Big data is the next natural resource, to be mined as we mine coal, gas or oil. Information fuels the new business economy. Here are five traditional businesses that currently benefit from mining big data.
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Giant retail chains, such as Macy’s and Kohl’s, can now pinpoint their customers’ preferences and buying habits. It starts at the cash register. By tracking point-of-sale information, department stores can establish profiles for its customers. Shoppers’ social media habits provide further information on what they buy, what they share — even where they go, since data from mobile devices includes location. More and more, retail outlets can individualize the shopping experience.
Analyzing big data gives financial services firms an advantage in a competitive and tumultuous industry. Banks sift through big data collected from daily transactions, market feeds, customer service records and mobile devices to plot new business models and better target their customers’ needs.
Healthcare is being revolutionized by big data. On a global scale, medical intervention is reaching remote areas without hospitals but with cell phone service. Patient records can be stored in the cloud, and protocols can be conveyed to health workers in the field from central locations. The spread of epidemics can be mapped by analyzing data from mobile devices. On a personal scale, it’s now possible for an individual to track his or her own vital signs, medications and medical records through a mobile device.
The art of marketing has always consisted of finding out what people want and selling it to them. Great marketers in the past have had flashes of insight. Filtered cigarettes were unpopular with men until the Marlboro Man came along. Trends and focus groups have given way to computer simulations, which test new products on a hypothetical market mapped by big data. The art of marketing has become a science.
Data scientists are now working with schools to help children learn better. In a climate of performance expectations and testing, big data is available to evaluate what works and what doesn’t in helping students succeed. As more and more schools make computers and tablets available in the classroom, wider data pools can be analyzed to develop and improve educational apps and programs.
In a world that is more and more connected by electronic devices, traditional businesses find new resources available to them. Big data can help businesses track individual customers in a very precise manner and predict wider trends.
Even your local vet is benefiting from the advances in data management and analysis. Software for veterinary practices is now being developed that uses the same tools as human healthcare big data to predict and identify epidemics. This software can also be used to track and store logs of vitals on animals that a vet is monitoring to track progress and identify healthy and unhealthy patterns. Unlike humans, that can describe their symptoms, animals are often incapable of expressing how they are hurting. Big Data can be used to synchronize fluctuations in heart rate and blood pressure that could identify and localize areas that are in pain.
As storage becomes cheaper, and information management programs become more powerful and sophisticated, Big Data has the potential to transform these and other industries, revolutionizing the level on insight and detail we can use.
By Marlena Stoddard