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3 Unusual Uses of Big Data

Friday, July 4th, 2014 by

When we think of Big Data, we tend to think big picture – massive amounts of information that is used to accomplish any goal a business or individual may have and that is quickly revolutionizing how we get things done. Although this impression may be true, it doesn’t place enough focus on those who are innovating within the field. Here are three organizations that demonstrate the fascinating range of Big Data technology and its results.

Three companies that are using big data to forward their industries.

Three companies that are using Big Data to advance their industries.

Pricing outdoor marketing
Route, an outdoor media analytics company, has thrown itself fully into Big Data in an attempt to revolutionize and question the standards for pricing advertising using conventional tools like billboards, bench ads, and the sides of transportation vehicles. In previous years, owners of these spaces have charged companies “per impression,” or for every time a viewer sees the advertisement, although there has never been a way to strictly quantify these impressions. Using cloud infrastructure, Route hopes to change that result by gathering live analytics to measure how high the impression rate actually is.

E-consultancy writer Ben Davis described how the company went about the study: “360,000 frames (bits of ad space) are analyzed, both their visibility, with eye tracking studies, and the audience size and demographic that come into contact with the ads,” he explained. “28,000 people were interviewed and then tracked across the U.K. by GPS. Part of this involves traffic studies, too.” This level of precision will allow Route to use Big Data to its advantage to justify pricing.

More accurate, collaborative weather forecasting
Collecting as much information as possible to develop a product has always been the name of the game in weather forecasting, but never before has cloud server hosting technology made it possible to crowd-source this data. An application called WeatherSignal launched in 2013 for Android gives its users the opportunity to collect atmospheric data with sensors that were already installed in their devices, according to an enthusiastic article in Scientific American. Though many of the readings are gathered from phones with varying degrees of sensor capability, the application’s relatively spot-on forecasts are a great example of how the Big Data model operates using mass amounts of “dirty data” as opposed to fewer reads of the atmosphere with more advanced equipment. With users offering their devices as a free forecasting tool, it’s a difficult source of information to resist.

Optimizing personal data and lifestyles
Advocates of Big Data in the office will be happy to learn they can take it home with them by making use of a number of devices aimed at optimizing a person’s daily routine. An excellent example is the UP wristband by Jawbone, which tracks daily activity to help users build a more structured, healthy lifestyle. The wristband collects data while its wearer walks, sleeps, and eats, and then integrates with a complimentary application that synthesizes the information to provide a concise report on the actions taken throughout each day. Bernard Marr, a Big Data analytics specialist, publicized some of the fascinating features of the device in a piece on LinkedIn.

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Big Data Changes How Diseases are Diagnosed

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014 by

It’s no secret that Big Data is in the process of revolutionizing how we view the world or that it has already transformed a number of industries in the past handful of years. One of the most fascinating areas of development is the health sector, which uses the technology to better diagnose and locate potential risks within patients through analyzing their medical history and symptoms to prevent a problem before it manifests itself. According to recent studies, research is now more critical than ever in nailing down a medical complication.

It's a truth of the contemporary health insurance industry that cutting down costs can be just as important as a patient's health - fortunately, big data offers the ability to improve both using analytic research processes.

Cutting costs can be just as important as a patient’s health – luckily, Big Data can potentially improve both using analytic research processes.

Insurers benefit from locating health risks before they occur
A recent piece in Information Week by Alison Diana explained how Big Data research has helped medical professionals identify a very specific condition using past records and symptoms as their guide.

“While organizations have used a lot of Big Data projects to discern trends, a study conducted by Aetna and GNS Healthcare analyzed data from almost 37,000 members of an Aetna employer customer who opted in for screening of metabolic syndrome – which can lead to chronic heart disease, stroke, and diabetes,” Diana expanded. “GNS analyzed information such as medical claims records, demographics, pharmacy claims, lab tests, and biometric screening results from a two-year period.”

Achieving this impressive result required a mass amount of information from cloud computing servers to narrow results down to a specific patient, something that wouldn’t have been possible to do before the emergence of Big Data technology. Because the risk for metabolic syndrome can now be identified far more quickly than in the past, health insurance providers are taking advantage of Big Data to restructure their systems to save money and reduce complications on behalf of their customers. Research indicated that the condition is 90 percent less likely to affect people if patients have secured primary health care providers and attend regular checkups – by extension, it behooves major providers to tailor their services to whichever processes keep expenses low. Diana spoke with Adam Scott, managing director of Aetna Innovation Labs, about how cloud computing will change the way health insurance is dispersed.

“If we can use information that we have on hand to understand more about disease and risk and provide that information to both our membership and those providers that care for those members, we can drive toward better value, delivered toward better outcomes,” Scott said.

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Focus on Big Data at Big Telecom Event in Chicago

Friday, June 27th, 2014 by

The Big Telecom Event is an annual summit held by industry publication Light Reading that gathers some of the most important figures in the industry together to discuss progress, problems, and what’s on the horizon as technology continues to develop at a rapid pace. This year’s conference, held at the Sheraton Towers in downtown Chicago, didn’t neglect the massive popularity of Big Data and its emerging uses, which was the main topic of discussion for the panel “The Customer-Driven Telco: Real-Time Analytics, Big Data & CEM.”

