Sectors Being Transformed by Big Data
Never before in history has so much data been collected on so many people. Data collection has become so ubiquitous and omnipresent that it’s impossible to pinpoint every way it affects our lives. The amount of data being collected every day is far more than human beings could ever hope to contextualize, organize, or understand without the help of complex algorithms and artificial intelligence.
Companies and organizations use big data to build customer profiles, track habits, and find out what people are watching, reading, listening to, and buying. Much of our lives, especially if we spend significant time on social media, is invisibly guided and influenced by algorithms — not just in terms of advertisements, but in the content we see and engage with.
While almost every major industry has seen changes because of big data, some sectors have been dramatically altered. Here’s a look at some of the sectors that have been transformed by big data.
Data collection is nothing new to the insurance world — the industry has always relied on data to assess risk and assign rates for premiums. But thanks to big data, the amount and granularity of data being collected is greater than ever before.
Like so many areas of business, big data allows insurance companies to learn more about their customers, both in order to inform them of new services, and to learn more about their expectations. Social media in particular has given insurance companies a new way to communicate with their clients, but also gives an immediate window into their clients, the better to facilitate customer retention.
Big data has also made fraud detection much easier for insurance companies, as well as increasing the accuracy and ease of risk assessment when it comes to policyholders.
Technology has always been at the forefront of improving the state of healthcare, and big data has only accelerated that dynamic. Data analysis and data science has become a huge part of the research and development of pharmaceuticals, preventative maintenance of medical equipment and digital assets, increasing operational efficiency among healthcare staff, and improving data-driven innovation. Data collection has also become a component of reducing or eliminating errors in accounting or even fraud cases. It’s become such an integral part of the healthcare industry that the job outlook for biomedical engineering and bioengineering is set to grow dramatically over the next decade or so.
The pandemic has driven technology in education forward significantly, through Zoom classes and digital assets slowly but surely replacing classroom materials like textbooks. But big data has also taken a role in the educational landscape. Between mobile devices, home computers, blogs, and videos, students create a massive amount of data. Interpreting this data has led to the creation of Learning Management Systems, which allow instructors to base tests and classroom assignments based on automatically collected data. Big data is also being used to determine academic performance, faculty effectiveness, financial and business-related efficiency in schools, organizational outreach, and more.
Few business sectors are as dependent on data — and lots of it — than the world of marketing. Marketing has always been intensely data-driven, and the advent of the internet and the marketing explosion that came with it has only made that more evident. Data is vital to making decisions on pricing, tracking and improving customer engagement and loyalty, improving efficiency on the staffing end, and much more.
Data analysis allows marketers to get a much more sophisticated, granular view of their audiences, allowing for better engagement with customers, improving products and services, and boosting brand recognition and recall. Big data also allows for the analysis of personalized data from channels like mobile applications, the web, and email. With that data in hand, marketers can boost both their customer acquisition and retention. Financial data also plays a big part in marketing, from tracking sales and margins to marketing statistics.
The trucking industry keeps the world running, and with 133 million trucks on the road in the United States alone, keeping things running smoothly takes a lot of data. The trucking industry has adopted big data to help improve operations in a number of different ways. Collected data can be set to certain performance indicators or thresholds, and if those limits are exceeded, an alert can be issued so managers can determine whether an issue might affect an entire fleet of trucks. Data can also be analyzed to make scorecards for trucker performance. That same data can be used to compare their own performance with that of their competitors. Some trucking companies even use telematics data to mine for ways to improve customer service and other areas of the business.
Big data is not without its drawbacks — there are ongoing privacy and security concerns, as well as the technical and infrastructure challenges. But big data isn’t leaving the business world anytime soon, and the companies that choose to make the best use of it will have a clear advantage.