Big data consists of immense pools of information that can be analyzed to unlock patterns---all for the purpose of making better decisions. This data is the basis for growth and competition for companies. On a macro scale, it can enhance and create value for the world economy. The direct result is that the quality of services and products will increase. Until recently, the immense volume of data flooding the world excited a select few. Now however, big data is now at an inflection point where it is economically relevant for government agencies, business and consumers to mine this data for insights. The reality of big data is very similar to former IT investment trends as well as innovation and its apparent impact on productivity. In short, those who supply big data are expected to have as much impact on productivity as those who supply other kinds of technology. Additionally, these companies must make sure their employees complete comprehensive big data training to prevent the mishandling of highly sensitive information.
Big Data Can Drive Competitiveness
Companies will need to consider big data's value if they want to compete and win in the marketplace. Some companies see an increase by as much as 60 percent in operating margins by harnessing big data. Leading companies will use this technology to stay in the lead, capture new customers and innovate through their use of data-drive strategies.
Big data is now a major source of information in such industries as healthcare, where health outcomes of prescribed pharmaceuticals can be analyzed. Analyzing outcomes allows for the discovery of benefits and risks that may not have been evident during limited clinical trials.
Toy manufacturers can even use big data through censors embedded in children's toys that determine how toys are used in the real world. Such information and knowledge can spark the creation of new products designs and new service offerings.
Big Data Will Create New Companies
Along with existing companies, big data will also create entirely new categories of companies that collect and analyze industry data. Forward thinking leaders in companies will be the first to utilize this data to build their company's capabilities.
No longer must companies forecast. With big data, they can "nowcast" such metrics as consumer confidence. Nowcasting adds tremendous power to predict and test theories in real-time. Companies can act now, rather than later.
Big Data Provides the Following Benefits
1. Information will become far more transparent. There is still a huge amount of information that is not being tapped and analyzed. Examples include information on paper that is not easily accessed or searchable through present networks. Much of the effort in knowledge worker groups is spent searching for data and then transferring that data to another location. There is a huge waste of time and efficiency.
2. Transactional data, in digital form, can be immediately collected from sales information and product inventories to employee sick days. Variability is exposed, and performance can be enhanced through better management decisions.
3. Big data allows products and services to be tailored to an ever-narrower segmentation of customers. Decision making improves; risks minimized and valuable insights discovered that would have remained hidden.
4. Big data will create billions in annual savings. Sectors like healthcare can use big data to drive efficiency and quality. Fraud and error can be greatly reduced. There is an infinite amount of potential gained from combining separate pools of information. Organizations that have no history of sharing information, such as that that house patient and clinical records, would need to get on board.
Big data also has use for consumers as well. For instance, with big data, patients would have broader and clearer access to health care information which can only make them more informed about their condition and choices. Patients could compare healthcare costs, treatments and the skills of physicians. Patients may even one day be able to choose medicines that better-suit their genetic makeup.
The downside for patients may be that they will have to relinquish some of their privacy benefits. Big data is here, and it is here to stay. What remains is how companies and consumers will use it to make better-informed decisions.