BIG DATA CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES

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Author: Hassan Javed

What comes to your mind when we say Big Data?
For some, it’s vague image of boring statistical data which is managed by IT people. For some Big Data is an opportunity through which they can unlock data stored in archives of a system in disorganized form.

But the scope of Big Data is much broader and deeper than that. I believe using big data effectively is a science for which our industry in Pakistan is preparing to deal with. We have very few companies who are currently working on Big Data but the size is still nominal.

As per my analysis following are few major areas in which big data is currently being used at its best – but within those areas, big data can be used to take maximum out of the business.

Knowing and Targeting customers:

This is one of the biggest and most common practice being exercised in the world. With the help of machines, software and human mind companies are now using big data to understand customer behaviour and preferences. The evolution of social media, applications and digital media companies are getting live and fresh data of customers.

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Using Big-Data science now there are call centres in Pakistan which connect customer care representative to the client calling as per behaviour and personality match. Wal-mart can predict what products will sell and insurance companies can predict how their customers actually drive.

Even government election campaigns can be optimized using big data analytics. Some believe Obama’s win after the 2012 presidential election campaign was due to his team’s superior ability to use big data analytics.

Optimizing Business Processes:

This, in particular, is being exercised in field of Supply chain and Warehousing. The departments get to predict when there will be need of replenishment or new supply order. Moreover, through radio frequency and geographic positioning technology vehicles carrying goods can be tracked and routes are optimized by integrating live traffic data. Similarly, for retailers, they get to calculate the customer traffic, footfall and as per that they analyse stock base through big data.

In the field of HR management, big data is used to map out talent acquisition and determining employee engagement within an organization. For example, one company, Sociometric Solutions, put sensors into employee name badges that can detect social dynamics in the workplace. The sensors report on how employees move around the workplace, with whom they speak, and even the tone of voice they use when communicating.

One of the company’s clients, Bank of America, noticed that its top performing employees at call centres were those who took breaks together. They instituted group break policies and performance improved 23 percent

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Imaging in future if big data is used in security of your cars when you can only unlock and access your car when you as an individual is integrated into your car through your retina scan, finger print or voice recognition. Suddenly, this unlocks a whole new realm of “small data;” if big data is looking at vast quantities of information and analysing it for patterns, then small data is about looking at the data for an individual product or customer.

Banking and Trading Sector:
Big data plays a major role in banking and financial trading sector. Amongst this High-Frequency Trading (HFT) is an area where big data finds a lot of use today. Programmed computers having algorithms embedded scan different opportunities across the internet for trading opportunities. Programs can be designed in a way where human interaction is not a necessity.

In banking, number of cards swiped, transaction made determine the behavior of customers. Sentiment analysis using technology is also major area which banks have now started tapping into. Through this banks target customers with relevant products to relevant audience at a relevant time.

Improving Healthcare:
The computing power of big data analytics enables us to decode entire DNA strings in minutes and will allow us to find new cures and better understand and predict disease patterns. Just think of what happens when all the individual data from smart watches and wearable devices can be used to apply it to millions of people and their various diseases. The clinical trials of the future won’t be limited by small sample sizes but could potentially include everyone!

Apple’s health app, called ResearchKit, has effectively turned your phone into a biomedical research device. Your phone might track how many steps you take in a day, or prompt you to answer questions about how you feel after your chemo, or how your Parkinson’s disease is progressing. Researchers can now create studies through which they collect data and input from users phones to compile data for health studies. It’s hoped that making the process easier and more automatic will dramatically increase the number of participants a study can attract as well as the fidelity of the data.

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The areas outlined above represent the areas in which big data is mostly being applied in the world today. Of course, there are so many other applications of big data and there will be many new categories as the tools become more widespread. Pakistan has a lot of opportunities ahead as we see observe new product development & happening around the world based on Big Data & An. With projects like CPEC and investments in form of IT parks we can foresee that Pakistan can be one of the countries which can play role in the field of Big Data.

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