“I deeply believe that big data is going to have 1,000 times more impact than the Internet on our lives.”
—Rick Smolan, creator of The Human Face of Big Data project.
The privacy and security implications of a network of devices that tracks our preferences, our financial transactions, our location, and our health may seem alarming. The possibilities of using that data to glean deeper insight into human nature, however, are limitless.
“I think there are certainly lots of things that we have to be careful of, like privacy, in these oceans of data,” says Rick Smolan, former photographer for Time, Life, and National Geographic and creator of The Human Face of Big Data project and book. “I deeply believe that big data is going to have 1,000 times more impact than the Internet on our lives.”
We may be in the “caveman era of big data,” as Smolan calls it, but manufacturers and researchers are already finding myriad ways to use big data to make lives better. He provides these examples:
Machine data presents an opportunity for your organization too. The challenge is to communicate the value of machine data to your customers. For instance, utilities use smart meters to measure customers’ consumption more accurately and at more frequent intervals. This provides better visibility to customers into consumption patterns during the month. Logistics and delivery firms track traffic and weather patterns to develop more efficient delivery routes that get packages to customers’ doors more quickly.
Ultimately, as more devices connect to the Internet of Things, your organization will be able to delve into machine data and find out how to make your customers’ lives better. Big data is an opportunity, rather than a burden.
“I think someday we’ll look back at 2013 as the year that our lives and our world started to change,” says Smolan. “Big data utilization is giving us this real time feedback loop we’ve never had before. I’m hoping it’s what will enable us as a species to address some of the biggest challenges that we face going forward.”
The sanity afforded by defining data standards only once and applying them anywhere will create time to investigate innovative uses for that data.
Some question the need for a new C-level position, arguing that a company’s chief information officers should be overseeing an organization’s data.
Simply getting data is not good enough. You must get it to the right people at the right time while it is still fresh enough to be useful.
Informatica helped Fannie Mae ensure clean and correct data is collected and integrated from 100+ data sources