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Posted on 13 November, 2016 in Blog

What Every Consumer Should Know About Big Data

While “Big Data” may sound like nothing more than a buzzword, many companies are using it for a wide variety of online applications; for instance, to target marketing efforts to customers more effectively. But what is big data, really?

 

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Big data is the collection of information that can be gathered online, which businesses can analyze and use to find patterns, trends or associations that will help them make better decisions. But while big data can be used to enhance user experience and provide targeted ads, there are still some privacy concerns. Eight members of Forbes Technology Council offer their insights into things everyone should know about big data:

 

1. Big Data Isn’t Moral 
Data is just that — data. Just as the news interprets data, so does every application to determine how to use it. The same data that allows stores to intelligently sell you what you really want may also allow a government to infringe upon your rights. The data is just data, but how it is used determines morality. “1984″ was written before the means were known, but human nature has remained the same. – Nicholas Thompson, Grit

 

2. Aggregation Masks Private Data 
Consumers often fear big data due to privacy concerns. However, if big data is regulated and used properly through aggregation, individuals’ privacy will not be breached, and at the same time, consumers’ experience will be enhanced. I personally love it when Amazon or iTunes recommend products based on aggregated behavioral data. – Arash Asli, Yocale

 

3. Most Big Data Is There To Help You 
It might sound cliché, but 99% of the organizations using big data are doing so to align you with relevant content or experiences (and spare you from those that have nothing to do with you). The better the data and analysis, the better the experience you’re going to have with the brands and content you engage with. And it’s more likely you’ll discover new things that are also relevant to you. – Or Shani, Adgorithms

 

4. If It’s Online, It’s Discoverable 
In this day and age, it’s important to treat any data you give online as discoverable. Anything you put out there will be found no matter how many times you delete it. If it goes online, someone is archiving it. Take this into consideration before posting anything on the web and you’ll be just fine! – Danny Boice, Trustify

 

5. Privacy Is A Real Issue 
As with all data collection, privacy will be top of mind for consumers. Social networks and governments are taking consumers’ concerns around privacy seriously, rolling out new legislation and regulations. When dealing with big data, the industry needs to respect and protect privacy by design. This means designing in principles of data governance, collection, anonymization, usage and retention. – Tim Barker, DataSift

 

6. Big Data Enhances User Experience 
Consumers should realize big data has been going on for years and has contributed to enhanced online shopping experiences, such as suggested items in your Amazon account. There are many laws in place to protect privacy and they continue to get more stringent. We do not want companies restricted too much, as their user experience could suffer. – Chris Ciabarra, Revel Systems INC

 

7. Big Data Supports Our Digital Experiences 
Too many consumers believe big data is ethereal and unapproachable, but they should know that it is the enabling the phenomenon that supports every digital experience they have, whether it’s using their preferred map app or sharing their family experiences over social media. Big data underpins it all and is going to enable even more incredible experiences in the future.– Adam Wray, Basho Technologies

 

8. Machines Don’t Gossip 
The concerns consumers have over data privacy and giving companies access to their personal data may be assuaged with new artificially intelligent systems. These systems can analyze big data (without sharing it) and, at last, break the deadlock between consumers’ fears about data privacy and business’ need for more data/better personalization. – Paulo Marques, Feedzai

 

Data may be called “immortal” in some sense nowadays. Everything one has ever written or has been recorded saying is saved forever, in some obscure server somewhere on the planet. Going in and deleting data doesn’t work either. It can simply be recovered, even by a hacker with limited skills. Try pulling out of Facebook, for example. While your account will be shut down, Facebook will tell you that you are better off deactivating it so you can come back to it at some future time. It brings to mind Don Henley and Glenn Frey’s immortal line from the song Hotel California, the Eagles’ greatest hit, which says “you can check out, but you can never leave”.

 

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Data is now referred to in zetabytes (where one zetabyte is equivalent to one trillion gigabytes). Studies show that in 2006, the Internet produced about 0.16 zetabytes of data, which then grew at a compound annual rate of 25% for the next decade, going to 8.5 zetabytes at the end of last year.

 

It is important to understand that in this age of Big Data we live in it is crucial to prioritize the secure storage of private information. The less it is connected to the Internet, the safer it is – an axiom known almost by any school kid nowadays. Anything that is anyhow connected to the web is automatically unsafe and non-secure.
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