Home Asia-Pacific III 2015 Big Data is transforming the way we live, work and think.

Big Data is transforming the way we live, work and think.

by Administrator
Andy HinxmanIssue:Asia-Pacific III 2015
Article no.:3
Topic:Big Data is transforming the way we live, work and think.
Author:Andy Hinxman
Title:Founder & Director
Organisation:Keybridge IT
PDF size:198KB

About author

Andy Hinxman is Director and Founder of Keybridge IT, a managed IT and Internet Service Provider. He has worked within IT ever since leaving university as both an IT Manager and Application Development Analyst for over a decade, and has honed his knowledge in cloud applications and integrations for business.
He has a degree in Computer Science and a Masters in Information Systems Management. Ever since he was young he has expressed an interest in IT, and has pursued it as a hobby and career.

Article abstract

Big data is now a Global phenomenon that is growing with each country’s population. One region where we are seeing a drastic increase in internet users and data created is the Asia-Pacific region.

Full Article

In this ever changing world, it’s difficult to keep track of the latest trends in data and technology. However, big data is more than a trend; it is transforming the way we live, work and think.
What is Big Data?
Big data is a term used to describe the large quantities of data, either structured or not, that cannot be processed by traditional means like human analysis, applications or software. It is the accumulation of three main factors;
1. Volume. The amount of data has increased, due to greater input from people and a broader scale of information being converted to data, such as location or thoughts. This is also being helped by the decreased cost of data storage.

2. Velocity. Data is streaming (i.e. uploading and sharing) at an unprecedented speed around the world.

3. Variety. Data now takes different forms and formats such as images, text, video, audio, etc. Previously it was primarily text that was monitored by systems (e.g. transcribing audio to text). However the sheer variety of data now existing has meant that systems cannot keep up and so create ‘unreadable’ formats.
Some data will prove more popular than other types. There will also be peaks and increased exposure at different times. That happens with ‘trending’ images or content that can easily be shared amongst people via platforms such as social media.
Big data is changing the way we consume media and interpret stories. It gives us the ability to investigate both sides of the argument.
How has this change happened?
There are now fewer restrictions on the transfer, upload and sharing of data and files. More people are connected to the internet and mobile devices which enables them to share their thoughts, feelings and opinions very easily. This has created big data. We can now look at trends and general opinion far more effectively than before, as well as other information such as location, daily commutes and purchase history.
The impact of Big Data
Before Big Data we analysed smaller amounts of data, and used this to reflect the whole. This resulted in conclusions being inaccurate and biased. This can be compared to the time before the Microscope, when doctors reached conclusions on the causes of diseases that were not scientific, as they could not analyse bacteria and viruses microscopically.
Computers, programs and algorithms now allow us to challenge thinking. We can look at common indicators for cancer or heart disease (for example) that can help its prevention or cure.
Big data is now a Global phenomenon that is growing with each country’s population. One region where we are seeing a drastic increase in internet users and data created is the Asia-Pacific region.
In 2000 China had 22,739,300 internet users; by 2014 this had become 641,601,070. This growth in the Asia-Pacific region has contributed massively to ‘big data’ as more users post, share and join the internet age. However this comes at a cost. The Chinese government has imposed it’s restrictions on the internet, with social media sites like Twitter or Facebook either blocked or severely restricted. This shows the weight of power the Chinese believes big data has on a country. Words and terms are also blocked on popular search engines, like ‘end one-party dictatorship’. Before private users employed VPNs – virtual private networks – to get around the censorship, but the government have now cracked down on these as well. Big data can also be used by governments and companies to see what is trending, what users are thinking.
The Asia-Pacific based nations have undergone industrialisation which has resulted in a growing middle class and rise in consumerism. We have already seen this in Western nations but big data is now playing a greater role in targeting the right audiences and addressing their needs. Therefore there has been an increase in the number of data analysts and market research being carried out in the Asia-Pacific region. However, this has not reached the levels of the Western regions. In fact, the Asia-Pacific region lags, as demonstrated by a survey of 317 C-level executives (2013), where just 13% of respondents in Asia claimed their businesses had a well-defined data management strategy, compared to 21% in Europe and 23% in the US.
The amount of users and big data created from the Asia-Pacific region means that it can no longer be ignored; it is a somewhat untapped resource that will help analyse and understand trends and patterns in all aspects of society.
More choice, more conclusions, more opportunities.
With more data we can challenge convention, re-use data and evolve the way we live, work and think. The opportunities are endless. Society and businesses can now convert this data to;
• Look at consumer trends e.g. in the retail sector, what are people purchasing online and in stores?
• Monitor social media to see where and what people are talking about, evaluate popularity and measure worth
• Investigate census records or crime statistics, to look at areas where the most crime happens so we can plan to tackle this.
Artificial Intelligence
We are now creating computers and systems that think for themselves and process large quantities of data in recognition of trends and act accordingly. Self-driving cars are just the start. However how will this data-driven technology affect us in the future? Can we really rely on computers and ‘predictive algorithms’ to dominate our lifestyle?
Human development & interaction
The biggest impact big data is having is on human development, and the way we interact with each other. It has become obvious that technology is affecting the way we think and express ourselves, from posting how we feel on social media to checking your phone when you’re out with people in social settings. Every post logs where you are, and essentially ‘data-fies’ this.
Whether it is good or bad, people are better connected. They are also more aware of what is going on in their community, country and even in the world.
Learning & education
We now have search engines, such as Google, that allows us to quickly and efficiently find the answer to questions or data we need. These engines and systems are analyzing the data we provide. They use this to predict your next word in order to speed up the whole process. We are now consuming more data as we learn and educate ourselves, as well as constantly creating and updating data.
Business & work
Big data is also having an impact on the way we work, particularly with cloud related applications and storage space. Cloud technology has evolved to become secure, ensuring privacy while increasing accessibility. We can store, access and analyze more data. As a business owner, I have noticed the profound effect of big data in social media in increasing exposure to generate new business leads and partners. We can see what our clients are really saying about us or target our markets.
Big data will also transform and overtake people’s jobs. Quick analytics from computers and algorithms can easily take the jobs of white collar professionals who are currently employed to analyze this data.
The Good, bad and ugly side of Big Data
Big data is challenging our society and the way we live. It can provide a means to predict and prevent, rather than simply respond to the event once it has happened. Earthquakes, crime and terror attacks could be predicted based on algorithms and past trends. However we need to ensure we keep in contact with our human freedom, morality and unique identity. You cannot accuse someone of a crime before they have committed it just because they satisfy the criteria. Big data cannot predict everything.
Like every good thing, big data has its negative side. George Orwell’s “1985” Big Brother illustrates some of the dangers of big data. With more data available anyone, good or bad can use it for their purposes. Governments can use it to spy on their population and target others. Phones record information of where we have been and what we have said and it is no longer necessary to physically follow someone.
Big data is here to stay, whether we agree with it or not. Posting material, no matter what format, creates more data to be analyzed. The biggest thing we can learn from it is to remember we are the master, not the servant, of computers.

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