enjoy. It also helps in targeting advertisements, monetizing content, and coming up with new ideas for products.
Governments themselves have begun to foray into the field, allowing them to have much higher efficiency and much lower costs, all the while increasing productivity and encouraging innovation. Cybersecurity and intelligence systems also stand to benefit from big data analysis. Big data solutions have revolutionized each of these fields and brought in huge changes in how well they function.
Bigger Revenues with Big Data
So far we have looked at how big data has changed the functioning of several industries. It stands to reason, then, that these drastic changes in approach and process, will reflect on the revenue of these industries. In the modern marketplace, big data is an invaluable asset. Companies are engaged in a constant struggle to gain control of the big data market. This is no surprise, as big data revenue i.e. the revenue generated by firms whose technology consists significantly of big data tools, only keeps shooting up with every passing year.
Thus we have established that big data management leads to more revenue. Perhaps the most significant achievement of big data tools has been an increase in productivity. Management of various companies can use big data analytics to figure out the factors that are affecting productivity, thus empowering them to correct them. Productivity-improving policy changes can then be made, and every individual can be helped in the process of becoming the most successful version of themselves.
Decision making itself is always a beneficiary of big data analysis solutions. The more data that informs a decision-making process, the more guaranteed is its success. Unlike mere mortals, data does not suffer from subjective biases, making it perhaps a better decision maker than humans. Similarly, big data analytics also helps recruiters make better choices while hiring employees. Big data analytics tools can be used to identify the problem areas in the talent pool of the company, recommending shortages that need to be filled. Companies can then hire exactly those candidates who will help them fill these gaps, thus balancing out the power of their workforce. It can also help companies retain their workers, by identifying the key areas in which workplace satisfaction can be enhanced.
With so many applications, there is no doubt that data gives a company a competitive edge over another company that has not harnessed the power of it is the largest resource – its data. In the modern corporate ecosystem, the difference between who mines how much data might very well be the difference between which company succeeds and which fails. With increasing competition for the attention and patronage of a constant number of customers, this problem is even more compounded.
Thus we can conclude that big data analytics increases a company’s productivity and output. These changes are reflected directly in their revenues. Several studies support this claim, with researchers have found that increasing data analytics by just 10%, companies were able to raise their profits by over $2 billion a year. (Study conducted by the University of Texas, with data from Fortune 1000 companies in major industry areas)
The Way Forward
It is only inevitable that such a great innovation will have its downsides – and ethics might be the biggest downside of the big data revolution. Companies around the world have to grapple with these issues and frame stricter rules around the extent and scope of their big data and analytics. Most notably, Facebook found itself in trouble during the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Such a technology is unprecedented in human history, which means we only have ourselves to rely on while coming up with safe ethical boundaries. That being said, however, we are firmly positioned to scale the highest heights, armed with data and the power to analyse it. As long as it is done responsibly and ethically, the future belongs to those who control the data.