You might not know the term “big data” yet, but if you’ve never encountered it before, it is high time you learned a bit about it. Big data interests many companies, and lots of them make critical decisions based on it.
We’ll cover some basics in the following article. We’ll also talk about some ways that big data can shape your life.
What Exactly is It?
Big data is a field in which some individuals and companies specialize. Basically, big data is huge data sets that are too large and complex for the human mind to easily comprehend or quantify. That’s why companies create computers and algorithms that can collect, interpret, and store them.
Computers can collect data they use to create these enormous data sets in many different ways. For instance, they might use apps to collect data. A central computer might compile a massive data set by keeping track of hotel mobile check-in figures from an app that a company controls.
There are hundreds of traditional data-processing application software suites. Most of these are simply not robust enough to handle data on the scale we’re describing. That’s why companies that collect and manage big data are separate and different from ones that use data in a more normal way.
Why Do Companies Collect Data?
At this point, you may wonder why companies collect data in the first place. Why is it worth their while, and why is it valuable to them?
There is really no single or simple answer to that question. Smaller companies that collect data might do so for marketing purposes.
For instance, they might need to know how many individuals are buying a particular product they just put out, so they can determine how much market penetration they are getting. Based on the knowledge they collect and analyze, they can adjust their marketing strategies, so they get better sales results next product launch.
However, big data companies often have different motives. They might collect big data that political campaigns use.
For example, a politician who is about to launch a presidential bid might put together an exploratory team to work for them. Part of what that team might do is reach out to a big data company to learn about different demographic voting habits.
Big Data in Action
Big data collection companies often charge top dollar to share their results with individuals or companies that want to utilize them for various purposes. These data collection centers can help companies create new products, services, or experiences.
It’s remarkable how accurate some of these companies can be in predicting human behavior based on the raw data they collect. By using analytics, they can figure out where a company’s best customers are likely to reside.
They can also create extremely complex and detailed customer profiles, taking into account things like income level, ethnicity, political party affiliation, and so forth.
How Big Data Shapes Your Life
As an ordinary citizen, you might wonder why any of this should matter to you. The answer is that many of the experiences you have only take place because big data companies have sold your data to interested parties.
You have almost no way to completely avoid big data companies, or smaller companies, for that matter, from collecting vital statistics of which you are a part. Big data companies, and also smaller, less intimidating companies, are always compiling a profile on you based on the decisions you make.
For instance, when you buy a car, the car lot from which you purchased it keeps track of what model you bought. When you buy Amazon products, Amazon keeps track of what you ordered. Next time you go online, you’ll see suggested products in your feed that the algorithm thinks you’ll like based on what you bought in the past.
Smaller companies collect data about you for marketing purposes and so forth. Big data companies, though, seem considerably more ominous.
They can look at larger behavioral patterns to predict with stunning accuracy what vast population swaths will do in various situations. Big data uses AI to predict what groups of people will do, and it’s not necessarily the most pleasant thought when you realize how predictable you are.
In a sense, you might feel like the big data companies and what they do violates your privacy. However, there’s nothing illegal about compiling big data. These companies make plenty of profit simply by doing what they do.