Big Data, Bigger Considerations

The value is in the User’s Big Data
– Felix Filloux (2012)

Without monthly subscription fees for content, many online companies are relying on advertising; but maybe it’s time to look elsewhere. Thus far, advertising has yet to be the solution to online profit woes, and if new sources of income are not explored, the network population of quality information may dwindle.

So what about users’ information; their own profiles and contents? Could Big Data be a big money making solution?

Filloux defines Big Data as “data sets too large to be ingested and analyzed by conventional data base management tools”. The architecture of the internet enables us to see which users are visiting which sites, so is there a way to analyze this data to anticipate a user’s needs? Can we analyze online activity and target advertisements accordingly? Yes we can, and some sites, like Facebook, are already getting the ball rolling. With further innovation, software will be capable of sorting through big data sets and identifying patterns.

The real question is, how will online sites justify the trading of a user’s privacy for what they feel is a ‘great’ customized service? Filloux also makes a point of mentioning that balance is needed – if I log onto the New York Times to see a completely customized version of the newspaper, which presents me stories on shark conservation, technology, Canadian politics, it may give me an eery feeling. It may become too personal, and I may navigate elsewhere.

big data

Changing Perceptions of Big Data
– Myers (2012)

While technology plays an undeniable role in the process data collection and analysis, it is important to remember that the successful use of Big Data relies just as heavily on business requirements. In other words, where should we collect information and how should we use it? These questions of use must be asked outside of technology, and its limitations, in order to ensue that the potential benefits of Big Data are fully recognized. Once business requirements are identified, then one can survey existing platforms as well as new ones, in order to determine which technology option (which could very well be comprised of multiple platforms) is best suited for their aims.

Government Must Improve Big Data to Realize Savings
– Burn-Murdoch (2012)

Can the public sector keep up or will it miss out on Big Data opportunities? Big Data collection and analysis has proven to be an economic asset for the public sector in both the US and Australia, allowing for cost-effective detection of tax evasion and health care provision. The UK is weary of being left behind, and many are eager to embrace this culture of change. It can be challenging to determine the areas where big data should be put to use and to train staff on best practices and tools. For those who are skilled professionals in knowledge management and big data, get ready for contract offers from the public sector.

5 Ways Big Data is Changing the World
Hatmaker (2012)

  1. Data as a Deadly Weapon: leveraging mass amounts of data has become a major component for military intelligence, development, and strategy. Governments are investing in software that is better equipped to deal with the mass amounts of data being collected.
  2. Saving the Earth: massive sets of data can help us to better understand environmental shifts, and to plan for future  threats.
  3. Watching you Shop: collecting information on shoppers habits, whether it be purchases or simply how they navigate through a store, companies are better able to anticipate what we’ll buy and what we’ll want to buy tomorrow.
  4. Scientific Research in Overdrive: Modern methods of data collection are more more efficient and cost effective, paving the way for innovation and discovery.
  5. Big data, Bigger Privacy Concerns: Every time you search, every time you visit a website, this information may be recorded and solid. Collecting data on users’ online activity brings up serious privacy concerns.