Enter the data

Tags: Knowledge

The speed and the ease with which day to day life is being analysed and used for professional gains is pointing towards big data revolution that companies are in store for

Is ‘big data’ really that big? Do I need to consider it for my business? If these questions are popping up in your mind, consider these. We are living in the age of digital trace (or data), which we (and others) can collect, explore and analyse. We can decode the information and find patterns such as human DNA in a few minutes, find cures for many threatening diseases such as cancer. It can also stop terrorist attacks and crime that much more effectively.

It is true that businesses have been capturing and analysing data for sometime now. But there are two things that are shifting at the moment and are creating the occurrence of ‘big data’.

First is data rate: the speed at which we are generating new data is alarming. And second is our ability to analyse large and complex forms of data has been transformed in recent years. We are generating digital record at every step — emails, social media, phone conversations, browser logs, banking transactions, CCTV, smart devices and sensors. The volume of the data is growing at a frightening rate. The other thing that has changed is that we are now able to analyse more complex types of data such as digital phone records, social sentiments, our web log files, our shopping patterns and banking transactions. We can now analyse this enormous amount of data by breaking the task of processing large data sets down into smaller tasks that are run in parallel using a large cluster of computers. Here are some more examples of big data analytics:

n Intelligence agencies of any country can combine data/information from social media, CCTV cameras, phone calls and messages to track down criminals and predict the next criminal activity or terrorist attack.

n Political parties can use social media sentiments and analytics to determine where they need to focus more to win the election.

n Companies can use sentiment analysis feature of Facebook and Twitter posts to determine and predict marketing campaigns and sales pitches. Music artist can use the web log files to determine the listening preferences and sequences and predict the most popular song/track in that particular area for next live shows and events.

n Google driverless car is another project where they are analysing a colossal volume of data from sensors and cameras in real time to stay on the road safely.

n The GPS information from our phone can be used to analyse how fast we are moving and can provide real time and live traffic up-dates.

n Facebook is using targeted advertising based on your post, status, likes, dislikes and comments. They are analysing each and every information of your profile and activity — what your hobbies are, how old you are, where you live, your relationship status, what you like and dislike, what your interests are, which are your favourite movies. Today, Facebook is extensively using big data analytics in their advertising business.

Undoubtedly, big data is a big revolution. But there are still many questions that need to be answered. One such important aspect is data privacy and security. As personal and business data are universally collected and shared across boundaries, inconsistent data protection laws pose increasing threats to individuals and societies. We either have read or come across many incidents of data leakage or theft has resulted from the apathy of retailers, credit card companies, search engine providers and mail or social media companies who collect our private information. The technology or law should somehow strike a balance between privacy risks and big data opportunities. zz

(The writer is a technology

consultant at Advaiya)

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