Using Big Data To Create Value

Here are a couple of examples of how companies are using “Big Data” to your advantage in creating value.


The one with broad implications for any company is tracking how people use your website. The path they follow, how many times they frequent a page, or search more deeply for answers. For example, (again sited in “Big Data” by Viktor Mayer-Schonberger and Kenneth Cukier) Udacity, Coursea and edX leaders in online education, analysis their website for course effectiveness. If you think of a typical class there are 20 or 60 people in a room listening, taking notes and asking questions.Though you get an impression of what the students are retaining and where there are weaknesses to your approach, it is never completely known.


While with an online course, there can literally be 10,000 people taking the course. As individuals take the course they are clicking to review confusing portions of the class, completing homework, and posting and reading discussion groups around the class. All this data allowed the teacher to notice that a particular homework question was consistently wrong with the same answer. The teacher’s investigation found upon reading a given post, the students were able to get the correct answer. This led to a hint being given to check your work on this problem. Furthermore by looking over a student’s homework and site activity allowed for an accurate predictor of a student grade.


Another example discussed in “Big Data” was the reuse of data that may seem worthless after its primary purpose. Search engine queries have great value for a small and medium sized business to learn about consumer preferences. A company like Hitwise allows this to happen on a fee basis and Google Anayltics is free. Looking at these quires you can determine color trends, food preferences, and high cited words for service that you offer. 


Other company’s data may not have great value by itself, but when aggregate with another data base, becomes extremely valuable.SWIFT money transfers now are a key indicator of economic activity, and a geo-loco business showing traffic movement can set the rate for advertisement rate of billboard. 


A final example is the ReCaptcha. They have the great technology where you type in the fuzzy words to verify that you are a person not a machine entering into a website. Well Google purchased the company and provides the service for free. They now take images of words or text from books they have scanned that are unclear and use that to generate the fuzzy words. Yesterday I logged into a site, had to type in the fuzzy words and decipher a picture of a house number.(5 people have to have the same answer to ensure the answer is correct, this happens in a millisecond as some many people are using the site)Security verified, provided free service to interpret house address, increase the accuracy of some database somewhere. 


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