We live in a real tsunami of data and the business world has finally found a solution to take advantage of them. It is known as Big Data and consists of a number of technologies to capture, classify and analyze petabytes or exabytes of information that are generated daily from multiple sources in real-time: billing systems, sensors placed throughout the world, posts on social networks, satellites and mobile phones, among many others.
Structured and Unstructured Data
The main virtue of Big Data is processing structured and unstructured information. The first one is traditional information, such as sales figures, financial statements and financial reports, which have been the usual sources of information in the business world and for which conventional analytics is applied. But now, thanks to the disruptive technologies, the unstructured data such as human communications in social networks, call center calls, GPS information or videos published on YouTube, can be turned into useful insights to support business decision-making.
Big Data with Machine Learning
Thanks to the advanced techniques of cognitive computing (which is the term used to refer to the recent evolution of Artificial Intelligence), it is possible for a manager to make strategic decisions based not only on financial reports but also on the feelings that the clients express through social media like Facebook or Twitter.
Natural language processing has matured enough to correctly interpret a trill and turn it into a useful data for business monitoring. Any human resource would be insufficient to capture, classify and evaluate this stream of unstructured data, but powerful advanced analytics platforms can do so in seconds.
The Connected Business with Big Data
It requires less and less human interaction for this new world of connected businesses. Machines that can learn from users and improve their knowledge of a problem, has become the most relevant approach today. When Machine Learning is applied to the world of the Internet of Things (IoT), in which billions of devices connected to the internet can communicate with each other, the result is formidable.
- Transportation – Freight transportation takes advantage of traffic and road conditions to optimize routes and save fuel. In fact, many companies are now able to offer intelligent analysis solutions for transportation companies through sensors and GPS in each truck, which send the data to a central that analyzes in real-time the information and returns instant recommendations to the drivers.
- Payment – The payment methods can also benefit from this approach. For example, by setting up an application on the restaurant, now customers can pay the bill, and even divide the bills into several people in a dinner, with just a smartphone, without calling the waiter, and the whole process is all automated.
- Health Care – In the area of health care, Big Data is used in the area of oncology to support physicians in the diagnosis of a certain type of cancer. With unstructured information (e.g., consumption habits and patient’s information extracted from social networks), structured information (e.g., all existing scientific papers on this disease), and cross-referencing these data, the analysis results can provides physicians with very refined elements so that they can make more accurate diagnoses and formulate more personalized treatments.
- Customer Feeling – The main purpose of most Big Data strategies is to improve customer interaction. Loyalty programs are based on Big Data, and there are companies that opened new lines of business by analyzing data to obtain the trends of their consumers. Today, consumer acquires products and seeks different experiences. Companies need to define a strategy that impacts the customer experience, and have to identify a number of business models and value propositions to meet the aspirations of their customers.
The cognitive approach can be used in almost any environment. The popular game Pokémon Go is based on the use of this approach. The success of Pokémon Go is that they are gradually getting to know their users, using Big Data strategies and advanced analytics with information captured in real-time, enriched with comments and feelings published in social networks, taking advantage of the great value of the information and data.
The adoption of a strategy based on Big Data and advanced analytics is much more than just the acquisition of a technological package. In reality, it is a change in the corporate culture and in the way decisions are made and business plans are planned in a company.