Question 1: As discussed in the article list some industries where big data is being used today? Please elaborate as appropriate from your readings.
Ever since the explosion of the information technology age, big data has become a very common term today. As the name infers it is a collection of large set of data that is stored and used for everything from politics to sports and health and every other thing in between. More and more companies use big data and some of the most popular companies are IBM, HP, Google, Microsoft and Amazon among many others. While these are the most popular companies that utilize big data, there are many other different and smaller companies that also use big data. In 2012, IBM was the biggest vendor of big data with revenue of over $1 billion from products related to big data. Some of the products they offered were database software and storage hardware. Some of their most popular products are cognos and SPSS. Microsoft is also another major player in the big data sector. Their offerings include SQL Server database and their partnership with hortonworks bringing in revenue of $196 million in 2012.
As the term big data is taking over large companies and has become a staple on the lips of information technology specialists, it is believed that the companies that get the use and effect right will be in a league of their own with respects to organizational values and capabilities. While there are many companies that are successfully utilizing big data for business progress I have listed some of the most successful. The question we need to ask ourselves now is how companies like Microsoft, Google and Amazon have utilized big data in a way to solve problems that hundreds of managers cannot generate through traditional analytics. Data and what becomes of them is a vital aspect of all companies irrespective of what their sizes may be. Now we have companies that are overburdened by data on the one hand and on the other we see those who have a problem with structuring and managing these data once analysed through former traditional methods. The world is being inundated with data whether it is from social media, the web, video data or the many other settings through which data can be gleaned. Unfortunately it is only the companies like the ones I have listed above that have been able to analyse these data in a way to be insightful and useful to the furtherance of their business growth and attaining customer satisfaction.
- Big data provides transparency of information as it is captured in digital form
- The ability to collect detailed and accurate information with regards performance and everything in between
- Customers do not feel segmented as big data tailors services offered and products provided to suit customers’ needs
- Big data improves decision making as it reduces risks that may have otherwise occurred as a result of human error
- Big data is the future and as such can be used to develop products and services that can be used in the next generation.
Question 2: Briefly describe how the use of big data benefits various industries? Explain with appropriate examples.
As is common with many things, big data and its application have its advantages and disadvantages. However big data has been hailed as the next big thing with benefits in every facet of our lives, there are many uses of big data today and some of the most common ones are
- The use of big data to target and understand customers – this is the most public use of big data today. The behaviour and preference of customers are correctly analysed using browser logs and social media to better understand their customers. This enables companies like Wal-Mart predict what will sell or how Obama’s campaign optimised the use of big data analytics to win him the election.
- Big data is also used in the health care sector as we can now how DNA strings decoded in minutes and allowing cures to be found quicker as we better understand disease patterns. Techniques of big data are already been utilized in the monitoring of babies in a specialist premature unit as it analyses and records their breathing patterns and heart beats. These data is turned to algorithms that enables doctors and specialists predict infections at least a day before they happen.
- The more elite sports and their bodies utilize big data analytics as we can see from the IBM Slam Tracker that is used for tennis tournaments. Basket balls and golf clubs are some of the equipment that uses sensor technology to give us feedback on the games played. Many elite sports men and women also use big data to track their lives outside work with smart technology tracking sleep and nutrition. One of the most popular athletes who used some form of big data was the Olympian swimmer – Michael Phelps.
- Big data transforms science and technology to a point where impossibility is no longer a word. CERN is a very good example of a company that utilizes big data. This is a Swiss nuclear physics lab. It has a Large Hadron Collider, the most powerful particle accelerator. Data is being generated on a daily basis to help man unlock the secrets of the universe we live in, providing exploits in science and research as we go along.
Question 3: How can big data augment or even replace management?
