One of the most promising business tools of the future is Big Data. Ever since the birth of the internet, it kick started the process of generating massive amounts of data. This information ranges from collecting our browsing habits, what we type on the search engine, our online shopping history, what pictures we upload on Facebook and our YouTube streaming habits.
Every aspect of our lives is being monitored, you can bet that if it’s on the internet, then it has been quantified as data stored in some big corporation’s server.
All of this generates a stupendous amount of data that would tip all scales of benchmark. Think of it this way, if all of mankind’s history were collected and put in the form of data (before the 21st century) and pitted on a scale against the data that we generated just over a period of 10 years, it would tip over the balance scale. To be exact we produce more than 2.5 quintillion of bytes in a day, even the number of zeros attached to this number is beyond our processing power (there are 18 zeros to be exact).
The world termed this huge amount of information as Big Data. The advancements brought about new technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT) -which includes smart buildings, smart cars, smart televisions and even smart refrigerators- all of this has only compounded the data generated. And companies are trying to find innovative ways to generate knowledge from this monstrous amount of information, this is no simple task since it requires the use of powerful supercomputers and algorithms to sift through usable and non-usable data.
All of this does have some implications towards your privacy, but don’t get too worked up over it, the issue is much smaller in the grand scheme of things. There are a massive range of applications that can be used by companies to improve our daily lives.
By monitoring what TV series users watch, how often they watch, their favorite actors and music, Netflix has been able to generate extremely fine-tuned products based purely on what their users like and watch. Giving a completely different definition to the ‘broadcast yourself’ motto that YouTube boasted back in 2008.
One of the most promising uses of big data is in finding a cure for rare genetic diseases. Doctors cannot physically go through the hundreds of thousands of genetic mutations that each patient has in order to be able to isolate and pinpoint the trouble making bits of strands. Instead, that job can be performed by supercomputers; IBM’s supercomputer named Watson has actually accomplished this by identifying a patient’s rare case of leukemia in a couple of hours that would have otherwise taken doctors two hours.
As more data is collected and supercomputers become even more powerful doctors will be able to find out genetic troublemakers before they can progress to the stage where they could prove troublesome.
Self driving automobiles
The relentless pursuit of autonomous, self driving technology by giants such as Uber, Ford, Lyft and Waymo relies on the large amounts of big data that their customers generate on a daily basis. Self-driving trucks are already on the roads and soon our cars will take us to our destinations while we can take a nap in the back seat, not at all worried about going into any car accidents.
Self-driving tech companies are of the opinion that road accidents will be dramatically reduced. A true and tested fact, since Tesla reports that their accident rates have gone down by 40% after the introduction of autopilot. But before we get stoked about this relatively new technology, there are still ways to go before it can become mainstream.
Solve world hunger
By increasing the efficiency of crops and reducing the amount of pollutants, we can not only fight global warming but solve a much more immediate problem, global hunger. Although it requires genetic engineering for the food crops, its applications are endless.
Space landing missions
NASA’s Mars rover now has big data driven engines at their disposal, powered by the same open source technology that is being used by the likes of Netflix will be used to allow NASA to better analyze their mission protocols, such as landing and anomaly resolutions.
Predicting natural disasters
By monitoring earthquakes, hurricanes, landslides, tsunamis and other natural disasters, we will be able to predict with chilling accuracy where the next natural disaster will take place.
When technology companies extract every bit of our data, at what point do we cross the line? This issue has sparked much debate since no one is comfortable with the idea that complete strangers can access their personal lives at their own leisure. As the technology for big data grows, it will require countries around the globe to make suitable laws to prevent too much of people’s lives from leaking over into the servers of private companies in the name of big data.
Massive disruption potential
At the current growth rate of big data, it becomes clear that companies which refuse to take advantage of their customer’s shopping habits will lose out big time since their competitors will have access to much more powerful insights and produce increasingly useful products. Fox will not be able to compete with Netflix if they don’t have access to the same big data that the latter does.
Honda will not be able to compete with the likes of Ford or Waymo if they can’t pinpoint what features of their car the customer appreciates the most.
Bobby J Davidson
As the President of Percento Technologies, I provide day-to-day leadership to the company’s senior management and I am personally involved in the strategy, business development and sales activities of the company.
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