Big Data is a Big Deal

Before this week’s readings, I wasn’t really sure what “big data” was or what that term even meant. Now I think I get it and I’ve learned it’s kind of a bid deal!

As defined in The Digital Universe: Big Data, Bigger Digital Shadows, and Biggest Growth in the Far East, big data

“is a new generation of technologies and architectures, designed to economically extract value from very large volumes of a wide variety of data enabling high-velocity capture, discovery, and/or analysis.”

Big data can extract value from large untapped pools if data in the digital universe and virtually any industry can benefit from utilizing this information. Some factoids concerning bid data and the digital universe that really stood out to me include:

  • From now until 2020, the digital universe will about double every two years
  • Only about 20% of the digital universe is protected
  • Only 3% of current useful data is tagged and even less is actually analyzed

Beyond the fact that the majority of industries are missing the boat on utilizing big data, we have to consider security concerns. Currently, there is a lack of standards among e-commerce sites, take into consideration customers’ openness, the sophistication of phishers, and the tenacity of hackers, and that equates to some serious risks. There is a huge need for standardization. And while by 2020, we’ll be storing less data, our digital shadows will grow and require more protection. What do you think is the biggest risk/threat to the digital universe when it comes to big data?

As part of the 11% of the country who works in the healthcare industry, I was immediately drawn to the study involving healthcare in the United States in Big Data: The next frontier for innovation, competition, and productivity. The organization I work for is constantly trying to combat the rising cost of healthcare while providing quality, affordable, and necessary care to patients. It’s a tough challenge, but one that cannot be ignored. Again, some factoids that really grabbed my attention:

  • Utilizing big data could capture $300 billion annually in new value (wow!)
  • The U.S. spends more per person on healthcare than any other country in the world without obvious evidence of better outcomes (again, wow!)

I was glad to see that my employer seems to already be focusing on some of the main pools for utilizing big data. There is a strong push for electronic medical records (EMR), which we are already using. This helps not only to streamline care between providers but also cut down on any unnecessary procedures or testing. Cutting down on unnecessary procedures will ultimately help keep costs down for patients and for the healthcare industry as a whole. We also utilize remote patient monitoring. This is especially helpful for patients with chronic illnesses, such as congestive heart failure, diabetes, or high blood pressure or cholesterol. While a patient’s doctor’s office visits aren’t replaced by remote monitoring, healthcare providers can get daily updates on a patient’s condition, if necessary. With chronic health conditions, constant monitoring is essential in keeping patients healthy and out of the hospital. Which, in turn, is another way to keep costs down. While I was drawn to the healthcare study, which of the five domains were you most intrigued by and why?

We also learned this week, that while big data can essentially help any industry, some sectors are set to have greater gains than others. These include computer and electronic products, finance and insurance, and government. I also find it interesting that there will be a shortage of talent necessary for organizations to take the most advantage of big data. How do you think this shortage could be helped? How can we gain more IT personnel with the appropriate training and skills to help better manage industry big data?

As I mentioned earlier, a need for standardization is essential, but other issues that need to be addressed within the digital universe are privacy and security policies, structure workflows, and access to the data.

As we look toward 2020 and beyond, big data will continue to be a big deal, one that hopefully more industries will utilize. 




7 thoughts on “Big Data is a Big Deal

  1. I knew you were going to like the healthcare study! Just as I’m sure you knew I’d be intrigued by the retail study… at least we’re getting the most out of what’s important for our industries and relating BIG (capitals for emphasis) data back to our everyday life.

    I think security (or the lack there of?) is our biggest issue when it comes to the digital universe and big data. It seems there really is no guarantee that we’ll be secure enough, despite the best efforts of anyone, to have total safety with our information.

    I was also amazed by the statistic that talked about how many people are needed for IT jobs as big data is beginning to take over industries. The good news is, more and more individuals– both in school and in specialization classes and fields, seem to be taking advantage of the opportunities that are now available to them. Will all of the positions needed by 2020 be full? Doubtful. But we may be closer to being where we need to be.

    • I’m sure everyone is sick of me talking about healthcare, but like you said… anything we can relate back to our every day life is a positive. Plus, it’s always nice when my bosses are asking me what I’ve learned this week in school and how I can help move the organization forward. So far so good. Glad you are getting every day knowledge out of our assignments too!

      • Not sick at all… I’m excited to be learning about new things and about how all of our new informational learnings are applying to other industries than mine. Nerdy, I know. But that’s the fun part. 🙂

  2. Ditto about the health care portion making me think of you. It’s great that you see how your company is putting Big Data to use in its daily operation.

    Security is by far the biggest issue I see. Identity theft is already a big issue, and having personal information just floating on a cloud can only make that worse. I know I am nowhere near as careful as I should be when shopping online or accessing my bank account.

    It’s hard to believe there is going to be a shortage of people qualified to work with Big Data. But making the education neseccary for that line of work more accessible and affordable is one thing that can help.

    • Casey, I’m with you about probably not taking as much care as I should with my personal/private information. And I know many people get creeped out by the thought of Big Data and tracking all of us, but it doesn’t really bother me. I guess I just assume technology allows us to be tracked, it’s going to happen no matter what.

      I agree making education and training more affordable is key to addressing a shortage of qualified experts. Unfortunately, education is so expensive now, by 2020 we could be in big trouble. I think expense is a main reason people avoid furthering their education now.

  3. “How do you think this shortage could be helped? How can we gain more IT personnel with the appropriate training and skills to help better manage industry big data?”

    These are great questions for sure, but I don’t know if the answers are what people want to hear.

    We need to fund the mess – yes, I said mess – out of art, math and science from elementary school through college-level courses. It’ll be expensive. Really expensive. But this is an investment in the long-term of our country.

    If we don’t do this now, the U.S. is going to be so far behind the rest of world. Jobs just won’t be going overseas, they’ll just be overseas … period. We’re about to be left behind and we haven’t even really got started yet. Our technological survival depends on funding schools today to produce the engineers of tomorrow.

    • Dave, I was hoping you would weigh in on this question! And I totally agree with you. Education is key and that comes through funding the proper channels and educational opportunities. The United States is already behind in the technology sector and it’s only going to get worse. It’s hard to justify spending money, especially during down economic times, but education is the type of investment that will help save our country and keep us moving forward in a positive technologically savvy direction.

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