The talk was moderated by Heavy Reading Senior Analyst Ari Banerjee and included the following panelists: Adan Pope, the CTO of Business Unit Support Solutions at Ericsson; Amy Millard, the Vice President of Marketing for Support.com; Sid Harshavat, Security Architect for Symantec; and Kevin McGinnis, the Vice President of Development and Operations for Pinsight Media at Sprint.

Focus on cloud infrastructure and organization
Much of what the panel discussed was about using Big Data to its fullest potential – that is, organizing a cloud server and all its data to best serve the customer and the speed at which information can be delivered. Pope suggested that horizontal organization could be a major solution for companies looking to increase accessibility to data for the employees using it because a system with fewer middle levels won’t garble information unnecessarily.

Miller thought another effective way to use the cloud computing technology to its fullest potential was to put a higher emphasis on developing analytics to make sense of large amounts of research-based data much faster to best service a client.

“Organizationally, bringing analytics teams in earlier during development [would be useful],” she commented.

However, Big Data won’t organize itself based on a company’s whim – those involved in the management of data must decide what type of organizational structure makes sense for the needs of its staff before it can be created and used as a cloud infrastructure. CloudTweaks writer Syed Raza commented on the importance of a logical structure for an organization in a recent article.

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Big Data and the Next Generation

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014 by

If the past few years of massive growth in Big Data are any indication, the next generation will be entrenched in the technology as more business sectors become aware of the marketing and research benefits that can be gained at a low cost. According to a recent New York Times piece by Stuart Elliot, cloud computing is already changing the future of millennials globally – companies have already begun to use Big Data to inform their shopping habits, major interests, and calculate exactly what their future looks like.

If the past few years of massive growth in big data are any indication, the next generation will be entrenched in the technology as more and more business sectors become aware of the marketing and research benefits that can be gained at a low rate.

If the past few years of massive growth in Big Data are any indication, the next generation will be entrenched in the technology as more business sectors become aware of the marketing and research benefits that can be gained at a low cost.

Emerging uses of Big Data for market research
To present a powerful example of an effort to identify and make use of the spending habits of the oft-lambasted millennial generation, Elliot reported on the merger between two Los Angeles marketing companies – the Intelligence Group, part of the Creative Artists Agency that scouts talent, and Noise, a firm that primarily targets the young adult demographic. It’s a marriage made in Big Data heaven if the two combine their cloud hosting data in an effective manner, and a well-organized infrastructure can pave the way for a methodical system that can predict trends in youth culture before they occur.

Elliot also spoke of a youth research unit in Kansas City, Missouri, called Barkley that is using Big Data to make a profit by establishing advertising consultancy FutureCast. As these mergers and transitions persist, it’s clear that more can be obtained from a hosting cloud ​than mere storage.

“I’m a great believer in focus, specific targets and specific demographics,” John Bernbach, president of Engine USA, told Elliot. He admitted that most marketing companies will “do whatever it takes to reach” this youth audience due to the disposable income often provided by parents as well as the long-term potential young customers represent.

Targeting consumption trends for the next generation
Moving into Big Data now will likely pay off for these firms in major ways in the years to come, if industry growth continues at the same rate. Insurance News Net wrote about a study projecting the fiscal growth of cloud computing technology in the next 6 years. Annual income of the technology will rise 17 percent by the end of the decade. This is a large increase in an already lucrative corner of the cloud industry (2014 sales projections hover around $30 billion), making the use of Big Data an almost mandatory investment for marketing firms that hope to compete.

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How Big Data Changes the Way We Relate

Wednesday, June 18th, 2014 by

Big Data is already changing the way research is done – from weather reports to highly progressive cancer research, most businesses stand to gain from the cloud web hosting phenomenon that major powers are adopting every day. Although the concept of Big Data is still relatively new, the technology has made a major difference not only in how data is collected and processed, but also in how the people using it relate to each other. Need proof? Look no further than the most social corners of the Internet for ample evidence.

It goes without saying that big data is already changing the way research is done today - from the weather reports to highly progressive cancer research, there's few businesses that can't stand to gain a lot from the cloud web hosting phenomenon that more and more major powers are latching onto all the time.

Big Data is already changing the way research is done – from weather reports to highly progressive cancer research, most businesses stand to gain from the cloud web hosting phenomenon that major players continue to adopt every day.

Let the cloud infrastructure find your next star candidate
These days, it’s rare to apply to a job without some type of web component being involved in the material submission process – whether a staff recruiter is scouring services that thrive on cloud hosting sites like LinkedIn or Monster or simply emailing to find the best candidate, the search for the perfect employee has definitely gone digital. This is good news for anyone looking for a new gig who doesn’t want to spend the cash to travel to follow employment leads to various locales, but it also creates a greater need to ensure their web presence is not only strong, but easily found and searched by scouts. Mashable writer James O’Brien wrote a piece on this evolving search process and shared some valuable insights with Ali Benham, the cofounder of popular recruiting firm Riviera Partners.

“Big Data is the future of recruiting, but you can’t just data mine your way to the right candidate,” Benham explained. “You need the right tools, the right combination of external and internal variables and – most importantly – the right people who know how to analyze all of it.”

O’Brien goes on to explain what variables are most important when looking for a new addition to the staff during a web-based search – mainly a quality check in the company’s Human Resources department to follow up on the incredible results Big Data has delivered already. For example, major companies like Xerox have been reaping the rewards of this approach.

“In a single six-month trial period, Xerox was so impressed by the outcome that it decided to keep using Big Data to hire new employees for the center going forward,” O’Brien shared.

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