Harnessing Big Data to deliver value to businesses

MUSCAT: In today’s evolving technological world, we can hear the term ‘Big Data’ throughout our daily lives from different sources and yet seem unfamiliar with the concept. We may walk into a restaurant and come across a waiter who could say: “According to Big Data, our restaurant is ranked as among the Top 100 in this area!”
Big Data originates due to the usage of the computer system in our daily lives. It is basically a massive collection of bulk data generated from our day to day usage of different data generating devices.
Big Data is a term for extremely large data set that may be analysed computationally to reveal patterns, trends and associations, especially relating to human behaviour and interactions. This term was first documented in 1997 in a paper by scientists at Nasa. Big data has three main characteristics referred to as the “3 Vs” of Big Data: Volume, velocity and variety. Volume refers to the size of the data being generated. Variety means the types of data being processed. Finally, the speed with which the data is being produced and used is indicated by velocity. The more data the system gets; the more information we could benefit from.
Every organisation should make an effective and intelligent use of their corporate data. Big Data technology enables business managers to make better and more effective decisions. It creates an opportunity for businesses to generate revenues by selling data to other players within the same industry. Since Big Data technology is cheaper than traditional architecture, it has been widely applied in various industries. The banking sector has innovated new banking products and services targeting specific customer segments with the aid of big data analysis.
Similarly, the healthcare industry is benefiting from patient’s medical history data in treating similar complications of other patients. The transportation sector is also applying big data in creating intelligent transport decisions such as controlling traffic, optimizing freight movements and consolidating shipments. The education sector as well applies big data to measure teacher’s performance to ensure a good experience for students. Big Data delivers value to organisations when used wisely.
T-Mobile USA is an example of an organisation that benefited from big data analysis. They started by looking at their data to find ways to increase their revenue and minimize the cost of customers leaving them to other rivals. The company discovered that they were investing too much money on marketing and advertising, and yet losing their customers. The company soon came to know that they were missing the value out of the data of 33 million customers.
Therefore, they decided to utilize the Big Data they had and integrate it in one single view called “Quick view”, in which they were able to drive any information relevant to day to day problems or any new evolution situation in just one single click. As a result of this step, T-Mobile USA was able to decrease the churn by 50 per cent in the first quarter of 2011 and increase the number of customers, from 33 million in 2011 to 72 million in 2017.
In short, Big Data only delivers successful results if leaders are responsible enough to integrate Big Data analytics into their organisation’s core strategies. It is a major disappointment that there are Big Data projects within the Sultanate that have not yet seen light to improve our society and keep pace with other nations.
[Contributed by MBA students of Sultan Qaboos University (SQU) researching the topic of Big Data as part of their Information Systems studies]