Big Data: To whose benefit does it work?

Big Data: To whose benefit does it work?
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Have you ever wondered why some college graduates from Computer Science or Information and Communication Technology studies fail to live to their billing even when they have the tag “computer gurus’?  Am referring to failure to interpret basic ICT concepts and more so build and apply databases (Relational Database Management Systems (RDBMS)) or come up with solutions in response to societal technological-needs. Well that is a subject for discussion on another day. Today we want to unbundle, demystify and lay bare the concept of Big Data and its implication to us and how it is shaping modern day career options in departure from the traditional ICT careers on the job and technopreneurship terrain.

How does Econet Wireless harvest and process its data for its various operations, its car tracking system, the Ecocash platform, insurance, Ruzivo Digital learning and other plethora of its entities? How does central government Statistical Office work, how does the Meteorological Department harvest and interpret data? As we try to find answers to these questions it brings us to understand the phenomenon of Big Data. The commonly used definition of Big Data is, ‘Big data is high-volume, high-velocity and/or high-variety information assets that demand cost-effective, innovative forms of information processing that enable enhanced insight, decision making, and process automation’ Gartner (2012)

From the definition three things stand out, these: Volume, Velocity and Variety. While Big Data does not refer to hugeness or enormity per se. Also taken into cognisance in addition to bigness is how fast or slow we receive the data and how simple or complex it is. The type of data in its various types also determines and feeds in the Big Data concept. Big Data is also relative, one’s Big Data might not necessarily be everyone’s Big Data and also today’s Big Data might not automatically be tomorrow’s Big Data. The advancement of technology each second determines how data is managed.

Which data are we referring to apart from the above mentioned Econet example? Here are some examples of data and we can juxtaposition with our own local setup:

  1. Social Network Data: We talking of data involved in say Whatsapp, Facebook, LinkeIn, Twitter, Instagram and a whole lot more. How this data is used to capitalize on marketing and determine your circle of friends etc
  2. Text Data: emails, Facebook messenger, feeds from other sites, documents and how these are analysed and positively used.
  3. Time and Location Data: Guess we all familiar with GPS, the tracking systems, how these are used bust crime and monitoring of movement and identification of position.
  4. Web Data: Used to determine clients behavior, yes yours truly use this to account for page views, visits so as to determine which articles you our dear readers want to read about. Targeted advertising also extracts its data fro here. There are other many example of data types

The 21st Century business acumenship relies heavily on data so it is essential to delve more into this field of data mining and analytics and apply accordingly to stay relevant in this information age. There is great need to come up with mechanisms that are able to handle this not voluminous but complex and multifaceted data types. This is what distinguishes Big Data from traditional data. One of the pluses of Big Data is that it helps to determine customer behavior, industry and commerce trends trend, which then helps in marketing, operations and more importantly customer retention. Every day we stand to benefit from Big Data analytics that has eased our day to day operations in health, education, business and other socio-political strata. My parting shot is, how has local business invested and harvested from Big Data? What kind of computing and ICT careers can we horn from and with Big Data?