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Big Data Is Worth More Than Its Weight In Gold

Big Data Is Worth More Than Its Weight In Gold

As data is the business of MBF, we thought we’d post a blog this week on the changing value of data….

Understand What Data You Have Mined Already

Dave Baxter wrote in Business Technology (July 2013) in an edition devoted to big data, that for years business and governments have been keen to ‘collect, store and pick data apart for valuable insights.’

None of this is new. What has changed over the years is that in an increasingly connected world population, the amount of data is now ‘colossal.’ He quoted IBM who reckoned every day some 2.5 quintillion bytes of new data are generated from the internet, the internet of things and social media.

The tracking, monitoring, records of activity, searches, shopping, spending, demographics we all know about as part of our daily lives. But it’s the analysis of that data and what is done with it that is the issue.

So, data mining is endless and very fruitful. Data scientists and analysts grow their careers. But do you in your line of work actually appreciate the value of what you hold already?

Never mind about adding more, do you know the real worth of your already-mined data?

And as you decide what to do with it all to turn a profit, have you considered two elements:

  • the interdisciplinary angle (scientists, analysts, engineers, cognitive scientists, linguistic and logistical experts?
  • the emerging ethical issues of handling such data, much in the same way that medicine and biological research have to deal with ethical/moral conundrums?

If not, why not? That is the message of Baxter’s article, and it is very relevant right now.

Maps For the Business Road Ahead

If anyone had asked about the future of something as old as the Ordnance Survey (220 years in fact) in this digital age, few would give it much chance at first thought.

Reflection, however, would reveal that global mapping services are now worth getting on for £200 billion a year. New processing and analytical technologies have made a new mapping environment on screens with massive data behind them that provides business insight.

That is what John Kimmance, sales director with Ordnance Survey, told Business Technology. Now they focus on ‘greater accuracy and accessibility of digital spatial data.’ They employ surveyors who capture 10,000 changes a day in ‘urban and built environments, from the ground and in the air.’

Location data is now a must (just as vital as meteorological data) for ‘managing transportation, environmental analysis, asset management, emergency services, waste disposal, public services and risk assessment.’

Business Technology said that insurance companies are increasingly interested in what is around insured properties and businesses in terms of potential risks, retailers are interested in better understanding how customers access stores.’

No business is now too small to say it doesn’t need geo services in one or more forms.

Data Is Tomorrow’s Big Resource

Nick Patience, director of product strategy at Recommend, wrote in the same paper, that big data sources like call transcripts, documents, emails, instant messages and social media have often been ignored by businesses  because they rarely ‘store it in one location’ and lack the ability to analyse fully.

He argued that needed to change for all companies, as those who rely on structured information alone miss out on ‘key information spread across disparate systems’  which includes conversations customers have outside the business directly.

Patience showed that ‘informed business decisions should be based on the totality of information and not merely on a subset of transactional data from a relational database.’ For him, extracting the value from the data was challenging ‘like the proverbial gold mine’ but of paramount importance as data left unmanaged was costly in storage.

He said, ‘knowing what you have and extracting meaning from it’ was where the true value of big data lies.

Put like this it’s quite simplistic, and he also suggested the need for proper automation, understanding of the business and its goals and training operatives in subtleties, nuances, concepts and words and phrases so make complete interpretation meaningful.

Robert Miller, also in the paper, said that as Big Data is here, ‘organisations are looking at the talent and compensation implications of big data strategies….’

In other words, more jobs for those with an analytical turn of mind and a love of crunching data…

And finally, a footnote:

If you went through an airport or seaport this summer, you may not realise that many travellers had their phones and other devices seized by police for the personal data to be downloaded and stored.

No reasonable suspicion has to be shown. They use counter-terrorism laws to grab data from anyone they choose and to hold it for as long as they see fit. That usually means forever.

Many will argue it is an essential tool in the fight against crime, but it is riddled with dangers of Big Brotherism, and what if the non-criminal data that is downloaded in this way is then sold to the commercial sector, even your private emails and photos will be absorbed into some organisation’s Big Data program.

Truly have we all become small fish in the big pond of data.

Other blogs to crunch data from:

No Place for the Human Touch in Complex Algorithms, 20 August 2013

Snoopers’ Charter Stirs Up the Controversy All Over Again, 19 June 2013

If More Data Sharing Is the Answer, What is the Question? 29 April 2013

Big Data Is Big News, Big Opportunities and a Big Problem, 30 January 2013

The Digital Economy Is No Longer an Add-On, It IS The Economy, 27 August 2013

Image: Szaaman