The Age of Big Data is upon us! As companies compete on a global scale, they are amassing ever more information to give themselves a strategic advantage. This deluge of data opens up enormous opportunities for firms to more effectively target customers, bid for resources, and organize their operations. But it also creates serious risks, which any organization that attempts to use Big Data must prepare for.
Many people assume that Big Data is only valuable for large companies, and thus that small firms have no need to learn about it or prepare for its risks. In fact, firms of all sizes and industries can benefit immensely from the rise of data. Thus no matter what your company does or what scale you operate on, you need to prepare for all the effects of Big Data, including:
Big Data has no shortage of benefits for businesses. By amassing data from every possible source and analyzing it effectively, firms of all sizes have the opportunity to:
- Market More Effectively– Modern marketing is entirely dependent on data. Companies need to know what customers’ preferences are, down to subtle details like what time of day they like to shop or what types of items they tend to buy in tandem. The more data that a company has, the easier it is to identify strong correlations between customers’ search and shopping habits. Firms can then target each customer with the specific marketing content they are likely to respond to, exactly at the time of day they’ll be on the Web. This dramatically raises the chance that a customer will respond positively and make a purchase.
- Develop New Products– Besides affecting the way that companies present their products, Big Data affects what products those companies offer in the first place, notably by helping them develop new items to meet existing needs. This is particularly true for health researchers and medical technology firms, which often struggle to develop drugs and equipment that can address common diseases. By gathering a cornucopia of data and interpreting it effectively, these firms and researchers can more quickly and accurately determine the causes of even the most mysterious diseases. From here, it’s just a short step to figuring out what methods can treat or cure those illnesses. As a result, medical companies can quickly bring new treatments to the market, allowing them to earn steady profits while improving public health.
- Organize Operations– If a firm wants to stay profitable for the long haul, it must regularly streamline its operations and cut unnecessary costs. But this is easier said than done, given that many sources of waste are subtle and difficult to detect. But Big Data offers the opportunity for companies to assess and improve efficiency like never before. The more data they gather on their operations and the more effectively they interpret it, the easier it is for a firm to find redundant activities, inefficient production processes, and other sources of waste. This lets them cut costs, boost profits, and stay successful.
These Big Data benefits are valuable to all companies, but they’re particularly likely to help the smallest ones. Small firms often struggle to cut costs because they can’t achieve economies of scale, and they have trouble appealing to customers without a widely-recognized brand. But with Big Data, they can identify all opportunities for savings while determining and offering exactly what it is their customers want. In this way, they may be able to compete on a level playing field with even the largest brands.
Big Data Disadvantages
As with many new developments and economic trends, the pitfalls of big data are every bit as potent as its advantages. Companies can’t just begin gathering information willy-nilly. Not only is a deluge of data not particularly useful by itself, but it can actually harm firms’ operations if they aren’t careful.
The problem is principally one of processing. Companies are gathering far more data than it has ever been possible for human beings to interpret on their own. They thus have become dependent on computers to analyze it for them. But there are limits to how well current processing technology can understand data, particularly visual images and other items that computers have always had trouble recognizing. This means human operators must still do a lot of the work of labeling data, as well as determining what specific correlations that computers should search for in it.
With so much data to sort through, human operators often feel stuck and confused. This leads to lower levels of productivity, combined with an inability to find much useful information in the data provided. Such problems are particularly serious for small companies, which have fewer employees to handle all this information. As a result, they end up losing money on Big Data and come to view it as a poor investment.
The good news is that processing technology is becoming more efficient and sophisticated each year. Of particular note are recent advances in artificial intelligence, which are allowing us to create computers that mimic the form and function of the human mind. AI applications have the ability to process much larger amounts of data than previous generations of computers. They can also understand it in more complex ways, notably by recognizing sounds and visual images in addition to words. At this rate, it won’t be long before firms can handle even the largest loads of data with ease.
Imaginea Ai is amassing the applications, data, and expertise to make artificial intelligence a reality. For more information on our efforts and all that big data can do for the world, contact us today.