Understanding Big Data – Are Big Data Analytics Your Friend or Enemy?

Advertise on CloudTweaks

Understanding Big Data

The term “Big Data” is highly reminiscent of terms like “Big Pharma”, and it has a tendency to make consumers and professionals alike a bit nervous. However, whereas Big Pharma refers to large pharmaceuticals companies with market sway and seemingly countless political lobbyists, big data simply refers to the exponentially rapid growth of large data sets and the ability to analyse them.

Why People Are Afraid of Big Data Analytics

On its own, big data is neither good nor evil – it’s just data. However, the ability to collect and analyse that data without individuals’ awareness is really what frightens people. When Edward Snowden exposed the NSA’s surveillance programs of private citizens of the United States, people were awakened to the idea that their information wasn’t necessarily private. Suddenly, personal security and privacy was no longer just threatened by hackers intent on identity theft – it was a larger, more insidious problem.

hacks

Whether they viewed Snowden as a traitor or a hero for the citizens of the United States, after all of this came to light, many people were suddenly very aware of (and very frightened by) the concept of big data. They had just seen big data in use as a tool for government espionage and for the invasion of personal privacy, and they were rightfully suspicious.

We must keep in mind, however, that it’s not just data collection that makes big data threatening – it’s the ability to analyse collected information and use that information against individuals or corporations. When you break it down this way, the issue is not with big data but with big data analytics. Should corporations and governments have the ability to not only collect massive data sets but also to comb through those data sets and analyse them for patterns and trends?

Using Big Data Analytics for Good

In a word, yes. Without invading anyone’s privacy at all, the owners of Facebook fan pages (pages dedicated to businesses, artists, musicians, public figures, charities, etc.) use big data analytics every single day to track their engagement with their followers. Facebook calls its big data analytics tool “Insights”, and this allows page owners to see a lot of useful information, including how much engagement each post gets and trends in views, likes, shares, new followers, etc. over time. This allows them to adjust their social media marketing strategies to better reach their followers, fans, and customers.

This is just one example of how big data analytics can be used for marketing without collection of personal data. However, there are also cases in which collection of data on individuals can be used for the greater good, as well.

marketing-growth-hacking

For example, social workers monitoring families for signs and trends of child abuse or neglect collect data with each visit. If a social worker is reassigned to a different family or leaves their job, it’s crucial that they be able to share their previous data and analyses with the person who replaces them. In this case, we are most definitely talking about the collection and analysis of personal data, but we are not talking about an invasion of privacy, so long as the data on the family in question is kept secure.

In its simplest form, big data is nothing more than information, and big data analytics are nothing more than a tool. Neither is inherently good or evil, but they are very powerful tools to help governments, corporations, and individuals if they are used correctly and conscientiously. From social services departments using big data to protect children to corporations using it to better serve their customers, big data has a great deal of potential for good. If you are conscious of the information you make available online and in person, then you can experience the benefits of big data analytics without the paranoia-inducing aspects of it.

What do you think of big data analytics? Has this kind of information collection and analysis helped your business?

By Ronald van Loon

Article originally posted on LinkedIn Pulse.  

Ronald van Loon

Ronald has been recognized as one of the top 10 Global Big Data, IoT, Data Science, Predictive Analytics, Business Intelligence Influencer by Onalytica, Data Science Central, Klout, Dataconomy, is author for leading Big Data sites like The Economist, Datafloq and Data Science Central.

Ronald has recently joined the CloudTweaks syndication influencer program. You will now be able to read many of Ronald's syndicated articles here.

CONTRIBUTORS

The Cloud Movement - The Good and the Bad

The Cloud Movement – The Good and the Bad

The Cloud Movement Like it or not, cloud computing permeates many aspects of our lives, and it’s going to be ...
15 Cloud Data Performance Monitoring Companies

15 Cloud Data Performance Monitoring Companies

Cloud Data Performance Monitoring Companies (Updated: Originally Published Feb 9th, 2015) We have decided to put together a small list ...
WordPress Security 101 – Protecting Against Insider Threats

WordPress Security 101 – Protecting Against Insider Threats

Protecting Against Insider Threats Continued from part 1 of our 5 part Wordpress security series. A recent Breach Level Index report by ...
How B2B Ecosystems & (Big) Data Can Transform Sales and Marketing Practices

How B2B Ecosystems & (Big) Data Can Transform Sales and Marketing Practices

B2B Ecosystems & (Big) Data Managing your relationships with customers, suppliers, and partners and constantly improving their experience is a ...
10 Free Security Related Tools and Resources

10 Free Security Related Tools and Resources

Free Security Tools We have a compiled a small list of interesting free security tools and resources as part of ...
How Strategy – Not Technology – Is The Real Driver For Digital Transformation

How Strategy – Not Technology – Is The Real Driver For Digital Transformation

The Real Driver For Digital Transformation Business owners and executives today know the power of social media, mobile technology, cloud ...
Cross-Site Scripting - Why Is It A Serious Security Threat For Big Data Applications?

Cross-Site Scripting – Why Is It A Serious Security Threat For Big Data Applications?

Security Threat And Big Data Applications IBM, Amazon, Google, Yahoo, Microsoft - and the list goes on. All these leading ...
What Is Artificial Intelligence? I Can't Define It, But I Know It When I See It

What Is Artificial Intelligence? I Can’t Define It, But I Know It When I See It

What Is Artificial Intelligence? When considering how to draw the line between whether an application is AI or not, I’m ...

NEWS

CIOs Cutting Through the Hype and Delivering Real Value from Machine Learning, Survey Shows 

CIOs Cutting Through the Hype and Delivering Real Value from Machine Learning, Survey Shows 

New survey reveals progressive CIOs tap machine learning to solve everyday work problems SANTA CLARA, Calif. – October 17, 2017– A ...
Cisco Unveils Industry's First Predictive Services Powered by AI

Cisco Unveils Industry’s First Predictive Services Powered by AI

New offerings designed to manage growing technical skills gap through unique expertise, intelligence and automation SAN JOSE, CA--(Marketwired - Oct ...
New IDC Spending Guide Forecasts Nearly $120 Billion in Worldwide Spending on Security Products and Services in 2021

New IDC Spending Guide Forecasts Nearly $120 Billion in Worldwide Spending on Security Products and Services in 2021

FRAMINGHAM, Mass., October 19, 2017 – Worldwide spending on security-related hardware, software, and services is forecast to reach $119.9 billion in ...

CloudTweaks CONTRIBUTOR PROGRAM

The CloudTweaks thought leadership profile building program is free to join but requires a commitment of atleast 3 articles over a 12-month period. Articles must be vendor-neutral in nature, related to connected cloud technologies and written by an executive level business representative to be considered.

You can also contact us to hear more about our on-demand content and lead generation programs for 2018