“Big Data” holds a lot of fantastic promises. From a healthcare perspective, medical experts should be able to better trend, locate and even isolate new outbursts of diseases. We can even optimize how many and where to build appropriate healthcare facilities in different parts of the world.
From a business perspective, the proper usage of Big Data will allow brands to provide better, more relevant experiences for their customers. We, as consumers, are increasingly demanding for brands to interact with us in a more personalized, differentiated manner. Why do I do a majority of my online shopping on Amazon.com even if I have to pay a slight premium? I appreciate the convenient and personalized experience. The trade-off that I’m willing to make (so far) is giving up my personal information to Amazon in order to have that superior experience. At some point, however, that convenience will not be worth the invasion of my privacy if such a trend continues. Herein lies the two tremendous, yet opposing, opportunities that the maturity of Big Data will offer to businesses.
Currently, Big Data represents a promised potential that has not yet been realized. Its unstructured data is very cumbersome and while some companies are getting better at harvesting this data for effective use, the reality of proper analytics lags far behind the promise. This is the first big opportunity. Many companies are already trying to offer useful structuring of the Big Data to help brands gain competitive advantages. In my world, predictive analytics using just the social data set can be a real differentiator. In more simple terms, if by properly structuring social data a brand can predict the success or failure of a product launch and course-correct based upon that data, then at least that potential for Big Data will be validated.
The irony is that the better we get at structuring Big Data and taking analytics down to the individual level, the more there are opportunities for abuse. Therefore, the second business opportunity will be for companies to help individuals protect their privacy in the world of Big Data. While the politicians in different governments try to protect our privacy, the big lobby groups supported by the technology superpowers will make that process inefficient at best. This should allow nimble and creative companies to emerge to offer us to be less visible in our brave new world.