I Love it When You Call Me Big Data

Ever heard the phrase “Big Data?” Odds are you have. If you haven’t, you probably will soon. The loosely-defined phrase, used to describe the technological gathering of MASSIVE amounts of information usually for commercial purposes, is getting tossed around pretty frequently these days. And for good reason, Big Data is the mother lode.

For advertising and marketing, a business can dig ever deeper into the psyche of their target consumer. Say you have a company that sells coffee, they can cast a huge net, gather data from all their social media posts AND neighborhood demographics and use it to their advantage. Your target likes to go get decaf pumpkin lattes with friends and chat late into the week nights with friends? You’ve got the information to back up a promotion that encourages and grows an already existing trend.

But Big Data’s not just for advertisers, there’s plenty of it to go around for everyone. Airlines can mine data on everyone of their flights and then analyze it until a customers’ actions are broken down to the sub-atomic level.  They could discern the top reasons why people take specific flights and even identify safety concerns or find potential manufacturing improvements.And in the economic sector, financial analysts and money managers will have the ability to dissect stock market performance at a previously unheard of level.

Culture and education are pretty much guaranteed to get a piece of the action too. With enough information gathered, language translation apps made possible by Big Data could greatly reduce the impetus to learn a foreign tongue, just like how word processing slowly made cursive handwriting obsolete.

Unfortunately, a tool as powerful as Big Data has to come with a warning label.  Privacy concerns will inevitably raise their heads. With executives having the ability to accrue airplane hangars worth of data on their employee habits and their effect on productivity, people are guaranteed to feel intruded upon. The issues that have surfaced from the NSA’s rampant use of Big Data are a great, if not sobering, example. Nevertheless, whatever roadblocks there are, the immense commercial potential of Big Data ensures that will continue being developed by various enterprises.

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