Big Possibilities for Big Data Analysis

Advancements in big data analysis have the potential to improve growth in every sector

By Ocean-Leigh Peters, Staff Writer

In a fast paced, technology driven world where shoppers can order everything from pizza to Porsches online, while simultaneously updating their Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram accounts with a single swipe of their smart phone, it’s no surprise that the sum of potentially useful data in the world is growing by leaps and bounds.

In fact, according to IBM, every single day human beings create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data. Such large sums of data are difficult to process due to their sheer outstanding amount and complexity, thus creating what is known as “big data.”

By 2009 it was estimated that businesses in all sectors of the US economy with 1,000 employees or more produced approximately 200 terabytes of stored data that could potentially be useful.

Now that there is an abundance of data floating around, businesses and various other corporations, and sectors can combine various data sets to extract any useful information.

Wayne Hansen, the manager of the Student Technology Center at the University of New Brunswick in Saint John explains big data as “a catch phrase which describes the notion that we can now analyze massive data sets. Basically we are capturing more data, personal, social, scientific, et cetera, and now computing power has achieved speeds that allow us to analyze this data more thoroughly.”

Hansen’s main technological interest is in the interaction between technology and culture. He is able to explore this interest through big data. For example information from smart cities, such as crime and tax rates, population, and demographics can be analysed to make general observations about that city and culture.

Big data is produced in a variety of ways. From cell phone signals and social media to purchase transactions online and in stores, data is being created and changed constantly around us. This data can then be stored for future use.

There are three important aspects of big data that make it useful in various markets, they are known as the three v’s; volume, velocity, and variety. Volume, referring to the quantity of data that is created and can be used, reaching up to terabytes and petabytes. Velocity, meaning the speed at which data is acquired and processed before it becomes irrelevant within a particular sector or in comparison to other data sets. And variety, which means the more diversity amongst the types of data sets used the better and more accurate the results and predictions.

Big data analysis has big potential in various markets. From weather and technology, to business and social media, big data holds the possibility to advance sales, productivity, and predict future outcomes of products, sales and services. The possibilities are endless.

“The premise is that with enough data most everything becomes predictable,” says Hansen. Patterns can be unveiled, routines established, and statistics brought to light.  With such predictions comes a new competitive edge in almost every sector. Big data analysis then becomes a key component in the success or failure of new business, and the creation of new ones.

Imagine being an employee at a company that designs clothing for a target consumer base of women in their late teens to early twenties. Wouldn’t it be convenient, and profitable, if you could quickly and accurately predict the potential sales for say red sequin high heels?

That’s where big data analysis comes in. If you could efficiently harness all relevant statistics, such as how many women have ordered red sequin high heels online, and how many have tweeted about them, or posted Youtube videos referring to red high heels, then you could accurately predict how well your product will do before it even hits the shelves.

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