Big Data Makes Its Broadway Debut (Sort of) and Other News

June 22, 2012 at 4:35 pm Leave a comment

By Mary Ludloff

What a week for big data in the news! Less than two to three years ago, it seemed like big data was the sole purview of “pioneer” companies and industries (like retail and financial services). Today, everyone is writing about it (follow us on @bigdatapbi for the news we come across) and we’ve gone from industry- or research-related “stories” to mainstream press reporting from outlets like the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and Forbes. But you really know you’ve made it when you’ve taken your metaphorical bow on Broadway.

Full disclosure: I am a theater maven. Love Broadway, love the theater, love going to New York City to see shows. So imagine my early morning pre-coffee surprise when I saw this headline in the Wall Street Journal: Big Data Hits Broadway. Somebody wrote and produced a play about big data? How could I not know about this? Who’s in the cast? Well… not quite! However, the slogan “Conquer Big Data” is on a sign gracing Times Square. As editor Michael Hickins points out in the article:

“As you can see from these roadside signs – one above Broadway in New York’s Times Square district, the other on Highway 101 between San Jose and Redwood City – Big Data has gone from bleeding edge to the edge of the highway.”

Signs on the highway aside, there is still tremendous work to be done within the big data space (I say this as a very tired card carrying member of the industry—actually, the whole PatternBuilders team is a bit tired right now due to a tremendous development effort that Terence will be blogging about next week), there are more challenges ahead, as well as great examples of the impact big data initiatives can have on companies and organizations of all sizes, or as Hickins puts it later in the same article:

“So chances are, if you’re experimenting with Big Data, your biggest competitors are doing so as well. But Big Data isn’t as much a technology as it is an adjunct to a business strategy. It’s used differently for different business purposes; at eBay, Big Data is used to identify potential fraud, according to its CTO Mark Carges; at Gilt Groupe and Sears, it’s used to improve product recommendations – and even there, the two retailers have very different implementations. Banks are using Big Data for real-time pricing and risk assessment, allowing them to approve overdrafts or home equity loans instantaneously. In all likelihood, Big Data won’t be a competitive differentiator; your ability to find creative ways of using it will be.”

Big data and business strategy go hand-in-hand as illustrated by:

  • Ford opening its big data Silicon Valley lab to look at “… how technologies like big data can leverage technologies embedded in cars to make better business decisions, from marketing campaigns to vehicle safety features.”
  • The Commonwealth of Massachusetts and MIT’s joint initiative to tackle “… big data research in an effort to add jobs and increase innovation in the state.”
  • Eliza Corporation’s mining its more than 700 million interactions with health care consumers to better understand how to help Americans make healthier choices.
  • WealthEngine’s analysis of 5 billion pieces of data to “… sniff out the rich” so that nonprofits, financial service providers, and luxury brands can market to them.
  • How big data is “used” to perform virtual autopsies. This is one of the most fascinating applications of big data technology that I’ve come across and well worth watching the entire 17-minute video!

Of course, there are also challenges ahead, particularly with regards to the protection of our personal information (can we all say LinkedIn?) as well as the privacy of that information. One of our most frequently asked questions is this: how should I (the company) think about privacy when it comes to personal data collection and use? As with most complicated issues, the answer is dependent upon a number of variables that are pretty much unique to each company. That being said, an article in CIO that features a recent Pitney Bowes survey captures the essence of how you should look at privacy:

“Successful marketers must recognize appropriately requesting data and applying it to make customers feel valued is a balancing act. Inappropriately requesting too much information or applying information in ways not connected to your message can give consumers an uneasy feeling about your brand. To attain maximum return on investment in multi-channel communications, it is critical … to establish a barometer of consumer willingness, and unwillingness, to share personal information. Based on the results of the survey … Pitney Bowes has divided consumer data into four categories: transactional, physical, secure and intimate. “

By segmenting data into these four types (go to the article for full descriptions and stats), you can get a pretty good understanding of what your customer is willing to share which is a fundamental building block to privacy and data security policies and processes.

Yes, big data is officially “all over” the news. Today, instead of explaining what exactly big data is and why you should care the PatternBuilders team finds itself engaging with companies seeking to leverage their big data to meet strategic business goals. If you’re one of those companies, we’d like to show you how we can help! And coming soon: upcoming posts on what we’ve been busy developing as we pursue our mission of making big data analytics a reality for organizations and businesses of any size.

Entry filed under: big data, General Analytics. Tags: , , , , .

Big Data Hype, Supernovas, McKinsey’s Latest Survey, and AIIM’s Digital Landfill Dive Privacy and Big Data: An Update is in the Works and We Want Your Input!

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