What is Big Data?

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Generally, when using the internet, one of the first things that will become very apparent are the ads constantly flashing on the pages being surfed through. No matter what site is being used or whether or not the user has recently searched for the product being shown by the ad, this coincidence isn’t actually a coincidence at all. One thing is certain – the internet always seems to know what’s on our mind or what you were JUST talking about. At first, it seems just as strange as it would be useful but eventually you have to ask.. How does it know that? I was just mentioning to a friend that I wanted coffee and now I have the option to download a Starbucks coupon right off of Facebook. How? Or, I was telling my boss that I needed to leave early to pick up groceries on the way home before the store closes and now I’m getting ads for apps that will have my shopping done for me so I don’t have to worry. How?! It’s instances like these that really make you wonder what information you must be putting out there and how quickly it can be obtained by a company and used to convince you to shop. It’s remarkable and, sometimes, it’s worrisome.

Big data is a compilation of information used to monitor patterns in human behavior. The ability to use the information gathered from analyzing data so closely is beneficial to everyone, especially the people the information has been collected from. Much of the time, the data is being obtained for reasons other than helping to entice a customer to shop. Our book gives a small but excellent example of this. “The city of Barcelona has reduced its annual water bill by 25 percent by analyzing data from sensors installed in local parks to monitor soil moisture.” (Laudon, 2018, p. 123). The information being collected is not always retrieved by directly keeping tabs on people, but that’s where this topic gets a bad name for itself and ethics are brought into question.

The collection of big data is seen as unethical to some and uncomfortable to many. No one likes imagining that the tiny computers being carried in our pockets are a main source to be “spied on”. However, that isn’t how it’s intended to be used at all. Companies like Amazon and Walmart can cater to its customers once they’re allowed to see what their returning customers have searched for or spoken about previously. Every person has experienced this – you search one time online for those new headphones you wanted and suddenly your pages are bombarded with the nearest or cheapest location for you to purchase them. It seems a bit intrusive, but you can easily see how this benefits the company AND the customer.

Recruiting big data into a company will take time and effort but will assist the business in big ways. As Ciklum says, “For a typical Fortune 1000 company, just a 10% increase in data accessibility will result in more than $65 million additional net income.” (Ciklum, 2018). Research has shown the only 0.5 percent of all the data being collected is actually being put to use. It’s hard to fathom what businesses and law enforcement could achieve if we hacked away at that percentage a little more. IBM has mentioned that 90 percent of today’s data was only just created in the last couple years. At this rate, data collection will continue to skyrocket and remain an excellent source to bring everyone closer to their goal within the company.

While the acquiring of big data is useful for online shopping, there are definitely drawbacks in dealing with its use. Employers, law enforcement and other organizations tend to shy away from using big data calculations in their system because it sometimes adds an unwanted bias into the equation. Now, our book does mention that these groups of people are “benefiting from using predictive modeling to fight crime, select the best employees, lower insurance and credit lending risks.” (Laudon, 2018, p.123) but the uneasiness about it comes from not wanting to broad-brush everyone. The whole purpose of this movement is to get better acclimated with watching how patterns form and learning from them.

Some of the best examples of the success from compiling big data can be seen in fraud detecting and competitive sales. Banks are able to pick out and investigate unusual behavior in an account, the police department can compare call log and criminal record patterns, even department stores are able to size up their competition for the new season because of last year’s trends. The collection of big data is able to assist anyone within any kind of business, easily answering several questions along the way. What do our customers need? Who are my best employees? Is there a specific area in town where crime is on the rise? Everyone is able to benefit in some way when using big data as a magnifying glass to see deeper into the information they seek.

The best illustration of how beneficial big data can be to our world is seen when looking at department stores, in my opinion. This is simply due to the fact that a management team could learn so much about their targeted audience just by looking at the pattern of what they buy and when they buy it most. With the retail industry wanting to keep up with their potential customers at every turn, they would need to be able to target why customers may be choosing another brand, why they might shop at different stores and why they may prefer different items. Keeping the competitive advantage is key to becoming successful in any industry. For instance, if Walmart is able to keep track of what customers are buying from Amazon and see that they really seem to value convenience, Walmart would be wise to incorporate a delivery system right alongside Amazon’s (which they have). Benefits like this sometimes go unseen when the idea itself came from monitoring people’s spending. Many see it as an invasion of privacy.

Using big data to revolutionize a business is becoming a very common aspect in the business environment. Though looked down upon at first, people are starting to realize that this system is here to help make shopping easier, catch fraudulent activity and even target where a criminal may be looking to commit their next crime. With the extensive use of big data, it’s wise for any industry to practice the collection of its users data. 

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What is Big Data?. (2021, Oct 08). Retrieved June 18, 2024 , from

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