A couple of decades ago companies and businesses could rely solely on their staff and management growing the business with exceptional customer service and people skills. They believed that if a customer was treated exceptionally well they would spread the word to other people and in so doing help grow the business in question. In today’s cut throat world those tactics would not work as they did back then and owners of businesses need to have that extra something to ensure that they have an edge in the business of their choice and this is where the many benefits of big data come into play. The companies that have the technological knowhow and manpower to get available information about their target audience and analyse it in a way to benefit their businesses are the ones that eventually come out on top. Unfortunately these were roles that were traditionally done by managers in the past. One has to wonder then if the use of big data will see to the replacing of management or will they in effect augment the jobs that have typically fallen to managers to handle.
Big data have the capacity to use algorithms and analysis to understand, learn and prevent costly human mistakes while also avoiding waste. Some major oil companies today for example have digital instruments for the reading of data in their pipelines and oil fields. While this advancement minimizes downtime and optimizes production it also affects manpower as companies in such a circumstance could conveniently cut cost of staffing by as much as 25% while increasing production by 5%. Service providers with regards to big data have gone a step further by envisioning stops and breaks to companies’ smooth flow and creating the solutions even before these problems occur. As long as these companies can envision what to expect and how to solve these problems if and when they occur, then they have already placed themselves on a high pedestal of service. This smooth running of the business frees up most of the traditional jobs management is tasked with as they now have freed time to handle other more pressing issues. The downside though could be an instance where big data has been successfully able to solve 70% of the problems that management is usually brought in to handle. In cases where instances like this happen, management could see their jobs been taken from them. If big data can be utilized properly, companies could see themselves not only fit in but also surge ahead in this fast paced world we live in.
Question 4: Briefly describe your thoughts on big data as a future of the industry?
Businesses have always depended on data. From the sole trader who keeps record of the days of the week to expect his produce to ensure the old woman down the road gets her weekly pint of milk to the giant companies who keeps data of even the most minute information about their competition and what would give them the edge. We have seen an explosion of volume of data stored and utilized over time as people are no longer content with just having the basic data but today companies want to know how their customers and clients will think or react in a future event that has not yet happened. This is where big data comes into play with the gathering of data from every available data source and analysing them in such a way that they can determine how a bloc of Latina women would vote to figuring out which video games the teenage boys in a district would rather buy.
Two things that cannot be denied is the fact that big data is here to stay and also that companies and the world in general are experiencing strides as a result of the use of big data. On a personal note and as someone who has been bugged as a result of some of these accumulated data, I believe that the gathering of some of these data is intrusive to the person the data belongs to. A good example would be how sales companies get data from telecoms organizations and use this information for sales. While the data collected by my phone service provider may indeed show that I could do with an upgrade or live in a house that could accommodate a pet does not give them the right to call me and sell such products to me every day. This intrusion only comes because of big data as I may never have walked to that company to buy whatever it was they were selling. I do have to recognise that while I may not be too impressed with the daily sales calls, there may be that one person that really needed that product and that call would help to solve the problem or end the need.
There are also many other ways big data is helping make our world a much better place and that truth cannot be ignored. One of which is in the health sector and how big data is finding safer and faster and more reliable ways to provide health services to those who may need it and to prevent health incidences before they even occur. It is obvious that big data is here to stay and if it is utilized properly it can take us to excellence in professionalism and businesses that we only dreamt about. Jobs and projects will be completed without the setbacks of human error; businesses can anticipate with a level of accuracy the next steps of their prospective clients and then prepare for that exchange or experience. The transparency of data will also make it easier for businesses to work together and against each other. These are benefits that will be enjoyed if these data that is being collected is properly utilized and analysed and not lost in some departmental silos that could impede the timely use of such information before they become obsolete.
IBM. “Analytics: The Real World Use of Big Data.” University of Oxford. Oct. 2012. Web. 29 Nov. 2013. http://public.dhe.ibm.com/common/ssi/ecm/en/gbe03519usen/GBE03519USEN.PDF
Brown, Chui & Manyika. “Are you Ready for the Era of Big Data?” McKinsey Quarterly. Oct. 2011. Web. 29 Nov. 2013. http://www.mckinsey.com/insights/strategy/are_you_ready_for_the_era_of_big_data