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Big Data is used by every large corporation, banks, governments and so on to make links between past events, and to predict future events. Comment by Patrick Dixon, Futurist and Keynote Conference Speaker.

Big Data is used heavily to try to predict customer behaviour and to target marketing campaigns.  Billions of dollars are being spent (mostly wasted) by companies trying to spot patterns in trillions of data items.  The result is often a lot of confusion, graphs, tables and very little that actually has any practical use.

The REAL value usually lies in around 0.5% or less of all Big Data.  Big Data is about spotting patterns but Little Data is all about spotting a person - turning data into real commercial value.   It's not enough to just pour a trillion data points into a database and hope that software will mine pure commercial gold out of it.  The best Big Data answers have usually been found because of some additional human genius - a flash of inspiration, an intuitive hunch on looking at some initial data, with an understanding of the business as a whole.

Robots are vital in analysing Big Data, but they work best in close collaboration with human beings from a variety of backgrounds - such as marketing, statistics, consumer insight and product development.

Need a world-class Big Data keynote speaker for your event? Phone or e-mail Patrick Dixon now.

Examples of Big Data:

- Analysis of Big Data in shopping patterns by Club Card users at Tesco means that the company can spot favourite products that have not been bought recently, so that a special offer can be sent to the customer as a gentle nudge.

- Big Data patterns enable Bank fraud experts to identify unusual phone calls and emails:  clusters of events between particular traders and clients which often seem to take place minutes before complex and worrying trades in the markets. They take a look and uncover a massive scam.

- A mobile phone company maps the movements of 1 million customers with all the other Big Data they have, and discovers that for many 20 year olds, the moment they arrive home, they spend money online, often on things like home delivery of pizzas.  So they start sending personalised SMS messages towards the end of the day, offering discounts on a range of products.

- A hospital discovers from Big Data patterns that they can predict new illnesses in premature babies around 3 hours before there are any signs, by detecting very slight changes in heart beat in newborn babies.

- Analysis of social media Big Data picks up chatter about a new problem with car seat belts in a model just released.  Within minutes of the first cluster of tweets, the manufacturer has identified the problem, and is already alerting dealers as well as the factory.

- Police in Los Angeles use Big Data crime statistics to start predicting the times of day, days of week, and streets where most violent robberies are likely to take place across different parts of the city, and sets up street patrols, resulting in a fall in recorded offences.

Need a world-class Big Data keynote speaker for your event? Phone or e-mail Patrick Dixon now.


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