The Big Data Boom

With one of the top spots retained for the request of Facebook personal data per capita by the Maltese government, it is becoming more evident that Malta is adjusting to the big data revolution. We no longer can keep much of our lives personal. With every supermarket transaction, Facebook and Twitter login and discount card usage, our personal data, buying habits, posts, photos, likes and chats, we reveal our lives to help companies and governments, achieve the two Ms: Monitoring and Monetization.

Businesses and institutions, have become deeply focused on big data to drive profits on customer insights. The more data, that data scientists and statisticians can take up, the more precise the forecasts over specific algorithms will be. Such forecasts, can communicate something of value and potential. Hence, client data is an asset to any company. Nowadays, more companies are realizing that they cannot continue being competitive if they cannot put good data to use. Whereas before, analytics was run under the business intelligence branch, focusing on reporting, it is ever more important to concentrate on a more personalized service and product. To this end, asset surveillance is of utmost importance and the process of managing such assets to maintain client privacy is audited thoroughly. There is currently no big data code of ethics, though, there are controls over who can access the data and how they can use such data. Privacy regulations should not only be put in place at the national level, but also at the industry level. The main challenge faced is that online data, comes in so quickly that in some cases, there may be a lag between when data comes in and when such regulations are put into place.

With the constant advancement on the big data front, comes an every changing range of different technologies, which enable the storage, manipulation and forecasting of big data. Although such technology is still in its initial stages with the utilization to its full potential in Malta, we have a number of international companies, employing these technologies, with the help of more data scientists. Getting into the big data game is not as easy as it may seem.

Many companies fail to recognize that the collection of large quantities of data alone, is not the answer. The reality is that proper collection of such data and sieving through it, can reap more benefits. Companies and firms that are looking into the monetization on Big Data, should look beyond the simple data and more into the economic questions that can be answered with such data. Often times, data can help answer very specific questions, pertaining to the particular business about the risk, future and current value, risk of a specific asset or product. Data will provide information about the market and how customers behave in general. Such information is of extreme importance to market participants. Companies should start with understanding the business challenge and gather the information, specifically in relation to this challenge, as it is more likely to provide the most valuable insight. Investment in technologies and the skills to use them, such as predictive analytics, smart data discovery solutions and advanced natural-language generation, will help attain the true value from the data the company has.

Such companies, looking at getting into the big data company, should therefore have to their availability, large quantities of readily available data and information, access to advanced analytical tools, such as Hadoop and NoSQL and the human workforce capable of putting these tools to work. Big data is not just to be considered as another technology fad, as this won’t help anyone get the most out of such data, but rather, this has to be embedded into every department, where the employees, can understand the significance of data at hand to the whole company. It is a way forward, to understand that, should data, information and insights be shared, these can help recognize synergies between different departments and help scale up the benefits that analytics and forecasting can provide. The Big Data boom has effected all of us, sometimes, without even realizing. It’s an exciting revolution and one which we shall hear more about in the years to come. It can easily be considered as the current future.

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