Four technologies you didn't know used big data

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Date: 21 October 2021

Big data concept

With the use of big data on the rise, more and more industries are making use of it to gain valuable information. Sometimes, big data is used purely for the purposes of gaining insights into a specific field of expertise. But more often it is used by marketing teams to gain insights about their clients and increase their profits at a fraction of the cost of traditional market research methodologies. 

As the technology itself gains popularity and is constantly improved, industries and companies you might never have guessed are utilising big data and are reaping the rewards it offers.

Wherever you go, there's a good chance the service or product you're using is gathering data about you, adding the information on your behaviour to its collection in order to create a more detailed profile of its customer base.

So, how widespread is this phenomenon? Extremely - which also makes big data security management a prominent issue!

We share four unexpected uses of big data.

What is big data?

If you're not yet familiar with the concept of big data, you should take a minute to familiarise yourself with it. After all, with the growing influence it is having on a whole host of industries, it's definitely worth knowing a thing or two about big data.

Big data is a field that deals with such insane amounts of data that it can't be easily processed by conventional means. Sounds simple, so why is it so important?

Modern technology gathers information about its users to an almost disturbing degree. However, the sheer volume of data collected makes it extremely hard to comb through. Companies try to make sense of the data using advanced data analytics methods, fuelling predictive analytics and user behaviour analytics. Have you ever wondered how the ads that are presented to you on your social media profiles or when surfing the net are so eerily relevant to your personal interests? That is big data at work.

Algorithms have analysed your online behaviour. What you search for, which sites you visit, what you buy and when. They then present you with a tailored selection of ads based on the insights it has gathered about your personal interests and preferences.

Now that you know a bit about big data, let's move on to some of the lesser known uses of it that might shock you!

The beer industry

Yes, that's right! Companies might be gathering data about you even as you're enjoying a few beers in your local pub. As you and your friends are drinking, data is being gathered on what type of beer you're drinking, how much of it you are drinking, as well as your favourite brands. It also notices at what time you start drinking and at what time you finish.

This data is fed back to the pub chain so that they know what type of beer to serve. It also allows them to manage stock and staffing levels, to understand which advertising and promotions work most effectively and how they can maximize their profits.

And this is not new news. This technology has been available for more than five years and its use is widespread. If your favourite pub chain sends you an appealing offer for your favourite beer just as you are about to head out, the chances are they are using big data to customise and target their market.

Wildlife preservation

Big data isn't only used for optimising business income. There are initiatives that make use of big data analysis to help preserve wildlife and to save endangered animals from extinction. Using an abundance of remote cameras and other data capturing devices, researchers are able to chart the migration paths of animals, monitor population numbers and better understand their behaviour in general. And, because this work is done remotely, the animals are not disturbed in their natural environments.

Ticket prices

Need to book plane, train, or coach tickets? Heard that your favourite band are playing at your local venue? Have you noticed how the tickets suddenly increase in price if you don't book them when you first search for availability?

If you're wondering why the ticket price suddenly jumps up, big data could be to blame. A multitude of companies from travel firms and flight aggregators to theatres and entertainment companies use big data to dynamically change ticket prices based on demand and availability in order to maximise their revenue.

Preventing deforestation

One of the lesser known, yet admirable, uses of big data is the case of Global Forest Watch. The organisation makes use of big data to track and predict illegal logging. They this data to alert the appropriate authorities in order to prevent deforestation and further degradation of the world climate.

In a similar way, fire services use big data to improve their response time when tackling wildfires - which have been getting more widespread and frequent over the past decade.

Conclusion

As you can see, big data isn't just about making more money. It can also make our lives better. By spotting patterns hidden in the masses of data gathered, big data can help us get a better understanding of human behaviour and the world that surrounds us - which, ultimately, is what progress is all about.

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