The Great Data Dash

As technology advances at breakneck speed, our lives are becoming increasingly digitized. From Facebook feeds to sensor data to smart devices, companies are collecting a massive pool of big data yet starving for actionable insights and information. Big Data which is set to transform society is at the foundation of all the mega trends that are happening today, from social to mobile to cloud to gaming. Most likely, you've heard a lot of the talk about the volume, variety and velocity of big data and how challenging it is to keep up with that explosion of data.

This huge pool of data comes from everywhere: sensors used to gather weather information, posts to social media sites, digital pictures and videos, purchase transaction records, and cellphone GPS signals to name a few. However for the purpose of this blog we will divide the key driving factors for contributing to this tsunami of data as: interactions, transactions, and automation.

Data generated through interactions is mostly from social media, search engines, electronic yellow pages, emails, texts, Facebook likes, user generated contents, blogs etc. Basically, this covers any data generated through communication and interpersonal interactions and a fair amount of this kind of data is unstructured.

Data generated through transactions is mostly structured data and examples of which can be invoices, travel itineraries, payments, company records etc. This kind of data can exist within organizations in ERP's, CRM's, etc. along with many other business processes and events.

Data generated through automation is mostly Internet of things (IoT), which includes smart devices, vehicles, sensors, and many other items which are embedded with software and network connectivity that collects and exchanges data. Some examples of this include GPS coordinates from a person that visits a website on their mobile phone, or RFID chips in debit / credit cards etc.

Today there is data available on how many steps customers took, how many products they compared, and what attributes they focused on, such as price, features, brand comparisons, recommendations, defects, and so on. Talking about all this data also makes us wonder about what are the vantage points for collecting, and categorizing this data.

A few we tried to put together are as follows:

Location: Our location has become an integral part of our phones, smart watches, and every other connected device we carry. New technology is learning to adapt to us and using our location data to get more and more responsive, useful and intuitive. Our smartphones ability to pinpoint our exact location and for companies to use that piece of information as an actionable insight to deliver services - a meal, a cab ride, a deal coupon - is a reason for excitement.

IoT and smart products: As products become increasingly electronic, for example: heart monitoring implants, automobiles with sensors, wearable devices etc., they collect a lot of useful data with the help of valuable technologies. The Internet of Things (IoT) may sound like a consumer fantasy come true -- who wouldn't want to be able to turn on the lights at home from a few miles away, or leave it to their refrigerator to make sure they know when milk, butter need to be replenished? But there's more to the IoT than lifestyle enhancement. It also includes a corporate side, enabling organizations to collect and analyze data from sensors on manufacturing equipment, pipelines, weather stations, smart meters, delivery trucks, and many other types of industrial machines etc.

Cookies: As consumers we love our healthy oatmeal cookies. But as a company, a service provider, an advertiser, a product seller etc., they all love web cookies to create a profile for our online activities. Data collected by cookies can be combined to make our web browsing experience better by remembering items in our online shopping carts, our log in ID's, our preferences like always showing the weather in our home town, and even recommendations for things we may like based on our search history, and much more.

Electronic touch points: All the social media sentiments about a product in question, our friends liking an item or sharing a piece of news, endorsements from our favorite celebrities, online shopping, a purchase or a payment, review of our favorite restaurant, customer feedback for an app we used to plan our travel, or deals on the websites we are prospecting to shop at etc., act as electronic touch points and data generated from these touch points are monitored and measured for more efficiently and can go on to create an unparalleled experience not only for us as consumers, but for companies to foster repeat customers, improve customer satisfaction, loyalty, and create competitive advantages to result in increased sales and revenues.

Now, there's the data dash! All this data may be structured, unstructured or semi- structured data, but organizing this data and analyzing it can allow us to learn an incredible amount about ourselves and society-at-large. With the digital age still in its infancy, we are just beginning to mine and refine the massive pool of data accumulated from our smart phones, wearable devices, internet activity, and internet of things. The practices to collect and organize data for actionable insights is getting better and better each year, and we are moving towards a future where brands, companies and governments would know what we want and need before we even know it ourselves!

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