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4 Unexpected Uses for Big Data

December 8, 2016  |  Written by Rich Fletcher, Director of Major Accounts

Data is all around us. Big data is used every day by private and government entities to measure patterns and predict trends and in day-to-day life. Similarly, you use the “small data” that you gather from your interactions and observations to make similar predictions and navigate the world.

The ways big data analytics benefit retailers are many. Retailers can use collected data to analyze how and when customers make purchases and which items they buy together, which allows them to tailor their advertising methods and store layouts to better fit with these trends. But not all big data uses are this obvious.

1. Big data analytics play a role in writing movie scripts and casting films. By analyzing data collected from social media, file downloads, and streaming services like Netflix, Hollywood can determine the kinds of stories viewers like best and the right actors for them. If you've felt like recent movies and shows have felt more formulaic than older ones, you're not crazy – studios use the data they gather to make safer investments in the content they create.

2. Another use of data analytics that companies have latched onto in recent years is the trend of gamification. Gamification is the incorporation of video game elements like point scoring and goal journals in non-game applications. It's used to guide user behavior and reward desirable actions. One of the oldest examples of gamification is frequent flyer programs, which airlines use to reward their regularly-returning customers. But to build a gamified app or loyalty program, companies need to know users' goals and typical behaviors. That's where big data analytics come into play.

3. When data is printed in 3D, it becomes tangible and for many, easier to understand. Using big data to drive road and infrastructure development is nothing new, but printing out this data in three-dimensional graphs is giving city planners a new way to conceptualize what's going on in their cities and how to address these issues.

4. Big data analytics are also considered by some to be the next agricultural revolution because today, devices like those manufactured by The Climate Corporation collect data from equipped farm vehicles and tools, which farmers can later use to make decisions that will increase productivity on the farm. For example, a farmer can use this data to determine which fields need more fertilizer.

These are just a few of the many innovative ways big data is being used currently and will continue to be used in the future. Big data is a unique medium that can give us insight into our lives and cultures in a way that others simply cannot. Think about the ways big data analytics can benefit your company. Think not about the information you currently have, but the information you don't have, to determine where to focus your research and development efforts. Then, find a way to fill that information gap.

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