Big data & you
By Gemma Morris
12th July 2016

We’ve written quite a lot lately on big data and how it is used in the ‘real world’. While we find it interesting to know how big data is being used in space or in sport we think the real excitement comes when finding out how big data is actually affecting us and changing our direct lives (and not just in a recruitment aspect).

Data is being collected in every aspect of our lives, according to IBM 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are created each day! This is a staggering amount of data but how much do we actually contribute towards this?

Home

The home doesn’t seem like an obvious place where big data is affecting us but many of the devices we have around the home (particularly our IoT devices) are collecting data and helping to improve our living space.

If you have a smart meter these can collect data about how much energy you are using and the data can be used by providers to help lower your bills. Smart meters are expected to be in every home in the UK by 2020, with them collecting data every half hour! This alone creates a huge amount of data based on your household.

If you are looking at buying or renting a new home, property websites such as Zoopla (we’re sure you’ve seen the adverts) now hold all the data and information you need on an area. You no longer have to do further research as the data is immediately available to you through the use of mobile phone apps, making it a lot easier and quicker for you to make a decision.

Commute

Again, the commute may not seem like an obvious place for data to be collected but as smart cities are starting to become the norm, data is constantly being collected from your council, transport provider and even your car.

The council are collecting data to help improve the city and ultimately your commute. The data can tell them where congestion is high and where road works are needed (and when they should perform them based on traffic flow). The council can also collect data based on average speeds, accidents and more.

Our transport providers are using real time analytics and data to make our morning commute a lot smoother. Train providers, such as Virgin, will now text you confirmation of your booking, and not just that they will text you on the day confirming your time, and telling you which platform to get the train from but also what seat you have been allocated. There are also several apps on the market which allow you to track if a bus, train or tube is running on time and if there are going to be any delays to your commute.

If you have an insurance telematics box installed into your car, you are providing plenty of data to your insurance company every time you drive. The box will tell your insurance provider how fast you drive, how well you drive and what time you drive. One company that makes the boxes stated that in 2014 they had ‘collected over 10 billion miles of data from 2 million vehicles over the past six years’. All this data will be accumulated for the insurance company to decide how much to charge the following year. Again, similar to smart meters this can save you money.

Shopping

For many companies getting brand loyalty from their consumer is very important, to ensure they are retaining customers and keep getting your business many brands now use big data to understand and target to the right audience.

If you shop at any of the major supermarkets the likelihood is you are part of a loyalty reward scheme, each time you swipe your card the supermarket is collecting data on you and using this to target specific promotions or vouchers at you. The shops can also use the data to see what their customers normally purchase and how much they spend on average.

Big data is also being used to improve the customer service of many companies. Major businesses receive compliments and complaints each day, by tracking these comments they can learn where the business needs to improve its customer service. Some large retail companies will also have multiple departments, for example one for sales and one for complaints, by using big data and recording all your interactions with a store, your shopping experience can be seamless. And again similar to loyalty cards they can know how to target specifically to you.

Ultimately is seems the one big benefit of big data for the everyday person is to save money, whether this be at home, during the commute or in the shop. It’s an exciting time for not just big data and analytics but AI and VR, here at KDR we will definitely be keeping a close eye on how data keeps on having a positive impact on our lives. 

How do you think big data affects your life? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

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